budgeting my way to international low-cost living

I am doing my life administration today and i have this vision of publishing my finances in the vein of Thoreau’s Walden.

I use YNAB (You Need a Budget), a piece of desktop software that helps you plan for expenses and get ahead—in their words:

Personal home budget software built with Four Simple Rules to help you quickly gain control of your money, get out of debt, and reach your financial goals!

I used this software in 2013, when i first established my freelance business, and in that year i survived entirely on my freelance income, putting away the income-support payments i was receiving through the NEIS program.

I saved over $10 000 in one year as a fledgling freelancer, which i then spent travelling in Turkey and Greece (with added financial support from Mum, who took me there on the three week holiday that became a nine-month spiritual adventure), where i continued operating my business part time.

Budgeting can be a powerful tool for achieving our goals in life, and one of my goals is to demonstrate through Flux Comb and the actions of my life that there is an alternative to the traditional lifestyle we are offered in mainstream Western society.

Because i don’t have a steady income at this stage …

… actually, scratch that:

i receive welfare payments, and i have one regular client in Sydney, plus i’m looking for paid work as i cycle tour in Australia,

so i’m surviving on approximately AU$16,800 / year.

My ambition is to get off welfare by attracting enough paid work and freelance work to bring in around $20K. Because i live out of my bike (Massive), and i am getting off drugs, my living expenses are quite low. I could happily live as a cycle-touring digital nomad on $AU20K, especially when i get back overseas to places where the cost of living is much lower.

So effectively i need to attract approximately $15K / year in either paid work or freelance work, to get off welfare and make up the rest of the $20K i’m not already earning through freelancing.

But for now, because i don’t feel entirely certain i can expect that sort of coin to flow reliably to me, what i am doing is just using YNAB to track my expenses for a month or three, while continuing to fly by the seat of my pants.

After a quarter i will have a good idea of my actual living costs (accommodating expected fluctuations in frugality), and then i will have a better idea of whether i actually even need $20K—maybe i can do Australia on less.

And if i can do Australia on less that $20K, i can feel confident i could live anywhere else in the world: the cost of living in Australia is among the highest in the world (this might have changed since 2013—the dollar is weaker now); it is approximately 50% cheaper to live in Chiang Mai, Thailand than it is to live in Melbourne, Australia.

I want to go into the details of how i’m using the software to do this, but it wouldn’t be relevant to anyone who wasn’t either looking at my screen or using the software themselves already. I imagine an online spreadsheet that will update in real-time to demonstrate just how inexpensive it can be to live the life of your dreams.

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