In my last post, I promised a run-down of my current troubles as a digital nomad.
You may wonder what troubles a digital nomad could possibly have. We travel from place to place and work from new cities, cafes, libraries and exotic locations every few weeks or months.
If a digital nomad has enough work, what terrible problems could they possibly, really have?
I do have enough work to cover all my traveling and living costs and am living the dream life.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that I lost sight not of my earnings – but of my spending.
The thing is, I don’t earn quite enough yet to cover a trip somewhere else every weekend, or having every breakfast, lunch and dinner out, or to pay for every crazy thing like shark-cage-diving, bungee-jumping, skydiving or camel-riding through the desert.
Actually, in some locations, doing it all is entirely affordable. Bali and Thailand, for example. There, eating out is cheaper than buying your typical Western-style cooking ingredients and making your own meals at home. Trips and adventures can be had for as little as 60€ for an entire weekend that includes food, accommodation, splashing around in waterfalls, jungle treks, canoeing across lakes and visiting beautiful temples.
My problem was, when I got back and started digital nomad-ing around Europe, I didn’t fully account for the steep increase in prices for meals and activities.
In Florence, I had a pretty good handle on my spending. I knew Florence would be expensive, so I kept an eye on my budget and bank accounts.
It all went to hell in a hand basket in Croatia.
To Germans, Croatia used to be the country where you go on a beautiful but budget-friendly vacation. But it appears that with every killed-off character in Game of Thrones, prices for accommodation, food and drinks were raised in the country in which a majority of the series is filmed. And in which tourism has exploded since the TV adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s popular books.
A pizza in Dubrovnik – a beautiful, beautiful city that couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for King’s Landing – is more expensive than in Stuttgart.
In Split, dining out costs the same as it does in my small German home town.
I can’t afford to eat every meal at a cafe or restaurant at home – so of course I couldn’t in Croatia.
I can’t afford an overnight trip to Paris, Rome, Munich or Straßburg every weekend at home – so of course I couldn’t in Croatia.
Except the fact that living in Croatia would cost me as much as it did at home hadn’t fully caught up with me.
So I ate and in general went out a lot. I went on a trip every weekend. Add half a week of Yacht Week that I joined on a whim, and I was suddenly more broke than I’ve ever been in my life.
Not because I wasn’t earning money, but because I lost sight of how I was spending it.
After Croatia, it became crystal clear very fast: if I don’t want to fail with my business, if I don’t want to go even further into debt, and if I want to keep up the digital nomad lifestyle, something has to change.
So I made a plan.
A roadmap to help me watch my spending and make sure I earn the money back asap.
- I’ve started keeping a written record of every cent I spend.
- I took a good look at my finances and calculated how much money I will have every month to spend while still replenishing my bank account within the next three months. And on the basis of these calculations,
- I’ve set myself a weekly budget that I will not exceed.
Yes, it means I’ll have to make my own meals and forego most of the wonderful restaurants and cafes all around our apartment in Budapest.
Yes, I’ll have to pass on weekend trips to Vienna and Bratislava.
Yes, I’ll have to prioritize and hold myself accountable.
A dinner-cruise along the Danube for 40€ is out. I’ll go on a public river cruise in the evening for 7€ instead.
A “sparty” (spa-party) for 60€ at one of the wonderful Budapest baths with their hot springs is out. I’ll go during normal opening hours, when a visit costs between 10-15€.
Will I miss out on a several fun group activities with WiFi Tribe? Yes.
Will I suffer from Fomo*? Hell yes.
But if it means that I can get back on track and keep living this digital nomad lifestyle, it’ll be totally worth it.
*fear of missing out