Show Me The Money: Stop Buying Things

Show Me The Money!

We met the Wagoners Abroad in the UK while they were still living in Spain. They have spent the last year travelling around SE Asia on about $100 a day for a family of 4. They have an interesting story to tell on Show Me The Money

How much money was in your pocket/wallet/bank account when you started on your travel adventure? And how did you decide that was enough to get started?

Ah back when it all began… We all got into our rain dance and chanted to the rain gods for money and then waved our Harry Potter wand to make a pile of money appear. Actually, we sold some stock options, which were purchased many years ago, through an employee stock purchase program. That gave us a dollar amount to work with and we figured we could live off of $3000 a month. We share every $ we spend with our readers, so we have no problem sharing it with you!

The plan was to make last about 18 -24 months, give or take. As a family of 4, we weren’t sure if that was going to be enough to live in Spain for even a year, but it is what we had to work with. If we ran out, we would return to the USA sooner than planned. We tried to transfer very little over to Spain each month, just enough to cover our monthly bills (housing, phone, utilities) about $1000 a month. Other than that we tried to use our Chase Sapphire Visa to take advantage of the better exchange rates and no foreign transaction fees.

Now it has been well over 2 years and we are still making it all stretch, by supplementing our income a little here and there. It is amazing how little you really need to travel compared to our life back in the US. Before traveling, we needed more than double to sustain our lifestyle of going to work 8-10 hours every day and fitting in home projects and chores on the weekends. This is a no brainer for us and we will do what it takes to continue on this path.

What methods do you currently use to make money while you travel (in order of most value)?

About 6 months into our journey, we figured out ways to help supplement out income/spending. We both began working on eBooks, to try and generate that passive income we desired. Alan worked away on writing a book about obtaining the Spanish Resident Visa, with all of the tools tips and tricks we learned and used. The kids and I created a kids cookbook, for those older kids wanting a little independence and cook on their own.

We have some sponsored ads on our site; you will find them on the sidebar or within posts. In 2014, we started to provide some consulting services for anyone wanting to have the life of travel, but most of our clients are people that want to move to Spain. This has been a great area for us and we really enjoy working with others. For our first 18 months we spent many hours doing this for free, but we decided it was time to get paid for all of the work.

In addition, we have a few affiliate links that we insert into our posts. We only do this when we stand by the accommodation, service or item for sale. We also exchange with companies for reviews of their property, attraction or services. While this doesn’t earn us money, it does prevent us from spending money on that item. I many cases we are even offered extra meals or activities, so it does help with the budget.

As you've travelled the world and met other travellers, what is the most unusual way you've heard of other people creating an income on the road?

I’m not sure if we have heard much of unusual, but I am always hearing of creative ways to make money. I found it interesting to find travelers offering a tour of a foreign land that they are very familiar with. Having a group of people go on tour with you and you get paid for it! That sounds pretty amazing to me.

How much do you spend (on average) each month?

This is a little difficult to answer as the amount for each item varies depending on us being expats in one location versus nomadic and moving around. I will say that no matter what our travel style, we pretty much stick to $3000 a month or $100 a day for a family of 4. The numbers below will be for our long term time in Spain, as I have that readily available and well documented.

Flights/Transport: $400 (we owned a car in Spain and took inexpensive flights)

Accommodation/Utilities: $800 for our long-term rental/utilities, Additional $150 for hotels each month to take a trip.

Food: $650- $850 (depending on how often we ate out)

Tours & Entertainment: $200

Miscellaneous: $600 (eye glasses, clothing, US Storage unit, etc.)

Mobile/Communication: $200 (included internet, 2 mobile phones in Spain) 

Total Outgoing Expenses: About $3000 a month. 

What have been the ways that you've saved the most amount of money? 

Our biggest money saving tip is “stop buying things!” If you don’t need the extra clothes, toys or gadgets don’t buy them. Once you live a simple life, life becomes simple and it costs less to live in that way. We enjoy nature and free activities.

Also, we have enjoyed two housesits. Our first was in London for 8 nights and the second was in Estepona Spain. Both saved us loads on accommodation. We also save money by not eating out often and making meals that stretch.

A great deal of time is spent searching on the internet for “that great deal” on airfare, hotel or anything really. We go where the deal is rather than picking a destination and making it work no matter the cost. When we spotted airfare from Spain to Morocco for $35 round trip each, we hopped on that deal and visited Morocco.

What things have been the biggest waste of money for you? 

We don’t really care much for packaged tours. It does save time and you usually learn some extra info from the guide, but when it comes to money that is where we like to save. We will put in the man hours to research and create our own itinerary. That said, we do use packaged tour itineraries as a guide to build our own.

What is the best money generation/management tip that you read/heard that impacted your life?

I think I could write a book on this topic! Hey, maybe I will.

I don’t know if I heard it anywhere, but I have always squirrelled away money. Pay yourself first! When you get that first job and you are living fine off of that salary, get used to it. When you get that bonus or raise, don’t increase your spending by moving to a bigger home, a new car or a new gadget. Put that money directly into your savings or an investment account. If you get a 3% raise, then you should auto deposit that 3% into your savings account each month.

Also, don’t spend money you can pay for at that moment (meaning credit cards). For the past 22 years, I have used credit cards galore and I have never paid a finance charge. I pay my credit card in full each and every month. If we don’t have the cash to pay the credit card, we don’t buy the item.

I said it before and I will say it again, stop buying stuff! It really is a domino effect, let me show you how. Imagine you hear a song on the radio you like, you run out and buy a CD. You now need something to play that CD, oh and you need something to store that CD, and it goes one. To own one CD, you need a shelf, a player and perhaps more. Replace the CD with other items and you will see how it can snowball.

You can find Heidi and Alan Wagoner here -

Website: Wagoners Abroad

Facebook: Wagoner's Abroad

Twitter: Wagoners Abroad

Reader Comments...

"I respond to every comment by direct private email. I look forward to your feedback" -

Thanks for including us in your series. :-)

Heidi Wagoner Apr 1st, 2015

¡Hola Wagoners!

Melanie Murrish Apr 1st, 2015

These are some useful tips, not only for a family with kids, but for a single person, just like myself :)

Jo (The Blonde) Apr 1st, 2015

Really interesting interview. I love how you have come to the conclusion that life on the road is so much more fulfilling for you as a family. I hope you can continue to make it work for the long-term, it sounds like you are having a blast!

Claire Apr 2nd, 2015

This is really interesting, since we are on a look out for something similar :) Thanks so much for sharing, I think the biggest and most important thing is to free yourself out of wanting posses things, wanting to upgrade all the time to the new technology etc.

Monika Apr 2nd, 2015

Thanks Jo, you are so right. These aren't family tips, they are life lessons. Thanks Claire and Monika! Hello my friend Melanie :-)

Heidi Wagoner Apr 3rd, 2015

Hi Heidi. I didn't see health insurance addressed in the budget. Can you comment on this? I know this could potentially be over $1k/month for a family of 4 (a major budget buster).

We are in the early stages of planning our family adventure. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! There are so many amazing resources out there & we are soaking it all in!

Natalie A. Apr 9th, 2015

Hi Erin,

Any chance of you guys visiting Brisbane. Would really like to meet you please.



Anugrah Apr 16th, 2015

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