May Finances Overview: The Cost of Being a Digital Nomad in the US

When we put together our El Perro Tambien finances for May, we took into account some spending differences that we noted in April. Whereas in April we almost doubled our projected expenses (gulp!), we were only $166 over for the month of May.

So, how much does it cost to be a digital nomad in the US?

In May, we drove from Albuquerque to Dallas to Memphis. From Memphis, we went north to St. Louis, Chicago, and all over Wisconsin. We ended the month in Minneapolis.

The Costs of Being a Digital Nomad in the US

I’m really proud of how close to our budget we stayed in May. Not to brag, but most of our overspending came from Mother’s Day gifts and my younger sister’s graduation gifts.

We saved a lot of money on rent in May, thanks to the generosity of friends and family. We mostly slept on spare bed and couches for the month, and it was great!

Let’s look at how our expenses broke down from projected to actual.

cost of being a digital nomad

The far left column is just the name of the expenses, with the “Projected” column referencing what we expected to spend. The “Actual” column displays what we actually spent. The “Difference” is the difference between the two. Green cells in that column show that we saved money, while red cells show over-spending.

Let’s go through our budget line-by-line to see the costs of being a digital nomad in the US.

  • Airbnb/Rent: we managed to stay far under budget thanks to sleeping on the couches, spare beds, and floors of friends and family.
  • Gas: We actually under-spent on gas, which is a bit amazing. I guess when you drive 3,600 miles in a month, even $600 is reasonable for gas!
  • Groceries: We went a bit over on groceries, but that’s an expense I’m ok with. I’d rather overspend on groceries than on going out to eat!
  • Student Loans: This is a fixed cost for the most part.
  • Car Maintenance: We got one full-service oil change. We also renewed Turtle’s registration. Both of these expenses are good!
  • Car Insurance: Again, this is mostly a fixed cost.
  • Health Insurance: While we’re in the US, we’re still on our parents’ health insurance.
  • Barley: We didn’t spend much on Barley aside from food this month.
  • International Costs: None.
  • Put Away for Taxes: Right on point.
  • General Savings: We didn’t save much this month, but that’s because we’re paying off our expensive toys from last month!
  • Business: We spent some money on domains, advertising, and continuing education this month.
  • Restaurants/Alcohol/Dates: GAH! Once again, we went over budget on going out to eat. We were much closer to being on budget, probably thanks to slightly cheaper restaurants in the midwest.
  • Shopping: We overspent a bit here, too – by quite a bit. The bad thing here is that I’m not even sure what we overspent on. We’ve got to be more careful here!
  • Gifts: It was Mother’s Day and my younger sister’s graduation, and we definitely overspent in the gifts department. We’ll keep an eye on it!

All in all, we did pretty well in the month of May. We still need to work on not going out to eat so much, but I’m pretty pleased with our spending this month. That said, if we overspend in all these categories again without saving so much on rent, we’ll be way over budget!

May Finances Overview: Actual Income

I made a bit less money as a freelancer in May than I did in April, probably due to spending so much time driving. I made just under $2300 from writing and website gigs. I’m helping to work on the web presence for several dog trainers, continue to write for multiple outlets, and am building a few websites.

This month, I had the bright idea of putting together an RSS feed with specific keywords for UpWork jobs. This helped me apply to far more relevant jobs, and I ended up getting a lot of new jobs in the month of May. Most of them will be paying me in June.

The Bottom Line for the Costs of Being a Digital Nomad

We did much better in May than we did in April. I’m pretty happy with our spending, and I’m chipping away at the debt that I accrued thanks to purchasing an iPhone X in April. Looking ahead to the rest of the summer, I’m excited to say that we’re planning on driving less while continuing to do a fair bit of couch-surfing.

Maybe soon we’ll be able to work 20- or 30-hour work weeks instead of 50- or 60-hour weeks.

Author: Kayla

Kayla is a biologist, writer, and web designer. She’s passionate about animal behavior, the science of habits, and anything outdoors.

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