Year two of retirement is in the books (and has been for some time but, as previously noted, we post things in order and we are way behind schedule). But, boy, it sure wasn’t the year we were anticipating. And, not in a good way. So, as you can well-imagine, we were glad to see the end of 2019. Anyway. Enough of that.
Let’s start by answering the same questions we asked ourselves last year.
Do we regret retiring, selling everything and traveling the world? No, not even a teeny, tiny bit. It was and still is the right decision for us. We are happy and healthier than we ever were in Chicago. That said, we do find ourselves wanting to slow down a bit. So, going forward, we are planning on spending slightly longer time periods in some of the cities we visit. We hope to find a few places to stay for a full month, and we don’t intend to spend less than a week hardly anywhere.
Did we manage to stay on budget this year? Um, no, not even close — we were about 6% over what we anticipated. We chalk most of that up to our extended time in the U.S. and, in particular, the month plus we spent touring the country and visiting our friends and parents. That said, it isn’t the end of the world as our budget is very conservative and the market did well in 2019, so we aren’t too worried.
Where did our money go this year? Although last year we were hoping that our housing budget would decrease in 2019, that wasn’t the case. In fact, in 2019, our housing budget ate up an entire 25% of our budget. We really aren’t sure how that happened, but I’m guessing it was due to our many expensive hotel stays in the United States and Europe. Another 23% went to food and beverages. Another large chunk — 22% — went to health care costs. And, 15% went to transport — this was extremely high as we had to rent cars while we were in the U.S. We also had some “fun” expenses that can’t be overlooked. For example, we paid 64 cents in elevator fees, due to an apartment in Italy that charged 0.05 Euros each time we took the elevator. We paid $33 dollars in late check-in fees, due to an apartment in France that charged a fee if you checked in after 6 pm. We paid $4 in bathroom fees — and the bathrooms often weren’t even clean. And, we paid a whopping $92 in ATM fees (charged by the local banks, not our banks).
What did we miss the most this year? In a word, dogs. We missed dogs. We try to pet dogs whenever we can, but dogs are going to be our downfall. We also really missed going to live concerts. We managed to sneak in a day at Riot Fest while we were in Chicago and it really made us remember how much we miss listening to random bands at Chicago street fairs.
What’s on tap for 2020? Plans are still a bit up in the air, but definitely Colombia (which is where we have been since January 1) and Ecuador (we fly there February 24). We are then hoping to meet some friends in Mexico, then head to Central America, then head to Mexico for a friend’s wedding, and then back to South America to see Argentina and Uruguay. But, don’t count on that, as I’m sure things will change.
And, now, on to our final thoughts for 2019.
We really wish we knew when it became socially acceptable to watch tv and video games without headphones while on public transportation. I can’t tell you how many times we had to bite our tongues to stop ourselves from saying something we would regret as we listened to bad music at outrageously loud volumes….
We were astounded to see so many NBA jerseys being worn outside the U.S. Most of them are still Jordan jerseys, even though he hasn’t played in decades.
Robert says that coffee in SE Asia is barely coffee — it is really just a coffee-flavored milk and sugar concoction.
We — ok I, — ate far too many Snickers this year. They are an affordable snack choice in SE Asia. Oddly, the Reese’s peanut butter cups are way more expensive than the Snickers. If anyone knows why, please feel free to share.
We are still sleeping 9-10 hours a night most nights. It is a thing of beauty.
When you are a budget, small luxuries are sometimes worth every single penny. For example, in Mexico, we could have easily hung out on the beach for free. But, for $10, we got a comfy beach chair, clean beach towels, a shower, a clean bathroom, and wifi. Worth. Every. Penny.
We still don’t have our packing down. This year, we added the following things to our bags (ok, fine, these all went into Robert’s bag): a Koozie, chip clips, a spatula, and a pepper grinder.
The Euro currency is far too reliant on coins. We both had pockets full of coins. No doubt that is why the French often just leave their change behind as a type of tip.
Europeans still smoke way too much. Ugh.
The last few months of 2019 we were frequently switching between French, Spanish, and Italian. I can’t tell you how many times we said “please” or “thank you” or “white wine” in the wrong language. First world problems, right?
Electric scooters are a scourge on the earth.
We both love the signs in Europe that say “all directions” are straight ahead.
When we finally settle down again, we need a place with the bread and pastries of France, the coffee and wine of Italy, the ham of Spain, and the spices of Thailand. If anyone knows where that is, let us know….
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