Inside My Money Belt

If you’ve spent any time with me over the past ten months or so, you know that I have a slight (cough) obsession with personal finance. For those of you who have navigated to this blog from one of my comments on another PF blog…well, today’s your day to get a peek at what I’m all about. Since I’m a planner and a researcher, I had a lot of questions and doubts at the beginning of the year about what exactly I should be doing with my newfound “big girl paycheque,” and I spent quite a bit of time looking for a model for how much I should save for travel. I had pretty specific goals for the year preceding travel, which included paying down a good chunk of my student loan. It would have been really helpful for me to see something like what I’m posting here today, even though personal finance is, of course, different for everyone. I have also come to believe in financial discourse, and I’m okay with a certain degree of financial transparency – especially when it helps other people learn.

I decided to save exactly 25% of every paycheque I received for travel, and a further 15% went towards an emergency/start-up fund for when I get back. I put 35% straight towards debt repayment, and I lived on the last quarter of my income. (A note on my living circumstances: I have been fortunate enough to live at home, so I don’t have any fixed expenses.) I haven’t paid off my student loan yet, but I’ve saved up enough independent of my travel and emergency funds to pay more than minimum for the next year.

I was really pleased with the progress of my little finance experiment, and enjoyed watching my travel savings grow week by week. (I especially enjoyed my tax refund, which definitely helped my savings and debt repayment along!) My original goal, before I knew where I was going in Brazil or how I would get there, was to have $5000 saved – enough for a return flight, and to get me by for a month or so while I looked for a job. I am definitely happy that I’ve saved considerably more, and in addition have secured in advance a placement that guarantees room and board as well as a stipend. You’ll see why in a minute.

Voilà, my beautiful (and terrifying) budget! Explanations to follow.

  Brazil Budget 2011-2012  

Budgeted Amount



Reassigned balance:

Travel Savings:  


Pre-departure Expenses:        
IICA fee





Initial Flight




Christmas Flight






Travel Medical Insurance (1st part)




remainder 1





remainder 1

Credit Card Annual Fee





Assorted Other




remainder 1

Airport Expenses





Remainder 1:





Anticipated Expenses      


Taxes and Setup





Unforseen Basics




*not budgeted in R2

TESL Renewal   (Oct ’11)





Insurance pt. 2 (Dec ’11)





Christmas Flight (Dec ’11)





Rio/SP/Salvador (Jan ’12)





CC annual fee  (June ’12)




*not budgeted in R2

Last OSAP (July ’12)




*not budgeted in R2

Remainder 2:




Monthly Allowance:




  • I swear this table was neatly formatted in Excel and Word…apparently WordPress isn’t impressed with my efforts.
  • The IICA fee wasn’t exactly that amount because it was in USD, and I also had to pay for the money transfer; this is what it cost me in CAD.
  • You probably recall I did a lot of shopping around for both my flight and my insurance, so there was some savings there. Woohoo!
  • I pay an annual fee for my travel credit card, but I’ve already made up the difference in points. Basically, this is $99 I pre-paid towards the flight I’ll take at Christmas.
  • Assorted Other: the last, growing category for before my trip starts. I’m officially broke in the “25% variable spending” allowance category, so any beers or movies I buy from now until August 10 will come out of my travel budget. Eek!
  • Airport expenses includes baggage costs for 2 pieces of luggage on my AA flight from Detroit, a there is no allowance. It also includes a one-day Admiral’s Club pass, if I decide to buy one – or else just airport food and entertainment for 12 hours.
  • Taxes and Setup: I’ve heard there are taxes I’ll have to pay on entry that nobody tells you about, so I’m going in prepared. I’ll also have to get a Brazilian SIM card for my phone, among other things. Apparently I won’t get my stipend until the end of the month.
  • *not budgeted in R2: I left these items out of the calculation because they will either be covered by quarterly tax returns or will cause me to recalculate the budget in their eventuality.
  • TESL Renewal: in order to maintain my status with my professional organization, I intend to pay into the membership even though I won’t benefit from it out of country.
  • Insurance pt. 2: I’ve already obtained a quote for this, and it’s a bit less than budgeted. I’ll deal with it in December when I’m home.
  • Christmas flight: =sum($250 + balance of August flight budget). This will get supplemented by parents as my Christmas present, and by my credit card points balance.
  • Rio/SP/Salvador: In January most Brazilian schools are closed for summer vacation. I hope to take this time to explore some more of the country. (SP=São Paulo)
  • Monthly Allowance: Yikes! This is much lower than I’d hoped. Anyway, it’s just meant to supplement the stipend provided by the host school, which as I hear is more than enough to live off of. The amount will also change as I get hard numbers for the other estimated amounts, for which I was generous.

So there you have it: the interior of my under-the-T-shirt money belt, complete with compartmentalized and scheduled spending. I’m sure you all think I’m even crazier than you did before, but at least now you know the truth! I’ll say it again: Crazy like a fox!

12 days until departure!



Filed under budgeting, crazy like a fox, looking forward

2 responses to “Inside My Money Belt

  1. shadowcat17

    Good for you for planning this out. When you come to Salvador, drop me a line!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s