Living on the Cheap

Dan talks about how he saves a lot of money by living in Southeast Asia.
Living on the Cheap


Living on the Cheap



I had a mantra in my head.

A mantra is something you often repeat to yourself for focus or motivation. Notice the following:

  1. He repeated the mantra is ‘I can do it!’
  2. ‘Ohm’ is famous buddhist mantra.


I could simplify my life and take away the overhead.

Overhead is basic costs needed to operate, especially in business. Notice the following:

  1. Our overhead is way too high.
  2. We cuts staff to lower overhead costs.

 ballpark … figure 

So let’s just ballpark it?

A ballpark figure is an estimate about basic costs. Notice the following:

  1. What is a ballpark figure for rent in Seoul?
  2. Can you give me a ballpark figure?

 kill your piggy bank 

That’s going to kill your piggy bank.

A piggy bank is a place children keep savings. Here, it means to spend most of your money. Notice the following:

  1. College really killed my piggy bank.
  2. Living in the city killed my piggy bank.


You have to kind of curtail spending.

When you curtail something, you reduce it. Notice the following:

  1. I am trying to curtail my sugar intake.
  2. You should curtail how much you spend on gas.

 make a dent …. in your wallet 

It won’t make a dent in your wallet.

When something makes a dent in your wallet or budget, it costs a lot of money. Notice the following:

  1. My tax bill really made a dent in my wallet.
  2. Buying a new suit made a dent in my wallet.
Audio Script

Living on the Cheap

Todd: So I’m here with Dan, and he lives in Bali, Indonesia. And he’s talking about slow travel, which is the concept of living in a foreign country for a long time to experience the culture and the lifestyle.

Dan, can you talk a little bit about the cost, like if somebody wants to really do this, how much money do they need for housing, transportation, food, things like that?

Dan: Well, when I quit my job four years ago, I had a mantra in my head. And I always said, all I need to be happy in life is a thousand bucks and a backpack. And I thought, if I could really simplify my life and take away all the overhead cost of car payment or a mortgage on a house or student load debts, credit cards, things like that, all I would need is a thousand dollars of income a month in order to own my time and to spend my time going to anywhere I wanted.

I think realistically in places in Southeast Asia, if you want to move around every two or three months or go visit friends at another city, you’re going to want at least $1,500 to $2,000 a month. And that’s going to give you, I would say, a quite luxurious lifestyle.

Obviously, you could come here to Bali and live for $700 a month and you could do the same in Nha Trang like we’re talking earlier, maybe even easier in Vietnam. But the real cost come in is when you want to explore and move around internationally. So if you’re living in Nha Trang and you’d like to visit a friend in Bangkok every three months or something like that, you’re going to want more like 1,500 to 2,000 a month.

Living on the Cheap

Todd: So could you like break down the cost? So what kind of cost are we talking here? Like how much would you pay for housing? How much would you pay, you know, for food every month? How much would you pay for health insurance? Things like that.

Dan: Sure, I mean, if we can make like a vast generalization across Southeast Asia in general. I know it’s a huge place but in most places for a furnished apartment, for a solo traveler, you’re going to look at anywhere from $250 to $750 a month. So let’s just ballpark it and say $500. You know, in a place like Manila, you’re going to get a great apartment for $500. In a place like Bangkok, you’re going to get even better apartment for $500. And again, you have to commit to a month at least to get these kinds of rates. But if you’re willing to do that, stay for few months, you’re going to get really good advantage there.

Let’s take Bangkok as an example. $500, you’re going to have a great apartment. For another $500, you are going to eat like King Midas. And then let’s say your internet is $30 a month and your health insurance in $120 a month. We’re at about $1,200 a month now. And I’d say, on top of that, it’s all about the most dangerous habit for your wallet on the planet, and it is travel. So if you decide that you want to go home for Christmas and you want to go home for Thanksgiving as well for Americans, you know, that’s going to kill your piggy bank. But if you don’t travel so much, you could easily stay in a place like Bangkok for $1,000 to $1,500 a month.

Living on the Cheap

Todd: So, what about like a, you know, going out having beers and thinks like that? Like are there certain habits that you have to kind of curtail or keep down so that you save money?

Dan: Well, it really depends where you live. So, in the Philippines you could go out and party every night and it won’t make a dent in your wallet. Whereas in places like here in Bali, you had to be really careful because beers can be $7 for one cocktail. So if you go out to the club and you order 4 cocktails, and you meet a cute girl and you buy her 2 cocktails, that could easily turn into a $50 evening, and that’s going to kill your traveler’s budget.

So generally in Southeast Asia going out for social drinks isn’t a big impact on your wallet because booze here is relatively cheap. But definitely that can have a big impact.

Todd: Alright, thanks for the advice.

End of Transcript

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