Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

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My Money Situation

Written 3 August

Puff Daddy would have us believe that it is all about the Benjamins. The Beatles indicated that they don’t care too much for money. I’m stuck somewhere in between.

I’ve calculated the finances of this trip. How much I’ve spent and how much I started with. How much I’ve earned here and how much that leaves me with. The numbers were… surprising. I suppose looking at them earlier on would have been good. As would have been finding a job much earlier on.

I’ve learned some important lessons. If you play first and say you’ll pay for it later, you have to pay for it later. If you are going to get to the last leg of your trip and want to see everything you missed at first, then miss things up front because you are working. I managed to do what I feel all people have a tendency to do, and what disappoints though doesn’t surprise me. I got here and flailed, so I didn’t work. Then I played so I didn’t work. I planned a trip with a friend, so I didn’t work. Then back in Melbourne I was always 2 weeks away from leaving (for about 2 months), so I didn’t work. It wasn’t until 5 months in that I got a job, which was finite due to Mom’s arrival. Then after that I worked, but only for about 4 weeks.

And so here I am, less than 4 months left on the trip, wanting to see all the many things I missed by not traveling before, the things I could have missed due to work but missed due to habit and routine and laziness and sickness and depression and mood and slacking off and generally failing to prioritize.

So where am I?

I’ve got about $3500 AUS in the bank right now from my work here. I am planning to be here until the very end of my visa, which is another 3 ½ months. How does this divide out?

To start let’s subtract the amount I expect to spend on fuel for the duration of the trip: $1600. That is assuming I drive solo the rest of the way, which isn’t the case. But that also factors in direct lines between my primary destinations, not side trips and backtracking. Also it only goes up until Bathurst, after which I will have at least 1000km to go, if not 1500.

So now I’m down to $2000. And let’s call it 100 days since these are approximate and useless figures anyway. What does that mean I get if I don’t want to work again here?

$20 a day to live on.

Most hostels cost about $30 a night. They are out.

Restaurant meals are about $15. Likely out.

Groceries. Those I can do cheap if I’m paying attention.

Sleeping in my car or camping clandestinely is free. Camping at a legit camp site here is about $5. Doable.

Aside from the specifics of what I can and can’t get, it has largely caused me to start putting things in terms of money. Whereas back home my value judgment for food was in Taco Bell tacos (is this dinner right here really worth 15 tacos?), my value judgment here for everything for the past few days has been one of necessity. Is this meal worth my daily allowance? Am I sleeping in my car to eat a warm meal? Can I eat another PB&J sandwich and sleep in my car to put that $20 towards a tour of Arnhem Land when I get up to the NT? How much do I really want a day of boating around the Whitsundays? 5 nights of car accommodation-worth?

These are the questions I’m now forced to ask. There is only so much I can burn through, and I am trying to think of my credit cards as canceled. If I am to avoid work, I need to stretch it and be clever. And if I want the things that money buys, I need to earn it. And if I can’t earn it here, am I really going to put bets on my ability to find a job that will pay my life here off once I get back to the states? And can it do that while also saving up for my future travels and paying for rent, food, and sanity?

These are the concerns of an adult.

Growing up sometimes sucks.

2 comments on “My Money Situation

  1. Alex
    August 14, 2012

    $20 a day, minus $5 for camping at a legit campsite, leaves you $15 a day for groceries — $105 a week. $95 feeds two people with balanced meals and fresh vegetables for a week. According to this website (http://www.livingin-australia.com/prices-australia/) groceries are not twice as expensive in Australia — so it seems like you can go beyond PB&J sandwiches and not get scurvy, and still be able to save up for trips! Good luck!

  2. Steve Grace
    August 14, 2012

    I’ll shout you a couple of meals in Bathurst. What are adopted parents for?
    As for Arnhem Land – save your money. The locals call it Kaka-don’t, not Kakadu. Spend a day at Litchfield National Park instead. Short drive from Darwin and a great day. Besides, it’s the end of the dry season – everything around Kakadu will be brown and dry with little water in the falls.
    If you were only goind to NT for Arnhem Land – save the money and buy food. But if you are going to Darwin we could get you some accommodation with our kids’ adopted parents.

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This entry was posted on August 14, 2012 by in Australia, Queensland (Brisbane) and tagged .

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