Oh, you say, but you live in México and everyone knows things are so much cheaper there. But the truth is, they aren’t. For example, a loaf of bread costs $24 pesos, a liter of milk $11 pesos, and a stick of butter up to $8 pesos, a bag of sugar $16, an ice cream cone costs $15 pesos etc and the average wage is less than $50 per hour.
Oh, but you don’t have very many expenses then, you might say. But that isn’t true either.
We have accumulated a little bit of debt. Last year, my moto fell to pieces and we had to buy a new one on credit, which wasn’t easy to obtain. However, making prompt and weekly payments of $315 pesos, my moto will be paid for in 14 weeks! Yippee!!
We have regular expenses such as tortillas (now $14 pesos per kilo), gas for the vehicles which every month is more expensive, clothing and shoes for a growing pre-teen and during the dry season, feed for the animals. Then there are the occasional expenses such as my current quest to become a Mexican resident (See Getting Legal–Trip 1 and Trip 2). And finally, there are emergency expenses like last week when my husband accidentally sliced open his arm with the machete while cutting grass for the horses and had to get stitches.
Since employment is iffy at best (See The Working Man) for my husband and I, becoming self-sufficient has been essential to our survival.
We have been able to eliminate some expenses entirely.
We have no running water, so we bring our water from nearby springs in water storage containers instead of supporting the Pepsi and Coke companies that sell water in garafones (water jugs) here. (See Water Woes) We do not have electricity, so we don’t have that bill to worry about. We use a power converter from our truck battery to run or charge the occasional electric appliances we use, like the blender for salsa, or the laptop and DVD player. Not having a refrigerator also means only buying what can be consumed in a day, so no prepared frozen foods for us. (See Simple Living)
We have been able to reduce some of our daily expenses to next to nothing.
Our mini-orchard provides us with limones (limes), duraznos (peaches), guayabas, naranjas (oranges), chayotes, chillimoyas, and moras (blackberries) in season. La Yacata provides us with nopales (cactus), pitayas, (See Picking Pitayas) and tunas (See Picking Tunas) in season. Our goats provide us with meat and milk (See Separating the Sheep and the Goats) and our poultry (See Why did the chicken cross the road) with eggs and meat. We plant maiz, calabaza and frijol (corn, squash and beans)–the three sisters–for both us and our animals. We have also recently decided that our weekly loaf of Bimbo bread was a luxury item, so now we make our own, cutting our expenses from $24 pesos for one processed loaf to $15 pesos for 2 loaves of home-baked organic goodness.
Our wardrobes have been reduced to a few serviceable sets of clothing that are replaced when needed. Our cleaning supplies have been reduced to soap and water, a broom, a mop, a rag and bucket. Our entertainment expenses consist of board games, horse or donkey rides (See Donkey Races in La Yacata), long walks, bike rides, visiting friends and relatives, reading, gardening and the occasional incidental adventure or two, all of which cost next to nothing.
When we moved to México, we decided to make a fresh start and live within our means. It has been an ongoing process and one that hasn’t been easy. It has required a rethinking of our lives, not just how we spent our money, and reclassifying many things that we thought were essentials as luxuries. (See Forcibly Green-Obligatory Organic) Our diet, our spending habits, and our family has changed dramatically in the 7 years we have been here. I can’t say that it’s been a bad thing becoming solvent.