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Financial insights into the life of a digital nomad

Chapters
way up to El Teide Tenerife

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Talking about financials in Germany is not really common I’d say. When I lived in the UK I felt like people were much more open talking about their salary and it’s less seen as a taboo subject. That, one the one hand is due to the fact that German work contracts prohibit the employees to share their salary. I also felt like there is more jealousy and resentment among the German society when it comes to the financial assets of other people though.

However, I think it’s very important to also talk about financials as this can enable and inspire others to change habits and make things possible. Therefore I wanted to give an insight into the financial life of a digital nomad. This blogpost will give you an overview over my monthly costs in November 2022, when I lived in Cactus Coliving on Tenerife. Most questions I get are:

  • How do you finance this life full of adventures & living in different countries?
  • How were you able to explore so much but also quit your job end of 2022?

I want to answer these questions today. My previous work contract does not allow me to share an exact salary, but when you look at the costs and do the maths, you can then see whether living in a coliving might be affordable for you. And in the best case: To have some savings at the end of the month.

Monthly Costs in November 2022

The following is a monthly cost calculation for November 2022. The following factors have to be considered:

  • I didn’t pay rent for another apartment, neither did I own any big things, like a car.
  • My fixed costs were limited to liability insurance, phone contract, donations and subscriptions.
  • Health insurance in Europe was covered through the German insurance which is paid through salary. If you are outside Europe, I can recommend Hanse Merkur.
  • I shared the coliving and rental car costs with my partner (the table below shows the price per person).
DescriptionCost in Euros
Rent incl. electricity, water, breakfast, workspace, etc. (Cactus Coliving)600.25
Rental car375
Liability insurance4.83
Subscriptions (Netflix, Apple)7
Phone contract12
Donations5
Transport (bus tickets, fuel)51.75
Food99.57
Activities (Diving, Siam Park)198.25
Total expenses1,353.65
Expenses November 2022

All in all the monthly expenses in November were around 1,300 Euros. It’s a lot of money but considering we lived and explored Tenerife with our own rental car, it’s not a lot in a way. We did many things, had a great time living with other people and we even did four dives and went to the Siam Water Park which are quite pricy activities. There are some potential for savings (e.g. the rental car, activities) and it’s a very individual calculation but I think it gives a good overview.

I didn’t include flight costs to (100 Euros) and from (80 Euros) Tenerife, as I paid for those in September and December. If you consider these as well the total sum would be 1,533.65 Euros.

Read more about my coliving experience at Cactus Coliving.

End of month calculation

To make the calculation complete we now have to add the income. For this calculation I will use the monthly net wage in Germany in 2021: 2.165 Euros (Source: Statista).

Ignoring the flights, after deducting the expenses from the salary, I would achieve savings of 811.35 Euros in November. That’s a 38 % savings rate. Amazing result! Especially when you consider the fact that you’re living in as well as exploring a different country. I do have to admit that the costs are a bit less if you can share them with another person.

All in all I think it’s possible to enjoy the lifestyle of a digital nomad at least for a while. What you get out of it is worth so much! In case you have rented an apartment in your home country maybe you could have a look at renting it to someone else for the time you’re gone? Or save a little bit of money to be able to afford double rent for a few months. Not the best option, but there are ways!

Cactus Coliving Tenerife
Our room in Cactus Coliving for six weeks
Cooking lunch is cheaper than eating out

My savings rule

Regarding the savings I do have one rule (when I’m employed): To always have some savings of at least 20 % (average) end of the month. The more the better – but overall life has to feel good and not restricted. If I don’t manage to save anything, I have a closer look at my expenses and make some adjustments. E.g. reducing shopping, reducing eating out, trying to be smart when it comes to buying groceries, checking if I really need that Spotify subscription every month. Or there’s also the possibility of looking for another side job or passive income.

Every saving matters! Maybe it doesn’t look like a lot after a few months but if you accumulate them over the years they do make a change! This is one of the reasons why I was able to quit my job end of 2022 and not work for a while. I didn’t plan this big trip a few years ago. But having the savings allowed me to actually make it happen without waiting for many years. Savings can help you to be more flexible with your choices and go for them (within a shorter time).

This blogpost really is not to make anyone feel jealous or brag about my life – it’s to give some more transparency and encourage you to make your dreams happen! You are the creator of your life – if anyone can work on something, it’s you!

Potential savings

Last but not least I’d like to help you discover potential to have even more savings. At the end of every month I write down all my expenses & income in an Excel sheet. This gives a good overview on how the money spreads over different areas. Therefore you can see where to save some money in the long run.

The questions usually are:

  • Do I really need this?
  • Is there a cheaper alternative?
  • What are my priorities?

If your priority is luxury and comfort you might decide to not change anything. If you are planning to quit your job soon and your goal is to explore the world I think it’s definitely worth to overthink some spendings. My general rule is to not restrict the joy in life but also not spend money on unnecessary things I don’t really need. It very much depends on your priorities.

Contracts

Looking at contracts it’s good to check at least once a year whether you still need them or if there is a cheaper alternative. E.g. it’s worth comparing phone contracts on a regular basis to check if you’re still paying an appropriate price. By writing down all your contracts you might even discover that you are paying for certain things you didn’t know of.

Subscriptions

The common pay-tv and music subscriptions don’t seem big if you look at them individually. They add up over the years though. I’m currently only paying for Netflix and recently cancelled Spotify. I asked myself the question whether it is worth it to me to pay 6.50 Euros per month to listen to music and have the benefits of the premium account. Now traveling on a budget the answer was easy: No it isn’t.

If you make the same decision for another 2 subscriptions with a similar price you can save almost 250 Euros per year. This could be your next flight to somewhere.

Cactus Coliving Garden

Beauty & fashion

It’s super easy to spend lots of money on clothes and beauty products. For example only going to a hairdresser can cost over 100 Euros – and this a few times per year. Are there cheaper alternatives? Might it be worth to go to another studio? There could be some hidden potentials for savings! Again, if someone loves the visit to the hairdresser and go shopping they should definitely spend that money. I’m a big fan of joy and pleasure in life. It all goes back to ones individual goal.

Read more about why I quit my job and my new chapter.

My spendings

For me personally, this area is not one of my priorities. I’ve been buying an 80 Cents face washing cream and a 2.50 Euros moisturizer since I was 18. The same applies to hair products. My quarterly spendings on hair and beauty are maybe around 30-40 Euros including the hair cut, so 160 Euros per year.

When I go shopping I usually only purchase stuff I really need and avoid having similar looking items. Luckily I didn’t need many work outfits as I was working from home. And I like living in warmer countries which also made it easier to spend less money on clothes. The fashion part can be quite tough though. Every time I’m back in Germany I realize that it’s very tempting to get the newest outfits instead of always walking around in the same clothes.

What is important?

What I learnt over the years is that in the ‘digital nomad life’ it doesn’t really matter what you wear, it’s more important who you are. This is why I started caring less about my looks and am now traveling South East Asia with only a small backpack! If I look at profiles of other travel bloggers wearing different outfits or fashion influencers, I’m almost getting anxiety because I don’t understand what they do with all these clothes – anyone relating to this feeling??

Anyway, the beauty & fashion area was one where I realized that I can personally save lots of money. I’m still loving my bikini from five years ago, my coat has been keeping me warm in winter for four years and my skin accepts the cheap beauty products.

Siem Reap coconut
Traveling is my passion & priority
traveling light
all my belongings for three months

What makes you thrive?

All in all, this blogpost covered different areas. One the one hand I wrote about the monthly calculation of a digital nomad and tried to show how much this lifestyle can cost. Please keep in mind that I didn’t have any other rent costs and that I’ve never owned a car. When I’m in Germany I can luckily live with my family as well (which I’m very thankful for). The point is: This also has a huge influence on ones individual calculation.

On the other hand I revealed my savings rule and areas where there’s lots of potential to save money. I realized that in the end it all comes down to what makes a person thrive. It’s about who you want to become and what you want to do with your life. I’m convinced that if you really want to achieve something you can find a way to do so. Look at the variables and things you can change and control. This is where you can start with small steps to make things happen!

I hope this blogpost gave you an insight into the mysterious ‘money topic’ of a digital nomad and inspired you to think about your personal goals. If you have any questions I didn’t answer please leave a comment below or send me a message on Instagram.

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