Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Expense Report 2016

Expenses - image

Every month, I post a report of our expenses to show that it is possible to live a comfortable, exciting and relatively adventurous life without being rich. Or even without owning/earning a lot of money. 2016 is the first full year that Mark and I have been living on land as house and pet sitters. This is therefore my first yearly expense overview.

This report includes ALL of our expenses, in US$, for the two of us. Under groceries we incorporate all the food, produce and non-alcoholic drinks (100% orange juice, oat milk for Mark and organic 1% milk for me) predominantly bought in supermarkets. Toiletries belong in that category as well. Dining out means eating at a restaurant/event or purchasing take-out food. The health category covers non-prescription medicines and Mark's vitamins and supplements; medical contains prescription drugs and doctor's visits starting in 2017. Since December 2016, I have to pay for health insurance in the US. I still contribute in Belgium for health care as well (required to keep my citizenship), which is a small three-monthly fee only reported here. Utilities are always Skype-related, since that is how we make phone calls.  Accommodation is our best category, because we live totally rent-free and in comfort, wherever we end up. 🙂

Here is an overview of our expenses in 2016. I am surprised at how high our grocery costs are and that owning a car - even a small and efficient hybrid one like ours - is relatively pricey. That being said, we spend way less money on our Prius than we did on our 35' catamaran those eight years. Parts,  maintenance and insurance were sometimes six fold that every year, but living costs when cruising were much lower than on land. While we spent between $12,000 and $20,000 yearly on Irie (2007-2015), traveling all over the Caribbean and French Polynesia, 2016 had us part with $14,614, living a semi-settled life, without having to pay for utilities or rent. It seems like a lot. This year, we hope to do better in the grocery and computer category!

2016 Overview:


Car (insurance, repairs, fuel, parking):

Travel (plane ticket L., visit Belgium L., motels, campgrounds):

Dining Out:

Computer (2 new laptops, accessories):



Health and Fitness:

Drinking out:


Miscellaneous (membership house sitting sites and other):

Household (camping gear):


Health insurance Liesbet (Belgium):



Charity (Best Friends):

Bank charges (annual credit card fee):

Health insurance Liesbet (USA):




























$ 14,614


  1. No category seems too terrible, but it’s amazing how it all adds up! Right now, we are 1 block away from an amazing Fresh Market. So many expensive fruits and veggies and coffees and wines- our grocery spending has really gone up. I too am hoping to spend less money this year. We’ll see how it goes!

    • It does add up, doesn’t it? I’m mostly surprised about the grocery expense, since we really only buy what we need and don’t splurge a lot. I guess buying healthier and better quality foods has its price. Amazing supermarkets like the one near you are so tempting. all the choices!!! I think that is another reason why we spent so much less when we were living on our boat in the Caribbean and South Pacific: there is not much choice in the small stores and we eat what the locals eat and what is subsidized, instead of expensive imported stuff.

  2. I’m seriously impressed. I think you may be the only blog that shares expenses that spends less than we do.

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

    • It sounds like the only reason your expenses would be higher would be because of the boat and marina costs. I think when we were cruising, we spent a yearly average of about $10,000 on Irie-related stuff and about $7,000 on us. There was always a lot of money going to haulouts, boat insurance and plane tickets to the US or Belgium (or both!). Without our “analness” when it came to the boat (and other things :-)) and our desire to see friends and family once a year or so, our cruising costs could have been much less. It is one of the reasons why I wanted to start with a decent asking price for Irie (because we put so much money, time and dedication into keeping her “pristine”), but that didn’t work out, mostly because of our location.

  3. I am glad others also track about their income and expenses. We have done so during 30 years. Since 1993 I put those in Excel worksheet. I was Excel trainer when in work, so it was easy to plan Excel sheet for our needs.

    • My husband is using Excel for all this as well, and has been for two decades or so. I used to just keep track in little note books all these years, until I met him. 🙂

      • That is very nice. We also track mileages of our car in this way: place where we refilled, how much we refilled, cost where and the date. This is excellent way to track where we have been on some special day. Earlier we also tracked our electricity, but nowadays, electric providers have everything in Internet, so no need. How much we have used cold and hot water, but same thing, no need, because they serve this information in Internet.

        One interesting way to store data, is track our daily walking amount and see how much we walked in a month or in a years. Comparing those numbers with previous year is interesting.

        These were only some examples of the use of Excel. Have a nice day!

        • We used to track the miles of our camper when we traveled through North and Central America, and when we sailed on our catamaran for eight years. Not in Excel, though, but just in notebooks. Now, my Fitbit keeps track of all my steps as well. It can be interesting to compare over the years, for sure. I love your photography, by the way! Great topics on your blog as well. 🙂

  4. Liesbet I think this is even more impressive when tallied over a one year period. I’m interested at the low cost of your health insurance in the US. We always hear that it is so expensive and people are paying thousands of dollars a month. At any rate it has been both helpful and eye opening reading your reports this year. An area we could do a much better job at that’s for sure.

    • Mark and I are fortunate to be residents of the state of Massachusetts that has been very progressive when it comes to health care. They put something similar to “Obama care” in place (developed by a republican, believe it or not) many years ago. Because of our low income, Mark and I had free health care until this year. Now, because we make more than the lowest bracket and I am not a US citizen, I have to pay a monthly fee of $43 and a co-pay (not sure yet how much that is, since I haven’t gone to any doctors yet in Massachusetts), while Mark is still making little enough money to remain in the category he was in before, as a citizen. Neither of us is covered outside the state, unless in an emergency. So, for check-ups and the like, we will have to fly back to Massachusetts. A plane ticket is still cheaper probably than the scans and such we need for our six month “tumor” check-ups. All these people that pay thousands of dollars a month ought to do a bit more research, I suggest. That is outrageous. But, some states are definitely more expensive than others… Most Americans have health care through their jobs as well, but we are self-employed.

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