Chiang Mai Budget: Cheap Tuesday #2

chiang mai budget

Week 2 of my new life in cheap-as-chips Thailand… and this week I lived off a Chiang Mai budget of £27!

Let’s be clear here- I have already paid for my rent and my phone data (including unlimited wifi at Camp co-working space) for the month. These costs I have not included- I would prefer instead to publish a monthly budget, in a couple of weeks, with everything all averaged out.

I also did a large grocery shop the day before this week began, and that meant I barely had any food costs.

Anyway, let’s see where my clams have gone this week.


What did I spend my money on?

chiang mai budget

I am aiming to survive on 1,000 baht / £20 a week (mainly because it is a nice round number, one which will allow me to still have a life!).

I am still over what I would like, then; but a mere two weeks in I suppose I should cut myself some slack. A girl has to find her feet (and her cheap coffee vendor)!

Indeed, it is rather fascinating to look back at the week and see where the biggest expanses are. Naturally, they are associated with socialising; being that I am balls deep in the ‘someone please be my friend!’ stage and can’t really NOT go for coffees or lunch when invited.


How can I improve?

Actually, I think for my sanity I need to SPEND some money. I need a set of wheels- bicycle or otherwise. I can feel the first worrying signs of cabin fever creeping in, and I must avail myself up into the mountains, for some hiking and navel gazing, pronto.

This needs to happen regularly or I am susceptible to madness and/or hysterical outbursts. I’m not someone that can sit at a laptop all day, as I am fast realising. All the yuppie cafes in the world (and Chiang Mai enjoys an abundance) won’t keep me sane if I dont get my nature fix.

But we adapt! And we learn to do things our way! So next week… I’m going to brave the heat and start running every morning again, and I’m going to find a bicycle (*cough* Mum and Dad it’s my birthday soon *cough*).

And I’m going to stick to my free work-space to wipe that extra £7 of my Chiang Mai budget. Cut back on over-priced coffees. Till, miracle of miracles, I might start to make an income… Remember what one of those is?


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13 Responses to Chiang Mai Budget: Cheap Tuesday #2

  1. Lucy Hemmings June 24, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

    I really enjoyed this article, Mel. It’s great to read how to easy it is to live a life that lots of people claim they can’t have because they don’t have the cash. This type of article is exactly what many people need in order to banish these thoughts.

    I’d also like to address what Jane says. I can see the point that she’s trying to make, but I’d really like to add a couple of things. Firstly, it’s really easy to get hung up on money and criticise the personal amounts spent – but remember that what Mel is contributing to the local economy is not necessarily black-and-white. She might not be spending twenty dollars on a meal, but as a blogger, she’s actively promoting the city of Chiang Mai – others who read this article may find it to be the encouragement they need to up-ship and move there themselves, or at least visit, which is another person’s income going straight into the hands of locals.

    Additionally, there are far more important things that Mel might be able to contribute than just dollars and cents. Speaking from personal experience, I used to live in Cambodia. While I wasn’t there spending hundreds of dollars and I was budgeting a lot – I made lovely friendships with the Cambodians I lived with as well as ending up volunteering at a school. Cheesy as it sounds, I know that my time spent volunteering and teaching English was far more valuable long-term than a wedge of cash.

    Although I’ve never met Mel, judging from her blog and social media, she seems extremely sociable and the type of person I’d imagine to have friends who’d come to visit – once again – more cash coming into the city.

    One last thing I’d like to add – I think there would be absolutely nothing wrong in writing a blog which identifies where to buy the best iced lattes. When I helped out in a bar in Cambodia, Iced Lattes were our bread and butter – cheap ingredients with an incredible mark-up in price. The type of ‘gap year’ student with money to burn and a taste for caffeine who is going to read that blog will probably provide that coffee shop an extremely reasonable income. Keep doing what you’re doing, Mel!

    • Mel June 30, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

      Wow! Lucy I have just seen this… thankyou so much for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful and supportive comment, that means a lot. You argue all your points very well and you make such a good case… thankyou for fighting my corner! I have discussed this at length with many people here- the whole, is it wrong that we live so cheaply thing- and I have to say that it is quite a controversial subject! Regardless, as soon as I can start the freelance money rolling in, then I do intend to up my spending. Either way, you are totally right, there are lots of people coming to visit me the next few months… who are not skint! haha Thanks again :)

  2. Maddy June 23, 2015 at 11:17 pm #

    I love these budget breakdowns – makes me feel ridiculous for spending $6 on an almond-milk latte in SF or like $13 on some cheese for a friend’s party! This is such an inspiration a) to start saving some money where I can, and b) to realize truly what the rest of the world survives on. Thanks for sharing! :)

    • Mel June 24, 2015 at 8:36 am #

      Thanks Maddy! It’s easy to compare your expenses to mine but that would be a little out of context, so dont beat yourself up too much! That said, it is quite amazing how just a few small changes can add up and help you save up some money. Glad I could inspire you a little!

  3. Jane June 23, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

    If you’re serious about being a writer, I suggest you learn to engage with criticism. The whole point of putting your ideas out there is to generate dialogue and discussion. If your first reaction is to delete any comment that is critical, you might want to rethink. Anybody who comments on your writing, whether in agreement or otherwise, has taken the time and effort to engage with you and nothing shows ignorance like ignoring that.

    • Mel June 24, 2015 at 8:31 am #

      Oh dear Jane, please do go out and do something more constructive with your time (iced latte, perhaps?).

      I did not delete anything. I was out (contributing to the economy, as it happens) at a night market. I am not glued to my laptop 24/7 to approve comments.

  4. Anna June 23, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

    Great job on the budget just don’t get so obsessed over every little penny that you stop enjoying life. You can always make more money. Something will come along, it always does and it sounds like your doing well on the freelance writing already and you’ve only been there a few weeks! I’ll be interested to read your monthly budget and loving your updates

    • Mel June 24, 2015 at 8:10 am #

      Thanks Anna! its definitely hard to get the balance right, and its hard not to stress a little bit till an the dollars start coming in! But yeah, things are going well so I’ll keep beavering away! Cheers for your support! :)

  5. Jelena June 23, 2015 at 7:40 pm #

    Great job on the budget! Yes you can definitely spend a little more if you can afford to. If the outdoors & adventure is calling, you gotta go :)

    • Mel June 24, 2015 at 8:08 am #

      Too right! I need to spend some more on weekend adventures I think :) Just as soon as I can start the freelance income rolling in… :)

  6. Jane June 23, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

    Oh great – a real insight into the costs of living in Chiang Mai (if you ignore food and rent and all that unimportant stuff).

    What are you really trying to achieve here? A guide on how to travel the world while contributing as little as possible to the local economy!?

    Just what the world needs – a blog on how to budget for iced latte’s in Thailand!

    • Mel June 24, 2015 at 8:24 am #

      Hi Jane, if you bother to read the post properly you will see that I addressed rent and food in my first opening paragraph. I explained that I had already covered them upfront for the week. You will also note that I plan to do a monthly budget which averages all those costs.

      What I am hoping to achieve, as I mentioned in last weeks budget, is twofold: hold myself accountable for my spending, and demonstrate the nitty-gritty ins and outs of day to day spending. It gives people a chance to be nosey, and yes, while I would like to contribute more to the local economy, it is just a sad fact of life that I am poor right now.

      Anyway, this is literally what I spent last week, and I make absolutely no apology if it doesn’t make you happy. Perhaps you should learn to judge less! We all life live in different ways and with different budgets. So if this is providing you no value, then by all means please stop reading.


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