Life on a budget

I saw a pin on Pinterest (yes, a guilty pleasure) the other day that was trying to encourage people to live off US$250 a month to think about their spending habits. It got me thinking and so I decided to write a post about it.

Technically I am a volunteer. I live on a stipend. I can’t work odd jobs on the side to make a little extra money each month, and I don’t really have a savings at home to rely on. BUT ITS OK! I know I am still new to the game here, but I haven’t had any issues with money, and have actually been able to save some. In a conversation with another volunteer the other day, he was talking about (cough complaining cough) about how he lives paycheck to paycheck and doesn’t know where his money goes. Most of what we spend our money on here is food and transportation (some more on alcohol than others). Not being able to eat flour or oats makes my diet a little more expensive, but vegetables are still cheap so it balances its self out.

Here is a break down of what I generally spend my money on (a month) in US and Jamaican dollars:

Living Allowance: $J28,000=US$325

Rent: $J15,000 = US$174 (Separate from my living allowance)

Electricity: $J1,700 = US$2.02

Transportation $J7200 = US$84 (Taxi drivers LOVE me)

Food

Irish Potatoes: $J90 /lb.= US$1.04

Green Pepper: $J100/lb. = US$1.16

6 oz can of tuna: $J164 = US$190

½ Dozen Eggs: $J120 = US$1.40

Tostitos: $J407 = US$4.75

Lentils $J112 = US$1.30

Rice $J35 bag = US$0.40

You get the idea. In terms of US Dollars I am not spending a lot of money, but we learned very quickly you can’t justify spending money in terms of US dollars, because we aren’t making US Dollars. I tend to justify spending a little more on food, like Tostitos, because I know they will last me a little while. I don’t tend to buy meat in the market because it is expensive, but you can get a box lunch for $J250 with a descent portion of chicken/fish/goat and rice. Again, it’s not something I buy every day, but I’m not starving myself either.

Dealing with money is probably one of the hardest adjustments people have to make when joining the Peace Corps, but its absolutely doable.

What I learned today:

It’s strange to see white people around St. Thomas. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Person throws stone at dog next time, dogs gets mad, person doesn’t understand why.  (A very sad cycle of abuse)

No one goes by their given names. And I don’t mean Kris short of Kristen, but Maestro for Diana.

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