Most NGOs don’t pay their juniors much. I know a lot of people who work (or have worked) for no pay or stipend at all. Luckily, I get a small stipend and although it’s more than the average Thai salary, it’s not enough to cover all my living expenses – it basically goes straight into my rent. So, how do I survive? Well, since I was working at a legal publisher for most of 2010, I earned some money that helped me get by. However, most of that has gone by now and in addition, I have become addicted to this thing called scuba diving. So, I realised I need to change my spending pattern.
I tried looking into cheaper housing, but the decent places are outside of the city and I would be spending a lot on transport so it wouldn’t even make a difference. The really cheap places are too basic – I don’t think I could live there and consider it ‘home’. I love my studio apartment – it is nice and neat and not luxurious or anything. It also has the prefect location – I can walk to work in less than 5 minutes, my soi (street) is very local and authentic, but I’m still right in the city centre. I’m happy here. Since I’m also legally bound to my rental contract, I decided not to move to a cheaper (or really cheap) place after all.
I’ve also tried to keep a budget log for a couple of months now, but it hasn’t helped me spend less either. So, I decided I need a challenge. Just like my vegetarianism started out as a one-week challenge (that got extended further and further), I will try to adopt a new spending pattern through a one-month challenge: living off of just ฿100 (€2.40/$3.25) a day. This should definitely be possible since it’s the amount an average Thai person can live off, so why can’t I? Especially since I don’t have any transportation costs on an average work day. I’ll just have to cut down on expensive dinners (especially ‘foreign’ food like French fries and pizza), special drinks (fruit shakes and lattes), and being social (unless there’s no entrance fee, it’s walking distance and food/drinks are cheap). It’ll be just basic (Thai) food, simple drinks and ‘free’ time. [I might finally get to those books I’ve been wanting to read and watch those movies I saved on my computer a long time ago!]
So, for the month of October (exactly two and a half years after my veggie challenge), I will spend only ฿100 a day. I must already add that I will be cheating for three days (22-24 October) since I have planned a diving trip to Koh Phi Phi and I will surely not be able to spend only ฿100 a day as it wouldn’t even get me out of Bangkok! But, during those three days, I will only spend ฿100 a day on food and other shopping (so accommodation, transport and diving excluded). I do hope I will be able to uphold this challenge for a month – and beyond.
The only difficulty is when I travel, obviously. I enjoy travelling and on top of that, I am forced to do a visa run every three months. The last time I did a visa run was when I went to Cambodia by bus (to save money) and I still ended up spending a lot on transportation and food. So, I will have to make additional rules for when I’m not Bangkok-based maybe.
But for now, let’s see how the one-month challenge will go, starting this October!