Advertiser disclosure

Terms and Restrictions Apply
Physician on FIRE has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Physician on FIRE and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on the website are from advertisers. Compensation may impact on how and where card products appear on the site. POF does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Credit Card Providers determine the underwriting criteria necessary for approval, you should review each Provider’s terms and conditions to determine which card works for you and your personal financial situation.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.

My Life Costs $220 a Day. A Realistic Budget for a Family of Four.

Family of Four

Our budget for a family of four is two hundred and twenty dollars a day. That seems like a lot of money!

It’s pretty rare that I actually go out and spend $220. We couldn’t possibly be doing so day in and day out.

Or could we?

While I may not be handing over eleven $20 bills to someone every day, or charging $220 on our credit cards on a daily basis, expense tracking has shown us that, as a family of four, our burn rate is in the neighborhood of $220 a day.

The first 12 months I tracked it, we spent $74,000. Three months later, I had a 12-month calendar year tracked and the grand total was $62,000. The following year, we spent $61,000.

While these numbers may seem low, keep in mind our properties were paid off, our healthcare was employer-subsidized, and nearly all of our donations come from a separate Donor Advised Fund.

While our expenses were on the order of $170 to $200 a day, that didn’t include the portion of health insurance paid by my employer or a slush fund to replace our vehicles or perform home maintenance. The true budget for our family of four has been closer to $220 a day.


My Life Costs $220 a Day. A Realistic Budget for a Post-FI Family of Four.


I stopped tracking our spending toward the end of 2018. Empower does a reasonable job, as does Mint, but they do require some fine-tuning. Three years of tracking told me all I needed to know — that our spending was consistent and would give us a very safe and low withdrawal rate if we were to cease earning money completely.

Consistency is key, but we have entered a period of relative uncertainty. I left my job in August of 2019, and we’ve begun to have something I’ve never experienced before: location independence.

Before the pandemic hit, we spent two months in Mexico and two months in Spain. We planned to experience this type of slow travel much of the year, returning home to visit family and friends every summer and presumably around the holidays most years, as well.

When the conditions allow, we hope to return to a semi-nomadic existence again. Budgeting for that sort of existence can be difficult. The costs will depend a lot on where we’re living. If we spent 2/3 of the year visiting Iceland, New Zealand, and Singapore, the budget might break into the six-figure range.

Swap those destinations with budget-friendly places like Central America, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe, and we might not spend half as much.

Given the uncertain nature of our future budget, I can only do the best I can with the data I have. In today’s post, I’ll review what life at $220 a day might look like for a globetrotting family of four.


Health & Fitness Costs: $55 a day


Not surprisingly, healthcare figures to be tied for the highest line item in our post-FI budget. I’m assuming that even if the ACA survives in its current state, we won’t qualify for subsidies.

We took a close look at the healthcare sharing ministries. We are fortunately quite healthy with no serious pre-existing conditions, making these a potentially viable option. However, the exclusion for coverage of expenses related to certain vices combined with the fact that we’ll soon have teenagers made these programs less appealing.

We also looked at catastrophic policies and traditional insurance via the exchange and the open market. We ended up choosing a Bronze HSA Plan via the health care exchange. The cost for the premium alone for our family of four is just under $1,000 a month, or about $11,000

We will also want some kind of travel insurance plan for emergency care and/or evacuation. For trips of up to 60 or 90 days, a premium credit card can cover this. For longer trips, we’ll consider adding travel medical insurance.

Planning to eventually spend up to 8 months away from home each year, I don’t anticipate belonging to a gym, which will save us $2 to $3 a day compared to our previous spending.

For this budget, I’m planning on about $20,000 a year for our health and fitness needs, a number that accounts for ample out-of-pocket costs and future premium increases.


Learn how to better manage your student loan debt, and explore refinancing to a lower rate with cash back offers up to $1,000! Student Loan Resource Page


Travel Costs: $55 a Day


This is a tricky one when you’re planning to spend the majority of the year traveling. What is travel, exactly? Is it the same as a vacation budget?

In our case, we’re not counting food and drink in this category. We’re going to eat and we’re going to drink no matter where we are in the world. Our slow travel plans will involve staying in places with kitchens; we’ll be able to prepare most of our meals in the places we call home.

It’s not entertainment, either. We’ll have a separate budget for that. When you’re in no rush to squeeze in a bunch of activities in one short week, the entertainment costs are more spread out.

The travel costs I’m thinking about our transportation and lodging while away from home. We may spend up to 8 months vagabonding, and this budget gives us $2,500 a month. There will definitely be months where we spend more and others where we’ll spend less.

We could spend a month traveling the states in an RV we own for half of that $2,500 allotment. The same goes for spending time in Latin America and other affordable locales. Time spent at home won’t result in any travel costs, obviously.

We’ve also gotten pretty good at earning and redeeming miles and points for free flights and hotel stays. I anticipate saving thousands of dollars annually by continuing to take advantage of these opportunities.

Additional cost savings could come from home swapping and/or home sitting. Both are attractive options for people with the flexibility we’ll have and without the nightly cost of a hotel or Airbnb property.

Depending on the choices we make, this $20,000 allotment could be a generous or inadequate annual budget. Time will tell!


Budget for a Family of Four
a recent visit to the grand canyon


Grocery, Restaurant, and Drink Costs: $40 a Day


In recent years, our costs in this category, which includes meals cooked at home, eating out at restaurants, and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, has been in the range of $30 to $35 a day.

I’m upping the budget to $40 a day for a couple of reasons. One, we plan to be exploring new places, and that means eating out more. That doesn’t necessarily mean spending more; restaurant meals in Guanajuato, for example, were wonderfully inexpensive.

The second reason is that we’ve got growing boys. In a few years, we’ll have a teenager, and two years later, we’ll have two teenagers. I might have to double the food budget by then, but $40 a day seems realistic right now.


Automobiles: $25 a Day


As I mentioned, our prior spending reports did not include a sinking fund for the eventual replacement of aging vehicles. In the last ten years, we’ve picked up two late-model used vehicles for $20,000 and $28,000 apiece.

If we continue to own two vehicles, I anticipate replacing one about every five years (keeping each vehicle ten years) and spending maybe an average of $25,000 apiece. A big chunk of this budget is setting aside $5,000 a year (or about $13.70 a day) to cover that vehicle turnover.

The remaining $11.30 a day will cover gasoline, oil changes, tires, repairs, and insurance. We won’t have to budget in depreciation since I’ve already budgeted for replacement; in fact, any money gained from selling a used vehicle will supplement this portion of the budget.

There may be occasions where we need a rental car, but I envision many of our family travel experiences to occur in places where we can rely on our feet and public transportation to get around.

The budget may seem low, but we’ll likely have our car(s) idle for most of the year, and we could suspend insurance coverage at those times.

Also, notice I used parentheses when describing cars in the plural form. Right now, we have a “beater” ’06 Chevy HHR that gets pretty good gas mileage, and a ’17 Nissan Armada that gets pretty terrible gas mileage, but can haul a good-sized travel trailer.

We may decide at some point that it makes no sense to have two automobiles, and could be down to one. Eventually, we’ll be adding a third and fourth driver and we can expect both our auto and umbrella (currently ~$170 a year) insurance rates to rise dramatically.

Still, I think $25 a day for a family that won’t be using an automobile at all most of the year is a reasonable projection for the next several years.


Shopping, Gifts, and Miscellaneous: $16 a Day


This is a bit of a catch-all, and I’m basing this on past years with a moderate increase for unknown and unforeseen expenses while away from home.

Kids’ toys, Christmas and birthday gifts, gadgets, and random stuff like the aforementioned umbrella insurance, household goods, and tax preparation fall under this category.

We’ve got nearly $6,000 a year in this poorly defined section, which should help cover some “one time” odd expenses.

Like the others, I can envision being over budget in this category of randomness some years, and well under in others.


Primary Home: $12 a Day


Hold on. Twelve dollars a day for a home?

It could be true. We’re selling our current home and the tentative plan is to keep our second home as a landing base for several years. We’re also considering buying a larger but affordable place so we would have less stuff to store and more space to stretch out when we are home.

If the cabin is our only home, it costs us about $4,000 a year. That covers association fees, property taxes, home insurance, and utility bills. We own it outright, so the only additional costs would be the occasional repair. There’s only so much that can go wrong with a 700 square foot space, so those costs have been minimal.

For $12 a day, the lawn is mowed in the summer, driveways are plowed in the winter, and we have a beautiful shared sandy beach and playground. The dock is put in, as is our boat lift, and we’ve got a laundry facility on site just below our place. We’ve even got a place to store our boat in the winter, and it’s all paid for with our modest association dues.

If we end up with a different, larger place, I would expect our costs to go up between 50% to 100% in this category, but $12 a day will work for now.


Entertainment: $12 a Day


Like the catch-all category above, I’m basing these expenses on recent years with a modest increase. Most days, our entertainment budget is next to nothing, but other days, we go to places like Disneyland Paris or Disney World, and The Mouse is not a cheap date.

Depending on how we travel and where we go, I could see where we could spend more than we’ve budgeted here.

Are you detecting a pattern? I am.


Education: $5 a Day


Last, and least only in the monetary cost of it, is education.

Between piano, guitar, and ukelele lessons along with various activities, we’ve spent about an average of $4 a day in recent years.

We’re not going to abandon the instruments, but our kids will be using them less, and there may be a way to get some free musical education via a public school with an outreach program.

Something new for us will be homeschooling, or in our case, roadschooling or worldschooling, and I expect to have some costs associated with that. There are plenty of free resources like Khan Academy and online options via public schools, but there are also curriculums and workbooks for sale.

I think $5 a day, or nearly $2,000 a year, is a fairly generous budget for our kids’ education in the coming years.


Everything Else: $0 a Day


It may seem foolish to call “everything else” $0 a day when I’ve already got a grab basket “miscellaneous” category to capture the random expenses that don’t fit tidily into one category. However, there are some notable missing categories that ought to be addressed.


Donations: $0 a Day


Will we be selfish with our money when I leave my high-paying job? Of course not. A reason that I’ve worked one more year several times over and continue to work hard on this site is to have the ability to give generously despite retiring early.

We’ve built up our donor advised fund (DAF) to allow for five-figure donations annually with a sustainable 4% withdrawal rate.

In fact, the income from Physician on FIRE will continue to increase the flow to and from our DAF, and I anticipate donating six-figures annually for the foreseeable future in accordance with our charitable mission to donate a good chunk of my profits.

The reason I say $0 a day is the fact that nearly all of our donations will come from a DAF rather than our retirement funds. There will be the random $20 raffle ticket or $1 lollipop here and there, but we can categorize those in the miscellaneous category above.


Financial Advisor: $0 a Day


If we were working with a financial advisor charging a typical flat 1% to 1.5% AUM fee, our initial costs would be in the range of $40,000 to $60,000 a year.

In other words, by managing my own investments, I’m avoiding a cost of around $110 to $160 a day, or mor than half of the outlined budget.

If we actually stick to this budget (and never earn another penny), we’ll have a withdrawal rate of about 2%, and I anticipate our assets to grow, meaning the cost of a financial advisor charging a percentage of assets under management would only increase over time, as well.

This financial planning fee would clearly be the most expensive line item in the budget, and it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where the cost could eclipse all other retirement expenses combined. Of course, this would only happen if the withdrawal rate becomes lower than the AUM fee as a percentage, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

I think it’s a great idea to learn enough to do your own financial planning and investment management, and it’s my goal to give you the tools to do so. The White Coat Investor’s signature course is a great way to jump-start that process.

For those not interested in going it alone, you can find flat-fee and hourly advisors who commonly work with physicians on my short list of recommended financial advisors.


Beer: $0 a Day


No, not really! Beer’s a part of the Grocery, Restaurant, and Drink budget.



Higher Education: $0 a Day


Our kids have well-funded 529 Plans. As long as I’m earning some online income, I’ll continue contributing to them, but I don’t feel that we need to, and it doesn’t need to be a part of this budget.

If the state of Michigan wants to give me an instant 4.25% boost on money invested in their 529 plan, I’ll continue building up those balances.


Income Tax: $0 a Day


I’ll have some earned income, so we will have to pay some income tax, but if we were fully retired instead of retired not retired, our federal income tax bill on this kind of budget could easily be zero. See The Taxman Leaveth for details.

When my online income is my only income, I expect to pay something less than ten percent. I recently projected the distribution of a hypothetical million dollar revenue year. The breakdown looked something like this:

  • 1/3 to expenses and profit sharing
  • 1/3 to charity
  • 1/3 to me and the tax man, with a better than 4:1 ratio for me, or about 26% of the total pocketed, with 7% going to pay FICA and income taxes.


Is This Truly a Realistic Budget?


I’d like to think we can live a good life, doing the things we want to do, with a budget of $220 a day, or $80,300 a year ($80,520 in 2020, a leap year). I’m familiar with a physician family larger than mine doing extraordinary things all over the world on a smaller budget. Their adventures chronicled in Big Family Small World are inspiring.

To summarize, here’s the proposed budget in table format.


Category Daily Cost
Health & Fitness $55
Travel $55
Grocery, Restaurants, and Drink $40
Automobiles $25
Shopping, Gifts, & Miscellaneous $16
Primary Home $12
Entertainment $12
Education $5
Total $220


What does this look like on an annual basis?


Category Annual Cost
Health & Fitness $20,075
Travel $20,075
Grocery, Restaurants, and Drink $14,600
Automobiles $9,125
Shopping, Gifts, & Miscellaneous $5,840
Primary Home $4,380
Entertainment $4,380
Education $1,825
Total $80,300


A family abiding by the 4% Rule could do this with just a hair over $2 Million. $2.5 Million would give you a very safe 3.2% withdrawal rate with this budget.

It may be that we feel a need or desire to spend more. If that’s the case, that’s what we’ll do. I say we’re further on the spectrum towards fatFIRE as opposed to leanFIRE, and if the budget stretches to closer to $300 a day or $100,000 a year, we’ll still be in good shape with a withdrawal rate well below 3%.

That’s assuming all income-generating opportunities are abandoned for life. Readers of my newsletter know that this site generates a decent income for me, my shareholders, and our charitable mission.




Could this be a realistic budget for you and your family? Where would you spend more? Where would you cut back? I look forward to your thoughts in the comments below.


Share this post:

48 thoughts on “My Life Costs $220 a Day. A Realistic Budget for a Family of Four.”

  1. Pingback: Top 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Listen to a Word I Say - Passive Income MD
  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  3. Pingback: How My Investing Changed After Financial Independence - Passive Income MD
  4. Pingback: Top 5 Financial Priorities for an Early Career Physician - Passive Income MD
  5. Pingback: Top 5 Financial Priorities for an Early Career Physician - Passive Income - Passive Income MD - Wealth Santa
  6. Pingback: Stealth Wealth and Financial Independence: A Q&A with PoF - Wispost
  7. Pingback: Stealth Wealth and Monetary Independence: A Q&A with PoF - Make Funds Internet
  8. Pingback: Stealth Wealth and Financial Independence: A Q&A with PoF - Passive Income M.D.
  9. Pingback: I Match Your Home Haircuts, and I Raise You the Sofa We Found on the Sidewalk – Furniture Consignment
  10. Pingback: I Match Your Home Haircuts, and I Raise You the Sofa We Found on the Sidewalk
  11. Incrowd_surveys

    Physicians and pharmacists, Register with Incrowd for the opportunity to earn easy money with quick "microsurveys" tailored to your specialty.

  12. Pingback: I Match Your Residence Haircuts, and I Elevate You the Couch We Discovered on the Sidewalk | White Coat Investor - financial turn
  13. Pingback: How to Live it Up and Still Achieve FIRE – On9Income
  14. Pingback: How My Investing Changed After Financial Independence - The Physician Philosopher
  15. Pingback: Mainstream Media Misses the Mark on the FIRE Movement - The Physician Philosopher
  16. Pingback: My 5 Current and 3 Future Passive Income Streams – TableTop Wealth
  17. Pingback: Teach Your Kids About Money with the Bank of Mom and Dad | The Physician Philosopher
  18. Hi PoF,
    Many thanks for all of your blogs, I’ve enjoyed reading them. I have a MESP for my kids and didn’t realize there was an instant 4.25% boost from the fund. Could you elaborate more on that comment?
    Many thanks!
    By the way, we are planning to take a gap year in 2-3 years and world travel with our 3 kids, I look forward to hear and learn more from your experiences.

    • The state income tax deduction puts 4.25% of the first $10,000 you put in back into your pocket.

      The 529 plan doesn’t grow by 4.25%, but you save that much on taxes annually.

      Enjoy the gap year; I’ll bet you’re all looking forward to that!


  19. POF Thanks for the breakdown. You are right on the money for your retirement. I retired from medicine in 2017, so 2018 was my first full tax year as a retired person. We live a nice life with a lot of travel. Our life includes a 4,000 square foot paid for house, a motorhome, three cars, and a time share. Our travel included the following in 2018:
    10 day cruise to Mexico with the kids.
    31 day cruise to South America.
    4 day cruise to Cuba.
    8 weeks in time shares located in San Juan Capistrano, Welches, Reno, Florida 5 weeks.
    Family reunion in California
    2 week motorhome trip
    1 week in a hotel in Scottsdale, AZ
    We spent almost exactly $100,000 for the year.
    It broke down to $275 a day.
    I wouldn’t worry too much about how you will get by when you are no longer working as an anesthesiologist. The money will be just fine.
    I’m putting your story on Fawcett’s Favorites this week.
    Good travels.
    Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
    Prescription for Financial Success

    • Thanks for sharing, Cory.
      There is nothing like getting information from someone who has actually done it.
      That is so much more valuable than our speculation.

  20. Neat walk through of your spending!
    Have you found that you have had to fight off expenses related to your kids? I have 2 young ones and people always tell me that kids are expensive but so far they are incredibly cheap.

    I’m not sure if I just haven’t hit the expensive part of parenting yet or if people just like excuses to spend money and use their children as one?

    My oldest is plenty happy to just play with the same lego set all the time and my youngest just wants to smack pots and pans together…annoying…but frugal 😛

  21. Great breakdown of your projected expenses! My husband and I are a dual physician couple half way through our one year sabbatical. We have been travelling in our RV – hitting national parks on the west coast. Even just in the western coast of the US, a year of travel is not enough. We have learned so much about American culture, nature and geology. We’ve spent more time with family in 6 months than we’ve ever had in 10 years. We’ve met friends we haven’t seen in years! Welso learned a lot about ourselves and still learning something new everyday. We are definitely far from FI, and we have decided to take things slow once we go back to the workforce.
    As for expenses, our health insurance is the biggest expense. We pay for it ourselves and it is about 800/mo for 2 healthy 40 year olds. Our only consolation is that it is HSA-eligible. Gas/Transpo expenses are next as gas/parking is very expensive here in California. We keep camping expenses minimal because we have a class B campervan and do not need to be hooked up in RV sites all the time. Our RV is paid for and right now, we consider it our home. We never had a sticks and bricks house, and may never will. All in all, our expenses are the same as before. RV’ing is definitely a cheap way to see the real US.
    Have the adventure of a lifetime! Your boys will have a blast!

  22. I love this daily break down (though I stumbled when I got to the beer part, lol). It’s another way to look at things. I tend to look at things in monthly averages, so this was a neat post to read to get another view. (And thanks for the mention/link!)

  23. That’s pretty good. $220/day seems reasonable for your family.
    Our budget is about $60,000/year as well, but that includes the mortgage.
    Once our son is out and the mortgage paid off, then our expense should look better.
    Of course, we’d probably be ready to spend more on ourselves by then. I suspect the budget will look similar even after the mortgage is paid off.

  24. I’m impressed with how much you save. Your $220 a day. It is doable for a frugal couple in a low cost of living area.

    That is 50% more than the average American family.

    We spend about twice the average. That’s $330 a month or $120k a year.

  25. I have only one boy and his food budget alone far exceeds this. If we go out for dinner, he will order two dinners at least or down a 27oz steak which isn’t cheap. I budget grocery shop, but when one person is eating over 6000 calories/day (he’s an athlete, tall and skinny) things like the milk budget alone far exceed your planning. Other than the food budget given you have boys i think you have a manageable budget. We have morphed into more extravagant travel and don’t even look for budget deals, but there is nothing wrong with budget travel…we did it for years (but that’s behind us now).

    The only other expense missing is you can’t use the 529 for everything. One of the biggest expenses is the travel to/from school for our son. He is out of state so there are at least 6-8 flights/year plus shuttle, bag fees, etc that a 529 won’t cover. Not sure you put that in your travel budget otherwise. You just don’t know where you kids will end up. Even with a scholarship these are out of pocket parental expenses (and you will have potentially x 2). Even I went to an out of state school and was on a full-ride, and the travel was the burdensome expense on my parents (lots of flights, Amtrak, buses or if they came to pick me up would involve at least one night in a hotel).

    Big yes to the additional cost when your boys drive. Car insurance rates will double at a minimum and umbrella will double (teenage/young adult driver becomes you largest liability). Ours tripled with including a good student discount. With him away at school he is dropped to the “away at school without a car status” and it still isn’t cheap. I guess they figure they still have access to driving others cars ,etc.

    • Maybe I’ll have wrestlers. I doubt I consumed 600 calories a day, let alone 6,000, when I had to make weight.

      My guess / hope is that any increased transportation costs when our kids are off to school will be offset by the fact that we’ll be a household of two, at least most of the year. I also have a feeling our kids will have substantial college credits built up by the time they’re 18.

      There are many unknowns, and I feel the most prudent plan is to have plenty of wiggle room in the budget to spend a lot more than anticipated. I’ve never budgeted before, and don’t really intend to stick to any strict budget, but I know we can’t spend half the year in four-star hotels (nor would we want to). I’ll just keep an eye on where we’re at, and I imagine we’ll fall into a spending pattern that works.


      • Right, the beauty of a budget with wiggle room is that it is fungible….but some folks have these huge 529 pots and need to remember there are plenty of expenses absolutely not covered by a 529. your post just seemed to say the kids at that point will be “covered” by 529 and that is not always the case. Need wiggle room or the ability to shift around. if the non-covered college expenses are low, just leaves more beer budget 🙂

  26. This is why I enjoy your blog, it’s a bit more in line with what I expect our future to cost. One thing that my wife and I have been half joking about (but not really?) is to look into how residency works in Quebec. We are kinda francophones and we loved visiting Montreal, I’d definitely live there.

    Becoming expats is something that appeals to us, we aren’t strangers to living abroad (we did a sabbatical for 6mo before having kids). It would really drive those healthcare costs down.

    My friend was looking up property laws and costs for Quebec, that would be an interesting house hack. Buy a property, rent it out to pay off the mortgage, have it be a summer place or just a place we get ready to move into in the future. No idea on the math of that or if it makes any sense, like I said we were kind of half joking.

    One thing is for sure, the future will have a lot of options and we aren’t afraid to do some geo-arbitrage to get some of those costs down.

    • Dual citizenship in a place with quality, affordable healthcare could be a huge boon. There are sites dedicated to this kind of thing. I’ve read about the “golden visa” for Portugal, which can get you EU residency, I believe.


  27. Always intrigued by posts like this. Our burn rate is much higher and I feel that we already live pretty simply.

    Big differences would include:
    * the cost of keeping our mothership/base camp humming…taxes, insurance, 50 degree thermostat, low level electricity…easily 3x yours.
    * travel costs…I just can’t wrap my head around yours. I’ve spent 10k alone on airfare for two trips this year. Partly because I pay more for better seats, partly because of the destination/season, partly because I am not interested in credit card hacking/churn. We like to have a car (yeah, I’ve done the bus/walk/hitch thing); even on extended rental rates this is costing 30/day and I have not had success looking into leasing. In terms of lodging, we are again pretty far apart. We’ve done the slow travel thing for a couple weeks at a time and still manage to spend a fair bit; the cheapest you can go is rent, right? If all of your travel budget is spent on lodging, that gives you $1650…that’s a nice place in many parts of the world, but won’t get you very far in any of the places we’ve slow traveled so far (not counting adventures in my 20s-30s). Simply put, there is absolutely no way that we are living on an average of 55/day. Maybe 5x/that?

    Dunno, guess this post is a wake-up call…although I am FI, my expenses will go UP (a lot) if I FIRE! Looking forward to following your journey.

    • A few tips:

      Subscribe to Scott’s Cheap Flights. We used it to book 2 months in Ecuador this fall for $382 apiece roundtrip. A week later, they sent out “mistake fares” for under $200 to the same destination! There’s a paid service, but I just get the free emails for now.

      If you’re willing to let other people use your home while you use theirs, house swapping can be a good way to “hack” your vacation stay. If you’re willing to care for someone’s pets, you don’t have to give up your home to stay in someone else’s. I haven’t done either of these yet, but we may do both within the next year. Some house swaps will also include a car swap.

      Some places, we’ll want to rent a car, but you can do just fine without in many cities that are large enough for a rail / subway system or small enough that you can walk pretty much anywhere. It was nice to have a car in Hawaii, but we were happy not to have one in Guanajuato (small enough) and Paris (large enough).

      Also, keep in mind that the travel budget isn’t what we’re living on. Food, drink, and entertainment are additional costs that are accounted for elsewhere.

      I’ll be honest, though. I set out to make a $200 a day mock budget, and I couldn’t swing it. The only way to realistically do it on $220 a day is with some clever non-traditional stays. All Airbnb and VRBO stays simply will not work unless we cut way back on the time away from home.


  28. Great, detailed article but you left one burning question unanswered: Will you make PoF World Tour t-shirts? I’m thinking of the gnarly illustrations from the 1980s of my youth, perhaps less macabre than Iron Maiden or Motley Crue since you run a family-friendly site, but with plenty of flair? If you hire Dave from Accidental Fire to develop your witty catch phrases, sales alone could fund your travel.

    I’ll take one with cutoff arm holes, and another with a bare midriff for the Mrs.

    • Like, maybe 37 pieces of flair?

      I’ll ship the shirts factory-made. Feel free to modify to your heart’s content. The horizontal slits are a nice touch.


    • Good catch, FF!

      That project is on indefinite hold. I’ll eventually have a post about the sunk cost fallacy in which I detail what we decided to do.

      First, we’ve got to decide what to do.


  29. Nice breakdown. I am looking forward to the tales from the road during slow travel, something that sounds wonderful but has likely passed me by. I am also interested to see if you will be able to find beer that is as creative and delicious as we have in the USA. It could be the subject of a new, separate blog.

    • You know, I’ve heard about innovative beers being brewed all over the world. Maybe I’ll be the next Michael Jackson (the “beer hunter,” not that other one).


  30. I was nervous for you when I was reading this until you said that was based on a sub 3% withdrawal. Almost every category has potential to go up and being an early retiree this money needs to last quite a while. So it seemed that you were cutting it pretty close but if you have that much more to draw from you have a nice buffer. You also have your income from this site.
    It will be quite the adventure. Your kids will get some experiences that others never dreamed of but they will also have a very different view of life. Most of this is for the better but I would just make sure they understand this is only possible because you worked hard and lived way below your means.
    I wish you the best on this grand adventure! I am sure you will keep us posted on the way.

    • You know, Lordosis, I’m really glad I did this exercise. It showed me that an $80,000 a year budget is not as generous as it seems for a family that was previously spending even less.

      I think we’ll have an opportunity to spend less than $20,000 on healthcare if a sharing ministry proves to be a viable option. I’m also more motivated now to start looking at house sitting and/or home swapping opportunities. I know people that have done both, and it seems appealing. Similar to Airbnb, but instead of swapping money, you’re using your own home or your pet-sitting (or plant-watering) skills.

      Regarding the kids, we remind them regularly that this opportunity is only open to us because I’ve saved most of the money I’ve earned. They’re old enough to get it now, I think. Or at least have some clue.


      • Any other tips on raising kids that are financially literate and budget aware?

        We’ve attached money to work with “comission-able” extra chores. We encourage lemonade stand entrepreneurship (even a book with door to door sales!) We have give, save, spend jars for each kid. The kids are all still under 10.

        Thanks for sharing the budget!

  31. Detailed breakdown and something every retiree, early or not, should do before they pull the plug.

    The $0/day for taxes brought a smile to my face and hopefully I can accomplish something similar but it may not be possible for me.

    Even with a fully paid off home there is still considerable housing expenses for me (my property tax alone is $4050/yr which is your entire budget). Throw in utilities and just expected maintenance and it can really add up.

    I am anxious to see your 1 year and 2 year out reports post retirement and see how they compared to your current budget. Most likely they are pretty similar as you already had a couple of years test run.

    • The more I thought about what we want these next few years to look like (or think we want them to look like), the more I realized it would make sense to keep our baseline home costs low. $4,050 for property taxes is pretty darned low, too. We pay more than that on our primary home right now, and I hear from people paying more than 5x that out east!


  32. So exciting to hear what your travel experiences will look like. We eventually opted out of traveling during the year because of the boys’ schooling, but it was a big dream of mine. Will you travel for a couple of years and then stay put for them to do high school/middle school, or do you think you’ll travel indefinitely? Excited to hear more about your adventures!

    • Most likely, we’ll settle in somewhere for high school. Taking it one year and one adventure at a time.


    • Most likely the latter — I expect they’ll want a more traditional high school experience and will probably benefit from some quality teachers and role models as they get older. These late grade school / middle school years seem like a great time to explore the world.


  33. Interesting breakdown. I will be looking forward to posts on the homeschooling – having your kids write their perspective would be great too!

  34. This sounds almost too good to be true, but it seems the math checks out! Until you said zero dollars for beer! Blasphemy, but alas it was an April fool’s joke 🙂

    My wife and I need to be better about tracking spending. We used to do it well, but have stopped in the last six months. We are achieving our financial goals, which is what matters… but we will have to get back to tracking our spending to be able to figure out how much we need (Though I have a good idea, anyway from prior months tracking spending).

    P.S. Looking forward to those zero dollar tax bills!


Leave a Comment


Doctor Loan up to 100% Financing

Related Articles

Join Thousands of Doctors on the Path to FIRE

Get exclusive tips on how to reclaim control of your time and finances.