Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Cost of Guilt (and other items)

On the heels of my last post about Togetherness, Michael has left me and the kids on the boat while he attends to some business in the US. After dropping him at the bus station yesterday morning so he could catch his bus to the Cabo airport, the kids and I decided to go for breakfast to pick up our spirits.  Their favorite breakfast spot is the Dock Cafe, at the marina, and it also happens to be expensive:  Breakfast cost almost 300 pesos or about $25.  That may not sound like a lot, but part of the goal for our adventure is to save money, not spend it.  We set out to spend significantly less than we would have had we stayed in the Bay Area, where just breathing seems to cost you your child’s college tuition. 

In addition, I had gotten used to the idea that I’d challenge myself to stay out at the anchorage in La Paz while Michael was away, and which would continue costing us nothing.  However, when it became apparent that he may be away for more than a week, we opted to bring the boat into the marina at a cost of about $30 per day plus electricity.  Why the dock?  Several reasons, which include: a) No need to dinghy ashore, b) no risk of our anchor dragging in high winds or a storm, c) no need to make our own water (use of the watermaker, or any system aboard a boat for that matter, carries a good risk that something will not work as it should; plus we’ve learned to use a water filter with the dock water so can now add the dock water to our tanks), d) no need to empty the heads (toilets) (an entire other blog post likely coming soon) as we can use the toilets at the marina, e) if needed, help is easier to get as dock neighbors are in closer proximity than the ones at anchor.  I so wanted to be able to say I stayed at anchor without Michael, but I’ll have to wait for that challenge another time.  In addition, I so wanted to save the several hundred dollars that staying at the marina will cost us.

Back in March, we were inspired by our friends aboard s/v Third Day, who keep a budget of their monthly spending on their blog, right there for everyone to scrutinize.  And I don’t blame them.  They should be proud – they spend ridiculously little for a family of four, including two teenaged kids.  As in less than $1200 per month (even after they upsized their boat).  I was in awe, and wanted to figure out how much we really spend.  In Liza Copeland’s Cruising for Cowards, the author’s upward monthly budget for two people was $1500 – and that was 15 years ago!  The upper end of estimated budgets are the result of extra trips home, more time at marinas than anchorages, and more eating out.  So far, this week, we can check off all three.

Back to the Whatcha Gonna Do budget.  We figure much more along Liza Copeland’s (upper) estimates, multiplied by two (given that we are four people), and then increased to account for the rise in cost of living over the past 15 years.   These costs do not include expenses for any land based obligations (house, car, insurance).   How do we know this?  I have come to record every cent (or peso) that we spend.

We’ve been doing okay, if we don’t count the spending frenzies on our trips home or to visit family in Toronto.  That sent our spending through the roof, increasing our monthly average by amounts too disappointing to share.  But we have also not wanted to deprive ourselves of the cruising experience so we do go out for meals on occasion.  Only not for $25 breakfasts.

And so in steps the guilt.  Between the $25 breakfast and the hundreds of dollars in  marina costs this month, I decided I would wash my own sheets.  Not washing-my-own-sheets-at-a-laundromat washing, but rather wash-my-own-sheets-in-my-own-buckets washing.  What possessed me?  Saving 100 pesos, that’s what.  Besides, my friend Paula on s/v Endurance told me she does it and it’s easy.  Not so for me.  It took all day.  I swore I’ll never do it again. 

But then I woke up this morning in sheets that were so velvety soft and smelled so clean (and not cheapo sinus-clogging perfumey clean like when I give it in to be washed at a laundromat).  I may just try it again, only next time I’ll do one set at a time.  And in the meantime, I’ll enjoy our time at the docks.

Signing off from Slip #146 at Marina de la Paz, La Paz, BCS, Mexico,

P.S.  You’ll be proud to know we also saved approximately 400 pesos (about $32) by washing our own boat – something cruisers love to do when they get onto a dock with unlimited water.  Our boat is now sparkly clean.

1 comment:

  1. You better save as much as you can until we get there because we plan on going atving and eating dinner out and we would like for you guys to join us.