Financial Friday 69

Locations: Belgrade [Serbia], Thessaloniki [Greece]

Week 69 on the road is done. A few very unexpected expenses came up so here we go….

Transportation

On Tuesday, I took a bus from Београд (Belgrade) to Θεσσαλονίκη (Thessaloniki): $60.58. Ouch! I hadn’t planned on returning to Ελλάδα (Greece) this soon, but it’s the cheapest way I could find to get back to საქართველო (Georgia). I hadn’t planned on going back to Georgia just yet either, but….

I discovered last Friday that someone had managed to steal my debit card information. They used it to make a few online purchases so I had to lock the card. Since that’s the way I was getting cash, I needed to find another way to pay for general living expenses. Greece accepts credit cards in far more instances than the rest of it’s Balkan neighbors so returning was a good idea from that standpoint as well. More on this fiasco in another post though. Back to expenses….

Accommodation

Friday to Monday were at a hostel in Belgrade. There’s a slight difference in price due to currency/exchange fluctuations. The hostel was almost empty, and I got a while 6 bed dorm to myself! Which was nice.

Tuesday night was spent on an overnight bus so no accommodation charge! Thought it did make me almost useless on Wednesday….

Wednesday and Thursday were spent at a hostel in Thessaloniki. This hostel is a little different and charge variable rates based on (I’m assuming) demand. Weirdoes….

Food

There isn’t much to say here. Food in Greece is more expensive (but better) than the other Balkan countries I visited.

Other

Travel insurance: $5.03 per day.

VPN: $0.26 per day.

Amazon Prime: $0.33 per day.

This blog: $0.31 per day.

Skype: $0.08 per day.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: $0.41 per day.

Pimsleur’s Russian: $0.69 per day.

On Friday, the hostel did my laundry: $5.72. It was a bit expensive, but they dried (something I’m not used to) and folded it so I’m not complaining.

On Wednesday, I topped up my mobile data for Greece: $20.00 for 1G.

Summary

Week 69
CategoryFriSatSunMonTueWedThuTotal
Travel000060.580060.58
Lodging10.9510.6710.6710.67014.9319.5277.41
Food3.2412.7704.173.355.598.8337.95
Other12.837.117.117.117.1127.117.1175.49
Total27.0230.5517.7821.9571.0447.6335.46251.43

So, a little more expensive due to travel costs. Still though, it wasn’t terrible. See you all next week….

Financial Friday 68

Locations: Ohrid, Skopje [North Macedonia]; Belgrade [Serbia]

Week 68 of perpetual travel. Let’s get into it….

Transportation

On Friday, I took a bus from Охрид (Ohrid) to Скопје (Skopje): $8.74. Ohrid was chilly, but nice. It’s a peaceful town next to a huge lake. I highly recommend going if you’re in North Macedonia.

On Wednesday, I took a bus from Skopje to Београд (Belgrade): $23.38. In retrospect, I probably should have gone somewhere closer in Serbia. The 9 hour ride was a bit long, and involved changing buses in Ниш (Niš).

Accommodation

Friday to Tuesday were at the same hostel in Skopje. The differences in price are a result of exchange rate fluctuations, and what kind of deal I could get.

Travel tip: For those of us that are from the US, I highly recommend getting a Charles Schwab checking account. It’ll enable you to pull cash out of ATMs in the local currency at [almost always] the best rates. Additionally, they’ll refund any charges the banks said ATMs belong to add on.

Wednesday and Thursday were in a hostel in Belgrade: $10.95 per night. It appears to still be low season since there aren’t many guests here. I got a whole 6 bed dorm to myself! It also means I don’t have a lot of people to socialize with unless I go out though. So good and bad….

Food

There isn’t much to say here. I’ve been eating out every day since I wasn’t sure when I was going where, and didn’t want to leave a bunch of extra groceries behind. The plus side is once you’ve been somewhere for a while, you know where to get the cheapest good food.

Other

Travel insurance: $5.03 per day.

VPN: $0.26 per day.

Amazon Prime: $0.33 per day.

This blog: $0.31 per day.

Skype: $0.08 per day.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: $0.41 per day.

On Friday, my subscription to Pimsleur’s Russian course renewed. Since there are 31 days in May the price per day went from $0.71 to $0.69. Yay, long months!

On Saturday, I went to Водно (Vodno). It’s one of the mountains surrounding Skopje. The bus was free since it was a weekend. I did end up spending $1.82 for the cable car to the top. The view was spectacular though it was a bit windy so I’d recommend going on a warm day.

On Wednesday, I purchased data for my travel SIM for Serbia: $20.00. The rates here are far cheaper than North Macedonia. If I had a local SIM, they’d probably be about the same.

Summary

Week 68
CategoryFriSatSunMonTueWedThuTotal
Travel8.74000023.38032.12
Lodging9.659.839.839.839.8610.9510.9570.9
Food42.736.373.744.756.0410.137.73
Other7.138.957.137.137.1327.137.1171.71
Total29.5221.5123.3320.721.7467.528.16212.46

So there’s this week’s spending. See you all next week.

Financial Friday 67

Locations: Skopje, Ohrid [North Macedonia]

Week 67 on the road, and I finally did something. I’m such a lazy traveler….

Transportation

On Monday, I took a bus from Скопје (Skopje) to Охрид (Ohrid): $8.21. Ohrid is a town on a lake in the mountains. It’s beautiful, but can be a little chillier than you’d expect since it’s at elevation.

Accommodation

Friday and Saturday were the last of my month long AirBnB stay: $14.39 per night. You can get some really good deals if you’re willing to stay for a couple weeks or longer.

Sunday was at a hostel: $8.49. I ended up having a 6 bed dorm room to myself. This is why traveling in the off season is so cool.

Monday to Thursday were spent at a hostel in Ohrid: $11.30 per night. It’s a little on the high side for a hostel in North Macedonia, but breakfast was included so…. Not that I look for that; I actually tend to look for places that don’t include breakfast, but the hostel looked like my best option in the city.

Food

Most of the weekend was spent finishing off my groceries. I ended up spending a bit more than usual on food in Ohrid, because of going out and drinking a bit. I met some fun travelers though so…winning!

Other

Travel insurance: $5.03 per day.

VPN: $0.26 per day.

Amazon Prime: $0.33 per day.

This blog: $0.31 per day.

Skype: $0.08 per day.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: $0.41 per day.

Pimsleur Russian: $0.71 per day.

On Friday, I got my teeth cleaned: $18.24. I really should take better care of my teeth. On the plus side, it’s super cheap!

On Thursday, some new friends and I rented a boat, and sailed around Lake Ohrid for about an hour: $4.56 for my part. It was pretty fun.

Travel tip: don’t go with someone that comes to you; they’re overpriced. The people that sit back, and don’t care if anyone asks them for a ride are far cheaper.

Summary

Week 67
CategoryFriSatSunMonTueWedThuTotal
Travel0008.210008.21
Lodging14.3914.398.4911.311.311.311.382.47
Food004.5613.519.694.113.6845.54
Other25.377.137.137.137.137.1311.6972.71
Total39.7621.5220.1840.1528.1222.5336.67208.93

So that’s pretty good; especially since it included traveling. See you all next week.

Financial Friday 66

Location: Skopje [North Macedonia]

Week 66 on the road….

Transportation

Zero. Settling somewhere is cheap!

Accommodation

The AirBnB is running me $14.59 per day. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for almost a month. This will change next week.

Food

So yeah, this part is pretty boring. The only thing I did was go grocery shopping, and eat what I bought. I know…lame.

Other

Travel insurance: $5.57 per day.

VPN: $0.26 per day.

Amazon Prime: $0.33 per day.

This blog: $0.31 per day.

Skype: $0.08 per day.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: $0.41 per day.

Pimsleur’s Russian subscription: $0.71 per day.

On Wednesday, I bought season 7 of Game of Thrones. I’m well aware that’s not the current one but…what can I say; I’m a little behind on trends. (So stop posting spoilers, everyone on Instagram). Ordinarily this would have cost me $28.88, but I had Amazon credit from a survey so it was free!

A bit of a hack: if you have spare time, it can pay (literally!) to participate in Amazon’s Preview Program (not sure if that’s the actual name). Most of the surveys aren’t paid, and you just give your opinion. However, if they need a lot of your time (like a few hours) within the next week, they’ll generally compensate you. The more you know.

On Thursday, I topped up my mobile data: $30.00. I probably should have gotten a local SIM, but I’m soooo lazy….

Summary

Week 66
CategoryFriSatSunMonTueWedThuTotal
Travel00000000
Lodging14.3914.3914.3914.3914.3914.3914.39100.73
Food00015.2008.3223.52
Other7.137.137.137.137.137.1337.1379.91
Total21.5221.5221.5236.7221.5221.5259.84204.16

So yeah, a lot of blanks…. And for April:

Apr 18
CategoryWeek 62Week 63Week 64Week 65Week 66Total
Travel47.622.7900050.41
Lodging48.73100.73100.73100.7371.95422.87
Food22.3356.1841.6722.8915.2158.27
Other67.1677.2983.4253.1535.65316.67
Total185.84236.99225.82176.77122.8948.22

That’s surprisingly good. Any month that comes in at less than $1,000 makes my wallet very happy. See you all next week….

Financial Friday 65

Location: Skopje [North Macedonia]

Week 65 looks pretty boring from a financial perspective. To demonstrate this….

Transportation

Zero. I walked everywhere.

Accommodation

The AirBnB comes out to $14.59 per day.

Food

I went out to eat once, and bought groceries once. The rest of the time was cooking for myself. FYI, my grocery bills are probably a lot lower than normal since: there’s just one of me; I eat cheap food (eggs, canned tuna, nuts, etc). However, I can definitely say food here is a lot cheaper than Greece so….

Other

Travel insurance: it was $5.57 per day until Wednesday. On Thursday, my new policy kicked in which is a bit cheaper: $5.05 per day! I guess I get a discount for being with World Nomads for over a year and not making any claims?

VPN: $0.26 per day.

Amazon Prime: $0.33 per day.

This blog: $0.31 per day.

Skype: $0.08 per day.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: $0.41 per day.

Pimsleur subscription (language learning; currently Russian): $0.71 per day.

Summary

Week 65
CategoryFriSatSunMonTueWedThuTotal
Travel00000000
Lodging14.3914.3914.3914.3914.3914.3914.39100.73
Food0003.6719.220022.89
Other7.677.677.677.677.677.677.1353.15
Total22.0622.0622.0625.7341.2822.0621.52176.77

So yeah…being boring is fantastic for the wallet. And it’s been kinda nice to just relax. See you all next week.

Financial Friday 64

Location: Skopje [North Macedonia]

Week 64 on the road….

Transportation

Zero. I stayed in town, and walked everywhere.

Accommodation

The AirBnB is running me $14.39 per day. And it’s awesome! A whole family could stay here, and I’ve got it all to myself.

Food

Food this week mostly involved me going to the grocery store. Incidentally, if you don’t want to pay double or more for groceries (at least in North Macedonia), go to the stores. They scan stuff, and can’t mark up the prices without it being super obvious so you end up getting the same price as the locals.

It really hurts for me to say that, because I love markets where a bunch of locals can set up shop, and sell their wares. And in Georgia, you could absolutely do that. Reason #832705307 to go to Georgia.

Other

Travel insurance: $5.57 per day.

VPN: $0.26 per day.

Amazon Prime: $0.33 per day.

This blog: $0.31 per day.

Skype: $0.08 per day.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: $0.41 per day.

On Saturday, I topped up my mobile data again: $30.00. I think this is turning out to be the most overpriced thing I’m buying here. The local SIMs are far cheaper. I guess that’s the price I pay for not having to find a plan? (This would actually be really easy since I’ve seen them at every travel hub, and anyone that works near these hubs speaks English).

Also on Saturday, I went to the local holocaust museum: $1.86. It was really interesting. Only about half of it was dedicated to the 1940s. The rest talked about the Jew’s experiences in the Balkans before World War II. If you’re a big history nerd like me, I highly recommend it.

On Monday, I bought a monthly subscription to Pimsleur’s Russian language course: $0.71 per day for this month. I thought since Macedonian is a Slavic language, I could try to learn Russian from the locals here, but the languages are different enough that that’s not really going to work. What I can say is that Pimsleur’s awesome! If you’re trying to learn another language and you’re a beginner, I highly recommend checking them out; especially since they now have monthly subscription plans. It used to cost $200+ for a bunch of CDs. So it’s far more affordable now.

Summary

Week 64
CategoryFriSatSunMonTueWedThuTotal
Travel00000000
Lodging14.3914.3914.3914.3914.3914.3914.39100.73
Food12.050015.9200.9212.7841.67
Other6.9638.826.967.677.677.677.6783.42
Total33.453.2121.3537.9822.0622.9834.84225.82

So there’s another week down. See you all next week.

Financial Friday 63

Locations: Skopje, Matka [North Macedonia]

Week 63….

Transportation

This was pretty easy. On Saturday, I took a bus to Matka Canyon: $2.79. It’s between 30-60 minutes from Скопjе (Skopje) depending on traffic. I highly recommend it; especially if you like nature and [easy] hiking.

Accommodation

I booked an AirBnB for a month. It’s on the 9th (top) floor of an apartment building, has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and a small balcony that looks out over a portion of the city. The best part: it’s only setting me back $14.39 per day! It’s cheaper than my 6 bedroom dorm at the hostel in Θεσσαλονίκη (Thessaloniki), and have it all to myself.

Food

Saturday ended up being relatively expensive since I spent the day eating and drinking with friends. Tuesday cost a bit more because I ate out and got groceries; which made the rest of the week pretty cheap food-wise.

For reference: there’s a restaurant I like to hit up a couple times a week. My favorite meal is liver with fries, a plate full of шопска (shopska) salad (cucumber, tomato, and lots of shredded cheese), and tea. And it costs less than $4. So yeah, you can eat well here if you don’t go to the ‘expensive’, river-front restaurants.

Other

Travel insurance: $5.57 per day.

VPN: $0.26 per day.

Amazon Prime: $0.33 per day.

This blog: $0.31 per day.

Skype: $0.08 per day.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: $0.41 per day.

On Saturday, I took a boat down Matka Canyon to a cave: $7.43. We had to do something super touristy, and the price is fairly cheap for a tourist trap. Incidentally, the only real way to the cave is to take a boat. Unless you feel like walking, and swimming across the river in the canyon (that’s free). Though if you want to do that, I’d recommend trying it during the summer as the water doesn’t get over 10 degrees Celsius. That’s not a problem for Wim Hof fans, but for us non-trained humans, that’s pretty cold.

On Sunday, I bought some Dr. Who content from Amazon. I got the latest new years’ special: normally $5.34; and season 11: normally $27.81. Since I had Amazon credit for taking a survey, it actually cost me $3.15 for both. It pays to take some surveys. Thanks Amazon!

On Monday, I bought a couple expansions for Age of Wonders III. They were discounted to $17.97 for both of them. What can I say, I have a slight video game problem.

Summary

Week 63
CategoryFriSatSunMonTueWedThuTotal
Travel02.79000002.79
Lodging14.3914.3914.3914.3914.3914.3914.39100.73
Food2.4220.221.128.3819.24.84056.18
Other6.9614.4110.1124.936.966.966.9677.29
Total23.7751.8125.6247.740.5526.1921.35236.99

So my first real week in North Macedonia ended up costing about the same as a settled week in Greece. Things are definitely cheaper here. See you all next week.