Family of Four Taking Flight to Financial Independence

Early Retirement: May 2021 Monthly Expenses

We have now been in Granada for about 7 weeks which means we had our first full month living in the city (May 1 - May 31).  In this post we are going to go over our expenses in our first (full) month.  Everything from paying rent, to buying groceries, to taking not one but two beach trips will be included in this post.

Granada, Spain

Cash is King

ATM in Granada, Spain

One of the first things we realized once we got familiar with Granada is that cash is king here.  Before arriving I planned to use our Capital One credit card as much as possible to rack up the points.  After visiting our local farmers market, bakery, and other small mom and pop shops I quickly switched up our strategy to include cash to handle all of our rent, groceries, and most of our spending money.  We were also told by another expat friend that euros / cash are much better for the smaller businesses versus credit cards.  Luckily, along with our Capital One cards, we also have our Charles Schwab debit cards that let us withdrawal cash from any ATM machine in the world for free (they reimburse the fees at the end of each month).

What do our monthly expenses include?



Cell phones

Netflix / Disney+

Spending (Almost everything else!)

Travel / Trips

Note: Our utilities are lumped into our rent.  This includes water, trash, internet, and 50 euros ($61) of electricity (Anything over 50 euros we will pay, and for the month of May this will be €70 which we will include with our June expenses).  (Also note, the conversion rate between the euro and dollar fluctuates so the dollar is an estimate.  We are living our life in Euros now).

By living here in Granada, Spain we have eliminated car insurance, gas, car repairs, and almost all of our utility expenses.

Payment Strategy

As mentioned above we pay most of these with cash (euros).  Towards the end of each month I walk over to an ATM and take out enough money for rent, groceries, and spending for the month.  Since May was our first full month, these amounts were just estimates, but they proved to be plenty to get us through.  You can see our ATM photo above.  

This also gives me a great opportunity to test out my Bluffworks security pockets. As we mentioned in a previous post, most of the clothes I bought (and Tara also) are specifically geared towards travel and most are from Bluffworks.  The Bluffworks shorts I am wearing in the photo below have 9 pockets including security pockets.

Photo from our recent trip to Málaga, Spain.  I am wearing my Bluffworks shorts (and shirt) that includes security pockets.

This also leaves room for flexibility to use our credit cards when the situation calls for it (for example, booking tickets to the Alhambra or buying the kids summer clothes at Zara or El Corte Inglés).

To fund our living expenses, we transfer $3,200 which is about €2,645 per month from our brokerage account to our Charles Schwab checking account.  These funds come from the withdrawal that we did back in January; read more about our first withdrawal here.

Rent / Utilities 

Total Budgeted and Spent = €700 (Paid in Cash)

Our home in the Albaicin neighborhood of Granada, Spain.

We didn’t owe anything for electricity since we were only here for part of the month of April, and the landlord covers the first €50.  This amount will go up to €770 in June, as we will owe a little bit for electricity.  I imagine it will go even higher in July and August due to the summer heat, and then slowly start decreasing as the weather starts to cool down.

Monthly carryover = €0


Total BUDGETED = €400 (Paid in Cash)

Farmer’s Market at Plaza Larga in Granada, Spain.

Yes, sometimes our groceries involve treats (and of course bread) from Panadería María in Plaza Larga (Granada, Spain).

For specifics on our groceries, see this post: One Month Of Groceries In Granada, Spain.  To sum it up, we have never experienced having access to unlimited amounts of fresh, local, and organic produce the way we have in Granada (at reasonable prices!).

Total Spent = €360

Monthly Carryover (Budgeted But Not Spent) = €40

Cell Phones

Total Spent = €20 (Paid with Credit Card)

Granada, Spain

We bought our cell phones when we arrived in Madrid back in April, and we are on a pay as you go plan with Orange.  Currently we each get unlimited talk and text in Spain as well as 10 GB data for €20 per month (that is for both phones so €10 each).

Monthly Carryover (Budgeted But Not Spent) = 0

Netflix / Disney+

Total Spent = €20 (Paid with Credit Card)

Granada, Spain

This is a fixed cost each month.  Interestingly, we had thought about getting a VPN so that we can access the American version of both Netflix and Disney+, but we have found that we don’t need one because the offerings for the Spanish version are better.  We seem to have access to most of what we had in the states as well as some American titles that we didn’t have access to like Homeland (on Netflix in Spain) and Station 19 (on Disney+ in Spain).

Monthly Carryover (Budgeted But Not Spent) = 0


Total BUDGETED = €660 (€400 cash and €260 credit card)

Catedral de Granada in Granada, Spain

This is where I wasn’t really sure how things would work out.  Turns out this set up worked out quite well for us.  The cash portion is spent on things like tapas (or other treats), excursions (such as museums and cathedrals), the print shop (think school supplies and making copies), and taxis (on the rare occasion that we use them).

Churros from Churrería Las Cuatro Esquinas in Granada, Spain (Albaicin).

We bought a Family Membership to Parque de las Ciencias in Granada, Spain.

The credit card portion is spent on things like clothes (mostly for the kids) and museum memberships or tickets (some purchases are only available online).

Shopping for a swimsuit at El Corte Inglés in Granada, Spain.

I should point out that there is a lot to do here that is either free or really cheap.  For example most museums the kids are free and the adults are €1.50, or an evening with drinks, tapas, and ice cream is usually less than €10 for 2 or less than €20 for 4.  Tara recently had a post about this: FI With Kids: How Do You Afford Field Trips And Adventures?  (And these strategies that Tara mentions in the post can definitely be used with or without kids).

Ice cream (Helado) after drinks and tapas in Plaza Larga (Granada, Spain).

Some of the activities that are free include hiking, playing at the Darro River, parks, meeting up with new friends, and just exploring around our neighborhood.  You never know what you may run into!

Hiking in Granada, Spain (near San Miguel Alto).

At the Darro River in Granada, Spain.

At Parque Federico Garcia Lorca in Granada, Spain.

Enjoying some musicians in the Albaicin neighborhood of Granada, Spain.

Playing around fountains in the Albaicin neighborhood of Granada, Spain.

Total Spent = €500 

Monthly Carryover (Budgeted But Not Spent) = €160

Travel / Trips

Total Spent = €415

This amount is meant to cover small trips to the beach or the mountains (for example).  There will also be months where we don’t take a trip, and we can carry over this amount for a bigger trip somewhere down the line.

La Herradura, Spain

La Herradura, Spain

In our first month we actually were able to fit in two beach trips (La Herradura, Spain and Málaga, Spain) because we stayed under budget in other areas.  We used the €415 along with some other funds since we came under budget in some other areas.

You can read about our first beach trip and the costs associated with it here (First Early Retirement Trip: Introducing La Herradura, Spain).  Our second beach trip was to Málaga, and I will be doing a post about it soon.  Here is a sneak peak with a few highlights.

Málaga, Spain

Museo Picasso Málaga

Alcazaba castle in Málaga, Spain

For our spending on these trips we like to try to incorporate some of our regular spending / grocery money into the trip which provides us with more flexibility.  For example, our Málaga trip occurred at the beginning of June, but the spending and grocery money that was used was from the carryover from May that is mentioned above.

Monthly Carryover (Budgeted But Not Spent) = 0


Remember (from above) to fund our living expenses, we transfer $3,200 which is about €2,645 per month from our brokerage account to our Charles Schwab checking account.  These funds come from the withdrawal that we did back in January; read more about our first withdrawal here.

May 2021 Monthly Expenses

Total Carryover for June = €630

To summarize, we had a budget of about €2645 for the month of May.  We only budgeted out €2215 for the month.  We came in under that (€2015) so we have a savings of €630 that we can carryover to June.

I’ll take that for our first month.  We were able to take 2 beach vacations, go to numerous museums, meet new friends, eat unlimited amounts of fresh / local produce, get tons of exercise from living in a walkable (and hilly!) city, and still have plenty of carryover that we will be sure to put to good use in the months ahead.

La Herradura, Spain

How did your budget look in May 2021?  What are your budget strategies?

Want to get your budget on track?  Or take your own flight to FI (financial independence)?  Contact me, and let’s see how we might be able to help.  You can also reach us by commenting below or at


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