There is an episode from the show Portlandia that always stands out in my mind. After months of cloud cover, a small patch of clouds opens up, letting through a patch of sunlight. People from all over the city flock to the sun and set up camp to grill and chill. Every time the clouds cover the sun, they pack up to go inside until the next ray of sunlight hits. The episode follows the group pursuing the sunshine into the middle of parks, roads, and construction zones, anything to get a hit of vitamin D.
Anybody who has lived in or visited The Netherlands in the summer will recognize the same spirit. June blends days of gloomy rain with touches of glorious sunshine. Just like in that Portlandia episode, people flock to the sun. Some pull couches out on the sidewalk. Others set up entire dining room sets outside. After checking the forecast and seeing sunshine, several of my coworkers took the day off. Boats float by on the canals with their music playing festively. Me? I rented a stand-up paddle board and tried not to get knocked off by those boats.
The last few months I haven’t been keeping close track of my spending. With the hassle of moving, I let April and May go by unreported. However I am back with a new expense report for the month of June! I am so curious how my average spending stacks up to living in the states, especially because I am now single and intentionally trying to spend more.
I had a few successful “me dates” where I took myself out for things without inviting anyone else to come along. That meant a solo paddleboard session, some coffees and morning treats, as well as a few meals out. I have travelled solo a few times before, so this comes much easier to me than it used to. It’s a great way to be sure that I’m not missing out on cool restaurants or fun activities just because I’m in the early stages of meeting new people in a new country.
I have also been on a couple of “not-just-me” dates, i.e. regular dates. It’s been 12 years, so I’m a little rusty to say the least. Here the norm is to “go Dutch” and split the bill, which should surprise exactly no one. For now, I’ve put these expenses in with my restaurant category, but I think dating should go in its own category eventually.
Though it was absolutely lovely to grab a bite and sit a while with a book, I also had plenty of other types of social activity this month. I snacked with a coworker, got brunch with my neighbour, shared biscuits in the park with a good friend, and hosted a dinner party for a couple of my friends from Portland, OR!
Aside from the dinner party, I have noticed a decline in my desire to cook food at home. For one thing, when I make batches, they tend to go bad more quickly here for some reason. Not having someone to cook with may also be a contributing factor. I also don’t have my trusty old Instant pot, a crock pot, or several other cooking utilities I used to have. The reality is I just don’t feel like cooking, and I’m sure that will be readily apparent in this month’s expense report.
Fostering a cat
Also this month, I took in a foster cat for a week. It turns out you can foster a cat almost anywhere, and now I have done it in New York, Denver, and Amsterdam. However, it does vary whether or not you pay for the materials. This time, I made a trip to get a scratching post, food, litter, and a box for the sweet boy I got assigned.
This kitty was a tad more rowdy than previous fosters. He would leap 5 feet in the air for his toy, explore every inch of my apartment at all hours, and dig through my potted plants like a naughty dog. While fostering was fun, I did need to take a breather after this fluffball got adopted.
I’m interested to see what my recent change in attitude towards spending (namely: keep calm and spend on) will do to my budget. But without further ado, let’s check out the tally!
Note: This is the spending for just me. I report expenses when I pay them, so you may not see insurance or other bills until the month that I pay them.
|Rent||€1,675||$1,993||This line item is definitely going to hurt the most. For a short time living in the city center is worth it to me, but I’d definitely like to see this go down in the future.|
|Health Insurance||€768||$914||7 months of health insurance at about €110/month.|
|Restaurants||€286||$341||I ate out more than ever before in June. When I went out before, I usually split a meal with a friend. When I go out to eat here, I eat the entire plate (portion sizes are smaller, which helps). Also, I have gotten into the habit of ordering several entrees of delivery on Sunday to last throughout the week.|
I’m okay with this strategy for now, but eventually I do want to start cooking more meals.
|Groceries||€250||$298||I have noticed that all of my food starts going bad within a couple of days, which means my groceries are not lasting as long as I’m used to. Also, I have been stocking up on some staples, so hopefully once my kitchen has been replenished this bill will go down.|
|Travel||€249||$297||A train to visit a friend and tickets to fly to Croatia for two weeks.|
|Water Bill||€190||$226||The bill for 6 months of water.|
|Energy Bill||€98||$116||The monthly energy bill|
|Massage||€80||$95||This gets its own line item because it wasn’t until this year that I ever booked myself a massage. It was amazing as a treat to work out all of the kinks and stress from the last few months.|
|Books||€68||$81||I bought 3 books to learn Dutch: one book of short stories, one children’s book (Matilda), and one graphic novel (Het Bamboe Meisje). I also bought the Lonely Planet guide to the Netherlands.|
|Museumkaart||€65||$77||Unlimited access to more than 400 Dutch museums for one year.|
|Cat supplies||€49||$58||This could have been much cheaper, as I found out people often leave pet supplies by the trash. I went to a specific pet store, so the food and litter was higher quality. Oh well, the little creature deserved it after a rough kitten-hood.|
|Household Items||€45||$54||Random things like a wrist rest and wine opener|
|Internet||€35||$42||Monthly cost for high speed internet.|
|Gym||€28||$33||Includes things like paddle boarding, a yoga class, a salsa class, etc. There are apps here called OneFit and ClassPass which allow users to pick from thousands of classes at studios all over the city.|
|Cell phone||€16||$19||Currently I have 7GB and unlimited international calling. The deals in Europe are much better than in the US.|
|TOTAL||€3,979||$4,734||Eeuph. This was quite the pricey month. It makes me laugh to look back at old expense reports where I reported that anything over $1,000 was a high-spending month.|
I didn’t go the frugal route with anything this month, and let my whims decide my overall budget.
No regret here, as I am enjoying living in a new city and exploring all there is to see. I do think I could cut back on food spending once I figure out the trick to storing food for longer. I also had large bills like health insurance and the water bill which will not repeat.
What About You?
Have you ever seen your expenses skyrocket?
What was your favorite ‘me-date’?
Are you more likely to go boating or paddle boarding on a sunny day?
Share in the comments below!