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June 2018 Update – reluctantly going gluten free…
Can you believe we’re halfway through 2018?! Knowing that we’re entering into the second half of the year has me both excited and nervous. Excited that I’ll be soon leaving work and embarking on a three-month tour of Asia, but also nervous that I won’t be generating any income for the foreseeable future.
I’ll be eating into my net worth and savings, so I need to start mentally preparing myself now to see my net worth go down, after five years of tracking and working hard for it to go up each month.
An Enforced Health Break
I’ve been feeling quite poorly since the end of May, dealing with what’s likely a flare-up of a chronic condition. I’ve had to make some lifestyle changes to see if that has any effect on my symptoms.
The main change has been related to diet. I’ve been making an effort to cut out gluten, dairy, and coffee to see if it makes any difference. As a lover of cheese, cake and chocolate, this has been a major challenge, especially as my partner just came back with a suitcase full of the stuff from Germany!!
It also turns out that wheat/gluten is present in a whole lot of things I wasn’t aware of, so I’ve also accidentally ingested it several times over the month. No wheat also means no beer, so I haven’t been down the pub watching the football as I usually would during the World Cup.
Cutting down on gluten and dairy seems to be working to some extent, but I’m hoping I only need abstain this temporarily until I feel in tip top shape again. In addition to these dietary restrictions, I’ve also made an effort to do more exercise, and I’ve started taking time to meditate before bed.
Since I’ve been prioritizing my health in June, not as much energy and focus has gone into my work, blogging or progress on other goals, but I’ve tried to keep things ticking along.
June was a fairly low-key month for me. My partner was away in Europe for half of it, and I spent a lot of time at home. That said, there were still some nice relaxing days and evenings out with friends.
We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon in the old part of Bangkok, going to Museum Siam to see an exhibition on gender and sexual identity. The exhibition gave visitors a quick overview of the rights of LGBTQi people in Thailand (summary: there’s a long way to go), and the activist groups pushing for change. The best part of the exhibition was the collection of personal objects that gives some insight into the lives of Thais who have struggled to assert their true identities. The exhibition is on til end of September, so I’d highly recommend it to those in town.
On my birthday we went to a vegan restaurant to celebrate. Since the weather has cooled down a little, I also exercised in the park a bit more, often with friends. I think working out with friends is my favourite frugal hack: you get fit, catch up friends, and it doesn’t cost a penny! At this point, I’d way rather spend my time with friends doing this instead of binge-drinking in the pub.
I also went to a three-day work conference near my home. It was a good opportunity to reflect on the sector I’m working in, and figure out if I want to continue working in it or not. The conference was held in the Marriott, and it took quite a feat of self-discipline to not eat all of the cakes and cookies on offer throughout the day.
My sewing course also wrapped up this month. I’m not sure I’ll be whipping up beautiful dresses any time soon (let alone something vaguely wearable), but I look forward to getting my hands on a sewing machine when back in the UK, and trying things out. It does make me want to continue making stuff with my hands, but arts and crafts courses tend to cost quite a lot of money in BKK. Now that I have my full weekends back, I will try to channel that time, energy and concentration into exploring Bangkok, and looking into side hustles.
June 2018 numbers
Reported in Thai Baht (THB) and UK Pounds (£)*
Income: 74,926 THB / £1,665.02
My income is my monthly salary from my full-time job (after taxes and a 3% contribution to a provident fund), plus some modest allowances for housing and phone/internet costs.
Expenses: 25,769 THB / £572.63
|Category||Cost (THB / £)||Explanation|
|Rent||11,000 THB / £244||This is my half of a fairly small one-bedroom condo unit in a central location.|
|Groceries and regular meals out||3,654 THB / £81.20||Regular meals out are cheap meals I eat in canteens, food courts, or street food stalls. These tend to cost between 30-50 THB (67p – £1.10), and make up most of my usual meals in addition to what I cook at home.|
|Eating out and treats||1,545 THB / £34.33||This includes special meals on date nights or with friends, and little sweet treats|
|Drinking||195 THB / £4.33||I include both alcoholic and other drinks like bubble teas and coffees in here. I couldn't really drink much this month.|
|Entertainment||270 THB / £6.00||This usually includes cinema tickets, and other entertainment costs|
|Transport: Commute||948 THB / £21.07||I use the BTS and MRT systems to get to and from work|
|Transport: Non-Commute||879 THB / £19.53||I might grab taxis or motorbikes from time to time|
|Utilities / phone||174 THB / £3.87||Internet, electricity, water, and phone|
|Toiletries / personal care||234 THB / £5.20||Toiletries and some make-up|
|Health / fitness||5838 THB / £129.73||Medical consultations, tests, and medication|
|Gifts / Donations||0||Guess I wasn't feeling generous this month!|
|Holiday||0||No travel plans made this month|
|Learning||432 THB / £.59||Kindle books|
66% (January – September 2018 goal = 60%)
June was a cheaper month for basic costs than usual because I couldn’t indulge much in beer, coffee, or pastries. But two trips to the doctors upped my expenses. My insurance covers 2,000 THB per outpatient visit, but with the consultation and tests, it came to over 4,500 THB each time I went. I could have gone to a cheaper hospital, but I needed a specialist.
I’m averaging a 56% savings rate from January to June, so I’m close to my overall target. But I know there’ll be some big costs coming up in the next couple of months, including flights for later in the year.
Up 17.7% from December 2017 (2018 Goal = 20%)
Barring any major disasters in the markets, I should hit my goal by September before my net worth starts to decline again.
Even though I feel like I’ve got my current life on frugal autopilot, I realize I haven’t been actively trying to save as money as I can. I only have two whole paychecks left before I leave my job, and I keep going back and forth about whether to save the most of it as possible, or to use it to make the most of Bangkok in my remaining time here.
But I’ve also just come to the realisation that making the most of Bangkok doesn’t necessarily mean spending a fortune. For me, it means exploring new neighbourhoods, rather than checking out the latest trendy restaurant. I’ve just signed up for the Uber Frugal Month with Mrs Frugalwoods (for the second time), so I look forward to embracing the challenge of making the most of Bangkok in July on the smallest amount of money.
I also need to start thinking about making the big move. Deciding what needs to be donated, what should be sold, and what’s coming back with us. Thankfully work covers my relocation costs, so I’ll have to start talking to them about booking my flight back to the UK in December and looking into freight charges.
Ok that wraps up the monthly update! How was your June?
*I’m not too fussed about using an accurate exchange rate each month, as long I use the same rate for income and expenses. I’m using a rate of 45 THB/GBP.
Going 100% gluten free and only eating unprocessed food made a huge difference in my life. I tried it semi-seriously for a while, but it wasn’t until I cut it completely that I noticed a big difference.
It’s the hidden gluten you have to watch out for, especially in Thai restaurants. Often it’s not even a language problem when trying to explain it. They just have no concept of the idea. Try checking out the Paleo Robbie food delivery service in Bangkok. It’s completely gluten and soy-free. A bit expensive, but your peace of mind might be worth it.
I thought that cutting out gluten meant eating no bread, cakes, or pasta (which is hard enough already for me). So I really thought that Thai food was safe. But recognising how my body is responding to simple vegetarian dishes in food courts is making me aware of the hidden gluten… I’m doing an uber frugal July, so I’ll be focusing more on cheap, home cooked food this month. But once I get bored of it I might check Paleo Robbie or one of those other food delivery services a try – thanks for the tip! Question though: does it all come in plastic containers? I also can’t wait to try out Theera in Ekamai which I just found out about today.
Yes, paleo delivery uses plastic containers, but to minimize the toxicity I always take the food out before microwaving. Heat is the enemy of plastic and I’m sure that helps.
Take a look at soy as well. It’s hidden in a lot of Thai sauces like oyster sauce that go into most fried dishes.
Theera is good. I’ve had cakes from there before. Some are completely allergen free – gluten, soy, eggs, nuts, etc.
Good luck and hope you feel better soon!
Thanks! I’ve now looked into Paleo Robbie and Polpa- I’m going to try them out. Soy is also something I need to eliminate, but yeah this is also hard 🙁