Setting a cruising budget is a tricky choice to make, especially since we have a skewed view of what things cost. If you live in one place, you will become used to the prices of things and this comfort will be reflected in your earnings. If an hours work pays $30 and a burger costs $20, that burger may seem like a logical choice for lunch! But if you only earn $7 an hour, that same burger would be ridiculously expensive!
Prices are different in different parts of the world depending on what people earn in these parts. Maddie and I are used to the prices in Baltimore City. When we leave the city, we find prices to be quite variable, even within the same state! I have heard from patients that Bermuda is expensive, but they were paid a lot as well. It seems that everyone is paid a very high wage on that island, so they are ok with paying more for food. In poorer and tropical places, incomes are much lower and so are the prices of foods. This variability makes it even harder to figure out a budget.
The truth is, you will spend whatever you budget to spend. If you plan $2,000 a month, you will spend it!
One of my friends cruised for 7 years with his wife and two kids on a budget of $7,500 per year. $1,500 of that was used for the children's education. This means that they cruised for 7 years on a budget of only $500 a month for four people!
That roughly comes out to around $125 per person, per month!
While talking with another couple who recently returned from cruising, they had much higher figures. They budgeted $1,300 per month for the two of them and felt that it was a bit tight on their wallet. They went over budget a few months, and returned to the United States because they ran out of money.
The point is, you can do it on any budget. What you really need to do is pick a number and stick with it. If the number is low and you find it impossible or uncomfortable to keep, then you can adjust it as you go.
Picking a budget doesn't have to be a daunting task, it is just a task that needs to be done.
What Maddie and I have done is we doubled the "per person" number from our friend who cruised for 7 years and set that as our goal. We then doubled that to plan accordingly if we need to raise our budget any.
This means we are planning on spending $500 per month, but will have $1,000 per month if we need it.
My friend who cruised for 7 years stayed in the Caribbean where food was cheap and anchoring was free. Maddie and I will end up there, but we are starting with Bermuda, Azores, and Europe; all of which are far from cheap countries to cruise in.
Our budget is just a number that we chose and we can always modify it as we go. The important part is to go and not keep thinking about it!