September 2022 Spending Report: A Month That Was Gone with the Wind

Hello, financial freedom lovers. Even though fall has arrived, September has been a hot month for us and exciting in ways you can’t even imagine. We traveled, we danced, and the month ended with a bang, or a monstrous hurricane that devastated our city and damaged some of our property.

If you’re wondering what we’ve been up to since late September, the last time we posted an article, let’s just say we were in daily survival mode for ten days following the hurricane.

Hurricane Ian was a once-in-a-lifetime disaster that many of us had never seen before. We’ll have a post up soon about Hurricane Ian and how we dealt with the aftermath thanks to FIRE.

So let us take a trip down memory lane to early September, which seems centuries ago. Let’s see if we can remember what we spent that month. Hahaha.

September category spending

September 2022 spending


We spent the most on travel, with a total category spending of $1,632.

We drove to Miami on September 1st and spent the night at my niece’s apartment. Tatiana drove our daughter and me to the airport the next morning to catch our flight to the Dominican Republic. Tatiana drove back home after spending a few days with her sister, exploring the city of Hollywood, FL.

My daughter and I spent the first two weeks of the month in Santiago, visiting family and exploring the city.

Why isn’t Mom joining us this time? 🤔 I’ll leave you hanging for the time being. 🙂

September 2022 spending

Activities in Santiago

When we visit the Dominican Republic as a family, we take long vacations to the tourist areas. For example, last year we rented a car and spent a week exploring the Peninsula of Samana, as well as visiting Puerto Plata.

This time was different because I was with my daughter, and we planned to stay close to home, primarily in Santiago, to spend more time with my dad and celebrate his 85th birthday.

Staying at my dad’s house also limited our walking in the neighborhood because it is not considered safe to walk around as we do in our neighborhood in the US. Furthermore, playgrounds are limited. So, you must be creative in entertaining your child while also ensuring that they get their fair share of exercise.

My dad also has dogs and cats in the backyard, so she was able to run around and play with them. So she wasn’t bored in the least. There were also four newborn kittens, which was exciting to see.

Since she doesn’t get a small screen for entertainment, her daily screen time is limited to about an hour of her favorite cartoons on a TV screen.

She did keep herself occupied by coloring her books and flipping through the new books we bought in the Dominican Republic. I let her choose new books, and we ended up spending more than $100 on Spanish books. I’m not sure how the locals can afford those prices.

Many of the books are from Spain, and they are even more expensive when purchased through Amazon. As a result, we prefer to get them abroad for a better price.

She enjoys reading, and we believe that money spent on her education is money well spent. Besides, her Spanish has gotten so much better since this trip to the Dominican Republic. We’re seeing firsthand how effective trilingual education is.

Every night, she looked forward to bedtime because it meant we’d read a new story! The new books made my job easier because mommy wasn’t there to tuck her in.

She also enjoyed performing her ballerina show for the family. I tell you, there were about two falls during the performances, mostly because she wasn’t performing on proper dance floor and wasn’t aware of her surroundings. Mom would have been concerned, but she was fine. 🙂

I took her to the Santiago Monument a couple of times to increase her daily dose of exercise because she could run freely and go up and down the stairs!

September 2022 spending

We also went to my sister’s farm. Because it was so hot in the middle of the day, we mostly took photos from the car. She did get to see vacas up close and personal.

September 2022 spending
Cows from a family farm in Jicome, DR

I wanted to see things we hadn’t seen before, so we went to El Centro Cultural Eduardo Leon Jimenez, which is a cultural museum with artifacts dating back to the time of Columbus. We both enjoyed our visit to this museum and will definitely make it a must-see on future trips to the Dominican Republic.

September 2022 spending
Displays at the El Centro Cultural Eduardo Leon Jimenez in Santiago, DR

We looked for playgrounds while driving around. Restaurants are a great place to find small playgrounds! So I deliberately chose a few restaurants with playgrounds and running areas for dining. La Antillana Pizzeria, which has been around since I was a child, was one of these restaurants.

September 2022 spending
Small playground at La Antillana Pizzeria in Santiago

The other restaurant is one of my favorites in Santiago because it serves the best longaniza (Dominican pork sausage) I’ve ever had. La Terraza D Justin is a must-visit if you want delicious longanizas at a very reasonable price for locals.

September 2022 spending
Longanizas with tostones. It tastes way better than what it looks like on the photo!

A 3-night getaway to Puerto Plata

After spending about ten days in Santiago, we took a cab from Santiago to Puerto Plata to spend a few days at our favorite all-inclusive resort, Iberostar Costa Dorada. It took about an hour and twenty minutes to get there. This is not the most extravagant resort, but we love the way the people are treated here by the friendly staff, so we keep returning after our wedding there in 2014.

We ended up paying about $151 per night for one adult and one child, plus tips.

Our daughter’s favorite thing to do at this resort is to look at the flamingos in the courtyard. This was her second visit, as we had also visited last year, and she remembered the flamingos.

September 2022 spending

So we had a wonderful time at the resort, and it was a great time to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

We decided to leave from Puerto Plata rather than return to Santiago for a few more days. We used to make a sandwich out of our Santiago stay and go to the resort in the middle of it. That way, we could bring goodies from Santiago that would spoil if we took them along for the ride. Now, we prefer the simplest route with minimal driving.

Dining while on vacation

When it comes to categorizing expenses, one thing we started doing differently this year was allocating dining while on vacation in the travel budget. This way, what we eat while on vacation does not deplete our food and dining budget at home. Saving money is more difficult while on vacation because cooking is more difficult. This is better categorized as discretionary travel spending.


Our homeowners insurance was up for renewal in September, and we paid $746 for the year. Aside from a $300 mortgage interest payment, there was no other significant spending here. The total amount spent on the home category was $1,138.

Food and dining

In September, we spent $1,074 on food and dining, including $788 on groceries. There isn’t much going on here, but next month’s reporting may show an increase in grocery spending due to hurricane-related losses.

September 2022 spending

Other expenses

The remainder of the month’s spending totaled $1,198. Nothing stands out from the rest of the spending, so I’ll save you the trouble.

Total September spending

The total spent in September was $5,042.

Food & Dining$1,074
Health & Fitness$397
Bills & Utilities$250
Gifts & Donations$148
Auto & Transport$146

So we are over budget for the month but under budget for the year. We want to spend no more than $4,425 per month. We’ve spent $4,249 per month on average this year.

Final thoughts

This month’s spending was higher than usual, and it might be even higher for the remainder of the year as we deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

To give you a taste of what’s to come, here’s what September 28th looked like from our window:

September 2022 spending

That was the view of our backyard from a lanai window the early evening the hurricane made landfall in our city, and we braced for wind gusts of 125-145 MPH.

We didn’t end the month on a high note, but we’re safe, and that’s what matters most.

Until next time, financial freedom lovers.

How was your spending for the month?


After dedicating 13 years of his career to Vanguard, José retired from the corporate world at the young age of 44. During his tenure at Vanguard, he expertly coordinated the production of both electronic and print educational materials for 401(k) participants. Now, he relishes in his early retirement, cherishing time spent with his family, indulging in his favorite hobbies, seeking out new experiences, and savoring meals in the comfort of his own backyard.

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