The TL;DR version: 1) Cost living of depends on how one lives (duh), so explanation below*, 2) Some costs are reasonably steady across the last 6 years (allowing for exchange rate differences), except 3) Spikes are explained, 4) I’m living within my means, 5) Making this public motivates me to do it right, and 6) I like playing with spreadsheets.
*Actually, here is the long explanation from 2015 . How spending has differed since then is described below the table.
Misc. increased because of political donations. Apparently I gave enough that people or bots in the 202 area code (Washington DC) keep calling my US Skype number despite my never answering.
For the first time the Visa category earned a row of it’s own. It includes everything I did in support of applying for a visa, such as the costs of staying in Bangkok, the round trips, necessary government documents, sending docs from my US mailbox, notarization at the US embassy in Bangkok at $50 each, etc.
My concept of ‘cost of living’ changed while doing last year’s financial review. I’ve lived off my taxable (non-IRA) account through ’16. Spending was cost of living. Since retiring, the only withdrawals from my IRA were conversions from Traditional IRA to Roth IRA in ’15, ’16 and ’17. That’s not spending.
This year my taxable account bottomed out. IRA came to the rescue. In 2019 IRA withdrawals will be to fund the accounts I live off of. Going forward, managing how much is left in the IRA will be the most important part of my finances. I need to make that obvious in my financial spreadsheets. So, I’m calling spending from the IRA the Cost of Retirement. That spending minus Social Security is my Cost of Living.