Tag Archives: budget

2016 – End of the Year Expense Report

doing-the-budgetEvery year since we became fulltime RVers I’ve posted an expense sheet, but 2016 wasn’t a typical year. As I’ve written in previous entries to this blog we took an unexpected break from traveling to serve as interim pastor. That assignment lasted six months. Add to that around five months (January-March and then November-December) volunteering at San Jacinto Battlefield/Battleship Texas and there’s not much of the year left!

Our campground costs this year, as you can guess, have no connection to what anyone else would pay. Also, our F350 pickup has been mostly parked. We have a small car that doesn’t travel with us when we are on the road, but this year we ran the wheels off of it. In other words, our camping and travel costs in 2016 wouldn’t be of much help to anyone.

Basically, our expenditures are just living costs and don’t have anything to do with fulltiming. Because of that I’m not publishing an expense sheet for 2016.

A few months ago I did a blog entry on Second Wave Expenses. This was a terrific year for us to take on several replacements and do some upgrades. We also had a couple of major unwelcome expenses: a new air conditioner for the 5th wheel and a major repair on the car. These two items amounted to several thousand dollars. The fact that we weren’t traveling enabled us to absorb these biggies.

And, as I said, we had some other, more voluntary, expenses. They included stuff like:
• A new backup sewer hose
• Two-Way Radios
• Wilson WeBoost and antenna to replace our worn out Wilson Sleek
• Replaced all incandescents with LED Lights
• Two new Recliners
• Heated Mattress Pad (nice on winter nights)

All said and done, even with the major repairs plus all the voluntary purchases we came out on the positive side of the spreadsheet. Had we traveled as planned, I think we would have been about on budget but maybe a bit behind on the year.

Our plans are to return to touring in the early spring and to make our 2017 Adventure a good one. Stay tuned!

2015 – End of Year Expense Report

doing-the-budget
Here’s our 2015 end of year Expense sheet…

I’m listing the camping related expenses as line item monthly averages. Then, I total everything else up and give just a general dollar figure. If you are researching fulltime RVing you already know what you pay for food, health insurance, etc. (or even if you don’t, my figures for such things won’t have any real world connection to what you spend on them). Also, by combining the non-RVing expenses I feel I’m better able to maintain our privacy.

During the year we spent three months volunteering at a state park campground. For the purpose of this report, I’ve estimated the value of these months at $325 each. Also, we own a small car that doesn’t travel with us.  We have it 4-6 months a year.  That lowers our diesel use and adds a gasoline line to our expense sheet.

During 2015, in addition to our three months of volunteering, we spent a two months paying monthly rates. The rest of the time we were traveling, moving an average of once a week.

2015 was a good year for us. Not only did we enjoy our travels, our finances benefited from the much lower fuel prices and a break from the needed repairs of the past couple of years.

2015  Monthly Expense Averages
Camping fees (Value of volunteering + out of pocket + annual memberships*) $407.95
Cell/Internet/TV $200.50
Diesel (the lower fuel prices made a big difference compared to previous years) $181.64
Gas (note: we only had the car with us about 5 months but this is a 12 month ave.) $21.37
Misc $31.20
RV Maintenance and upgrades $131.13
Vehicle Maintenance (finally, a year without big repairs) $36.32
Registrations/Vehicle Insurance (pro-rated to monthly) $172.02
Propane $5.57
Mail Service $9.58
TOTAL $1197.28
Non RV expense – food, medical, “just living”**                                    TOTAL $1796.60
MONTHLY GRAND TOTAL AVERAGE
$2993.88

*Note 1: Like Thousand Trails, Good Sams, etc. – prorated to monthly cost -but NOT including original buy in costs, if any

**Note 2: These expenses include items like: Groceries & Dining Out, Clothing, Hair, Medical & Dental Expenses, Charity, Health Insurance, and Entertainment – but not Income Tax and a few other expenses

PS: If you find this information helpful, please leave a short comment so I’ll know it is worth the effort needed to provide it. Thanks.

Just thinking: for those who dream of going fulltime in a RV

PHOTO_20140922_162438.jpg No one knows just how many fulltime RVers there are. For one thing, there’s no official definition of just what a fulltime RVer is! It’s obvious that there are a lot of us who are, as it has been called, “living the RV dream.”

Since I post a lot of fulltime budget information my blog has attracted folks who are still in the “dreaming” stage and researching information on the lifestyle. While I’m no expert and there are lots of people who know more about this stuff than I do I’m glad to share what we are learning. This post is directed to those dreamers who want to sell everything and hit the road in a RV. (It isn’t for people who have jobs that require or allow them to travel or people who have lost their jobs and are thinking of getting a RV as a source of housing, etc.)

Recently one of the better known fulltiming couples had a health emergency. I’m glad to have received good news on the immediate prognosis but this crisis will quite likely change the rest of their lives. Some folks have concluded that one lesson to be learned from this is that they should stop dreaming of going fulltime and jump to it while the jumping is good. On one hand, I agree that for some people this is a good takeaway. For instance we met a couple who actually retired and went fulltime. However, his previous employer made the man an offer he couldn’t refuse so he went back to work for a short stay. That short stay has now lasted three years! It’s their business but I can’t help but wonder if the day will come when they will wish they had returned to the RV dream rather than stay in the 9:00-5:00 environment.

Frankly, though, I’m not sure “just do it” is the right message for everyone. Again, these remarks are in reference to those who see fulltiming as pursuing a dream and not for those who are considering the RV life as alternative housing and such so please read this from that point of view.

  1. First, “now” isn’t the right time for everyone. There’s a right time and a wrong time for all the stages of life. While I’m not saying that you need millions of dollars socked away before you go fulltime you do need an income that will support the lifestyle and that includes a source of health care insurance. Put more directly: if you can’t afford to go fulltime then don’t. Instead, continue working toward a fulltime RVing retirement by planning, preparing financially, and taking care of yourself physically.
  2. Second, don’t get in if you don’t have a way out. Don’t mortgage your future for the present. You may not have an exact plan but have a way to conclude your fulltime life and move to the next phase of life. Aside from those who suddenly pass away, sooner or later everyone has to hang up the keys. Hopefully, that will come as the result of the decision that you’ve “been there and done that” but it may come in the form of a trip to the emergency room. As you contemplate entering this lifestyle be sure to include at least a basic framework and capability for leaving it. Also, related and worth mention, is that your vehicle(s) and RV have a limited lifespan. While you don’t need money to replace them hidden under your mattress there needs to be at least some thought given to what you will do if and when your need to upgrade these vital items.
  3. Third, remember that life is uncertain but is also a blessing. Don’t squander today dreaming only of pie in the sky. Appreciate what you have right now: family, friends, health, and other good things. Make planning for the future part of the joy of this day.
  4. Fourth, know that real life continues even out on the road. Hitting the road in your RV means leaving a lot of things behind. However, a lot of stuff will follow along too, some things good and some things bad. Fulltime RVers get sick, as did the person I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Vehicles break down and accidents happen. If you think that pursuing the RV dream means everything will always be wonderful you are in for some big disappointments.

Don’t get me wrong, we love being fulltime RVers. It’s our chosen retirement lifestyle and we would do it all over again if we had to choose. If this life appeals to you then we’d say come on in, the water’s fine. Still, remember that part of moving to this lifestyle is preparing for getting into it, maintaining it, and then leaving it. Don’t forget that being a fulltimer doesn’t exempt you from real life problems. Beyond all that, remember that life is precious. Appreciate the blessings of each day even while dreaming of the next big thing coming down the road.

2014 – End of Year Expenses Report

doing-the-budget
Here’s our 2014 end of year Expense sheet…

I’m listing the camping related expenses as line item monthly averages. Then, I total everything else up and give just a general dollar figure. If you are researching fulltime RVing you already know what you pay for food, health insurance, etc. (or even if you don’t, my figures for such things won’t have any real world connection to what you spend on them). Also, by combining the non-RVing expenses I feel I’m better able to maintain our privacy.

During the year we spent four months paying monthly campground rates and, of course, our fuel costs those months is considerably lower.  The rest of the year was spent on the road as we traveled to the Pacific Northwest from and back to our winter quarters of Texas – one of the great trips of our lives.  Also, we own a small car that doesn’t travel with us.  We have it 4-6 months a year.  That lowers our diesel use and adds a gasoline line to our expense sheet.

Summary: These expenses are surprisingly in line with our 2013 expenses and with my estimated budget.  During 2014 we spent a lot of time at Thousand Trails, this, no doubt, kept out of pocket camping costs lower.  However, we balanced that away by towing the 5th wheel so many miles, over 6300, not to mention our “sightseeing/living” miles of about the same amount.   Also, due to the fact that our travel camping expense was often at the much lower Thousand Trails rate, we actually spent more paying monthly rates than we did when we were in travel mode!  Finally, note that we have no “free parking” that is associated with workamping.  That will likely change in 2015, as we have some assignments already lined up.

2014  Monthly Expense Averages
*Out of pocket Camping  $321.86 + **Camping Memberships $77.11 $398.97
Cell/Internet/TV $202.87
Diesel (lots of fuel during travel months, very little otherwise) $414.19
Gas (note: we only had the car with us about 5 months but this is a 12 month ave.) $24.63
Misc $48.68
RV Maintenance and upgrades $110.81
Vehicle Maintenance*** $197.81
Registrations/Vehicle Insurance (pro-rated to monthly) $168.27
Propane $6.20
Mail Service $8.75
TOTAL $1581.18
Non RV expense – food, medical, “just living”****                                    TOTAL $1794.50
MONTHLY GRAND TOTAL AVERAGE
$3,375.68

*Note 1: Includes 3 1/2 months of monthly stays, the rest much more mobile

**Note 2: Like Thousand Trails, Good Sams, etc. – prorated to monthly cost -but NOT including original buy in costs, if any

***Note 3: Last year’s high Vehicle Maintenance costs continue – some repairs, some maintenance (like flushing the radiator and servicing out the transmission), plus one more serious non-warranty repair

****Note 4: These expenses include items like: Groceries & Dining Out, Clothing, Hair, Medical & Dental Expenses, Charity, Health Insurance, and Entertainment – but not Income Tax and a few other expenses

PS: If you find this information helpful, please leave a short comment so I’ll know it is worth the effort needed to provide it. Thanks.

2014 Adventure Lessons Learned

PHOTO_20140922_162438.jpg

Some of our lessons learned during our 2014 Adventure are:

  1. Our Thousand Trails membership was especially valuable on the west coast where there are many nice TT campgrounds (some are excellent, others not so much).
  2. Having said that, this year I concluded that I had to make peace with camping without a sewer hookup. Way too often we found ourselves picking a campsite, not because we liked the spot, but because it was one of the only spots with full hookups.  By buying the macerator pump I increased our campsite potential.  That really paid off at places like Ponderosa Thousand Trails where we were able to camp right along the river.
  3. When one camps in the Pacific Northwest they should probably accept the fact that they won’t have satellite TV all the time. Often the biggest challenge I faced when arriving at a campsite wasn’t parking and leveling the camper but finding a hole in the trees where I could get the satellite.  At a few places we had to give up and do without.  No biggie, but still an inconvenience.
  4. On a related note, my Verizon cell and data did pretty good, especially when using the Wilson Sleek booster. We did without a few times but not often.
  5. From my records both this year and last, it appears I can generally estimate that we will drive the same distance sightseeing/living as we will towing. That’s helpful for future planning.
  6. I learned that I need to do a bit more weather research as I plan our schedule. I knew it would be cool along the coast but didn’t realize how hot it would be in the Sacramento area!
  7. I learned that you can’t see it all. No matter how much you sightsee someone will ask you I’ve you’ve been to some feature you didn’t see.  I’ve decided that’s a good thing – now I have reason to go back!
  8. I learned that I did, indeed, have enough pickup for the mountains. In theory I knew I was good to go, but it takes actually descending and pulling up some grades to be fully convinced of it.  There were several steeper roads, but I think the New Priest Grade near Yosemite was the biggest challenge we faced.   Jackie adds that if one suffers fear of heights they had better be ready to deal with it on this itinerary.  She says chocolate helps.

Now we’re ready to start thinking about 2015 which already has a couple of interesting wrinkles – I’ll post about them another time.