Things Heat Up at the Gate

This blog isn’t political, but I do write about the things I see, and sometimes those things happen to coincide with larger world issues.  I have two choices in those moments, which are to either skirt the issue or talk about it in as factual way as possible.  I have always felt that if the thing has a big impact on our life then I need to talk about it, so I am diving in here on what’s happening with people crossing the border.

Lee sees border patrol almost every day in our ranch, and sometimes they stop and talk to him.  Today they told him there was a group of 10 people within a half mile of our rig.  On their way out they stopped and told them six people were picked up, but four were still at large.  At that point the border patrol agent asked if we owned a pistol.  Lee’s response was at this particular gate guns weren’t allowed, but obviously he was concerned.  We have border patrol programmed into our phones for emergencies of any kind (we were told they were the best people to call and could respond the fastest) but the gun comment and close proximity made him nervous.  Rightly so because not 10 minutes after they all left someone came up on the outside of the gate and was banging on it and yelling. Lee called border patrol and they came back pretty quick and picked the guy up. While he was waiting though he was watching the guy and thinking about whether or not to wake me up.  If the person tried to break in (not that difficult in an RV) wouldn’t it be worse if I was asleep.  That wasn’t a great choice for him to have and he would have done it but the guy stayed on the other side of the gate.  If he would have come any closer Lee would have woken me so he wouldn’t be doing that while the guy was right outside the door.

We’ve been told that many times people who have crossed turn themselves in to the first person they find and after the Border Patrol talked to this guy, that’s what they said he was doing. A couple hours later we got a report from a worker that two guys had run across the ranch road right in front of him as he was driving out, and Lee called a second time.  Border patrol came back and picked up two other people but the two guys that were seen got away.  It was raining pretty hard this whole times so they couldn’t use a helicopter and were doing it the harder way with vehicles.

When the last truck came through I stopped an officer to get an update and asked the question that has been on my mind.  I wondered how many people they picked up every day, and was told that along the border it is roughly the amount of people in a small town.  Last year they caught 400,000 people, and estimate a million came through.  The officer said people don’t realize how many people there are and kind of shook his head sadly.  That number really got my attention because it was much larger than I knew.  And I want to be clear that is not a judgement on the people who are trying to cross, because I get their reasons why.  The problem is they are crossing in my front yard, so to speak, and it’s impossible to know whether or not it’s safe.

It’s easy to say that these folks are coming here for a better life and don’t want to hurt anyone, and that’s probably true.  They are also hungry, cold, dehydrated and desperate and desperate people are not always predictable.  Mostly I try not to think about it because I work night shift.  On several occasions I have heard rustling in the dense brush outside of the range of our lights, and in a couple of cases what was making that noise could have been people sized. I take the best precautions I can of course, stay in the light, minimize my time outside, try to only go out when there is a truck outside, keep my door locked at all times etc…but as a 5’4″ woman it’s not like I could stop anyone who wanted something I had.

The whole situation is just not great.  Up until today I would have bet money we would never be the type of people who called border patrol but apparently we are.  We are not looking to cause problems for anyone, but if it is reported to us (or we see it) we are going to report it.  For us it is a personal safety issue plain and simple.   We are actually looking into getting moved to a gate farther north and if the consulting job doesn’t happen we may be able to do that.  $150 a day doesn’t seem a large enough dollar amount to deal with this stuff and all things being equal we would prefer not to have to deal with it. Which is a shame because it’s a pretty nice gate.

Anyway, I don’t know what the solution is and I certainly don’t think throwing a bunch of money at the problem with no solid plan will work.  But I absolutely think it is a problem that needs to be addressed, and I didn’t really feel that way 6 weeks ago.  It’s easy not to worry about this stuff when it’s someone else’s problem, or far away.  Quite a bit different when it’s a part of your life.   The thing that really convinced me though was how matter of fact people are.  This is not a rare occurrence, it is so frequent that people treat the occurrences like they would treat a bad thunderstorm…actually with less emphasis.  It is the new norm and has been for some time.

OK, enough of all that.  since several of you have mentioned that you would like to see more of Jack, here you go.  He’s having a great time!

Jack’s been in a great mood

 

He got a new chew bone

 

And a new vest

 

But his favorite toy is a stick!

 

Yes he really is that cute!!

 

He has found time to stare down the cows

 

But his favorite thing is playing with his Dad

 

 

And his Dad is pretty happy too. Who doesn’t love puppy lap!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase our ebook telling the story of how we became full time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Trying to Find a Consultant Job that Fits our Lifestyle

Back in the summer, I decided that I wanted to spend some time seriously trying to get a consulting job.  It’s something I have worked on a few times over our four year journey, but travel schedules and timing usually conspired to make job searching difficult if not impossible.  This time though I have a plan and spent hours updating resumes and looking for jobs and I thought since it has been such a big part of my life I would talk about the process a bit.

As anyone who has done it knows, looking for a job can be a full time job.  Because I had work lined up, I thought I was in the perfect position to search for a new job in a balanced way.  I set a goal of one hour every other day to search for positions and tried to send out at least two resumes a session.  Initially I was overwhelmed with all the choices which made me feel both hopeful and a bit anxious.  Eventually though I started to really think about what I was looking for and started narrowing down the search.

I have had no luck finding short term positions over the last few years, and since talking to Casey (a fellow full timer who works in my field on the road) I thought a long term but mainly virtual position might be the best bet.  I am lucky enough to work in a field where virtual work is an option, but I soon learned that there is virtual and there is virtual.  What I mean by that is many companies offer virtual positions but they often want you to live in a particular city (or set of cities) and you have to commit to coming into the office one day a week.  It’s a nice option for those folks that live in one place, but for my purposes it might as well be a traditional job.  A few of these jobs had cities in both the north and the south which made them a possibility, but it would restrict us to a route between two places, which would not be our first choice.

That left me with the truly virtual jobs and in my particular case, they required an amount of time onsite.  I actually understand that because as an analyst I do prefer being face-to-face at least initially with people, so then it became how much time was spent onsite.  With shorter term projects my plan was to just move to an area and stay there, but looking at longer term projects I knew I could stay in an area for part of the year but the rest of the year I would need to travel.  That was our choice of course, but the whole purpose of this lifestyle for us is some traveling and if I had to stay in one area for a year or more I might as well get a traditional job. Some of the jobs were 75% – 100% travel, which would be a nightmare to manage with our schedule and leave me no time for fun.  Others were 25% – 50% and although that would be challenging they would be more manageable so those were the ones I focused on.

As I was narrowing down my choices, the open positions became less and I found that my skill set wasn’t necessarily what they were looking for.  Many companies wanted experienced Agile users and although I was familiar with that methodology I haven’t used it in a business setting.  Other companies wanted at least one years experience in their particular field and since I worked for the same company for 15 years that was a challenge.  I sent a few resumes out on those jobs anyways, but when I didn’t hear back (or got a no thanks email) I started to feel a little deflated.  What was left was largely working for banks or insurance companies and neither of those industries was interesting to me.  I found myself looking for work less and less and ultimately found myself taking a cursory look once a week or so.

One area that was interesting though was the calls I was getting.  Many of them were for full time positions, but a few were for consulting companies.  In those cases I thought my skill set was a stretch but had several conversations with recruiters to at least see where I stood.  Those conversations were quite a learning experience and I found that anytime I talked about anything slightly unusual it was a red flag.  I talked myself out of quite a few potential jobs early on simply by being too honest.  What I ultimately discovered was that as much as I wanted to work for a company where I could tell them about my lifestyle and what I had been doing for the last three years, that wasn’t practical.  I needed to find a way to “package” the experience so it didn’t freak people out and through some trial and error I sort of found ways to do that.  I set a hard line for myself that I wasn’t going to lie, but I also didn’t need to volunteer everything about myself either.  Since this isn’t that different from what most people do when they are looking for a job, after some time I wasn’t that bothered by it.

I also found myself taking the position of just going with it and seeing what happened.  This is not really something I am good at, but that tactic definitely got me much further in the process. Instead of thinking about all the reasons a job wouldn’t work for me, I started thinking why not just try it and see what happens.  These jobs pay around $60 an hour so financially it was a win and no one said I couldn’t try something and leave if it wasn’t working for me.  I think what really helped me make this leap was the fact that all of my interviews were with Millennials.  That generation is changing the way jobs are approached and there is no reason I couldn’t be a part of that.

Why I say that is because I have noticed a real shift in how many of the job postings are worded.  Many of them stress non-traditional methods of communicating and I saw several that accepted a video instead of a traditional written resume.  The tech field in particular is undergoing a shift and since I have a semi-technical background it looked like that might be a better fit for me than a traditional company.  Around this time, I was approached by a head hunter and using my new approach I got pretty far in the process.  They were looking for someone in the San Antonio area and seemed willing to be flexible around where a person lived. The project would require 50% travel, but since I was in the area for the winter it seemed like the perfect way to try it out and see what I thought.

That sounds easy enough but it was a big step for me.  There were lots of logistical issues with working a professional job and as I wound my way through interviews I started thinking them through.

  1.  We only have one vehicle.  Would Lee drop me off at work?  Would I uber? Should we rent a car? Would I leave him without a vehicle?
  2. Where would we stay? Traditional campgrounds in the area have reasonable monthly rates, but they aren’t super close.  I wasn’t looking forward to a long commute every day so obviously wanted to stay as close as possible but also in a place Lee wouldn’t hate.
  3. Would I have enough work clothes?  I brought a box full of clothes on the road with me, but recently I purged a bunch of them because I have put on some weight on the road. I might have enough to get started but would definitely need to invest in some new ones pretty quickly and how much would I really want to spend on that for a trial job?
  4. How would I do in an office environment.  It’s been a long time since I have worked in a traditional office and the thought of it was pretty unappealing.  This problem though I couldn’t do anything about, because my skill set simply requires some travel.  That would have to be part of the test and I would just need to take a deep breath and adjust.

There were other concerns of course, but I recognized them for the fear of the unknown that they were and worked hard to squelch my doubts.  I mention all of it though because these interviews required me to juggle all of these concerns and sell myself simultaneously.  I think I did mostly OK and as I said I learned a lot, and we were actually pretty close to maybe getting an offer when the position I was applying for went on hold.  That happens all the time in the IT world as projects come and go, so I didn’t take it personally, but it was a bit of a bummer.  Part of me was relieved, but I was also glad that I was making steps in the right direction.  I had learned quite a bit about what I wanted from the exercise and Lee and I had some really good conversations. It would change the way we travel to some extent and since this is his life too, he needed to be part of the decision making process.

I thought it was completely done but then I got a call that the company I had interviewed with had an internal project that they needed some help on and since it was only a two month position would I be interested?  Would I be interested…this was perfect!!  I had a great interview with the team lead and found out that not only was it short term but it was also 100% remote.  Talk about perfect and since I liked the guy I talked to and everything else was perfect I was pretty excited.  At this point I am waiting to find out if I got the job, but I feel really great about how things are working out.  If it doesn’t happen that’s OK too, but maybe this is the break I have been waiting for.  Cross your fingers for me and and send good thoughts.

(And for those of you willing to read all the way to the end of a non-exciting post, here’s a fun little video of Jack with a truly ridiculous rib bone from a steak we recently split. Looks best in HD. – Lee)


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase our ebook telling the story of how we became full time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Celebrating New Year at the Gate

I’m not much of a New Years person so being at the gate didn’t really bother me.  I didn’t even watch the ball drop, although I was awake and certainly could have but instead watched dome Downtown Abbey and kept to my normal routine.  I did spend some time on New Year’s day though watching the Rose Bowl Parade (crazy how the float got stuck) and the Rose Bowl game which Ohio State won.  Both New Year’s Eve and New Years Day were very quiet which was nice and it seemed like lots of people weren’t working that day.

Speaking of work I wanted to take a moment and try to explain what this job is like.  Essentially we are living on the corner of a huge western ranch and our sole responsibility is to open and shut a gate when cars/trucks come in and out.  Generally it’s pretty easy work, especially when the volume of vehicles is low, but it can be pretty unpleasant when the weather is bad, which is was for a couple of days.  Some gates are left open in bad weather, but this particular one has to be physically opened and closed every time and standing in the wind and rain isn’t fun.  Thankfully those days have been the minority and most days are really beautiful.

Mostly we have only a smile and nod relationship with the people we open the gate for but on occasion a salesperson will stop by and give us a present.  Bringing food is a pretty common sales technique down here and sometimes we get lucky.  The other day the job sites refrigerator was full and we received a huge rib eye, homemade gumbo (which was excellent) and some root beer.  It’s totally random and we never know when it will happen but we are always grateful for being included.

Two pound monster steak. Jack loved the bone

Frozen gumbo had sausage, shrimp, and chicken. Lee LOVED it!!

Old fashioned rootbeer

I do understand why they want the gate monitored here though because the cow herd definitely understands that the gate is a way out.  They have been getting closer and closer as time has gone on, but Jack has been surprisingly good at chasing them off.  The other day the entire herd was edging closer and all of the young make bulls (with horns) were facing us, but I took Jack out and his bark actually chased them off.  I heard the guard before us had a blue heeler who kept them in line so they are somewhat conditioned to keep their distance.

The cows aren’t the only animals though, because this is a really wild stretch of land and there is lots of wildlife.  We have seen deer, bunnies, hawks, and various birds and a couple of days ago two HUGE javelina hogs walked across the road about 30 yards from us.  The pigs are of particular concern because they will attack people and kill dogs, but thankfully we only saw them that one time.  I wish I could have gotten a picture to so how big they were but they crossed the road pretty quickly and disappeared into the brush.

That’s the thing about this ranch the land is pretty inhospitable.  There are huge cacti, burrs, and thorn trees everywhere so we mainly stick to the road when we take Jack for walks.  I’d love to walk around a bit, but between the pigs, snakes, and coyotes we here in the distance, I always keep the RV in site.  It’s a bit like living on the edge of a large nature preserve except people work here.

Despite the difficult terrain, this continues to be a spot for people to try to cross into the US.  Lee sees border patrol almost every day, and the other day four cars came in and captures 14 people who were trying to make the crossing.  I don’t want to get political and talk about whether or not a wall would work, but I do think it’s important to mention that here on the “front lines” there is a ton of activity.  I don’t think I realized how much of this was happening down here, but the frequent passes by helicopters and other vehicles make it a bit like living in the inner city.  At night I often see activity right across the highway from us and it appears as if people are being picked up (either by border patrol or others I can’t tell), but so far no one has approached us and I am minding my own business.  Again not saying its a crisis or anything but there is alot going on down here.

Border Patrol helicopter hovering very close by

 

It is pretty though and we have had some spectacular sunsets.  One in particular on New Year’s eve was really special so I took several pictures.

 

So what have we been doing??  Well I have been watching lots of football, reading, and working on cross stitching the baby blanket.  Lee on the other hand has been very busy because he has rediscovered ancestry.com.  A couple of times in our marriage he has been very interested in genealogy but always got stuck at a certain point.  There have been major breakthroughs in his family tree though and he has traced his paternal line back to 230 BC.  He’s been having a blast with it and I am glad he is enjoying himself because we have lots of time to fill.  Seems like a ton of work to me, but he is really into it and good for him.

That’s it really, and again I don’t know when the next blog post will be.   Nothing much exciting going on here at the moment, and I don’t like to write when its the same old same old.  I did want to throw things open though like I did last year and if anyone has any topics/questions they would like me to discuss I’m happy to do it.  Just pop me an email at camperchronicles@gmail.com and I’ll write a post about any topics you have an interest in.  Otherwise I’ll post next when something happens.

 

Take care,   Trace


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase our ebook telling the story of how we became full time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time Being Grandparents.

I mentioned in my annual financial post that our life was about to change and I am pleased to announce that my oldest daughter Kyrston and her husband Jeremy are having a baby.  We are both incredibly excited to get the news and since they live in Charleston, SC our mostly west coast travel plans are definitely going to change.

 

We definitely just want a healthy baby, but the early blood test said it might be a boy and as the mother of three daughters I do think it would be fun to buy some boy stuff!  They were kind enough to video the first ultrasound for us and we got to see both the video and picture of our newest family member.  The look on my daughters face when she heard the heartbeat was priceless.

 

Since I don’t knit I have started cross stitching a blanket and since her theme is forest babies we are going to have a lot of fun with that.

 

This is definitely going to change things for us, but we aren’t really sure how.  So I would like to do something different and open this post up to our readers who have grandchildren in different states and ask your thoughts.  Any advice, tips, or thoughts would be most welcome and please feel free to add your comments whether you are a full timer or not.  The one thing I do know is that we will figure it out as we go along.  Oh and this is exciting.  My friend Kelly is expecting her first grandchild in March so she can pave the way 🙂

Here the sunset the night we found out. Beautiful streaks of pink in a blue sky 🙂

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase our ebook telling the story of how we became full time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Fourth Year Budget Summary – 2018

In year four we spent $6,433 more than we made.  The good news was our costs were relatively low at $45,921 for the year, but we only made $39,488 this year. Interestingly enough, the amount we made would have just covered our budget of $39,217 if we had stuck to our budget. Why did we earn so much less than previous years?  Essentially we lost $4500 in revenue when we were unable to find a gate in the month of November, and we didn’t work a higher paying job like Beet harvest or Amazon this year.  If we had worked in November we would have been close to breaking even like last year.   We were $3,500 over budget in RV repairs and upgrades and we overspent $1300 in groceries.  Oh and the $1400 we spent on Jack didn’t help either.

Side Note:  I did want to report that we made $213.71 this year in book royalties, which is deposited to a bank account as actual money, and $360.59 in the Amazon associates program, which is deposited to a gift card account and can only be used at Amazon. I don’t include that money in our budget because we use that to buy little extras throughout the year that we normally couldn’t afford.  Since those costs aren’t included I don’t include the revenue.  We would like to say thank you very much to everyone who clicked our link or purchase a book.  We really appreciate that little bit extra!

Since I go through each category every month in detail I am not going to do that here, but I have added an additional chart for the year that shows the Minimum monthly amount, Maximum monthly amount, and monthly average.  I have compared the monthly average to the budget and anything that’s close I’ve left in black, overages are in red and underages are in green.  This is the process I go through to set next years budget targets, and although we don’t always change them, we have made adjustments over the years.  The biggest areas of concern are mandatory home improvement and groceries.  I am particularly happy with the campground fees and gift catefories, as we have seen significant improvement in those areas.  We also did well in truck fuel, which was a direct result of our conscious decision to not travel back east this year.

Now that we have four full years of data, we definitely can see some trends developing.  You will notice that the categories listed below are a little different, and that is because the budget format has changed over the years.  I have grouped the various categories here in a way that makes the most sense and everything else is in miscellaneous.

Again, I’m not going to go through every category, but some things did jump out at me.

Groceries – Except for last year, the other three year totals are within $400 of each other more or less.  We have had a budget of $600 since we went on the road but I think $700 is much more realistic.  I know that seems like a lot.  It is a lot really for two people, but we eat well, and we are often in remote places where food is just more expensive.  Since this amount includes alcohol and we don’t drink much, I think it is inline with what many other people are spending.  Even if it isn’t, this doesn’t appear to be an area we are willing to compromise much so we should call it what it is.

Truck Fuel – Although as we mentioned we can control this somewhat by deciding how many times we are going to travel back and forth between the east and west, we are also not willing to make major decisions based on this category.  Put simply, if we can’t afford the fuel, we need to reevaluate how we are funding the lifestyle.  However, we don’t need to be reckless in this category and we do try to combine our trips and be as efficient as possible.

Cell/Internet – Not everything goes up every year and we caught a major break with our cell coverage because AT&T finally offered a more reasonably priced unlimited cell plan.   Internet is a major part of our life, and I don’t see that changing any time soon, but I will absolutely enjoy the more reasonable pricing.

Health Insurance – Our health insurance costs have gone steadily down after the last few years (Year 1 I still had my corporate job and didn’t include costs but it was about $360 a month).  We are on the Affordable Care Act and I am not sure why they reduced our costs so much for this year but we will see how it works out once tax time comes.  We continue to look for more affordable options and may change this year to something else, but for the last couple of years it has been OK.  We both had colonoscopies so definitely got our money’s worth. As of this writing our January premium was paid, and it went up $ 69.26, a 63% increase over last year.

Home Expenses– We did so well last year in this category and then wham we got hit with lots of repairs this year.  This is a tough one because to some extent it’s a fixed cost, but some of it is variable.  This is going to be a major topic of conversation for sure in our annual budget meeting.

Dining Out – This category has been super consistent (it spiked a bit the year we went to Alaska) despite our best efforts to keep it lower.  I’ll definitely take the heat for this one because I like to go out to eat, and feel it is part of the experience when we hit a new area.  Essentially we are spending $241 a month which is $40 above the $200 we budgeted.  This is another one we are going to talk about.

Campground Fees – This is one of my favorite categories because the costs have gone steadily down the last several years.  This is due to the fact that our campsites are included in our working and the fact that we can boondock in our our off time.  We were also lucky enough to stay 5 weeks for free with some friends which was wonderful. People told me campground fees would go down and they were right  This seems to be the case for most people we know.

 

Entertainment – We were doing a nice job of trending down in this category and then spiked back up this year.  Mainly that was the trip to Vegas where we spent a ton of money on entertainment and food.  I think its clear to both of us that trips like that are not in our future with our current revenue stream, so hopefully that was a one off and it will continue to trend down.

Gifts – The last category I wanted to talk about was gifts because I have made a concerted effort in this category and that has definitely trended down significantly.  It’s tough because I like to buy things for people, but it’s important to be realistic with what we can afford to do.

All of the above being said, we finally feel like we have a pretty decent handle on the budget.  If you are interested in our prior year writeups, please check out our budget page.  And course life changes things up a bit and next year is going to be different.  I’m going to talk about that more in my next post. 🙂


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase our ebook telling the story of how we became full time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

 

December 2018 Budget

One of the reasons we like gate guarding so much is we spend hardly any money.  We don’t make a ton ($150 a day at this particular gate) but it’s enough to cover our expenses and put a little money away.  This month we only spent $2,730 and we made $3,712 for a net gain of $982.  Part of the revenue for this month was what we received from unemployment and I wanted to take a minute and talk about that.  Ultimately we only received two sets of checks for around $180 a week for each of us.  The third set of checks we should have received didn’t come because one of their requirements was we signed up on the job board for the State of Texas (which I did) but they found the proof that I did it insufficient.  I have to say the entire experience was really frustrating.  It was a ton of work, for not very much money and because our situation was unique (residency in one state, worked in a second, and currently living in a third) it required a lot of additional steps.  Let me just leave it by saying I am glad we don’t need to rely on it and I wouldn’t do it again unless our circumstances were different.  Anyway, details for the month are below.  I am currently working on the year end financial analysis and that will be available shortly.

 

Groceries – We broke even in this category by making a concerted effort to eat what we have.  The nearest grocery store is over a half hour away and the only local store is a Dollar General so logistically we are required to do menu planning which always helps with the budget. 

Dining Out – We only spent $74 in this category.  I got some KFC which I ate for several days and Lee tried out the local Chinese buffet which he didn’t like much.  The lack of restaurants in the area as well as the fact that we can’t go anywhere together will again help keep this budget category in line.

Entertainment – Again we are under in this category and $40 of that is for Hulu.  I have to say I am VERY happy with this service as it is allowing me to watch football and some back episodes of Top Chef.  We haven’t paid for TV since we came on the road, and as such have often missed live programming.  Really happy that we can use this solution on a monthly basis and only pick it up when we are in a situation like this.  We don’t get TV in Oregon either, so at least for football season happy it’s an option.

Cell/Internet – We went over in this category by $92 and that was the fees to activate the Winegard.  I have to say I am really disappointed with how it is working out here.  We are getting a decent signal from our ATT hotspot but a barely usable one from the Winegard.  We are going to continue to keep both for awhile, but so far in my mind it is not earning the additional cost. 

Truck Fuel – Another great benefit of not going anywhere is we don’t use much fuel.  We tanked up once for $98, but other than that no money was spent.

Postage – We spent $137 in this category and that was a combination of getting our mail sent to us twice and shipping out calendars to friends and family.  This year I decided to make calendars for people, and between the cost of the calendar and the calendar themselves it was about $10 a person.  Pretty reasonable price for a customized gift and by the way we mailed them through the USPS using the Media rate which is cheaper than regular mail.

Pets – Jack cost an unexpected $217.  Part of that was heart worm medicine (I purchased a year’s worth at a great rate) and flea and tick medicine and part was the supplies to make the dog run.  The rest was chew toys etc.   He’s definitely worth it, but it would be easy to go crazy in the category for sure so need to keep an eye on it.

New Equipment – Lee spent some money on filters and the tent he put up for gate guarding all of which is tax deductible which is nice.  

(My turn! – Lee

For those interested, here’s some other end of month info that I will be adding to the end of month post from now on. Regarding the budget, I care less about the monthly information and more about quarterly and annual information, and trends, but I like to see how things compare. 

So here’s how December 2018 compared to our previous Decembers. I’m happy with that result. 


And here’s how our overall spending is trending, starting from January 2015….


Tracy likes to do a pie chart of all of our expenses at the end of the year, but I like to see it for each month, and I care more about the percentages than the dollar amounts. It amazes me that our biggest expense is consistently groceries. If you have trouble reading the categories, just click on the image. 

 

And here’s some travel stats for the month. Obviously this will be more interesting when we’re actually traveling….

Truck miles:      633.1
Engine Hours:  14:05
Trailer miles:    168.0
Fuel Used:         13.8 G

Here’s our travel map for December, which is kind of boring because all we did was move from a friend’s place to our current gate. In future months it might be more interesting…

Days “Moochdocking”:       2
Days at free Workamp Sites: 29

Pictures Taken: 326

Data Used Across All Devices: 425 Gb

The weather station gives me some pretty cool historical data that I’d like to share. For the month of December it’s a little incomplete, because I didn’t get it until the 15th, but next month I will have an entire month’s worth. Won’t THAT be exciting???

Since the format of the blog for some reason requires that a full 50% of the screen real estate not be used for the blog, the images can’t be any bigger than they are, but you can click on them to make them full screen. You can also go to the page for our weather station at Weather Underground and fiddle with the charts and graphs to your heart’s content. 



If there’s data or stats anyone is interested in seeing going forward, let me know in the comments section! – Lee


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time Publishing an Autobiography

It was never really my intention to write an autobiography, but last year while we were gate guarding I was struck by how much of our early journey was missing from the blog.  When I wrote those initial posts we were keeping our desire to become full timers a secret, and even when we went on the road I was very hesitant in the beginning.  Consequently there were stories from the beginning that never were told, and while I was working nights gate guarding, a chunk of it poured out of me.

Turns out that was the fun part, because the last several months has been about editing those raw words and that wasn’t nearly as fun.  Thankfully my oldest daughter Kyrston helped me because I honestly don’t know if I would have gotten through it without her.  Unlike blog posts, which generally are about whatever is happening in my life, these chapters required some introspection, and it was tough at times to figure out how to cover all of the material without being boring.  The sections with conflict or drama were relatively easy to write and held up well during the editing process, but the slower periods required numerous rewrites.

I also spent a ton of time formatting it to make it eBook friendly, and spent literally hours working on styles, pictures, and page layouts.  That work I was not expecting, but in order to keep the cost down I chose to do all of the formatting work myself.  I learned quite a bit in the process but it was painful! The cost is $4.99, or free if you have a monthly Kindle membership. In the interests of full transparency, I receive $2.50 per book sold.

Obviously this work is definitely a labor of love, and now that I am letting it out into the world I do feel a sense of loss. The story is very personal to me, and it was harder than I thought to put some of these thoughts and feelings out there.  It was also hard to finally say it was “good enough”, but I truly could have reedited this book a hundred more times and I don’t think it would have been demonstrably better.  For better or worse, it is what it is, and for those of you who have been waiting, I hope you enjoy it.

Click here if you would like to download the ebook.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.