This was supposed to be the first month of truly reduced expenses. Ah, the best laid plans. I am trying hard to be philosophical about it, but it’s tough as every month it seems we have one large expenditure that blows the budget. So we can look at this one of two ways. Either these first year expenses are one time variances and will not be repeated in year 2, or there will always be something in the $500 range every month and the budget needs to be adjusted accordingly. When it comes to the emotional aspects of this lifestyle I am very loose, but when it comes to money the practical side of my brain kicks in and it is all about the cold hard facts. So I will keep reporting the data and you draw your own conclusions, as I will draw mine.
In August we spent $4700 which was $850 over our budget. More than half of this overage was caused by an emergency purchase of a cell phone booster and associated costs. We were in a campground with no cell service and due to work needed to solve that problem immediately. The other major portion was RV Relocation Fuel which went $289 over our monthly budget. The second number doesn’t bother me so much because we understood these costs would vary from month to month and the yearly number is way more important from a budget perspective. Eight months into the year we have used roughly half of our relocation fuel (money used to travel from place to place rather than money used to travel locally once we get their), so I think we are in pretty good shape in this category overall. You would hope that underages in other categories would smooth that out in the overall budget but sadly that was not the case. For a detailed explanation by category, please see below.
Campground Fees – Did as expected in this category. Half of the month was free because it was covered as part of Lee’s working and the rest was spent on campgrounds in and near Glacier. Since we stayed right in Glacier park for a week I think the cost was more than fair. And the state campgrounds were much less expensive than the local private parks.
Groceries – Honestly not sure what happened here other than most of the month was spent with people, which always costs a little more, and more importantly in areas where there was no Wal-Mart. Shopping exclusively at small, local grocery stores does add up and although we had stocked up prior to heading to northern Minnesota, we still had to buy meat and fresh vegetables locally. I really do miss a large freezer for situations like these, but although we have looked at some alternative there at this point it seems more trouble than it would be worth. With just the two of us for the next few months these costs will hopefully realign, and we have made a commitment in September to eliminate as much food waste as possible.
Dining Out – I think we did really good in this category with an overage of $68 considering we were with people for two months. That was largely attributed to one expensive fish dinner with Howard and Linda, which normally we wouldn’t do but I really wanted to try the local fish in Minnesota and there wasn’t really a cheaper alternative.
Entertainment – Again not so bad especially considering we were in Glacier for two weeks. Steve and I spent a lot of time in gift shops, and although the T-Shirts cost me an overage of $50 in the clothing category overall not so bad for a once in a lifetime experience.
Cell Phone – Overage of $30 for August. We will be seeing a $52 overage in this category every month until the end of the year when I adjust the budget, because for work I simply had to break down and get a Verizon phone. We got the cheapest phone and the lowest plan available, but unfortunately cell/data has now jumped to over $400. Since this is also our television solution, it’s not that far off from what most people are paying, but in August we looked at all our options and have decided to stick with this solution for now. Mainly because we use a ton of data and we are grandfathered in on a double data plan with AT&T. Going 100% to Verizon at this point would result in a significant loss of GB per month at roughly the same price.
Gifts – $80 overage in gifts again this month because I sent a friend some flowers for a surgery she was having. Honestly I just don’t know what to do about this category. I feel like we either need to completely be hard-core and eliminate all but the basics or just own it and adjust the budget accordingly. I will decide at the end of the year.
Propane – This was over by $54 because we were camping with no services in Glacier and it was cold. Initially we tried to watch the propane usage, but I finally drew the line at having no power and being cold. This did put us $53 over for the year and more costs will be coming in obviously, but at Lee’s work kamping job he gets a $100 a month propane “gift” which may actually allow us to stay on track in this category. I guess it’s worth mentioning that no services does cost something even with solar and additional propane costs are part of that. Because the campground fees in Glacier were $23 in addition to the higher propane use, it really wasn’t a good deal financially, but hey Glacier…what are you going to do?
Misc – This was travel cash. We haven’t done a great job of capturing all the cash we have spent although we have worked hard to keep it at a minimum and I have certainly tried. Mostly we need cash for farmer’s markets and firewood when we are stationary, which I have been pretty faithful about adding to the budget, but travel days do use cash, so I captured how much we took out this time and even though we didn’t spend it all in this month I am going to take the hit when we take it out of the ATM.
So that’s where we are. We have another set of travel days in September, but then three months without campground fees while we work kamp at two different locations in California (and hopefully no more one time expenses) so maybe finally we can hit a new low in the budget. My overall feeling about the spending is simultaneously feeling I should give us a break in Year 1 and frustration because I wish we were doing better. Can it be done better? Absolutely. Can we do it better? That is yet to be determined. Since I am currently still working full-time, it really is a non-issue as I am making enough money to cover all these costs. If/when that situation changes these numbers become much more serious. We have tried to live as if we didn’t have the money coming in, but of course that’s tough because we have the safety net. I mention this because it’s important to note that we are living within our means. Our income right now is much higher than the average full-timer, so it’s not necessarily representative of the average experience, if there is such a thing. In any event, we will see how it unfolds. Stay tuned.
Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Search Amazon.com here