August Budget 2015

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.

August Budget

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.


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11 thoughts on “August Budget 2015

  1. i have only recently been following your blog so was wondering what type of workkamping job your husband has taken in Susanville, Ca. my husband and I did a campground host job earlier this year in northern Az so will be curious to see if there are any similarities. in the meantime be safe and enjoy your new lifestyle. Dale and Chloe

  2. What is your laundry situation, Tracy? Do you have your own washer and dryer in the rig?

    We also have had a few ‘budget busters’. They seem to be part of life. Brakes on both the truck and car, glasses and hearing aids for me, new tires for the 5th wheel, etc. We have had RV’s since the 1980’s, so all the above expenses would have happened, no matter if we were full timing or back in a sticks and bricks.

    The year end numbers will tell the story, for sure….and Year 2 will help paint an even clearer picture. Kudos on your diligence with your budget!


  3. So impressed…the closest Im getting to a budget right now is to put all the charges for food, campgrounds, fuel, eating out on one credit card and analyze it after the fact…you really inspire me to do better!

  4. The only time we are able to hit our budget is when we are remote wilds of Canada….. no dining out, no stores, no camping or fuel expenses…..absolutely nothing to spend money on. Now that we are back in the U.S. that is all about to change.

  5. I kept track of our expenses for a year before we started this life style so we would have an idea if we could afford to do this. Then we followed a budget for a year into the life style. I now just keep track of our fuel and camping expenses. Fuel costs average $.36 per mile and our camping costs average $34 a night. When we tried to follow a budget we found we could easily live within our budget as long as there were no friends or family around. Add in one group or the other (or God forbid both!) and our grocery costs and dining out expenses went out the window! But it’s a trade off we would gladly make. 🙂 I think what you’re doing is great! Being able to look at Howard and Linda’s budget was very helpful to us when we were doing our research and the more people that put their numbers up, the easier it will be for others to decide if this is right for them or not. We’ll be on the east coast until January then we head west. Hope our paths cross again!

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