Well here we are at a new year. You are going to see lots of new categories as after 2 hours (no exaggeration) of negotiation we determined what level of reporting we wanted to do. Since we use this budgeting process to help control costs, you will see several high dollar categories broken down into discretionary and non-discretionary divisions. Mainly this will help us focus on the discretionary spend this year, since before those costs were often lumped in with non-discretionary purchases. So this month we did worse than we wanted but better than I thought we would. For more detail you can see below.
Campground Fees – This year we adjusted our budget down to $600 a month from $750. In January we only spent $80 in Quartzsite. This was somewhat offset by higher propane costs though as we filled our tanks three times. Still, even if you look at those together, $140 for a month’s camping is pretty darn cheap.
Groceries – Groceries we have broken out into consumables (food, drinks, etc), expendables (soap, toilet paper, etc), and alcohol. We kept the overall budget at $600, just broke it into the three categories. We were under by about $80 which is still disappointing because we stocked up in December. Still we also spent $50 on alcohol which is pretty rare for us, but we knew we would be with friends and took advantage of California’s low wine prices.
Dining Out – this will be a major area of focus this year and we have broken the category into fuel versus experience. I am fine with spending money on experience dining, but largely the dining for fuel category can be avoided by packing lunches. This month we went over by $100 and this was mainly due to the necessity of eating locally at the Rose Bowl Parade (packing would not have worked well since the bus was so far away) and Lee needing to eat when he was driving back and forth to Phoenix for work. Since we could have chosen to move the RV to Phoenix (next time we absolutely will), these costs could have been avoided.
Entertainment – We did great in this area ($66 under budget) since there is a ton of free to near free stuff to do around Quartzsite. The bulk of the money spent was $60 for all of the Cards Against Humanity Expansion packs, which was a great price for a truly awful game we like to play with our friends.
Memberships – We renewed our Escapees membership at $39.99 and finally renewed Passport America. I’ve been waiting for a good deal and chose the $109 for three years with 7 months free. Now we have it all the way until September 2019 and I know this will eventually pay for itself.
Fuel – We actually spent less in this category than we budgeted, but still overspent in our minds because Lee was traveling back and forth to Phoenix for several days. All time low fuel prices and the fact the mileage is all tax deductible make the spend more palatable, but we would probably not put ourselves in that situation again.
Home Expenditures – The most talked about category in our two hour budget discussion was this category. We ended up dividing the purchases into new items we need versus the ones that were optional, and repair, which is not optional. The idea is to get a handle on the discretionary spend and truly see where we are at in this category. From a budget standpoint I combined the budgets for repair and home improvement and added another $20 a month for supplies (Tiki torch fluid, fire starters, etc) which were going into the grocery budget previously. So it was all divided out and ready to go and then we went to the Quartzsite RV show. As much as you save in campground fees in Quartzsite, it is VERY easy to spend money at the show. The good news is we spent $489 and $300 of that was for non-optional things. We bought a fresh water pump, fresh water tank, and multiple repair items for small issues Lee finally had time to fix. The not so good news of course was the $180 discretionary we spent on top of that. Some of the purchases I already regret, but the one I am the most happy about was a stove grill top I bought for $25. I have used this three times when the weather made grilling outside unpleasant and it is absolutely great. It’s the perfect size for meat and veggies for two people and there is no propane taste. Also, the frozen chicken breasts or thighs that Walmart sells can be quickly cooked on the grill without even thawing them. Huge fan of this appliance. As you can see from the link though I could have purchased this from amazon for $20. As a matter of fact almost everything at the show was cheaper on Amazon and there was precious little in the cool new idea category. So let the buyer beware on the show.
Miscellaneous – This $47 was for medicine purchased in Mexico. Since it was sort of a one shot deal, I don’t really have a category for it.
So we were $368 under budget but still higher than Lee was hoping for. Let’s see what next month brings.
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