So before we get into the numbers we knew this month would be rough. For those of you who are new to the blog this is in no way a normal month for us and I really recommend you take a look at our First Year Budget Summary. Also keep in mind there is a learning curve and according to everyone who has done this longer, costs tend to go down over time. That being said, it can be expensive as this month shows, which is why we have contingency money.
So what happened? We did a ton of stocking up for Alaska and had to replace 4 dually tires on the truck. Thankfully I got an extra paycheck with unused vacation days I wasn’t counting on that helped covered the overages, but as you will see it was a doozy and not really representative of what has become our standard month. Overall we spent $5831.90 with an overage of budget of $1763. 15 The tires accounted for $988.01 of the overage. For a detailed accounting by category please see below.
Campground Fees – Despite traveling frequently and our last-minute change of campgrounds for the repair we only spent $467.62 and were under in this category $132.48. Definitely a win and special thanks to Guy and Sue for letting us stay in their place for a week. That really helped.
Groceries – In total we ran about $400 over in this category. This was all about stocking up for Alaska and several trips to Costco, which came at the very beginning of the month. This is the second highest month we have ever had and not representative of a normal month at all.
Dining Out – Despite numerous travel days we only spent $63 in Dining Out – Fuel (fast food etc) this month which is by far the best month we have ever had in this category and its one we really focused on!!! We did completely blow the Dining out experience category though with an overage of $157. This was a conscious choice and was driven by our day in New Orleans, The Whistle Stop Cafe, Lunch with Bridget and Pat, and dinner in Atlanta with our friend Brian. We discussed it before we spent the money, knew it was going to happen. Some things in life are more important than money.
Entertainment – Since we ate out so much we really watched this category to help offset and were under by $57. That may not sound like much but we didn’t go on a train ride or go zip lining in the mountains of Georgia (both of which we wanted to do). Instead we chose a the free activity of seeing the waterfall so I feel really good about this category.
Cell/Internet – We were over by $30 in this category because we hit our data limit, went over, and were charged $15 twice for two extra gigs in March. I am not going to go on a big rant about how ridiculous $15 a gig is but instead say we have made a commitment that when we hit 75% of our data usage going forward we are going to seriously adjust our behavior at that point. This budget amount is crazy high for us in comparison to others anyways and we simply can’t afford to go over in this anymore.
Memberships – We bought a premium Costco membership and at the end of the year get 3% back on all purchases made with a guarantee of at least $55 back the first year. We also paid the $10 and got the Gold version of RVillage. We will have to see this year if either is worth the money.
Truck Fuel – Ok this one is pretty scary so lets break it down. About $300 of this are trailing costs from March that came in on the Pilot gas card. Since March we have moved rapidly across the country, from Arizona to South Carolina. Gas prices were as low as $1.60 in some states and as high as $2.10 as we got closer to the east. When traveling we are spending at least $50 a day (sometimes more if we take an excursion) and all of those add up. I expect this will be even worse in May since we are traveling from Tennessee to Alaska. To some extent it is what it is. We knew it made no financial sense to drive from the West Coast to the East Coast and then back to Alaska, but we made a business commitment and intended to honor it. The costs will be offset by the additional revenue we are generating, but we zig zagging the country is pricey! We knew that in theory, but now having experienced it first hand will do what we can to minimize this going forward. That being said, we need to follow the revenue and if it involves higher travel costs, so be it.
Truck Maintenance – Four new tires on the truck because the tread was too low for Alaska. I wish I would have known about this in advance to factor that extra costs into our decision to go to Alaska. We definitely would have still gone, but we could have absorbed these costs earlier when I was still working. We ordered then and had them put on at Costco and the service was good and price was fair.
Storage – Starting this month two of our kids were going to share the cost of the storage unit. I gave them an extra month since I got paid into April and that should start going down to $25 starting May.
Cigarettes – We bought several months worth for Alaska which is why we went over in this category. Because we bought in bulk we got an excellent price and this will definitely help us on our annual budget in this category. Again this was a planned monthly overage.
Gifts – As part of my sisters adoption party she asked for people to bring items they could use to prepare welcome bags for foster kids to get when they were taken from their homes. With those poor kids in mind I went over on gifts. Wish I could have spent more, but I did get good bang for my buck by shopping at Big Lots and the clearance section of Walgreens.
Home Repair – Considering how many mods Lee did this month we did great in this category by staying close to budget. Consistently this is a problem area for us, but if you check out our DIY Modifications page you judge for yourself if the money spent is worth it.
So the month was a rough one but we planned for it. We were only truly surprised by the fuel costs. At least I was, Lee probably not so much. Our plan is to live frugally in Alaska, hopefully make extra money with RV Repair, and hit the Beet Harvest on the way out to replenish any deficits we may have. It’s a balancing act, and certainly we know others can live on less. The question continues to be what can we live on?
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I noticed that you mentioned about the Pilot Card, Trace. Do you record your individual charges by the date of transaction, or do you charge it to the month that the bill has to be paid? I gave this much thought back in 2014 when I started our retirement budget and finally figured out the only way I was going to get a true picture of what happened each month was to do each individual transaction by the date it occurred. As a result, I do separate monthly spreadsheets. It’s not as time consuming as it sounds. Biggest issues are the cash transactions (write them down so you don’t forget them, Jim!) and the ‘pay at the pump’ stations who fail to maintain their receipt paper (grrrrr). Also, mail forwarding charges, toll pass charges and the like. I can usually go online and find those. If SBI charges $100 to refill their cart, I don’t put that on the budget…only when they draw out of the cart. So far, so good….but then again, I dream in Excel. 🙂
Lee pays the pilot bill all at once but the other fillups I capture individually. Normally it’s not a big deal since we try to avoid higher Pilot costs when we can by filling up when we are unattached. Because we were traveling so frequently and such long distances it was a much bigger hit. Will definitely look at changing how I record if this continues to be a significant factor
Bill does his budget (I guess it’s our budget) by putting everything in on the day it occurs. But – he breaks things down into monthly amounts for the average cost per month. That way it balances out at the end of a year. It’s called the accrual way of doing it. Works for us.
Glad you got the tires so all is safe for AK, as well as the other mods Lee took care of.
Yeah Bills way more detailed at his than I am 😄
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