January 2109 Budget

People often wonder why we would gate guard for so little money ($150 a day), and it’s a fair question, but it turns out that of all the work kamping jobs we have done, this one is the most budget friendly.  Budgets are about what you make and what you spend, and we spend very little money when we’re gate guarding.  Partly that is because we are working every day, and partly because we are usually nowhere near places to spend money.   That’s good, because we really need to put some money back in the bank account.  This month we made $5254 and only spent $2452 for a net profit of $2803. One other thing I wanted to mention was we finally changed insurance companies, and saved quite a lot there as well. Details are listed below.



Groceries – This month we really tried to eat what we had in the house, and intentionally did not make a Costco run when we ran out of chicken, which is one of the reasons we go to Costco. For us, $545 is a very good month, 

Dining Out – Since we were on a gate that wasn’t close to anything, this was another easy category to do well in.  One thing I am buying is the $7.99 Pizza Hut online special, but since I can get four meals out of one pizza , I actually think that’s a really good bargain. (If you compare this to my typical $12 McDonald’s lunch, it’s a spectacular bargain. – Lee) 

Entertainment – Lee ordered a couple of Nevada Barr books online to complete the series he has been reading.  If you have never heard of her, she is a former National Park Service ranger who writes really wonderful mysteries set in our National Parks. He really enjoys reading books that take place in parks we’ve been, and others we haven’t visited, but plan to. If you are looking for a new author and like mysteries, Lee highly recommends her. (I can’t recommend these highly enough. They’re light without being brainless, serious without being too dark, and the protagonist is a very fresh character that I just can’t get enough of. I’ve been reading this series of 19 novels nonstop since late summer when I “discovered” them. – Lee)   The other $40 went to a month of Hulu TV. The only time I miss having “regular” television is during football season, and since this year we were too remote to get regular TV stations, we tried Hulu.  Turns out it was terrific and well worth the price.  I watched all of the games live, and was able to watch old versions of Top Chef as well.  Really glad we finally found a workable solution for this time of year when we are not close enough to San Antonio to get regular television.  The best part is it is month to month, so now that football is done we can turn it off, and any time we want we can turn it back on, since it requires no activation fees or special equipment apart from a PC, or laptop or whatever device you will use to watch it.

Cell/Internet – We’ve been paying an extra $30 a month for the sim card for our Winegard, and I’m sorry to say that we are discontinuing that card on our plan. We really tried to make this work, but in a variety of circumstances we have never felt it did a better job than our AT&T hotspot.  More often than not the speeds were unusable (to our standards) and it’s not worth the money.  I will be updating the post we wrote on the product as well, sorry to have to do that but that’s where we are at.

Truck Fuel – Another benefit of not going anywhere is of course truck fuel.  Because we are 1099 employees when we gate guard we can deduct mileage traveling from one gate to another.  Plus Texas usually has some of the lowest fuel costs in the country.  We filled up just once this month, and it was $96.

Insurance – When we first started on the road we used Miller Insurance because they were full timer friendly, and only recommended plans that covered our lifestyle.  For the first few years everything was fine, but then the rates in Florida started to rise and ultimately our truck insurance was almost double the original rate.  Two years in a row I called and tried to see if they could find me a less costly plan, and both times I was told I would have to give up coverage levels (full replacement value on the RV for example) to get a lower price.  What bothered me even more than the price was the sharp decrease in customer service.  In both cases I felt as if I was bothering them and just didn’t get good customer service.  This year I was reading the RV-Dreams blog and based on Howard’s recommendation decided to get a quote from American Adventure Insurance.  Not only was the experience excellent, but I also saved $120 a month on our truck insurance AND did not lose any major coverage items.  If you are looking for new insurance I highly recommend you get a quote from them and here is information on how to do so. .  To be clear I am in no way compensated by anyone for this recommendation.  I had a bad experience with Miller and a good experience with American and feel strongly enough about both that I wanted to mention it. Costs this months are higher, by the way, because starting the new policy required two months up front, and we had some overlap.  Long-term we should more than get that back.

Pets – One part of my life that I am still splurging on is Jack.  We spent another $113 on him this month.  He is a puppy and chews a lot so we are buying pretty expensive bully sticks, and we also bought a harness and Lee made the trolley dog-run.  That is going to settle down at some point, but it makes me happy and Jack happy so I am OK with the expense.

Overall it was a really good month, and hopefully next month is good as well.  We did have four days off at the end of the month between gates, but that loss of revenue won’t show up until next month.  Our new gate (which I will talk about in our next post) is even more remote, so I don’t think we will be having tons of expenses this month either.  Oh, and below are Lee’s new charts (and other crucial information that you had no idea you couldn’t live without. – Lee) 


Here’s the year by comparison of the month. As you can see, we’ve come way, WAY down from $4200 in January 2015 to this year’s $2500. I like the downward trend. I’m looking forward to what February can be, because our high year for that was $5300 (!!!) in 2016, and last year it was a measly $1986. I don’t know if we can do that well again, but we’re going to try. 

And here’s the more expanded graph that shows all of the months. Again, I like the downward trend, but those peaks make me crazy. Mostly those are “special” months, like our visits to Vegas and major RV repairs, but I still don’t like them.

And here’s the breakdown of the month. I like seeing things like dining out and “home improvement” such a tiny slice of the pie! 

Here’s the “travel map” for the month, such as it is. The only move we made this month was from the gate we were working near Laredo to the RV Park where we waited for the next gate. Once we are finished with gate guarding for the season there will actually be something to look at here, while we work our way to Phoenix for a little showbiz work I’m doing at the end of March, and when we spend April playing and making our way to Oregon for our summer gig. 

Boring month for temperatures, but I’ll take 70-80 degrees in January any time! We had almost no rain at all, but we had a couple of very windy days, including one with sustained 35 mph winds which sort of came out of nowhere and since I didn’t have enough warning, it tore up the roof of our pop-up shelter and bent one of the legs. 

And finally, here’s some more detail numbers…

28 days at a work location, so no campground fees
  3 days at an RV Park that was paid for by the gate guard company, so campground fees there either

Total pictures taken: 324

Total data used across all devices: 1.836 TB (That’s terrabytes, or 1,836 GB! Really glad we have that unlimited data plan. In the past we had to make do with 80 GB per month, like cave people.)

Total truck miles:  423.3
Non-Towing Truck Miles: 356.4
Total trailer miles:  66.9 (Those miles are tax deductible, which is nice)
Total Engine Hours: 10:48
Fuel Used: 30.5 gallons
Avg. MPG: 13.8

And here’s Jack having a showdown with the locals…..

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19 thoughts on “January 2109 Budget

  1. Great job on the budget friendly month. 🙂 I used to read Nevada Barr books and loved them. I’ll have to see if I can download her audio books from my library. Again, Jack is a cutie pie!

  2. As a visual person I like the charts, thank you, Lee! Having money in the plus column is always a good feeling, can’t wait to experience it again :). I would say that Jack is worth EVERY penny but you already know that. Those cows better watch out! Hope you enjoy the new gate.

  3. I was just curious, Do you have a hard roof/or a rubber coated roof? I have a rubber roof and I treat it twice a year. My neighbor has a rubber roof and has never treated it. It has totally split apart, and insurance won’t cover it. About $7,000 to $8000. and in Camping Worlds care for about 3/5 months. He is thinking of fixing it and getting rid of it. It has some water damage inside. I’m glade you are moving to a safer place. God be with you both.
    I will see your blogs. I learn a lot from them.

  4. Lee, if you like the Nevada Barr series so much, check out the Kate Shugak novels by Dana Stabenow. Also (but a little darker), the Woods Cop series by Joseph Heywood.

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