September 2019 Budget and Revenue

Our September budget was rough for a variety of reasons.  First and foremost if we hadn’t been let go early from our summer job this would all have been a non issue, but the loss of $7500 in revenue certainly had a major impact.  Instead we only had income of $1,616 for a net loss of  $3,954.  A big chunk of that was the $1,070 to replace our rear truck tires, and of course our travel costs to get south ($1,154 in diesel fuel alone).  It could have been a real mess, but thankfully we had enough money to get us down to our friend’s place in Texas where we could stay while we waited to get a gate guarding slot. Essentially what being cut loose early cost us was our month off traveling and seeing our kids.  We were going to make our way across the country and see each of our three children and our parents, but instead went south and immediately started looking for a gate guarding job.  Ultimately, it all worked out as I was able to find a professional job in my field in time, and once again we squeaked by without taking anything out of our savings account.  It did completely wipe out our checking account though and if we didn’t have money coming in soon we would definitely need to hit our savings.  For more details please see below:


Campgrounds – Lee’s not a big fan of boondocking when we travel so I try to use Passport America as much as possible.  The options on this trip were somewhat limited so we ended up staying in several more expensive parks.

Groceries – I would have guessed this would have been lower because we have been trying to eat what we have, but I am also trying to include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and those add up.

Dining Out – We went over by $81 and that was mainly due to the heat as we were traveling.  We often stop and heat something up in the RV on travel days, but the rig was super hot so we ended up eating out almost every lunch we were on the road.

Entertainment – Really happy with this category.  We did tons of things when we traveled south, but most were free or near free.  $103 for all of that is a huge bargain in my mind.

Truck Fuel – We really only look at this number as an annual amount; anything else will make you crazy.  Practically though it can have a significant cash flow impact if you need to get from point A to Point B and your savings are low.  

Truck Maintenance – I suppose this could have waited but they were in really bad shape and we would have been rolling the dice. (We really should have replaced them back in the late winter/early spring but put it off. – Lee)  I am shocked by how much we have spent on tires over the last five years.  I really need to talk about that in the five year budget review.  The good news is Lee has them staggered so they don’t all hit at once (front truck x2, rear truck x4, and trailer x4).  The bad news is it feels like every time we turn around we need to buy new tires.

Clothing – I desperately needed some new work clothes, in particular because I have put on weight, but I didn’t want to go completely crazy.  I started by visiting several local thrift stores, and then whatever I couldn’t find there I bought on clearance.  I don’t think I paid full price for anything I bought, although I did splurge a bit in October and bought a few Brooks Brothers shirts.  Those aren’t cheap even on sale but I love the way they look and they last forever.

Shipping – Twice we needed to overnight our mail to ourselves.  Once to get the last of the medical bills and another time to get our final paycheck which were mailed to us.  We also had a couple other items shipped as well.  Since everything was so up in the air and we weren’t sure when we would get a gate we paid the extra so we would have everything in hand.

Pets – I had to go back and see what we did here since this amount seemed so high.  Turns out Lee splurged on a bunch of brain toys for Jack and the treats that go inside.  I also took him to the vet for his three year rabies shot and a check up.  He’s the picture of health and continues to bring real joy to our lives, although we probably need to set a real budget for this next year.

Gifts – We bought some stuff for Oliver, our grandchild.  That’s another area that I probably need to set a budget for next year.  I continue to mostly spend the money I make from this website, which is awesome, but when we were visiting places we used our money.  Lee bought him a cool book from one of the museums and I bought him several rubber duckies.  It’s all about balance for sure, but it’s hard not to go a little crazy because he is so darn cute.

Home –  We went over by $74 in this category in September (much more to come in October), which actually isn’t that bad.  Lee did a real cool RV Mod (details in next post) which gave us lots of additional storage under the bed. (This is also a category I feel like should be looked at annually, because there are lots of times when we spend nothing at all on the rig. – Lee) 

In addition to the costs listed above we finally figured out the medical bills for Lee’s heart attack so I wanted to give a final accounting.  Almost all of this came from our HSA account thankfully.

  • $14.93 to radiologist –  Not covered under insurance.  Paid with HSA.
  • $144.85 to pathologist – Not covered under insurance.  Paid with HSA.
  • $220.35 to ER physician – Not covered under insurance.  Paid with HSA.
  • $612.22 to Methodist Hospital –  Originally this was $6,622.16 that went towards our deductible.  Because it is a charitable organization and we made so little last year I applied for assistance and they forgave 90% of it and we only had to pay 10%.  That was amazing, and went a long way towards this whole things not being a financial disaster.  Paid with HSA.
  • $1325.78 to Cardiologists – The cardiologists were out of network but since we didn’t have a choice in the doctors I appealed with Blue Cross/Blue Shield.  They denied the appeal so we ultimately ended up paying it. Paid with HSA.
  • $7500 for helicopter ride.  – The insurance paid around $10K of this bill and I appealed with Blue Cross/Blue Shield.  They denied the claim which left a bill of approximately $47K.  When we called the evac company they offered two different plans.  One was $100 a month until $10K was paid.  The other was a one time cash amount of $7500.  Although we still feel that this amount is too high, it’s more in the ballpark so we have agreed to pay that amount.  It will be paid with a combination of HSA and savings.

The moral of this story from my perspective is to make sure you have some sort of insurance coverage.  Yes, high deductible plans are next to useless for average health care, BUT if something bad happens it can save you.  The costs all in were well over $250K.  I also highly recommend that if you are planning on going on the road max out your HSA account.  We started five years ago with 12K in HSA and after paying for dental and other minimal costs for the last four years and they bills above we still have $3K left to apply to the evac copter.  That means we only need to take $4K out of savings to cover the heart attack and in the grand scheme of things I can live with that.  As a reminder we started this journey five years ago with $40K in savings.  Our deal was once we hit $10K we would need to take a break and make some money. After paying all these bills we still have $13K in savings.  The HSA account is the only thing that made that possible so again I highly recommend it if you are in the planning stages.

All that being said I am very happy to have found a job in my field so we can rebuild our savings.  It would have been next to impossible working the types of jobs we have been doing and this is a much needed infusion of cash.  Going forward we will still report our costs but I will no longer be reporting our revenue.  Suffice it to say we will have enough to live comfortably and really put away some money quickly.

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