It occurred to me as I am posting these budgets that folks might think you need this much money to live on. As you can see on our budgets page we have lived on far less, but now that I am making corporate money again we are less concerned about what we spend. That hasn’t really made it into our budget so far so you see these huge variances, but I wanted to take a few moments and go category by category and talk about what is fixed or variable. A big part of our thought process is “buy it now while we are making good money” so we wont need it later when it would sting more. Please see below for my thoughts about the categories.
Campsite Fees – When we are living on less money this is definitely an area that we kept extremely low. A combination of work kamping jobs with free sites for many months at a time, and boondocking helped with costs but now we are all full hookups and strong cell signals (need it for the job) along with staying wherever we want. For example the closest campground to my oldest grandson just went up to $1600 a month. (Two years ago they had a monthly rate of around $700) There are a couple places farther away that are a little cheaper and in the past we wouldn’t have been able to afford staying here. Now we drive less and stay closer.
Cell/Internet – This has not changed the entire time we have been on the road. Being able to stream and have strong internet has always been a priority for us and no matter how broke we were we didn’t cut corners here. Some people only use wifi and other creative solutions but we have steadfastly just paid the money.
Clothing – Although most of my clothes have been thrift store bought Lee has almost always bought new. The difference was we bought very little and now that we have money again we have splurged again. A chunk of this is souvenir T-Shirts but I also spent money on some new clothes for the first time in years. Most of this though is discretionary spending.
Entertainment – When we are watching our budget we only do things that are free or near free. Now we are doing what we want. Again, discretionary.
Food – This has always been a struggle for us, but when we had less money we ate out much less. Now we eat out several times a week. We’ve always spent too much on groceries and that has actually gone down a little but is still more than many people.
Gifts – I bought very little for others (except the kids on holidays) for several years and now I can splurge on those grandbabies.
Home Repair – In general this category has not changed much over the last couple of years. With the exception of a couple of renovation projects we have to repair what’s broken and have never scrimped much on this category. That being said by anyone elses measure a chunk of these purchases is discretionary.
Truck Fuel – I think this has stayed pretty consistent although when we were work kamping we probably traveled a little less. We are getting steep discounts on fuel when we travel though which has helped keep costs down.
Truck Maintenance – This is what it is. The first five years we had a pre-paid maintenance plan so all we had to cover was the occasional deductible and tires, but now we pay for what is broken. Many people do their own repairs to keep costs down, but Lee is not comfortable with that and since I am not willing to do it, we keep going to Ford dealers. Since we have one vehicle and it matters whether it runs the peace of mind is worth it to us.
So that’s my thoughts. We are choosing to spend $7K a month and if you go back and look we lived many many months on $4K. I just dont want people thinking it has to be this way.
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My motto is “Never pay retail or interest”. We’ve added to that to avoid campground fees when possible. We use Boondockers a lot. I hate private campgrounds and avoid them if possible.
I am on video conferences every day so showering is a must . Yes we can do baby showers to stretch the black tank but it’s a pain
I very much appreciate your comments in this post. It is important for people, especially newbies, to realize that many things will vary when living this lifestyle. What I liked, when doing my research, was anyone willing to share any info on budgeting, realizing we would probably spend more on some things, but less on others. You and Lee have lived both sides of the budget spectrum (well, maybe not the severe low budget amounts some do,) which is awesome because it shows the flexibility of the lifestyle.
Tracy, thank you for the posts! If I remember correctly, you use an AT&T plan, correct? My hubby and I go FT mid-June after several years of planning (and reading your blog as well as many others!). ~Shelly
I am on ATT unlimited and very happy with it. We have a hotspot device attached to the plan which works very well