September 2017 Budget

September was a bit of an odd month since we were partially work kamping and partially traveling back east.  Our travel costs were high since we were making the trip in a compressed time frame and although we received some pay in September our last checks were actually paper copies and had to be mailed us.  Not sure why they do this and thankfully they allowed a one time mailing address for that check so we had those mailed to Lee’s parents.  Consequently that $1708 is NOT included in this budget because the cash is not in the bank.   Even without this money though we broke even for the month with $49.50 to the good, which was nice.  We also have a profit sharing check that will be coming at the end of the year and that should be an extra few hundred dollars each, but that doesn’t come until December.   Details are listed below.

 

Campground Fees – We spent $89 camping as we started traveling.  That wasn’t too bad and the two days boondocking with Cori and Greg helped. 

GroceriesWe went over by $200 because we stocked up both at Winco and Costco.  I also think it was because we kept spending like I had recycling money coming in but that dropped off sharply in September.  Another factor was I tried about 20 new recipes for my recipe book in those last couple of weeks and every time I try to do that in a compressed time frame, my budget always spikes. 

Dining OutWe did really good in this category especially we tend to over spend when we travel.  $38 to the good.

Entertainment –  This was our saving grace as we only spent $25 in this category.  That’s a good thing since next month I am sure will be crazy. 

InternetNot quite sure why we went over $74 in this category.  I really need to look into this. When I get a few minutes.  With our schedule that may be a while. 

CigarettesSince we were going to be traveling, Lee went ahead and stocked us up.  We get lots of questions about this category so for the record we buy online and buy in bulk, so our costs are using quarterly in this category.  The budget amount is last years annual divided by twelve. 

So we did OK, but once again just breaking even does cause a downstream problem. We know our costs will be higher while we are traveling so then you are dipping into savings to cover those costs until the next gig.  It’s hard on what we make to make that money back, so you’re always sort of vaguely in arrears even when in a particular work month you are ahead.  That’s why I think most people we have met who are longtime working RVers develop the same jobs and a route.  It is much easier to budget when you know  how long your breaks will be and you can budget those breaks in and try to keep travel costs down. We are still working it out, and will definitely have more info at the end of this year, but it’s pretty clear (at least to me) why folks who work limit their travel. 


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Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Instant Pot recipes, Travel Days recipes, and Pot Lucks recipes.    You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback.

July 2016 Budget (with Work Kamper Revenue)

I knew July was going to be a heavy expense month because we made a huge grocery run and spent the night in Denali.  I was VERY pleased to see, however, that despite those additional expenses we still covered our costs with work kamping revenue and even had a $277 surplus.  We made $4,734 in work kamper revenue this month (it was a five paycheck month) and spent $4,457.  Our budget for the month was $4,059 so we did go over budget by $398. I expected to cover the overage with a gift I received from my grandfather and a larger than expected tax return, but now that money can go directly into the general fund for a later date.  A detailed accounting of the overages is listed below.

July Expenses

Campground Fees – One of the biggest benefits of work kamping is free or reduced cost campground fees.  By working here we have been able to explore Alaska in our time off and still keep those costs low.  There are thousands of beautiful free boondocking spots up here, but your costs for dump stations, propane, fuel, and water go up accordingly.  We have a free site and free utilities (water/electric/propane) which is no small thing.  One down side though was in order to travel to Fairbanks, Denali, and Seward, because they were just far to do in one day, we did need a place to spend the night because Lee wasn’t willing to pack up the rig and drag it around.  Of the three, we only paid for Denali and the cost (which is in entertainment) was pretty steep at $231 for one night.  We also could have chosen to move the rig, in which case there would be extra fuel and campground costs as well, not to mention we wouldn’t have been able to take it on the Denali Highway, which was an amazing drive. But even if you factor in the occasional overnight trips, it is absolutely the most economical choice for visiting an area. (For Fairbanks we used accumulated hotel points, and for Seward we stayed with Bill and Kelly)

Groceries –  We went over $346.30 in this category because we made two big runs to Costco and Sam’s Club at the beginning of the month. After a few months with the membership, I am not feeling this club is really saving us money overall.  Yes, we save on items like meat, but we end up spending more on luxury items.  Plus, we are spending extra money on gas to get to the locations.  I really need to see what it is like down in the lower 48 before making a final decision, but unless we can show more discipline when we go there, it’s not worth it to me.  Lee on the other hand is very happy with the selection and the quality and that is no small thing.  We just need to keep working at it. 

Dining Out – We went over in both dining out categories by a total of $222.74  because of our overnight trips.  I packed lunches on the way to the locations, but then we picked up fast food on the way back.  We also really splurged on a $100 dinner while in Denali which was largely mediocre and we definitely would not have done that if we had our rig with us.

Entertainment – We went over by $308.21.  The bulk of this overage was the one hotel stay night, and we also saw a movie in Fairbanks, which was unplanned.  We did a ton of stuff over those days and most of it was free, which was really good. 

Truck Fuel – Despite the five week month and heavy traveling I was please to see we were only over  by $44.27.  This is mainly do to Lee being very careful about where we filled up.  There is as much as a 50 cent per gallon swing between the towns (Palmer, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Wasilla, etc) versus the more outlying areas.  By carefully planning where you fill up, and getting the absolute minimum amount of fuel when you can’t get the lowest price, you can travel and not break the bank. 

RV Registration – I had budgeted a couple hundred dollars for this in June and was very pleased that the cost was only $53.95.  The process was also extremely easy.  Lee went online, quickly renewed, and we received the tags right away.  This is a nice boost to the annual budget and so much cheaper than the annual registration would have been in New Hampshire, which is one of the reasons we decided to change home states. 

Postage –  We were significantly over on postage to the tune of $71.87. I don’t know if that is an Alaska effect or we are just being overcharged for our mail forwarding.  Lee has promised to really dig into this and get a handle on it, but I know part of the problem is that when we need something sent we generally need it sent quickly which always ups the price.

Gifts – We spent $170.58, but I actually put that in the positive column.  I decided to buy all the Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews in Alaska and have had a blast finding Alaska made items.  Overall, even with postage, I am actually spending a little less than I normally spend and the kids are getting something super cool. 

Home Furnishings Optional – We went over in this category by $240, because I treated myself to the wooden bowl set.  I consider this a gift from my grandfather, but since I did choose to buy the present I have included it here.  Not only did we make enough wages to cover the purchase, but we also had a $97 offset by savings in the other home furnishing categories. 

So even though it was a high spend month I feel great because we  both did really cool stuff and covered our costs. That’s a good month!!   Next month we are taking 4 days off and going to Valdez with friends to celebrate my 50th birthday, and we will see if we can cover costs next month as well.


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March 2016 Budget

This month looks worse than it truly was from a budget perspective because of two major purchases.  We finally broke down and bought good hiking shoes (after I sprained my ankle) and those ran about $250.  We also had to double pay our insurance in March as we transitioned to a new policy and had to pay $309 upfront to make sure there was no gap in coverage. So if you take those two purchases out of the equation we were only $100 over which was pretty great considering how much activity we crammed into March.  See below for the details.

March 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campground Fees – We did great in this category because we stayed in less expensive campgrounds out west.  Look for this to shoot up as we head east and then settle to nothing as we start our work kamping job.

Groceries – Really happy with groceries as we ended up about $100 under.  We did a great job of managing those costs when we were with Cori and Greg and we focused on cleaning our our freezer (needed defrosting) for the rest of the month.

Dining Out – We were over by $180 but $100 of that was our big meal in Texas which was a deliberate splurge.  The $72 in eating on the run continues to be a challenge, but not for lack of effort on our part.  Travel days we tend to grab food more frequently and it’s simply not practical to pack a lunch everywhere you go.  We talk about this a lot though and continue to work on it.  We found these great $1 Bumble Bee Snack On The Run at Wal-Mart that Lee really likes and that is helping, but I really need to find an alternative to peanut butter and jelly. 

Truck Fuel – We were over by $210 which was a bit of a surprise for me since the gas prices are so low.  We are filling up the truck every other day on travel days and that does add up. Expect this to get worse before it gets better and I am very curious what happens when we are work kamping in Alaska. 

Gifts – I splurged and bought gifts from Mexico for my nieces and nephews we will be seeing in April.  What is the use of having a traveling Aunt if she doesn’t bring you cool stuff once in a while.

Equipment – One of our relatively new Rhino sewer hose got a leak in it and had to be replaced and Lee installed another 8′ vinyl fence post cover for storing sewer hoses and   accessories to get them and their associated odors smells out of the storage compartment. I also bought a ton of magnets and those add up.  Anyway, we were about $60 over in aggregate. 

So not to bad, will see what happens in April.

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April 2015 Budget

I made some changes to the budget this month.  We have been struggling with how to show prepaid campground fees.  We are prepaying more often than we originally thought we would, and having the costs show up in the month we prepay instead of the month they will occur doesn’t show a completely accurate picture.  Craig (who used to run his own small business) made an excellent suggestion.  We have a $1,000 campground fund set aside now in a separate bank account and when we prepay we take the money from that account and then pay it back in the month we stay at the campground.  This solves the cash flow issue I was concerned about and allows us to register the costs in the month we take the benefit.  I have gone back and changed some categories over the last few months so that the annual totals are correct.  I am not going to go back and change the posts for the first few months.  There are limits to the amount of work I am willing to put in on this!

A couple of other things I wanted to mention before I get into the details of how we did.  I really am astounded by how much our communication regarding money has improved over the last few months.  We not only review how we are doing twice a month, but have constructive conversations around our expenses.  The change in our relationship in this area is such an incredible side benefit to this lifestyle.  So I would recommend budgeting even if you are in a position where you don’t need to closely track your costs.  It’s good to know what you are spending your money on in any lifestyle, but especially when full timing because the costs are quite different from a traditional “sticks and bricks” lifestyle.

We ran a little over this month, but considering the amount of fun we have had it was well worth it.  The overage was predominantly all of the one time Florida registration/drivers license fees.  We also had to scramble to change some campground reservations when we had to extend our St. Augustine visit for an extra week.  Unfortunately this led to losing the deposit at Skidaway (time frame too short for a refund), but surprisingly we actually were under in the campground category for the month.  The grocery category was over by $126 (not surprising with all the group meals we have been doing), but we gained some of that back by being under in the dining out category.  As a side note I really appreciate the group understanding we are tightly budgeted and not pressuring us to go out to eat frequently.  People offer but are totally fine with us declining and they have been very accommodating about eating out as a lunch instead of the more expensive dinner. 

Once again we are over in the Home Improvement category, but since Lee did some customization on our windows so they push out farther and we get a nicer breeze it’s hard for me to complain.  We also spent $213 for the vinyl lettering on our rig.  I put this money in Miscellaneous rather than home improvement because, well, I wanted to.  Have to say I adore the lettering, Lee did an excellent job, and I would spend that money again in a second.  Another side note: I already have a new blog follower because she saw the lettering on our RV at Ocean Waves, read the blog, and liked it!!!  

 

April 2015 Budget

April 2015 Budget

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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