December 2020 Budget

December wasn’t so bad, especially considering Christmas.  We spent $6,731 this month with extremely high gift, campground fee, and grocery categories.  One thing I wanted to mention is Lee and I were watching a morning TV show and we saw this idea to make one day a week a completely non-spending day.  We are going to give that a try on Mondays and see if it makes any difference at all in our spending habits.  I also wanted to mention that it is time for my annual budget review.  Hopefully I will have that out soon.  More details for the month of December are below.

Campground Fees – This was one of our highest months ever because of the place we are staying.  It is super close to our daughter and we really like it, but you have to stay at $400 a week (yes per week) until they have a monthly slot open up.  Thankfully it was just one week for us but then we paid the $960 monthly rate in advance, hence the high price in December. 

Clothing – I splurged and got some work shirts this month, taking advantage of the numerous sales.  Thrift stores are great for jeans and more casual wear but I am finding it necessary to buy new clothing for work.

Dining Out – We went over budget by $315.  Part of that was eating out when we were at my sisters, and part was with Kyrston.

Gifts – We spent around $1100.  This included the calendars we gave to friends and family and money and presents for our core family.

Groceries – I am convinced that this category is going up because of the Keurig coffee maker.  Lee said he would start tracking coffee separately so maybe he can give some insight here. Nothing else really stands out.  Again will be working on our annual review so look for that soon.  

Additional monthly data from Lee…

For December we used 557 GB of data on our AT&T unlimited plan, across all of our devices. (Total for the year is 40.154 terrabytes)

We took 553 pictures, bringing our total for the year to 17,240.

This month we only stayed in three locations. The least expensive was the NC state fairgrounds at $30 per night. Our favorite was Ebenezer Park, and it’s only $34 per night for nice big sites with full hookups. The most expensive was Oak Plantation in Charleston, SC at $ 57.98 per night. But those are also huge sites, and it’s a beautiful RV park with lots of massive live oak trees and moss hanging from the limbs. Part of the reason for the price is that they do not reserve monthly sites until you arrive, and so we had to pay the regular weekly rate for the first week. The price goes down considerably when you are monthly. We also had one night where we had already paid for Ebenezer Park but decided to leave a day early and so we ended up also paying for the first night at Oak Plantation. And there was one night where we had a reservation at two different locations in Charleston and had to pay for one night at the location we chose not to go to because I didn’t want to risk arriving in Charleston and having nowhere to go. It was worth the extra expense for peace of mind. The total cost for our “rent” was $1205, which averaged out to $38.87, a little less than last month.

We put a total of only 379 miles on the trailer, pulling it for only two days the entire month. Our shortest travel day was 185 miles, and our longest was 193 miles. Our total travel miles year to date is 6,019.

We put a total (travel and non-travel) of 1,254 miles on the truck, 875 of those miles were without the trailer.

Year to date we’ve put 14,163 miles on the truck , 6,019 of which was pulling the trailer.

We burned a total of 101 gallons of diesel, and averaged 12.3 mpg for all of our travel, with a year to date total of 1,407 gallons at 11.9 avg mpg.

We only used the TSD Logistics card once this month. 

Here’s the breakdown of our visit to truck stops using the TSD card. The “street” price is the price on the pump, and the actual price is what we ended up paying, including the fees.


DATE Location Gallons Actual PG Street Actual  Savings  % Saved
12/5/2020   34.64 2.17 95.58 75.13 20.45 21.40

We LOVE using the card. If you haven’t already read about the TSD Logistics card, you can read our post about it here.

Here’s the December travel map:

And the map for the full year of travel. One giant circle!

Oliver says Happy New Year!!!


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

January 2020 Budget

Sorry this took me so long to get out, but we always adjust the budget at the beginning of a new year, and this year in particular I wanted to take some time and really look at the targets.  I have five years worth of data to reference and in my mind it was time to stop pretending I didn’t know what I know.  For example, on average we have spent $685 a month in groceries and my target for the last four years was $600.  Obviously that isn’t going to happen so I should just own what it is.  Lee also wanted the spreadsheet to line up more with the categories he has in our Quicken account and he put them in alphabetical order because the other sort order has been driving him crazy.  So here’s the month.

We spent well over our budgeted amount, but we know where that came from. In short, when we get some money I like to eat out, and Lee likes to buy stuff for the RV.  That pattern is definitely reflected in these numbers.  See below for more details.

Bank Fee – Lee added this category which I previously had left out because he wanted to track it.  This is for credit card fees or a bank account fee if we don’t meet the deposit or activity requirements for an account. We are still digging ourselves out from the medical expenses and had a few new bills; we paid for the MRI of Lee’s shoulder and other related expenses.

Campground Fees – This was predominately the first ten days in January where we stayed in Charleston but were not paying a lower monthly rate, and the campgrounds we stayed in making our way to San Antonio.

Clothing – Lee and I both had to purchase some work clothes.

Dining Out – This category was absolutely insane and I actually had to go back and double check the entries.  Part of it was eating as we traveled and the other part was dining out once we got here.  $800 in eating out is insanely high and hit not just our wallet but also our waistlines. Normally I have a pretty good idea of where we are in this category but this totally got away from me.

Entertainment – This was high as well, but we did an Escape Room (more to come in the next post on that) and a few other fun things in Charleston before we left.

Groceries – Despite all the dining out we still spent a ton of money on food.  I always think if one category goes up the other category should go down but that’s not always the case.  I’ll be interested to see what happens in February.

Healthcare Out of Pocket Expenses – This is for co-pays and deductible payments.  In the past these expenses were not reported because they came out of an HSA account which is completely gone now.  I have been trying to start another one with my new company but I ran into a major issue with our address. Fidelity will not accept our mailing address to set up an HSA so I had to provide a physical address.  This has caused delays of several months and I still am waiting for the account to be set up properly.  This is becoming more prevalent, by the way.  Our bank recently requested a physical address and the voting board did as well.   Keep that in mind if you are choosing a mail service, because it is a major pain in the butt when these issues occur.

Home Equipment – We practically broke even in this category as compared to the new budget which was good. We are looking at replacing some carpet in February so we will see what happens to this category then 🙂

Pets – I added a category for Jack with a rough estimate of $50 a month.  We don’t have much data on our spend here so will see how this year goes.

Truck Fuel – This was high because we traveled from Charleston, SC to San Antonio, TX.  As usual this balances out well by the end of the year. Now that I am working again I have thought about getting a second vehicle, but at this point I just don’t want the extra expense and headache.  As Oliver gets older and we want to take him places this may be an issue because our truck only has two seats.  At this point I am leaning towards renting a second car for short periods rather than buying a second vehicle.  Still mulling it over though.

As you can see from the budget we did not adjust it to accommodate additional spending because we can.  I did make adjustments in some cases because of past data, but nothing in advance.  This year should be very interesting from a spend perspective and we will see how it all works out.

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

May 2019 Budget

May turned out pretty good, with total expenditures of $3,655.  For more details please see below.



Groceries – We went over by $100. Combination of stocking up and buying food in the more expensive local grocery stores.  We also are trying to eat healthier and as you probably know, healthier means more expensive.

Dining Out – We went over by $63 which actually wasn’t that bad considering how many times we ate out.  This is a stress relief category for me, and there has been lots of it this month, so I’m cool with going over.

Memberships – Our annual American Express membership fee.  Every year we talk about reevaluating this and switching to a Visa with reward points, but we just never do it.  We both like the card, we love their customer service, and to some extent: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it seems to be where we fall on this.

Personal Care – I keep forgetting to mention this but something exciting happened in this category.  The year we went on the road, I lost an earring.  It was one of a pair that Lee bought me and had tremendous sentimental value.  I have looked all over this country in stores and online to try to find a similar set and could never find it.  Last year I went to a small jewelry store in Happy Valley and it turns out they make jewelry.  Generally I shy away from local stores because you here stories about people getting ripped off, but I had a really good feel about this one. Long story short I went back this year and not only could they do it but they found an identical setting to use.  By the time I turned in my broken pieces of jewelry for credit my cost was $175.  It took me five years, but wearing those earrings again brought tears to my eyes.  Some things are just worth it!

Pets – Overage due to pet training class and grooming.  See previous post for more details.

Maintenance – My stress category is going out, Lee’s is home repair.  He purchased and installed a new Fantastic Fan. It was pricey but our has been broken for over a year and since it is the one near the stove, I kept setting off the smoke detector when I cooked anything that was smokey.  He also had to spend $50 on a new sewer hose, when he discovered a mouse had chewed a hole in one of ours.  I am shrugging as I type this…what are you going to do?

I’ve been saying that a lot lately and if it wasn’t helpful to people I would probably stop doing these posts.  It’s not that I mind the reporting, I hate the fact that I feel like I need to justify the costs.  That’s on me though.  I need to try to just report what happened factually and leave it at that.

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Third Year Budget Summary- 2017

Year Three was an important year in our travels because it was the first year where we lived off revenue earned exclusively from work kamping jobs.  In my mind, this was the true test of whether or not the lifestyle was sustainable for us long term. We are going to explore the answer to that question in multiple ways in the post, and dive deep into the specifics.  Some of you fellow “data junkies” will love that, but I appreciate many other people don’t care that much.  So for all of those folks, here is the short answer:  Basically our costs went down this year and for our basic traveling budgeting we broke even. We spent $41,653 and our cash flow was $40,122 for a net difference of -$1,531.  That’s pretty encouraging, and if I was a different kind of person I would leave it at that and move on, but as Paul Harvey used to say….”And now, the rest of the story.”

Our cash flow may have been fine, but our earned income was not nearly as good.  We started the year getting paid for our 2016 Christmas Tree job but that income was actually earned in 2016. So if you remove the $5,802 we earned at Christmas trees our income was  $34,321 which was $7,332 less than we actually spent.  Not nearly as good of a story when you look at it that way, but it actually gets worse, because we spent more money than our basic budget this year.  We had three major expenditures in 2017 that resulted in our taking $15,462 from savings.  Those expenditures, by the way, were the Mor-Ryde suspension upgrade, celebrating our youngest daughter’s 21st birthday in Las Vegas, and helping another daughter with some medical expenses that resulted from a childhood accident. The first two of those expenses were accounted for prior to going on the road, but the third was not, and either way the hit to the savings account does sting.  We started the year with $40,074 in savings and ended with $24,612 and obviously we would like to find a way going forward to put some of that back.  (As a side note this savings account does not include our retirement savings.  By mutual agreement, that money is in a “lock box” and will not be used to fund the lifestyle.)

So what conclusions am I drawing from this? Actually, the whole thing makes me pretty hopeful.  Our costs continue to go down (this year we spent roughly $8K -$10K less than each of the two previous years) , we completed all of the main work kamping jobs and now know what works for us, and we are also committed to staying on the West Coast for two years, barring any family emergencies.  We started the year with a job on day one, and we already have a job lined up for the summer. All that being said, we will need for me to take some kind of consulting work to put money back in the savings account, but since I wanted to do that anyway, I am fine with that.  Lee is also OK with giving that model a try, so my plan is to hopefully find something in October that will carry us through the end of the year. And if you are still concerned, here’s the most important reason I feel hopeful.  We are facing it head on.  Right now we are more aware of and have more control over our finances than we have had in our entire lives. Individually and as a couple. And three years in we have the knowledge and choice to make good decisions.  Certainly the unforeseeable can happen, but that is true in any lifestyle.  We choose to see the glass as half full instead of half empty and are trying to figure out how to fill it up all the way.

One last thing.  I promised to report out on revenue earned by the blog and wanted to include it here.  Since both of these income streams run about 2 months behind they only cover until October of this year.  The book royalties didn’t start until March 2017, but the Amazon Associates program is for a full 12 months.  We earned $424.30 through the Amazon Associates program and $404.73 in book royalties for a total of $829.  Since we used this money to cover the cost of our website and purchase a few other blog related extras (ie: our new tent) I didn’t include it in our annual revenue. I know it isn’t a ton of money, but I wanted to thank every person who took the time to contribute in some way. The fact that I sold 172 books means a lot to me and any time someone takes the time to buy anything through our link on Amazon that little extra is a nice bonus. I had few illusions that I would get rich from writing this blog, but making enough to at least cover the website and a few extras is very validating. So thank you for the support, both financial and emotional, it really does matter to us.  OK, onto the details.  Please feel free to stop here if this sort of thing gives you a headache! (I wish we could have Kai Ryssdal say “Let’s do the numbers….” – Lee)


Let’s break this down a little bit and show you income by month. I added the earned column to the right to take out the money we made at Christmas trees in January.  I also included the source by month and added our basic expenses at the bottom so you can see the net difference.  It’s worth noting that even though we had some trailing income in April and October we did take those months off, and although some of that time was spent traveling to our new gigs we were also able to explore a bit and see family and friends.














Expenses Summary

Here is the spreadsheet that shows our costs for the year, along with a spreadsheet showing 2017 Min, Max, and Averages and a three year comparison.    I will be getting into the details by category, but wanted to start with the basic information.  As I mentioned before, we were very excited that our Year 3 costs were roughly $10K lower than our two previous years.  This is absolutely a huge deal  and and will talk about that in more detail in each subcategory. Oh, and I included a pie chart for Lee.  Long time readers will get the joke. Alright let’s dive in. (I’ll do the jokes, thank you very much. And you don’t give people pie charts, you give people pie. – Lee)











(Worst. Pie. Ever. – Lee)

Category Max/Min/Avg



















Three Year Comparison
















Campground Fees – 
One of the major benefits of work kamping is not needing to pay for a campsite.  Even when we do pay for sites, we are much better at looking for inexpensive places and we use our Passport America 50% off discount quite frequently.  I adjusted the budget down in 2017 and will probably do so again in 2018.  We are averaging $104 a month or  $3.50 a day which is pretty darn good.  Significant drop from Year 1 when we spent $5213 in campground fees. 

Groceries – I am shocked to say we actually saw significant improvement in this category, with a YOY reduction of $1383. Even though we have spent a ton of time talking about food and made a concerted effort to eliminate waste, I would have guessed it had minimal impact.  Even so, I doubt I will adjust the budget in this category until I see sustained improvement.  Still it is a nice example of how you can see improvement if you focus on something. (This is Project Manager Speak™ for “I’m going to starve Lee to death.”. – Lee)

Dining Out – In direct contradiction to groceries we ran over by $928 in this category.  If you take them together we are still a few hundred dollars to the good, but obviously we would like to be on budget in both categories. The good news is we did hit a three year low in this category, but definitely still an area to focus on.  Part of the problem is I like going out to eat. It’s a great way to experience an area, and also something we enjoy doing socially.  What I think we need to reduce are those instances where we go out to eat because we haven’t planned any other food solution.  That is harder than it may sound, especially on travel days, but definitely doable if we focus on it.  What we can’t do is dine out cheap.  Well I can, but Lee’s perspective is if we are going to do it, then we should get what we want, which obviously makes it more expensive.  My desire to go out more frequently but cheaply is in direct contradiction to this.  This isn’t a new problem, by the way, just more extreme when you are on a fixed budget.  The key is attempting to find some balance, and hopefully we will be able to do a better job of that in 2018.

Entertainment – Unlike dining out, we did great in this category together.  We had lots of fun experiences this year, but largely chose activities that were reasonably priced or free. We ended up being $630 under budget, which also helped counterbalance the overage in dining out expenses. This was also by far the lowest annual cost we have had in three years even though this category includes books, music, and games.  No small feat, especially considering how much we like to read.











Cell/Internet/TV – This category is our third highest in cost and includes both of our cell phones, our internet, and TV solution. Even though we ended up $193 over budget we actually would have been under if I hadn’t dropped my iPhone 4 and needed to replace it.  The good news is a few months ago we were able to sign up for a really great unlimited plan through AT&T so no more overage charges.  We are huge fans of the plan, and it has reduced our monthly budget amount from $440 to $230 in 2018.  This should result in an annual savings of $2500 which is obviously significant. Pretty excited about what is happening in this category!

Memberships – Our memberships stayed pretty consistent although we did drop the Executive level Costco membership and stuck with the traditional one.  We tried it for a year and just didn’t use it enough to warrant the additional costs.  Along with Costco we are members of Xscapers, Passport America, Amazon Prime, and we buy an annual National Parks Pass. We feel all of those expenses are worth the cost.

Truck Fuel – This is another category we watch very closely and is number two in overall expenses.  This year we spent $5733 and went over our annual budget by $933. Although the expense was less than last year, that was expected because we didn’t have a trip to Alaska, and was definitely more than we wanted to spend.  It’s pretty easy to figure out why when you see our driving route for the year and we know we simply can’t afford to keep criss-crossing the country every year.  That’s going to be tough because our family is mostly on the east coast, but we love traveling in the west, but we have committed to not going back east (barring family emergency) for 2018 at least.  Our financials also includes leaving Cambellsville, going to Columbus, and then heading back to Texas.  Here is a rough sketch of our travel schedule for calendar 2017. Looking at it this way it’s easy to see where the costs came from. (I find it very funny that we started in New Braunfels, TX, traveled 8,000 miles, and ended up exactly one year later only 400 miles from where we started. – Lee)


Truck Maintenance – This was another category I was very happy with as we hit a three year low spending only $721.  Expect this category to rise next year though as we have used all of our pre-paid maintenance and will need to pay out of pocket going forward.  We still have some time on the warranty in case anything major happens, but maintenance is on us.  Lee and I will need to sit down and estimate when those maintenance activities will occur and then come up with a budget going forward.  I’ll have all the budget amounts updated in our January budget report and will talk then about how we made certain decisions.

Insurance – Thankfully our RV insurance has stayed the same but our truck insurance has gone up, resulting in an extra $246 in 2017.  I did call and talk to our agent to see if we could get a better price, but apparently rates for everyone who bases in Florida were raised this year.  With the hurricanes that will probably be worse next year, but at this point I like the company and am not crazy about switching to someone else, even if I could get a better rate.  We have used it twice and had no issues either time, which is no small thing.  The really good news is our health insurance will be going down significantly in 2018.  Despite a lot of stress and concern over whether our ACA plan would be available in 2018, not only did we get to keep the same plan, but we also receive a larger subsidy (on the same estimated revenue) which will result in a $230 per month savings!  This savings, like the cell phone/internet savings, were largely unexpected and will really help us with our expenses in 2018.  And yes, we have no idea how long this will last, but I will accept the reduction gratefully for this year and deal with what comes in 2019.

Storage – No more storage costs going forward as Lee cleaned out our storage area, got rid of a lot, and put the remaining items in his parents house.  It was only $20 a month on the budget, but the additional peace of mind from knowing our items are with family is priceless.  For the record, I don’t regret putting our items in storage at all, and given the same circumstances would do it all over again.  But it was definitely time to deal with it, and we can go forward without those items trailing along behind us. 

Clothing – Once again we did really well in a category showing a 30% YOY reduction.  Mainly the savings came from buying fewer T-Shirts! (So in addition to starving, I will also be going around more naked quite a lot more than previously expected. I will apologize in advance for any disruption this causes. – Lee) We still purchased some work clothes, and I bought some new jeans, but in past years our greatest expense was in souvenir T-shirts.  Don’t get me wrong, we still bought them, we just bought less of them!

Laundromat – We only spent $21 last year at the laundromat because Lee either did our laundry in the RV or our work kamping job provided free laundry.  The only time we couldn’t do laundry for free was when the blankets needed done.  They don’t fit in our Splendide unit. This may go up in 2018 because our gate guarding job may not provide enough water for us to use our own machine, so I probably won’t change the budget.

Cigarettes – This category got even better as we only spent $701 this year. More than any other category the difference between our new life and our old life shocks me as we were spending around $6700 a year on cigarettes when we used to live in a house.  The difference?  We roll our own now, and unlike the first two years where we had to buy tobacco locally at varying prices, we now are able to order it in bulk online.  Being able to buy the tobacco and tubes online has saved us an additional $500 a year, and made it even more inexpensive.  And yes, I know, the cheapest thing to do would be to quite all together, but since that hasn’t happened yet I can still be very happy about how this turned out. Lee gets 100% of the credit for savings in this area. (For the one or two of you who haven’t heard it, let me share with you what every doctor has said to me at every office visit I’ve had for most of my life. They all say the same thing: “You should stop smoking, you could afford to lose twenty pounds, and you should exercise more.” Which is pretty damned rude, if you ask me, and I always want to reply “I can stop smoking, lose the weight, and get in shape, but you’ll still be an ass.” I never do though. I’m too polite on the outside. – Lee)

Personal Care – Pretty happy with how this category turned out as well.  We have seen a steady decline in the last three years and it evened out to only $382 this year. We get cheap haircuts at Super Cuts or Great Clips and we usually only get them once every two months or so.  This also includes hair product and the occasional pedicure, but we have both done a nice job in keeping this expenditure low versus the first year where we spent $754.

Shipping and Postage – This category has been a struggle in the past, but Lee has made it a priority to get it under control and our costs this year were $389. That may seem high but it is a 50% reduction from the prior two years and a significant improvement.   Some of the cost cutting measures he has implemented are holding  back our mail as long as possible, using their scanning service as a cheaper alternative, and making sure on every single delivery he chooses the lowest postage option.  Again this is all him, although I have been really good about only ordering things using Amazon Prime, but really Lee gets all the credit on this one. (Invariably, after I let mail pile up at the mail service until there’s enough to fill a Priority Mail envelope, and then waited a week or so to make sure there’s nothing else coming, and then I have them send it all to me, I will get a notification that we have received new mail the day after they send the pile. It happens every time. – Lee)

Gifts – This one is all me, and not in a good way.  Well, it was good for the people I bought gifts for, but not so great on the budget. I spent $883 in this category, and it was lots of little things. This category has also been all over the place over the past three years and although I made some improvement last year, this year it went back up again.  What can I say?  I love giving gifts, and this category also includes charitable donations which do happen on occasion.  The fact is though we are tightening our belt in almost every other category and I need to get serious about this one in 2018.  The best approach is probably to still buy gifts, but buy less expensive ones.  I wish I was more crafty so I could make stuff for people. Maybe that should be my New Year’s Resolution.  Find something crafty that I can actually handle.  I’ll let you know how it works out. (So in addition to having to see me naked, you can all expect to get things made from popsicle sticks and bits of twine. And we expect to see those things prominently displayed in your mantle when we come to visit. – Lee)

Home Improvement – This was another area Lee really focused on and the results are terrific.  He spent $1,700 less in 2017 than in the prior two years and this was no small accomplishment.  It’s not like he didn’t still do stuff for the house, but he found cheaper ways to do it.  Plus, lots of that creative energy was put into his summer job and since the company paid for the materials that was all free for us.  Seriously, I am super proud of how he did in this category, especially compared to how I did in my two weakest areas (dining out and gifts). (Tweren’t nothin, ma’am.)

Miscellaneous – We had $1,200 in this category, which is about what we spent in the prior two years. This includes things that don’t easily fit into any other category and this year the deductibles for the numerous times we tried to get the furnace fixed are in here.  We also bought some camping gear and added it to this category, along with miscellaneous items throughout the 12 month period.  I’ll try to keep a better eye on this category next year, so I can give a better accounting. 

So, that’s the annual budget report.  Thanks for hanging in there if you made it to this point, and once again I wanted to thank you for your support as we figure all this out.  (For those of you did hang in there and read all of this, now you are stuck with the mental image of me naked, so that should teach you a lesson of some kind. – Lee) We have a plan for 2018, and we both think it’s a good one, but this is real life, so anything can happen.  I will say that I am really proud of both of us for getting this far.  We were spending well over $100K per year at the end of our life and mainly I had no idea where it was all going.  (Chinese food and video games. – Lee) I do know that we didn’t have a lot to show for it, and those things we did have don’t come close to the experiences we are having now.  This life isn’t perfect, but it’s a good one, and it’s working for us.  Time to dig in and focus on putting some money back into savings.  That’s what 2018 will be all about.  That and Utah.  We are very excited about exploring Utah between gate guarding and our summer job. Take care everyone, and remember, it’s all about your choices!

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Search Amazon Here
  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.



July 2017 Budget

I know some of you guys find the monthly budgets boring, and trust me it’s not fun for me either, but I continue to think it’s important to “prove” the finances to the folks who are researching the lifestyle, and it continues to prompt Lee and I to communicate about our finances. So I am going to keep doing this, but I understand if you skip these posts because they don’t really relate to you.  This was a really good month with only $2400  in expenses, and since we made $3311 we were able to put around $1000 back in our savings account.  We also made $68 in book royalties (thank you very much to everyone who bought a cookbook!) and around $90 in recycling, but I am not going to add that to our revenue figures here.  I will report out on the royalties at the end of the year along with our Amazon Associate revenue ($283 year-to-date and again thank you for those who clicked our links), but the amounts at this point are small enough I think it would just muddy the waters.  I feel the same about recycling.  Yes, I am making about $28 a week in this, but since I am turning around and spending the money at the grocery store or farmer’s markets it’s a bit of a wash.  Technically I should add the purchases and subtract the recycling, but since some of those purchases are “splurges” it would muddy things a bit.  Plus it’s not really worth all that effort.  Suffice it to say I get my money and then buy staples and the occasional ice cream with the money. Occasionally I buy myself some fast food lunch.  Anyway, for those of you who haven’t already nodded off, the details are below.


Food – We were about $48 to the good, which is largely due to the recycling money.  Prepared meals for our long work days and the lack of time to cook dinner is taking it’s toll, but we are holding our own.   I am also finding the time to keep working on new recipes for hopefully a second recipe book in 2018, and those special ingredients can add up.  Considering all the extenuating factors, I am just fine with where we landed in this category. 

Dining Out –  We were a little bit over ($23) but not too bad. It’s hard not to grab fast food when you are working these long hours, but the recycling money has helped there and the lack of decent restaurants close by has been a life saver in this category.  If there was a McDonald’s nearby we would be in trouble 🙂

Entertainment – We were under in this category by $57 but still felt like we did stuff.  National Parks are free for us since we have the America the Beautiful pass, and the only thing we really did was go see Dunkirk for Lee’s birthday.  Between the movie costs, popcorn, and lunch it was a $100 splurge, but since we had done little else this month didn’t feel bad about that either. 

Truck Fuel – Truck fuel was amazing this month ($74) and a big reason we spent so little.  Since we have the company truck and usually grab local groceries at the end of our shift we rarely use our own vehicle. I take it into town once a week for recycling and Lee took it to the WinCo once.

Home – We did great in this category this month only spending $19.47 and it was another reason we spent so little.  Working so much and traveling so little meant we didn’t really need anything and Lee isn’t working on any special projects. What creative energy he has in this category is being spent on work-related projects and those costs are covered by the company expense account.  He’s happy either way and it costs us nothing and is a benefit to the company we work for.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search here

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 Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback.


June 2017 Budget (with Revenue)

From a financial perspective it was a good month with $3227 in income and $3085 in expenses for a net profit of $142. As happy as I am that we broke even, I will say I don’t feel adequately compensated for the work we are doing.  The problem isn’t so much the hourly rate of $14.25 but rather the fact that we are limited to 35 hours a week each. In order to get the work done in a week that we need to we are working hard!  Physically we are both very tired and the weekend schedule (three back-to-back close/opens) is brutal.  Since most of our hours are during peak customer times, we have to work extra fast to squeeze in anything extra.  That additional 5 hours each would allow us to slow down our daily pace a bit.  I only mention it because it probably isn’t that clear from the other posts how hard this job is.  We don’t have much energy for seeing the local sites and I don’t even have much energy to blog.  I was hoping that we would be able to adapt to the workload and have more energy for personal stuff,  but the combination of hard work and crazy hours is definitely taking its toll.  At least we aren’t working this hard and losing money. The details are listed below.


Groceries – We went over by $116 in this category.  At the beginning of the month we did a Costco run and then another big grocery run later in the month.  The costs at the local store are much higher, but the drive to the Winco is around 40 minutes.  With our schedules those are hard to do on a regular basis so we end up buying locally.  We also can’t cook dinners on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday because of our schedule, so Lee and I are both relying on prepared foods to get us through the weekends, which generally cost more money.

Dining Out – We only went over by $20 which was not bad considering our crazy schedules and the trip to the coast earlier in the month.  Part of what helps here is the local food is really not that great and since we don’t have any fast food chains in Estacada the temptation of buying fast food is taken away.

Entertainment – We were under by $75, largely because we haven’t really done much of anything.  We could have blown the whole budget when we went to the ocean though, so it’s a good thing. 

Home Equipment – We were over by $90 which was mainly some last minute camping supplies and our new silverware.  That silverware makes me super happy.  Totally worth the overage!!


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search here

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 Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback.


April 2017 Budget

As I mentioned in previous posts the Las Vegas expenses are not included in this budget.  We spent roughly $2500 on Las Vegas specific activities, which includes a week at Circus Circus campground, food, alcohol, Uber, and tons of entertainment activities, including gambling.  Since we never would have done all that if we weren’t celebrating our daughters 21st birthday, we are looking at this week as a vacation of sorts, and took that money from savings.  I did include clothing purchases, fuel, all campgrounds aside from Circus, Circus, and gifts, because we might have spent that money either way. This was our first real time off in several months and simply put, we went a little crazy. Hopefully that will normalize out at year end, but even if it doesn’t it is what it is.  I am not going to beat myself up over it, because we knew exactly what we were doing when we did it. (Also, it was a planned event, and cost quite a but less than I thought it would. Thanks, three card poker and blackjack! – Lee)

In summary, aside from the $2500 for Vegas, we spent $4598 for the month, which is a chunk of change.  Since we only got paid  $1043 this month, we have a negative cash flow of $3223.  $2500 of that was the overage from the last year, but the remaining $723 will need to be replaced by money we make this summer.  Since we also want to accumulate some funds to cover September/October travel, our upcoming Mor-Ryde suspension upgrade, and visiting my daughter for her wedding, that’s no small thing.  It is unlikely we will be able to make enough this summer to cover all of that, but we will have some Amazon affiliate program funds on the back-end to cover some of the costs.  When it all shakes out we will probably end up in the negative, but hopefully it won’t be too big of a hit.  (I’m more optimistic, and think we will spend less this summer than she does. – Lee) Our plan for the summer is to work and enjoy ourselves and spend moderately, but I have no intention of missing out on Oregon just to cover future short falls.  As always, it is a balancing act and we will of course report back on how it all works out.  For the time being here is this month.

Campground Fees – We went over in campground fees by $78 mainly because we stayed in really nice (but not cheap) state parks in Arizona.  We were also somewhat limited in boondocking options because our furnace is still not fixed.  For the year, however, we are still doing great in this category.

Groceries – Overall we were $40 to the good, which is great because we were with friends and always spend more on food and alcohol when we’re with people.  Eating out of course helps with this category, and we totally blew that one. 

Eating out – We went crazy in this category spending an extra $232 in eating out.  Since quite a bit of it was also an experience it is what it is, and not eating out hardly at all while gate guarding really led to me going a little crazy in this category.  After the excess of Vegas though, I think I can get this back under control.

Entertainment –  We actually got a little bit of the eating out money back by saving $49 in entertainment.  I thought this was great considering all the things we did, because most of them were free.  We did go over in the membership category because we had to renew our Costco membership and replace our lost America the Beautiful pass, but that’s a different category.  Vegas entertainment of course was not included in this.  The bulk of the $2500 spent on that trip was entertainment related. Despite having a wonderful time in Vegas I still received more pure joy out of all the free stuff we did prior to that, which bodes well for our future in this lifestyle 🙂

Internet –  This is a very exciting category as our monthly bill was only $80! We switched to the AT&T unlimited plan (which has been absolutely fantastic by the way) and I won’t know for sure what the true monthly costs are until next month.  We overpaid the previous month so this month is a little low.  That being said it couldn’t come at at a better time.  I’ll take it!

Clothing – We spent $347 in this category.  The wedding dress and shoes were around $70, which was a bargain, and I also bought three pairs of jeans which I really needed.  The rest was us going a little T-Shirt crazy, but since we hadn’t spent money in this category for some time I am hoping it will normalize annually.  We have a $1200 budget for the year, so if we don’t splurge like this again we should be OK. 

Home Repair – We bought parts for the furnace and some other miscellaneous items and I bought some magnets, but we still ended up about $50 to the good. It’s a shame about the money on the furnace parts since that didn’t solve the core problem, but it should help us long-term.

So, not a total disaster, but of course not our best month.  Still, we had loads of fun this month.  By the way, I am typing this in the last campground before we get to our summer job and scheduling it for publication on May 4th (cool feature that.)  Still not sure what the internet situation will be, so there might be a delay in getting the next post out.

Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search here

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 Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback.