December 2018 Budget

One of the reasons we like gate guarding so much is we spend hardly any money.  We don’t make a ton ($150 a day at this particular gate) but it’s enough to cover our expenses and put a little money away.  This month we only spent $2,730 and we made $3,712 for a net gain of $982.  Part of the revenue for this month was what we received from unemployment and I wanted to take a minute and talk about that.  Ultimately we only received two sets of checks for around $180 a week for each of us.  The third set of checks we should have received didn’t come because one of their requirements was we signed up on the job board for the State of Texas (which I did) but they found the proof that I did it insufficient.  I have to say the entire experience was really frustrating.  It was a ton of work, for not very much money and because our situation was unique (residency in one state, worked in a second, and currently living in a third) it required a lot of additional steps.  Let me just leave it by saying I am glad we don’t need to rely on it and I wouldn’t do it again unless our circumstances were different.  Anyway, details for the month are below.  I am currently working on the year end financial analysis and that will be available shortly.


Groceries – We broke even in this category by making a concerted effort to eat what we have.  The nearest grocery store is over a half hour away and the only local store is a Dollar General so logistically we are required to do menu planning which always helps with the budget. 

Dining Out – We only spent $74 in this category.  I got some KFC which I ate for several days and Lee tried out the local Chinese buffet which he didn’t like much.  The lack of restaurants in the area as well as the fact that we can’t go anywhere together will again help keep this budget category in line.

Entertainment – Again we are under in this category and $40 of that is for Hulu.  I have to say I am VERY happy with this service as it is allowing me to watch football and some back episodes of Top Chef.  We haven’t paid for TV since we came on the road, and as such have often missed live programming.  Really happy that we can use this solution on a monthly basis and only pick it up when we are in a situation like this.  We don’t get TV in Oregon either, so at least for football season happy it’s an option.

Cell/Internet – We went over in this category by $92 and that was the fees to activate the Winegard.  I have to say I am really disappointed with how it is working out here.  We are getting a decent signal from our ATT hotspot but a barely usable one from the Winegard.  We are going to continue to keep both for awhile, but so far in my mind it is not earning the additional cost. 

Truck Fuel – Another great benefit of not going anywhere is we don’t use much fuel.  We tanked up once for $98, but other than that no money was spent.

Postage – We spent $137 in this category and that was a combination of getting our mail sent to us twice and shipping out calendars to friends and family.  This year I decided to make calendars for people, and between the cost of the calendar and the calendar themselves it was about $10 a person.  Pretty reasonable price for a customized gift and by the way we mailed them through the USPS using the Media rate which is cheaper than regular mail.

Pets – Jack cost an unexpected $217.  Part of that was heart worm medicine (I purchased a year’s worth at a great rate) and flea and tick medicine and part was the supplies to make the dog run.  The rest was chew toys etc.   He’s definitely worth it, but it would be easy to go crazy in the category for sure so need to keep an eye on it.

New Equipment – Lee spent some money on filters and the tent he put up for gate guarding all of which is tax deductible which is nice.  

(My turn! – Lee

For those interested, here’s some other end of month info that I will be adding to the end of month post from now on. Regarding the budget, I care less about the monthly information and more about quarterly and annual information, and trends, but I like to see how things compare. 

So here’s how December 2018 compared to our previous Decembers. I’m happy with that result. 

And here’s how our overall spending is trending, starting from January 2015….

Tracy likes to do a pie chart of all of our expenses at the end of the year, but I like to see it for each month, and I care more about the percentages than the dollar amounts. It amazes me that our biggest expense is consistently groceries. If you have trouble reading the categories, just click on the image. 


And here’s some travel stats for the month. Obviously this will be more interesting when we’re actually traveling….

Truck miles:      633.1
Engine Hours:  14:05
Trailer miles:    168.0
Fuel Used:         13.8 G

Here’s our travel map for December, which is kind of boring because all we did was move from a friend’s place to our current gate. In future months it might be more interesting…

Days “Moochdocking”:       2
Days at free Workamp Sites: 29

Pictures Taken: 326

Data Used Across All Devices: 425 Gb

The weather station gives me some pretty cool historical data that I’d like to share. For the month of December it’s a little incomplete, because I didn’t get it until the 15th, but next month I will have an entire month’s worth. Won’t THAT be exciting???

Since the format of the blog for some reason requires that a full 50% of the screen real estate not be used for the blog, the images can’t be any bigger than they are, but you can click on them to make them full screen. You can also go to the page for our weather station at Weather Underground and fiddle with the charts and graphs to your heart’s content. 

If there’s data or stats anyone is interested in seeing going forward, let me know in the comments section! – Lee

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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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December 2016 Budget

One of the major benefits of working 11 hour days every day is that you don’t spend much money.  But there is a tendency when the assignment ends to spend some cash, and that’s pretty much what we saw in December.  Overall we did OK in the month of December with total expenses of $3438.61 but we certainly could have done much better.  The good news is we ended the month with around $735 left over from the beet harvest money, so all of the money we made here will be living expenses going forward.  Since we still have not gotten paid, I am not including that revenue in this month.  Details are below. (I want to also point out that we had some expenses in December that normally we wouldn’t see in a regular month. Namely, $142 for our truck registration, $247 for tobacco and cigarette tubes, which is a quarterly expense) $100 to replenish the money in our mailing service account, which is also quarterly, and $250 for the on site tech visit to fix our furnace, $150 of which will be reimbursed to us. If we remove those, then the monthly expenses are more like $2850. – Lee)


Campground Fees – We had a free place to stay with the work kamping job, so we saved $600 here.  Since we are consistently under budget in this category it will be adjusted for 2017.

Groceries – We stayed on budget and were actually $30 to the good.  Making a big Costco run in January and going to start cooking meals again (need to get that recipe book finished), so we will see.  This category will probably be adjusted in 2017.

Dining Out – $100 over budget for the month which is almost exactly what we spent on our Red Lobster dinner.  I almost consider that a business expense, but since it’s not deductible we are putting it here. 

Truck Fuel – This was our best month ever because we only tanked up one time and spent a measly $76.10.  Another benefit of never going anywhere and working where you live.  

Gifts – For the first time ever we did not buy Christmas gifts for the kids.  I had budgeted the money last year, but since at this point they are all actually making more money than us and I bought them small gifts while we were in Alaska, we decided to stop doing this.  I would never have thought I would be OK with skipping gifts, but it’s a great indicator of how much I’ve changed.  I am firmly in the camp of buying them presents from a cool place regardless of the time of year, which is where my husband and mother-in-law have been all along.

Home Repair – We did well in this category, the only expense being $100 for our deductible on getting the furnace fixed.  This category is always interesting in the yearly view  which will be coming up next. 

So that’s December, and now I can start the annual budget review.  We will be making adjustments in numerous categories and providing lots of info for you data junkies out there so stay tuned!

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. Thank you.   Search here