January 2017 Budget with Revenue

For 2017 we are going to be posting both our costs and our revenue, to give folks an idea if we are able to make it on our costs versus the revenue we can generate with seasonal jobs.  I am going to be looking at this from a cash flow perspective month to month so in January you will see the $6K from Christmas trees.  Technically that money was earned in 2016 (and I will adjust it out in the end of year summary), but we received it on January 4th.  I think cash flow is important because it’s not just about if we can earn enough overall, but also how much we have to dip into or can put into savings.  This month we did really well and were able to put $3K of that $6K into our operating income account.  Lee is always very happy when we get to move money into that account, and the fact that we were able to do that much is a testament to how little we spent and the fact that we started generating revenue pretty quickly in 2017.

So how did we do?  We had one of our best months with expenses coming in at $2940. We were paid  $1500 in gate guarding in addition to Christmas Tree money for a total of $7302 in revenue. Our net cash flow was $4362 for the month, a great way to start off the year.  We spent so little because we came in under in almost every category and spent nothing on clothes, personal care, or entertainment.  (We don’t look great, but we saved lots of money! – Lee) We also didn’t have to pay health insurance this month (we double paid in December), but we did had an unexpected truck alignment and tire expense which actually wipes out that saving and cost us $200 more. So it was a good month.  We didn’t pay for life insurance as I originally budgeted (still trying to find a reasonably priced plan).  Anyway, the detailed accounts are below, but like I said, good start.


Campground Fees – Very happy we only spent $128 in this category because it could have been much worse.  We were scrambling to find places to stay when we were waiting on the warranty inspector and nothing was very inexpensive.  Thankfully we found the great Passport America park and were able to stay for only $22 versus the $40 prices we were seeing in New Braunfels. The rest of the month was covered by our work kamping jobs.

Groceries – We were extremely rigid with grocery shopping this month, menu planning, sticking to lists, and eating what we had.  Consequently for the first time in forever we came in right on target on the food budget and $107 to the good on non food items.  This month definitely proved to us that it can be done, but it did require major adjustments.  We are starting February off with a menu plan and a list so hopefully we can continue on as we have begun. (If she has to eat toast for every meal, we’re going to beat this category into submission. – Lee)

Dining Out – Again this may have been the best month we ever had and that’s not for lack of opportunity.   We could have ordered pizza or bought food locally but chose to eat at home.  That makes the win in the grocery column doubly good because we didn’t supplement that budget with eating out.  The $74 we did spend was primarily eating lunch while our rig was being worked on.  We had to eat out three days in total for that. 

Cell Phone – I spent $49 to pay off the phone on my Verizon plan, which put us over but we should get that back with switching to ATT and using Lee’s old Iphone 4 (which is working great by the way.)  The bad news is we went seriously over in data which will cost us an additional $60 on next months bill, but that prompted us to start tracking our data daily, which again for the year should result in a win.  We went over in data 4 times last year for a total cost of around $150.  If we can avoid that for the rest of the year we will still spend less on data YOY.

Entertainment – We spent nothing although I was seriously tempted to put that extra data in this category, because at this job the internet is our entertainment. 

Truck Fuel- One of the side benefits of limited grocery runs, no eating out, and no entertainment is you don’t spend much in fuels.  This category was extremely low at $84 for the month.

RV Insurance – We were overcharged due to a clerical error (they were showing I had no drivers license for some reason),but this has been reversed and the over payment will be credited back over future months. 

Laundry – Despite the craziness with the water when we first arrived here, we managed to save enough water to use our washing machine which was great.  Lee did a great job of that and I wanted to mention it because we could easily have spent $30 or so at the laundromat.  He gets full credit for that not happening.  Plus we both really don’t like laundromats and are happy when we can do laundry in our rig. 

Personal Care – I’m getting pretty shaggy and will definitely need a haircut in February, but with everything going on in January neither one of us got our haircut.  That was a function of lack of opportunity and time ans much as trying to save money. (You watch, the haircut will turn into getting her nails done, and a pedicure, and some kind of weird massage. That’s where all our money. That and shoes. – Lee)

Home Repair – We were right on the money.  $77 of that was to Camping World for diagnosing the problem on our furnace and the rest was, well I am not sure what the rest was, Lee will have to tell you. (It was for a replacement valve for our flush king, and replacement hose for our blue boy, and new weather seal for one of our baggage doors. – Lee)

So from a budget perspective it was an excellent month.  Probably the best we have ever had if you look at how we did category by category.  And our life itself wasn’t that bad.  Our goal for a while has been to find jobs in the winter and reduce our spending, because there are so few places we can be and things to do.  We definitely accomplished that, and more importantly we started the year off with a plan to improve several categories and thus far it seems to be working.  Lee said I would be very happy with it, and truly I am.  This doesn’t feel like one good month as an anomaly but rather a start on the new normal.  Only time will tell of course, but I feel pretty good about it.

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April 2016 Budget

So before we get into the numbers we knew this month would be rough.  For those of you who are new to the blog this is in no way a normal month for us and I really recommend you take a look at our First Year Budget Summary.   Also keep in mind there is a learning curve and according to everyone who has done this longer, costs tend to go down over time.  That being said, it can be expensive as this month shows, which is why we have contingency money.

So what happened?  We did a ton of stocking up for Alaska and had to replace 4 dually tires on the truck.  Thankfully I got an extra paycheck with unused vacation days I wasn’t counting on that helped covered the overages, but as you will see it was a doozy and not really representative of what has become our standard month.  Overall we spent $5831.90 with an overage of budget of $1763. 15  The tires accounted for $988.01 of the overage.  For a detailed accounting by category please see below. 


April Budget

Campground Fees – Despite traveling frequently  and our last-minute change of campgrounds for the repair we only spent $467.62 and were under in this category $132.48. Definitely a win and special thanks to Guy and Sue for letting us stay in their place for a week.  That really helped.

GroceriesIn total we ran about $400 over in this category. This was all about stocking up for Alaska and several  trips to Costco, which came at the very beginning of the month.  This is the second highest month we have ever had and not representative of a normal month at all.

Dining Out Despite numerous travel days we only spent $63 in Dining Out – Fuel (fast food etc) this month which is by far the best month we have ever had in this category and its one we really focused on!!!  We did completely blow the Dining out experience category though with an overage of $157. This was a conscious choice and was driven by our day in New Orleans, The Whistle Stop Cafe, Lunch with Bridget and Pat, and dinner in Atlanta with our friend Brian.  We discussed it before we spent the money, knew it was going to happen.  Some things in life are more important than money. 

EntertainmentSince we ate out so much we really watched this category to help offset and were under by $57.  That may not sound like much but we didn’t go on a train ride or go zip lining in the mountains of Georgia (both of which we wanted to do).  Instead we chose a the free activity of seeing the waterfall so I feel really good about this category.

Cell/Internet – We were over by $30 in this category because we hit our data limit, went over, and were charged $15 twice for two extra gigs in March.  I am not going to go on a big rant about how ridiculous $15 a gig is but instead say we have made a commitment that when we hit 75% of our data usage going forward we are going to seriously adjust our behavior at that point. This budget amount is crazy high for us in comparison to others anyways and we simply can’t afford to go over in this anymore.

MembershipsWe bought a premium  Costco membership and at the end of the year get 3% back on all purchases made with a guarantee of at least $55 back the first year.  We also paid the $10 and got the Gold version of RVillage. We will have to see this year if either is worth the money.

Truck FuelOk this one is pretty scary so lets break it down.  About $300 of this are trailing costs from March that came in on the Pilot gas card.  Since March we have moved rapidly across the country, from Arizona to South Carolina.  Gas prices were as low as $1.60 in some states and as high as $2.10 as we got closer to the east.  When traveling we are spending at least $50 a day (sometimes more if we take an excursion) and all of those add up.  I expect this will be even worse in May since we are traveling from Tennessee to Alaska.  To some extent it is what it is.  We knew it made no financial sense to drive from the West Coast to the East Coast and then back to Alaska, but we made a business commitment and intended to honor it.  The costs will be offset by the additional revenue we are generating, but we zig zagging the country is pricey!  We knew that in theory, but now having experienced it first hand will do what we can to minimize this going forward.  That being said, we need to follow the revenue and if it involves higher travel costs, so be it.

Truck Maintenance – Four new tires on the truck because the tread was too low for Alaska.  I wish I would have known about this in advance to factor that extra costs into our decision to go to Alaska.  We definitely would have still gone, but we could have absorbed these costs earlier when I was still working.  We ordered then and had them put on at Costco and the service was good and price was fair.  

Storage – Starting this month two of our kids were going to share the cost of the storage unit.  I gave them an extra month since I got paid into April and that should start going down to $25 starting May.

Cigarettes – We bought several months worth for Alaska which is why we went over in this category.  Because we bought in bulk we got an excellent price and this will definitely help us on our annual budget in this category.  Again this was a planned monthly overage. 

Gifts – As part of my sisters adoption party she asked for people to bring items they could use to prepare welcome bags for foster kids to get when they were taken from their homes.  With those poor kids in mind I went over on gifts.  Wish I could have spent more, but I did get good bang for my buck by shopping at Big Lots and the clearance section of Walgreens

Home Repair – Considering how many mods Lee did this month we did great in this category by staying close to budget.  Consistently this is a problem area for us, but if you check out our DIY Modifications page you judge for yourself if the money spent is worth it. 

So the month was a rough one but we planned for it.  We were only truly surprised by the fuel costs.  At least I was, Lee probably not so much.  Our plan is to live frugally in Alaska, hopefully make extra money with RV Repair, and hit the Beet Harvest on the way out to replenish any deficits we may have.  It’s a balancing act, and certainly we know others can live on less.  The question continues to be what can we live on? 


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