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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June 2016 Budget (with work kamping revenue)

This is the first month I will be sharing both our costs and our revenue.  I can’t promise I will always do that going forward, but in this case the revenue was 100% generated by a traditional work kamping job, and I think it would be good to share it.  Along those lines, some folks have been asking about RV Tech revenue, and I wanted to share that thus far we have only made $45 from tech work.  We have been advertising heavily here at the campground and Lee has been called to look at problems 5 times in the last month, but in most cases the fix was extremely easy (under 10 minutes of his time) and he has chosen not to charge the person.  Certainly you could charge a one hour minimum in these cases (which would have been $500 in additional revenue), but Lee personally did not feel right about charging for things that he can do so quickly and without the need to pick up a tool.  He considers it “karma in the bank”. We get many new RVers coming through here, often from other countries, and they often have a limited understanding of the systems in the RV’s they have rented. Lee takes a few minutes and educates them (in one case he switched a power switch from off to on) and he feels that this is just the human thing to do.  I agree, and since we are making plenty of money to cover our expenses we can afford to do that.  In the  future it could of course change.

So how did we do in our first ever month of paying as we go.  Well, pretty fantastic!!  We netted $3710.77 from our work kamping job and our costs were only  $2803.71.  Holy cow.  Seriously, I am as shocked as you are, and I double checked the numbers.  Before we all get too excited though, we should have bought camper tags this month (we sort of blew that off) and this did NOT include a run into Costco as we are doing that next month with Kelly and Bill.  We also thankfully had no repairs of any kind.  Almost got whacked with $1,100 for brake repairs on the truck which would have made this a different story, but the warranty I purchased covered all that so we only had to pay for the gas.  Even knowing those things it is an extremely promising month and even more so because we still got to explore and see some pretty terrific stuff on this budget.  Lee’s been telling me for many, many months this was possible, and to be honest I was extremely skeptical, but the proof is in the pudding.  One month does not a budget make, but wow I feel pretty great about this.  For more details please see below.

June 2016

 

Campground Fees-  One of the benefits of work kamping is no campground fees, which saved $600.  If you counted this savings into our monthly wage we made over $4,300 this month!

Groceries – All that stocking up finally paid off, and despite the higher prices in local stores here we saved $232.75.  We ate what we had supplemented a bit with some spinach Darlene is growing, and two meals of fresh salmon which was given to us.  Also, Lee has been cooking most of the meals since I work so late and his meals require less additional ingredients than mine do.  They’ve been awesome, but he tends to make do with what we have.

Dining Out – We ended up $25 to the good in this category and I feel great about that.  We rigidly controlled spending on our numerous day trips by packing lunches, and more importantly resisted the urge to eat locally out of boredom.  This is an area many full timers overspend in when sitting in one place for awhile, so I am glad that we did well.  Since we have more overnight trips in July I fully expect this category to go up, but we have shown it can be done…at least for us.

Entertainment – We ended up $19.90 to the good, mainly by focusing on nature related activities that didn’t cost money.  The big ticket item in this category was $89.95 for the Alaska Tour Saver book which will help us save money the rest of the season by offering numerous “two for one” deals.  The book is pretty pricey but since we are taking a Glacier Tour in August, the book more than pays for itself with that one trip.  

Truck Fuel – I was concerned about truck fuel costs going up since we took so many long drives to keep entertainment costs down, but I was pleased to see truck fuel was $177 under budget.  This is mainly because we are consolidating our trips and during the work week are hardly using the vehicle at all.  

Cigarettes – The good news in this category is they must have changed the rules or something because we can now purchase loose tobacco online and have it shipped. We know this doesn’t apply to a lot of people, but it’s an expense for us, and typically Lee looks for places to buy tobacco everywhere we go, with varying degrees of luck. In Anchorage the price of loose tobacco is three times the price in the lower 48, and the selection is pretty meager. We brought quite a bit with us, but not enough to get us all the way to mid-September, so it’s nice to know that even with the shipping, it’s cheaper to buy online. And going forward, we don’t have to worry about hunting it down everywhere we go.

Home Equipment – We did great in this category $155 under budget, our best ever. When you are sitting still less things break and Lee is getting his puttering fix by working on so much in the campground.

 

So again, I know it’s just one data point, but feeling good about things overall.  July we have longer trips, more seeing friends, income tax preparation to pay, along with tags, so things will go up, but it definitely did prove to me that we could stay under budget and still have fun, which was one of the major things I wanted to get out of this work kamping experience.


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