2020 Annual Budget

2020 was an unusual year.  Not only because of COVID but also because this was the first full year since 2015 that I had a corporate income.  Both of these factors impacted our spending, but overall I was somewhat surprised at how little the costs varied.  There were some big changes of course, but it wasn’t as stark a contrast as I thought it would be.  Before diving into 2020 in detail I wanted to show the comparison between the years. 

I think the most interesting fact is the averages.  When looking at trends, when we made more we spent more, and when we traveled more we spent more, but the averages take all that into account.  The six year view is not perfect, btw, as not all expenses are included in the main categories.   An example of an expense left off was when I paid for my daughter’s wedding for example, but the basic costs are all included.  In my opinion, that makes the $4,058 average monthly costs figure pretty accurate.  You can certainly use that figure as a base cost if you live frugally and do some volunteer/work kamping along the way.  If you would like to see detailed posts for previous years you can access that on our Budget page here

Below is a summary of this year, with some high level details.  As always we will be adjusting our budget going forward using past data. 


Campground Fees – This year we spent an all time high, $6,266 in campground fees.  This is actually pretty similar to what we spent the first year when we did minimal work-kamping.  It is definitely a concern though because we spent this in 6 months.

Groceries – This year we hit an all time high of $10,521 in groceries.  This was absolutely influenced by COVID as we stocked up on groceries several times when there were empty shelves.  We also paid what we had to for a variety of items we wouldn’t normally buy (ie: sanitizer, disinfecting wipes).

Gifts – This year there was a huge spike in this category, mainly because of my new grandson.  I expect another big year in 2021 because I am having another grandbaby.  Obviously this is completely discretionary (as you can see from prior years ). 

Healthcare – If you are seeing a difference between the 2020 totals here and in the year over year comparisons this is a big reason why.  Generally I do not include healthcare expenses in the basic categories because it varies so much from person to person.  I did include additional healthcare expenses in our budget this year though, because those costs have gone up for us as we have gotten older. 

Home Improvement – We have seen a stark uptick in the costs we spend on home improvement over the last two years.  Part of this was  voluntary improvements, but the other factor was things starting breaking at the 5 year mark and they keep breaking.  I will be interested to see if the bulk of the items have been taken care of at this point or the trend will continue. 

Tolls and Parking – This is another item that is absolutely an anomaly. Because there is very little of that in prior years this total of $1039 is also not included in the year over year comparison.

Truck Fuel – This figure was also absolutely impacted by COVID.  We did VERY little travel the first half of the year and it shows in the all time low spend of $3616.  

So that’s the main information.  I have included a more detailed view including Min, Max, and Averages for the year. 


For those of you who made it this far, I hope this was helpful.   Will be interesting to see what happens in 2021!



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August 2016 Budget (with work kamper revenue)

The good news is despite overspending in several categories we were able to keep our total costs right on budget.  The bad news is for the fist time since being here we spent more than we made.  That’s not that surprising since we chose to take 4 extra days off work to spend some time with friends, but still a bit of a bummer.  We over spent by $600, which isn’t the end of the world, and if you look at June, July, and August in total we are still $580 to the good.  That’s not the total picture of course, we definitely won’t make enough wages to cover the expense of getting here and getting back, but we haven’t dug ourselves too big of a hole.  The details in the individual categories are listed below.

August Budget

Groceries In aggregate we we once again $191.28 over in this category. $75 of that was the crab legs, but the rest is just that stuff is more expensive here.  Despite having a freezer for meat we still spent this much on local IGA trips.  What can I say??  I’d love to say once we hit the lower 48 everything will be back to normal, but with our upcoming travel through Canada and then working long shifts at the Beet Harvest and Christmas Tree lot that is unlikely.  At least we ate well this summer. 

Dining Out – I knew pretty early on we were going to blow this category in August.  Part of it was the trips we took, and part was eating out more often.  We spent over $100 on the Mexican food truck down the road alone, four meals, knew when we were doing it the budget didn’t allow for it.  Partly it’s because the food is so darn good, but also the “eat out because we are making money and bored” stage kicked in.  We’ve been pretty good in the past of recognizing this feeling and holding each other accountable but this month we both said “screw it.”  That attitude is reflected in the money spent. 

Entertainment –  I am really happy with this category because the Glacier cruise cost $133 in and of itself and we really didn’t go over by much despite doing tons of stuff.  Sticking to nature related activities really keeps costs down and (in my opinion) generally provides for a better experience.  I don’t regret the glacier cruise, but I am not in a big hurry to do it again. 

Truck Fuel – Despite all the driving truck fuel was right on target.  Again this was due to not using the vehicle much during our five day work week and gassing up as much as possible near the big towns. 

Postage – This category is totally out of control.  Part of it is the gifts I sent my nieces and nephews, but mostly it’s due to what our mail service is charging us.  We are not sending mail express, we are only doing it when absolutely necessary (absentee ballots and trailer registration this month) and yet we are still paying through the nose.  The problem is it’s not like we could easily change our mail service at this point.  Since they are also our address a mail change would require going back to Florida and is not something that could be done lightly.  We don’t mind the monthly cost and we think their scanning service is reasonably priced but every mailing we get seems to cost $75.  Ridiculous.  

House Expenditures – For the first time in awhile we were over in this category and it was by $240.  A big chunk of this was the money Lee had to spend to build a new trailer power cord and $90 of it was to replace our electric blanket which finally died after valiantly preheating our bed for almost 8 years.  We tried to order the blanket online and use AMEX points to pay for it, but the shipping kept getting delayed and Lee finally had to cancel the order and buy it in person in Anchorage.  Why do we need the blanket before we leave?  Well our furnace is still broken and since we are planning on boon docking some on the way back to the US we can use it as a heat source with our solar.  

Still, despite all these overages we still ended close to budget, because we once again spent very little on campground fees.  I really can’t stress enough the benefits of minimal campground fees when work kamping or volunteering.  Our best months have been when we have that extra $600 (15% of our overall budget) to work with.  

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