~Monday, July 26, 2021~
Today’s topic doesn’t touch on a new waterfall we discovered or a new trail we hiked. Instead, it is about something we don’t like to discuss openly about…...finances. Since we now have 1 year of full-time RV’ing under our belt, we thought it time to share how things panned out for us. At some point of our trip, we were going to break the Taboo of talking about $. But, you can’t learn about something if there’s a fear of talking about it. Let’s face it, it’s part of our daily lives where managing it well makes “life” go smoothly, but when managed poorly, can wreak havoc on your fun!
Through most of our marriage, Jeff and I have always kept careful track of our spending and set aside time for “money meetings” , so it made it easier to carry those habits over to our full-time RV experience. The challenge though…….the “X” factors. We’d never owned an RV before, let alone traveled full-time, so really had to do some guesswork. The unknowns were:
⛽️Gas for Generator/Gas for Truck
The knowns similar to home life:
You can see that the number of “unknowns” are just about equal with “the knowns” . But, we knew one thing was critical to keeping us within our means…...that this is not a vacation, but a new way of LIVING!! Otherwise, it would have ended 3 months in. And we’ve learned so much along the way. Most of the surprising numbers actually came from categories that we were already familiar with budgeting.
Groceries. Jeff and I are big foodies and LOVE to cook. We hadn’t curtailed our spending there and in fact spent more than at home. Since we’re limited on storage, we’re not able to buy in bulk, thus making more frequent trips to the grocery store. We’re not doing much in terms of saving money in this department, being $140/mo. over budget. But food expenses are definitely something that’s easy to change.
Dining. Again, being foodies, we couldn’t resist the temptation to go out for a meal while in beautiful cities like Charleston, Asheville, Savannah, etc. Again, we spent more on eating out in the Southeast than we did in the West depending on our lodging location. When you’re boondocking, you’re less likely to be near a tourist city with a plethora of restaurants.
Lodging. We spent more the last 6 months than the first 6 months. So this category averaged out pretty well. But what was surprising were the types of lodging we were doing that affected our bottom line. When in the West, you have more “free” types of camping, what we call boondocking, dry camping, dispersed camping. There simply are not as many opportunities for this in the Eastern/Southern part of the U.S. Since we spent nearly equal time in both, this category was close to what we budgeted.
Entertainment. This is the one category we completely had no idea what to expect. We overestimated what we thought we would spend. So it was nice to finally see a department that we were under budget with. Even as the trip went on, with the increased number of paid activities, we still managed to stay under our projected spending.
Gas. With the fluctuation of pricing and the demand for everything increasing after the wind-down of the pandemic, this was a hard one to estimate. One of the big lessons we learned is if you are staying in one place longer, with less frequent traveling, you definitely save money on gas. Other than fatigue, this was one of the reasons we slowed down our pace. In the end, we were about $145/mo. over in our estimation.
Household/Toiletries. This is one area we thought we had nailed in terms of accurately budgeting and one we had lots of experience with. Wow, were we wrong. We just didn’t think we’d spend as much in this department, being on the road. Reality….$150/mo. over budget. After our second year, it will really be interesting to see where this number ends up.
So…...after a few revelations and just simply reviewing our spending habits, we came up with a newly revised budget. 50% of our 26 spending categories were over our projections, yet we still managed to only be $372 over budget in our first year of full-timing it. Not bad for a couple of novices!!! Moving forward we’ve only added one more category to the mix….storage for my beloved piano. I’m so grateful to my dear friend and former student from Napa, for storing my piano all these months. But it’s time for a new home, where we’ll be storing it at a facility in California the remainder of the trip, and thus a new expense.
The whole point of writing about our experience is to share it with others. Even if only 1 person reads this and takes away a little something from it, we’ve accomplished our goal. It’s all about doing and making adjustments along the way. You can check out a more detailed explanation of our budget at www.footprintsonwheels.com/monthly-expenses.