Tuesday, October 2, 2012

6 Mo. Budget Eval of Full-timing RV

Time for a 6 month fiscal check-up. We wrote about our first quarter here, but to simplify and prevent you from getting blog-auseated from switching back and forth from links, I will include snapshot of 1st quarter budget below, restate our background and clarify the line items.

Background: early 50s, 12 mo. adventure being paid by accumulated savings (not retirement), 2002 Ford diesel truck and 2008 Jayco fiver paid off after selling sticks/bricks, no income on the road, 8,500 miles, 37 campgrounds and 22 states so far, hailing from Austin, TX. Also, because they can impact the budget, we are non-medicated folks, non-drinkers, non-smokers and no medical marijuana card. At RV parties, people come up to us inquiring whether they can pull the portable defibrillators off the wall and practice on us. I tell them there is a shuffle board court available, they should go outside and play.

1st column indicates target amount. April/May/June+1st Qtr Averages (click to enlarge)

July/Aug/Sept+1st 6 Mo. Averages


1) Aetna and Samaritan line items are our health care providers. Samaritan is a group of Christians sharing costs and what I participate in, read more here if you are looking a non-insurance, non-red tape option. Oh, Teri is a Christian, just opted for conventional. (Making sure you didn't think I was married to a lady of the Taliban).
2) Cell phone- Wife has I/phone with data plan, I have a My phone--suitable for My intelligence.
3) Entertainment- Mostly attributed to eating out expenses. I could have labeled it "gluttony".
4) Health- Anything we buy in the aspirin aisle of a grocery store.
5) Incidentals- "Catch all" category--LP refills, propane canisters, postage, gifts, etc.
6) RV Parks- We do conventional parks and have the usual memberships. Very little boondocking and no state/national parks. Just how we rolled the first 6 months, no offense to you folks in search of freebie and discounted land options.
7) Truck/RV maintenance- Money to fix broken crap.
8) Truck/RV insurance??-- It was paid annually to save few green smackers, so you could add $67 per mo. to a line item and to the monthly totals. For us, out of sight, out of mind.
9) Mail forwarding??-- $10 mo., paid also in full, so something to add back in.
10) Clothing??-- 0. We wear it, just don't buy it. If we had to, Incidentals would be the column.

Summary Points:
  • Essentially, we set out on this journey with a $3,000 per month cap. We are in at $2,504. Will we adjust downward? NO. We have been blessed not needing to dip into the RV/Truck Maintenance line item. (hat tip Jesus and thanks to our previous owners Ed and Christine). Also, Rv.net and IRV2.com a wealth of info!
  • We have spent all of Sept in NY and PA where RV'ers will learn they have spent all of their "RV Parks" line item. Next month, Joisy and D.C., where I am sure red budget ink will be splattered. How do you offset--travel fewer miles to reduce the Diesel bill, which you learned if you read our 1st Quarter post.
  • We exceeded tolls 2nd quarter--did I mention we were in the Northeast where they have never met a toll or a tax they didn't like? This will even out Q3.
  • We spent 10% less Q2 vs Q1 attributed to driving less and longer stays at campgrounds. No choice, diesel prices averaging $4.39 per gal--did I mention we were in the Northeast?
Financial conclusions after 6 months:
  • To stay in under or at budget, stay away from CA., OR., NY and PA. They have the trifecta budget killers- 1) RV park cost 2) Diesel 3) Tolls. BUT, the trade off, they are beautiful states. 
  • 5 of 6 months under budget. The one month over included 4 tires for the fiver and oil/fuel/air filter routine maintenance on the truck.
  • The cheapest rate is always the monthly: Bristol, IN. where we spent a month in Amish land was $450.
  • The budget has worked well--do we wish we had more in the Entertainment column, of course. But we certainly aren't feeling depressed or deprived. 
  • It wouldn't be a terrible idea just to park the "RV/Truck Maint" line item into a lump sum savings account and just pull from it when needed. 
  • You could combine Campgrounds+Diesel and have one whopper number--travel less where camping is more expensive to stay within your goal. 
  • For the curious and for comparison, our sticks and bricks home (paid off/3br,2ba,2.3 acres) budget in Jan '12--expenses: $2,012. So yes, RV'ing has been about 20% more expensive. BUT, as mentioned earlier, when we parked for a month which most resembles traditional living, we came in at $1,963.
  • This is the free on-line budget site we use. Easy to maneuver around. I need easy.
  • Give thanks--always--for good health. I hate to see what a Northeastern doc's billing rates are.
Again, we are budget nudists-- nothing to hide. We know there are many inquisitive about the lifestyle costs, so we hope this info has been helpful. If you have any questions, fire away.

In terms of the overall experience of full-timing beyond the numbers during our first half-year, a post is forthcoming in a few days. You might be surprised.

Day 177, the journey continue$.


  1. Hey Dave, good recap. Are you only traveling for 12 months?

    1. A/K, we have been candid about "12 mos or when the $ run out, whatever comes first"...but could we be convinced differently, of course :)

  2. Dave

    Thanks for the honesty and the good recap. My life is nothing but excel spreadsheets, so I have my "guessimate" rv budget that I look at. Comparing yours, it shows me that mine is not to far off for a solo and 3 hounds. Looking forward to your future post about your first 6 months of rving outside the expenses.

    1. Glad to hear...good luck on those 2 tough decisions u have forthcoming, rig choice and retirement date...

  3. Enjoyed reading about your budget. We had been planning to go full time for years, and now just took the leap. The house sold in 30 days, we already had the motorhome (paid for) and are just finishing up the required work time till the pension rolls in. Our budget numbers are close to yours, but we also enjoy boondocking and rustic camping. We added five 100 watt solar panels, a bank of 6v batteries, and have large holding tanks to make living easier.

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

    1. Enjoy your journey, sounds like you are well prepared.

    2. There! I just went back to the very first post of your blog and read it all till now! Wheww.... what a fun blog and your sense of humor has me laughing out loud to the dogs. (they think I am nuts anyhow) .... I saved the best blogs to read aloud to hubby when he gets here after work. Thanks for a fun read!