We are wraping up our stay in Livingston Texas and I’m working on a blog post regarding area day trips. Now that we have been living in our RV for five months, and as it was the beginning of a new year, I took a look at our 2020 Budget.
If you missed the background information here is a link to the original three part series regarding budgeting which included general notes, living expense budget as well as the budget to equip the RV.
Based on feedback from others and my own observations I wanted to pass along a few important notes and then posted below are the numbers.
1. When you hit the road fulltime with a spouse you give up some privacy and independence. Your budget probably should include a line item for discretionary spending by each person. In Karen’s and my case we each have an income and decided not to lump it into one account. As was the case in our sticks and bricks house we both just assume responsibility for certain expenses and spend/save the remaining individual income as we please.
2. Spending is a matter of discipline and behaviors. In my case I do not plan to spend much time tracking the actual expenses. I generally know what we can spend on big expenses, such as looking for campsites in the $25 daily average range. Karen makes a list and knows what she can spend when grocery shopping. I know our budget allows us to fuel the truck roughly seven times a month. The majority of our expenses are now placed on a credit card or paid online. The process of tracking expenses for me will be a quick look at the bank account to see if we are looking okay. It’s made easier by having a specific amount left in the account each month. If that leftover amount is lower than expected then I might look into it. As a side note I’ll mention a few line items in our budget are more annual costs spread out over 12 months and in some cases we will be moving that amount into our credit union account to spend later. In the case of our medical expense budget we use our Health Savings Account. Whatever we don’t spend each month of our medical expenses will be contributed to our HSA account to make use of the tax free income as well as to continue building the fund for medical emergencies.
3. We budgeted heavy for our first year on the road which may result in a need to supplement our monthly income. When first planning I expected the supplemental amount to be around $500. Now I’m guessing it’s closer to $125 and may end up being nothing. Before we hit the road we saved up the extra income requirement for a year and placed that in an account with our four month emergency fund and the money we have left from our RV/Truck purchase budget.
4. We have already experienced unplanned and sudden incidents on the road. I’ll write about that later. The point is there will be unexpected expenses such as a breakdown on the road. Sometimes “throwing money at the problem” fixes it best. When emergencies happen you may not have time to shop around for the best price and the stress is far less if you are not concerned about the finances. Before you hit the road I recommend having ample savings.
And now for the revised numbers and notes:
Taxes and Insurance (non-medical)- was 736.00 – Revised to $434
- We have not added the life insurance – less 126
- This was to come out of 401K
- RV Insurance was $87, but came out at $80 – less $7
- Truck was $137, but came out at $97 – Less $40
- Probably will go up after fender binder.
- Roadside Assistance was $12.50 but included in RV/Truck insurance – Less $12.50
- State and Fed taxes was figured at $331 – actual is Less $117
- Have to keep combined income under $32,000 to avoid paying income tax on Karen’s social security.
- Having no state income tax is a big thing. I also figured our annual income higher than what is expected for the calculation of subsides received when using the Affordable Care Act for medical insurance. This might later result in a slight federal tax break that’s not included.
Camping Fees – was $787 or $25 a night. We are seeing on average about $20 so far but leaving it the same. We enjoy state and federal parks. We also tend to use weekly rates in other parks.
Medical – was $451 and keeping it the same for now, although so far our actual is way less.
- Currently $8 a month for health plan. – Yup you read that correctly!
- Keeping Dr. and Dental at $75
- Prescriptions are about $70 a month
- Whatever we do not use goes to health savings account (HSA) to replenish or towards annual contribution limit. Goal has always been to have HSA cover our max out-of-pocket costs in the event of a catastrophic illness.
- Medical comes out to about 12% of our budget which is a number in the range of what I’ve seen used by others
Fuel – was $550 a month to include gasoline, might go to $495 but leaving it the same for now.
- Maybe get 5 gallons of generator gas a month x $3 = $15
- We fuel truck maybe 1.5 times a week 32 gallons x $2.50 x 6 = $480
- But we have not traveled as much as we wanted so leaving the extra $55 in the budget for now. Which means we can fuel the truck up to 7 times a month.
Travel and parking – leaving it the same at $26 for tolls
Grocery – was $450. Karen says closer to $600
Eating out – was $150 – increase to $200
- $50 x 4 times
Entertainment – Leave at $241
Department Stores – leave at $30
- This is clothing purchases. We shop at thrift stores when possible.
RV and Truck Maintenance was $130 – Now at $100
- $130 a month was $1560 a year. Our rig is new and covered by warranty, going to $100 a month.
- Some say put what is left each month in an account to cover large repairs, especially if you don’t have an extended warranty. We already fully funded an emergency fund before we left on the road.
Utilities – was $40, now at $38
- We find ourselves using weekly camping rates rather than monthly. Historically monthly rates have an added electric charge. Right now, we could not see staying more than a month in one place maybe once a year at $75 for electric or about $7 spread out over 12 months. And then in the case of a monthly stay the camping fees are reduced and hence cover the electric surcharge.
- Propane usage this past winter, given the climates we anticipate traveling in so far have totaled about $105 over three months. And when not using the furnace my experience has been maybe $30 a month in propane for cooking which would be another $270 for the remaining nine months. Total propane would then be $375 a year or $31 a month.
Phone/Cable/Internet – was at $160 a month – now is $110
- We switched off to a Togo Roadlink which had an upfront cost for the hardware. The annual unlimited data through AT&T is $30 a month. We link the Togo to the campground WIFI when it makes sense.
- My part-time office job provides a cell phone which is through T-Mobile and offers unlimited data but is at a reduced speed in about a week’s usage.
- Karen’s phone is AT&T and costs us $70 a month. It has a 20-gig data plan that also reduces speed and otherwise is unlimited. She has never hit her data limit.
- We use over-the-air channels for TV or stream through a Roku stick. Streaming is through Amazon which costs us $125 a year or $10 a month.
Misc. – was $46 a month, now is $79
- Haircuts (for me) remain $18
- Memberships was $9 but is $21 a month
- Escapees annual membership is $40 annual or $3.50 a month
- Keeping Good Sam’s for now at $2.50
- We already bought an America the Beautiful lifetime pass for 1/2 price camping at Corp of Engineer parks and free admission into National Parks.
- We have Texas and Michigan state park passes but those costs are included in camping fee budget.
- I’m a Mason and dues are about $7.50
- Will probably add Passport America at $3.50
- This year I subscribe to rvtripwizard.com for route planning at $3.50
- Laundry was $19. Karen does laundry about every two weeks for about $20 so new total is $40
Big Ticket Items – keeping it at $100
- We actually have money left in a separate budget used to equip the truck and camper. But for now I’m leaving the $100 a month in the budget that can, along with the maintenance budget, be used to replace expensive stuff later.
Mail Service – was $21 a month, revised to $16
- My part-time job employer helped cover some of the first year-start up fees. I have a slightly upgraded service because I get some work-related documents that are time sensitive and can be scanned by the service. Going forward, I’ll be paying for the basic service portion which is annually $95 a year plus maybe $100 in mail forwarding costs. Total is about $16 per month.
Extras – was $95, revised is $75.
- This was somewhat of an arbitrary slush fund amount. I believe in 2% variances in annual budget amounts, if that be spending 2% less or 2% more. So 2% of our annual budget amount would be $3,762 monthly x 2% is $75 a month.
This budget is $46,044 annually ($3,837 monthly) before taxes for our first full year of travel.