I guess it's safe to say that it is costing me between $50 and $60 / day to see the country. This seems like a lot, but I've discovered a few things ...
For those of you that are going to be trying to fulltime indefinitely on a fixed income, it's a little more problematical. A lot of folks (myself included 6 months ago) believe that fulltiming is a really inexpensive way to live. I now believe that if you take what it is costing you to live right now, subtract house payments, utilities and taxes, etc., and add fuel, maintenance and camping estimates you will come pretty close to reality. If you like to eat out a lot, you will probably still do so on the road. If you enjoy a hobby or two, chances are that you will continue to enjoy them on the road. If you like to spend a night on the town regularly, fulltiming isn't going to change that. These costs will not magically disappear just because you are living in a RV. To really save money to a significant degree you are going to have to make some compromises! For me, it's more important to see and experience everything along the road, and to travel extensively. This all costs money! "It costs what it costs" has become my byword for fulltime finances..... You wanna dance, you gotta pay the band. On the positive side, I think I'm getting a lot for my money! These great experiences are worth a lot, and there's just no way to put a price tag on the friendships and special moments..... anyway, that's the financial report from my campsite for the first 6 months and as always, "Your Mileage May Vary" !
OK, the data is in from my first year on the road. There were no big surprises this time. Most of the actual costs fell into the ranges I'd expected them to. There were some significant financial events during my second six months, though... I had to rebuild the transmission on my truck, and it wasn't cheap! About $1475.00! This expense was somewhat offset by my two month stay at my friend's place in Miramar, FL as it was rent free. Anyway, the numbers look like this:
You may have noticed that there were some changes made in the format of the costs display.... The top line is year totals and the second line is averaged over 365 days. The third line shows the estimated costs that I hope to stay close to or under... I have fine tuned these numbers a lot, and, for me, they represent pretty much what it costs me to fulltime. This format works well for me and allows me to get a feel for how I'm doing on a day-to-day basis. The end result is that I finished out my first year right about on budget, and even managed to absorb a couple grand of unexpected expenses. It's too bad that I incurred those extra expenses.... if I hadn't, my $16K / year original estimate would have been pretty close! I know that I could probably live cheaper than I do, but I don't like to suffer.
Now that I'm spending time in the Northeast, I expect that my camping expenses will be higher on average, as campground fees seem to average much higher up here than other parts of the country. There are still deals to be had, and I will try to take advantage of as many boondocking opportunities as I can to keep the costs down.
Here's the data after 18 months.... No surprises here. In fact, my expenses have been slowly going down. Not a lot, but a noticeable amount! This is probably due to getting settled into the lifestyle and taking care of start-up problems with the truck and rig. The low gas prices have definitely been a help, too! Here's a snapshot of the numbers:
Here's a look at the data from the entire 18 months in 6 month chunks.... this is interesting in that it seems to establish a favorable trend!
1st 6 months:
2nd 6 months:Notes: The "Maint." column is blank because I didn't break down vehicle maintenance costs separately the first 6 months.... they are included as part of "misc.". Unplanned expenses included brake work on the truck, parts for the bike and some medical expenses.
3rd 6 months:Notes: Unplanned expenses included a rebuild of the truck transmission and a new set of tires for the rig.
Looks like my daily expenses have fallen from a high of $58 / day to $42.34 / day. This can be misleading, as can any kind of statistics.... one of the reason the 3rd 6 months looks so good is that the majority of my large annual bills (insurance, registrations, dues) occur between Feb. and April. Still, I'm happy to discover that so far, this adventure has only cost me about $50 / day, or in the neighborhood of $18K a year. Such a deal!!!Notes: Yay! No unplanned expenses!!
Here's the data after a full 2 years on the road. Once again, no big surprises..... this is a complete total of all 24 months.
It looks like my costs have pretty much stabilized at near $50 a day for the whole period. That translates to about $18K a year. Not too bad! It's those unplanned expenses that keep tripping me up.... this last 6 month period, the cost of the new axles and tires for the trailer really hurt the bottom line, but it was a necessary expense. It costs what it costs! here's the snap of just the last 6 months... you can compare them to the other three above if you like.
All in all, I'm not unhappy with the results... my planned expenses actually fell again this last 6 months, indicating a nice downward trend. If I can get by without major unplanned expenses for a while, I'll be looking sweet! Unfortunately, I know that I will have to put new rubber on the truck sooner or later, and that will be a sizable expense. I will post more data after the next 6 months and at that time, I will probably re-arrange this page to be a little more consolidated. For now, though, I think it's worthwhile for you to see how it developed and how my original assumptions on costs had to be re-thought over time. Enjoy!
Here are the totals for 2 1/2 years on the road. Pretty much as expected... this is a complete total of all 30 months.
Still hanging in there around $50 a day. I haven't had to make any changes in my budget and I'm really pleased that my costs have remained so stable. Here's the snap of just the last 6 months...
No surprises here either. Rising gas prices have pushed my gas expenses up a bit, but that was partially offset by a reduction in my parking expenses and misc. expenses. As promised, I did re-arrange this page a bit, removing my original estimates and start up costs to another page. You can still see them by clicking Here.
Here are the totals for 3 years on the road.... this is a complete total of all 36 months.
Looks like I had another slight decrease in my average expenses, with a daily total of $47.32. This is mostly due to saving a lot of money by parking free with friends over the winter and I used a lot less gas as well. The other savings were in the areas of maintenance (less traveling means less maintenance!) and Entry fees (money spent for admission to museums, parks, attractions, etc.) The next snapshot really tells the story. Here's the snap of just the last 6 months...
Now that I'm traveling again, I doubt that I'll be able to do as well over the next 6 months, but we'll just have to wait and see. So far, I have been able to find gasoline in the $1.50 to $1.60 a gallon range pretty much everywhere I have traveled. That's a lot more than it was a couple of years ago, but still pretty close to the planned $1.50 a gallon that my original estimates were based on back in 1997. I'm always on the lookout for inexpensive camping opportunities and I hope to do a fair amount of boondocking this summer/fall as well as some 'mooching' off of friends along the way. Stop back in 6 months and see how I did!
Here are the totals for 3 1/2 years on the road.... this is a complete total of all 42 months.
Looks like I had yet another slight decrease in my average expenses, with a daily total of $46.33 as compared to the previous total of $47.32. I did substantially more traveling during the last 6 months and gas prices were a lot higher this year. I was paying between $1.50 to $1.65 a gallon. These costs were offset by the time I spent camping for free with friends during October and November and also by the start of my Workcamping at Suwannee Valley in mid-December. All in all, the last 6 months came in at a very reasonable daily cost of $41.68. Here's the snap of just the last 6 months...
I guess that the good news here is that the longer I do this Fulltime thing, the less it's costing me per day. Part of the reason is that I've learned to trim my expenses a bit day by day, but the largest benefit to my pocketbook has been time spent boondocking and camping on friends and family. Now that I'm Workcamping, I'm really saving a lot of money... I'm not traveling, so gas and maintenance costs are way down and all those free nights really improve the average for cost of camping! I will start traveling again in April and my big challenge for the next year is to stretch that dwindling nest egg of mine as far as possible. Based on my cash reserves, 2001 may be my last year of traveling. I knew that I was in for a limited run.... In the beginning, I had figured on doing 2 years on the road before I would have to get a job again. I have been able to more than double that travel time thanks to good investments and frugal living, but the writing is on the wall: it ain't gonna last forever. Check back in 6 months and we'll see how I'm doing!
Here are the totals for 4 years on the road.... this is a complete total of all 48 months.
Well, here we are after 4 years.... my average daily cost fell again and is now almost down to what I had hoped for in the beginning.... around $44 a day or $16K a year! How about that? Looks like I was closer to correct with my original estimates than I thought a couple of years ago. Most of the savings come from the months of workcamping that I did during the last 6 month period. If you want to see just how much difference some workcamping can make in your bottom line, take a look at the next snapshot! This is a snap of just the last 6 months...
Wow! Quite a difference, huh? In fact, if it hadn't been for almost $5 a day in 'Unplanned Expenses' (trailer tires and a brake job on the truck) my daily cost would have been only about $28 a day! Food and bills and such costs remain about the same, but camping, fuel and maintenance costs fall big time. That would work out to about $10K a year if workcamping keeps those other costs down. Pretty significant savings! This is a good illustration of how workcamping can help extend your time on the road... it's sure working for me! Be aware that almost this entire 6 months was either workcamping or parking free with friends.... but I did cover a fair bit of ground as well, all the way from Florida, thru Alabama, Tennessee and into Kentucky.
To get a better feel for the financial trends for the last 3 1/2 years, take a look at the data arranged in a different format. Click Here to see my costs arranged in 6 month snapshots.
This page last updated on 12/4/13