Let’s talk about our July full-time travel budget (June budget here). I have been dragging my feet to post this because I feel like we could be doing better with our budget. Please read the detailed summaries about each category for background on the totals.
As a reference, I had created a tentative budget back in May, of what I thought we might spend each month. I’m trying to get a few months of full-time living before modifying the budget.
Okay. . . now for July’s expenses. . . .
July 1 – 31, 2015 expenses
Camping/Resort fees – $1,117.87 (averaging $36/night)
Groceries – $915.59 (yowza!)
Gas – $673.26
Vehicle/Trailer Insurance – $100
Dining out – $423.01
Cell and internet – $270
RV maintenance/supplies – $18.63
Entertainment/Museums – $179 ($85 for annual membership for museum)
Toiletries – $0
Laundry – $42.50
Showers – $6.00
Propane – $0 – didn’t need to fill it up yet!
July costs TOTAL – $3,745.86
Here’s a bit more detail on June expenses:
Camping and resort fees were higher than I would have liked for July. We spent a week in an expensive location in order to be close to family in Coeur d’Alene – which I wouldn’t change for the world. We had initially planned to offset this higher cost with more boondocking in the second half of the month, but our fresh water tank broke mid-month forcing us to stay in private RV parks where we could had a direct water hook-up. Summer is the most expensive times in terms of RV park rates so we’re averaging closer to $40/night when I’d prefer $30.
Our fresh water tank wasn’t fixed until August 21 (yes, today!) here in Michigan – so we’ve had the first 20 days of August at RV parks, so we expect this number to be higher in August as well. Rates at many RV parks and state parks drop after labor day and we are looking forward to this!
Groceries – Honestly I have no idea how we spent so much on groceries this month (do you ever feel this way?). We do eat a lot of fresh produce, meats and local food (when possible), which does increase the costs. We eat nearly ZERO processed foods, so this budget reflects buying lots of fresh foods on the go. We did host dinner for family a couple nights and this DOES include TWO trips to Costco for foods that we’re still enjoying in August. I’ve been using my Target Cartwheel app whenever we’re near a Target with groceries and I’ve clipped a few coupons – but it’s so difficult to coupon shop on the road – especially when the store chains change weekly. I’m hoping this amount is less for August, but I can’t stress about it too much.
Dining out – I realized I don’t even have this in our tentative monthly budget – I’ll have to update that. Eating out for us is part of the fun of travel – trying new places and trying new (local) foods. On days when we are away from our trailer exploring we try to only eat one meal out, but even things like ice cream cones and snacks can add up along the way. This total includes a full day’s worth of eating at Silverwood Theme Park – which probably accounts for 25% of this total.
Diesel Gas – We drove about 2,950 miles in July (wowza!). We are using a free app called Fuelly to track our miles per gallon and we seem to be averaging about 13 miles per gallon (as low as 11.4 towing through hills and as good as 14.8 not towing). On average we’re paying $2.61/gallon for diesel fuel.
Entertainment – We purchased an $85 annual museum membership to the Museum of the Rockies, which is part of the Association of Science-Technology Centers program and gives us FREE admission to hundreds of museums and zoos nationwide. This membership has already paid for itself a few times since we got it!
Cell phone and internet – I think this will be a typical month for us in terms of wifi data usable. Since I need to work daily online (QueenBeeCoupons.com), I rely a lot on cellular data – it’s a necessity of working on the road!
Remember budgets are very personal things – every family will prioritize different things. Our main purpose for sharing our full-time budget is to HELP OTHERS determine if this type of lifestyle is feasible based on our realistic costs. It’s one of the areas we researched the most when planning to travel full-time and there is very little out there online sharing this type of info. Keep in mind – before hitting the road we saved ruthlessly so that we wouldn’t have to worry about money on the road – I would advise any family getting ready to travel full-time to have plenty of reserves AND a way to make income on the road, just to be safe!
I want to point out that this budget is for full-time TRAVEL. You can save a substantial amount of money if you stay in an RV park long-term . . .especially if you get weekly and or monthly rates (big savings here – paying as little as $350 – $400/month!). You can also save a lot by having a Thousand Trails membership – but this limits where you can stay and we wouldn’t likely take advantage of their best promotion of buy three (3) weeks, get one FREE. You can also save a lot by boondocking – which means camping in free spots without hook-ups. We hope to do boondock more once our water tank is fixed!
Health insurance – We have health insurance covered through Jeremy’s work until the end of September – so this is not an expense now, but will be down the road.
Bills we are NOT paying traveling full-time – We are no longer paying a mortgage/taxes ($1,500/month), garbage, water, electricity, cable, internet, alarm system, HOA dues, daycare/preschool, insurance on second car – and we are CONSUMING so much less because we don’t have the space to store clothing, toys, games, kitchen gadgets, etc. We are spending much less a month than when we lived in our house full-time.
We also do NOT have a trailer or truck payment – This was really important to us, so we purposely paid cash for the trailer and the tow vehicle. For families considering full-time travel, if you can avoid a monthly payment by saving up and paying cash I feel like it eliminates some of the pressure to earn on the road.
So there you have it, our July budget. There is certainly room for improvement – especially with lodging and groceries – we’ll work on that. But I can’t worry too much about it – we’re still living below our means (able to save every month) and we saved ruthlessly to live this year on the road. I don’t want to worry so much about being frugal that we miss out on opportunities or stress too much on the road. It’s a fine balance, you know?