It’s so hard to believe we have now been away from our tiny home on wheels and instead been living in our….well, hmmmmm, tiny home on wheels?! It has though and with another month comes another budget.
Last month we posted about Budgeting the RV Lifestyle and had some great dialogues regarding such. One of the things that really came out of the post is that no two families and no two experiences will be alike. Some folks may cook more indoors and thereby use more propane. (insert cash register sound here). Some folks may charge their electronic devices with a small solar unit thereby making their electrical bill a bit smaller. Camping “in season” and “out of season” make HUGE differences in your budget. And it seems to me now that ‘snow birding’ in SW Florida during the coldest and snowiest winter on record makes a gargantuan difference in your budget. All that aside though a budget is a budget and should be personal to a number of factors including your income, the size of your family, your eating habits, your use of propane services, your use of electricity, the amount you drive day-to-day, how much you like to eat out, the number of iTunes movies you watch, etc.
Our total living expense last month was $1,944.12. It wasn’t cheap at all and probably is not all that attractive to most full-time RVers. However, it fit our needs, our desires, and our pocketbooks perfectly….for Month 1. We knew we had to scale back some for Month 2 and so we did. We altered a few things including:
- our use of propane when not directly using hot water
- our use of the furnace system
- our day-to-day driving
- our eating out frequency
- our consumption of milk, coffee, coffee creamer, high-end hygiene products, and iTunes episodes
You’ll see from the budget below that while these things didn’t make a huge dent they saved us near $200 overall.
Let me first make a few notes. In Month 1 we were leaving our hot water heater on 24/7. We noticed it was cutting on, if you will, nearly 10 times a day when we weren’t using any water at all. Come to find out it was engaging itself to keep the water at a very specific (I call it scalding) temperature. We have since begun cutting it off after the morning showers and then cutting it back on about 10 minutes prior to our daughters bathtime. Subsequently I have begun doing dishes at that same time. Once those tasks are done we allow it about 10 more minutes to heat back up and then we flip the switch for the night. In Month 1 we were also using our furnace to keep the fifth wheel a toasty 72°. We have since stopped using it (some because the weather has warmed up and some because we realized we were overusing it) and instead use only a small, thermostat controlled, space heater that works beautifully for the small space. Uses electricity but very little. In Month 1 we were in “exploration” mode so we drove a lot. Month 2 saw us driving less because we knew where things were, we had done many of the far-reaching tourist things, and we started doubling up on our trips out again. We also didn’t eat out as much. This wasn’t really a conscious decision but one made more because we found some good deals at the grocery and because as the days started getting longer we were far more inspired to grill outside. Lastly, due to prices at the grocery, we seemed to have cut our consumption of milk. This sounds crazy, right? Well, when milk costs almost $5 for a half gallon it makes perfect economical sense. We were spending almost $15/week on milk. We are not down to $10 or less. This goes for dairy product in general. For health and financial reasons we also eliminated coffee creamer. I am not sure of the cost of that but I think it reduced our grocery bill by $3/week. Not to mention it has major calories that we didn’t need. In terms of hygiene products we transitioned to larger “bulk-style” bottles that cost less but have more product. We also went for more traditional brands like Dove and Garnier that have good results but cost less. As for iTunes? Well, let’s just say Hulu better up the ante and be ready to catch me up on a couple of shows come spring time!
BY THE NUMBERS
From February 15, 2014 to March 15, 2014 these were our average monthly fixed costs:
|Auto Insurance||$policy pd.|
That means we were able to spend $266.19 less during this billing cycle than the first. Our major savings came from cutting our automobile fuel almost in half, reducing our eating out, having our auto insurance policy paid, reducing our propane use, and being mindful of toll roads when out on excursion.
NOTE: These figures do not include me sometimes going to Dunkin Donuts twice a week or us maintaining a MISC fund. The MISC fund it a separate budget and is used primarily for us – as a family – to visit a local landmark, museum, etc. as well as to offer our daughter local/regional experiences that often cost.
One additional note comes in the area of insurance. We had a lot of questions as to why we don’t include insurance premiums, deductibles, office visits, etc. Allow me to explain. I work a daily, corporate job. I am fortunate enough to tele-commute though (which allows us to be on the road). Because of said job our health insurance is considered one of my benefits and is deducted immediately from my gross income. Our budget is based entirely on our net income (paid twice monthly). As for office visits, we practice preventative healthcare and focus much time and energy on diet, exercise, and the use of essential oils (doTERRA primarily). We keep our expenses practically non-existent and have healthcare for emergency and catastrophic purposes almost exclusively. (This includes dental and vision although we do utilize our once-a-year cleanings and eye tests.)