We have been asked on several occasions how we can afford to “camp” all the time or to travel full-time. The important thing to remember is that traveling and living a nomadic lifestyle is our “everyday.” We don’t own a sticks ‘n bricks. We have no mortgage. We don’t pay homeowners insurance or taxes of that sort. Other than a few dollars here and a few dollars there (yes, we still pay $25.11/month to keep our utilities on our North Carolina land hooked up and operable as well as a nominal fee to have our DSL “on vacation” rather than shut off altogether) our monthly is quite similar to that of a more conventional home.
Having said that, it is probably important to also say that we don’t have a micro-budget but rather a generalized one that is broken into some major categories:
- Income (net)
- Tithes and Offerings
- Truck payment
- Travel Trailer loan payment
- Eating Out
- Campsite rental
- Utilities (when not included with site)
- Misc. Entertainment
Our truck payment and travel trailer payment are automatically deducted so it is if our net income is a straight base salary without having to make sure we meet those obligations. Our fuel is slightly augmented because we travel regularly and subsequently get less efficient gas mileage. Our propane is a regular expense as we sometimes run our hot water heater off propane and cook all the time with it. Our groceries are much the same as any house. We eat three times a day on average and make a weekly menu to stay within our budget and dietary concerns. We do eat out but not like we are “on vacation” but rather on special occasions or when we plan it. It is rarely a last minute, half-thought. Our campsite rental is the same as rent or a mortgage although it is a regularly varying figure based on location and duration. Our utilities are based entirely on the campsite provisions. However, we always know in advance if we are going to be responsible for those fees and we plan accordingly. Lastly our misc. entertainment is always a budget concern because we don’t like to use a credit card and we like to plan so we can take advantage of discounts or possible deals.
Having said that below is a spreadsheet shot of our Q4 figures.
From mid-August when we first hit the road we have covered little geographic ground but enjoyed a number of our favorite places in the Southeast and Smoky Mountain regions including Asheville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Nashville, Chattanooga, and plenty of stops in between. In our opinion we did great sticking to a reasonable budget spend just over $5k so far for 4 months of fulltiming. We are on course to spend just $6500 for Q4 (plus a month) of 2014 which would give us reason to believe that our yearly budget comes in just under $30k (adjust for some realistic padding).
Please note that this is for a family of 3 with a brand new pickup truck (our first brand new vehicle ever!) and a desire to try regional foods and drinks at each stop. The number could certainly be adjusted with more boondocking, more coupon and local-grocer friendly shopping, etc.