Is RVSue really “living on less and enjoying life more?”

Maybe it’s the cold weather.  I don’t know.

Instead of moving to a warmer camp, it being Veteran’s Day Weekend, the crew and I remain holed up in the BLT.

I devote most of the day to gathering up recent receipts and checking various accounts in order to put together some financial information to share with you.

I may have made some errors, but at least it’s a start.

The first six months of this year, friend and blog reader, Reine Trent, has done whatever accountants do to make my money make sense.  Excel spreadsheet, cumulative amounts, subtotals, that sort of thing.  Really professional.  Unfortunately I don’t know how to insert a spreadsheet into WordPress.  It might not even be possible.

All her beautiful work (if a spreadsheet can be considered beautiful) is unavailable to you.

Darn it.  Thank you, Reine.  I do plan to use your figures for reports on the first half of 2012.  Instead I offer in a drop-down menu from the header, my amateurish attempts to make sense of my expenses.  I hope over time and with your suggestions and corrections, my blog will present a clear picture of how rvsue and her canine crew manage to live the life they do on a small income.

Let me know what you think!

There are five pages as of this post:

Click on the words “Financial Reports” in the header at the top of this page to drop down a menu.

1)  Click on “Recurring Expenses” to see my regular bills.

2)  Click on monthly reports for January, February, August, and October.

I’ll fill in the missing months for 2012 soon.



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
This entry was posted in Simple living and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

84 Responses to Is RVSue really “living on less and enjoying life more?”

  1. Cathie L says:

    Sounds like you may need a few more cold days of staying in the BLT to get all that accounting done! :)))

  2. Tina says:

    Hi Sue,

    Thank you in advance for publishing the numbers soon to come. It will be a great benefit to others who plan on hitting the road and travel like you. It is very chilly indeed!


  3. Jack says:

    If you still have money at the end of the month or break even call it good. If not cut out an item or two, then continue on! Details are boring, enjoy life!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Jack! I’ve used the “more coming in than going out” method of accounting for years. Worked pretty well . . .

      • Ed says:

        I am on that system also. I pay for almost everything with my credit card then when I get the monthly bill I pay it off in total. If I can not then something extraordinary happened and I know about it even before the billing and make future monthly plans.
        For you to reveal your expenses has limited value to others in my opinion. You have been ‘working’ for years to get your lifestyle to match your expected retirement income. Very few people do that.
        I find that most people spend however much they have plus however much they can borrow. When they retire and go full time on the road that is a very hard habit to break.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Gee, Ed. Isn’t there more than “limited value” to all my work? Several people here have said it is helpful. I agree, my budget is not going to make misers out of spendthrifts!

          I do think sharing my income and expenses helps people who are in a similar retirement income bracket as I am (in other words, modest, fixed income, not anywhere near wealthy)… It helps them to envision whether fulltiming is possible for them. Here on my blog they can compare my lifestyle with the money it takes to support it. Doesn’t that have some value to wannabes? It would’ve helped me.

          • Ed says:

            Sue, I sorry that you thought my ‘limited value’ comment was disparaging of all the work that you put into gathering the expense details. That was not my intent. It is just my opinion that you could have said that you live on $1,580/mo and have offered as much value since people live such different lives. I know that people have said that the expense detail provided by Tioga George and RV Dreams, as well as you, was valuable – just not for me.

  4. Susie says:

    Sue, your financial records are great. Thank you for sharing your expenses and income. Looks like we might make it if we live life more with less.

  5. Timber n' me says:

    Timber ses, my dad works on his on th’ end of each month, for th’ nex month, n’ everythin’ works out, Stayin’ warm?, Bridget, Spike, OOOOhhhhhh,OOOOOOHHHHHHHH,WWWWOOOOOOOOOO,come on summer.

  6. Pat says:

    I gave up on keeping track of what I spent. I have had to watch my pennies for years, so it is natural for me to do it now I have money left every month, so
    I guess I am doing good.. Simple living can be more fun ..

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Whatever works for you, Pat! This information is important for me, especially when planning for travel. I need to know what I can do and what I shouldn’t do! It would be easy for me to lose track of living economically.

  7. Mel (Melanie from NV) says:

    I looked at your finance tab… cold days come in handy occasionally!!! The format is clean and easy to understand Just a couple quick question/comments for further clarification. I am assuming the “re-occuring expenses” are fed taxes on SSI, PTV & BLT Insurance, Medicare premiums and/or Medicare Gap Ins or ?? Might help to break out the detail for fixed monthly $ on it’s own separate “page” The total would continue to be listed in Month but detail available to change & review on demand, in one place. I think a breakout would also help others compare their own insurance/tax liabilities for a personalized budget… Also, are you “setting aside” any of the savings for a dedicated PTV/BLT maint/repair fund or emergency? Stay warm….

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Mel,

      Did you see the separate page for fixed monthly? (There are two pages.) I’m not sure what you mean by “breakout,” if that’s something more than what I posted, or if you just didn’t see that page.

      Yes, I set up an “emergency fund” before I set out to fulltime. My savings add to that.
      I’m not old enough for Medicare.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Two pages:
      Click on Financial Reports for recurring expenses.
      Click on October 2012 for summary and financial report for October.

  8. patricia Leonhardt says:

    Hi Sue, Mel had my thoughts too. Are you saving for repair or an emergency? Heaven forbid! I am curious about your meals. The little freezer can hold only so much? Do you stock up with can goods? I can remember several times throughout your blog, you getting a rotisserie chicken for you and the kids. When you stay out for say, 14 days in a free spot, are you close enough for a grocery run most times? I think that would be hardest on me, leaving my own little BLT alone while making grocery or laundry runs. Your budget looks great though, very doable!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Patricia,

      I have an emergency fund and a few investments. The emergency fund is for such things as non-covered medical and repair/maintenance/tires, etc. for the PTV and BLT.

      Alabama Hills was a great camp because Lone Pine was a few minutes away with a good grocery store. When I’m not on the Dukan Diet which requires frequent trips to the grocery store, I can stretch the time between trips by eating from my stockpile of canned soups and vegetables, pasta, rice, cheese, chicken sausage, hot dogs. I’m not a big meat-eater.

  9. rvwayoflife by Lindadeeza says:

    Hi Sue, If you can convert the Excel spreadsheet into a PDF, you can upload the PDF just like you do pictures. The spreadsheet won’t show up in the blog but if you name the PDF, that name will show up. If we want to see the Excel spreadsheet, all we would need to do is click on the name of the file and the PDF will open. It sounds like a lot of work but once you do it, it is easy. But then again, you are not living your life to cater to us. I too am very curious about re-occurring expenses. I so much enjoy your posts. I don’t comment much but want you to know I read every single post of yours. So if you don’t hear from me, don’t think I’m not out here.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Nice remarks at the end of your comment, Linda. Thank you.

      Did you not see the page about recurring expenses? You’re the second person to ask this question. If you saw that page (called “Financial Reports”, not “October 2012”), then let me know what additional information you are requesting. On that page I list the recurring expense, the amount, and the company I pay for that service.

      • rvwayoflife by Lindadeeza says:

        Ok, I got it now. I think we are all clicking on October 2012. This is GREAT. Thanks

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      OMG . . . How terribly overwhelming. Thank you for the tutorial video. I don’t have Google documents. I’ll have to study all this on another day. Do I have to upgrade my WordPress account to allow for embedding a spreadsheet/

      • Bob Giddings says:

        If you have a google mail address, you have google documents for free, up to 5 Gig. I know nothing of the various “grades” of a WordPress account.

        There are probably other ways to do it. These are just the first couple of results from a brief search on the subject.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          No, I don’t have a google email address, though I could get one, of course. A long time ago I tried to post the spreadsheet following some instructions and I hit a snag along the way and gave up. Can’t remember what it was… I appreciate you trying to help me. Now that I’ve set up a new format, I guess I’ll stick with it.

  10. Sherry says:

    It’s clear the answer to the title question is a resounding YES! Not only are you living BENEATH your means but you have 32% of your income going into savings while you are out enjoying it more. I am very impressed. Thank you for this information. I know it will help encourage lots of others to believe they too can do it..

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Sherry. I realize that “living on less” is a subjective, relative phrase. I’m living on a lot less than I used to before retirement. I hope it’s helpful to others. It’s totally against my nature to share something as personal as finances. I’m trying to improve my character. Now that’s optimism. 🙂

  11. Kim says:

    Sue – thanks for so generously sharing this info in order to enlighten the rest of us. P.S. There is a Casita parked next to me here in a campgroundin New Smyrna, FL. I love Casitas (used to have a 16-footer) and I’m just dying to go over there and pester them about their rig. I’ll refrain. For now.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Aren’t you the one who opted for a different rig? I forgive you for that, but now you’re feeling the dreaded Casita-envy.

      • Kim says:

        Yes. I ended up with a Roadtrek and couldn’t be more pleased. I loved our Casita (and wouldn’t consider any other towable) but I don’t miss hitching etc …. You probably haven’t seen my blog in a long time. I was finally able to leave the driveway!

  12. Donna D. says:

    RVSue, I REALLY appreciate you taking the time and being so giving in sharing your finances with us. I have wondered for years how people who full time can finance their lifestyle. Yours is the first that I have seen that has made it seem do-able for me. Everyone else’s seemed to be backed by online investing, or having big pensions or IRA’s none of which I have or will be able to do. It seemed they would spend closer to $2000 a month. I am 61 and hope to eventually full time within the next five years. I had hoped to already be doing that but things happen and I find it’s not feasible for a bit. I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to reading more about your adventures!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Donna, your comment makes posting the financial pages in my blog worth the effort!

      To be frank, I admit my financial situation is not the securest. It would be comforting to have a larger income and more savings, but I’m thankful for what I have.
      Some people (I’m not talking about you here) put off fulltiming or doing what they want until they have everything tied up in a pretty bow of security. I’d rather take the risk and win the prize — the life of my dreams.

      Good luck to you as you plan your future. At first it didn’t seem possible for me, and I had to put in some more time before I could do what I wanted. I wish you the best.

      • Donna D. says:

        I laughed at the idea of having “everything tied up in a pretty bow of security.” Wow, wouldn’t that be nice? Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that, even for those who think they DO have the bow. Life is about change.

        I agree that waiting for that moment, leaves many people in the dust and I am hoping that I don’t have to wait any longer than necessary. I was fortunate that I took the chance and made a couple of my dream trips actually happen. One, a 10 day trip visiting ancient Mayan sites in Mexico. The other, a month in Australia that included 2 weeks on my own in a rented class C driving through the desert from Sydney to the center of the continent and back seeing sites along the way. Some of your recent photos remind me of that trip. I want more of that! Thanks again

  13. cinandjules says:

    I was wondering about your “books” last night.

    No matter what your expenditures are .. …your way of life is truly priceless!

    Stay warm…………..and enjoy!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’ll take that as a “yes” for “enjoying life more!”

      • cinandjules says:

        Great……………that’s what life is about! Living your dash….with no should have , would have, could have…………..:)

        • Donna D. says:

          I’d forgotten about that phrase, “Living your dash.” I love it. Thanks for the reminder!

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          cinandjules . . .I had never heard that phrase before. I thought it was a typo, but couldn’t figure out what you meant to type!

          • cinandjules says:

            It’s a poem by Linda Ellis

            How Do You Live Your Dash?
            by Linda Ellis
            Linda’s Lyrics

            I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning…to the end. He noted that first came her date of birth And spoke the following date with tears, But he said what mattered most of all Was the dash between those years. (l900-l970)

            For that dash represents all the time That she spent alive on earth… And now only those who loved her Know what that little line is worth. For it matters not, how much we own; The cars…the house…the cash, What matters is how we live and love And how we spend our dash.

            So think about this long and hard… Are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left, That can still be rearranged. If we could just slow down enough To consider what’s true and real, And always try to understand The way other people feel.

            And be less quick to anger, And show appreciation more And love the people in our lives Like we’ve never loved before. If we treat each other with respect, And more often wear a smile… Remembering that this special dash Might only last a little while.

            So, when your eulogy’s being read With your life’s actions to rehash… Would you be proud of the things they say About how you spent your dash?

  14. tinycamper says:

    Sue, it would bother me to share my financial info, too. But that info is so helpful. I’m impressed with how far you stretch your money and save, too. Thank you!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome. Yes, laying it all out there for the world to see makes me wince . . . seems too personal and so crass. I weighed the pros and cons of being open about my finances. I decided to “get over myself” and be helpful to people who wonder if they can live like I do.

      One thing I do know how to do is stretch a dollar!

  15. Louise says:

    Thank you so much for this, Sue. It is so encouraging to see someone doing so much and enjoying so much on a modest budget. I’m hoping to follow your example, possibly as soon as next summer.

    I have come to the conclusion that ‘security’ is overrated. For me, the combination of medical catastrophe and the housing crash wiped out everything I had — and I’m not alone in that. It’s surprisingly freeing. Now that my health has stabilized, I have no qualms about the wisdom of changing my life to travel in a small trailer while living on disability benefits and guarding a small emergency fund. Life can be very good.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I am happy to hear your health is under control, Louise. Your new attitude is wonderful! I like the phrase you used…”no qualms.” Instead of becoming bitter by financial losses, you are looking forward to a new, adventurous life, and have a new perspective to carry you there.

      I’ve experienced a similar feeling of freedom, once I was no longer encumbered with house and possessions.

      I’m pleased that the posting of my finances has encouraged you. I hope you are able to get out on the road yourself soon.

      • Louise says:

        Oh, I was bitter for a while, believe me! Especially when I could barely walk across a room, and between the housing crash and the mortgage company, I wasn’t going to have a room to walk across! I got over it. Life is too short, and the world is too big, to waste energy on the past.

        Sue, you really are an inspiration. I don’t comment often, but I do read every post. Thank you for writing a blog!

  16. gingerda says:

    wow, I think you are doing great with your lifestyle, and budget. To have that much savings every month is amazing. I can see right now I can’t afford to live like you do on my income, unless I dip into my savings every month. I need to learn how to stretch a dollar better too. Thanks for being so open about everything.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Ginger,

      I think you’ll have a better idea of what is possible once I’ve posted more monthly reports. I spent a lot on gas in October. It’s not necessary to travel as much as I did. I expect I’ll post some months where I didn’t spend as much.

  17. mitchell says:

    Hi Sue,

    We don’t know each other but somehow I found your blog about a month ago and have read every post since. I hope to be “out there” next year and hopefully run into you someday.

    Just a suggestion but …….I would put your Recurring Monthly Expenses under a subheading just like you have your October Expenses. Having it under the main heading I think is why people are missing it …they don’t realize it’s there. i.e., if you put your cursor over Financial Reports, the only thing that shows up is the Oct subheading. People don’t realize they can also click on the Financial Reports Main heading and that is where your Recurring Monthly Expenses are.

    I don’t know if I explained that very well ….I apologize if I didn’t.

    Like you, I feel uncomfortable talking about my finances. But like others have said, I appreciate you doing so. Helps me in making my future plans and makes me realize I can do it. So thank you!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Good suggestion. I’ll play with it. The only reason I did it that way is I didn’t want people clicking on Financial Reports and getting a blank page… (hard to explain)… It’s the “parent page.” I’ll see what I can do.

      Good luck with your plans, Mitchell!

      • mitchell says:

        Yes, I think that’s better.

        Ooops! and I just read your About RVSue. I’ll retract my “hopefully run into you someday” comment and respect your solitude. 🙂

        Actually I’m quite amazed …for the most part, I could have been reading about myself.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          You’re an okay guy, Mitchell. Another loner, huh? Your Oooops! gave me a chuckle.

          • mitchell says:

            OK, loner it is …but not a serial killer! …and that gave me a chuckle.

            Actually, I have friends and can get along with most people …when I want to.:) Just seems more and more I prefer my solitude. And honestly for the most part I prefer the company of animals over people.

            Like someone else said, I may not comment very often but I’m out here and I look forward to your posts. So you keep writing and I for one will keep reading. I find your posts inspirational.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Mitchell… I followed your suggestion and it’s much better. Thanks again!

  18. geogypsy2u says:

    You are very frugal. Plus nice that you haven’t incurred debt as most do. I’ve always said it’s cheaper to live on the road. Life doesn’t have to be expensive. Thanks for sharing this so others can see it’s doable. Cold here too.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I hate debt. I had it at one time and it was like wearing sandbags on my shoulders. I’d rather go without. One thing about living in a 17-foot trailer, it pretty much makes recreational shopping impossible… There’s no place or need for extra things! Geez, it is cold.

  19. Laurie says:

    I have a question about your Insurance for PTV and BLT. I think I read one time that when you live in your RV full time you have to have different insurance? Your monthly bill seams very low to me and i wondered do they have full coverage and liability for RV’s also?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Laurie,

      I think one reason my insurance premium seems low is the PTV is almost 8 years old and it’s not a high-end vehicle. I don’t carry collision. When I bought the BLT I called GEICO and they added RV coverage for the BLT. It does not have full replacement cost coverage, which is a risk I’m taking. If the PTV and BLT become a total loss (highly unlikely), I would take a hit, but I’d get past it. I’m sure some will think I’m crazy not to have it. Time will tell.

      Once the RV is 5 years old they don’t offer full replacement to anyone. There is coverage for severe damage from all sorts of natural and manmade disasters, as well as the expenses of being put out of your RV.

  20. Reine says:

    I think the key to a successful retirement is to live BENEATH your means for many years before retirement so you’re not expecting so much when you retire. If you really think about it, there are lots of things we spend money on that we don’t really need.

    Since I’m the one that kept the spreadsheet, I can make a couple of comments. For the first six months of 2012, Sue had 102 days when she had $0 – that’s ZERO – expenses. I think one of the great things to come out of this blog is that folks can see how Sue created a plan, followed the plan and is enjoying the payoff. Those 102 days were part of her plan to enable her to spend more traveling this summer and fall and stay within budget.

    This all works because she saved like crazy for 7 years so she could pay CASH for the PTV, BLT and the necessary expenses to set it up the way she wanted such as the solar and Wave 3 heater.

    Way to go Sue!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Gee, Reine, you make me sound so smart! I love that you mentioned my 102 zero days. I’m very proud of that.

      “She saved like crazy for 7 years.” I’m proud of that, too. I wouldn’t buy a stick of gum, skipped meals, no recreation costs, turned off the heat pump, no A/C, thrift store clothes, no jewelry, no magazines, books, or newspapers, no vacation trips… To this day I’ve never had a Starbucks coffee! I’d say “those were the days” but they weren’t… THESE are the days!

      The strange thing is I used to have to buy my middle school math students their notebook paper when theirs ran out in October every year. A small percentage of the parents of my 100 students or so realized that the school supplies bought at the beginning of the year won’t last until the end of May. I was a split-personality… scrimping for my future and spending for my students’ future!

      Reine, your suggestions/corrections are encouraged. Thanks again for all you’ve done for me. I’ll never forget that first camp with you and Paul at Navarro Mills, Texas!

      • Reine says:

        We won’t forget that camp either. It was fun getting to help out a little on your adventure. I’m constantly telling folks, especially camping folks about your blog. There are lots of folks that have dreams but not the smarts to identify what’s necessary to actually live them and then the gumption to follow through and make lasting memories.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Reine! You gave me a fun idea. I’ll post the number of “zero camping fee” days each month. There were 18 in October.

  21. becki says:

    Hi sue – see from your financial you use straight talk. Have you been please w/ their service?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Straight talk has worked well for me, but that doesn’t mean it will work well for everyone. I don’t use the phone much. I purchased my first cell phone about six years after the people I worked with did . . . and I had a 45 minute commute. I didn’t want to spend the money! If I make three calls in a month, that’s a lot. I have mostly it for 911 and for calling emergency road service, if needed.

  22. Marsha from MI says:

    Hi Sue – one thing you can do to post information from your Excel spreadsheet is to highlight what you want to share, copy and paste it in Paint (which is located in Accessories which you can access from your Start menu). You can then save it as a .jpg and then just post it to your blog like you would a picture.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Interesting suggestion, Marsha. I’ll have to think about that. I appreciate you explaining an alternative. Dimensions are a consideration… the blog page is narrow.

  23. rvsueandcrew says:

    Message to Rattlesnake Joe: I moved your comment to one of my private folders, per your request. I appreciate you caring enough about me and the crew to share this. I am not dismissing what you wrote. I want you to know that.

  24. Garri Ann says:

    You have struck a chord with my cyber self, Sue! Upload that Excel sheet to Google Drive (open a gmail account, if you don’t have one). Click the box to convert it to a Google Spreadsheet (so everyone can enjoy it, if they don’t have Excel on their computer). Once in your Drive, Share > Allow Anybody with the Link to View … voila! Post that link and we can all see your sheet by just clicking on it.

    I’m a Google FREAK, so it drives me bonkers to see people limit what they can do with their magic machines.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Garri Ann! I’ll take another look at posting Excel. I’m going to postpone that though. I think the format I’ve set up is reader-friendly and I’m already deep into putting the other months together in that same format. Don’t go bonkers in the meantime . . .

      Thank you.

  25. Laurie says:

    You Rock Sue ! Or maybe since you RV I should say roll. Thanks for the financials they really help. I thought Fortuna was a secret site, even though I had already figured it out by a little sleuthing on Google Earth. LOL! Happy that you share your sites and your RV life with us. I like the finance format you have because you add some context and not just numbers.
    Happy Travels!

  26. Connie & Mugsy says:

    Must be nice to have such an affordable insurance premium. As a single early 60s female, my premium has been $580 a month and it barely pays squat for anything – and that has been my only option up until this year in ND. Thank goodness next summer I will be eligible for Medicare.

    So my health insurance premium alone is darn near double your normal monthly expenses. And that is for a very healthy individual… non-smoker, non drinker, and almost no medications. It is differences like this that make comparisons between individual budgets difficult. But it does help people remember what they need to plan for…

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Connie, that’s terrible! No one should have to pay that much. My premiums are going up next year, but nowhere near what yours are. I nearly choked when I saw that number.

  27. cinandjules says:

    A sixty-something woman living alone fulltime in a 17-foot fiberglass “egg-on-wheels” with two dogs?
    Posted on April 21, 2011
    You’re kidding me, right?
    No, I’m not kidding! I’m going to live a simple life fulltime in a 17-foot camper. I’ll equip it with solar panels so I can live off-grid. God willing, I’ll take it to mountains and streams and deserts and plains, to state parks, city parks, public lands and forests. And I’ll live this way with a whole lot more enthusiasm than money.

    Back then I would have said,”Follow your dreams girl!” Present day is “You’re living your dreams!”

  28. Mike Davis says:

    RV sue, Great writing and blogspace. I’m going back to the beginning to catch up. I was laughing so hard about the bird thief, I had to read it to my wife so she could get a kick out of it also.

    I read about you wishing to travel Mexico and thought I would mention this blog: They really know how to stretch a dollar, even down in Mexico.

    I feel better knowing you are armed and protected.
    Be safe and have those great adventures every day.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello to you, Mike, and your wife… Welcome to my blog! I’m happy you like it.

      Wow! The bird thief story takes me waaaay back. I think you’ll get a kick out of the entry about my first experience with a firearm. I leave you with that teaser . . .

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