Another day at the computer with calculator in hand . . .
The crew and I are still at Sawtooth Canyon Campground as Veteran’s Day Weekend winds down. Our neighbors left this afternoon, along with the rest of the rock-climbers and weekenders. It’s a bit warmer today with lots of sunshine, although we experienced it mostly through the BLT’s window blinds.
I’m proud to have completed five months of financial reports (See header).
We’ll be back to our regular programming, including the Canine Corner, starting with the next post!
I like the way you present your expenses. Much better than a spread sheet, more information in an easy to read format. Keep up the good work and stay warm.
I stayed warm today burnin’ up the keyboard! Thanks for the feedback.
You’ve been busy! Thanks for your reports; they are especially encouraging to those who dream of this lifestyle but fear their finances won’t stretch enough to support them.
I hope I’m giving people something to think about as they consider fulltiming.
This is just fantastic Sue! You are a wonder. Very inspiring. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this and post it. Must make you feel mighty fine too.
You’re welcome, Sherry. I procrastinate for months and then try to get it done in a day. I’ll fill in the missing months sometime soon.
Thanks for the information. Looking at this there may be a way for me to get out on the road sooner that I thought. Thanks again!
You’re welcome, Harriet. When I get all the months for 2012 posted, you’ll have a clearer picture. I think the contrast between stay-put months and travel months is interesting.
Big Thanks Sue! I’m taking many notes on all the inexpensive places you have camped. Good info and it gives me great hope that I can make this Fulltimer lifestyle work.
I would like to get a similar van. About how many MPG do you get on average?
You’re welcome, Tina. I’ve only calculated mpg during a short period when we went across southeastern Wyoming. I think I came up with 3 mpg figures. They ranged from 12 mpg. to 15 mpg. which I consider good, as that was towing the BLT in various conditions from stop-n-go to mountain grade to easy, flat interstate. The specs on a 2005 Chevy Express 1500 are 15-17 mpg, which is probably in optimum conditions without towing a trailer.
Thanks for all the invaluable information, Sue. I think you need a break from the figures, so I have an off-topic question. Do you use maps from BLM to find boon docking on that land, or do you rely on Benchmark maps? Thanks! DeAnne
That’s an easy question, DeAnne . . . The answer is both! I like to do an internet search using the key words “boondocking near (wherever).” I also ask other campers and local people. Fellow bloggers are very helpful, too.
Great to see that you can keep it in an average range of $1000 per month. I was wonderring about that. Thanks for the info Sue
My pleasure, Susan. Of course, we all know that life periodically hits the pocketbook with a sledgehammer. My day(s) will come. That’s why I try to save something every month.
Thanks for the information. How do you figure in your fixed expenses, i.e., insurances, vehicle registrations, etc
I’m not sure I understand your question, Mariah. Did you read the Recurring Expenses page? I add those expenses to the monthly out-of-pocket expenses at the bottom of each report.
Wow….you have been busy. Do you keep your “books” backed up on a stick in case? Someone else asked about an excel spreadsheet that will add up the monthly totals. Can’t remember if you use it.
Jules, who took a computer course as part of her disability rehab, offered to create one for our finances. All you have to do is input the information under each month. Well needless to say…..that was years ago and I STILL use an old style notebook and a ruler.
Love the numerous times you’ve spent “zero” for campsites. Without your solar panel and batteries..is the BLT not self contained? Meaning it has NO house battery and no way of charging?
Basically the amount spent on the panel/batteries (approx $500)….saves you $$ on hookups in the long run not to mention…ya can park it anywhere you want!
You have certainly done your homework…….and now “working it” to your advantage!
I appreciate the cheer!
Yes, the BLT is self-contained. It has a house battery. Before I obtained solar, I plugged the BLT in at electric hookups at campgrounds (or went w/o electric!).
Oh, I’m so proud of all the zero camping fee days. Feb. is my crowning achievement. 🙂
I keep my “books” the old-fashioned way. Some things are still more fun, hands-on. Maybe I miss using the handheld calculator that was in my hand every day I taught math!
Ah hah……………I would have guessed English.
I did have a few years of teaching “Lang. Arts” in grades 4-7.
What an awesome job you have done in sharing the ‘real’ nuts and bolts of financing the journey. It really does mean that you can live well on less AND live within what means you set. It appears that what you spend really comes down to how fast and how far you want to go in a month. So smart of you to plan for the day that the tough times seem to catch up with us all.
“How fast and how far” is a big factor, also where we camp, whether moving about or staying in one place. I was reluctant to be this open about finances. I’m glad I decided to go ahead with it. Thanks for writing.
Since it looks like gas prices are coming down a bit hopefully your travels back to Arizona and more of those 0 dollar days won’t cost as much as some of the gas during the summer. One other thing folks need to understand is that when you choose to economize and live really simply, things that some folks consider normal become delightful luxuries. When you don’t take extended showers each day, then a campground with free unlimited hot showers is delightful! I believe you enjoy life much more because you treasure the things that matter.
You are insightful, Reine.
Hi Sue, looking at your expenses, I also have Geico for the last 19 years, even now that I no longer full time and have no trailer, 73 years old, no ticket’s, no accident,s car only I’m still at $620 per year would love to compare policys…
There goes my mind racing again trying to save another dime..
Was going to ask the other day, Have you talked about the google ad sense program, and
I’m just not remembering it, if not what are your thought’s about it, I believe that with your following
you could add a nice little sum to your bottom line, just thinking,, Save travel’s
My first thought regarding your insurance is the newness of your car and whether you have collision coverage. I don’t have either of those things. Maybe you could benefit from asking GEICO about your premium, if you haven’t already done so. There was a time when loyalty to a company paid off. That’s not necessarily true any more. GEICO spends a fortune on advertising. Maybe they need to give you a break. I’d let them know that.
When I had credit card debt, I talked my way out of late fees and talked my interest rate down. I called up my satellite dish television company and told them I didn’t want their service anymore. They kept offering me a free month if I stayed with them. I kept saying no. They kept offering me more. I ended up with three free months of service! (And then I dropped them anyway.)
I have, of course, considered adsense, amazon, individual sponsors,etc. It would be wonderful if this blog could pay me. However, I believe you have to be way up in numbers like Tioga George for it to be worthwhile, and then you have to write in a way that feeds those ads. I don’t know a lot about it, and I welcome anyone with experience to enlighten me.
Hi Sue, Yes I do have collision even tho I drive a 1999 olds van, Ah thats the way it goes,, Sue I talked my dil into starting a blog back in 08 she bloged only about 4 times a mo.related to some sort of cooking.. she got about $80.00 from adsense don’t know if she ever got a check because you needed to make $100 before they sent one.. what I’m saying is that if she could do it with what she shared, you would do great… Have you read what Geoge has written about adsense he explains how it works.you can bring it up on his home page,,
Please email george and ask him to explain any other questions you may have, I know he would be more than happy to help you..
I’ll do that, John. Wow! Eighty dollars from blogging four times a month? She must be one heckuva blogger.
Sue she had the blog over a year. but has never bloged over 4 times in a mo.
Hi there,,, I am sure it is posted somewhere and I missed it (again) but have you summarized the initial investment purchase $ of the PTV, BLT and the upgrade/add-ons like the solar panels, batteries, brake controller and sway contraption? Gary was very impressed with the monthly numbers but asked me if I knew how much it cost you to get to this point & I couldn’t find it or remember!! Great postings, VERY helpful,, thanks for all your effort in communicating this to all of us armchair full-timers!
The PTV cost $8,500 and the BLT was a little over $18,000 (with most of the available options like high-rise axle, bigger tires, larger tanks, television). There are prices for the solar panels and batteries in the drop-down menu in the header. I don’t list the price of installation because friends did that, along with Sun Electric, so the figures wouldn’t represent what anyone else would pay. The sway bar was one of the Casita options ($89). The brake controller is a Tekonsha Prodigy, the invoice is buried somewhere and I don’t remember what I paid. You can sit in your armchair and search that one online! Hope this is what you and Gary wanted to know.
How is the road going into Sawtooth Canyon and Owl Canyons. ? have a small camper van but would like to take my big 32 footer. I can’t find much info on line. Thanks for your blog. I was born and raised here but never heard of these places.
The road to Sawtooth Canyon is called the Barstow Road (Route 247) and it’s paved. Once you’re off the paved highway, you travel a dirt road for less than a mile. As I write this it has very little washboard or ruts and a 32-footer would not be a problem. I’ve seen long Class As and trucks pulling horse trailers go in and out of here.
Owl Canyon requires travel over a few miles of washboard. There are some dips and turns as you approach the campground. Nina and Paul of Wheeling It blog (www.wheelingit.wordpress.com) stayed at Owl Canyon in their big rig and recommend the place. I second that!
Yes, I can confirm we got a 40-foot RV plus toad into Owl Canyon. Like Sue said it’s several miles of washboard, but it’s firm and wide. If I remember correctly there’s only one bigger “dip” right before you get into the campground which I gather can get washed out in big rains, but when it’s dry it’s no problem at all. And the sites there are definitely big enough for you. Simply lovely spot!
Thanks for adding that information, Nina. I noticed the dip was paved, maybe since you were there. It still might have water on it in big rains.
Excellent set of updates. I have no doubt the reports will be super-useful to others considering this lifestyle.
Thank you, Sue! The information you’re sharing is absolutely useful to anyone nearing or at retirement, whether or not they ever plan to live full-time on the road. At least I can see that it’s an option (looks like a great option to me), and it’s great stuff for dreamers. I remember studying and trying to translate Thoreau’s detailed expenses in Walden into modern dollars 🙂
That’s funny. Sounds like something I would do. The thing about Thoreau, I don’t think he had health insurance,vehicle insurance, internet, cell phone, vehicle repairs, mail forwarding service, gasoline, and camping fees to fit into his budget!
Awesome info, I’m sure that took some time to pull together! I track my expenses every month and enjoy the process as I am sure you do too with your math back ground. I am losing my health insurance on 12/1 of this year, and need to come up with a plan for that. Thanks so much for living in a glass house, so-to-speak.
You’re welcome, Ms. Minimal. I do feel a bit exposed in my glass house, but I’m getting over it.
Hi Sue! Been happily following your blog since the beginning of your travels but am only now posting. I admire your courage. I’m not sure I would be going outside at night to investigate anything. I’d be waiting inside until daylight. Of course then I probably wouldn’t get any sleep. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Oh, and go for the ads. You may have a lot more lurkers following your blog than you realize. Tioga George has a write up about it under his MsTioga Magazine section. No doubt you could email him for more info too.
Nice to hear from you, Cherie! I appreciate you sticking with us since the beginning. I’ve got a pretty good idea how many people are looking at my blog. I can look at analysis from sitemeter and WordPress. For example, yesterday there were 4,869 views of my blog. That number amazes me, but it’s small potatoes to Tioga George. I’ve read his magazine. You have me wanting to go back and read his ad article again.