Return to A Deliberate Year

A Small Accounting

Georgetown, TX

In the odd moments between watching the air balloons sail by at the end of the street this morning, I've been fooling around with Quicken, and have come up with a few averaged fulltiming expenses that may be of interest to those who are considering the glorious folly of it all.

I've been retired a little over two years now, traveling 6 or 7 months a year. I travel alone, pulling a fifth wheel trailer, and almost always dry camp in the woods or stay in a National Forest or similar public campground. I think I've spent perhaps 4 nights in commercial campgrounds in all that time. So in that way I thought my preferences would allow me to get by pretty cheap.

On the other hand, I do pretty much anything I want to, EAT OUT A LOT, and think nothing of driving 200 miles on a whim. I was going to say "out of my way", but since I don't have a way, there's nothing much that's out of my way, this side of the Rapture.

The list below does not include repairs or tires or anything large in the way of maintenance. Maybe an oil change or two. All gas is accounted for. I get about 8 mpg with the trailer, 12 without. Some camping fees and groceries were doubtless swept into the grandly amorphous and chaotic "Cash/misc." category.

The main difference between the two years is that in 2003 I covered a lot more ground, going north from Texas as far as Edmonton and then across and down the west coast from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to San Diego. The latter part mostly within sight of the ocean. In 2004 I spent my entire time traipsing aimlessly around Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

All sums are averaged over 5 months, July through November. "Groceries" means anything you can buy at a grocery store.

2003 Monthly average2004 Monthly average
Gas - $517$417
Camping Fees - $127$235
Groceries - $122$325
Cash/misc. - $1101$812
Noncash Meals -$48$24
Totals $1915$1813

One revelation here is that there was only a hundred a month saved by staying in one place for weeks at a time versus moving almost every day. I suppose long trips were replaced by many small ones. Wiggly extended lines of travel supplanted by vibrating circles on the map.

So much for shoestring theory.

I paid more for campsites in 2004, preferring electric sites for multi-night stays. Not much was saved by buying more groceries versus eating out every day. The money was just shifted from a semi-accurate category to an irritatingly vaguer one. I was surprised at that.

Of course, I wasn't at all rigorous about cooking, and still ate out when convenient. You might say convenience is my middle name. And I didn't try to subsist on gruel, or compete with the tree rodents for nuts and berries.

I called 2004 my deliberate year, thinking to go slow and save money.

Right. You may now add ill laid plans to those that gang aft agley.


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