Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Monthly Expenses – November 2017

Expenses - image

Every month, I post a report of our expenses to show that it is possible to live a comfortable, exciting and relatively adventurous life without breaking the bank. The less money you spend, the less you need to make. 🙂 That being said, Mark and I seem to manage one big expense a month for some reason, whether it is camper, plane, travel or computer-related. Luckily, we live totally rent-free, wherever we end up.

This report includes ALL of our expenses, in US$, for the two of us. Under groceries we incorporate all the food, produce and non-alcoholic drinks predominantly bought in supermarkets. Toiletries belong in that category as well. Dining out means eating at a restaurant/event or purchasing take-out food. The health category covers non-prescription medicines and Mark's vitamins and supplements; medical contains prescription drugs and doctor's visits.

Health insurance and costs are related to my health care as a permanent resident in the US. Mark is still eligible for free health care in the state of Massachusetts as of today. If a non-emergency were to happen outside of that state, it will be expensive! For check-ups, we both return to the East Coast. I still pay a small quarterly fee in Belgium for health care (required to retain citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

No matter how hard we try every month, since we took possession of our camper van Zesty in July, we can't stay under $1000 anymore. Maybe we should shoot for $1200 from now on, which appears to be more feasible. We really tried hard in October, using some tricks like selling our camping gear and using that money to buy parts for Zesty (it's like a trade, right?), postponing Amazon shopping until December, and only putting $25 of diesel in the van, keeping its use to a minimum. Luckily, we can walk to the grocery store from our current house in San Diego.

What blew the budget in November was our grocery category. Apart from stocking up our catamaran Irie in the past to sail to remote areas, we have never spent this much ($600) for one month of food. The main issues? We bought 10 pounds of "deluxe mixed nuts" (without peanuts) for $75 to last a while, and we continued the subscription of the home owner to receive a box of farm-fresh organic vegetables at our doorstep every week, which set us back $125. Mark being on the East Coast using his parents' car and taking care of himself didn't help the budget either. For December, we have cancelled the Wednesday veggie box (while tasty and good quality produce, the amount was skimpy for $25 a box) and we certainly don't need more of those super-healthy nuts!

November 2017 Overview:


Car (repair: $61, registration: $50, fuel: $52, parking: $31):


Gifts (birthday Liesbet):

Dining out:

Health insurance Liesbet:

Medical Mark:

Transportation (airport shuttle bus Mark):

Drinking out:

Skype Liesbet:

Charity (Best Friends):

Miscellaneous (new bike pedals):





















$ 1165


  1. Very impressive, Liesbet. You and Mark should teach classes!

    • Not a bad idea, Jill. But, we are a tad busy writing and running a business at the moment. Maybe in the future? Or, I might be able to whip out an e-book with “frugal tips” at some point. I’d love to write a few blog posts about this topic, whenever I decide to create more informative posts, instead of these “easy” personal ones about our adventures and lifestyle. 🙂

  2. Well done! We like to try and keep it around $1000 and in the summer when we were working at the campground that was feasible but not so much when on the road. $1200 is definitely a more logical target. Like you we like to eat real food and that always comes with a bit of a price tag.


    • We find our months “on the road”, or in the past “on the water”, to be a bit cheaper, since we can’t allow ourselves to buy a lot of groceries (no room) and stick to the bare minimum. Being in nature means less temptation to eat out. And, camper projects are postponed until we are “settled” for a bit and/or until we have an address to get things shipped to. Either way, we did much better with our finances before we had our camper. Now, acquiring parts for the van or for living in the van, plus the atrociously priced diesel in California blow the budget. But, there is more fun, excitement and adventure to be had! 🙂

  3. I’m impressed that you and Mark are able to live so comfortably (and so frugally) while living a fulfilling (and adventurous) life.

    • We try, Gabe. The more you spend, the more you need to make, right? 🙂 Sometimes, we feel like we are a bit too demanding and should allow ourselves a break, like to go out for dinner. Depending on how the months progress, and the area we are living in, we allow for more fun or not. Luckily, the best entertainment (like hiking and walking, blogging and taking photos) is free.


    December 14, 2017 at 11:37

    HI, Liesbet – I wholeheartedly support the idea of your turning your ‘expense posts’ into an e-book. I believe that it would be very well-received!

    • Thanks, Donna, but I would never turn those posts into a book. Quite boring. That being said, I’d love to create a book one day about the way we have been living on a budget and see the world, while giving practical tips combined with real-life experiences. 🙂

  5. I think your ability to live on 1200 is incredible. Good food is a priority and transportation does cost that’s for sure.Always interesting to read these posts Liesbet.

    • Thanks, Sue. I think we have to stop being so hard on ourselves and splurge once in a while, especially since the goal of $1000 seems unfeasible. We will stop trying so hard and just stick to our usual careful money spending behavior. We will see what the future brings. 🙂

  6. That’s amazing that you’re able to do this. My husband and I have been thinking of doing something similar for a while now, but the cost of health insurance would be too high for us if we left our jobs. If it’s ok to ask, how does Mark manage to get free health care in Massachusetts? That happens to be where we live. 🙂 But then, I guess it doesn’t help much if you’re always traveling. I’ll have to keep up with your adventures and hopefully we’ll see you out on the road someday!

    • Hi Sheila and welcome to the blog! Massachusetts is one of the few amazing states in this country when it comes to health care: Obama care, before the ACA was a thing! And, created by a Republican. Life is full of irony. 🙂

      We feel very fortunate to be residents in your state. The way payment for health care works in MA is based on income (not on assets or bank accounts). Because Mark (we) makes a little over minimum wage, we are in a very low tax bracket, which is reflected not only in our taxes, but also in the amount we pay for health care. If you were to quit your jobs and sign up for a different plan, you might be surprised at how cheap it would be. It would require some research, though, but it might be interesting for you to check out the options!

      Out of the state, we are only covered for emergencies. Mark is also covered for urgent care, which he recently had to use. We hope it won’t be a fight with the insurance company, but they pre-approved his visit to the clinic. We’ll see. Good luck! And, feel free to send me a private message any time (via the contact us form).

      • Thank you so much for those details! I’ll look into it and will hope to see you out on the road! I hope Mark is doing ok now.

        • I would be nice to meet you on the road, Sheila!!! It would be nice to get on the road full-time again for starters. 🙂 Still figuring things out in regards to Mark.

  7. You guys do an amazing job of budget. Don’t even get me started about the price of food here in Toronto. If you ever come here to house sit, bring more cash! LOL 🙂

    • Wow. Now, Toronto scares me. 🙂 But, we would probably visit in our camper, attempt to find free campsites, search for the cheapest grocery store and cook our own meals. What do you think? That might help, right? See you one of these summers. 🙂

  8. Too much spend on alcohol… It’s not a good thing..

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