Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Monthly Expenses – October 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. The utility category has disappeared, since we replaced our Skype phone service with Google Voice - the one-time fee for this was paid with our Skype reimbursement and there are no more monthly contributions.

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 keep my citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

Zesty the Westy continues to be our biggest expense: over $500 last month, mainly for fuel - we went on a long road trip visiting some national parks in Utah - and a high-altitude fuel pump so we could run our heater above 5000ft in Colorado and Utah. Not being cold anymore is worth something. We also spent $40 on accommodation - something we rarely do. Technically, I could record this amount under "travel". Usually, we overnight for free, but in Zion National Park we made an exception and paid for two nights of basic camping in the midst of the park's natural beauty.

All in all, October was not too crazy, considering we went on a two-week "vacation", exploring one of the most amazing states in this country, and Mark hopped on a plane to the East Coast. Next month, we are aiming to spend $1000 or less!

October 2017 Overview:

Car (Zesty parts : $294, diesel: $234, parking: $3):

Groceries:

Alcohol:

Dining out:

Health & Fitness (vitamins Mark):

Health insurance Liesbet:

Accommodation / Travel:

Clothing (pair of jeans Mark):

Household (camper items):

Drinking out:

Transportation (airport shuttle bus Mark):

Computer (hosting):

Charity (Best Friends):

Gifts:

Entertainment (slot machine Las Vegas):

 

TOTAL:

 

$531

$345

$97

$77

$45

$43

$40

$37

$33

$22

$22

$16

$10

$7

$2

---------

$ 1327

29 Comments

  1. I love the fact that you only spent $2 on a slot machine in Vegas. That’s smart. Very smart (we used to live there). And I’m looking forward to reading about your time in Zion. D and I camped there for a couple of weeks several years ago (it was still too cold to camp at Bryce) and loved it — the hiking was exceptional!

    • To be totally honest with you, Stephanie, it was actually $1, but we couldn’t account for one dollar finalizing our accounting, so I put it towards the slot machines. 🙂 We are not gamblers at all, but I just “needed” to do something like this in Vegas. I selected a machine, not knowing how it worked, and pressed buttons for 5 cents at a time. Pretty boring. Yeah… not our thing.

      Being a couple of weeks in Zion must have been a treat. I bet you could do almost all the hikes during that time. We had to pick a few and had busy days. It would have been nice to relax one afternoon as well and just take in the scenery.

  2. Even without being a Mennonite, as I once was, you manage to be quite frugal. I admire that. I wrote about tripping across the country with a friend of mine. We both kept a journal of expenses, very low since motel stays were shared and it was the 1960s for heaven’s sake: http://marianbeaman.com/2015/06/06/mennonite-girls-go-cross-country-part-2/

    • I have kept track of my expenses almost as long as I have been writing a daily diary, which started when I was 14. Especially when traveling, I enjoyed jotting down all the prices for everything. Keeping track keeps you frugal, or encourages you to take stock and do better the next month! Motels sure have gone up in price since then, I’m sure. It’s why I love traveling in our camper so much. I’ll be interested to check out your blog, Marian. Thanks for swinging by and leaving a comment!

  3. What a great thing to do!! Sharing each other’s knowledge helps so many to know “it can be done!”

    • Thanks! I hope to somehow inspire people with our way of living. One way to do so is share that you don’t need big amounts of money to live the life you desire. If that life is traveling on the road (or by sailboat). 🙂

  4. Not bad! I think we would get along fine.. hopefully bump into you on the road sometime. Not literally, of course!

    • Thanks for visiting us virtually, guys! It would be lovely to meet up one day. I can’t believe you are in the Caribbean right now. Sigh! Such good memories. We sailed around there for four years and are sure missing life in the tropics. Enjoy your (relaxing :-)) vacation!

  5. Enjoy reading your monthly expenses and all of your wonderful travels. Stay safe and may God Bless!

  6. $2 on the slot machine – too funny 🙂 Did you win big? We aren’t big casino people, but it’s great that so many of them offer free RV camping spots. Spending the $40 on a camping spot in Zion would really have been worth it.

    • I think everything you put in a slot machine gets eaten without remorse. We are not casino people at all, but we figured, when in Vegas… we at least should go to the (fancy) toilet in one of the casinos. Sure beats the bathroom in our van. We picked the Venetian for this.

      We don’t regret staying in Zion itself for two nights (as it was, we totally lucked out that they had availability), even though we could have saved $40. Sometimes, one has to splurge, right? 🙂

  7. You and Mark should be teaching money management to our younger generation. 🙂 It’s surprising how much money you can save by cooking at home rather than eating in restaurants.

    • That’s for sure, Jill. Eating out once in a while is nice and keeps it special, but when I first arrived in the US, I was amazed at how many people buy lunch at, or around, work every day, instead of taking a sandwich or salad from home. At, say ten dollars a day, imagine what that adds up to on a yearly basis! I often want to focus this blog more on “frugal living”, and then on “house sitting”, and then on “travel”, and then on photos of our past adventures… Too few hours in a day! 🙂

  8. I would love to go back to Zion (or any of the parks in S Utah). Your $2 (or was it $1?) in the slot machine is too funny! And $2 more than we did. I don’t think any of us will be calling on Gamblers Anonymous.

    • Haha. Same here, Anabel. Mark was “mad” at me for spending a precious dollar in one of the casinos, but it was still an experience, alright… 🙂 Oh, those parks in Southern Utah… I wonder whether anything tops them?? Tough call!

  9. The Zion NP cost also seemed worth it to me when I visited. Entrance fees to many of the popular USA national parks will be increasing by a lot in the future, so I feel lucky to have visited so many of them already. Good luck with maintaining your budget in the coming year!

    • While the National Parks we have visited in the East and New Mexico charged $20 (or less) per vehicle, Bryce and Zion were $30. Luckily, we have a pass, which has come in more than handy. I think it is something we want to buy every year we are in the US, if for nothing else, to support the NP service. Camping at $20 a night was actually “affordable”, compared to other major parks, so we felt it was worth it.

      I really don’t know why it is so hard for us to stay under or around $1000 a month, without having to pay rent. Every month, we are like “How did this happen? Where did it all go?” We need to do better next year! 🙂

  10. Not bad, Liesbet! I just read your post about your vacation in Budapest and Anabel’s, too. I’m flying there this weekend. Be well!

    • Hey, Natalie, have fun in Budapest!!! An affordable and interesting city to do in a long weekend (I hope you get an extra day for the 11th off as well). Enjoy the architecture, the ruin bars and maybe one of the baths.

  11. Two dollars on a slot machine in Vegas. That is some serious will power. As you said in a previous comment it’s jut not your thing. Seems like a good trait! on a completely different note, what time of year do you think it would be best to visit Zion? We haven’t been and would love to in the future.

    • I would say late spring or early fall would be the best times for a visit to Zion, Sue. That being said, we went towards the end of October and were very happy to have done so – despite the timing being out of our hands. The weather was perfect for hiking and the fall colors were incredible. And, I assume, the crowds were smaller than in early fall. Not sure whether you have been to any of the other parks we visited (see next blog post), but Zion would not be our first choice, if you had to pick one.

  12. I’m always impressed by your frugality! Am interested in learning more about your switch from Skype to Google Voice. Did you write a post on that or could you tell me more here?

    • You know I don’t write any posts about useful stuff, right? Mark knows better how all this went. I just know that it is much cheaper, that we can text now and that there are even more advantages to doing so. What set the change off, was that Skype does not allow personalized voice mails anymore, which we need for the business and for ourselves. Because of all the spam, we barely pick up our personal phone and therefore, a personalized message was important. We had just paid our yearly fee of $30 to Skype, to keep our phone number. Mark researched Google Voice. It took about two weeks, to change over the phone number, which involved a lot of patience, buying a cheap plan for the phone to grab the number and than transferring it to Google Voice. We managed to get a refund from Skype. That money covered the SIM card plan and the initial, one-time fee for Google Voice ($20?) that had to do with the phone number transfer. So, now all that is done. We keep our number, didn’t spend extra money, and we loose the monthly $3 Skype fee as well. Hope this makes sense. If not, I’ll ask Mark to explain it. 🙂

  13. I imagine having to account for your spending in such a public way each month really helps keep it in check. At least, it would for me.

    And yes, not being cold is priceless.

    • I guess you have a point there. I usually try to keep spending as low as possible for myself and for future use of the funds, but it does give me a feeling of accountability (and guilt), if we can’t stick to our goal of $1000 a month. Maybe next time? We are trying to use the van as little as possible in November, to keep that expense category down! 🙂

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