Friday, November 16, 2012

Budgeting on the Road During the Holidays

With the holidays looming we can't help but look at our finances.  We have normal travel expenses - camp fees which range from $350 - $600 a month.  Sometimes those fees include utilities and sometimes they don't.  If the camp fee doesn't include utilities we usually pay around $100 a month for electric.

Usually we have dental appointments at the end of the year and hope there are no cavities.  With eight of us there usually is and our insurance only covers so much.

Since we are from Missouri, we have personal property tax due December 31st.  What a terrible time of the year to have to pay taxes!  We get taxed every year on what vehicles we own and our ATVs, UTV, and camper.  This year it is about $700 for us.  Then we have Missouri State Tax due in April.

With six kids, the cost of presents can get high, fast. There is not a lot of room in the camper so we have to buy less than when we had a house.  For every toy brought in one is brought out.  I have found a way to pack a lot of their toys in the back room but there is not enough room for all of them. When we go back to Missouri we trade out toys with some that are packed in a storage trailer.

The most asked question about our trip is -

"How can you afford it?"

Shae is an engineer for a telecommunications company.  We are so thankful for a job during this economy and then also for a job that he can do from home.  His company doesn't care where he is as long as he has cell phone signal and internet.

Cody and Hanna, my two oldest children, are doing bible school on line as well as working on our blog and website.  We try to make money from our internet businesses.

Travel isn't cheap.  We knew we wouldn't be saving any money by going on the road full time.  Many people that travel stay free in national forests or boon dock elsewhere.  For us, it is hard to boon dock anywhere.  Usually where we boon dock there is no cell signal.  So, we stay at campgrounds.  Not only that. by the time we pay for the gas to run the generator, with gas prices as high as they are and have been, it is cost effective to stay at a campground for a month that might average $12 a night.  We have to do a load of laundry a day so that would cost us at least $1.75 a day for laundry.  If we don't have full hook-ups I have to go to a laundromat and pay.  We have a washer/dryer in our camper and it has already paid for itself.

We are in one area for the next few months so gas expenses will be lower.  The only problem is we have family coming to visit.  The trips we will have to make to pick them up and drop them off at the airport along with the trips to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park so they can sight see will be financially difficult for us.  With only a handful of weeks until Christmas, it is hard to find the money for everything coming up!  But, we will make due.  To see them will be wonderful.  It is a reminder though to allow for the unexpected financial expenses in our budget.

Food is definitely more expensive for us on the road.  I do not buy bulk food like I did before.  When we are camped near a Sam's Club I will stock up on some items.  Where we are now it is over two hours to the closest grocery outlet.  By the time I pay for gas my saving on bulk groceries is gone.  Also, unless we are staying somewhere for a long time, I cannot haul heavy grocery items down the road.  Weight in a camper is an extremely serious issue.  A camper cannot go over the recommended weight set by the manufacturer   So, bulk food is not an option if we are going to be moving to another campground soon.

Hand-me-down clothes are not as easy to pass down as when we had a house.  So, I have to buy more than before.  Of course I buy a lot at used stores and sale items.

Camper maintenance can be less expensive one year and break the bank the next year.  This year has been a break the bank year.  We traveled in extremely hot weather from Missouri to Colorado in June.  The temps reached over 108 degrees so there is no telling what the temp of the black asphalt was.  It bubbled and warped our times. Then the winds picked up and blew our camper sideways.  That made the tires wear funny and eventually blew out two of them while traveling through the desert of Utah.

This terrible story will be in another post....soon.

With little room in the camper and a tight budget this Christmas season we will teach our kids how to enjoy the family time and tradition of the holidays.  We celebrate Advent and Jesse Tree.  We sing songs, play games, and craft.  Cookies are giving to anyone in the neighborhood that will eat them and snow angels are made in the smallest amount of the beautiful white powder.

For more on budgeting while traveling - visit our online magazine at 

The Lemonade Digest - squeezing every drop out of life!

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