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Author Topic: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting  (Read 3255 times)

Ramie on the Road

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Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« on: December 19, 2015, 07:26:56 AM »
Hello, and I’m very happy to be here! I have a question about “budget” for full-timing for 1 year.

After nearly 25 years in the Navy, I plan to retire this summer. Instead of returning to the work force right away, my wife and I have decided to RV full time for 1 full year while we homeschool our two daughters.

Our general plan is to travel the country with a 5th wheel RV. I anticipate staying 2-3 days in each location, and then packing up to go to the next site – preferring not to drive more than a few hours each step.

Is the below a reasonable monthly budget?
Internet/phones; $225
RV/Car insurance; $150
RV/Car maintenance & repair;  $300 (I think this is a bit inflated because we’ll probably have both a ‘new’ RV and truck)
Fuel; $500 (we're looking at a gasoline truck)
RV Parks; $1000
Groceries; $500 (this is about what we budget now, so not calculating a big change)
Propane; $50
Recreation/Museums/Parks; $300
Clothing/books; $200
Laundry; $50

I’ll also have some car/RV payments, homeschooling, and insurance costs but those are fixed and known, so not included here. Just wondering if there were any other hidden costs out there, or if I’m completely off-base with the above.

Comments welcome! Thanks! 8)
« Last Edit: December 19, 2015, 07:38:42 AM by Ramie on the Road »

kdbgoat

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2015, 07:48:12 AM »
I don't know a lot about the budget, but if you're going to be pulling a 5'er large enough to be comfortable for four people,  I recommend getting a diesel. You will really appreciate it in mountainous areas. One thing on the budget though, as you're retired military,  is it correct to assume you have VA for health care?
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Ernie n Tara

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2015, 09:20:09 AM »
There is another current thread on budgeting here that you may wish to look up. To summarize, the responses there seem to fall in the $1, 700 - $2, 200 range for just the rv related stuff so you're close.

Ernie
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donn

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2015, 10:04:54 AM »
I think by prudent shopping you could cut down a lot.  For instance 225 a month for phone is crazy.  One smart phone with a decent amount of internet should not run more than a hundred and fifty dollars.
RVparking fees you could cut in half by avoiding commercial parks and instead camp in NF and state parks or military camp grounds.  Heck, volunteer camp hosting can be a lot of fun and a free month or more camping really helps the budget.

I whole heartly agree, get a diesel truck, preferably a one ton dually.  A family of four needs a lot of space, both traveling and living.  Most decent bunk house fivers are going to be in the 35+ foot range, and the better ones will weigh 14-15,000 pounds ready to travel. 
Laundry?  Get an RV with built in laundry facilities. That expense then drops to maybe 5 dollars a month for laundry soap.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2015, 10:06:41 AM by donn »

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2015, 10:37:16 AM »
Probably a realistic planning budget, but it will likley go out the window once you actually begin. Individual line items are likley to go way up or down, but hopefully the bottom line stays in range.

Budgets vary tremendously with individual lifestyles. For example, some people only like RV parks with nice grounds and amenities, and those will run $40-$50 per night in many areas. Others can be comfortable with $30/night places. And if you can utilize state & local campgrounds a lot, or even friend's driveways, you can cut it further. Longer term stays (6+ days) may also reduce site cost substantially.

You probably won't use $50 of propane per month if you are staying in full service parks. You will be using the site electric far more than LP gas, except maybe in the colder months (but then you drive South!). Probably more like $8/month for LP.

I'm a heavy internet user and the wife is a phone chat person, and our combined internet & phone rarely exceeds $150. That's a smart phone, a "dumb" phone, and a cellular modem/hotspot for our computer & tablets. Some people do reach around $200, while others easily stay around $100.

You need a big 5W for 4 people to live comfortably (even "big" is tiny compared to a house or apartment), and a big truck to haul it. Figure on a 3/4 ton or 1-ton diesel pick-up with extended or crew cab. Don't skimp on either truck or 5W size.

2-3 days in one place isn't much. One of the advantages of long-term RVing is that you can take your time and enjoy each locale. Driving a lot isn't the fun part, at least for most people. Nor is setting up or breaking camp.  If you stay a week or two in each place, you begin to find local restaurants, shops, and points of interest. You learn about an area instead of just glancing at it, and the difference in your experience is often dramatic.

Gary
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Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

bucks2

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2015, 11:14:00 AM »
I think you're doing a great job by planning before you leap. Most of your numbers will change, but you're overall numbers are probably in the ballpark. I think with 4 people and the fact that this is a one year trip, the $300 for admissions is going to go way too fast. I think you'll be looking for a way to supplement that budget soon.

I see a lot of comment about the phone. You don't say what age your kids are, but I'm picturing early teens and there is no way in God's green earth that they will be happy without each having a smart phone with unlimited text and talk. Add a smart phone for Mom and Dad, even if they share one smart and one dumb, a 15 to 20 gig internet plan, and you're into the $200 - $225 range. I'm guessing that's what you already have and that line isn't a guess. You'll want reliable seamless phone and internet service. As much as I hate Verizon, they have the best network.

When we retired and started roaming I had all our fixed expenses for the previous years calculated using actual numbers. You'll know about phones, clothes, food etc.  I then took our leftover income and divided it out into a daily number. I knew how much I could spend each day and still come out even at the end of the month. Obviously each day would be over or under the "magic" number, but by jotting them down each day I could get a good sense of where I was. If we'd overspent during the first half of the month we could consciously spend less during the last half. After a few months I didn't need to write it down and after a few years I don't worry too much as our lifestyle pretty much matches our income so I don't worry much at all. The fear of how far the money will go was a concern for us, probably is for you too.

Good luck on your trip and enjoy it. We've come across several families taking trips like you propose while travelling. Without exception the kids were polite, and much more mature than other kids we've met the same age. I think your family will be much stronger after the trip.

Ken

One more thing. Thanks for your service.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2015, 11:31:03 AM »
I'll also opine that one year isn't enough to put much of a dent in all this country has to see and do. Even traveling every 2-3 days. My guess is that you will extend that to two years or more.
Gary
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Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

grashley

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2015, 06:25:47 PM »
There is much good advice above. 

I assume you will have no fixed home expenses as you will have no home.
What will you use for a home address?  You will need one!  If you have not figured that out, ask the question here, and you get lots of very good suggestions.

I agree with Ken - your phone estimate is probably accurate, but watch data usage carefully.

The one omission I note is healthcare.  I do not know how military retired medical family coverage works.  Certainly there will be some expenses!

Ditto the real need for a diesel pickup truck, 1 ton for sure and dually is better.  Yes, it will cost more, but you get every penny back when you sell the truck.(for the diesel)  In the meantime, you have a much stronger truck and much better fuel economy.  I do not believe you will be happy with any gas truck for this purpose.

You can save a considerable amount buying 1 - 2 year old used for both the truck and 5th wheel.  Let someone else take the big depreciation hit, and let someone else work out the new camper bugs for you.

Average RV parks will be about $30/night in many places.  You get an average park.  Nicer parks with nicer amenities cost more.  City, State and National parks cost much less with fewer amenities, but usually MUCH better views.   In the Florida Keys, RV parking is $100 OR MORE per night, and you will need reservations.

Get an annual National Park pass for certain!  Ask about military discounts, too.

Ask all your questions!!  Note my signature line.

You and your family will have a lifetime of memories.

Thank You For Your Service!
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JDOnTheGo

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2015, 10:48:49 AM »
Howdy, welcome, and thanks for your service Ramie on the Road!

There are many ways to go about the full-timing lifestyle.  What is right/desired by one person is not ok for the next. Based on that, obtaining precise information is difficult. Adding a family into the mix makes it more difficult.  I am solo so do not know how the costs would vary with a family.  I prefer a very quiet and "away from civilization" experience (meaning lots of boondocking on BLM and Forest Service managed land in the west). Due to the other "budget" thread previously mentioned, I've been creating a summary of actual costs for 2015. 

If I've accurately predicted what the last ten days of the year have in store for me, I can tell you that my per-night campground "fee" (only) has averaged $4.65. I have a 40' DP (yes, I have hot water, satellite TV, Internet service, refrigerator/freezer, take showers, cook hot food, have ice cubes in my drinks, and even use my toilet for its intended purpose - not exactly "roughing it") That said, I have a number of friends that always stay at a formal campground/resort and I bet they average $30/night (which is pretty close to your $1,000/month.  So, your number is not unreasonable.

My propane cost has been $20/month. As previously noted, this varies wildly based on having electricity, climate, and temperature "needs" (does the thermostat need to be at 75 day and night??).

I too would encourage you to slow down a bit (use less fuel) and enjoy what each stop has to offer.  Sometimes it takes several days just to discover what is in the area.  I'm sure it's different with a family but staying two weeks at each stop is very easy for me - particularly since I am employed and the work days suck up a great deal of time.
JD - Full timer out west
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2015, 04:17:48 PM »
A few years back we often averaged $12-$15 per night for a year of travel, using friends yards & driveways, public parks with limited facilities, etc. Not roughing it, mind you, but using more of our "self-contained" features. Even then we did not use a lot of propane. Now we travel less often and stay longer in one place, and rarely stay without full hook-ups, so our nightly average has gone to around $25. Next year I anticipate it will be close $30, largely due to a significant price increase at our summer destination park.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

harpgirl

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2015, 02:55:56 PM »
That sounds like an awesome trip! I was homeschooled from 3rd grade until high school graduation & I think most people come to love the lifestyle. The great thing about it is, you can go to events & attractions (like theaters, museums, national parks, amusement parks, etc.) during their less busy times when all the other kids are in school, and really cut down on having to wait in lines and deal with crowds. You can also change the curriculum to suit what you see as you travel. I really love museums & historic sites, but I always enjoy them more if I studied the history around them first. :) If you have questions about homeschooling, I'd love to help you out! I'm very passionate about sharing how awesome it can be!

Like other people have mentioned, you'll probably want to stay in one place for more than 3 days at a time, just so you have a chance to really see what is offered there. I've also been researching rates at RV parks & I've noticed that some charge less per night, the longer you plan to stay. So a week is often slightly cheaper than a night or two if you tell them in advance how long you plan to stay on the lot.

I would suggest doing some research before you go on your trip & figure out what are some things that you REALLY want to see & do on your trip. Make a bucket list. Civil war battlefields? Grand Canyon? American Indian sites? Mount Vernon?  Amusement parks? A restaurant you saw on TV? Etc. Then plan your route along the things you are really interested in, with time in the schedule to explore cool stuff that you may come across on your way to the next planned stop. America is HUGE, but then you'll make sure you get to see your personal highlights of the country! :)

Lastly, thank you for your service & enjoy your vacation! :D
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workerdrone

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2015, 05:56:39 PM »
I keep hearing people say the FL keys are $100+ per night, and you'd better have reservations - not really true, that's just what everyone believes.  There is boondocking, and there are plenty of state parks for $40ish per night with full hookups.

There is also decent free internet all over the place these days, especially if you invest in a proper antenna and are reasonable about security precautions.  Maybe not for streaming HD movies, but certainly for all the email and websurfing your heart desires.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2015, 08:08:19 AM »
Quote
I keep hearing people say the FL keys are $100+ per night, and you'd better have reservations

They are talking about the winter months, when the Keys are packed. But even then there will be some sites at the state parks that are set aside and not reservable. There are three state parks in the Keys.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

workerdrone

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2015, 07:22:49 PM »
Yes, we're here now, been here for a couple of weeks already - couple nights at Leo's in Key West for big bucks - $75 per night.  Rest of the time either boondocking or staying at the state parks.  It's been very pleasant after all the warnings we got about heading down here over Christmas and New Year's, that nothing would be available and that you can't park an RV outside of an official campground.

We generally head to bed early and are up before sunrise (naturally and to catch the sunrise, which always seems to be so much prettier than sunset), so we hate to spend a lot of money on a campsite when we won't be hanging out there.  Plus we just don't care about hookups most of the time, just need to dump and fillup someplace once a week.
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LibertyHound

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2015, 10:13:41 AM »
There is much good advice above. 

Get an annual National Park pass for certain!  Ask about military discounts, too.


As one who is in the Navy and fulltime RV I can attest to National Parks. You can receive a FREE yearly Pass with ID. Camping is much cheaper in the parks ,but as stated there may not always be a spot for full hook ups.
If that's the case you can always hit up local RV parks for "Pump N Dump."    One spot you need to see is Joshua Tree National Forrest. Nice views and plenty of trails to walk and lot of learning.
Thank you for sharing
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SeilerBird

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2015, 10:18:40 AM »
Actually there is no Joshua Tree National Forest, it is a National Park and I agree it is awesome. One of the best kept secrets of the park service. There are only a few National Parks that have full hook ups. Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone are the only ones I can think of. But most all parks have RV parks close to the entrance. Not nearly as cheap as a National Park campground but if you gotta have hookups they are available.
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LibertyHound

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2015, 03:15:00 PM »
"Forest" You are correct I miss spoke, I should know better. I live around there. Now is the Petrified Tree Forest really a forest?
lol have a great time. ;D   
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PorscheMark

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2016, 07:27:41 PM »
Many military bases have campgrounds accessible to veterans. The one here, at Pensacola NAS, is really nice, and has an amazing location-across the street from the museum!. I understand this one is $15-20/night. Others are likely similarly affordable.

Thanks for your service!
-Mark 'n' Jane
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Jim Fitz

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Re: Starting full-time - Question about Budgeting
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2016, 09:18:41 AM »
IDK if you are still reading this string of posts, but a good website for Military campgrounds is:

http://www.militarycampgrounds.us/milcamps

We have stayed at them over the years....clean, close to the BX and Commissary, and reasonably priced.
Congrats on your retirement...enjoy.

fitz
Retired AF Navigator
Camped over many years in pretty much everything.  Just gettin started as a Full Timer....lovin it so far.

 

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