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Fulltiming expenses

by Ken Tarkin

Joan and I have been full timing since December 19, 1998. I thought it might be of general interest to the RV forum to provide our expenses for 1999. Hopefully this will help some prospective full timers get a handle on expenses. We were on a caravan in Mexico during December of 1999. Since this trip was not a normal expense, I did not include this additional cost. Below is our yearly expenses and, following that, a description of the expense categories.
Auto - Fees 		  	   144
Auto - Fuel 707
Auto - Service 234
Bank Charges 34
Books & Magazines 66
Campgrounds 4,108
Clothing 396
Donations 81
Emergency Road Service 70
Entertainment 1,840
Food - Groceries 3,835
Food - Restaurant 2,363
Gifts 988
Haircuts 93
Household 609
Insurance – Auto 712
Insurance – MH 1,195
Laundry 94
Mail – Mail Service 330
Mail – Postage 205
Medical – Doctors/Dentists 1,407
Medical – Insurance 742
Medical – Medicine 648
Memberships 12
Miscellaneous 1,443
Motor Home - Fees 149
Motor Home – Fuel 2,166
Motor Home – Service 935
Motor Home Mortgage 9,853
Propane 190
Rally Fees 250
Subscriptions 59
Telephone 1,513
Television 397
Tolls/Parking 89

Year’s Total 37,957
Monthly Expense 3,163

Auto – Fees: We are officially Texas residents and our auto is a 1998 Jeep Cherokee. This category includes an inspection fee of $11, registration fee of $70 and the fee for two drivers licenses $63 (they will expire in 5 years).

Auto – Fuel: Our Jeep got approximately 23 miles per gallon last year. We drove 14,164 miles and purchased 624 gallons of gas. The lowest gas price per gallon was $.769 and the highest we paid was $1.469. The average cost was $1.134.

Auto – Service: Expenses included the deductible for replacing a windshield, replacing a rear view mirror, and a couple of oil changes.

Bank Charges: ATM charges (until we learned how to avoid them) and a $24 charge for our Debit cards.

Books & Magazines: Normally we trade used books, but we did buy a few.

Campgrounds: We spent 272 nights in campgrounds. We prefer to stay at state or national parks. We do not plan our trips by campground locations, nor do we belong to any membership parks. We used Passport America (a campground discount program) occasionally, enough to make the small investment worthwhile. Of the remaining nights: we spent 70 in friend’s driveways, 16 at rallies, 5 in parking lots (either Wall-Mart or truck stops) and 2 in motels.

Clothing: We live in jeans, shorts and t-shirts. Our biggest expense is shoes.

Donations: Church and stuff

Emergency Road Service: Towing service for both the motorhome and the Jeep.

Entertainment: This includes all entertainment expenses (except restaurants).

Food – Groceries: We ate most of our meals in our motorhome, this expense did not change at all when we went from the house to the house on wheels.

Food – Restaurant: We ate out an average of twice a week.

Household: This category covers all the house expenses except for repairs to the engine or chassis. There was no high dollar expense, just a bunch of little things from light bulbs, to car wax (motor home wax), etc..


Insurance – Auto: 1998 Jeep Cherokee registered in Texas.


Insurance – MH: 1996 (32’) Safari registered in Texas. This includes full-timer insurance which is basically the equivalent to a house’s homeowner insurance.


Laundry: We do not have a washer/dryer, so this expense is laundromat expense. It does not cover soap and bleach, they are expensed in groceries.

Mail – Mail Service: We use the Escapee Mail Service. This category includes the yearly fee and the postage expense to forward our mail (approximately every 1 ½ weeks) to our current location.

Mail – Postage: All those gifts we bought (see gifts) had to be sent.

Medical – Doctors/Dentists: Our deductible is $1000 ($500 for dental) before the insurance company pays 80%.

Medical – Insurance: Our medical insurance is a retirement benefit.

Medical – Medicine: Same note as Doctors/Dentist

Memberships: The only membership fee that was due this year was for the Safari Club.

Miscellaneous: This category covers all expenses that are not itemized in another category. It includes: film developing, postcards, two wills and directives to physicians, printer ink, software, watch repair, eye glasses, etc..

Motor Home – Fees: Registration on the Safari was $138 and $11 for inspection.

Motor Home – Fuel: Our Safari (Caterpillar, 250 horsepower engine with a total weight of about 25,000 pounds) got approximately 8.4 miles per gallon last year. We drove 15,165 miles, about 700 miles on interstates and the rest on state and county highways (Our average speed was probably about 40 miles/hour and we normally travel no more than 250 miles in a day). We purchased 1806 gallons of diesel. The lowest fuel price per gallon was $.799 and the highest we paid was $1.625. The average cost was $1.192.

Motor Home – Service: Includes a very expensive oil change ($500 – also changed to long life anti-freeze and an air cleaner @ $120) and a transmission oil and filter change. Propane: We use propane for our refrigerator (when we are not plugged in to electricity), water heater and generator.

Rally Fees: We went to three rallies in 1999. A Safari rally (this rally was paid for in 1998), an Escapees rally in Indiana and a Life on Wheels Conference in Idaho.

Telephone: We use ATT One Rate cellular service. We had to switch from the 600 minute/month plan to the 1000 minute/month plan while Joan was working. We are now back to the 600 plan.

Television: We subscribe to Direct TV Satellite Service with the basic package, network service and HBO.

Tolls/Parking: We try to avoid tolls (most are expensive for a motorhome towing a car). Most parking expenses are while using the Jeep.

We hope this information is helpful. If there are any questions please ask. It may take a while for a reply, phone lines are not always available and I’m too cheap to buy the modem and cable necessary to use my cell phone.