Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fulltime Budget

Budget! We have been doing some research online to find out what our living expenses might be as fulltimers. It appears to be different for everyone. We’ve noticed that some people can live on very little money and some have staggering budgets.

Here is what we’ve learned so far. Boondocking, There is quite a few people that live this very frugal lifestyle. Their living expenses are very low because they are very self contained. They tend to stay out of the way places such as BLM for nothing or practically nothing. They use solar power for their electricity and use it sparingly. They haul their water from off site and it is used sparingly too. They claim to have the best views of any RVers.

It sounds appealing. We are certainly open to the wide open views and the quite of the great outdoors but we are kind of spoiled. We like having electricity. We run the A/C when it’s HOT outside. Neither of us are big fans of sleeping with the windows open and sweating ourselves to sleep. I have severe allergies that make it difficult for me to sleep with the windows open anyway. We don’t use a lot of water but we really don’t care to have to haul it either. If we spend too much time in the wilderness we might drive each other totally crazy!

Resort RVers. WOW, we have learned that many people stay only in RV resorts and enjoy all the finer things in life. The finer things such as full hook ups that include water, electric, sewer, cable and wifi to name a few. These resorts have computer centers, laundry, restaurants, bars, golf courses, tennis courts, fitness center and heated swimming pools. Have you seen the prices of these kinds of places? We could spend our monthly income and stay at RV resorts, but we’d have to spend our days pan handling for food and gas money. That doesn’t sound too appealing.

We might just have to shop around and stay in the average campgrounds until we get an idea just what our living expenses will be. We sometimes learn best by doing!

We are welcome to any input anyone might want to offer on the subject.

Travel Safe Dawn and Denise


  1. We like to try all the modes you mention. I would say that most of the time, we are in average campgrounds. We spend the least amount of time dry camping.

    It is all good!

  2. Well, I totally agree with you. Many of our RV friends LOVE the boondocking on BLM land and that is great for their style of full-timing. We found that purchasing solar would not be cost effective for us. We did have the inverter, generator etc. and could boondock for several days in this fashion which is about all we would want to do at one time.
    We also discovered that the RV resort style was not in our budget. We did discover that there are many nice campgrounds, state parks etc. that fit us just fine.
    What we found most troubling for us was the cost of diesel. At 6 to 8 miles per gallon and diesel rising sharply you don't get very far on your monthly diesel budget. You compensate for this by staying put for longer periods of time.

    Its good that you are looking into your budget and projecting what you think might be your personal style of full-timing. Remember there is no one set way to do this lifestyle. You have to find your niche. We found, for us, part-timing actually gets us down the road about as fast as full-timing did.
    Just know that you will tweak your budget as you get out here and see what your needs are.
    Good luck and enjoy the journey and the wonderful people....thats what it is all about.

  3. We too like the luxury of having full hook ups but as gas is going up and C.G are not cheap therefore we try to use our Passport America C.G that offer 50% of the regular prices, or camp in S.P/S.F where we can still enjoy comfort for less$.
    Saving on gas is tricky,we want to see and explore and will not compromise,because if we stay in one place then we rather stay at home.
    The other "big" expense is food and you can use your kitchen more than go to restaurants.
    There is no magic solutions, do your math and priorities but do not forget to ENJOY because we are all there to have FUN.

  4. You may find that you like some combination of those options. A few days in the wilderness with your lawn-sprayer shower, a few days in a campground and an hour or two in a resort. :oD

    People stay pretty happily in state parks, too, if you prefer the natural amenities to the man-made ones. Plus, the parks usually have a shower room and toilets, and some have hook-ups.

    Remind me what rig you have? Or are you still shopping? I should know this, but I'm blanking.

    The Good Luck Duck

  5. I am a middle-of-the-road RV'er. I like hookups, but would be fine without them if I didn't have to move my nest to refill and dump, and if I had solar panels or a generator that would supply my need for electricity. But, I also like to hop on my bicycle and go to the beach, or to get groceries, or to a movie. And, sometimes I like to be more remote to enjoy nature at it's best. I am definitely not opposed to the savings and the solitude of boondocking.

  6. You are absolutely correct...you'll figure out what works best for you by just jumping in and doing. I would say that we usually try to stay away from RV Parks, but we've spent the last 2 months in one. I think it depends on not only your budget but also what's available in the area, how long you're planning to stay and the time of year. Because we're in a cooler climate in the winter, I wouldn't settle for anything but full hookups. In the summer or in a warmer climate, I'd feel totally different.

    In terms of the overall budget discussion, we've been continually tweaking ours since we created it about a year and a half ago. We based ours on other people's experiences, but once we got on the road ourselves, we gained a better feel for our own expenses. We overbudgeted in some places and underbudgeted in others, but fortunately the bottom line is pretty close to what we were expecting. One of things that helped us a lot is that we kept a budget for years before starting our fulltiming experience, so we already had practice in tracking expenses. The other thing to keep in mind is that you'll probably incur some additional expenses your first year. We added a general fund for these unexpected expenses.

  7. We spend 3 months each winter in an RV Resort here in Palm Springs. For traveling back and forth, we stay in RV campgrounds that have to at least have electric and water. Dry camping, or boondocking hasn't been part of our RV experience and I doubt ever will be.

  8. We love boondocking, can do it for two weeks easily before we need to get water and dump. Our solar setup takes care of everything except the A/C and washer/dryer (other appl run on gas as well as elect).

    But we also love smaller mom and pop campgrounds. We don't use all the extra amenities. Give us reasonably sized lots that are level and have full hookups. A few paved roads are nice for us to bicycle with Sadie. But we don't use the spas, tennis courts, community center facilities, etc. So why pay for them.

    As to budgeting, my solo target for camping was $300-350 month. Now it's $500-600 a month. Boondocking lets us spend a little more when we move more often. Staying at weekly/monthly rates helps a lot.

    Gas and camping fees are two things you can control by moving less often.

  9. i am still trying to figure this out myself...

  10. I now have 4 months full-timing under my belt and have kept track of every penny I've spent. It's very doable !!
    Remember, (at least in my case) no mortgage payment, no property taxes, no electricity bills etc. etc. etc.
    One thing I DON'T do is eat out. Far too expensive plus the fact I don't like fast food anyway. My grocery bill is amazingly low yet I'm eating better than I ever have.
    Another thing is that I like to select a place to 'stay put' for awhile that is within an hour's drive of several places I'd like to explore. Of course I ride a motorcycle during this exploring so that makes it much cheaper on gas.
    When I'm going from Point A to Point B, I stay at Walmarts overnight. And when I'm in an RV Park I mostly will go for the weekly (and sometimes monthly) rate as opposed to the daily rate.
    I could go on and on. Actually I'll be posting my 4 months spending on my Blog shortly.
    I have learned already in my very short time at this that you can do it as cheaply as you want or as expensively as you want.
    Fire away if you have any questions.

  11. We were surprised at how much we spent on certain things. We have a small monthly income and our expenses always exceed our income.

    As for where we stay, we enjoy boondocking for a week or two here and there. When we are traveling and stopping overnight we find a Passport America campground if we can, or if we are on a side road we may just pull over somewhere comfortable. Casino's are another free option. But we have found that we cannot afford (nor do we like) resorts. We prefer State Parks. The sites are usually much more secluded, and cost less. In New Mexico with the purchase of an annual pass their full hookup sites are only $4! Thats what we like. From now on though, we will need to camphost or workkamp. We have done a little of it and are scheduled from May to October.
    So theres our input!

  12. Of course it is each to his (or her) own.

    But my most favorite thing about traveling in an RV is opening the blinds in the morning to remind myself of where I am.

    My least favorite thing is finding that I'm parked right next to another RV.

    That is why we avoid the majority of the "RV parks" out there.

    That, and the cost. Simply can't justify paying more than $10 a night for a place to park. So we are set up for the boondocking lifestyle, and we love it.

    Kevin, Ruth, and Whiskey

  13. We are so new to this that we are still exploring our options, but the one thing we both agree upon is that we LOVE the Corp of Engineer parks. They have water and electric, no sewer but a dump station. They are usually located by water so we get trees, water, nature and plenty of space so we're not squished in like sardines. The cost is reasonable and if you're a senior, the cost is downright cheap! (50% off) We won't qualify for the cheap part for another year but don't mind paying full price now to enjoy the wonderful parks the COE provides. We try to mix these up with reasonably priced full hookup parks so we can catch up on the laundry :)

  14. We always stayed at state parks when we were "camping" and preferred them. This winter we've stayed in "resorts" and found they vary in price. If you stay a month, you get a LOT better rate. In Florida the rates can be $2000 a month, down to $400 a month. The place we're staying at for "free" now (with our Thousand Trails membership) runs over $800 monthly. It's not really any nicer than our last place ($420), but is further south and closer to the beach. The deals are there, you just have to look for them. Also, we got a few freebies at the Tampa rv show. The Thousand Trails membership gives us 30 days free and $3.00 a night after the 30 days, so that's a pretty good deal. Also, consider Passport America. And for a really good price, you can work camp!

  15. We've rved in motorhomes for 13 years (2 gas A's & 1 DP) before retiring last year. We found that except for going from one destination to another when we would boondock (ie WalMart, Flying J etc), we prefer rv parks with hookups. We don't need all the fancy resort amenities. We decided once we retired we'd spend more than a few days/weeks at parks to save money and have more time to explore and enjoy the area. Because of this we even made the change from our 38 ft dp to our new 5er. It allows more living space and since we don't plan to be moving around as often it matches our style. We happen to own sites in 2 parks, 1 in Crystal River, FL and the other in Dillard, GA. Our plan is to winter in FL, summer in GA and spring and summer exploring in Passport and smaller parks. We don't see long term (3 or more days) boondocking nor do we plan on staying in any park less than a week. Of course, no rvers plans are etched in stone!

  16. Nancy and I are somewhere in the middle as well. We will boondock a few days each month and we mostly stay in middle of the road parks with good reviews from rvparkreviews.com. We also tend to prefer RV parks that are slightly off the beaten path (less noise and usually cheaper).

    A few tips we have learned that can save you some cash:

    1. Boondock especially when traveling. It makes no sense to pay 25-40 dollars a night if you are only stopping to eat and sleep and then move on. Boondocking just 4 nights a month can be a saving of $100 or more per month!
    2. Join passport america and good sams. The discounts pay for the memberships usually in one stay.
    3. If you think you will stay in an area for a while, commit to the longer stay right away. Most campgrounds give bigger discounts for longer commitments. You will always save money if you commit to the longest stay you feel comfortable with right away.
    4. Eat in. Watch my blog for quick inexpensive tasty meals to eat at home! ;-)
    5. adopt a 1 in 1 out policy. When purchasing anything once you become a full-timer, clothes, decorations, jewlery, etc. adopt a policy that any new purchase requires getting rid of something old that you currently have. This will keep your spending down and keep clutter from taking over.
    6. Maintain your rig! Proper maintenance will save you money down the road and keep you safe.

    My wife has also started two blogs to help full-timers save money:


    Good luck and most importantly, have fun!!!


  17. Great information from these comments! We're not on the road yet but we've looked at the budget thing too. I've written down our expenses during the past couple of years to actually see what we are doing now. I think it'll be close to what we spend now. Substitute cg fees and fuel for the mortgage and electric. Other things balance out give or take a couple of hundred bucks. We hope to stay in the Fl Keys in the winter one year. That'll be expensive in our opinions so we'll plan ahead and volunteer a couple of months in a Ga SP or something. Enjoy the planning stage and then enjoy the road even more!

  18. We used passport America and thought the price saving, and campgrounds offered were a great value. To me it really depends on how much actually moving around you want to do. You can always find a good RV pad hook up on craig's list. We found one in california for $500/month (all utilities in and quiet fenced in space) and we stayed there a few months.

    We didn't do much boondocking as i work as we travel so internet/electricity etc always needed.

    i'm not a big "budgeting" type person, more like to ignore it and hope it all works out on it's own... amazing how it does.

  19. Just because they have "Resort" attached to their title doesn't always mean they are a tipical Resort. The one we are staying at for the next 2 days has resort in it's title, but is far from a Resort. So, all I will say is do your homework, and you are right about doing it and learning from what you do. That is pretty much how we rolled for the first year, and it has worked well for us. I just got notice today that my insurance will be another $116.00 a month so I will simply trim the budget somewhere else to make up the difference. Just go with the flow. You will be fine.