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Is our budget realistic?


Krash

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Hello to all. This forum has been a great resource for us to try and achieve a dream we have had for many years.

 

My wife and I have decided to pull the trigger and go full time in a fifth wheel and truck. We already lived in our 40’ diesel pusher for two years in 2000-2001, and just loved it. So we are relatively sure that we will not go stir crazy, or get bored with what we are planning to do. I am hoping that any of you, who are in a similar situation, can tell us if our budget will likely work.

 

A few things about us to consider:

 

I am 62, and my wife is younger.

 

We will have a brand new fifth wheel and truck, fully paid for.

 

We do not spend much on eating out or entertainment. Maybe a movie and a restaurant meal or two a month is about normal for us now.

 

We both love to fish, which is not terribly expensive to do, so we hope to camp near water most of the time.

 

We have both RPI and C2C memberships, but will also be boon-docking and staying with friends on occasion.

 

We plan to follow the sun, and move slowly and enjoy each stop along the way. Maybe tow about 2-4,000 mi per year, with an additional 4,000 miles on the truck alone. If we are planning any serious driving in one area, we would likely rent a car.

 

We plan to do this for 10 years or as long as our health is good. Could be shorter, but it could be longer too.

 

Here is our initial budget. We would really like to know if this seems in the ball park for our situation.

 

Monthly Expenses

 

Memberships @ $400/year

$33

Campgrounds @ $13/day x 30

$390

Fuel @ 500 mi/month x $.5

$250

Car/Trailer Insurance?

$65 $154 $83

Health Insurance

$200

Food

$400

Entertainment?

$200

Repair/Maint

$100

Propane

$40

Vehicles Registration S.D.

$33

Mail/Postage

$30

Phone

$42

TV Dish Service

$60

Misc

$200

Total Monthly Expenses

$2,043

 

 

 

 

We have backups for all of these costs in savings, but wanted to know if these numbers seem reasonable for planning purposes.

 

Thanks for your input.

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I think your numbers are doable. Really, there's no need to compare stuff like food, insurance, TV, etc. because your numbers are already firm.

 

We are just a bit below you on camping, and above you on fuel (but we also do more miles than you expect to). I suspect you are low on repairs/maint. - at least I've averaged consistently higher. My phone/internet costs are more than double what you propose.

 

Anyway, you can compare my budget numbers here: http://pastorscott.com/travel/tag/budget/

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Wow, $13/day seems awfully low for an average. I am assuming your planning on boondocking about a third of the time. Repair and maintenance also seem low.

Check out RV-Dreams.com. Howard and Linda have some pretty detailed figures on how much there full timing has cost. They also have some great blogs about there experiences and what went right and what went wrong.

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Your costs are very doable based on your background statements. Your fuel and vehicle insurance might be low depending on your traveling and where registered. You'll just have to play it by ear and it sounds like you can make adjustments, if needed.

 

Since you're 62 be sure to get the Senior Pass for 1/2 off on camp fees in national park, national forests, Corp of Engineers parks. That will be a nice supplement to your other campground plans and the Corp parks are great for fishing. We've paid $9/night this summer for national forest campgrounds on fishing streams.

 

You might also want to consider doing some volunteering in the wonderful public parks throughout this country. You'd get the free campsite but more importantly, you'd have a good feeling by helping out. Plus, there's nothing like actually being able to live in say, Glacier or Yellowstone National Parks. There are also some great state parks to volunteer, especially in Oregon. It's not all campground hosting. There are many other fun positions especially if you want to do interpretation. We love giving lighthouse tours.

 

Keep us updated as time passes with your beginning budget and how you're doing after a year or so. Have fun and best of luck in your new lifestyle!!

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I do question your insurance costs. Hopefully you have had a quote on your truck and 5th wheel for full timers insurance with it registered in SD.

I also don't know your plans but I think you may be under on cg. Of course your memberships will save you money.

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Your costs are very doable based on your background statements. Your fuel and vehicle insurance might be low depending on your traveling and where registered. You'll just have to play it by ear and it sounds like you can make adjustments, if needed.

 

Since you're 62 be sure to get the Senior Pass for 1/2 off on camp fees in national park, national forests, Corp of Engineers parks. That will be a nice supplement to your other campground plans and the Corp parks are great for fishing. We've paid $9/night this summer for national forest campgrounds on fishing streams.

 

You might also want to consider doing some volunteering in the wonderful public parks throughout this country. You'd get the free campsite but more importantly, you'd have a good feeling by helping out. Plus, there's nothing like actually being able to live in say, Glacier or Yellowstone National Parks. There are also some great state parks to volunteer, especially in Oregon. It's not all campground hosting. There are many other fun positions especially if you want to do interpretation. We love giving lighthouse tours.

 

Keep us updated as time passes with your beginning budget and how you're doing after a year or so. Have fun and best of luck in your new lifestyle!!

These are some great suggestions! I knew about the Senior Pass, but didn't know it applied to Corp of Engineers parks. Those could be some great fishing holes!

 

We do plan to travel very slowly in order to save on fuel. A lot of smelling of roses planned. The $13 a day park cost was figured from using the RPI and Coast to Coast memberships. We are guessing that we will be in those parks for about 70% of the time. The rest will be boondocking, or at friends properties.

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Health insurance for 2 individuals under 65 (Medicare) is probably too low. While doable on $2000/month, I think you would find $3000/month much more comfortable.

 

I assume that the $13/night comes from the $10/night C2C and RPI figure plus the $3/night 'resort fee' that all of the parks seem to add? I'd add another couple of dollars to that because I can see the fees going up - a lot add an electrical fee into the mix now. Also, look at the restrictions that both C2C and RPI are starting to add, which is why you need two at a minimum and 3 would be better. Also you might want to look at picking one place for ~ 3 months during the winter and get a monthly rate to help save money.

 

I didn't see any figure for internet connections nor for cell phones. If you are going to depend upon park wifi you are going to be greatly disappointed. Do you have an onboard w/d - if not, include $30-$40/month for laundry.

 

This is a list of things that I track:

 

Diesel, Gas

Food, Campgrounds

Dining out

Insurance (Car&RV&Life)

Rec-Ent-Golf

Long Term Care

Medical ($230 Ins + meds)

RV Maint/ Accessories

Car Maintenance/Repair

Miscellaneous, Museums, Etc.

Telephone, Computer (Aircard/Software)

Repairs - RV, Direct TV

Gifts, Clothing, Pets

Utilities/Household/Mail/Laundry

Auto/RV Registration

Memberships, Propane

 

 

Barb

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Thanks for all the replies. Some good info here. All I can say on the health care is ACA! Because we will be reducing our income considerably during our travels, for the few years before Medicare kicks in we get a great deal. It has high deductibles, but we are basically only concerned with catastrophic events.

 

We haven't actually applied yet because we are still working, but according the HealthCare,gov website, with our income when we retire, we only pay the amount that is in our budget. Maybe it will change when we actually apply.

 

We did budget for using one our existing cell phones, which is $42/mo, and that also has a data plan that we can use with our computer too. We get all emails on the cell phone, and any serious internet browsing we need to do if there is no WiFi in the park, we figure we can do at a coffee shop. We may find this inadequate and eventually have to budget for a more robust access plan/device.

 

I suppose this is all a roll of the dice until we are actually out on the road, but we are just trying to be reasonable in our estimates.

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Sounds like you've thought this through pretty well. I only have two comments:

 

1) $200 for health insurance is probably too low. In addition to the premium (which will probably be higher), you'll have to budget for the deductibles and non-covered costs. I wouldn't count on that ACA quote either. If you can afford $2,000 - $2,500 per month of living expenses, the subsidy might not be as high as you are expecting.

2) If you want data in your phone plan or a phone for each of you, you need to double or quadruple your phone budget. If you use the internet, you'll need some sort of data from somewhere.

 

I would be curious how to live on $6.57 per person per day of food. If you eat twice per day, that would be $3.28 per meal. If you qualify for food stamps, this may be doable. Don't forget to add the cost of condiments, dishwashing soap, napkins, toilet paper, grooming products, etc. to your grocery budget. Virtually any trip to the restaurant will blow the budget.

 

I don't see any budget for laundry. Even if you have a washer, you'll need to budget detergent.

 

You may want to factor in that some campgrounds have low monthly fees for the campground but meter electricity.

 

Finally, I take it that you don't drink, smoke or gamble. That will save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year.

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Guest Pensauncola

I think most of your estimates are too low.

 

As you grow older, your healthcare needs will subtly increase. You might get by without any medical expenses at first, but as time passes I think you will see increases.

 

You expect to have a new truck and trailer, yet only pay $65 per month? I'm not familiar with South Dakota rates, but that seems very, very low. I have a five year old truck and seven year old trailer with a spotless driving record and pay three times that much.

 

As already said, your food budget is pretty stingy. I've found that the foods I was buying back home were not so favorably priced when I started living in small town areas around the country. Fresh meats and produce is not so readily available in some areas so are more expensive. However, some people get by on Ramon Noodles and Saltine crackers. So, maybe it's doable.

 

Fuel, propane, entertainment, and postage are all within reasonable limits.

 

Your campground fees budget will limit where you can stay, but you'll either get used to that or increase it. I prefer to be in cool places in the summer and warm in the winter, which is where the prices are highest. I pay a daily fee less than 15 nights per year, but still average more than $13 paying monthly fees the rest of the time.

 

Good luck, and you'll adjust as you go. If you find you need more money, you can always consider some camp hosting to supplement.

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Here's a few numbers from our actual expenses. All figures are average monthly amounts for a 12 month running period.

camping fees 397

diesel 195

satellite 128

gas for jeep 182

groceries, wine, pet food etc 692

health insurance 549 (medicare, plus policy for spouse)

mail service 41

misc 389

Verizon cell & data 139

RV accessories and maint. 541. edit (coach needed new tires this year)

 

We track our expenses in 29 categories. Some others are airline travel, clothing, doctors and meds, Jeep maint., pet care, life insurance and a few more.

 

I could keep going but will stop here. I do think that some of your numbers are low. Do your numbers come from your current actuals?

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One of the things you have to look at for health care is not to get caught in an HMO, which are usually cheaper. You want a PPO plan, that will be more expensive. You didn't say which state you will use for your domicile - that will really make a difference.

 

We budget about $400 a month for food - but we also budget another $300 for eating out - - Dave is in search of the best breakfast restaurants in the country. And we also buy a lot of wine along the way as we have found wineries in every state we've been in. But that is unusual to us.

 

I agree that you really need to look closer at your cell phone/internet costs.

 

Barb

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OK, we clearly underestimated the the cost of insurance for the RV and Truck. We budgeted $65/moth which is way low. I now have 3 quotes and the lowest is $154/month. We may get that lower, but we have now allocated that amount into the budget. Just to make sure we are doing this right, that coverage is for $250k per person and $500k per accident.

 

In order to get the real numbers for a quote, I had to give them VIN numbers from the vehicles. Because I haven't bought them yet, I had to steal these off the internet. :rolleyes:

 

We do not drink much, or smoke, or eat out much, so that is why our food budget may seem low to many. (jeeez we seem boring!) Also, our dining out budget is included in our entertainment cost.

 

Although I thought I had mentioned it in my original post, but I didn't. We will be domiciled in SD.

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On health insurance in South Dakota, many, many insurance companies require your physical presence in the state for at least 6 months a year. All of them may not have this requirement, but all of the ones we contacted when we were looking for Medicare health insurance (not a supplement) required it. So, as Barb says, check carefully into the heath insurance situation in SD (as far as I know, SD was one of the states that opted out of the Medicade expansion). Check with your mail forwarding service to see if they have a health insurance broker they recommend.

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Unless you are going to do all of the maintenance yourself, $100 seems very low. You need to factor in oil, filters, etc. and tucking away some money so that if you need to replace tires, it won't be a shock to your budget.

 

Also, most states have a tax on campsites, and some are pretty hefty, so this needs to be factored into your nightly rate.

 

Unless you are paying cash for your truck and trailer, you will have payments that have to be factored into your expenses.

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We will absolutely check into the medical in SD as suggested. The ACA, at this time, only offers HMO's in SD, this is true. In fact Texas was the only state we considered that offers PPO's right now. The PPO's also offer Multi-State coverage. From what I have found out, all states will be required to offer Multi-State plans by 2018. Some may offer it before that date however.

 

Although I am not sure about the requirement to be physically present in a state for any length of time before/after applying for, or utilizing the health insurance, I have found out that no mater which ACA plan you have, they all must cover emergencies when the insured is traveling. Since emergencies are what we fear most, I am hoping that our policy will cover it. Still investigating it.

 

For check-ups, and routine or scheduled visits or procedures, we will often be able to return to SD for those.

 

If and when we zero in on all the correct answers for our health care, I will try to post our findings here. The ACA is new, and there seems to be a lot of uncertainty about it. Also, a lot of misinformation. We will try to separate the wheat from the chaff.

 

On our vehicle maintenance, the $100/mo figure is basically for oil changes and scheduled maintenance. Both the TV and 5er will be brand new when we start our adventure, so that is all we have budgeted for the first two years. Our budget increases that to $200/mo after year two. If anyone still thinks my budget is low in the maintenance area, please help me understand why it needs to be increased. After all, you guys have already done this for a while. :)

 

Thanks again!

 

Oops! Just saw the post before this. Actually yes, I will do a lot of the routine maintenance myself. I have not considered taxes on the campsites, so thanks for that suggestion. We will own both vehicles outright at the beginning of our trip, so there won't be any payments on those.

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I certainly like the fact that you are doing research on insurance costs and I think the "brand new" truck and 5th wheel should have minimal maintenance. I will mention that people who buy new RVs report a lot more problems than you would expect. Most say they got to know the service department of their dealer better than they ever expected. I would think that buying a new unit and expecting to immediately hit the road might be a bit optimistic. I lean toward buying late model used and letting the person who enjoyed the new smell be the one who works through all the new rig problems.

 

It's my belief that people who are researching budget issues should just use their own numbers for things like Groceries & Dining Out, Clothing, Hair, Medical & Dental Expenses, Charity, Health Insurance, and Entertainment. These items aren't especially related to fulltiming and, once you've been in the lifestyle awhile you move away from "vacation mode" and finances tend to reflect what you spent before becoming fulltimer. In any event, what we spend on groceries and dining out won't be especially helpful to you.

 

Campground expenses are a legitimate challenge. Just be careful when reading other people's budgets that you are comparing apples to apples. Some workcampers report spending zero on camping, but unless you are going to workcamp their $0 camping costs isn't going to help you very much.

 

I have the idea that your diesel costs will be higher than you might expect. One thing about traveling is that you will be moving from one interesting area to another so there will always be sightseeing to do. Last year we towed about 4000 miles and then did an additional 10,000 in all other driving.

 

I don't know anything about your health insurance approach - we're spending considerably more on insurance and our meds alone would eat up most of your medical insurance budget.

 

Good luck on your research - I spent many hours doing the same kind of work prior to our retirement.

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You need to also keep in mind that a fixed income is erroded every year. Seen anything that's getting cheaper? Even though EVERY American was told the ACA was going to be affordable, you better be ready for the rate increases that are coming, along with huge deductibles that has to come out of your pocket. Without a good cushion in your budget, you're going to find that each year you'll have less & less disposal income.

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Fuel cost at $250.00 / month? When we move, we call it a 'hundred dollar day' We generally travel 250-300 miles / day and fuel runs about $100.00 a day. Add that to running around to places etc, (including fishing holes) and I think your fuel estimates are very low. Towing cuts MPG way down so calculate fuel costs based on that MPG.

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Re: health insurance. I have BCBS out of Fl. It has multi-state coverage, a $500 deductible, $2500 max annual out of pocket and costs $52 a month. It would be a bit cheaper but I purchased dental coverage also.

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I certainly like the fact that you are doing research on insurance costs and I think the "brand new" truck and 5th wheel should have minimal maintenance. I will mention that people who buy new RVs report a lot more problems than you would expect. Most say they got to know the service department of their dealer better than they ever expected. I would think that buying a new unit and expecting to immediately hit the road might be a bit optimistic. I lean toward buying late model used and letting the person who enjoyed the new smell be the one who works through all the new rig problems.

The DW and I watched her parents, lifelong campers and RVers, buy several brand new Class A motor homes over a dozen years or so and then spend what seemed (to us) to be weeks "camped" in the back of their favorite RV dealer while trying to get all the issues fixed. Of course, it was all under warranty but they still had to spend all that time hanging out at the dealership; not to mention the money it cost them to get there. It didn't help that their favorite RV dealer was no longer 4 miles from their home but now 200 miles from their home (the RV dealer didn't move move; they did).

 

Luckily they didn't buy an RV that required warranty work to be performed at the factory (some do).

 

He also had them install PacBrake, Banks and a steering damper on each of them; spending more time at the dealer.

 

When they got too old to drive an RV they turned their almost new Class C (they had downsized) back in to the dealer who, we understand, sold it in a couple of days and apparently they broke even on it.

 

We learned from their example. Setting up house in an RV lot didn't sound like fun. So we bought an older RV that had already had all those updates done to it. Of course, I'm adding more but at least it's camped in the back of our own shop. :)

 

WDR

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Yes desert_rat, we certainly understand that can happen. We bought a brand new 1999 40' diesel pusher in 1999, and owned it for 5 years. We lived in it too for almost 3 years, traveling around the country displaying products. We put over 90,000 miles on it and always pulled a 20' trailer behind it. So, we were petting it through it's paces. In the 5 years we owned it, we went back to the factory only once in Yakima, WA. We were traveling in that direction anyway, and I had a few small things I wanted to get fixed. They fixed all the items in one day, and the next morning the service manager said he thought my front tires were wearing a little too much. I thought "Oh Boy, here it comes". But instead of hitting me up for something, he hopped in the coach and told me where to drive. About three miles down the road was a truck services center. He had them re-align the front end and put brand new front tires on the coach. No charge to me, and I had over 35,000 miles on those tires at the time. I was very happy. The company went under about a year later. I hope it wasn't because of the service manager giving stuff away for free?

 

So, I suppose it can happen both ways. I usually try to fix things myself when I can, but I like doing it and would rather fix my own new stuff than someone else's old stuff.

 

Well, some pretty happy wanna-be campers here today!!

 

We spent the day doing several things to try and further our plans to be full timers.

 

Income and Expenses

First, we went to see our accountant, and told him our plan, and went over our proposed income and expenses. He gave it a clean bill of health, and told us to let him know how it all goes after we had a year or two under our belt. As it turned out, his mother and father were full timers in their MH just a few years ago. They called it quits after 3 years because they missed the Grandkids (our biggest fear too). So, he had some firsthand knowledge of what we are about to do.

 

Health Insurance

Then we called the insurance provider that we had found on HealthCare.gov to confirm many things. After inputting all the information on the site, we were informed because of our low income, (which we can adjust almost any time within limits), we indeed qualified for a subsidy. In fact, we could get the lowest Bronze plan for no cost at all. Yep, 100% free! But it was an HMO, and we need a PPO. So the next plan up for us was the Bronze plan called Avera 5,000. It is a PPO available in SD. Because some have said that we have to be present for some period of time in order to qualify for most health plans in SD, we called Avera directly to ask all of our questions.

 

Now, keep in mind that we are only trying to get what would be thought of as “catastrophic coverage”, and we understand that most of the very basic coverage of this plan must be used in SD. So, here is what we found out after talking with Avera:

 

1) We do not have to be present in SD for any period of time. In fact, they asked me if we were planning to domicile in SD, and knew all about Full-Timers. They explained that they had many people in the plans that were doing the exact same thing.

 

2) We can always use the plan for emergencies no matter where we are in the US. They recommended calling them as soon as we needed help and they would approve, or arrange transport to one of their in-plan facilities.

 

3) All of the ACA plans must comply with a set of features. One of the features is a maximum out of pocket cap of approx $6,500 per person per year. Since I only have 3 years before I will be on Medicare, if I have a major event during that time, it could only cost a maximum of $6,500, and we can cover that for now.

 

4) When in SD, the plan acts exactly as if you lived there all year, but there is no requirement to return to SD to keep the insurance in effect.

 

Now, to some this may seem a little like gambling with your health. But for us, this is just an insurance policy against serious health issues. And for me, it will only be needed for 3 years. Even though our premium will be nearly zero, we will leave the expense at $200/mo in our budget. This will either be used to pay for health care out of pocket (small issues only), or will be applied to the following year’s kitty.

 

RV and Truck Insurance

Last good news for the day was the return on four insurance quotes. To make a long story short, the winning quote will cost $986 a year. This is for both TV and 5er, with 250k and 500k coverage. This works out to about $83/mo, although we will pay it once per year. I am happy with agent and carrier, and the agent was completely aware of what full-timers do. He even knew the address of our mail forwarding service by hart. Also, the policy states that it is for full timing in the RV.

 

I hope this info may help others in their situations, and want to thank everyone who helped us in this post.

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