We have completed our 7th month of tracking every single one of our expenses. It can be quite a chore while we are here in Atlanta this summer house sitting and living it up in the big city, but I’ve always wondered where all the money goes so quickly and now through meticulous record keeping I never have to ponder this question again — although sometimes I’m a bit sorry I asked. Hopefully with this tracking we can find ways to be a little bit more frugal and perhaps by broadcasting these numbers to the world they can be helpful to anyone else considering a life on the fly, traveling across horizons unknown, wandering from port to port, following the whims of luck, accident, or maybe fate. In fact, I just had someone in the neighborhood who is considering trying van life tell me that they do find these posts interesting. So even if I am just writing this for me and her, here goes another.
July was a particularly spendy month. We still had Blue Wing, dropped a bit much on entertainment (it is hard to stay home in Atlanta especially with all our friends here), and we added a big, yet compact, addition to our traveling family.
August expenses were a bit more reasonable. We found some cheaper places to go for “date night,” lost the boat storage expense (sold her), but also started spending a lot more on the van for upgrades.
Total Money Spent
All expenses are in US dollars.
Here are our totals for everything we spent for the past two months:
And here is the break down of those totals in spread sheet form:
And here is another break down of and a little discussion of just some of these expenditures:
Van Living Expenses
These are all expenses relating to the van itself and living and traveling in the van.
– Van Upgrades
Our biggest upgrade was for a swivel seat adapter for the passenger seat in August. We can now turn that seat around so it faces the interior of the van. This makes our living space so much bigger. We love it! Absolutely worth the cost.
We also had some smaller expenses adding shelves to hold kitchen necessities. I am very focused on making everything in the van more convenient and using space to the maximum.
Gas can be the bulk of our van living expenses when we are on the road, but this summer we are only traveling in very small circles around the 18 blocks Cabbagetown doing odd jobs and house sitting. We do burn a bit of gas with shopping and sometimes daily trips to Home Depot for painting and odd job supplies.
– Auto Insurance
– Van Utilities, Camping, Maintenance, Repairs, and Miscellaneous
We have been living in houses all summer – so no van utilities or camping costs. Since we haven’t been driving much we haven’t needed to do any maintenance, repairs, or miscellaneous.
Groceries and Booze
This is food and alcohol we buy a grocery or liquor store as opposed to in a restaurant.
In general I’m please with these numbers. Just a note – Greg and I eat a vegetarian diet – not sure if meat eaters have more or less expenses – but it is likely they eat far far less kale than I do.
This category is for eating and drinking out, live music, museums, and attractions. Here are the breakdowns:
Atlanta can be expensive. We try to be frugal about some things like finding cheap concert tickets, but we paid full price for a pair of tickets show coming up in October. Date night has been a bit of a challenge since they closed our neighborhood pizza place, but I think we have finally found a few options that won’t break the bank. These numbers will get much better once we hit the road, but for now we are enjoying going out with friends and not worrying about the cost too much.
Here is the breakdown of Health:
Just some medicine cabinet type stuff.
These are the same kind of household expenses that you might have even if you didn’t live in a van or on a boat. Like toilet paper, clothes, personal items, laundry, and phone/data plan.
We bought an inflatable kayak in July and I didn’t know which category to put it in – so I picked Personal Household Miscellaneous. Actually I kind of think of the kayak as a van upgrade (actually I think of everything as a van upgrade – the specific clothes we wear, a new purse or bag, a new cheese grater, anything that makes our lives in the van more convenient or more interesting). But if we ever sell the van, the kayak could go with us – perhaps I need a category for detachable van upgrades.
The other larger than usual expense in this category was for our mail service in Florida with St. Brendan’s Isle. This service allows us to have a real address where we can pick up our mail, have it scanned and emailed, or have it sent to us wherever we are. We keep $100 in an account with them and when it runs low they charge us another $100.
We sold Blue Wing which means the boat category is going away. In July we had our normal boat storage fee plus some expenses related to selling her. In August we got a small refund on our boat insurance.
We are getting geared up to drive to Mexico. The August travel expense is for the Guia Roji, Por Las Carreteras De México – a road atlas of Mexico!
*All pics are click to enlarge.
So what do you think? Do you track your expenses? How does this compare to your sticks and bricks expenses or your traveling expenses? Are our expenses less or more than you would have expected?