Back in the year 1999 when I first started planning to retire at the age of 55 my single biggest worry was whether or not we would have enough money to live out our retirement lives in comfort. How much money is enough to do this seemed to be the overriding question that came up over and over again. As you can imagine there is no universal answer for this. It is much like asking – What is the true meaning of life?
By the time 2009 rolled around we had made a lot of financial moves that set us up for early retirement. A great source of information on many of our ideas came from the great web forum at Early Retiremen Org and another great web source for investment ideas is at Bogelheads. In 2010 we made the decision to fulltime in an RV and the question came up again - How much money will be enough?
Being a numbers guy I came up when a plan and plotted everything out in a spreadsheet which gave rise to our first year budget. We have now been full timing in our RV for just over a year. I went back to see how well we budgeted this year as compared to our plan. The results showed we were over budget our first year by 13.7 percent which was unexpected but the detailed results helped explain why.
Below are some key points about our 2011 budget/expenses that may be useful to others planning on full timing:
- we were over budget by 5% on taxes and insurance at $185 per month
- we were over budget by 14% on propane as we boondocked more than planned – $27 per month
- our average cost for camping fees $20.50 for the year – $24.50 for only those days we stayed in RV parks
- laundry cost $27.50 per month
- we were over budget by 200% on Big Ticket items (more on this later)
- we are fortunate in that our medical insurance is under $400 per month
- on groceries we budgeted $300 per month and spent$333 per month
- we spent $243 per month on diesel for the RV and $166 per month od gas for the Honda
Overall I was pleased with the results except for the expense category on Big Ticket items. This was to be a catchall category for one time expenses on future non recurring expenses. A large chunk of the overage in this category was our five remaining car payments at $584.00. Other one time expenses that showed up here that I don’t expect to see again were a $3000 expense for repairs on our home to ready it for sale, the purchase of our brake buddy system and associated parts, and a one time expense to help out a family member. Without these cost we would have been well under our expenses at 89%.
What will we do differently next year? Not much!!! I will tweak the budget very little if at all after further analyzing it. Since we were 10% under budget in fuel I think we will be okay. I expect higher camp costs as well so we may have to boondock more which may result in higher expenses for big ticket items such as solar capabilities. We may have to seek out more weekly stays to save on camping costs to make up for some increases.
But to answer the question – How much is enough money to fulltime in an RV? Well when you consider all associated expenses from taxes and insurance to rent and fuel to groceries etc… The data showed us that we can apparently live very comfortably on less that $100 per day. As you know from reading other blogs everyone’s level of comfort will vary and thus so will their daily expense number. Hope this helps some future full timers plan better.
PS. We stayed a few extra days to let the nasty weather in the Southeast pass and will head out this morning to Albany, Georgia on our way to Red Bay, Al. We are sure glad we stayed put after seeing the destruction and devastation this weather event left behind. Our thoughts are with all those who suffered as a result of these storms…