Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Second Year Expenses - Full Timing in an RV…


How much money is enough to full time in an RV is a frequently asked question that comes up frequently. As I stated last year there is no universal answer for this question. Simply put each of us spends money differently. What we may consider a necessity (wine to us) others may consider an unnecessary expense. I offer you these numbers to give those who want some idea of how much money is enough to full time in an RV…

I have plotted everything out in a spreadsheet which gave rise to our first budget. We have now been full timing in our RV for just over two years. Just like last year I went back to see how well we did this year as compared to our budget. In our first year we were over budget by 13.7 percent in large part due to costs associated with selling our sticks and bricks home later than we had planned. This year we were over budget by only 1.9 percent. Note that our total budget was the same for each year.

Below are some notes about our 2012 budget/expenses:

  • our average cost for camping fees was $23.89 for stays in RV parks and was way under our budget of $750 mostly due to the savings of staying in Texas for the winter months
  • laundry cost us $38.36 per month
  • we were under budget by 50% on Big Ticket items (which was good due to medical expenses we incurred)
  • we are still very fortunate in that our medical insurance is under $400 per month
  • on groceries we budgeted $300 per month and spent very close to that this year
  • we spent $293 per month on diesel for the RV and $166 per month on gas for the Honda (both a bit higher than last year and just barely over the fuel budget of $450)
  • the big hit to our budget last year was for medical due to the costs of Sharon needing surgery to repair her broken wrist.We were way over budget by whopping 668% which wiped out our contingency fund as well
  • we had very few “big ticket” expenses this year so that savings was also absorbed by medical expenses

Overall we are very pleased with the results of this years budget except for the medical expenses category. Now that we have two years under our belt we will modify next years budget to reflect ore realistic numbers based on our real expense data. So we will increase our budget by 2.5 percent next year which is just about what the cost of living increase was anyhow.

What will we do differently next year? As we said last year we won’t do much different. We expect to spend more on fuel due to likely increases over the year and we surely expect to spend more on camp fees as we currently plan to winter in Florida again next year. Hopefully we wont have a big hit due to medical costs since I plan to replace at least the two front tires and the RV batteries this year. Nonetheless we will increase our contingency fund to handle larger unknown costs since we have encountered them in each of our first two years.

The data showed us that we can still live very comfortably for around a $110 per day. As you surely know from reading other blogs each person’s level of comfort varies which of course reflects in how much you may actually expense each day. We don’t eat out a lot and we don’t boondock a lot. Both may impact your budget if you do so. That is why I present the data in percentages to better give those who plan to pursue full timing a way of determining what their costs may be based upon their budget. If you have any questions leave them in the comments and I will try to answer them all (you may also email me if you prefer).


  1. You are right that each of us does it differently. $110/day is more than I could afford. That's why I volunteer (among other reasons), and in no way feel deprived. :) Nice of you to provide this info for folks thinking about this lifestyle.

  2. I'm missing something on the math. Around $110 per day comes to "around" $3,300 per month. Your pie chart shows (for example) groceries were 8% of total expenses which come to around $264 per month, which on a annual basis is quite a saving over the $300 a month you budgeted.

    Very good on the eating out by the way! We fail to see the value presented by most restaurant meals.

    Also, I don't get why you had high medical expenses for Sharon's broken wrist when you also have a large expense every month for medical insurance. Sorry if I missed the post if you explained this when it happened!

    Thanks for providing the're one of the few who also doesn't see any harm in sharing this kind of stuff.

    1. well in the US we pay for our medical insurance monthly but that isn't for 100 percent coverage, with deductibles and co pays we were still out of pocket nearly $6,000 for the injury.

    2. which explains why we wintered in Texas... much cheaper

  3. I am always curious to see what others spend. We are starting our fourth year and somehow each year there are surprise expenses such as separating the back wall of the fifthwheel, tire blowouts, and extra fuel due to family situations necessiting us to return to either Louisiana or New Jersey. Perhaps I will post our stuff. I've, too, kept a spreadsheet. (BTW, we love to eat out and that reflects in our expenses)

    Thanks again for sharing.

  4. Thanks for posting. It's very true everyone has so many different expenses. You're doing well for 2 yrs on the road, but surprised the medical is so high. Hang in there, it changes yearly. We're on year four.

  5. This is great information. Thanks so much for sharing. That is an amazing campground night average for no boondocking. I wonder if folks who keep meticulous records are able to live this lifestyle more easily.

    1. we take full advantage of longer stays, weekly and monthly, and wintering in Texas is very inexpensive... also we use passport america parks for stays of less than a week whenever possible.

  6. It's a shame a health care issue set you back so far. Hope all is healed well and your next year budget gets more settled. I think we spend more on fuel, because we don't fulltime yet. So in our travelling months, we put on more miles. I like seeing less in your eat out catagory than most other bloggers who put out their budgets. We don't often eat out either, so it allows us more for diesel! LOL

    Karen and Steve
    RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard

  7. Thats pretty good for your expenses, over the year.
    Our overnight fees average $6.83 a night including all our membership fees and camping fees, so we can live on a considerably smaller budget. Into seven years now.

  8. May I get a copy of your spreadsheet please & thank you. Tom