Our Major One-Time Expenses
The purpose of this page is to show our readers all of the major, and in some cases not-so-major, One-Time Expenses we have incurred during our time on the road. We had hoped most of these big expenses would have been taken care of BEFORE we went on the road while we were still employed with salaries. But, apparently, it took us awhile to figure out everything we wanted for our lifestyle. :)
Note: To see all of the costs we incurred prior to starting our journey, see Our Upfront Costs To Go On The Road.
At any rate, we have put these One-Time Expenses into three basic categories: 1) Lifestyle Upgrades & Improvements, 2) Unexpected One-Time Expenses, and 3) Income Tax Related Expenses. They are further broken down below.
We have other pages that show our Basic Living Expenses (i.e. Our 2005 - 2012 Full-Time RVing Expense Averages). But this page shows the additional, non-recurring expenses we've had in our life on the road.
Our goal is not to say all full-timers will have these expenses, but rather to show an array of costs we've had so that our readers may be aware of some potential cash outlays above and beyond the daily costs of living.
Note: We went on the road with no debt and we are adamant about not taking on any debt. Therefore, none of the purchases or expenses below have been financed.
Lifestyle Upgrades & Improvements
These are many of the expenses we have incurred during our life on the road. Some were purchases that increased our safety as full-time RVers, but most were simply an effort to add richness and flexibility to our lifestyle.
2003 Jeep Liberty
In 2007, after two years on the road, we decided to buy a second vehicle. Since we were doing a lot of workamping and staying in one place for months at a time, we determined that a more economical, more flexible, more comfortable vehicle might be a good idea. The details of how we came to that conclusion and why we chose the Jeep is set forth in our Journal entry Reasons For The Jeep Re-Visited
2003 Jeep Liberty Sport (39,000 miles) - $14,457 (incl. sales tax)
Jeep Modifications for off-roading - $5,388
BF Goodrich All Terrain Tires - $711
Skid Plates, Heavy Duty Bumper, Winch - $3,654
Lift Kit - $808
Receiver Hitch - $215
Replace Lift Kit with Heavier Duty Lift Kit - $1,100
$20,945 Total Jeep Purchase and Modifications
Note: Before we went on the road, we had a completely paid-for 4WD Suzuki Grand Vitara that looked very similar to the Jeep. Back in early 2005, we discussed keeping the Suzuki, but quickly dismissed the idea and sold it. We could have saved ourselves a lot of money. :)
RV Electrical & Solar Upgrade
After a frustrating evening in November 2006 trying to boondock (no hook-ups) on a beach at the North Padre Island National Seashore in Texas, we decided that we wanted to have the capability to park without electrical hook-ups for several days at a time. For details on that decision-making process check out Our RV Electrical/Solar System - A Phased-In Approach.
Lifeline 6-volt AGM Batteries (4) - $1,496
Xantrex RS300 Inverter/Charger - $1,659
Trimetric Battery Monitor & Shunt - $169
AM100 Solar Panels (4) - $1,980
Heliotrope HPV-30DR MPPT Solar Controller - $293
Solar Monitor - $158
Wiring, Parts, Supplies, & Shipping - $1,445
$7,200 Total Electrical & Solar Upgrade
We know that we don't boondock enough to ever recover these costs, but we certainly enjoy the flexibility in the lifestyle that this set-up provides.
Wheels, Tires, & Safety
The wheels and tires on our rig are the foundation for safe driving. Since RV manufacturers tend to push the limits of safety and capacity on tires, we decided to upgrade the tires and wheels on our fifth wheel. In addition, we recently put new tires on our truck. Also, one of the first things we did was to purchase a tire pressure monitoring system.
Pressure Pro Tire Pressure Monitoring System - $690
New Trailer Tires & Wheels (4) - $2,230
Goodyear Unisteel G114 LHT 215/75R17.5 H-Rated Tires (load capacity of 4,805 pounds per tire)
Hi-Spec 865 Aluminum 17.5" X 6.75" Series 3 Trailer Wheels (load capacity of 4,850 pounds per wheel)
For a discussion of why we chose the above tires and wheels, see our Journal entry Tires, Wheels, and Financials
from October 31, 2008.
New Truck Tires (6) - $1,890
Sumitomo ST 718 225/70R19.5 F-Rated Tires
The above cost includes installation and a roadside service call after a prior tire blew out. We replaced all the tires on the spot after that single blow-out of an original tire. From checking online after the fact, we learned we probably paid $300 - $500 too much.
Additional Fire Extinguishers (4) & Smoke Detector - $140
After attending an RV Fire Safety seminar, we added fire extinguishers and a smoke alarm. RV manufacturers don't necessarily put the right kind or the right amount of fire safety equipment in rigs.
$4,950 Total Wheels, Tires, & Safety
Suspension & Brakes Upgrade
Since the time we started on the road, our fifth wheel, when loaded, was over its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). In 2008 we began to address this problem by upgrading our tires and wheels. As we started having brake problems in 2009, we made a plan to upgrade to heavy duty disc brakes in 2010. Since we we planned to do the brake upgrade, we decided to replace our 7,000 pound axles with 8,000 pound axles at the same time. As it turned out, it wasn't much more expensive to go ahead and do away with the axles and upgrade our Mor/Ryde RE suspension to the Mor/Ryde IS (independent suspension).
Mor/Ryde IS Suspension with Dexter 8,000 pound disc brakes with Nev-R-Lube option - $5,391
Recreational Equipment (Bikes, Boats, etc.)
We didn't own bicycles or boats before going on the road, but it didn't take long to realize both would enhance our lifestyle.
Bikes & Bike Accessories - $1,473
Electra Townie Men's & Women's 7-Speed Cruisers- $1,285
Upright seat position
Flat foot design (Feet can be flat on ground when stopped)
Feet forward pedals
Easy click shifting
Internal gears for low maintenance
Hand & coaster brakes
Bike Accessories & Bike Rack - $188
In purchasing our first bikes as adults, we were primarily concerned with comfort. The Townies are comfortable, but their use is limited to fairly flat terrain. Doing it over again, we would buy cheaper bikes with more versatility.
Inflatable Boats - $1,972
Sea Eagle SE330 Inflatable Sport Kayak - $274
Sea Eagle FoldCat 375fc Inflatable Pontoon Fishing Boat W/ Electric Motor for FoldCat- $1,536
Marine Battery for FoldCat - $162
Along the way, we were given another inflatable boat to demo and report on. So we also have a Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Sport Kayak which is basically a larger version of the SE330.
Magellan eXplorist Handheld GPS - $160
We bought the handheld GPS for the purpose of Geocaching. But it has also come in quite handy for our hiking and boating.
$3,605 Total Recreational Equipment
Technology, Cameras, & Computers
These are very large expenses that were paid for by our RV-Dreams.com business. If not for the extensive business use of this equipment, we may not have made the purchases.
Satellite Internet Upgrade - $1,200
In early 2006, we upgraded our satellite internet equipment and had our dish moved to a more level, centered position on our fifth wheel roof.
Digital SLR Camera Equipment - $1,263
We started out on the road with a Nikon D70 digital SLR camera with a base lens and a 70-300mm zoom lens. In early 2007 we got a smaller, lighter Nikon D40 digital SLR. In the summer of 2008, we drowned the D40 while doing rapids on the Chama River. So, I replaced the D40 with a new D40 with its base 18-55mm lens and a second 55-200mm lens. The amount above is for both camera kit purchases.
Toshiba Laptops - $2,314
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (custom built with 17" screen - $1,343
Toshiba Satellite A200 (15" screen) - $971
$4,777 Total Technology, Cameras, & Computer Expenses
RV Accessories - $1,084
Fifth Wheel Kingpin Stabilizer Tripod & Blue Boy Sewer Tote - $269
Note: We ultimately determined the kingpin stabilizer was more trouble than it was worth, and with the addition of "between-the-wheels" chocks and a new suspension, we got rid of it. Also, we have the "blue boy" just in case, but we rarely use it.
Sears Craftsman Air Compressor - $108
La-Z-Boy Recliner - $568
One thing we have learned as full-time RVers is that many of us would order rigs without the living area furniture (couches, recliners, TV Chairs) if we had it to do over again. Long before we hit the road, we replaced the recliners that came from the factory with two leather La-Z-Boy Pinnacle recliners. Then, in October 2006, we took out the small sleeper sofa that came with the rig and replaced it with a third, identical La-Z-Boy Pinnacle recliner. It opened up the living space and reduced our overall weight.
17-Foot Gorilla Multi-purpose ladder - $139
At one point, coming out of a steep campground driveway, we drug the low hanging, rear ladder on our fifth wheel. The lower section of the ladder bent and broke off. Rather than replacing the ladder, we purchased a heavy duty ladder that extends well beyond the roof of the rig. I'm much more comfortable climbing on the roof with this ladder, but it is very heavy and cumbersome to deal with. Fortunately, when completely folded, it fits across the back of our pick-up.
$1,084 Total RV Accessories (large items NOT included in our Miscellaneous Expenses category)
Total "Lifestyle Upgrades & Improvements": $47,952
Unexpected One-Time Expenses
These are expenses that really don't fit in the Lifestyles Upgrades & Improvements section.
Airfare For Dental Work - $300
Note: In December 2005, our first year on the road, Linda broke a crown. It was cheaper to fly to Louisville and have her prior dentist fix it for free than to have it fixed on the road.
Truck Repairs - $2,087
Note: In June 2006, I made a stupid move and dropped the fifth wheel on the truck. This was the cost to repair the truck rails and tailgate.
Mexican Riviera Cruise - $2,206
Note: This is a good unexpected expense. :) We were invited to join a friend on a cruise for her 50th birthday. It was sort of spur of the moment thing, and I happened to still have some frequent flyer miles left to cover the airfare, so we made it happen.
Emergency Room Visit - $1,157
Note: In October 2009, I had a severe nosebleed while driving. After some inquiry with medical professionals, there was some concern about high blood pressure. We decided to go a an emergency room to get checked out and make sure there wasn't a more serious underlying issue. Fortunately, it wasn't serious, but with our high deductible medical plan, we had to pay the entire hospital and physician bill after insurance company review.
Emergency Room Visit - $1,250
Note: In January 2010, I wasn't happy with the blood pressure medication that had been subscribed to me at the end of 2009. While weaning myself off of it, I had an episode with my heart that concerned us enough to go to the emergency room. Once again, it wasn't serious, and once again, with our high deductible medical plan, we had to pay the entire hospital and physician bill after insurance company review.
Eyeglass Prescriptions & Glasses - $781
Note: It had been years and years since we had our eyes examined. With our insurance now covering preventative care, we went in for comprehensive eye exams. As it turned out, Linda needed a new prescription and glasses and I needed a prescription and reading glasses.
2011 25th Anniversary Trip To South Africa - $11,700
Note: In 2011, we got the incredible opportunity to take a one-month trip to South Africa with some fellow RVers that happened to emigrate from that country. Since it was our 25th Anniversary year, we threw caution to the wind and, in October, experienced a trip of a lifetime.
Replace Engine in our 2005 Ford F450 Pick-up - $17,189
Note: According to a repair facility and the truck's computer, our truck RPMs got too high in lower gear while coming down a mountain (although there were supposed to be safety features to help prevent that). Valves and pistons were damaged resulting in the need to replace the engine. The truck only had 64,000 miles on it but was out of warranty on time. Ford Motor Company would do nothing to help with the situation. We weighed options and rather than replacing the truck, we decided to replace the engine. Total cost (including a bill to tow our fifth wheel to an event we needed to attend), came to $17,189.
Total "Unexpected One-Time Expenses": $36,670
Income Tax Related Expenses
These are expenses related to income taxes.
2006 Taxes & Accounting Fees - $2,600
Note: With the sale of my company in 2003 and residual income from that sale through 2006, our taxes were fairly complicated. These taxes were the result of that residual income.
2007 Taxes & Accounting Fees and 2008 Estimated Taxes - $5,806
Note: This one was a little embarrassing since I should have been prepared for it and wasn't. In 2007, we sold about $15,000 of stock to buy our Jeep Liberty. Unfortunately, I failed to consider the capital gains taxes from that sale. So, we had capital gains taxes on top of accounting fees in 2007. And, since we are now "self-employed", that triggered estimated taxes for 2008. Sheesh.
Total "Income Tax Related Expenses": $8,406
Total "One-Time Expenses" 2005 - 2012: $93,028
Again, keep in mind that these are large one-time expenses that we have had that others may not have. They just provide an example of some of the large cash outlays we've had over time. Perhaps, by putting out this information, we can save some folks some money or at least make people aware that unexpected expenses, over and above daily living expenses, do occur and they can be significant.