Our 2008 Actual Expenses
Final 2008 Financial Results
Well, it was sort of a mixed bag for 2008. We now look at things from two perspectives.
We have an overall budget that includes a category for emergencies and one-time expenses (Emergencies/Budget Cushion) just to be sure we maintain cash on hand for such situations. In addition, the most important part of the budget is everything else - what we call our normal living expenses.
As you can see in the chart below, overall expenses against the budget were not good, but the normal living expenses (Totals Without Emergencies Budget Cushion) were great.
See the narrative below the chart for more information on our final 2008 results.
We ended up going over our overall budget of $36,000 by about $4,000 because we spent $14,729 in our Emergencies/Budget Cushion category which was budgeted at $6,000 for the year. Yes, we were $8,729 over in that category.
There were four primary reasons for the overage. First, when we bought our Jeep Liberty in 2007, we sold some stock and I forgot to consider the capital gains taxes. That ended up costing us about $6,000 in taxes and pre-paid estimated tax payments for 2008 (of course, in 2009, we will get back most if not all of the estimated taxes paid with the economic downturn). Second, we finished off our electrical upgrade and added solar panels to our fifth wheel at a cost of about $3,000. Third, we added skid plates, a bumper, and a winch to our Jeep for more serious off-roading at a cost of about $3,600. And fourth, we upgraded our tires & wheels on the fifth wheel at a cost of about $2,200 to give us more safety cushion on our weight capacities while traveling.
Now, the good news. We workamped seven complete months in 2008 and we spend much less on normal living expenses during the months we workamp. So, on a budget of $30,000 for just living expenses, we spent just a little over $25,000.
The other good news is that we managed to make a net income of a little over $10,000 on our little businesses. At least that paid for the solar panels, Jeep upgrades, and new tires/wheels. Check out our 2008 Business Summary for more on that.
Now, below you will see another chart that shows details of our 2008 expenses month-by-month. And below that are Notes that provide explanations of any large variances between actual and budget for each month.
Finally, check out our 2009 Budget to see what, if any, adjustmets we made for 2009.
2008 Financial Results Month-By-Month
Below you will find our 2008 Actual Expenses. We keep track of every single penny and they are all accounted for here.
The "Notes" at the bottom of the page explain significant variances between Actual & Budget figures. Large one-time expenses are also explained.
Just like January 2007 when we volunteered for our campsite, we did really well against our budget. We were $915 under our budget that includes a $500 per month Emergencies/Budget Cushion. So we were $415 under budget without the Emergencies/Budget Cushion category.
We have said many times that we could live on $1,500 per month if we workamped year-round. Our total insurance expenses (health, life, umbrella, RV, truck, and Jeep) total about $6,000 a year or $500 a month.
For January, our basic living expenses without insurance came in at $1,021. Add the $500 per month in insurance and we are just over $1,500. (FYI, it just so happened that we had actual insurance expenses in January of about $500) So once again we have proven that we can live on $1,000 per month in basic living expenses and $1,500 in overall expenses including insurance.
With our volunteering, we didn't budget any Campground Fees or Diesel in January. We increased our Entertainment budget for the month to $275 but came in at $34. :)
We increased our Groceries & Dining Out budget to $450 for 2008 from $400, but in January we only spent $404.
We were pretty much right on in all other categories. It was a very good month! :)
It was a good month against the budget. We were $927 under our budget that includes a $500 per month Emergencies/Budget Cushion. So we were $427 under budget without the Emergencies/Budget Cushion category.
We volunteered through February 15, so that meant no campground fees for that part of the month. But we knew we would be traveling the last half of the month, so we budgeted half of our normal campground fee budget. We didn't expect to have free camping for a few days during that period. But we did, and we were $117 under budget on Campground Fees.
We increased our Groceries & Dining Out budget to $450 for 2008 from $400, but in February we only spent $370.
The only categories we were over in were Diesel and Gas. I had a big budget for fuel in February, but I still underestimated our fuel costs to get from Freeport, TX to Moab, UT. We were over on Diesel by $46 and over on Gas by $47. Not too bad, though.
And we more than made up for that in other areas. I'm really, really pleased with our first two months of 2008! :)
It was a another great month against the budget. We were $1,078 under our budget that includes a $500 per month Emergencies/Budget Cushion. So we were $578 under budget without the Emergencies/Budget Cushion category.
We volunteered at Arches National Park as Campground Hosts, so that meant no campground fees for the month.
We increased our Groceries & Dining Out budget to $450 for 2008 from $400. In March, we were only $7 over.
The only category we were over in significantly was Propane. I didn't budget for propane because I didn't think we would need it during our camphosting. Because we stayed in a park residence during our campground hosting instead of our rig, propane wsa not part of the deal officially. But because it was cold, we had to run our furnace in the rig quite a bit since we didn't winterize it.
We drove less than we expected in March, so we were under budget on Gas by $76. Because we concentrated on exploring the park this month, we didn't pile up large mileage totals.
We were also way under on Entertainment. We budget high for Entertainment when we are volunteering, but there is so much to do around here that doesn't cost money, we didn't come close to the budget and were $234 under.
We were under in every other category and that added up to a good month. It was a big month for expenses because we had our Truck Insurance, property taxes on our truck and fifth wheel, and our umbrella insurance policy all due. But we budgeted well and controlled expenses. A good combination. :)
Well, April was quite a month. We actually did well on our normal living expenses. We spent $2,115 on a budget of $2,576 so we were $461 under budget.
But we spent a whopping $11,626 in our Emergencies/Budget Cushion category.
First, we got busted with $3,450 in capital gains taxes from investment withdrawals in 2007 (mostly to pay for the Jeep). Add to that $726 for accounting fees and $800 in quarterly estimates so we don't have the same problem in 2008. We'll probably get money back in 2009.
Then we made some unanticipated purchases during our stay in Moab.
Since Moab is one of the primary off-roading spots in America, we equipped our Jeep Liberty for more off-roading with the addition of skid plates underneath and a heavy duty bumper and winch. We figured we might as well get all that done where they know what they are doing. Total cost: $3,650. Ouch!
And because we got to see for the first time how much potential there is for boondocking out west, we went ahead and added solar panels and a solar charge controller to the electrical upgrade we did last year. Total cost: $3,000.
With those big expenses, we decided to take another workamping job this year from July through October in Colorado to help recoup some of that $11,000.
As for the normal living expenses, let's see where we did well and not so well.
We had no campground fees in April since we were camphosting at Arches National Park. Of course I didn't budget for any either.
Our RV Insurance was due in April, but it came in $235 less than I budgeted.
We had one Propane tank fill-up that put us $30 over in that category since I didn't think we would be needing it while camphosting.
We were $25 over on our Satellite TV due to shipping charges for a new DVR since I dropped one and broke it while moving from the rig to the residence at Arches campground.
We were $30 over on RV Maintenance since I had to have a whole water input component shipped ($75 including shipping) to us due to a broken check valve. At least I installed it myself and it actually works. :)
We were $80 over in Miscellaneous mostly because I forgot to budget for our Coach-Net roadside assistance plan ($99) that was set to expire in April.
But we were under budget in several other areas including $250 under in our Entertainment category.
So, again, I am happy with our normal living expenses for April.
Now, we just have to cover that $11,000. We budgeted for the potential of $6,000 of that. But we have to make up the other $5,000. Fortunately, we are already $1,900 under budget for the year in normal living expenses. So we have to figure out how to cut out another $400 per month the last eight months of the year. Four additional months of workamping should help.
Wow! May was a terrible month for our budget. We were $936 over budget on our basic living expenses.
And almost all of it was in the fuel categories. We were over budget $726 in Diesel & Gas. I have no idea what I was thinking when I did the budget. For some reason, I didn't consider the 1000-plus miles we knew we would be driving in May to get from Moab, Utah to Branson, Missouri for the RV-Dreams Rally. That was just a budget screw-up. :)
We were also over in our Groceries & Dining Out category. We were $143 over budget mostly due to a $90 dinner out. Of course what doesn't show in the expense budget is the $110 we were lucky enough to win at a casino to cover a splurge. :)
And finally we were over $300 in the Miscellaneous category. We bought lots of lifestyle stuff like a coffee carafe to keep coffee warm when boondocking, a filtered water pitcher so we could cut back on bottled water, a mini vacuum to compensate for our central vac, a new electric razor, and a gift for our friend Jack for all his help on our electric/solar installation.
But we were under in several categories as well. So when it came down to it, it was really the fuel expenses that got us. Fortunately, we can make that up July through October since we will be staying in one place while workamping in Colorado.
I always try to look at the positives. Comparing our monthly budget to actual expenses, we were $488 over budget. If we take out the Emergencies/Budget Cushion category, we were $161 over budget on basic living expenses. And I'm not too upset with that at all. Here's why.
At the time I did our budget, fuel prices weren't so high and I had no idea we would be hustling from Branson, Missouri back 1,000 or so miles to Pagosa Springs, Colorado for a summer workamping gig.
I had budgeted $150 for Diesel and $170 for Gas for the Jeep because we thought we would be in our normal, slow travel mode. However, we spent $687 on Diesel and $330 on Gas, so we were over budget in those two categories a combined $700.
But we were $243 under on Campground Fees and we were another $350 under in other budget categories, so the fuel damage was kept to a minimum. And because we are staying put for four months, we won't have any Diesel expenses July through October.
In the Emergency/Budget Cushion category, we paid estimated quarterly taxes of $827 based on last year's capital gain taxes we paid. I'm pretty certain we won't have any capital gain taxes in 2008, but we are still paying estimates just in case and we only have $500 in the monthly budget for such unexpected items.
Here's the really good news through the first half of 2008. For basic living expenses alone, we are $783 under budget. We've spent $15,484 for a monthly average of $2,581. That's just $81 over our monthly living expenses budget and our first half of the year is heavily loaded with our biggest expenses. With our four months of summer/fall workamping, we should easily come in under budget on basic living expenses for 2008.
The bad news is that we budgeted for $6,000 for the year in Emergencies/Budget Cushion and it looks like we will come in at around $13,500 with taxes, our solar upgrade, and Jeep additions. I don't think we can make up that $7,500 on the basic living expenses side. But if we can make up at least half, we will likely get the other half back in taxes next year.
The last bit of good news is that we will probably make enough money with our businesses and workamping to cover whatever we are over budget for the year.
It was a great month against the budget in July. But that was mostly because we did the budget before we knew we were going to be workamping this summer. And we always spend less when workamping (about $1,000 per month less).
So we were $1,474 under budget overall for July. Taking out the Emergencies/Budget Cushion category, we were $974 under budget.
We were under in just about every category. The only blips were in Cell Phones because I had to replace a phone I drowned in a canoeing mishap, and in Laundry, Clothing, Hair because Linda & I had to replace our worn out hiking boots. We were a combined $275 over in those categories, but still did great everywhere else.
We're very happy with July.
Once again, it was a great month against the budget in August. And, again, that was mostly because we did the budget before we knew we were going to be workamping this summer. But even with that, we did better than expected.
So we were $1,781 under budget overall for August. Taking out the Emergencies/Budget Cushion category, we were $1,281 under budget.
We were under in just about every category and only slightly over in a couple. The big surprise was that we were $283 under budget in the Groceries & Dining Out category.
We were very, very pleased with August.
Same old thing as last month. Another great month against the budget in September mostly because we did the budget before we knew we were going to be workamping this summer.
So we were $1,650 under budget overall for September. Taking out the Emergencies/Budget Cushion category, we were $1,150 under budget.
We were under in just about every category. We were over in our Jeep Maintenance due to replacing a battery and having the alternator checked. And we were over in our Miscellaneous category due to the purchase of a new, better set of walkie-talkies at $64.
We were, once again, very, very pleased with the month.
Well, this month was also very good because we did the budget before we knew we were going to be workamping. However, it was not quite as good as the prior months because we took a little mini-vacation that cost about $600. Also, our job ended a few days before the end of the month and we had about $200 of expenses for Campground Fees and Diesel that we wouldn't have had (of course it would have been packed into November).
Anyway, we were still $1,122 under budget overall for October. Taking out the Emergencies/Budget Cushion category, we were $622 under budget. No complaints.
The $600 for our little four-day driving trip was spread out into Entertainment, Groceries & Dining Out, and Gas. It's hard to see because we were only over budget in the Entertainment category.
So the month could have been better, but we were, once again, very, very pleased with the results.
To start off, we bought new tires and wheels for the fifth wheel. That $2,230 was not in the budget, but was something we had planned on doing. We just moved up the timeframe. That cost went in the Emergency/Budget Cushion category which was already way over budget for the year. The good news is we can lower that budget for next year. Also, much of the expense in that category this year is estimated taxes which we will get back next year.
If we look at the rest of our expenses, we were $47 over budget. We were under in most categories which offset the overages in three categories: Camping Fees, Truck Maintenance, and Miscellaneous.
We were $130 over in Camping Fees due to spending two weeks in a $30 a night RV park while waiting for our tires/wheels to be shipped to us. We normally don't park in places that expensive, and certainly not for two weeks.
We were $122 over in Truck Maintenance. That was because had the truck serviced in November. We had actually budgeted for it in October, so we just got it in the wrong month.
We were $130 over in Miscellaneous due to the purchase of a portable propane heater to be used as a back-up heat source.
So except, for the effect of the tires/wheels purchase, we were still quite pleased with our November results. Of course, the tires/wheels increased the safety margins of our fifth wheel, so that's pretty important too. :)
For December, we were a whopping 18 cents over budget. :)
We were $175 over in Groceries & Dining Out. We ate out over a dozen times for the month, something we rarely do.
We were also $230 over in Entertainment for the month. That was because I played golf over a dozen times. I had only played golf maybe two dozen times in our three and half years on the road. :)
Even with those big overages, we didn't spend money in other areas and made up the difference. And, we were still under budget for the year in both those categories.
See the top of the page for the year-end summary by category.