Archives For Spending Summary

They say history doesn’t repeat, but instead it rhymes. Well dang it, I guess our rhyme is: no matter what we try, our costs stay sky high! The problem this time was similar to what has bugged us in the past, regular bills that keep hitting us along with high restaurant costs. I even took our Christmas spending out of the report because with that included, we’ve really gone bonkers. Let’s break it down.

Total December Cost: $4,727
Total days in the camper: 18
Total days out of camper: 13
Cost per day: $152
States Visited: Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma
Total Miles: 3,077

Summary

Our per day spending for December ended at $152, our highest of the last three months we’ve been traveling. While some areas of spending were the lowest of the last three months (campsite, excursion, food), two others really took it over the top: restaurant spending and regular bills. If I take regular bills out, we actually had one of the cheapest months so far.

Spending Details

december-spending-report

The Good

After Thanksgiving, we left Louisville with Jocelyn’s mom in tow and headed to Nashville for a one-night stopover. We checked to see if anything was going on, and there just happened to be a Charlie Daniels concert! It was his 80th birthday party and “volunteer jam” – an annual concert to raise money for veterans. It was a lot of fun with singers like Three Doors Down, Kid Rock, Travis Tritt, Luke Bryan and Chris Stapleton each singing a few songs… and Charlie Daniels, of course.

The most interesting part of the concert was when an older fellow was expressing his feelings towards Luke Bryan (with two middle fingers) while Bryan was singing one of his womanizing songs. Bryan waved him up towards the stage and when the guy got close enough, Bryan slapped/punched him in the face! I used to think Bryan’s music was okay, but now I really can’t stand it because all of his songs involve a “tan legged country girl” who’s there for his pleasure!

After Nashville, we headed to the east coast and visited Charleston, Edisto Island and Savannah before looping back through Florida. We were really surprised to see the damage still left behind from Hurricane Matthew, with beach houses torn up and many trees still down along the coast. As we headed back east through Florida, Jocelyn found one of our favorite campsites yet, Grayton Beach State Park. We spent five days bouncing between the beautiful little oceanside towns of Seaside, Watercolor and Grayton and even enjoyed a few days on the beach in 70 degree temperatures! It was a nice break from the previous three months of winter we were trying to escape.

While all of that was fun, the real purpose of our December trip was catching up with friends and family. Friend time fully started after Grayton Beach when we made our way to one of our favorite cities, New Orleans. We lived there for 3.5 years before leaving for our world trip in 2013 and were lucky enough to find some great friends. We spent four days catching up and enjoying some of the many fabulous restaurants around New Orleans… which also explains why our restaurant bills were so high for December!!

After New Orleans, we headed north back into the cold weather, and spent five days with our friends around our most recent home city, Dallas. We were able to fit Penny Lane into our friend’s backyard, and they let us shack up with them. It was fun to spend the pre-Christmas days with them because they have an adorable three year old daughter who was very excited about Christmas.

After Dallas, we headed even further into the cold and spent the rest of December in Tulsa, bouncing between our families and celebrating the holidays. All of the free nights with family and friends brought our daily camping costs way down, but we definitely made up for it with higher spending on restaurants and booze :).

The Bad

As I seem to say every month, if we don’t get our expenses under control, we’ll be forced to end our trip early so we don’t have to dig into our savings and investments too much. Will we make it to Alaska… we’ll know soon enough!

The Ugly

The most surprising expenses came from the “regular bills” category because a bunch of crap piled up at once. We pay our six months of car insurance in advance so that was a big one, my annual blog hosting service also hit us for ~$400 (yes, even though I do this blogging for free, I still have to pay for it!), and we had a small medical procedure that also hit us for ~$500. Remove all of those three and our expenses for December would’ve been quite low!

The medical procedure could’ve been a lot worse because I screwed up our Obamacare health insurance in 2016 and let it expire in November because I didn’t have the autopay set up correctly! We told the doctor we didn’t have insurance and they gave us the Medicaid rates which I think are equivalent to being a “cash customer”. When we paid, I asked the administrator what it would’ve cost with insurance, and it would’ve been at least 4-5 times higher! It’s pretty crazy to think things are more expensive through insurance than as a regular cash customer.

Our third month on the road finished up our time on the east coast and reacquainted us with great friends and family along the way. It reintroduced past issues of overspending but rewarded with great friends and family time. After we get back on the road in another week, we’ll finally head west to explore some of the greatest parks and scenery in the world.

By the way, if you’re wondering why my Facebook page has gone silent, it’s because we’ve been helping my parents renovate their bathroom! We’ve gutted and subsequently rebuilt it over the last two weeks and hope to be completely finished in a couple of days! I’ll add some more pictures on Facebook so you can see the results, but as I’ve mentioned before, there are benefits to letting us squat with you!!

Some of Jocelyn's pictures from Pisgah National Forest and The Great Smokies. Most of the National Park was closed due to the fires, so we'll have to save that for next time.

Some of Jocelyn’s pictures from Pisgah National Forest and The Great Smokies. Most of the National Park was closed due to the fires, so we’ll have to save that for next time.

 

 

The top left picture is a damaged house on Edisto Island. The other pictures are from the beach around Edisto Island.

The top left picture is a damaged house on Edisto Island. The other pictures are from the beach around Edisto Island.

We found the beach! The top right picture shows the Airstream food trucks along Seaside, Florida.

We found the beach! The top right picture shows the Airstream food trucks along Seaside, Florida.

New Orleans! Lucy spent some time in the Quarter and then we parked Penny Lane on our old street and had a good ol neighborhood party!! We're so lucky to have such great friends in New Orleans.

New Orleans! Lucy spent some time in the Quarter and then we parked Penny Lane on our old street and had a good ol neighborhood party!! We’re so lucky to have such great friends in New Orleans.

We’ve made it through our second month on the road. It’s usually at this point you start to adjust to the new way of life or go running back to the old way. That’s one thing we’ve figured out as we’ve transitioned through different phases – just married, traveling the world, new jobs and moving back… after 4-6 weeks it’s no longer a “new thing”, but it just becomes your way of life. The best news of the month – our 4Runner made it another 3,000 miles without any issues! Let’s look at the overall stats:

Total November Cost: $4,321
Total days in the camper: 21
Total days out of camper: 9
Cost per day: $144
States Visited: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee
Total Miles: 2,968

Summary

The total spend was still quite high at $4,321 and higher than the $100/month I’d like to get us down to. A lot was due to the areas we visited, really expensive areas like NYC and DC and some of the expensive things we did there – like eat! Come on, we couldn’t make it all the way to NYC and not enjoy the food scene, right??

Spending Details

november-spending

The Good

Surprisingly, we spent 9 days out of the camper in November, which means we avoided campsite expenses. A few of these days were spent with a friend in Rhode Island, and the rest were spent living with the relatives during Thanksgiving. This led to other higher bills I’ll discuss in a bit, but overall it still saved us money.

I was actually surprised to see how low our gas expense was because we traveled a lot. In order to celebrate Thanksgiving with both our families, we left the east coast and D.C. to drive nine hours to Louisville, drop off the camper, and then ten hours to Tulsa! We stayed there for a quick two nights before driving back to Louisville for the other Thanksgiving. It was awesome to catch up with both families, but man did we spend a lot of time in the car.

The Bad

There weren’t any crazy bills like the $3k transfer case from October, but there were a lot of smaller cuts that added up. Lucy’s food is really dang expensive because she needs an allergy free prescription diet that costs $5/day, but we’re trying to work her off that. I was also wrong last month when I thought our utility bills would end with our house – apparently, most of the bills were paid the month after!

Big cities are also just expensive to get through, like the $16 toll bridge in NYC. Actually, I think we were supposed to pay more because we were pulling Penny Lane, but when I asked the attendant how much, he said “$16” which was listed as the car fee. I waited for a second a bit confused, but then handed him the exact amount. As we pulled out, we heard and felt a “bang, bang bang” on the side of the camper and the toll booth worker was trying to get us to stop! We already had Penny Lane rolling and there was no way I’d be able to back up, so we took our chances and rolled on. Hopefully we won’t get a ticket in the mail, but I think it should be in his job requirements to look at the car coming through to verify axles!

The Ugly

The ugly this month was also some of the best. We spent four nights in NYC at an incredible location in Jersey City that easily got us to Manhattan, but it was $95/night to stay there! It was really cool because we could literally see the Statue of Liberty from our camper on one side, and then the New York skyline on the other. It was pretty magical to walk Lucy through the Liberty State Park 25 minutes from the camper, and stand on the boardwalk to see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty just beyond us.

We also met up with friends in NYC and enjoyed the local cuisine, including some delicious Thai food at Uncle Boon’s and an Oklahoma State football watch party at Stillwater Bar (if you know anything about OSU, you know the significance of that). Our friends in DC actually paid for our dinner, which is nice on the budget, but always makes us feel bad because we live in a camper and people think we can’t pay for our own meals! But we definitely appreciate it and will pay it forward.

In conclusion, we pretty much knew an expensive month was coming with our east coast “big cities” trip. Hopefully, we can moderate our spending in the next few months as we head west and find cheaper places. My parents spent 5 weeks out west in October where they had $15/night campgrounds that included hook-ups, much cheaper than what we’ve experienced. We’ve enjoyed the east coast so far, but we’re excited to move west and try to bring out total spending back down.

More pics around NYC - the bottom two showing love flowing in Central Park!

More pics around NYC – the bottom two showing love flowing in Central Park!

 

Some of Jocelyn's cool pics around DC

Some of Jocelyn’s cool pics around DC

 

This was hiking in Shenandoah National Park in November... which was very cold! The bottom right picture shows the full force of the winter winds.

This was hiking in Shenandoah National Park in November… which was very cold! The bottom right picture shows the full force of the winter winds.

 

Some more of Jocelyn's pictures showing winter in Shenandoah

Some more of Jocelyn’s pictures showing winter in Shenandoah

It costs more than you think… that’s usually the answer I’ll give to anyone who asks how much it costs to renovate a vintage Airstream. Just like any home renovation, there are lots of surprises and challenges you’ll face along the way.

The value of a vintage Airstream is a little counter-intuitive as the older and smaller they are, the more expensive they can be to purchase. I spent a few months searching around on Craigslist, eBay and Airstream Classifieds and found it to be true. The 1950’s and 1960’s trailers in the 18-22ft range are usually right in the sweet spot and that’s why I got excited when I found a 1966 Airstream Globetrotter 20ft trailer for $7,000.

We drove two hours to Palestine, Texas to take a look at it, but we already had the cash in hand as I was pretty confident it was a good deal (and I’m impulsive). The sellers had owned it for over 25 years, and while not at all updated and not too clean, the bones were still in pretty good shape. I had no idea what I was doing besides what I researched to look for when buying an old Airstream, but I didn’t let it stop me from a $6,000 cash offer which they happily accepted. That’s when “Penny Lane” became our trailer.

old-penny-lane

Time to renovate

My original estimate on our Airstream renovation was around $6,000, which would double our purchase price and leave us with $12,000 total invested. I was wrong.

I knew we’d have to replace all of the mechanicals, but didn’t realize how much everything would cost. The only thing we really kept were the oven and the original cabinets, but we spent a lot of time painting and redoing the cabinets. You can find the full renovation story here.

Our current Airstream renovation costs are $12,057, which more than double our original purchase price and gets us to $18,057 invested in Penny Lane. The cost overruns came from a combination of big things costing more than I expected ($1,100 to install the AC) and many, many small purchases I didn’t think about. The tile for our bathroom remodel alone was over $900 when including the silicone caulk and grout. There were too many trips to Home Depot and visits from the Amazon ferry to keep up with, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re remodeling a tiny house.

Here’s an overview of our costs by category:

Here's an overview of our total renovation costs

The biggest costs were the new appliances and new plumbing systems (all new tanks), but the surprising large category was “Interior” which became a catch all for many things like new lights, countertops, supplies and many other things. We did all of the work ourselves except install the axle and air conditioner, so it would have been much higher if this was totally outsourced… I’m thinking in the range of $15k-$25k total. Just remember, I worked on it full time for nearly three months and still didn’t have it fully ready.

The last big thing we have left is to polish the exterior. I’ve spent approximately 20hrs so far, but total I’ll probably spent over 200 hrs. From what I’ve researched, estimates for professional polishing can easily top $10,000.

In the end, I’m excited about our end product and very proud of our work. It will be our home as we travel around the country over the next year, and I’m glad we were able to make it as nice as we were. I’m not sure if I’d ever do it again or recommend anyone else to do it unless they’re a little bit crazy, but it was worth it!

penny-lane

Somewhere along the line, we’ve all been tricked. We’ve been tricked into thinking only certain types of people with well developed skills and a professionally vetted plan can become entrepreneurs. We think we need a license to entrepreneu (I made that word up) before we can become entrepreneurs.

Actually, it’s not even that we’re tricked, it’s that we’re trained to think like this. School doesn’t teach us how to become entrepreneurs, but instead how to be good employees. As I mentioned in the five things I never learned in school, we’re not taught how to assess ourselves, take action, question authority or even manage money. These are things most entrepreneurs do well. We’re taught to wait for the next assignment to be given to us, so we’re always dependent on being told what to do.

When we traveled the world in 2013, we realized most people in developing countries were entrepreneurs. This wasn’t because they attended Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” seminar, it’s because there weren’t other jobs! They couldn’t log on to Monster.com and apply to 50 different openings for a financial analyst. No, they just needed to be able to eat, so they found a way to make some money.

They’d set up little stalls in the market selling their goods, or save up enough money to buy a car and give tours of their city. They’d figure out how to get by, even if it was only by selling a few camel-skin purses a day. This has been going on for tens of thousands of years – ever since humans coexisted. In my mind, there are only a few basic requirements to become an entrepreneur:
1. Be a human
2. Ability to interact with people
3. Know the local language (optional)
Some people get by with only the first requirement! We all interact with people and know how to carry a conversation. This is the very basic requirement for entrepreneurism.

So why does entrepreneurism seem so hard to most of us in the US?

I think a lot of it has to do with what we see on television or the interwebs. We see news stories on guys like Zuckerberg or Larry Paige who invented freaking Facebook or Google! We try to compare ourselves with people like that, and of course our ideas aren’t going to look grand enough. We think we can’t start being an entrepreneur until we have a brilliant and original idea.

When I interviewed my entrepreneur friend Chris, he talked about how every app idea has about ten people working on it (yes, that even includes your awesome app idea). He said about 6 of those people have moved just beyond the idea phase to talk to some people about getting it started. Two have started the design and are building it out. The last two have already brought it to market and are working their butts off day and night to make it succeed.

A brilliant idea isn’t what makes an entrepreneur successful, so don’t let that hold you up. We’re seeing new companies pop up in old industries every day, and just when we think a market is tapped out, we see a new company come in and succeed. Look at the beer market. Ten years ago it was monopolized by about four companies and we were all forced to think Bud Light was a good beer. Now, there are new craft beer companies popping up everywhere, and it’s not like they’ve reinvented beer!

Entrepreneurism is possible, you just have to want it enough. And yes, this is coming from an unemployed guy who spends all day fixing up his Airstream!! However, I intend my next paid for venture to come from my own work, so let’s do this together, and I’ll keep you updated as I move down that path.

Also, feel free to print off the awesome certificate below so you can have your license to entrepreneur!!!

 

Entrepreneur License

Overall score (Dan) = B
Overall score (Jocelyn) = A

Total days = 4 nights, 5 days
Total cost = $1,132
Cost per day = $226 / day
Flight costs = $1,164 one-way from UK and through to US
Cities visited: Reykjavik, Vic, and other small towns along the south coast of Iceland

Summary

We made Iceland our last country to visit on our round the world trip because it made sense geographically as it sits between the UK and the US. We also knew Iceland is very expensive, so we limited our time to five days and hoped it would be enough.

It turns out we could’ve spent weeks exploring the island because it’s incredibly beautiful! Iceland’s nickname is the “Land of Fire and Ice” and visiting in early November meant we got to see some ice. We explored around volcanoes and saw many of them from the road, but we never actually got to see any lava – I think you have to pay the big bucks to go on a 4×4 excursion or helicopter ride to see that.

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