Wow, we’re into February, 2016 already. Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’.
At the end of the year, my bank sends me a summary of purchases made on my Visa credit card. Since I always put campgrounds on the card, I can pull that category and see what we spent. I also put fuel on either my Visa card or Pilot/Flying J card, so I can track that easily. Also, maintenance costs go on my Visa card.
People are often curious about what we spend on this lifestyle. I decided to share a breakdown of maintenance, fuel and campgrounds (which includes utilities). Other expenses like food, clothing and restaurants are no different than when we lived in a stick-and-bricks home. Likewise, health insurance and healthcare haven’t changed – well, health insurance has gone up but it would’ve done that even if we never hit the road.
Maintenance costs for us in 2015 were minimal. We didn’t have any major breakdowns – it was mostly scheduled preventive maintenance. We spent more in the first year owning this coach as I brought everything up to snuff. Hopefully we’ll continue to pay for scheduled maintenance and not have major repair bills. In 2015, we spent $982.15, a monthly average of $85.85. I did most of the work myself keeping the costs low.
We traveled extensively in 2015 – about 10,000 miles in the motorhome. I was surprised to see how low our fuel costs were – thanks in no small part to the low fuel prices. Our fuel costs include diesel for the coach and generator and gasoline for the scooter. In 2015, we spent $3,278.15, a monthly average of $273.18. I expect our fuel costs to be lower this year as prices have fallen even lower and we won’t put on as many miles.
Our largest expenditure last year was on campground fees. We stayed in several parks that are pricier than we normally pay. Campgrounds in the east tend be priced higher than many of the places we find in the southwest. Also, we usually take advantage of monthly rates in San Diego and Arizona. We try to have a few days of free boondocking through dispersed camping on public land or an overnight here and there at Walmart, Cabela’s or casinos as we travel. Our campground cost for 2015 was $7,441.15, a monthly average of $620.10, a daily average of $28.08. I expect this expense to be similar this year.
Adding these three RV expense categories together, we spent $11,701.45 in 2015, a monthly average of $975.12. This is much less than we paid for mortgage, utilities and maintenance in the sticks-and-bricks lifestyle – and we’re seeing the country while we’re at it.
One area of expense is higher than we paid in our sticks and bricks. That’s telephone, internet and satellite TV. In our sticks and bricks we had Comcast for cable TV, highspeed internet and a landline at a cost of about $180/month and Donna had a cell phone at $50/month – my cell phone was provided by my company. Now we have two smartphones, a Verizon Jetpack with a 30GB data plan and Dish Network with over 200 high definition channels. Our monthly expense is about $351 – that’s $4,212 per year. Comcast probably costs more than the $180/month we paid three years ago, but I don’t know what the current rate is.
I didn’t list our full-timers insurance policy costs for the coach and trailer or the scooter insurance. I don’t think it’s helpful to anyone because insurance rates vary based on value of the vehicles, coverage limits and deductibles, driving records, credit scores and the state you’re registered in. Our insurance costs overall are lower than the homeowner policy and motorcycle insurance we had before we hit the road.
We pulled out of our boondocking site at Dome Rock near Quartzsite, Arizona around noon yesterday. It was windy – the wind was coming from the west at about 20mph. It was steady with few gusts so driving wasn’t too stressful.
We drove east through town and then north on AZ95. This route was fairly level and mostly straight to Parker, Arizona. It was cold – the thermometer never reached 60 degrees. Once we passed through Parker, AZ95 hugs the Colorado River. At one of the many resort areas along the river, I saw someone water skiing! Even with a wetsuit it had to be cold.
The road north from Parker to Lake Havasu City has many hills and twists. The road surface was good. It’s mostly two-lane highway with occasional passing lanes. We cruised at 58-60mph. The engine ran very cool – I couldn’t keep it up to temperature in the cool air with the wind blowing across the radiator. The coolant temperature reached 186 degrees on a couple of the longer climbs, but mostly hovered around 178-180 degrees. Running too cool isn’t as worrisome as overheating, but it can lead to incomplete combustion and fuel dilution in the crankcase oil. Diesels run more efficiently at a coolant temperature around 190 degrees.
Lake Havasu City is a town with a population of about 52,000. It sprawls along the man-made lake. We’re located on the north side of town at the Havasu Falls RV Resort (map). This park has tight pull-though sites 50 feet long by 22 feet wide. They are paved and level. I managed to get our 56-foot length into the pull-through without dropping the trailer by pulling in at an angle with the trailer slightly turned.
The RV park is on high ground with a view of the lake/river.
Although we have have clear, sunny skies today, the cold front that blew in yesterday will linger. I doubt if we’ll see a temperature above the low 60s. The weather guessers are calling for a slow warming trend with the temperature reaching the 70s by this weekend. We’ll stay here and explore until next Monday. Then we’ll move to the rodeo grounds on the south side of town for the Alpine Coach rally and the Western Winter Blast Pyrotechnics show.