We have been working on our 2020 budget so I thought I would share our money management style so that we can afford to stay on the road. I have rewritten this one entry many times. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to budget. The only wrong thing, in my mind, is not to budget at all.
I write our budget in Excel. Most of the budget is actual expenses except for gas, lodgings and groceries. We use this method because both Donna and I need to understand where our money goes each month. Before we decided to full time RV we both budgeted but had different methods. I liked my budget in Quicken with Excel as a quick year in review. Donna liked the Dave Ramsey envelop method. This is our compromise to manage our money.
|Gas for RV||350||350||350|
|Gas for Car||150||150||150|
|Verizon cell phones||130||160||160|
|Maintenance for RV||250||250|
|Maintenance for Car||150|
|Joint Saving (WF)||500||500||500|
|Insurance RV and Car||211||211||211|
|RV park fees||700||700||700|
|Life Insurance (ELK)||65||65||65|
We only have Dish fees when we are in a place where there is no TV coverage. I have money in that bucket for May between October when we are at Yellowstone. We own our Wally so there is no extra fee for that. I put the deductible for our PPO insurance so you won’t see money going into that bucket near the end of the year.
This is every single expense that we have. I choose to making savings an expense. This is how we prioritize saving. We paid off our RV while we were working at Amazon in the fall of 2018. We do keep our maintenance buckets as flush as we can. This way we can just pay for it and not have to use a credit card because I am anticipating that we will have an expense. I do have another Excel sheet called left is savings. This is how we track what is left in a category. I work with both sheets on the first of the month to make sure we are on track. Thus far it is working for us.
Donna is retired military so our main source of income is her retirement check. We also have Tricare Select for health insurance. There are no premiums but we have a deductible to reach before it kicks in with cost sharing. I know this is a hurdle for most younger folks who want to live this lifestyle. They usually end up with ACA coverage if they don’t have a job that offers health insurance.
When we work we usually make a goals for that money. We discuss those goals before we start working. Last year, Donna wanted to shore up her personal savings. I wanted to contribute $2,000 to my Roth IRA. Our combined goal was to increase our savings account to $10,000. We were able to meet those goals while working at Yellowstone. We have not discussed our 2020 work goals yet but we will soon.
Do you budget? If so, what is your method?
Earlier this year I started looking for a veterans program that fit my needs while traveling full-time. I made a few calls and finally heard about programs and activities that I could do while traveling. This lead me to the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP.) I was able to get help for insomnia. I was able to choose a psychologist and schedule appointments via the telephone through their mental health programs. Sessions lasted for 12 weeks. I found this program to be a success. I am currently sleeping 8 hrs and have a plan if my insomnia returns.
My second experience was with a three day retreat dealing with physical wellness and nutrition. It was being held in Denver, CO. We were already in that area because we were in process of traveling to Yellowstone for our summer job. It was the most information packed retreat that I had ever attended; not to mention that except for travel it was at no cost to me. The hotel, meals and all the equipment we were provided was at WWPs expense. It help me set goals that are attainable, learn how to properly use a TRX training device and provided the attendees with 30 days of follow-up on a bi-weekly basis via the telephone.
My most recent experience was with an online hydration challenge. We were challenged to increase our water intake over a 30 day period. We tracked our intake and had follow-ups with our counselor. I went from 30 ounces to 48 ounces a day. Which was a leap for me.
So as you can see, it is not just for veterans with visible challenges but also for veterans that might need to find and interact with other vets in your geographic area. WWP has programs to improve health, career transition or help with filing for VA benefits. If you are or someone you know needs services please ask them to speak with a representative or go to the WWP website.