The Finances of Living in a Fifth Wheel Toyhauler!
Traveling WITH New Rig
Fall Traveling East
October – Major Expenses of Health, Tires and Everything Else
If all goes according to plan, we will volunteer in the winter (which ended up being only a couple of months: January and February) and work/volunteer for six months at a National Park. Then head to Texas for some driver licenses and then back East for a couple of months. Then hopefully back to Nevada in the month of December. That is the hope anyway.
October 2010 – Where are we – We are spending part of the time in Williamsburg with my folks, and part of the time in Fairfax with Sasha’s folks. So we got to Williamsburg, VA by my birthday (October 6th) and spent two weeks with my folks, then headed up to Fairfax, VA to spend about a month with Sasha’s folks, then back down to Williamsburg for another two weeks. Or so.
I had stated in September that we should only fill up three times to get to the east coast, and that was almost true. Having a huge tank does have its benefits. Then making sure that the prices are correct and that stores actually do have the right price is something else entirely.
Expenses: Some expenses were unexpected, and therefore the monthly cost was high.
Expenses for October 2010
- Food, Food and Household: $199.61
- , Out to Eat: $281.41
- Clothing, Laura: $14.64
- , Sasha: $102.88
- Transportation, Diesel: $718.98
- , Tolls (Sort of): $7.06
- , Motorcycles, Gas: $35.01
- , , Maintenance: $100.33
- Utilities, Propane: $31.02
- , Rent/Storage: $70.00
- Camper, Stuff: $724.60
- Communication, Postage: $17.75
- , Software: $79.99
- Health, Insurance (L): $672.28
- , Insurance (S): $0
- , Dentist (L&S): $859.50
- , Other: $9.38
- Recreation, Books: $13.64
- , Gifts: $27.53
- Losses, Bank Fee: $10.00
Total Expenses = $3,975.61
Food Craziness – No, No Food Even Though
Fast Food is Not Good Food
First off, the household food and out to eat foods, are crazed – you would think we would have it be the opposite way. But when you are traveling, as much as you want to think you would eat in the camper, it just is not always the case. Although I am disturbed that the amount of times we ate at a McDonalds. It is cheap food, even when we are sort of good and get a salad, but really, it is just not good for us. During the entire month of October, we went to a fast food place (can’t call them restaurants as that means slow food) six times! Yikes…well, on the return trip back west, we are going to cut down on that, For Sure.
Slow Cooked (BBQ) and Nice Restaurants
But we also went to some very nice restaurants, such as the BBQ place in Amarillo and another one outside of Corolla, NC. Interesting to try BBQ in different parts of the country, the tastes can be comepletely different. We went to Ruby’s in Texas, and Currituck BBQ in North Carolina (we treated my folks!) I am really starting to like BBQ when it is done well.
Most Tastiest Small Plates Ever
We also went to our favorite restaurant in Washington DC called Jaleo. This is a Spanish Tapas place that is SO good, whenever we go into DC we HAVE to go there. I was just so happy it was still around. And it was packed! When I went to see my book club friends, we went to O’Fanagans (I am sure that is spelled wrong!) in Sterling, VA, I got a nice dinner, but the most important thing was not the food, but the company. And while we were with Sasha’s parents, we went to a restaurant called Artie’s and got drinks. I must say, coming back into the DC metro area, WOW the restaurant business is not doing too bad, especially with the prices they expect people to pay!
Being a Part of Two Different Households
Regarding the food & household prices, part of that was the two households that we were a part of. I felt we needed to help out at least a little by getting some food and we did get some in North Carolina (we went to Corolla NC with my folks who had bought a condo there) and when we were in Fairfax.
Part of the time we were in Fairfax, Sasha got a bad cold, so I had to go out and get him some cough medicine and stuff, so those purchases are under household. I guess they should have been under health but that was such a large monthly charge that I did not have the heart to put more under it.
Hard to Fit Means Higher Prices
Clothing: We did spend some money regarding clothing in October. When we got to Williamsburg, Sasha went to Walmart and got a pair of sneakers. While he is 12 medium with hiking boots, he is definitely not 12 medium with sneakers. He wore them on two separate occasions and they were constricting and tight. So back to Walmart they went and we got him some New Balance sneakers (for $30 more than the Walmart ones! 🙁 ) But that is the way it goes sometimes. He is hard to fit, so we get them when we can. But sneakers are important when they are the other walking shoe around here, so might as well get it.
I got two pairs of shoes too, at a thrift store. It is much easier to find shoes for me, as I have small feet for my height. Some people even say I should be falling over more as my feet are so small, but hey, it is great for the thrift, always know I will find shoes. As a matter of fact, one pair of shoes was left in Fairfax just in case I need nice shoes when we go back.
Rushing The RVers Way – Going East
Transportation: It took us about a week to get back east, going about 400 to 500 miles a day. Most of the time during the day, with the sun hitting the tires always on the passenger side. We filled up four times: Amarillo, TX, Shawnee, OK, someplace in Tennesse, and then in Virginia. The one time in OK and VA were for small fills – only 42-45 gallons each, rather than our normal 75 to 85 gallons. Thing was, it seemed each day that we filled up. So out of the first five days of October, we filled up 4 times. I guess you could say we did more than 500 miles, more like 600 or 700 miles and we were carrying full loads at least, full water.
We also gased up the RV for the generator, kind of topped it off. I guess we figured there could be the possibility of taking out the motorcycle for Sasha but that did not materialize. But we had it just in case.
For maintenance, we got oil filters for everything, the cycles and truck as well as new water filters for the rig. Sasha was able to change the truck’s oil and filter while the rig was in storage. I like the fact that Sasha can do that himself and that we do not have to take it somewhere to get it done. Being handy is a good thing.
Rant on Tolls and E-Z Pass
The tolls – sort of: OK this is the sort of thing that is getting me ranting – so if I go off on a tangent here, hopefully you will understand. Those that are on the east coast – raise your hands! Not only on the East Coast, but anywhere from Northern Virginia, even Richmond, Virginia up to at least Massachusetts, and maybe even farther.
This area pays tolls, and there are many of them. I guess because there are so many people living in that area, tolls are a necessary evil. We know this. When we were in our “Stick&Brick” house, we got an EZ Pass, although at the time it was called something else for Virginia. Each state had its own pass for a while until finally people were so annoyed with the fact that they had to have one for Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and New Jersey, that the states all banded together and voila, EZ Pass was born. You could zip through the tolls and it was automatically deducted from your account. You always had to have $25 in the account, and when you got low, they would charge your credit card.
So fast forward 10 years. We had been going along nicely with the pass until lo and behold, we went out west. There are no tolls out there, no EZ Pass because the states themselves can and do pay to keep up their roads. Although some of them probably could use EZ Pass to keep them up better, but that is another tangent.
We come back east, thinking that we would go up north and see some folks, realizing that we would be going through toll-territory. Around that time we got a letter from EZ Pass, stating that because we did not use the pass for once in the past 6 months, that they were terminating our account!
As per the new user agreement, which we had not seen, you had to use the pass at least once every six months! Well, if we are in Utah for six months, there is no way that we could do that. Because we did not use it, they thought we had “Stolen” the transponder, a little white thingy that attaches to your front window, and charged us $7.06 for it! Like HELLLOO what the heck!
So, we said, there is no point to continuing with a company that we had been a part of for almost our entire married life, we will send back the transponder, which meant of course, that we were charged for sending it back, ugh! You can give us our money in the account back, thank you very much. We got back $25, and were charged $7 plus shipping. Not cool people! When we did go up to see friends, we paid cash for the tolls.
News About Flying J & Pilot: A Bad Merger for RVers
With the Utilities: We got propane while we were in Virginia getting diesel and gas. Oh, and we got it at a Flying J. Now, you have probably see us talk about Flying J when we started doing our traveling, raving about Flying J. While they are still pretty good, this trip showed us how stinky a merger can be. Flying J merged with Pilot and is now called Pilot/Flying J. The Flying J’s they now charge for dumping the sewer! Never did they do that before, sigh, and the website which shows all the prices has changed dramatically.
Plus, the most important thing is this – their prices have gone up. They used to be the cheapest for diesel, gas, and propane. But now you can see the station next to them might have the same price as the Flying J. Their restaurants have also changed, now most have a Denny’s rather than their Country Kitchen. Dennys are usually more expensive, so not as much eating at a Flying J. And this entire trip, we did not stay once at a Flying J. Maybe we have changed or found other places to stay overnight, but unfortunately, we are disappointed in them.
We were able to get propane there. However, their rules are similar to other gas stations – you have to estimate how much money you might charge for your diesel, and then pre-approve for that amount. Annoying and they never used to do that.
Also, for the dump, now $5 for members (RV members) or $10 if you are not. American Express made it worse for us, because we were charging three different major charges: diesel, gasoline, and propane. When I went in to first authorize the charge for the diesel, everything went through OK. Then I had to go back for the gasoline, and boy oh boy, mess-ups abound! And then Propane. Major mess-ups! In the end, we paid more than we should have for the propane and gasoline because we were supposed to have a member rate and that did not happen for the gas and propane. While those discounts are pretty low, like one cent a gallon or pound, it adds up and as you get closer and closer to the next level, you get more taken off the bill.
Storage Because of Family Parking
The other utility was that we put our rig in storage. Our family, we love them so, but no one has the space for our rig. We just do not come from an RVing family (on either side) and so, we went to American Heritage RV Park to put the rig in storage for a month or two.
They put our credit card on file (people, do not do this, as we found out later!) and said that they would charge us for November on the sixth. We also made reservations for staying at the campground from November 22nd onwards, as we would give up our room at my parents’ house to Sasha’s parents who would be coming for Thanksgiving.
We would stay with my parents at their house from October 6th through October 17th, then go up to Fairfax, and stay with Sasha’s parents until November 12th, then back at my parents’ house until November 22nd. We would leave Virginia on December 7th.
Blowouts and Tie-Downs
Camper Stuff: This is a doozy: First, on October 1st we got new tie-downs for our toys, extra ones so that the motorcycles did not move around so much, because when they did, it was hard for us to travel.
Then on October 3rd, while I was driving through a very bumpy concrete road full of potholes… REALLY, I do not know how you can have potholes with a concrete road, but anyway… We had a blow-out on one of the trailer tires. These were tires that we had put on in November 2009, and really had not been used too much. But, I was going only 50 miles per hour as the road was so bad, however, it was during rush hour, traffic bad, major city up ahead, and had to move over three lanes just to get to the side of the road.
But I was able to do it, and so we were on the side of the road, waiting for a guy to come out and fix the tire. Well, he could not fix it, it was blown, but to change the tire on the rig. As it was a Sunday, it was a little harder to get some one to come out, but they did, and they charged us $130 to come out and change the tire. We were just outside of Memphis, Tennesee and managed to find a tire place where we could get four new tires (we did not want to go too far on the spare.) So we found Raleigh Tire outside of Memphis where we spent the night, waiting for them to open in the morning.
October 4, the next morning comes around, and Bam! $550.25 later, we had four new tires on the trailer, and the spare was back in place. OUCH, that one hurt, but our rig did not get damaged, probably because I was going so slow.
A blow-out can also cause more blow-outs, but this one did not cause the tire next to it to blow out, again, probably because I was going so slow.
We had just seen, not more than a day before, of a blow-out happening on a fifth wheel. Those folks were going much faster than us, and had actually passed us and then moved into the right lane. Their tire blew, which caused another tire to go, then RIPPED the side of the RV right off. Bits of the wall, installation, and siding were all strewn on the highway. At least that did not happen to us.
The last camper stuff was for 12 V battery for the power supply. For the WiFi hotspot. This way we could use the cigarette lighter adapter in the house. This is what Sasha told me. It cost $31.49, for that piece of equipment.
I must say it is interesting, we have most of our stuff for our camper, but then sometimes need stuff for a house when we visit. When will it be that we have enough stuff for everything that we need to do?
Sending Stuff via Snail Mail & Old Technologies
Communication: We sent the DSL box back to Frontier and that cost some postage, plus I sent off gifts to my nieces, and that was postage too. I then got Parallels software so that we could use the Delorme GPS software correctly. I had a previous version on the Mac but it did not work well, so we had to get a new version.
Health Insurance Does NOT Mean Preventative!!!
The most expensive charges though, were again with the health. I paid up 6 months of health insurance for just my side. As this is my venting page right now, I have to vent a little longer. It seems that the health insurance we got, which was pretty reasonable, is cheap for a reason alright…no preventive care, only emergency care. Of course, we found that out the day or two before we were to go into the doc’s office for a preventive care physical. It seems that we would not be covered at ALL! However, if there was something wrong with us, then it would be covered.
How wrong is this world where only when there is something wrong, you are covered for health care? If we decided to go with the regular prices of health care, like what we were paying in 2009, you’d be spending more than what you got out of it. So pay as you go, health care that we have now, I guess is for in case we ever get real health care with a company, just to show that we had health care the entire time (otherwise the premium would be really high.) I don’t quite understand it all.
The dentist’s bills were for the both of us getting cleanings, x-rays (two types) and one refilling of a cavity. I think next time, we are going to have to get the numbers up front and then shop around for the best deals.
The “other” charge for health was for these neat gadgets that help us clean our teeth and gums better. They are more economical and better for the environment too.
Reading is FUNdamental
Fun Stuff: I got an interesting book for myself and got my nephew a couple of good books for his birthday. I believe he liked his books. He is a reader like I was at that age (still am as a matter of fact!) so I am happy he is happy with the books.
Banks We Don’t Like You Much Right Now
Fees: We had transferred in money to our bank but did not do it in time, for a bill to be paid, so we got dinged $10. That is the first time that has happened since we were married, and hopefully will not happen again. Enough said on that.
Present Day Laura: I realize that these rantings were just that, rantings. When you think about it, we had a deadline to make, getting to one side of US in record time. Normally we like to take our time, going only 250 or 300 miles a day. We would suggest taking it slower because a blow-out is pretty scary, and we’d rather you had a good experience going across the country.