Springtime Savings Secrets

Finances of Living in a Fifth Wheel Toyhauler
May 2013

Full Time RVing – Cheaper RVing?

Springtime Savings Secrets

May – Learning the Forest Service Ways

Laura & Sasha & The Mountain

Hiking Boundary Trail with 100s pic of flowers

Four months of Volunteering at Lake Mead, followed by working for the US Forest Service in Washington State: Mount St. Helen’s National Volcanic Monument, then dealing with a sequestration and ultimate Government Shutdown, then headed to areas to boondock for the winter. A crazy life awaits for those who decide to say YES! I am up to the challenge! 

May 2013 – Washington State: Mount St. Helen’s National Volcanic Monument

Expenses: For the Month of May: Hopefully not too much, just paying bills from April’s Ouch & Enjoying May’s Oh My, And Only?


Expenses for May 2013

  • Food, Food and Household: $126.81
  •         , Out to Eat: $160.65
  • Clothing, Sasha: $31.08
  • Household, Rent: $0.00*
  •                  , Motel: $145.32
  • 5th Wheel, Upgrades: $11.23
  • Transportation, Diesel: $363.93
  • Communication, Cell Phone: $34.22
  •                          , InReach: $11.41
  •                          , Internet: $59.99
  •                          , Postage: $9.20
  •                          , Software: Delorme Maps $32.42
  •                          , Escapees: $100.00
  •                          , Hosting Website: $41.22
  • Health, Both Insurance: $117.72
  •            , Ear Plugs: $8.05
  • Recreation, Books/Magazines: $31.30
  •                  , Fun Stuff: $43.07

        Total Expenses = $1,328.29

Not Too Expensive Month With Hints of Savings

May turned out to be pretty inexpensive even with buying diesel and a couple of nights stay in a motel. While we did not get it down to below $1000 – we came pretty close. This has been one of the lowest month expenses since we started full-time RVIng.

Several Secret Hints People Don’t Talk About

Food: We were using the provisions of March for most of the month. We did need dairy, greens, fruit, and eggs, but no meat. We are going through our beans pretty quickly, probably because when we make a crockpot, we share with our housemates and others. Thankfully, beans are inexpensive and we can get more.

1. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Buying food in a depressed market Washington food prices are much cheaper than other places. It might be because there are still some depressed areas, or it is an agricultural state or some other reason, but dairy and greens are cheap here. And once the fruit season begins, that will be cheap too.

However, if you do the “bad” stuff – like soda, beer, wine, prepared foods, or smokes, there is tax on those things. So we have been doing the soda and that costs us each time. Buying cider and beer costs us in taxes too. I suppose if we went down to Portland OR, then there would be no tax of any kind.

2. Another Secret while RVing or Not: Whether you live close to a major metropolitan city, an expensive resort town, or just a bigger village, your food prices are expensive. They are expensive because you LIVE CLOSE to them. It is easy to just say, let’s go into town and buy “gadget” or go out to eat.They tend to increase their prices during the “season” to make money on tourists.

Us living at least 65 miles away from the closest town has been a help in this case. We have to wait until we have a day where we can go in to town. Unfortunately, we do spend money at a motel, but it is worth it as far as getting our internet and updating our website, Facebook and letting the friends and family know we are still alive.

Another help is that there is no sales tax on most food. So we go into town and buy groceries and do not have to pay extra. And the restaurants are not overly expensive when you get further away from the mountain.

* Laura Present Day: Soon I will have some really helpful tips on taxes for consumables such as those mentioned above. People always wonder and why not give them the facts?  

3. Making a plan and a list and stick to it. Knowing what food you have in provisions or storage or even in your refrigerator will make shopping easier. We always use our shopping list because it shows the amounts we have compared to the amounts we need.

Household: We are back to paying rent for living in a beautiful place. This is just a guesstimate because I have not yet gotten charged for our rent in my paycheck. So I am not sure what is going to happen later on. I guess I will have to talk to HR to make sure I do not get charged in the end.

  • I took the $140 out of the expenses, as again, I did not get charged for the month. I talked to my boss and she said wait until the next pay period and she would figure out what happened. So no bill for that yet.

Clothing: Sasha got a beautiful vest for work. Since he works at the place, he was able to get a discount. The vest is comfortable and perfect for the weather here, not too hot nor too cold.

Household/5th Wheel: And I bought a spray bottle because I will start doing the sprouts soon, but have not done them yet. We have great windowsills here in the apartment, perfect places for the sprouts, but I have not yet done them as first, we have gone away and second, I was so concerned about my programs, that I did not want to concentrate on the veggies, thinking that we could just buy whatever. But now that I have the two down pat, sprouts are in our future and the spray bottle will come into play to water the microgreens.

Motels: We stayed at Choice Inn & Suites motel just outside of Vancouver, Washington. It was a great place for high internet speeds that we crave, uploading FTP files (that is how you get these webpages!) * Present Day Laura: NOT anymore! * and watching the occasional shows via connecting our MacBook Pro laptop to the flat panel Philips 32″ TV. We watched a Big Bang Theory, Amazing Race (two episodes), and a Bones episode. Anyway, the Choice Inn has a good breakfast, easy on and off the highway, granite countertops in the bath, a refrigerator and microwave in the room and the noise level is not that bad. We plan on coming back for another weekend some time in the future.


We stayed for two nights on two different weekends. We love it – great amount of internet, nice bed (we went with a King as it is the same price as a Queen – might as well, right?)

Transportation: We have managed to make that tank last a good long time but we might just be scraping the bottom now. I doubt we will make it through the month without having to do a fill-up for the truck,

4. Using a Carpool with Co-Workers We have been car-pooling with the Forest Service government Expedition trucks every day we work. It is a pleasure and I totally love this aspect of the Forest Service. Carpooling, who would have thought that would make our lives so much cheaper? It is the totally frugal way to go.

(We knew this already but the NPS does not seem to do this – at least at none of the parks we have worked or volunteered. Too bad.)

May 24th – We paid for 93.5 gallons of diesel for $3.889 a gallon. Not too bad. * Of course in the future, that price came down a significant amount.*

Learn from Our Mistakes, Please! 

Communication: We paid a little more for Communication this month, even though we are only able to communicate with most folks on our days off. We got more postage so that Escapees – our Mailing Service, can send us our snail mail. Thankfully, the junk is taken out, and we just get the occasional stuff. But we found out that the last mailing they sent us cost $13 shipped via UPS – YUKES!  We are going to try for General Delivery to Toutle, WA instead. We decided not to get a post office box as it is a pain. We just do not get that much mail.

Sasha & Thai Food

The First Taste of Washington Thai Food

So our 6 month cost for hosting this website came in – not too bad. Google Ads help pay for the website’s hosting. We have found that less people click on the ads which means less revenue on the site. We have been paying out of pocket for the hosting. I know, the ads aren’t the greatest, but a penny here and there ultimately count up to $100 when we can get paid.

The general costs that we pay each month: InReach (which we have not used yet), Cell Phones (which do not work up here), and Internet (again do not work up here) seem so useless, but when we go down the mountain, they are worth every penny. Well, maybe not the InReach but that is a just in case sort of protection.

5. Carry your postage with you at all times especially while traveling. We also did not have postage when we went down the mountain, so I had to buy a book of forever stamps. Sort of not happy but what can you do when you forget? So now I have my book of stamps in the wallet just in case.

Health: Thankful here too, just our normal expenses of health insurance and we have been healthy. I have taken up doing Yoga again – every time I do it, I think of my Mom, showing me a few of the different movements. And I am back to doing “stirring the pot” and sit-ups and push-ups. Only 10 push-ups so far, but hopefully will get better – have found that my wrists have been bothering me – might be because I added another Yoga position. I do not know the name of it (The Sphinx maybe?) but I push up on my arms, head up, curved back, and knees and feet on the floor. Do that for as long as my wrists hold out, then back in as though I am praying to a god – arms out, head tucked in, sitting on lower legs (Childs Pose).

Recreation: Fun Stuff was mostly getting some Mother’s Day cards and clay for my program on the Crater. I thought I got way too much, but I had no idea how I was going to work the clay, so I am glad I did get a bunch. It might end up being just enough.

I bought several magazines about Mac tips and tricks, to have something else to read, but really I want to get to a bookstore. There are none around Longview, Kelso, or Vancouver, so I am not sure how I will be able to find it, but maybe we will go to Portland on our 4 Day weekend, and I can get one then.

And Sasha bought an organizer – but we put it in with the books as it is for his papers and other stuff.

I also bought an organizer for the clay – we shall see how it works.

We are getting more emails from Amazon.com about our work come November, and more paperwork has to be filled out. Keeping those papers handy when we go into town is important.

Five Secret Savings Tips

1 Buying food in a depressed market

2 Another Secret while RVing or Not, Don’t Live As close to shopping

3 Making a plan and a list and stick to it. 

4 Using a Carpool with Co-Workers

5 Carry your postage with you at all times especially while traveling

Do you have some hints for those who RV or not? Please put them down below…thank you!

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