Truck F450 Driving & Stopping Safely

Finances of Living in a Fifth Wheel Toyhauler
January 2011

Full Time RVing – RVing at 3 NPS Parks

Winter Traveling Times

January – Ford F450 ChangesTruck 

Could there be a longer name for a bridge?

Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, also known as the Hoover Dam Bypass

If all goes according to the plan, we will volunteer in the winter (which will only be a couple of months: January, February, and a little of March) and work/volunteer for six months at a National Park. After that, we are thinking of heading back to Lake Mead for the late fall through next winter. We shall see!

January 2011 – Where are we – We are in Lake Mead National Recreation Area in NV.

Expenses: For the Month of January: Starting the year off pretty bad, but new truck means new things.

Expenses for January 2011

  • Food, Food and Household: $283.06
  •         , Out to Eat: $140.54
  • Clothing, Sasha: $44.50
  • Transportation, Diesel: $681.04
  •                        , Truck, Maintenance $1,146.73
  •                        , Truck, Registration/Title $140.02
  •                        , Truck, Upgrades $2,092.85
  •                        , Laura’s Driver’s License: $6.50
  • Household, Propane: $0
  •                  , Laundry: $3.00
  •                  , Electricity: $0
  •                  , Rent: $0
  •                  , Tools: $77.85
  • Camper, Upgrades: $431.33
  •              , Maintenance: $20.80
  • Communication, Cell Phone: $33.08
  •                          , Internet: $72.77
  •                          , Extras: $2.80
  •                          , PostNet Mailbox: $55.00
  •                          , Postage: $5.65
  • Health, Doctor: $70.00
  • Recreation, Books: $18.72
  •                  , Fun Stuff: $123.48
  •                  , Camping Gear: $43.22
  •                  , Music: $2.99
  • Losses, Gambling: $3.00
  •             , Bank Charge/Fee: $13.15
  •             , Costco Membership: $50.00

Total Expenses = $5,562.09

Improvements on the F450 Truck Early On 

OK, January is gone, and the money went with it! It was an expensive month, but after buying a new to us truck, we had to make some improvements on it. But let’s go through the categories together.

We Are Not A Red Meat Family

Food: Found out there is a Whole Foods and a Natural Food store in Las Vegas and Henderson areas, so I had to check them both out. But most of the stuff we buy is fruits and veggies, with tortillas and dairy. I looked at this months’ list, and not one item was for red meat. I guess that is why our food bill is so low. We only had one instance of buying meat, and that was sliced turkey.

That being said, we are not vegetarians. We do eat meat, we just don’t buy it in a market. We buy it when we go out for dinner. We have been checking out the buffets in the area, and have found a couple that we really like. You can have whatever you want and I usually get a huge salad first, then some veggies, maybe a meat thing – like fried chicken or a small slice of roast beef or something like that, and then dessert.

We get water to drink (why fill up on sweetened drinks?) and most often than not, it is a good deal. So we went to a buffet four times this month. We also went to some fast food places. Not really my cup of tea, but fast and easy is the way to go.

Love Those You Know, Their Stuff Even Less

Clothing: Sasha need some new stuff. He loves my jacket – it is polypropylene and it is the perfect jacket for hiking. So we went searching for something similar, but no go. So we got a lighter weight jacket for him, and now he has a hard time deciding which jacket to bring. Let’s just say we are still on the look-out for a medium duty hiking jacket. So while he got the jacket, we also got him a whisking shirt, to wear underneath, just in case he gets hot.

His favorite hiking pants were getting a tear, so we got some iron on patches and used them to patch the hole. Now, he has another hole, so we need to buy some more patches before we leave.

Changing the Name of a Category

Household: I used to call this Utilities, but we really do not spend much there, as campgrounds, parks, volunteer spots, and the park service all have them tied up into the renting of the spot, so I changed it a bit. Household now means utilities, laundry, and tools as we buy tools for the home and for the vehicles, but it gets too confusing to think of the tools as just for one category when they are usually for many different categories.

Sasha has been buying tools so that we are more self sufficient. He has been working on the new truck, which is easier to maintain, as there are less electronic or computer things within it.

Maintenance and Upgrades to Our Home

5th Wheel: We have been doing some maintenance and upgrades on the fifth wheel. One of the major upgrades was that we got a new television: 32″ Vizio LED LCD. We got it at Costco, as they were doing a special (they had advertised this product wrong so they took off a significant amount!) We then needed a wall mount for the TV, but we have not installed it yet.

We went four years without a TV – as we did not need it, but we now have a great sitting area and tons of movies and TV shows that we can watch. We can not get any shows over the air, but that is OK. We shall just enjoy what we have now.

We did get some other things for the camper, including a bath towel and some more hangers. Most of these hangers can not fit the holes in the closet, but are for our clothes rack in the garage. We usually hang our coats and work related things back there.

Stingy Advertising Means More Money

Transportation: Buying a new truck you would think would mean less improvements, but while the truck advertised stated external fuel tank – that tank was not installed. So the installation was one of the first projects on the truck. Since the truck did not come with a spare tire, we got a spare from Rickson as we know their wheels and tires are good. I think it costs as much to ship as the price of the tire, but you know they are good wheels. We also got a tire pressure combo, needed stuff for the truck.

Our Truck at Lake Mead NRA site

Our Truck at Lake Mead NRA Volunteer Site

For the truck maintenance, we had the differential, transmission, and alternator checked over and repaired as needed. We were getting this check battery light that kept coming on, and as this truck had sat for supposedly six months or so, while the batteries still showed lots of juice, we felt we might as well change them. When we got the truck, there was no service records (unlike us, who keep such detailed accounts, we could go back 5 years to say when we had things done…this is totally Sasha, that is what he is good at!) So we do not know what they did before, and so after getting the batteries and Sasha installed them, the battery light went off.

He also got some other electrical stuff to make the light go off. Plus filters, air intake valve, and other things that make my head spin. I would say he is turning into a gearhead, but he was already there with the electronic stuff. I figure, as long as he gets enjoyment and learning out of it, GO for it DUDE!

The new truck’s also had registration and title. And lastly in transportation, I got my driver’s record for Lake Mead (I guess my background check does not mean anything…of course.) Not that we have taken any cars out, although I guess we could have. But we never really go that far to volunteer – a couple of trails are nearby, and doing programs is also close. Maybe when we come back it will still be good.

We Learned From Past Mistakes, But….

Communication: We again set up a mailbox at PostNet, this time for only three months, as we know we are going to be in Canyonlands by mid March. Sasha got more minutes on his phone (good for two more months) and our Verizon bill was larger as we went over by a couple of megabytes!

We knew we were close but for a couple of days, they were just showing the same amount. As it was close to the end of the cycle, we were not sure, until WHAM! they got us. I truly hate a monthly charge like that, with no way to get unlimited without paying an arm and a leg. And having to then do another two year agreement. Ugh, and because we halted the internet last summer, we still have more than six months before we can terminate the agreement. Sigh…. Oh well.

We also had to do some postage, sending back some things that did not work for us, and Sasha had to scan some documents and so used PostNet to do it. I bet there is a scanner in Lake Mead, but we have not been given access to the computer there, so it is a no go.

Health Insurance Finally Pays Off

Health: This is one time that the health insurance is worth it. We pay two times a year, to get emergency care. I went to the doctor’s office in November, and the insurance company finally paid most of the bill. I had to pay for the last of it. Four different places (lab work and doc visits) cost me between $15 and $25 each, for a total of $70.

Green Laser Pointer Creates WOW Factor

Recreation: We do not do much recreating, as we live in amazing places. But I occasionally like to learn more than what is on the internet, a book to read the geology or about plants, so I got two really cool quick guides on plants and lizards in the southwest (that have really come in handy!), plus a book about plants in the Southwest that can be used in Utah too.

Fun stuff was kind of interesting. I did several programs in January in regards to the night sky. I wanted to get my very own green laser pointer, and so we researched like crazy. Sasha finally found one in Hong Kong, that was around $88! However, after buying it, there was never any response from the company. We got worried that it would never show up, so we cancelled the order and got one from a company through Amazon. I got the green laser pointer like two days before my program. The WOW factor was great!

Sasha also got a DVD and a music CD for a penny each, but because of shipping, it cost more. But you rip and resell, or give away, so not such a bad way to go to enjoy something you like.

After a couple of hikes where it was getting dark before we got to the car, we decided we needed headlamps. They are LEDs with two different lights, high beams and low beams, and they work well. Now we keep them in our packs for the trails. They have come in handy for my Full Moon Hikes.

A Mess Up Costs You Money

Last thing on the list – Losses: First was the bank charge, we had messed up. While we have check protection, we get charged daily when there are insufficient funds. We did a transfer of money on the same day as the bill was paid, and what they did was pay the bill first, then transfer the money, not the other way around. So you live and you learn. Next time we will transfer money a day ahead, so this will not happen again.

We also gambled some money away. That is our losses. Not too bad so far this year. We play to get a drink, and if that drink is $3 – not bad at all.

We also had to pay for Costco. It seems they have a new policy. So last year, we bought the yearly charge for Costco in February. We thought, well, we would not have to pay for it again until next February. But that is not true! It works on a yearly from January 1st to December 31st! So while we do not use it very often, it does not matter when you buy it. However, if you wait three months after your last end date (like ours was Februrary, so that means May) then you can get it from May to May. Confused? So are we. But the savings are still better for us to do it, as we saw with the TV. And when we stock up on food, the prices are definitely worth it.

Present Day Laura: While we cannot see into the future, we can look to the past and change our behavior. Some of the things that we paid for back then do not have to be repeated now. 

Costco seems to have the policy of the month you buy the membership is good for a year.

Laser Pointers are harder to come by because of problems with aircraft. Never ever point a laser pointer at someone. The one I have is no longer sold on Amazon.

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