Truck Shopping

The Finances of Living in a Fifth Wheel Toyhauler
December 2010

Traveling WITH New Rig

Winter Traveling Times

December – A Year With a New Rig

We Are On The Lake Water, beautiful fall day

We Are On The Lake Water, beautiful fall day

Where are we – Well, in Williamsburg, VA, heading through to Livingston, TX and El Paso, TX, then onto Lake Mead National Recreation Area in NV. So a bit of traveling and a bit of spending. But not too bad, considering.

Expenses: For the Month of December: Well, Not too Bad, Certainly not a cheap month, but hopefully one of the last expensive ones.

Expenses for December 2010

  • Food, Food and Household: $480.99
  •         , Out to Eat: $151.11
  • Clothing, Laura: $20.21
  • Transportation, Diesel: $1,172.77
  •                        , Gas: $126.65
  •                        , Truck Stuff: $25.34
  •                        , Truck (F350) Insurance: $646.10
  •                        , Motorcycles Insurance: $29.75
  •                        , Motorcycles Registration: $87.60
  •                        , Laura’s Driver’s License: $16.00
  • Utilities, Propane: $20.93
  •             , Laundry: $3.00
  •             , Electricity: $13.32
  •             , Rent: $58.00
  • Camper, Equipment: $68.55
  •              , Maintenance: $135.00
  • Communication, Cell Phone: $33.08
  •                          , Internet: $60.07
  •                          , eBay Fees: $99.98
  •                          , Escapees: $100.00
  •                          , Printing: $1.28
  • Recreation, Fun Stuff: $35.00
  •                  , Gifts: $50.00
  • Losses, Gambling: $12.00
  •             , Driver’s Record: $6.50

Total Expenses = $3,453.23

Bunches of Different Expenses 

There were lots of little expenses and lots of categories this month as far as our personal expenses. Yet we had a bunch of things happen, and as RVers, we traveled across the country this month. Let’s try to review what happened.

Food Prices High AND Organic

First off, the food expenses were high, even though most of it was household food. Why so high? Well, we went to a bunch of grocery stores, several of which were for more organic produce. Now, I am not saying that organic produce is always higher prices, it isn’t, but we were definitely eating more fruits and veggies and during this time of year, those items are more expensive. We also went a couple of times to Costco, where the larger sizes mean larger prices. We also put alcohol on the list – a nice peppermint schnapps and a bottle of port. While we did not have Champagne for New Year’s Eve, we did enjoy a nice at home dinner, with wine, port and schnapps. Thankfully, we drank lots of water too, so no headaches the next day.

We did not eat out as much, even though we were traveling. I think that was because I had asked Sasha to make sandwiches for our lunches, and therefore it was much better, we ate healthier foods going back out west.

Sasha Salivating for BBQ

In regards to eating out… First off, our route back west was a very southern route, we headed south via I-95 and then headed west via I-10. So since we were going on I-95, we kept seeing signs for South of the Border. Now, anyone that has lived on the East Coast, and drove down to Florida, and you know who you are, has driven by South of the Border. You remember as a kid, a kitschy place filled with everything a kid might be interested in. But as an adult, in December, and later in the evening, the place was an overpriced, small portions, and not very appealing.

We went to Flying Js for diesel and for dinner one night, but we got the full pizza. And this time we did not eat it in the truck, but waited until we were not driving. It is really hard to eat pizza while driving, and I do not suggest it.

We tried the gamut of burger joints: In and Out Burger, Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Sonic, and McDonalds. We were looking for low cost lunches, and while McDs is usually the cheapest, In and Out Burger was nice for the fact that they made sure everything was pleasing to us. Carl’s Jr. folks were surprised when we thanked them for the meal, it seems they were very unappreciated by folks coming in.

We also got a huge order from Rudy’s BBQ – we had gone there on our way back East, and stopped by on our way coming West. I think Sasha was actually salivating as soon as we came into Texas. He sought out Rudy’s, in El Paso, TX and once we were situated at our spot, he got us a veritable feast that lasted more than a few meals. So while that is eating out, it is also eating in.

The last restaurant that we went to in December was the Hash House. I know what you are thinking…not true! They have lots of hash browns and serve breakfast late into the afternoon. We were going to a buffet for Christmas, but the wait time was at least FOUR (4) HOURS! So we said forget it for the buffet, we would come back at another time and went to this restaurant instead. The food was good, the service OK, but what was really bad was afterwards.

It seems someone again tried to steal our American Express credit card number, but on the 31st, Sasha got an email stating that there was a recent charge attempt online. As the credit card was out of our hands only at that restaurant, we believe the waiter stole our number and then tried to use it for a comic book expo. Unbelievable! Unfortunately, I do not keep the slips once I have put them into the spreadsheet, so we could not call the restaurant to tell them that one of their employees is stealing credit card numbers. But can you believe it? Twice in one season. First mine now Sasha’s American Express. If there is any reason to keep with an American Express, this is it.

Thrift Stores and Walmart for Great Deals

Clothing: It was all my clothing this time. I went to thrift stores and Walmart, and got a pair of pearl earrings, a pair of fleece gloves (Walmart) and a pair of blue jeans. The jeans were the best deal – normally $4 but I guess I went to the thrift store on half price day, and they were only $2! and they fit so nicely – long, good size, nice material. Now, I do not know if the pearl earrings really are pearl, but the box stated they came from Kay Jewelers, and for $12, not bad.

Yikes With Transportation Costs Especially Diesel! 

Yikes, but this month was expensive. The expensive transportation costs of course, have to do with the fact that we went across the country pretty quickly, leaving Williamsburg, VA on December 7th, and getting to Lake Mead NRA, NV on December 23rd. During that time, we went through the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. We filled up in Virginia, South Carolina, Texas, and Arizona.

We are thankful to have a truck with an external tank. Unfortunately, the mileage was less than desirable as we were getting headwinds that started in Alabama. The headwinds were so bad throughout the trip, that it made Sasha nervous, and if he gets nervous, then I don’t drive.

On average, the diesel prices were $3.081 which is not bad, considering all. Not great of course, and we noticed as the month continued, it was going higher. But not all of our transportation costs were in diesel. We also got gas for our motorcycles, got my driver’s license for the motorcycle, paid insurance and registration on the motorcycles, and paid insurance on the Old Truck.

Our New Truck

Our New Truck

You see, we got a new-to-us truck. After all the headwinds and nervous driving through Texas, we realized that a Ford 350 single rear wheel truck can only haul our RV in ideal conditions.

Take just one thing out of the ideal, even bad roads, and it means pushing our truck harder than it should and the possibility of ruining the transmission or something else when you are on the side of the road is nerve-racking and crazy for us.

So we traded in our F350 for a F450 1999 Dually truck. It has better and bigger brakes, 19.5″ wheels, more supporting power, gear ratio 4.8 allows pulling heavy loads without straining the transmission, and carry and haul more weight, and the bed style is a flat bed above the wheel well which gives us more usable space.

Our truck came with an external fuel tank, plus other cool features, and while this one was advertised with an external fuel tanks – it was not installed! So we would have to get someone to install it. But, that was OK. We were able to trade in our truck and get back $2K as ours was worth more than the one we got. Of course, you will see in January, we did spend that $2K pretty quick, to install the external tank and a few other things with the truck.

But all-in-all, Sasha had made a good choice. He found it by again doing a country-wide search on Craigslist, and found this truck in Bullhead City, AZ, and we were able to just swing by enroute to Las Vegas, to check out the truck. We stayed in Laughlin, NV, just across the river from Bullhead City, in a parking area for a couple of casinos, and while they had torrential rains that lasted a day! Major flooding everywhere. So we stayed on pavement, read, and ate at a casino.

What was really nice was when we called up Geico to tell them about the change in the truck, we found that the insurance would go down! So at the end of the month, they gave us a refund for over-paying! Very nice to get!

Electricity Not On All The Time

We had a bunch in utilities, as we got propane, which is not bad, we managed to last two months (please realize when traveling, we are not hooked up to electricity, so we have to heat the RV, use the hot water heater, and cook with propane.) Of course when we are hooked up at a spot, then we don’t have to use as much.

We also camped at the Escapees Campground in Livingston, TX which was quite reasonable and had to pay for electricity. They have meters at every site, which I think is reasonable. I think it is better to do it that way rather than by how long your RV is, as with us, we don’t use the back 11 feet for living space. But we don’t make the rules. sigh…

So camping and electricity and extra propane for the winter, and we did laundry, which costs us money. Not too bad, but still.

Camper Tires Wheels and More

Regarding the Camper with Equipment and Maintenance: Ok, so we bought new tires and wheels for the camper in November, and they came to the campground (in Virginia) in early December. Sasha decided (and I agreed) that it was better to get someone else’s help on putting the new wheels and tires on the camper than he and I doing it. So that is where the $135 went. We gave him the old wheels and tires. We tried to sell them, but no one else was interested at all.

Some of the stuff we bought for the camper included new chocks (we had our set somehow fly out of the back (oops)), a new stepstool – since our camper is so much higher up, we really needed one for both the inside AND outside of the rig. The one we have inside was from Walmart but they no longer make them that size, they are now smaller and had warnings on the bottom! Unbelievable that they have warnings, it just seems like everything has a warning nowadays.

We also got new water bottles. The last stainless steel water bottle seemed to have white flakes in the bottom, and they did not make the water taste any better, so we figured it was time for a change. Considering those bottles were the ones that had gone down several buttes, and had gotten quite dented so would you agree, time to get new ones?

Yearly Costs of Communication

Communication was high this month: First off, we paid for another year of Mail Forwarding, plus added another $25 for the postage. So the yearly cost for mail forwarding is $75 and then you add the postage you give them to forward your mail. We also put more minutes on my phone (I think I was down to less than 60 minutes and I was getting nervous just in case someone wanted to chat for longer than that!)

We waited it out as long as possible, but ultimately felt it was a good idea to get more. We also had to pay for Verizon, it is back to the normal amounts. Again a sigh, we have found a better price, but being in a contract, we have to stay with them for another year….ugh. And we did some printing (It is definitely better to go somewhere and print for that price than to get a printer cartridge for $45 now. The price of those printer cartridges is outrageous!)

I also put up on our expenses a couple of new things. We don’t normally sell too much stuff on Ebay and Amazon anymore, as we do not have that much. Unfortunately for us, even doing a little selling, we have to pay for the ebay fees. Normally I just fold it into the amount that we got for the stuff we sold, but this time around, one of the items sold was destroyed, and so we had to give money back. In doing so, we lost all profit, and had to pay extra. So that is why this is showing up on the expenses. Normally, we make a slim profit.

Loss Which Was Not Too Losable

Recreation and Losses: I went to a play with Karen (my Sister), my Mom and Lane (Karen’s Mom-in-Law). It was White Christmas and boy oh boy, it was GOOD! Karen was very nice and got me a ticket for this play/musical. I thought it was even better than the movie – it was that good. We went out to lunch afterwards, and that was fun too. We got Christmas gifts for the kids, although we were not there for Christmas this year. And yes, we consider gambling a loss, although it can be fun. The other loss really was for Lake Mead, to get Sasha’s driving record for the past three years. We will get mine in January.

Present Day Laura: Pictures will someday be on the website, seeing all the places we’ve been. For right now though, these precious finances help others understand how much it costs to be on the road. Thank you! 

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