The Finances of Living in a Truck Camper:
Old Pros as Cabin Hosts
Volunteering 3 days a week and Sasha working full-time
January – old hats at being Cabin Camp Hosts for the Winter
We were becoming old hats at doing the hosting position at the cabin camps. It is a pretty easy job, as long as you make sure that the people clean up after themselves. That is the hardest part.
Becoming More Healthy
Since it is January, we decided that it was a smart idea to get healthy again – not that we aren’t healthy, but healthier. Plus the Federal Health Savings Account (FSA similar to HSA but you have to use it within the year) money had kicked in, now we could go to the dentist and doctors again.
So we set up appointments during the week. Sasha also still has quite a few hours for sick leave, so it is easy for me to go in with him during the week and go to these appointments. We try to go together, using the same dentist and going to the same medical group.
Discouraged By Job Applications
I was getting a little discouraged by the fact that I was not getting calls or mail from the National Park Service about any of the jobs that I applied for. Now, I know that it usually takes 3 to 6 months before you can get a job, partly because of how you write your KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, and Accomplishments), and partly because of the slowness of the government, and even partly because it says right there on the application that it will take between 30 to 45 days before they let you know whether they want to start the proceedings.
State Parks Only Need a Month
So anyway, I was discouraged, as I had also started calling State Parks, Regional Parks, and County Parks. I guess because of the area that we live in is VERY popular, so the parks can be choosey. They only allow 1 month of volunteer work. We wanted 6 months or longer.
Bought Workamper News
I applied to Workamper News on January 7th, got the Newsletter from them (Sasha actually had to download it at work, as it was 4 MB – impossible on dial-up) and brought the pages that were Virginia back home. I looked the listings over and called one of the campgrounds on January 8th.
Got a Job Very Quickly
They were very interested in me, so I took a drive out to see them the next day. I got the job that evening. So in three days, I had myself a full time gig, NOT with the National Park Service, but with a Candy Hill Campground. I would be doing office work, meet and greet visitors coming into the campground’s office; set up reservations in person, through email and over the phone; work on the computer, give out general information, sell items in the camp store and be the general office person. I will have to learn a new software program, it is called Campground Management, looks like Microsoft’s Access, which I am very familiar with. This will not be a problem for me. *** [Side Note: See below.]
Declining National Park Service Jobs
Once I had stated that I could work for them starting April 20th, I started getting calls from the National Park Service jobs that I applied to back in the fall of 2007. Every single job that I applied for was a seasonal (1040 hours) job up and down the eastern seaboard. As we are staying in the area for at least a couple more years, going to Cape Hatteras National Seashore or Assateague Island National Seashore is not so viable an option, because it would mean I would be at some campground by myself, while Sasha would still be in Sterling by himself. NOT! So when the further away jobs started calling, I had to decline. Boy, that was tough. I was not thinking I would be getting these types of calls but I guess I now have the experience that the National Parks want. So hopefully, when it comes time for us to go, I will be able to get a job with the National Park Service.
Reading, Volunteering, & Working
We were definitely reading a bunch of books, especially Next and The Quickie, and we were going to the gym most nights. The dial-up at the cabin was REALLY Slow, so we spent a bit of our time in libraries and at the gym. I kind of wished now I had the Hydroponics Gardener book, as most of the gardening is done indoors, but sometimes that is the way it goes.
Please realize that we did do things in January, but Sasha was working full-time still and I was volunteering at Prince William Forest Park, mostly working during the weekends. Great way to get to understand the National Park Service, but not much really going on because we were still working.
***On all of the pages within the website, I had changed the words from Private Campground BACK to Candy Hill Campground. They had asked me to change it when I left and I did, but I have no problem stating exactly how it was to work for them, now, many years later. I have enough good references to continue to get good jobs, but back in January 2008 I did not know that they would ultimately screw me. Live and Learn, as the case might be.
Hindsight is always 20-20, but I realize now that the park service volunteer job was a pretty easy gig. I just did not realize after talking about it so much online that I would talk ourselves out of our spot.
Expenses for January 2008
- Food, Food and Household: $532.12
- Food, Out to Eat: $140.03
- Transportation, Car Gas: $225.63
- Transportation, Truck Diesel: $100.00
- Communication, Internet: $7.47
- Communication, Hosting (Quarter): $29.97
- Communication, Postage: $41.58
- Health, Insurance: $134.00
- Health, Health Club: 39.95
- Health, Doctor: $12.00
- Health, Other: $26.27
- Recreation, Fun Stuff: $378.21
- Recreation, Books/CDs: $98.39
- Bank Charges, Costco Membership: $50.00
- Bank Charges, Shortfalls: $0.76
Total Expenses = $1,816.38
Food Was High
The food was high, because I bought some dried food that will last us for a long time. I paid for the Costco membership but put that charge under Bank Charges. We had a bunch of Postage because we sold some stuff on eBay, as we are still trying to get rid of AV stuff, and music DVDs.
We do not have any Utilities this month, next month or in March because we live in the cabin, so don’t have to worry about that. We still go to the gym, and went to the doctor and dentist this month. Back to getting healthy.
The other big charge was the fun stuff. We went to two shows – RV show and Motorcycle show. But the biggest reason for the high amount was for an iPod. Sasha wanted to get a 160 GB iPod to put all of his music (he has something like 83 days – 24 hours a day of music files) and the Seinfeld series on the iPod. Plus we started listening to Podcasts. Maybe some day, we will have them on here. So big charge there. Otherwise the amount spent would be around our normal mark of $1,500 a month.
So if our expenses are around $1500 to $1800 a month, our income is the same, although we now have money in US Government Bonds and High Interest CDs. We are saving money hand over fist now. How much savings? More than half of salary and interest payments. We might be even able to have Sasha retire earlier than thought. We shall see…