05 October 2015

Cost Of Living Aboard Our Boat | August & September 2015

We've been tracking how much it costs to live aboard our boat, S/V Tickety Boo, at Indiantown Marina in southern Florida. We've been here since June and are waiting out hurricane season, after which we're planning on heading down to the Bahamas and Caribbean. You can find a link to our liveaboard costs for June and July, as well as links to our other cost updates from ourselves and others, on this page. If you want to know how much we spent over the past two months, have a look below.

Cost of Living Aboard | August & September 2015

Overall, we spent $3,486 during August and September which is down $998 from the previous two months.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of what we spent, here are a few things to note:

  • All costs are in US dollars. 
  • Not all expenses are included - here's what we've left out:
1 - We don't report how much we spend on alcohol. I remember reading some horrible, judgy comments in a blog post a few years back about how much someone spent on booze, so I left it out when we first started tracking our cruising costs back in New Zealand. For consistency's sake, I've continued to leave it out when tracking our cruising and RV costs. However, if you're curious, I spent $33 on booze during the past couple of months. Some of that was on wine on sale, which I've tucked away for when we head back out cruising. Some of it was on my new favorite beer - Goose Island IPA ($5.19 for a 4 pack of 16 oz cans at the local IGA).
2 - We haven't included costs related to storing our Scamp travel trailer ($21 per month) because we track the cost of our RV and cruising adventures separately.
3 - We've also left out our costs for medical insurance. We didn't think it made sense to include insurance costs as they can vary so widely depending upon your nationality, where you cruise, what level of coverage you want and can afford etc. In case you are curious, while we're back in the States, we do have insurance through the health insurance marketplace (aka Obamacare), primarily to protect our assets and cover us in case of a catastrophic medical condition. It costs us $502 per month.
  • Scott has been in Scotland for the past couple of months taking care of some work projects and tending to some other matters, so grocery and entertainment costs are less than they would be normally.
  • I've included any shipping and taxes we've paid in what we report. Florida has a 6% sales tax. Boo.

GROCERIES | Total = $408.34

This category includes everything we put in our bodies in terms of food and drink (excluding booze) that we prepare ourselves. It doesn't include things like paper towels and ziploc bags, which I know some people would classify as groceries. Sure, you could probably eat them, but they wouldn't taste very good.

While most of the groceries I bought were for my immediate consumption, I have been buying a few things on sale and starting to squirrel them away to eat when we're back out cruising (e.g., canned chicken). You'll be seeing more of this over the next couple of months as I start to provision and build up our food storage.

PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $98.24

This is the category where we include household things (like paper towels and ziploc bags) and personal hygiene items (like soap and shampoo). We also capture items for the "home" here - like plastic storage boxes ($6.10).

ENTERTAINMENT | Total = $95.42

One of the great things about spending hurricane season in Indiantown is that there really isn't all that much to spend your entertainment dollars on. It's a pretty small town and things are really quiet at the marina during the summer, so there's not a lot of temptation.

In terms of drinks and eating out, this includes everything we don't prepare ourselves, even if we get something to go and eat it back on the boat. We also track how much we spend on books, magazines, movies etc. in this category.

COMMUNICATIONS | Total = $151.27

Our cell phone is actually one of our biggest non-boat related expenses. I have a $60 monthly GoPhone plan with AT&T which includes 4GB of data and unlimited calls and texts. Normally, 4GB of data isn't enough for us, but we have a WiFi adapter/antenna gizmo which helps us get the marina Wi-Fi at our boat and minimizes the use of our cellular data. While Scott is away, I've also added on a $10 monthly international call plan so that we can check in. I goofed up in August and forgot to renew the international minutes and one of my calls to Scott ended up costing $11.27. Yikes.

BOAT FUEL | Total = Nil

Because our boat hasn't left the slip, we haven't needed to spend anything on diesel or gas.

LPG | Total = Nil

We use LPG for cooking, but there hasn't been a lot of that going on lately as our propane system is out of commission. It's a long story but it involves a leaky regulator and the surprise discovery that our propane locker isn't completely sealed, all of which spells DANGER. Fixing the propane system is on my list of boat projects. One of these days, I'll get around to it. Thankfully, while we're plugged into shore power, we have a microwave.

MARINA COSTS | Total = $1,160.70

Keeping Tickety Boo in a slip is one of our biggest expenses. The monthly cost of a slip with electricity at Indiantown Marnia for a 34.5' boat is $572. The guys at the marina will also come pump out our holding tank on demand - $5.30 for each visit.

BOAT STUFF | Total = $1,201.31

This is where the big numbers come in - all the stuff we've been buying for the boat. We've got a long list of stuff we need to get for Tickety Boo - some upgrades, some maintenance related items, equipment etc. I'm trying to spread the costs out over the next few months because I simply find it too painful to spend so much money all at once

One of the big expenses in August was putting together our ditch bag, which contains the essential stuff you might need if you have to abandon ship. I bought an EPIRB (a magical gizmo that helps search and rescue locate you in an emergency) for $434.49 from Defender and got an ACR ditch bag thrown in for free. I've also been buying other supplies for our ditch bag like emergency rations, safety equipment etc. over the past couple of months.

I've also spent a good chunk of change on sewing related items like a monster wheel for our Sailrite sewing machine (which will allow us to sew without electricity), as well as fabric, notions and supplies for my various sewing projects, all for the frightening sum of $579.

In case you're wondering why there aren't any charges for boat insurance, we paid these up front for the year in April (you can see the details here).

TRANSPORT | Total = $71.85

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to keep it going and drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands. I also got the oil changed during August. If you're wondering, we paid our car insurance up front for the year in April, which is why you don't see it here ($909 for liability).

MEDICAL EXPENSES | Total = $245.65

This category includes medical expenses outside of our monthly insurance premium (which aren't included here - see section on exclusions above), like over the counter medications, prescriptions and things for our medical kit. It also includes the costs of doctors visits and medical tests which aren't covered by our insurance. This was a biggie during the past two months. I have to take levothyroxine  daily for my hypothyroidism and needed a new prescription as the tablets I had gotten in New Zealand had run out. So far, this has involved two doctors visits and one blood draw totaling $227.25, none of which insurance covers due to our huge deductible. I also spent $18.40 on over-the-counter meds like allergy pills and ibuprofen.

OTHER | Total = $54.12

In this category, we break out how much we spend on clothes ($29.98) and travel expenses. My wonderful mother was very sweet and bought me a ticket to come back to visit her in Portland at the end of September, so I saved on those travel expenses. We also include a catch-all miscellaneous group for stuff that doesn't fit neatly anywhere else - things like laundry ($3.25 for a wash and dry at Indiantown Marina), postage and gifts.

So there you go - $3,486 will buy you two months in Indiantown Marina, medical care and a lot of bright, shiny new things for your boat! Did we spend more or less than you would have expected?

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  1. That's pretty good living expenses for living on a boat. Boats can be very expensive and especially when things go wrong. I love your budget.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. Boats can be soooo expensive! Fingers crossed nothing goes wrong anytime soon :-)

  2. what about earning money....how do you balance your cheque book?

    1. Hi Shea - thanks for popping by the blog. Basically, we saved up enough money to take a few years off. We'll see how it goes in terms of full-time cruising and see how long we can go before we have to find a way to top up the cruising kitty again.

  3. do you offer to repair sails to other yachties? How do you hustle for dollars?

    1. I've just started sewing again, but definitely not at the level where anyone would pay me to do sail repairs for them :-)

  4. what about earning money....how do you balance your cheque book?

  5. I'm just thinking what it cost to live in a house. If the house is paid for you still have insurance and taxes which most the time will cost around 400 a month or more you have your heating, lighting, water, garbage. and then everything else eating, Entertainment, car. Things go wrong with House's also and are very costly at times. houses need constant maintenance. So do you want to live on land or do you want to live on the water.

    1. That's a good point - houses and boats both have their own issues and costs, but where would you rather be?

  6. Thanks for sharing! We've just been talking about how we need to get better at budgeting and accounting for where our money goes :) This will give me a good starting point for how to organize the categories!

    1. Thanks for popping by Sara! Figuring out what categories to use was and interesting process. Everyone slices and dices their data different ways. I checked out a lot of different blogs to see how they categorize their costs. If you guys do decide to publish your costs, let me know. Would love to see how you categorize everything.

  7. Can I ask why the marina and not anchoring out?

    1. Our insurance required us to be laid up in Indiantown during hurricane season (until the end of Nov). Scott is now overseas working, so unfortunately, we'll be at the dock for a while yet. Looking forward to getting back out there cruising as soon as he can get back.

  8. That is very impressive how inexpensive it is to live on a boat. I heard that most of the time it becomes expensive when something goes wrong. I think you need a good cushion if that happens. My wife and i love boats so we are always thinking of living in the harbour on our boat. I love the smell!

    Joshua Duncan @ Focus Insurance Atlanta

    1. You definitely need to have a sizable chunk of change in your bank account because something will definitely go wrong or need to be replaced. We're inland at our marina so we don't get those nice smelling sea breezes that you probably get at yours.

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