07 December 2015

Cost Of Living Aboard Our Boat | October & November 2015

We've been tracking how much it costs to live aboard our boat, S/V Tickety Boo, at Indiantown Marina in southern Florida, where we've been waiting out hurricane season. We're planning on heading to the islands as well this season, but we'll probably be quite a bit later than the rest of the herd of boats making its way down south just now. Scott is currently in Scotland tending to some work projects and other matters, while I've been staying on our boat and slowly ticking things off of our project list. So, our live aboard costs are pretty much just that - cost of my daily living aboard our boat and buying stuff to keep Tickety Boo happy. She's a demanding creature.

You can find to 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 | October & November 2015

Overall, we spent $3,078.52 during October and November which is down around $400 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 about $100 on booze during the past couple of months. Most of that was on wine on sale, which I've tucked away for when we head back out cruising. Some of it was on beer and wine to keep me amused while Scott is away. 
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 without any subsidies. If you want to know more about our health insurance options and quandary for 2016, check this post out.
  • 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 = $589.85

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 some of the groceries I bought were for my immediate consumption, I have been squirreling quite a bit away to eat when we're back out cruising, so the costs are much more than I would normally spend on food for just me. You'll be seeing more of this over the next couple of months as I continue to provision and build up our food storage.

PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $53.20

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 a plunger and cockroach traps. 

ENTERTAINMENT | Total = $115.81

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, 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 = $145.00

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 ended up having to call Scott quite a bit during the Case of the Slowly Sinking Ship, when we had a mysterious leak on our boat that was causing the bilge pump to go off for hours, so I had to add an additional $5 in international calling during November..

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 still 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, but to be honest I can't be bothered as, while we're plugged into shore power, we have a microwave and I've been eating a lot of things that don't need to be cooked like yogurt, cereal, Oreo cookies and sandwiches.

MARINA COSTS | Total = $1,155.40

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 = $370.88

This category is for 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 because I simply find it too painful to spend so much money all at once.

One of the bigger purchases during the past two months was $150 for an SSB receiver. We originally wanted to get a full-blown SSB receiver/transceiver so that we could also use our SSB to communicate, but as it would cost us over $2k, we've decided to just go with a receiver this year. It will still allow us to get in weather forecasts, which is the key thing for us just now. The rest of the money went towards things like sewing supplies, fuel and water siphons ($16), two joker valves for our marine toilet ($30), a used copy of Don Casey's Canvaswork and Sail Repair book ($2), our 2016 US Customs & Border Protection decal ($27) and a turkey baster for taking water out of the bilge and toilet ($2).

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 = $36.77

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. It also includes public transport, which I used when visiting family in Portland, Oregon in October.

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 = $184.55

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. During the past two months, this has involved one doctor's visit, one blood draw and lab tests totaling $137.92, none of which insurance covers due to our huge deductible. I also spent $46.63 on over-the-counter meds like allergy pills and ibuprofen, and refills for my levothyroxine prescription.

OTHER | Total = $427.06

In this category, we break out how much we spend on clothes ($20) and travel expenses ($98 for parking at the West Palm Beach airport when I was in Portland visiting family). 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, gifts and tacky coconut insulated cups.

So there you go - $3,078,52 will buy you two months in Indiantown Marina and a few things for your boat! Did we spend more or less than you would have expected?

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  1. I love these blog posts because I think it's interesting to see the difference in costs across the country (and globe), especially marina fees. The most we've ever paid is $900 a month for living aboard at a luxury hotel resort in San Diego (ah, those were the days!) and our current winter moorage is $350 (for 43 feet) with onsite pump-out (free) and power. Another big Kingston savings is laundry. For some reason, the marina only charges $1 per load. It all helps in the end, but the difference between what we spend per month while at anchor and what we spend during the winter is staggering! I'd write a blog post about it myself if it weren't so depressing. ;)

    1. It is interesting how much marina costs vary from place to place. We found them relatively inexpensive in New Zealand, insanely crazy in the Bahamas and relatively okay at Indiantown Marina considering we're in southern Florida. $350 sounds like a real bargain especially with pump-outs included. And if it was only $1 a load, I'd be doing a lot of laundry!

  2. Looks like we're paying about the same for slips. We have two though. One for our 340 and a smaller on for our 185 runabout.

    You're living very well for living on a boat. Most folks on dry land spend far more than this.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. I've really been trying to keep an eye on the budget and reign the spending in as I know we'll have lots of unexpected expenses with this boat, as one does with any boat :-)

  3. Great post! Nice work. I wish my living expenses looked like that!

    1. It is so much easier to control costs now that I don't have a "proper job". Before, I would see a cute top at one of the boutiques in Auckland and snap it up. Or, I would happily go out and spend money on drinks and dinner after work. It was a big change to become so much more frugal, but worth it to be able to take time off from working for a while and mess around on boats :-)

  4. Wowza - you are amazing; I WISH I could be that dedicated to tracking spending. I bet it's eye-opening for you! I say you spend a bit more on entertainment ;)

    1. I find closely tracking our expenses helps to control how much we spend. Plus, I actually enjoy it. I can be a bit of an Excel spreadsheet nerd at times :-)

  5. I always find this so interesting! Thanks for sharing.


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