05 February 2016

Cost Of Living Aboard Our Boat | December 2015 & January 2016

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 were initially laid up during hurricane season and where I'm now living while Scott is working overseas. While Scott has been in Scotland, 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 occasionally buying stuff for Tickety Boo to keep her happy.

You can find links 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 | December 2015 & January 2016

Overall, we spent $2,175.21 during December and January which is down around $900 from the previous two months. I had a look back to see how I saved so much money during the past two months and it pretty much comes down to not spending much on stuff for our boat and having fewer out-of-pocket medical expenses.

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. 
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. After spending a pretty big chunk of change for health insurance during 2015, we were in a bit of a quandary about whether we should go ahead and get coverage for 2016 or take the risk and pay the tax penalty for being uninsured. In the end, after weighing up the potential tax penalty, possible tax credits and risk of being uninsured, we ended up getting insurance for 2016. If you want to know more about our health insurance options and quandary for 2016, check this post out.
  • Scott has been in Scotland 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 = $456.42

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.

I spent about $130 less on groceries in the past two months than I did during October and November. This is due in large part to the fact that I've run out of places to store food. I had been spending more on groceries in order to build up our food stores. Although we aren't heading out on the water anytime soon, I do like the idea of having a few months of food tucked away just in case of financial hardship, natural disaster or alien invasion. 

If you saw our Extreme Penny Pinching post last week, then you'll know that I've decided to try to get the grocery spend down even further by challenging myself to spend only $4 per day on groceries during February (that's the amount that SNAP/Food Stamp recipients get). Check back next month to see how it goes. 

PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $37.72

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 storage containers.

ENTERTAINMENT | Total = $118.71

One of the great things about hanging out 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 (like the new Star Wars movie). I also got caught up in the Powerball hype when the jackpot was at astronomical levels and bought two tickets during January ($4). I consider this entertainment. You can probably tell that I didn't win as I'm still tracking how much we spend.

COMMUNICATIONS | Total = $160.00

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 5GB of data and unlimited calls and texts. Normally, 5GB 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. Lately though it's been hard to access the marina Wi-Fi as there are so many people here, so sometimes I end up buying additional data. While Scott is away, I've also added on a $10 monthly international call plan so that we do our daily phone call.

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

I've been primarily using our microwave and crock pot for cooking, so haven't needed to top up the LPG tanks.

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 $572.40. The guys at the marina will also come pump out our holding tank on demand - $5.30 for each visit.

BOAT STUFF | Total = $38.11

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.

During the past two months, I really haven't spent much at all on poor Tickety Boo. I did get her some boat cards and lithium grease. That should keep her happy for a while.

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 = $26.37

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. Gas is so cheap these days that I've really been able to keep these costs down.

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 = $54.75

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.

OTHER | Total = $122.43

In this category, we break out how much we spend on clothes (like $4.33 for some flip-flops) and 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), new earbuds which actually fit in my abnormally small ears, a crock pot ($15), label maker and batteries.

So there you go - $2,175.21 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. $4/day for food, $6/day for phone. For modern Americans food has never been cheaper.

    1. The $4 a day challenge has been pretty interesting so far. It's definitely not easy to do, especially if you want to go out to eat. That will really blow your budget.

  2. You do very well with your budget. We all have to have a place to hang our hat and it's good to know where all your money goes. Many haven't a clue and can't figure out why they are broke all the time.

    Have a fabulous day Ellen. ☺

    1. I'm one of those weird people who actually enjoys spreadsheets and tracking things like costs :-)

  3. I'm impressed by your detail oriented budget. Between you and Dani of Sundowner Sails Again, I feel quite inferior in the budget keeping department. Money comes in, money goes out. That has been my budget for years. That will change when we move aboard. i am not spreadsheet-friendy, so I don't look forward to that part of this entire plan. Also, I'm dismayed at how much you spend for a marina there. I thought it was expensive HERE. We have a 47 foot boat and are paying close to what you are paying. Ouch. Good luck with your 4$/day challenge. Brave woman.

    1. MBTI type might be coming into play here :-) There's nothing I love more than bringing order to chaos through spreadsheets.

      I think what we're paying in marina fees is on par with other marinas in this neck of the woods - it may just be Florida. You can rent private docks and pay a lot less down here. Although, they don't always come with the same amenities that marinas have.

    2. I love looking at expense spread sheets. Your marina fee is right on the mark it about 16.00/ ft with electric and tax. Electrical a day should cost on the low side 5.00/day which brings you per/ft down to 12.00/ft. Taxes is 10% isn't it. I use to try and feed our family of 5 for under 10.00 for dinner. It was spaghetti with no meat and cheap bread, with milk it was a stretch. Love reading your blog.

    3. Oh that's actually a good point about taxes. They're 6% in FL and I've included in the costs I report, so the monthly fee less taxes is actually less.

      I've been thinking how hard it must be to feed a family on such a tight budget. It's a challenge enough just for me, but trying to get good balanced meals on the table for little ones could be tricky. Especially, when you've had a long day and everyone's tired - can't imagine wanting to cook from scratch then. Feeding 5 on $10 is quite an achievement!

      Glad you're enjoying the blog - it's so nice to hear! Thanks!


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