30 March 2016

Cost Of Living Aboard Our Boat | February & March 2016

It’s time for our regular cost of living update, which I do every two months. You may have noticed that this one is a tad early – March isn’t even over – but, I don’t plan on spending any money today or tomorrow and there isn’t room in the schedule to post this next month due to the A to Z Blogging Challenge (check back on Friday for the first installment of "Nancy Drew Investigates the Case of the Missing Anchor").

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 | February & March 2016

Overall, we spent $2,450 during February and March which is up around $275 from the previous two months.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of what we spent, here are a few things to note:
1 - All costs are in US dollars.

2 - Not all expenses are included - here's what we've left out:
(a) 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.
(b) 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.
(c) 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 ACA/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.
3 - 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.

4 - I've included any shipping and taxes we've paid in what we report. Florida has a 6% sales tax. Boo.

GROCERIES | Total = $240.36

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 $216 less on groceries in the past two months than I did during December and January. This is due in large part to participating in the Eating on $4 a Day SNAP Challenge during February and trying to continue to keep food costs down during March.

PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $38.33

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 ant traps, a necessity in southern Florida ($3.98).

ENTERTAINMENT | Total = $134.12

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.


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 Marina 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 = $131.89

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 last two months, I’ve bought a few bits and bobs like an inspection mirror so that we can see into the various nooks and crannies on our boat ($7.49), some storage containers to hold all of the various bottles of solvents, cleaners and other assorted marine products ($12.05), a Luci light which is charged by the sun ($16) and waterproof Gorilla glue to fix our teak shower grate ($4.78). We also joined the Moody Owners Association so that we can connect with other Moody owners and pick their brains. ($28.46).

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) and we’re in the process of deciding what we’re going to do for insurance when it’s up for renewal next month (read about it here).

TRANSPORT | Total = $61.68

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. My mom ended up paying our car insurance for this coming year so that we can treat ourselves to something that we wouldn’t normally buy with the money we would have spent on it. Thanks mom!

MEDICAL EXPENSES | Total = $242.64

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. You’re about to see the costs in this category sky-rocket next month as I had an unexpected medical issue to deal with during March.

OTHER | Total = $281.08

In this category, we break out how much we spend on clothes 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).

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  1. I'd say you're doing very nicely here. Lots cheaper than living on dry land. Lots cheaper.

    Have a fabulous day Ellen. ☺

    1. Thanks Sandee - I've been trying hard to be a cheapskate so that we can stay out longer cruising without having to worry about topping up our cruising kitty for a while.

  2. So happy when I see budgets that fall within the range we are planning for ourselves.

    I'm pretty sure you could choke down a Ziploc, but can you imagine what that would do to the head?!? No thank you to head repairs.

    1. Ziploc bags in the head - that's just too horrible to even contemplate!

  3. Great break-down, Ellen. How about the money Scott is spending in Scotland? Or, are you just doing the expenses for you alone these months? I agree that living on the water is usually much cheaper than living on land, more so when at anchor (that will make such a big difference for you guys in the future), until we discovered house sitting as a lifestyle. I think this is the cheapest we will ever live (except when backpacking in SE Asia)... :-) We keep track of our monthly expenses here: http://www.roamingabout.com/category/living-frugally/

    I am trying to figure out when and how to publicize our expenses report for March as well, doing the A-Z Challenge... Maybe, I should follow your lead and do it tomorrow, since we are not planning more cash flow the last day of March.

    Enjoy your alone time! :-)
    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

    1. I know how much Scott spends in Scotland (which isn't a lot, less than me on groceries for sure), but I haven't been tacking it like I have our Florida expenses.

      We spent a month traveling in SE Asia and eating out was so cheap and so delicious!

  4. PS: We are still advertising our alcohol expenses and get remarks that we ought to plan a bigger budget for it! :-) We don't really care what people think. It is well-known that boaters like their glass of wine, or bottle of beer! We sure drank more on our boat.

    1. We do enjoy sundowners and have a special storage spot dedicated solely to wine :-)

  5. Aside from, of course, boat expenses and gas, much of this would probably be the same amount you'd spend without a boat, right? (Groceries, etc.) As for alcohol, to heck with judgy people! One of the simple pleasures of life is sipping a delicious alcoholic beverage at the end of a long week.

    1. Taking out boat expenses etc, we probably spend a lot less than we did living on land. But, that's probably less about living on a boat and more about trying to live frugally in order to be able to afford living on a boat and traveling.

  6. Very cool to see a glimpse of what it's like to travel like you. I've often wondered.

    1. Thanks Misha! Glad you've gotten some insights into what our life is like.

  7. Thanks for posting this. I'm not a sailor and I live in Colorado where there is very little water, but I've always been curious about all aspects of living on a boat, including financial.

    1. People who live on boats have all sorts of different budgets. We spend a lot less than many folks, and more than others. I've got a list of links to other cruising (and RV) blogs that share their costs that you might want to check out - it's under Pages up on the top right hand side and called "Hod Much It Costs"


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