08 August 2016

Cost Of Living Aboard Tickety Boo | June & July 2016

It’s time for our regular cost of living update, which I do every two months. We've been tracking how much it costs to live aboard our Moody 346 sailboat, S/V Tickety Boo, at Indiantown Marina in southern Florida, where we were initially laid up during last 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, as well as on The Monkey's Fist. If you want to know how much we spent over the past two months, have a look below.

Cost of Living Aboard | June & July 2016

Overall, we spent $3,159.78 during June and July which is down a little over $500 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 = $410.33

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.

One of the interesting things I bought during the past two months were some freeze dried bell peppers from Harmony House. We eat a lot of bell peppers in things like scrambled eggs, chili, spaghetti sauce etc. Finding fresh vegetables can be challenging in the Bahamas (we'll be heading back there next season), so I thought I would see if adding freeze dried vegies to our food stores might be worthwhile. I haven't tried them yet, but you can find a review of their soup mixes on the RV blog, Interstellar Orchard. If any of you have tried freeze dried food, I'd love to hear what you think.

PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $60.33

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 bug spray.

ENTERTAINMENT | Total = $51.81

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 Amazon Prime (for streaming video), books, magazines, movies, colored pencils and coloring books etc. in this category, as well as the occasional lottery ticket.

My spending is down $87 from the previous two months, mainly because I haven't gone out to eat as much with friends.

COMMUNICATIONS | Total = $140.00

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 6GB of data and unlimited calls and texts. While Scott is away, I've also added on a $10 monthly international call plan so that we can have 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, an electric burner and crock pot for cooking, so haven't needed to top up the LPG tanks. Electricity is included in the slip fee so it makes sense to use that for cooking.

MARINA COSTS | Total = $1,166.00

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 = $257.37

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.

The major boat expenses over the past two months have been for supplies for a water filter and a multimeter. We also renewed our Coast Guard documentation ($26).

TRANSPORT | Total = $37.54

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. Beside filling up the tank with gas, I spent $9.96 on electrical cleaner during July to fix the headlight switch on our vehicle.

MEDICAL EXPENSES | Total = $401.14

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. I've been expecting some rather large medical bills to come due for the past several months, but it looks like insurance companies take their time processing claims, rejecting claims and dealing with appeals. I'm guessing this will be a painful update at some point.

OTHER | Total = $634.26

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).

I ended up going a teensy bit crazy during the Amazon Prime Day buying a few things that were on my list of stuff to get like a dry bag, batteries and a solar powered lamp. I also spent some money getting pictures framed to hang on the walls and make our boat a bit more homey, storage baskets for our aft cabin and materials for several sewing projects (lee cloths, harnesses, mosquito screens etc.)

Do you budget and/or track your expenses? If so, do you find it helps you manage your money better?

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  1. Interested to hear how the freeze dried bell peppers work out!

    1. I'll need to give them a try here soon. I'll keep you posted on the results.

  2. You are way more detailed than I am. I do good just logging in our expenses.. good job

    1. I think you do a great job reporting on your expenses. I just happen to have a strange fondness for Excel spreadsheets :-)

  3. Sorry about your upcoming medical bills.
    You guys eat really cheap. We spend that in just one month. And no, I don't think plastic bags would be very tasty, even with ketchup.

    1. Yep, you'd need a lot of ketchup to make a plastic bag taste good :-)

  4. You're doing very well. Very well. We do track our expenses every month. I think it's essential to staying within your budget. I see so many spend more than they bring in.

    About the booze. Everyone seems to be in everyone's business anymore. They can't take care of their own stuff, but they are in everyone's business. Bless their hearts.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. I think our culture encourages spending beyond your means. It's so easy to get sucked into wanting things you really can't afford.

  5. We don't officially track our monthly expenses, but we use credit cards to buy everything and keep an accounting that way. The best months are during the cruising season but I can't help but think how fortunate we are during the winter months to be able to berth Cambria (43 feet) for $310 (including electricity, pump-out, wi-fi, and live-aboard fees). I am envious, though, of your marine insurance premium -- ours runs $120 a month.

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

    1. That's a great price on dockage! As for our insurance, keep in mind we only have liability, which is why it's so cheap.

  6. So I've been testing out the freeze dried foods... They aren't bad. Occasionally I'll run across one that is a bit leathery. But I'm disappointed in the size. It doesn't really save much space - I suppose I was expecting Jetson's type foods that came in a tiny package and expanded 57 times their dried size. I've resorted to trying to figure out our freezer/fridge combo in the hopes of taking frozen vegetables with us. And some spinach powder is somewhere on board - I haven't been brave enough to try that one yet...

    1. I really don't think I could use spinach powder. That doesn't sound very appetizing. Which brands have you been testing out?

  7. Your organisation is impressive! Not so impressed by the horrid judgy people. I'm used to seeing snarky comments below the line on news sites but the blogosphere always seems so friendly. Obviously not everywhere.

    1. Some might call my organization impressive, others might call it a tad obsessive :-)

  8. I love how organized and detailed you are! I'm naturally this way with all aspects of life except finances :(

    I'm impressed that you only spent $21.00 on books (magazines and movies) in those two months. I'm not sure I could use that kind of restraint when it comes to literary entertainment :)

    1. I've been checking out more ebooks from the library lately which helps a lot when it comes to my entertainment budget.

  9. I really appreciate your talent for being organized and detailed. I am so glad you managed to save some money, too!

  10. Well done on these months' expenses. Especially your grocery bill is very low. Florida must be much cheaper than Massachusetts! :-) Sorry to read about all your medical bills. Hopefully you are both happy and healthy! They should ban Amazon, or online shopping! Much better for the wallet. :-)

    1. You guys are the ones who had a fabulous month when it comes to not spending - under $1k is very impressive :-)

  11. This is fascinating, Ellen. Thanks for sharing! I have a general idea of my expenses and know what my monthly bills are, but keeping this detailed a chart has never worked for me, as I don't stick with it.

    It's so interesting to learn what it costs to live on a boat, though. It sounds like such a cool experience!

    1. Oh, btw, I have tried freeze-dried fruit. There are a few companies that sell it as snacks. It's kind of like tangy Styrofoam, and it doesn't fill you up the same way. I have no idea how it would be in cooking.

    2. I definitely think everyone has to do what works for them. Some folks like detailed spreadsheets, but others can keep a handle on their expenditure without them.

      On the freeze-dried fruit, I'm not sure tangy Stryofoam sounds all that appetizing. Kind of like the spinach powder someone mentioned above. Not sure I'm going to try it :-)

  12. I love your spreadsheet, I always start off with good intentions, but it soon fizzles out. I tried to use a Mint app to track my personal expenses, and after I quit work, I quit tracking. I still get emails from them that say, "Where you spent money this week. $0.00." Then they add a small line, "Hey, wait that can't be right." It makes me laugh every time. :-)

    I have a dehydrator, we used to make all of our own dehydrated meals when we were always kayak camping. We ate like kings, none of that cardboard for us. My favorite was a dehydrated, chipotle sweet potato dish. I don't know if we will use it on the boat, I'm not sure how much power it draws, and you do have to run it all night on some foods.


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