05 November 2018

Cost Of Cruising & Living Aboard A Sailboat | September & October 2018

We track and report every penny we spend living aboard and cruising on Tickety Boo, our Moody 346 sailboat for a couple of reasons.

1 - It helps us see where our money is going, helps us make informed choices about where to spend our money, which in turn helps us stretch our money further so that we can keep adventuring longer.

2 - We found it really useful to check out other people's cost of cruising when we were starting out, so we figure we can return favor by sharing ours.

We're currently at Indiantown Marina in Florida. Scott is working overseas so the costs are lower than if he was here. He'll be back in the next month of two and then costs are going to skyrocket as we start work on the very long list of boat projects that we have to do.

You can find links to other cost updates from ourselves (on Tickety Boo, camping across the States, and our previous boat in New Zealand) and others on this page, as well as on The Monkey's Fist.

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Cost of Cruising & Living Aboard | September & October 2018

Overall, we spent >>$3,584<< during September and October.

When you look at the nitty-gritty details of what we spent below, here are a few things to keep in mind:

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 costs.
(b) 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, whether you get subsidies etc. In case you are curious, while we're back in the States, we do have a high deductible/high out-of-pocket expenses insurance through the health insurance marketplace (aka the Affordable Care Act), primarily to protect our assets and cover us in case of a catastrophic medical condition.
(c) I haven't included any expenses related to my writing projects (e.g., editor, book cover design, publishing expenses, author website).

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

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GROCERIES | Total = $508

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.

Although we don't budget (you can read more about that here), I'm happiest when we keep our monthly grocery spend per person under $200.

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 = $185

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, DVD rentals and going to the movies in this category, as well as the occasional lottery ticket.

Our cell phone is actually one of our biggest non-boat related expenses. We have a monthly prepaid plan with AT&T which includes 8GB of data and unlimited calls and texts.

BOAT FUEL | Total = Nil

Tickety Boo has been sitting in her slip so we haven't needed to get any fuel.

PROPANE  | Total = Nil

We have a propane/LPG cooker on our boat, which we need to replace as the stove no longer works and replacement parts aren't available. While we're at Indiantown Marina, we use an electric hotplate and a crockpot for cooking, so we haven't had to spend any money on filling our propane tanks.

MARINA COSTS | Total = $1,325

Keeping Tickety Boo in a slip is one of our biggest expenses, and the rates went up in January. The new monthly cost of a slip with electricity at Indiantown Marina for a 34' boat is $657. The guys at the marina will also come pump out our holding tank on demand - $10 for each visit. Our marine toilet broke in October, so we haven't had to pump out like we normally would have. We're holding off on repairing it just now while we decide whether we want to switch over to a composting toilet.

BOAT STUFF | Total = $133

This category is for all the stuff we buy for the boat, as well as  repair and maintenance costs.

TRANSPORT | Total = $352

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands. Our car broke down twice during October so we've had to spend some money on a new battery and belt, with more expenses related to repairs coming due in November.


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 = $586

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, Amazon Prime, presents, computer parts, postage etc. One of the expenses over the past few months has been food for the semi-feral cats at our marina. People have been pitching in to keep them fed and the kitties show their appreciation by purring and looking adorable.

Any money saving tips to share? What do you spend the most on each month? Are there any areas you're trying to cut back on?

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  1. We do the same thing here. We know where our money goes each month. If you want to budget properly you have to.

    Have a fabulous day and week, Ellen. ♥

  2. It looks like you manage to live simply and frugally, and i hope those semi-feral cats are fixed so you won't be worrying about more of them in the future.

    1. The cats have been fixed. They're such sweethearts. I think they'd love to have a permanent home.

  3. We live aboard when we are cruising, and a few weeks here and there. These are our expenses for our trips in 2017 and 2018 and for the full year for 2017 and 2018, if anyone is interested. We also keep track with very different ‘‘buckets.’’


    1. Thanks for sharing your expenses - I'll definitely check them out.

  4. Just popped in for a visit. Your blog posts pop up in my e-mail so that's how I come to be visiting.
    One thing I liked about living on the water, which I no longer do, was the downsizing of possessions, I still maintain that "Things" are what keep us bound to one place. Being free is so much more pleasant. And cheaper too.
    Blessings from land locked Geoff in Johannesburg South Africa.

    1. It's been very freeing to downsize and realize that we don't need that many possessions to be happy.

  5. This is always so interesting, and I'm impressed with how low you manage to keep your expenses.

    1. We don't have kids which I think probably helps a lot with controlling costs.

  6. Hi, Ellen! I am working on my IWSG post for tomorrow and was adding your co-host link when I saw this post. It is insightful, and thank you for sharing. I'll never live on a boat, but I am tracking every penny we spend this year, especially to see exactly what we are spending on travel. It was interesting to see how you categorize expenses. I suspect that most of us are unique.

    This year my goal was to get through the entire year. I've tried before, but always petered out at some point. I'm still working with a pencil, paper, and calculator. Seeing your spreadsheet has helped me to decide that when I'm working with Apple trainers in Honolulu in March, I'm going to learn how to set up a spreadsheet that works for me and my needs. I'd like to know what spreadsheet you use, as long as you are comfortable with sharing that information. I'll be back tomorrow to read your co-host post. Wishing you a great day tomorrow!

    1. I just created one in the Open Office of Excel. If you can get someone to help you set one up, then it should hopefully be easy to just keep it up-to-date. Ours is customized for our categories etc. We've got one with detail of every expense, then a summary one that I included here. Good luck! Drop me an email at thecynicalsailor (at) gmail (dot) com if you have any questions or want to talk through your set-up.

  7. As always, I'm in awe of your budgeting skills.

  8. Pretty decent months by the looks of it! It's good that Scott is making money overseas, so you can spend it on the boat when he returns. :-) Our highest spending category is the camper (parts, improvements, registration, insurance and diesel). It would be nice to cut that down when we sit somewhere for more than one day at a time!

    1. Our expenses have gone way up now that he's back and boat projects are in full swing.


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