February has been a whirlwind of activity and expenses. We started out the month at Gulf State Park, Alabama where we had been since January 1st. We anticipated being there the entire month but instead headed home on Wednesday, February 10th. We came home because of some health issues that my mother was experiencing (all OK now).
Barkley at Fort Morgan Beach
Barkley realizing we are not at the beach any longer
Mr. Sunshine clearing the driveway
The trip home was uneventful, and we made good time. We overnighted at Louisville North Campground. They had an open spot for the night and full hook ups (electricity, water, and sewer). Because of an ice storm and freezing temperatures, we were not able to make use of the water or sewer hookups. The campground road was like an ice rink and the sewer cap was frozen tight with a layer of ice. In addition, the temperatures overnight were in the teens. We could have probably dry camped overnight at a Cracker Barrel or Louisville Cabela’s, but we prefer electricity for our heater when the temps get that cold. We have a propane furnace we can run without electricity, but it is noisy and can be expensive to run, therefore we made the decision for a campground. The rate was $50 which is a bit higher than we like to pay, but it was worth the peace of mind, knowing we would not wake up freezing (we have done that before, and it makes Mr. Sunshine grumpy).
We made it home and I was able to take my Mom to a couple appointments to get things squared away with her health while Mr. Sunshine set to work fixing our F250. During our trip south in November it developed some problems going hard through the mountains of Tennessee. It was pushing coolant out of the degas bottle. I am no mechanic, but Mr. Sunshine is a wonderful, retired Ford Technician that specializes in diesel trucks. (Lucky us, right!) Originally, he fretted about the need to replace the engine as it approaches 300,000 miles. After much research we settled for getting the heads checked, machined, and replacing the head gasket. Replacing the engine is around $10,000 and our chosen repair was around $1,000 – a significant difference in price.
Our main concern centers around our desire to continue traveling with this truck, including a planned trip this summer back to Glacier National Park and Banff National Park (please, please open the border this year!) These are not the places to visit if your tow vehicle is having trouble in the mountains. So we developed a backup plan that centers around renting a truck if the need arises. Uhaul and Enterprise rent trucks for towing. These can be pricy with Enterprise trucks priced at $450 per week. Even if we rented a truck for the entire month we would be traveling it amounts to only $1800. This is still very much lower than the cost to replace the engine. And… this is only if the truck breaks down and cannot be repaired on the road. It has a new transmission and will have new tires soon, so the engine is the only main concern.
Mr. Sunshine was very happy we chose this path when he received a call from the machine shop that the heads were ready and they were in great shape after being machined. So glad we did not take the “safe” route and just replace the engine. Many people today would have just traded in the truck and bought something new (upwards of $20,000 – sometimes really upwards depending upon year and mileage). So hopefully this is the last of our big expenses with this truck.
Other expenses incurred this month include $1378 in travel, most of which is for reserving (and paying) our campgrounds for next winter. We like to stay in the Florida state park system because the prices are wonderful (around $28/night) and the sites are lush and spacious. This also includes our fuel home from Alabama. Overall, our three months on the road (Nov, Dec, Jan, and part Feb) cost around $3500 not including spending we would have done at home anyway (groceries, etc.). Not too bad! Our 3-month trip is comparable to the cost of a typical one-week family vacation. RV travel and slow travel are definitely more economical.
Our grocery expenses were a bit lower this month ($503 Feb vs $615 Jan). We arrived home to a mostly full freezer that we had stocked before leaving. Our original intent was to take frozen chicken, pork chops and steaks with us – but our tiny RV freezer would not hold them all. Had I not emptied the pantry when leaving, we may have been able to get by with even lower spending on groceries.
Finally, I have continued my shopping ban. No shopping in the past 2 months – Yay me! Eventually, I will get around to writing a post about this. Basically, no shopping but also includes no pedicures, no manicures, and no hair stylist. Permissible shopping includes groceries and gifts for others, plus those items that we use up or that break and are beyond repair.
Here is our budget update for February:
|Item||Budget||Feb Actual||Yearly Budget||YTD Actual|
Overall, our net worth is increased by $9,195. February stock market was up and down before ending mildly increased.
Change in net worth:
Year to date: +$6,169
February 2021: +$9,195