July 2018 (Update #1) – $25K Challenge
We reached Deadhorse, Alaska on July 6, 2018. At this point, just ten miles from the Arctic Ocean, we had $24,936.81. At the end of the month, removing all expenses and adding any donations and income, we have $20,635.13 remaining.
Below is a summary of our anticipated expenses (budget) as well as the actual expenses that we incurred during this month.
Because we arrived at Deadhorse, Alaska on July 6 this meant that we had 26 days of July for which to budget. We also assumed typical monthly expenses into this month (cell and data services, health insurance, truck insurance, business expenses, etc.).
We based our budget on the following assumptions:
TOTAL BUDGET: $4,315.00
Fuel: 3,125 miles @ 10 mpg x $4 per gallon = $1,250
Food: $25 per day x 26 days = $650
Accommodation: $25 per day x 26 days = $650
Phone: $100 for cell service (AT&T) + $100 for data service (Verizon) = $200
Maintenance: $500 monthly for each month of travel
Healthcare: $500 (includes insurance premium + miscellaneous expenses)
Truck Insurance: $175 (includes truck premium + camper rider)
Contingency: $15 per day x 26 days = $390
|Phone / Internet||$200.00||$194.00||$6.00|
Starting Funds: $24,936.81
MINUS July Expenses: $4,320.96
Remaining Funds: $20,615.85
PLUS Donations: $19.28
Remaining Balance: $20,635.13
We received a $19.28 donation via PayPal from someone who saw our truck in Denali National Park and contributed online. They requested that the funds go toward purchase a nice lunch for ourselves but we instead will incorporate the funds into meals for homeless people.
Despite having incredibly high maintenance expenses this month (LOTS of unforeseen issues with the truck thanks to the Dalton Highway!) we were just barely over budget ($5.96). This was largely in part to the fact that we boon docked so much and saved a LOT in accommodation expenses. We also saved money in fuel, healthcare and our general contingency.
While we did travel close to the estimated miles, we did not pay the budgeted $4 per gallon except in Deadhorse. Here was over $4 per gallon. Everywhere else was under $4 per gallon so we accrued savings.
Because we knew that we were so far over our maintenance budget, we did our best to cut corners in our food budget. While we are usually very conservative in our food budget, we tightened our belts even more and were under budget for the month. This is mostly from preparing our own meals, even when there were all sorts of local foods to try (particularly seafood!).
Our only major expense was our monthly premiums. In theory we need to apply this $174 toward the plane ticket we need to purchase in order for Lindsay to fly back to Florida in August to receive her next Remicade infusion.
For some reason our premium seems to always fluctuate. For this reason we intentionally over budget on the premium to account for fluctuations plus the renters insurance that acts as a rider on our personal belongings in the camper. Together these came under our conservative monthly budget.
We only permitted ourselves to spend $22 for “fun” on visiting the reindeer farm in Palmer, Alaska. Otherwise we bypassed any tour opportunities in order to save funds. This meant that we turned down bus rides through Denali National Park (Everest would not have been OK to remain in the camper for the duration of these long rides anyway), plane flights over the glaciers (not really on our “bucket list” but tempting as we saw so many planes and tour opportunities) and halibut fishing (we really, REALLY wanted to do this but could not afford the $350+ cost per person).
Our largest overage on expenses came from the maintenance that we had to do on the truck. We assign most of the damage to the truck on our trip up and down the Dalton Highway in our effort to reach the Arctic Ocean to officially kick off our journey toward Argentina. As such, we had the following repairs to make:
Our primary overage was due to incredibly high maintenance expenses.
Tires ($610.62): We had to replace our blown tire because it was not able to be patched. Additionally we had to purchase a new spare tire as this tire was also damaged on the return trip to Fairbanks.
Oil Filter ($24.47): We had to replace our existing oil filter prior to the next oil change because our previous oil change facility left the old gasket on the new filter. This extra space caused an oil leak that was solved when we replaced the oil filter.
Battery Harness ($137.02) + Starter ($243.79) + 2 Batteries ($301.02) + Labor ($140). Driving the Dalton seemed to shake loose the starter connection. This caused the batteries to arc to the starter. The arching corroded the starter, both batteries and the battery harness connecting our two batteries. We were able to get an off-duty employee at the auto parts store to install the new parts for an incredibly low amount of $140.
Fuel Filter + Separator Switch ($145.87) + Tools ($2.69 + $12.99): When we were spending time in Valdez waiting for bears and sea lions to devour pink salmon we noticed rainbow fuel rings around the truck. Our friend helped us diagnose the issue as a fuel separator switch in our fuel filter where water is separated from the diesel. A bad O-ring caused fuel to leak. Thus we had to replace the fuel separator switch and the fuel filter.
We have learned that we can cut a lot of our expenses by boon docking as much as possible. This is very feasible as long as we are in Alaska and Canada. However once we return to the Lower 48 it becomes more difficult to find places to boon dock.
We will return from Alaska in August (thus covering large distances and high fuel costs). Lindsay is also flying from Seattle to Jacksonville for medical treatments.Further, Chris driving from Seattle to Denver (more fuel costs). We expect that August will be relatively high expenses.
Additionally we are beginning to look ahead at the month of September as one in which we will return to Thermopolis, Wyoming to stay put for the month.
Fuel tends to be our largest expense (aside from unexpected maintenance issues). So staying in one place for a month will greatly reduce our fuel expenses. Additionally if we are not driving much we anticipate a much lower maintenance bill than budgeted. Other expenses can be expected to remain the virtually the same, with the exception of our accommodation.
We will be exchanging labor at our favorite RV park where we made friends with the owners for free camping during the month. This will also reduce our expenses. As such we anticipate that September will be significantly lower than either July or August.
We will also spend September preparing ourselves for work we hope to begin by November. These jobs will allow us to both reduce our expenses as well as add income to increase (or at least diminish the rate of expenses to) our bottom line. We don’t like the idea of having to work. But we knew that we would have to do this at some point in our travels. The sooner we start, the longer we can extend our budget toward Argentina!
Check out our next update from Haines, Alaska to Thermopolis, Wyoming!