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January Transparency: Income, Expenses, & RV Costs

in Money Basics, Our Financial Journey, Travel

Each month, as part of an ongoing transparency project, I share the income and expenses of my pursuit to earn a living online.

Starting this month, I’ll also be sharing the costs that we incur as part of our RV lifestyle. Many of you have suggested a curiosity to know how much our adventure is costing.  :-)

Personal finances should not be a taboo subject in our society. The more light we can shed – and the more examples we can share – the better off we all are.

I also believe that if this community is supporting my family, then at the very least I can share a glimpse into the details. :-)

That said, here’s how January looked for my business.

January’s Business Income/Expenses…

Unautomate Revenue:  $289.00

  • Total Guides Sold:  17

Sell Your Crap Revenue:  $1565.00

  • Total Guides Sold (all versions):  39

Additional Income:  $5,213.51

Direct Expenses:  -$1487.59

  • Affiliate Payments:  -$344.91
  • Food/Meeting People: -$315.89
  • Airfare: -$276.30
  • Cell Phone: -$152.46
  • Paypal Fees: -$99.24
  • Website tech work: -$97.50
  • Products/Research:  -$78.85
  • Aweber:  -$49.00
  • Wufoo: -$29.95
  • iStock Photo: -$18.50
  • E-junkie:  -$10.00
  • DropBox:  -$9.99
  • Bank Fee: -$5.00

Net (Income – Expenses):  $5,579.92

Over the last 11 months of monetization, this brings average to: ~$5950/month

As always, I’m willing to answer any specifics in the comments below!  :-)

RV Expenses/Lifestyle Cost…

Starting this month, I’d like to be able to give you an accurate and fair view of what our mobile lifestyle is costing us. There are people living full-time on the road spending only a fraction of what we do – and I’m sure there are people spending exponentially more.

This isn’t as complete as we’ll try to be moving forward, but here’s an idea of some of our expenses related to the RV.

Gas: -$544.41

Unfortunately, I expect this to be the smallest this number will EVER be in a single month.

We’ve had a huge wake-up call with our RV averaging only 7 miles per gallon. This month we’ve had it parked and waiting for a large part of the month, meaning as we become more mobile – our costs in this category will soon skyrocket.

I’m anticipating that we’ll spend around $1500 per month here. Now, much of this is by choice. We are intentionally going to be driving a lot in the upcoming months to various locations.

This also pushes us to drive the Jeep as much as possible to certain destinations – rather than hauling the big RV. We’ll need to balance this in the coming months to not break our budget.

Campground Fees: -$665.00

On the flip side, I think this category is the *largest* it will ever be. We spent most of this month stuck outside of Baltimore. There were few options that were “all year round” here and we were forced to remain close to the city for coordinating the wrap of our RV.

The campground where we spent most of our time was $45/night – well on the high-end of anything we will look for in the future (even in the middle of winter).

As we head south, we’ll have a lot more inexpensive options – and will be taking full advantage of family, friends, and community members willing to host us.

Hotel/Hostel/Lodging: -$348

Another number that was unusually high for us this month – due to our decision to spend nearly a week traveling to NYC, Philadelphia, and Hershey, Pennsylvania (away from RV).

This was a conscious decision – and we knew the costs of being away from the RV would be much higher than normal.  That said, we won’t look to be stuck waiting in many more situations – nor spend many nights outside the RV in the coming months.

Propane: -$185.53

Because we’ve had to run the furnace nearly 100% of the time, we burnt through a lot of propane. Based on some full-timers I’ve talked with, this should drop fast once out of the cold.

We’ll still use a bit for cooking and running the refrigerator when not plugged in – but our propane usage should be drastically reduced.

Tolls/Parking: -$58.00

Again, most of this was a result of our trip up to NYC. We got caught on a highway that we didn’t realize was a toll and paid some hefty fees! I’m just glad we weren’t in the RV – it would have been nearly triple…

This is something we’ll try to budget $50/month for – and hope that we can save most of that when needed. Of course, if it’s a much shorter route – it’ll be smart for us to pay tolls given we only get 7 miles/gallon!

Repairs (Furnace): -$291.98

Another charge I blame on cold weather. Like I pointed out, our furnace ran nearly 100% of the time. Kicking on and off… on and off… trying to make up for single-digit temperatures at times.

Finally, it blew one night. We bought a temporary space heater to survive for a few days as we had to have it replaced. All said and done, I’m actually happy it came in under $300!

Have I mentioned I can’t wait to get to warmer weather?  :-)

*****

Overall, our non-gas expenses were *far* greater than we had wanted – and we are looking for ways to help control that.

Our gas expenses are directly related to a conscious lifestyle that we choose. We have to be well aware of our freedom of mobility and its actual cost.

Other expenses like food, grocery, household, etc… we’ll be tracking better in the coming months.

I will admit that, with our business meals included, we spent over $600 “eating out” in the month of January. That’s a record (by a longshot) for us and something we are looking to hit hard in the coming months.

It’s hard for us because the convenience of meeting readers, bloggers, and families at restaurants is very compelling. It’s also not fair to include “business” meals in the same vein as us just eating out because we are tired (or due to poor planning).

Nevertheless, I’m willing to face the facts. We spent way too much overall in January.  Somewhere just north of $3500+ for our personal lifestyle in the month.

Business plans moving forward…

My online business will be going through a shift in the coming month or two.

First, I’ll be taking Unautomate Your Finances off the market in February. It’ll have been nearly a year since it was released.

While I’m very proud of my first premium product ever, I’m moving onto bigger and better products. It’ll be replaced with a full course – not just an eBook.

In other words… “You Vs. Debt” is coming… :-)

I’ve also decided to phase out my staff writing for other sites. In the past, I’ve written articles for Wisebread, Get Rich Slowly, and Amex Currency. While I enjoyed these experiences (and was paid for them), I know it’s time for me to ruthlessly focus on my creative work here.

I also don’t enjoy writing in large chunks – especially for other people. I love *creating* – just not writing a lot.  Sounds weird, I know, but it’s true!

Lastly, I’ll also be limiting my consulting. A large project I’m working on is winding down and while I sincerely love the half-dozen clients I’m currently working with – I want to maintain focus here as well.

If you read that correctly, I’m removing (or severely limiting) three decent income streams for myself. I may or may not end up regretting this move, but I honestly feel it’s right for my business.

I’ll be focusing on the Man Vs. Debt Road Tour (a full time job in itself) and on creating life-changing, impressive courses based on the problems I can help people solve. This is the best way to run my business long-term, and it’s the best way to positively affect the most people.

So that’s where I’m heading…

Who’s coming with me?

Xoxoxo,

-Baker

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Marc and Angel Hack Life February 3, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Congrats as always on your continued success, Baker. Angel and I truly enjoy catching up on your family’s adventures each week.

Keep rockin’! ;-)

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Tyler February 3, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Keep up the great work Baker. I love that you’re eliminating revenue streams to focus on things you are more passionate about. This will certainly pay off in the end.

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Jody Elliott February 3, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Thanks for the openness of all of this. Transparency can be an amazing tool. I’ve always been curious of the on-the-road lifestyle costs, and you seem to be addressing that perfectly. I think your business is heading in a positive direction and by aligning your focus to one or two main income streams, I think you’ll allow yourself to be more creative and driven. Definitely think it’ll be a great pursuit. Keep up the great work.

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LM February 3, 2011 at 3:25 PM

I wouldn’t beat yourself up over your January expenses – if you think about they include your rent/mortgage costs which doesn’t sound too bad to me for a family of 3. Plus – you are off on a new adventure and learning how to budget in a new environment so you will obviously need time to adapt your finances to the situation. I’m having fun reading of your RV adventures – I was going to fill out the “come and visit me” survey but you didn’t have Bahamas in the drop-down :-) I don’t think the RV would get here from Miami.

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Mike Young February 3, 2011 at 3:33 PM

I really appreciate your transparency, man. Your whole story is very inspiring!

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Financial Samurai February 3, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Great work Baker! $6,000 a month in net income is fantastic!

Looking forward to you getting paid to put advertising on your RV! Should be an easy $1,000+ a month no?

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Paul Williams February 3, 2011 at 3:45 PM

I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ll be doing with an increased focus on MvD, Baker. I can identify with what you said about writing for others not being enjoyable. It can really sap you.

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Mike Holman February 3, 2011 at 3:47 PM

Congrats on the income.

I suspect you will keep eating out quite a bit. It’s the only way to meet up with people efficiently.

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Tyler Tervooren February 3, 2011 at 3:50 PM

I love these monthly updates and your radical transparency with your finances, Baker. It’s really great to see someone like you making a good, honest living for your family from a remarkable community like this.

To your continued success. :)

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Jillian February 3, 2011 at 3:57 PM

Just a tip, for when you are looking at hotel/hostel/whatever! You should check out airbnb.com. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a place where people can rent out their spare room, couch, or even their entire place, at a lot more affordable price than a hotel, and much more comfortable than a hostel. There are some pretty interesting options too, including boats and tree houses.

I can see I sound like a sales person, but I’m a big fan, starting being a host back in May, and it has been a great way to make extra money. And I’ve met really wonderful people, not a bad experience yet! If you’re interested, I think I can “refer” you, and you get $25 credit.

Anyway, just a thought! Congrats on how everything is going, it is very inspiring!!!

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Leilani Gibson February 3, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Hi,
Not sure when you are coming to Portland,OR but, you can park your RV for free at the ski resort parking lots during ski season for up to 14 days. They are in the National Forest. No hook ups but great amenities, your own mountain. :) It’s my dream to do this with my daughter some winter. Pull her out of school, get an Airstream Bambi, drive around the US visiting various ski resorts and ski everyday!!!!
-ski girl

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Sandy @ yesiamcheap February 3, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Wrapping the RV should help to defray some of the costs. I’m seriously bummed that I missed you while you were in NY. I would have given you the lowdown on which roads were tolls roads. We NYers know every trick to avoid them. :)

Thanks for the transparency. I always enjoy these posts.

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Pete O'Shea February 3, 2011 at 4:37 PM

Why remove Unautomate Your Finances from sale? I still think it is very relevant. Surely it is pretty much a passive income stream by now with little or no work required to keep the money trickling in. Are you going to make it available for free, maybe as an incentive for your email list?

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Cherie @Technomadia February 3, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Not bad for a first month on the road :) We typically looked at Gas + Campground Fees = Rent/Mortgage. And in our experience, when one is high, the other is low (especially if you’re utilizing the free resources for overnight parking while in transit). So I know you’ll be able to get those better balanced as you move on. You’ll also be glad to know that it’s pretty easy to avoid toll roads once you get out of the NE, so I doubt you’ll need that as a big budget item.

And yeah, propane costs in cold weather are ridiculous. And those propane furnaces aren’t quiet either!

Looking forward to our next nomadic rendezvous in Austin!

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Gordie February 3, 2011 at 4:49 PM

Always appreciate your openess, Baker. You doing this is inspiring many people.

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Living the Balanced Life February 3, 2011 at 5:55 PM

Great to read your monthly wrap-up. It will help me get a good idea of what it will take to do what you are doing one day!
Hope to see you when you head south!
Bernice
A break from our regularly scheduled programming…

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Gillian @OneGiantStep February 3, 2011 at 6:19 PM

Thanks again for the transparency! I am also on a personal mission to get money off the taboo topic list in N.America! I talk with my friends and give specific numbers for costs and income and brazenly ask about theirs also. There’s no reason, in my opinion, why it can’t be that way! Cheers!

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Martyn Chamberlin February 3, 2011 at 7:11 PM

It’s so fun to watch what you do Adam. I don’t know anybody that’s as transparent as you are. The closest thing I’ve seen is Darren Rowse, who gives the monthly breakdown of his income, but he only does it on a percentage scale – not actual $. It’s really cool peaking at where your money and expenses are coming from.

You’re awesome man. Keep up the awesomeness. :-)

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Mike February 3, 2011 at 9:51 PM

Financial posts like this are my all time favorite. Nice job bro, I’m especially interested in your coaching/consulting revenue as that is the path that I’m on as well.

Looking back, what were the 1-3 big things you did that got your consulting revenue flowing?

~Mike

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Kristia@Family Balance Sheet February 3, 2011 at 10:09 PM

You were in Hershey? I live about 20 minutes from there. Great town. With this blustery northeast weather, your’re probably ready to head south.

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Joan February 3, 2011 at 10:31 PM

Always along for the ride! Can’t wait to hear more.

For what it’s worth, I can’t speak for everyone, but I bet there are a lot of people who would be willing to provide food for some of the more informal meetups. Just getting to meet you is so cool that you don’t have to bribe us with food!

(I realize your sponsor may take care of that for more official gatherings; that’s great. I’m more thinking one-on-ones.)

Same could be said for campsites. While that’s obviously very needed for things like sanitary dump, etc., if it’s just “a place to park for the night,” hopefully we can get you a network of friendly driveways!

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Lonnie @ My Income Lab February 3, 2011 at 10:38 PM

Hey Adam

This is my first time commenting here. I always enjoyed your posts on GRS. One question, why take your ebook off the market? Isn’t that just dollars being thrown out the window? I understand that you are expanding it and creating a more robust product from it, but unless you aren’t keeping it at the same price point (which I am assuming you are not), isn’t the book still a viable option to try to downsell then (maybe at a new lower cost). Or pare the book down and offer it for free for opting in to something.

I ask because I am knew to all this and eventually would like to create a product of my own to offer.

Thanks for your insights!
Lonnie

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Tracy Bingham February 4, 2011 at 3:09 AM

Thank you! =D

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Anthony February 4, 2011 at 3:32 AM

Well done Adam and thanks for such a detailed post on the matter many people crave to know about!

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Henrik Edberg February 4, 2011 at 3:43 AM

Thank you for sharing the monthly reports and your adventures with the RV. I truly enjoy reading all about that.

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Benny the Irish polyglot February 4, 2011 at 5:01 AM

Gotta love the transparency of your financial updates!! :D

My question is: How do you get so much interest in consultation work? I’ve got a prominent link on my site and devoted a whole post to it a while back, but I still only have one call a month despite high traffic and acceptance as somewhat of an “expert” in the languages niche online. I’m lucky to be earning a living off my Guide, but depending entirely on one source of income makes me edgy!

Then again if you are cutting back the consultation (as many I see end up doing), perhaps it’s not that great after all? I like my consultation calls, but they are so rare that I can’t really get sick of them yet :P

Thoughts appreciated from the expert himself :)

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Leigh February 4, 2011 at 6:40 AM

loving the idea of YOU v Debt! do it, do it, do it!

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Catie February 5, 2011 at 8:51 AM

I’ve been reading your blog “a long time” (for a young blog!) and I’ve always wondered what your family does about health insurance? I don’t remember seeing anything about it when you were in Australia/Thailand tho I know Courtney was working in NZ. Am very curious what you did then and now! Thanks!

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Marnie - The UnBlogger February 5, 2011 at 3:16 PM

You’re officially making me jealous! As a kid we camped all summer, every summer, and my husband and I just haven’t been able to afford a camper yet. I feel like my kids are missing out on something. Maybe I should add “saving for a camper” to my 21-day challenge series on my blog.

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Christy @ Technosyncratic February 5, 2011 at 6:04 PM

Great post! We put together an article recently that lays out our expenses for the last 5 months of living in Mayhem (our RV). Our monthly “rent” + gas tend to seesaw, but usually if one is high then the other one is low. We didn’t even include a line item for tolls because we’ve run into so few, but just this last week in Florida we’ve spent over $50 in tolls! Pshaw… :P

If you’re interested, our breakdown is here:
http://technosyncratic.com/2011/01/21/true-costs-of-fulltiming/

Hope you can find some warm weather soon! :)

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Justin Hamlin February 7, 2011 at 9:56 PM

Baker –

Looking forward to all of the great changes you have coming for you. Cannot wait to go on the journey with you.

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Jeff McNeill February 10, 2011 at 3:31 AM

Love the transparency, thank you! This really helps with motivation regarding e-books and other self-published products. Clearly you need traffic to get these numbers.

Also, wondering why you haven’t headed further south while the winter weather is at its fiercest? RV is mobile, no?

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The Single Saver February 10, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Patiently (or not) waiting to see the new RV design! It seems like you have great plans in place. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Man vs. Debt.

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Steven @ The Debt Solution February 10, 2011 at 12:31 PM

I’m glad to see you and your family are making things happen. Thanks for the transparent income statement. I’ve never seen that before in my circles income is usually quite but we show it with out lifestyles…which can be very loud!

When you make it to the six figure per month I wonder how the community will respond? From my personal experience family and friends tend to change.

Keep up the excellent work!

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Sarah February 11, 2011 at 8:12 AM

Thank you for being so brave and sharing this. This helps the hands on, visual person understand and be mentored in a real way by you being this transparent.

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bogart February 23, 2011 at 12:18 AM

Here from Minimalist Mom … as a sometime RVer, we find it cheap in the winter months to use an electric space heater full-time to heat our camper (~28 foot TT, no slides), as we are generally staying in full hookup campgrounds that don’t meter electricity. At $45/night, I’d think that’s where you were too — might making more enthusiastic use of the (at the margin) free electric make more sense than heating with propane? I realize depending on your setup, etc., etc., that might make more or less sense, but we managed 2 weeks in 20-50 degree range using almost nothing (for heat) but one space heater.

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Alex | WiseNinja February 27, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Nice Baker, the transparency is always appreciated, inspiring too. I admire your lifestyle! RVing is awesome, doing it with family is better, and while running a business is amazing!
@Catie Medical insurance is one of my bigger expenses, I just posted my expenses for living on a tropical beach.

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Kelly J. March 24, 2011 at 9:29 AM

Wow, what an adventure! I’ve never heard any stores about living in an RV, but that sounds very exciting. How is the RV during snow or rain storms? Thanks for sharing your income, expenses, and RV costs. I always wondering how much it costs. Thanks for sharing!

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