Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cost to Cruise: A year in review

It has been 1 year that we have been ‘Full Timers’ in this Cruising thing, so is time to do that classic Yearly review.

When planning for this we had hoped to be in the $25-35K/year range, and still believe that is possible. However for this 1st year we spent almost $43K for the year. (Please note our ‘reported’ expenses do not include 1) Gifts given – e.g. Family, and 2) expenses directly reimbursed via Al’s job, ala Air fare when traveling). Where did we go wrong? Well, perhaps nowhere. Kristi and I tend to live our lives as we wish, shopping as we can, and enjoying life as it comes. We are both rather conservative in our approach to life, but up to now have not needed to live under a closely watched spending limit. So, the $43K is kind of how we would live ‘unrestrained’.Here is a 12 month picture of our expenditures.  Click on the image to get a larger view.

1st full year - Click on image for larger view

  Some areas of note?
  1. Medical: The largest expenditure % of all categories. IMHO, medical care in the US is so broken – simply looking at costs vs. effectiveness compared to other 1st world nations - we should be so ashamed. So, it is no wonder 23% of our expenses went to routine preventive medical – lord help us if we were actually sick.
  2. Groceries: Next largest at 19%. We attribute this to three points:
    • We tend to shop at smaller stores, those within walking distance. No more Winco;  it is lots of Safeway’s
    • We eat healthier – hard to imagine, but fresh produce and good cuts of meats cost more.
    • Wine and Liquor. OK, here we are enjoying life :-)

    Yes could cut back here. The reported ‘Living Wage’ allocation in San Juan County for food is: $410/mo for two adults. We exceed that by $265, and we could cut back  to meet that. But then, this same report placed medical at $196, so perhaps we had best look into how that is accomplished…
  1. Dining Out: Mostly this is, again, us enjoying life – Mostly coffee shops. We tend to not go out for dinner, which would cost even more.
  2. Moorage: Well, if we didn't pick up moorage we would have no opportunity to go to those coffee shops. Of course, we could anchor out religiously.

Two items that might surprise folks are Maintenance / Upgrades, and Fuel. After all: We are a Power Boat, and more so, a Wooden Power Boat!!! Well, per prior posts it is about Life Style and choosing a well built boat. We are not crossing oceans, if we did Sail would be the only way to go. Instead we tend to stay in one area for 3-4 days, then move on – typically 2-3 hours away. With Viking Star's very high level of fuel efficiency our fuel costs to move are very very low. In fact, perhaps 1/2 of the fuel used over the past year was for heating during the winter. Look for another post to dig more into Fuel costs over the year.

Wood Boat – Yup. Again, there is lots of ‘opinions’ out there about how much it costs to keep a wooden boat, but for us the costs are very low. This is due that the fact Viking Star was well built, mostly well maintained, and we keep up on the tasks. I have never been convinced a Wood Boat is ‘that Much more Work’ then a glass one, and so far will keep that opinion. I will say that a wood boat will decline much faster if they are not watched after, and that perhaps for 80+% of the wood boats out there the correct solution is a Jerry Can and a Flare. But then also remember, most wooden boats are at least 40-50 years old. As glass boats are coming into that age will see how they fare.

So, how does Viking Star's expense compare to others? One great list we know of is here: Lots and lots of sources.

And we have been followers of sv Third Day for several years now. Rich and family are perhaps on the leading edge of ‘Frugal Cruising’. I pulled their expenses for 2011 and here is the comparison:

Right off the bat we can see that Kristi and I spent 150% more than Rich and family.  Especially amazing consider that Rich's crew is a family of 4, with Teen agers! Wow . In comparing, what can we learn? Well, I see:

  1. Ongoing Boat Costs about the same. Wood vs. Glass??. 'Nuff said.
  2. Fuel – we are 2x, and if we back out the heating costs (Not too much need for heaters in Mexico) we are very close.
  3. Moorage – Rich is an anchor-out fiend. Wonder if that attributes to his fuel costs some?
  4. Dining out and personal. Will just say: Taco Carts and Bathing Suits
And of course medical.

At $43k Kristi and I came close to the upper end of our goal. And perhaps if we use a more efficient heating method this winter (Hurricane and/or extra 30A shore power cord), combined with a little less ‘Enjoying Life’ we could make the $35K goal. But then, life is to enjoy, right?

And I still say: If we wanted to meet that $25K side of the goal, get out of the USA…

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