Browsing "Finances"
Jan 12, 2013 -

Budgeting For Variable Income

Before I get into the fun post about my afternoon in New Orleans, I need to address a comment made by Croft in reply to my update about the truck.

He wrote:

I will get the first comment in. $300 ($600 if you add everything) is a lot for the repair. BUT it is only 2 – 3 month’s payments on a new vehicle. And payments on a new vehicle do not stop, they are month after month. Just sayin’.

That’s the point of view of someone who is living on a comfortable fixed income.

I have variable income and very little financial security in my day to day affairs (my little nest egg for retirement obviously does not figure into my daily budget). I never know how much is going to come in in the next month, so whatever came in this month has to go far.

Sure, my accounts receivable look flush on paper right now, but I’ve learned the hard way that clients don’t always pay up when they say they will. The only way I can make it is to budget with the money I have right now, which includes squirreling away a good portion of that in case the next cheque doesn’t come.

I have countless rainy day accounts that are all guesses for me based on how much I’ve spent in those categories on average in the past years. Some of them are flexible, like groceries and entertainment, meaning that I can move money out of them to fund emergencies. The non-flexible categories are things that I can’t skimp on, like vehicle repair and maintenance and income tax.

A car payment was much easier for me. I knew exactly how much I needed each month for that category in my budget and I was on a maintenance schedule. I’ve introduced an unknown element into my budget and until I figure out how much that truck is going to cost me on average in a year, something like this is going to be a big deal even if the amount might seem piddly to some.

I chose to live this way. I gave up a ridiculously comfortable life where I would drop $600 on a shopping spree without even thinking about it in the pursuit of something more real and enduring. So I accept responsibility for my choices and part of that responsibility is being honest about what it’s like to live this life without a steady income or pension backing it.

It’s taken me a long time to figure out how to finance my new life and I’ve finally got a system that’s working. The proof is that I am where I am tonight. I would never have come so deep into the US if I didn’t feel I could handle the financial end of the trip. So I am going to get through this, but unless I want to get myself into debt, I have to trim the budget in other areas. And I’d rather trim the budget in other areas than send more interest to the Visa company.

This budget might sound crazy strict, but it is so freeing to make decisions based on the money I have for certain categories of expenses rather than based on what my bank balance is. It means that when the end of January comes and I get that $150 bill for the web space renewal, I don’t have to worry about it since I put $12.50 a month aside for the past year to fund it.

Or that when I get an unexpected $600 truck repair, I can pull $300 of the truck maintenance account and be grateful that I only have to pull $150 out of food and entertainment since I got that windfall at the casino, but that I won’t get to spend $150 mindlessly the way I had looked forward to doing with that unexpected bonus.

That said, next month, my truck maintenance fund is at $0. What if something else breaks? So for the next few months, I’ll have to scrimp a little to build that fund back up. It’s like paying back the Visa company, only without interest.

The truth is, it would have been easier to not even mention that the truck had broken down and just carried on with the activities I could afford and I debated doing this. But I think that this incident could be helpful to other younger potential RVers trying to figure out how to finance a variable income life and weather a crisis, even one that seems small.

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Finances    4 Comments
Jan 3, 2013 -

Fuses Alone Are Not the Answer

I drove into Suffolk today to see if the NAPA store might have the right fuses for the battery monitor. They are tiny 250V 5A fuses. Nope. The salesman pondered the situation for a bit and gave me instructions to get to an RV parts place outside of town. I was doubtful they would have the fuses, but I made a note of the driving instructions just in case. Then, he gave me the name of a bigger auto parts store in Portsmouth. And then, the light bulb came on over his head!

Radio Shack.

As soon as those words came out of his mouth, I knew that would be the answer. I asked where the nearest one was, and it turned out to be right next to the big Dollar Tree! Why I never noticed that is beyond me.

I spent some time going through the well organized fuse drawers at Radio Shack and found one bag containing four of the fuses. Yes! I also picked up a 50% off set of two 12V outlets for the bedroom.

I got in and installed two new fuses, but the monitor did not turn on. 🙁

It’s been bitter cold today (just a couple of degrees below freezing and overcast), but the weather should be nice tomorrow. So the plan is to remove the battery monitor connections, make sure that all the lugs are properly attached to the wires, and then reassemble the whole thing. If that doesn’t work, I guess the next step is to contact Xantrex and ask them how I can verify that I irreparably screwed up a very expensive piece of equipment. 🙁

I am also going to run some tests as suggested by Croft in a comment made on my last post.

Even though my system is not running at 100%, I feel comfortable leaving on Sunday. Worse case scenario, I can attach the little inverter directly to the battery and run an extension cord from it to the computer. Otherwise, everything else is running nicely. The kinks will work themselves out, I am confident of it!

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Batteries, Electricity, Finances, Shopping, Technical    1 Comment
Jan 2, 2013 -

Local Delicacies?

Every time I visit the grocery store, I see something that makes me think, “I’ve got to take a picture of that!”

Today, I finally did. I’m still afraid to Google what it is exactly:


It is called a ‘chitterling loaf’ and there is a label that says ‘cooked pork chitterlings and pork stomachs, gelatin added.’ The ingredients are pork chitterlings, pork stomachs, water, vinegar, salt, gelatin, and pepper. My most educated guess is that this is akin to head cheese.

Okay, okay, the things I do for this blog. OMG, chitterlings are the intestines of a pig. And you’re supposed to eat this stuff cold on crackers. Note to self: if someone offers you chit’lins, smile, close your eyes, and remember you like raw fish.

Something else caught my eye and made me jump, but for what reason I cannot fathom:


Eating pigs’ feet is part of my culture! Only, I’ve never seen the pig feet like these, only all yummied up in my aunt’s ragoût de pattes de cochons.

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Cooking, Finances, Homemaking, Personal, Shopping    4 Comments