Browsing "Finances"
May 7, 2013 -

Dining Out

One of the biggest challenges this winter was consistently finding good coffee to make at home. In Canada, my compromise for taste and price is Nabob Full City Metropolis. My coffee choices have been hit or miss all winter, and my latest purchase has been thoroughly a miss. L spoiled me rotten in Wichita, having a fresh pot of really good stuff available to me every morning. My morning coffee has been disappointing since Kansas.

I remembered from last year that the Dakota Magic restaurant has really good coffee. So I planned on having a lunch here, for both the coffee and to use up the rest of my U.S. cash.

I ordered a full pot of coffee (did not get through it) and a club sandwich, which came to $10. I brought half of the meal home for dinner. I’m going to miss this price/portion ratio when I get to Canada.

The coffee was sooooooooooo good. Since I only ate half my meal, I asked for a slice of pie to go with my final sips.

When I came into the restaurant, the server didn’t see me be seated and I was apparently invisible because it took AGES for her to see me. I was actually about to walk out, figuring they were too busy to take on any new customers, when she came to take my order. So when I asked for pie, she pointed to the buffet ($13 for lunch, OUCH), and told me to help myself to whatever looked good, plus ice cream if I wanted it, and that she wouldn’t charge me. That doubled her tip! I enjoyed their pecan pie with just a dollop of chocolate ice cream.

When you live alone in a small space, dining out is practically a survival mechanism. It’s an excuse to get out and do a little socialising. For me, food is food when it comes to my budget. Said budget goes further in the U.S. than in Canada and allows for more meals out, but regardless, so much per month goes to food and I eat very simply at home to cut costs (I so rarely buy desserts and junk food, for example, that saying that I never buy them is barely an exaggeration). Dining out is not a place where my budget needs to be trimmed, contrary to what some readers may think.

Another thing is that this blog is a business. When I post a review of a local restaurant, I keep a copy of the bill and the blog post and claim a partial deduction on my taxes! The logic there is that I keep a travel blog. Part of travel is discovering local cuisines and restaurants. Part of my business is travel writing. To write about travel, I have to write about food. Ergo the deduction.

I’m off to do more laundry. I did three loads this morning and now I have the heavy denim stuff to do, which will take FOREVER to dry since it’s almost impossible to wring out by hand.

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Countries, Finances, Homemaking, Laundry, North Dakota, Personal, Restaurants, Travel, USA    4 Comments
Apr 29, 2013 -

Screwed Yet Again By the Most Unpredictable Variable

There has been some really nice responses to my last post, but they were surpassed by some really rude ones that just blew me away by their ignorance, lack of compassion, and short-sightedness.

I’m going to take you back to my first winter on the road, ’08 to ’09. It was a really brutal one and I ended up having to move to the very expensive Vancouver area where I was just about bled dry financially.

This year, I might have been able to stay below the bad weather, much worse than that of my first winter, it still screwed me over.

I had a really good budget for this winter and the funds to cover it. I’m actually super happy with my number crunching. What has led to the mess I’m in right now is the damned weather.

When I set off, I had a very good idea of how much fuel it was going to take me to go from various points on my US itinerary straight back to Canada as the crow flies. My intention was always that if I had several major unexpected expenses happen and started to feel a pinch, I would immediately return to Canada by the shortest route possible and get a contract or other job. I wouldn’t have said anything here about my financial situation and would have come up with a pretext for going north early.

But, SURPRISE, the roads north have been IMPASSABLE this winter. I’m basically trapped in a country where my money-making options are limited and suddenly I’ve got a bunch of major expenses that go beyond what I could have reasonably been expected to budget for. I am just lucky that my living expenses here are so low otherwise I would have had to find a loan shark or pawn Miranda or something equally drastic!

So that’s the scoop and all I have to say about this topic for now.

L and I are off to do some touristy stuff, so you can look forward to a FUN post later today. 🙂

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Finances, Travel, Weather    No Comments
Apr 28, 2013 -

A Matter of Sponsorship

I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty details of my financial situation and what’s been going on behind the scenes, but I have had a lot of unexpected expenses in the past months and even with expenses being low and hospitality being high, finances are dire. It’s just been a bad patch and I finally had to ask for help.

A few generous sponsors stepped in and put a finger in the dike in a number of different ways (THANK YOU), but the fact is that there is way more going out than coming in right now and that I am heading into a country where my cost of living is fully twice what it is now, no exaggeration. So it’s all a little much.

Truth be told, I had issues like this earlier on in my RVing life and I wouldn’t say anything about it. I’d just get an increase on my credit card or go hungry for a few days or whatever. But it’s getting harder and harder to be that silent on the blog because my readers (and according to Google Analytics, there are 20,000 of you a month!!!) aren’t allowing me to stay quiet for long. I also feel an increasing need to correctly and realistically display what an unstable lifestyle is like with variable income.

There was a time when I was embarrassed to accept donations in any form, feeling that my financial situation is my own responsibility. But I met someone this winter who had a very different perspective.

How many hours do I spend updating this blog and doing research for it, my ebooks, and articles? How many hours do I spend answering emails from folks with questions? RVing is literally a full-time job for me. It’s also my passion and the only thing I want to do.

How much do I earn from it? It’s at best a minimum wage part-time job.

The amount of time I spend being a public RVer and the expectations people have for me is disproportionate to the amount of money I make from it. People don’t seem to realise that every hour I spend working on the blog and doing any other RVing-related activity is an hour that I am not earning income. Just about all the other really well-known RVers out there are retired and people lose sight of the fact that I’m not.

I’d much rather be a professional RVer than do any of the other stuff I do. I love this lifestyle, I love keeping on top of the market and the technical stuff, and I love to educate other people about it. I wish I could live and breathe RVing. I know folks who succeed at doing so. And the reason they do is because they treat it like a job and expect to be compensated for it.

So I no longer accept ‘donations’ because that makes me sound like a charity case. Instead, I accept sponsorships. They can be anonymous or public, and the public ones will be highlighted/advertised on both this blog and the new site I’ll be launching shortly.

Sponsorship doesn’t have to be in the form of a PayPal payment. It can be taking me out for a meal or offering me a driveway. How about sponsorship as an exchange of services? You could notice that I’m going by your cousin’s tire place and that he could use some advertising. So why not ask him to put some new tires on the rig? Cheaper than a billboard and a much wider audience reach. Or maybe you went to a small brake repair shop last year and you let them know that they could get some publicity in exchange for doing maintenance on my truck.

One of the earliest sponsorships I ever got was from someone who used rewards points on her credit card to get me a gift card to a store I frequent. And of course, there’s always my Amazon link. These are ‘free’ ways to sponsor that really help my bottom line.

Sponsorship is a win-win for everyone. I get paid to do the job I love, sponsors get advertising, and my readers get more information.

Something in my life has to give and I’d really rather it not be this lifestyle I love so much. I really am afraid that I will have to downgrade RVing to being a hobby that is last to everything else, especially with my rig getting older and needing more maintenance and repair.

Thank you again to everyone who has sponsored Travels With Miranda, and not just in the last month or so. You all know who you are and you have all made me a firm believer in both karma and the principle of paying things forward. I am so grateful to my tribe.

Here’s the link to the sponsorship page.

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Announcements, Blog, Finances, Personal    14 Comments