Spending Report for May 2016


My apologies for taking so long to post my May spending report. June has been really busy for me, and to be honest, I’m not so excited about the spending reports these days. I thought the reports were going to show how great I am at living on little money, but instead, they are showing I’m barely capable of taking care of myself. Sigh.

However, since I am not one to quit a project once I’ve started, I will carry on with the spending reports for the rest of 2016. Here’s the report for May 2016.

5-1-16 I thought I’d spent nothing today, then I remembered the autopayment for my phone bill. Total spent: $34.99

5-2-16 Today I left Babylon. Total spent: $69.26

30 cents for 2 gallons of water

$7.44 to Sprouts for Bragg’s liquid aminos (price reflects a 5 cent credit for not using the store’s bag)

$65 for gasoline

$3.79 to Taco Bell for breakfast (I love their potato, egg, and cheese grilled breakfast burritos.)

47 cents to send square Mother’s Day card

5-3-16 Today I bought some food and took a shower. Total spent: $6.73

$6.48 for food

25 cents for hot shower

5-4-16 Today finally got the title and registration on my van taken care of. Total spent: $67.34

$10 for debt repayment (that I do not want to discuss)

$1.20 for money order

$55.50 for van title and registration

64 cents to McDonald’s for ice cream in celebration of the van’s title and registration

5-5-16 Laundry was today’s big activity Total spent: $14.85

$5.50 to wash and dry my clothes

$7.36 for pizza buffet (including tip)

$1.99 for ice

5-6-16 I bought plastic drawers at a thrift store, in hopes of better organizing the van. Total spent: $5.50

5-7-16 Today I bought some more groceries and took another shower. Total spent: $4.92

$4.67 to grocery store from ice, cheese, and eggs

25 cents for hot shower

5-8-16 Nothing spent

5-9-16 Today I paid off a portion of the debt I incurred when I had to rent a room during my time working scoring student responses to standardized tests. Total spent: $102.77

$100 to folks who loaned me money

$1.20 to post office for money order

$1.57 to mail free coloring book to my friend’s kid

5-10-16 Today I sent a small gift to a friend who’d recently had surgery. Total spent: $27.11

$2.12 to Family Dollar for colored pencils

$24.99 to post office to mail packet to friends and for 60 postcard stamps

5-11-16 Every time I go into town, I spent money. I need to learn to stay in the wilderness. Total spent: $35.55

$1.99 for ice and $1.11 for food to grocery store

$30 gas

$2.45 to mail jewelry order

5-12-16 Finally, nothing spent

5-13-16 I went to the post office again today, and stocked up on inexpensive food at the discount market. Total spent: $6.17

$1.57 to send free coloring book to a different friend’s kid

$4.60 to discount market

5-14-16 Today I hit the road, heading to my summer job. Total spent: $99.51

$6.11 to grocery store for food and ice

$37.50 to Wal-Mart for supplies

$55.90 to Circle K for gas and a slushy

5-15-16 Today I made it to the overnight stopping point of my trip. I arrived early in the afternoon, so I took care of some errands. Total spent: $115.57

$41.98 to Pilot for gas and coffee

$42.37 to TA for gas and (possibly the worst tasting I’ve ever encountered) ice

$4.50 to wash and dry my clothes

$1.72 for dinner (at McDonald’s so I could use the free WiFi and an electrical outlet)

$25 for haircut, including tip (which was way more than I’d planned to spend)

5-16-16 Today I made it to Babylon on my way up the mountain. I bought the rest of the supplies I needed to start my summer job. Total spent: $189.72

$45 for gas

$24.40 to Trader Joe’s for food

$17.17 to Wal-Mart for supplies (that I couldn’t find at the last Wal-Mart I stopped at)

$64.49 to Dick’s Sporting Goods for the privacy tent where I will take my showers this summer

$3.66 for a delicious meal at Del Taco

And I just remembered, I got an oil change at Jiffy Lube before I went up the mountain. The receipt must be with my maintenance records. I’m too tired to trudge out to the van, so let’s call it $35.

5-17-16 Today I rode with my co-worker to job training. We stopped a couple of places before and after. Total spent: $5.63

$1.29 for a bottle of cold water

$4.34 to Dollar Tree for C batteries to power my small fan

5-18-16 I rode with my co-worker to training again today. He needed to stop in town, so I ran into Dollar Tree and bought cooking spray for the inside of the pit toilets. Total spent: $2

5-19 through 5-22-16 I spent four days on the mountain with nothing to buy. Nothing spent

5-23-16 Today was my day off. I went to Babylon and spent money. Total spent: $427.63 (WHAT?!?!? I had to check my math. But yes, I paid off one debt and paid on another and ended up spending over $400 in one day.)

79 cents for pumpkin empanada at Mexican supermarket

$1.09 to Taco Bell for breakfast (What can I say? I was still hungry.)

$4.34 to Dollar Tree for Supplies

$14.37 for groceries and ice

$6.02 to Little Caesar’s for Pizzaa

$1.99 to post office to mail…something.

$3.28 to Target for hair gel (After paying $25 for a haircut, I figured maybe I should do something to make it look good, or at least as good as possible.)

$46.94 to Wal-Mart for supplies

$2.25 for water

$4.50 to wash and dry clothes

$1.40 to Wal-Mart to pay for two money orders

$100 on repayment of debt I will not discuss

$225 to pay off debt for room I had to rent while working (see 5-9-16)

$20 for graduation present

5-24-16 I headed back up the mountain today. Total spent: $32.24

$30.35 for gas

$1.89 for coffee

5-25 through 5-30-16 I spent five days on the mountain with nothing to buy. Nothing spent

5-31-16 Today I went to the closest outpost of civilization to use the internet. I felt as if I should support the store where I was utilizing the internet (and I needed ice anyway), so I bought ice and lunch there. Total spent: $8

$3 for ice

$5 for lunch

Total spent in May: $1,255.49

Depressing! I was much happier to be in denial and think I was frugal.

For anyone who may have forgotten and for folks who just recently began reading my blog, one of my goals for 2016 is to keep a record of every penny I spend this year. Each month I give a report on what I bought and how much I spent in the previous month.

To find out how this project came about, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/31/spending/.

Other spending reports can be found here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/02/01/spending-report-for-january-2016/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/03/01/spending-report-for-february-2016/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/04/02/spending-report-for-march-2016/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/05/01/spending-report-for-april-2016/.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now I have a little travel trailer parked in a small RV park in a small desert town. I also have a minivan to travel in. When it gets too hot for me in my desert, I get in my minivan and move up in elevation to find cooler temperatures or I house sit in town in a place with air conditioning I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

15 Responses »

  1. Remember your van is your home… Rent, vehicle,gas, food ….very hard to not have those expenses. Make sure your ice cream treat is real ice cream? showers! haircutt,pizza,slushys, and clean clothes make us happy. Gotta stay happy to make it. Phone, internet, maybe even the van and gas are a business expense(at least a portion), as are supplies for your art. I say keep working it…always thinking of ways to make “the living ” easier. I love to read about your expenses. I’m not keeping track on paper but I am very aware of how much it costs each month when you pay your own way. Yes, depressing but we have to do something in this life….the days get long and there are lots of snares worse than slushys to get you. Remembering others are having similar frustrations or worse is a highlight of your budget . Love,

    • Thank you for these reminders, Jennifer.

      For 69 cents, I don’t know how much real ice cream I got. But it was cold and delicious. Sometimes in the desert, we just need cold.

  2. ran into Dollar Tree and bought cooking spray for the inside of the pit toilets. Total spent: $2
    Good grief! This doesn’t bare thinking about!!! Auntie M

  3. Just curious: You seemed to have spent at least $518 for the job you were on (probably not counting gas to get/leave). How much did you make from the job (net)?

    There was at least $35 on junk food and drinks.

    If you’re paying $1.89 for a 12-oz bottle of cold water, that breaks down to $13.75/gallon. Skip 3 of those and you could buy a steak.

    You made at leat 8 grocery trips. Maybe try to limit yourself to 2 grocery trips a month, possbily cut down on impulse purchases, and gas.

    If you’re buying bagged ice cubes for your cooler, try to find solid block ice — it lasts longer.

    Not spending sounds like a great idea, but….. we’re conditioned to spend without thinking. We need to FIX THAT!

    • What job do you mean? The one I was working when I paid approximately $350 for housing? I’m not sure where you got $518 on that one. Or do you mean the one I am currently working as a camp host? The camp host job also supplies me with a free, safe place to live while I am working.

      Some of the money I paid on junk food and drinks was spent while I was using the internet to work on blog posts. Some of it was spent because I was in town and hungry. Got to eat something.

      The bottle of water was much bigger than 12 ounces. It was a big bottle. Not a gallon, but at least 24 ounces. And as you can see from reading my spending report, I didn’t buy three during the month. I can’t remember the last time I bought a bottle of water at a convenience store. I bought one that day because I was going to my job training and didn’t have any ice in the cooler and needed some cold water to get through the day.

      I understand your point, Bottled water is not a good deal for the price. But if you look through past reports, you will see that I don’t usually buy water that way. I usually refill jugs and I fill my water bottle from those jugs (and fill my bottle with ice from the gas station when I get gas or from the ice in my cooler).

      Speaking of ice, the town I was staying in didn’t have block ice, as far as I know. There was only one (small) grocery store there, and it didn’t sell blocks of ice. Also, when I have used blocks of ice, I end up losing food because it’s floating around in the watery mess at the bottom of the cooler. So cubes of ice (portioned out into containers), keeps things neater, and I don’t lose food, but yes, I understand that blocks of ice lasts longer.

      Most of my grocery store trips were to stock up or to get cold food that I can’t stock up on, since I don’t have refrigeration. Right now, I’m only coming off the mountain every other week, so I am grocery shopping less often. And I’ll be damned if I pay the high prices at those general stores on the mountain.

  4. “5-2-16 Today I left Babylon. Total spent: $69.26″

    :5-16-16 Today I made it to Babylon on my way up the mountain. I bought the rest of the supplies I needed to start my summer job. Total spent: $189.72”

    “5-23-16 Today was my day off. I went to Babylon and spent money. Total spent: $427.63 (WHAT?!?!? I had to check my math. But yes, I paid off one debt and paid on another and ended up spending over $400 in one day.)”

    Just according to this, it looks like you spent most of the month in Babylon. Did you have more than one job there?

    I was just curious about this. A young woman I knew several years ago got a job where the finances of it were like a ‘company store’ operation. They had requirements that cost her money, they deducted stuff from her paycheck, and by the time it was all over, she figured she had been working for half the legal minimum wage.

    • OH, Babylon. That’s just a code name for any big city. The Babylons I refer to in that post are actually three cities of different sizes.

      The supplies I bought were not required for my job. The company I work for provides uniforms, and I get to park my van on a campsite for free for the entire season. So I am saving rental costs that way. The supplies I refer to are things like propane (which I would need wherever I was spending the summer) and a privacy tent and water pumper so I can shower on my campsite, which in the long run will save me money from having to drive long distances to spend money to shower.

  5. If you don’t count debt repayment, you only spent around $880 or so. I don’t know how anyone can live on less and still eat. I think you are living as frugally as a person can.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Lynn.

      I’m hoping to spend quite a bit less in June, as the one debt is repaid and some of the things I needed for my summer on the mountain (such as privacy tent and water pumper for showering) were on time expenses.

    • Yeah….your critics are tough…most everyone spends everything they make each month no matter how much they make…..yes, debt repay is tough….here’s a suggestion that might send you over the edge….what about a savings program..I know you have a plan ….maybe all your artwork $ could be saved or the other way around…….what’s shakin’ bacon…..

      • An artwork savings plan sounds good. I know savings is important. I used to be better at it, when I had a steadier income. Thank you for the suggestion.

  6. Thank you for posting your spending reports. I think it really tells how much it cost to be free. This is just a question on one of the youtube videos I saw some with a portable I maker I was wondering if that was something you would every look into?

    • Thanks for reading and leaving a comment, Lori.

      I am guessing from context that your question is about portable ice makers. I’ve never looked into one, but I’m guessing one must have electricity to run them. Is that right? I don’t have solar power, and I have never paid to park anywhere with electrical hookups, so I don’t think an ice maker that needs electricity would be feasible for me. I would love to hear what you know about them; maybe I will learn a portable ice maker would work for me.

  7. I’ve been thinking about this post. And thank you for explaining that Babylon is a generic name for what passes for civilization — I thought you were just driving back & forth to the same town, wasting gas! Maybe it would be clearer if you referred to them as B-town, R-town, etc?

    I have a suggestion: keep the log as you’re doing, but break it down into a few categories so you can analyze it better at the end of the month.

    These are Facts of Life:
    $35 …. phone
    $56 …. car title/registration
    $538… debt repayment (I didn’t incl. money order costs, but it’s necessary)
    $55 …. oil & lube
    TOTAL: $682

    Variable, but necessary:
    $235 …. gas
    $25 ….. haircut
    $17 …. ice
    $15 …. laundry
    TOTAL: $292

    One-Time Investments:
    $45 …. shower tent
    $5.50 …. drawers
    TOTAL: $51

    Not technically necessary, but you have to remain human:
    $78 …. cards, gifts, etc.

    Once the personal debts are paid, your exenses will drop by more than $550 per month! YEEHAW! Right now, they are skewing your actual expenses and making your Spending Report look more depressing. The good news is that this will eventually change.

    When your debts are paid, you could total up your ANNUAL payments (car registration, insurance, etc) and set them aside (but not out of mind), and using the figures from this month’s report,

    $1,256 Spending total for May
    ……-56……..Deduct annual pymt
    …..550……..Deduct debt when paid off
    ……-51……..Deduct one-time expenses
    NEW TOTAL: $600 (really $599, but $600 looks better)

    Now, you will still have to allow for Fact of Life annual costs, like the car registration ($56) and car insurance (maybe $600), etc, but if you total them and divide by 12, they don’t look so bad (using these figures, that would be about $55/mo.)

    Debt is the millstone around our necks. Without it, we would nearly be as free as a bird.

    You’re doing fine. Just don’t do what the moron at the end of my street did during the 2008 Recession: His contruction business was barely operating, so what did he do to make himself feel better and solve his problems? He went out and bought a new pickup with all the bells and whistles, for $60,000.


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