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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Brian & Deya met in Vancouver Canada. After a few years together we were married and made choices. One was not to have children the other was not to take life for granted. The rest is yet to come.

December 24, 2010

6 Month Budget review

Summary
The first six month held a great deal of learning curves and as we have learned in other experiences whenever we fail to plan and practice risk mitigation the cost tends to mount. Forecasting is also never an easy effort and we have managed to fall short 18.21% of our meagre budget. The primary reason for the bias in our forecasting was not Food, Fuel or Lodging but in the category called Other. In fact we achieved a budget on Food at 74.83%, Fuel at 100.39%, Lodging at 54.02%. The Other category got us at 169.41% but was comprised of only two primary categories which covered about 95% of the overage: Insurance and Maintenance.

Background
When Deya and I set out to travel the Americas we had entirely too much stuff, some the right stuff and some the wrong stuff. Our budgeting strategy was to attempt an absolute minimum budget without having to sacrifice too much experience along the way. We would tent whenever possible, cook our own meals on the road side and limit our kilometres to about 300 per day. Balancing the three main categories of Food, Fuel and Lodging would be the primary focus for controlling our budget day to day. Daily sacrifices would have to be made in order to accomplish our goal of travelling without having to have a camera crew and follow up vehicles. Part of our effort is to help people understand that if all else fails in life they can just go ride. This of course was not our case which makes it an important part of our purpose.

Without exhaustive planning we estimated our mileage and knew roughly when we would use more fuel than other times, the food was not a great leap for us since our regular working budget for food was very thin but lodging was a bit of a mystery. The art of camping is an ever evolving and changing creature as we have determined and have had some trouble, particularly in Mexico finding appropriate camping. This has been an unfortunate case since we have had some of our best experiences camping.

We did limited research on things like ferries and bridges for extra costs as well as some attractions that might become costly and for the most part we were bang on. Our three months of negative budgeting occurred in July (learning curves), September (Newfoundland) and October (We got slammed!).

Evidence
July as mentioned was a learning curve where we had to make several adjustments in equipment (group 904) selection and some equipment maintenance (group 700). We had to make a call on getting a service done on one of the bikes sooner than anticipated, the philosophy when your bike is the whole trip is that preventative maintenance is the better option, unfortunately we didn’t predict this one. The other issue was eventually covered by a good will warranty through BMW.

September’s major overage was a chain and sprocket set which we had budgeted for the previous month but I felt I could get a few more thousand kilometres out of the one I had and I did! It caused a discrepancy in the budget but it worked out for the best anyways, I was eventually able to do the installation myself in Maine, USA at significant savings over the BMW shop rates. Deya had a service tune up which capped off the budget for the month.

October was a heavy hitter, we had maxed out on our kilometres this month, had covered the border costs, health insurances and a multitude of various other events. We had a chance to attend a Ralley in Texas for a cost but it was well worth it. Some cost came from the damage to our tent received during the hurricane in Newfoundland and its replacement but the bulk of the cost came from vehicle equipment: 6 tyres, clutch cables, spare bearings, etc. The other cost which was an error on my part was the vehicle insurance. Mine ran out; if I have gotten an extra month while back in Canada it would have cost me $60 bucks, but as we had intended to be in Mexico sooner I would have been okay. Since the problems at the border were serious we got delayed in the USA, this meant that in order to cover five days in the USA I had to purchase an additional three months of insurance. The cost was about $535 dollars for the insurance, added to the $900 dollars of equipment this cost accounted for the 60% overage for the month.

Here is a simple break down of our daily averages to give you an idea of how we are doing.

Daily Budget Performance Average

 Daily    Budget   Actual      %

Fuel      $13.33   $13.39      100.39%

Food     $5.94    $4.45         74.83%

Lodging $8.06    $4.35         54.02%

Other    $19.78   $33.51     169.41%

Totals    $47.11  $55.69     118.21%

Conclusion
If you noticed our performance on food and lodging you will see that we have done very well. While we have spent a lot of time in our tent and have cooked a lot of food ourselves on the side of the road I must give a warm and special thanks to all those folks out there (you know who you are) who have contributed to our success this far by selflessly offering warm food and a comfortable place to rest, Thanks You!

While fuel is the simpler of the calculations, we will endeavour to increase our maintenance budget and tighten up on the miscellaneous items. It’s difficult to estimate the maintenance as it comes down more to convenience of time, place, or price than it does kilometres or other predefined measures for maintenance. Since we’ve reached Mexico we’ve been higher in lodging as a result of security issues, I’m hoping this will change, maybe it’s as much a change of mind as it is a change of place.

1 comment:

  1. Best advice I ever read; make two piles. Pile one is everything you think you will need. Pile two is all the cash you think you will need. Cut pile one in half and double pile two.

    Another rule of thumb was budgeting:
    1st world countries: $50-$60 per day
    2nd world countries: $40-$50 per day
    3rd world countries: $20-$30 per day

    Seems to have worked for me.

    Shawn Connor

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