Everyone should have a base or bare-bones budget. It gives you a starting point when creating your monthly budget and it gives you a clear picture of what you HAVE to pay each month. I would like to share our bare-bones budget to give some perspective of what simple living looks like for a real family.


Many people ask us how we financially manage our lifestyle and we hope this will give some perspective into what it cost a family to live on.


We don’t have any more debt so our bare-bones budget no longer includes debt payments. This makes our essentials list much more concise. Keep in mind this is a base budget without any savings or giving. Here is our bare-bones budget…




Food $300/month
Food can be a budget breaker! Our food budget is by no means extravagant but with consistent meal planning we get the most from our food budget. We generally spend $75-100 on bulk items to replenish our stock then spend approximately $50/week on produce & misc. items each week. We also buy diapers, wipes & some cosmetics with this budget.


Rent/Parking/Electric $0-$300+/month
Parking cost really depends on where we are at…when we are at camp for Outdoor School or using courtesy parking at a friend or relatives house we just pay our electricity. When boondocking we may not pay anything. We try and keep our monthly parking under $300 per month.


Cell Phone $162/month
We have a fairly high data plan on our cell phones because we often use our phones as hotspots for our laptops while on the road. We could probably cut this in half but we choose to have this convenience.


Gas $150/month
Our truck has a massive gas tank @ 29 gallons. It costs roughly $120 to fill it up and we can drive about 435mi (15mpg) if we are not pulling our trailer. This leaves a little extra plus a few gallons for the motorcycle. When the weather is tame we ride our bikes + drag a little trailer for Paisley and other cargo. (We have a separate fuel budget when we are on the road based on where we are going.)


Auto Insurance $45/month
We have Geico for the truck and motorcycle and we pay our premium every 6-months ($270) but transfer $45 every month to savings then pay our premium from that account. We haven’t priced insurance in awhile but we switched from State Farm then Progressive for significant savings.


Tags & Registration $8/month
Tags for truck, trailer & motorcycle paid yearly.


Medical Premiums $350/month
We are a young & healthy family. Even when we had great insurance benefits we never reached our deductible and paid most things out of pocket. Health insurance can be a huge cost! To keep costs down Nick & Paisley have a high deductible ($7k) plan that allows us the benefits of a HSA account. Shae has a standard plan with maternity coverage with a ($5k) deductible. With the new Obamacare this coverage will change…we will see what it does to our costs.


Life Insurance $28/month
We carry term coverage & pay our premium yearly.


Total $1043-$1343.00/month (Depending on Parking)




Keep in mind that this is our barebones base budget with just the essentials and no margin. It would be very hard to stick to this budget for very long…we use it as a starting point then budget beyond it depending on our income.  Below are other budget items outside of the base list.


Personal Spending Allowance $100+/month
This is personal blow money.


AAA Membership $13/month
We carry AAA RV coverage paid yearly in case we have issues on the road. Every year we have had this coverage it has paid for itself. My first road trip with the Land Yacht I spent the majority of the night driving so I pulled off at a rest area to sleep for a few hours…when I awoke the truck wouldn’t start because I left the headlights/trailer lights on. 20min later AAA was there to give me a jump and get me on my way!


Gym Membership $60/month
Standard family membership at our local Gym / Community center. Gym is top notch with indoor water park, climbing gym and chic lobby with wifi. We pay for the gym membership when we are in the Northwest then we postpone our membership while we are out of town (a service they allow snow-birds to utilize without being charged enrollment fees).


Gym PlayCare $30
Our gym has playcare for 2hrs per day for $30 per month. This allows Shae & I to workout, shower plus get a little work done. We have even used this service for date nights at the gym. We have to stay on the premises but we have had some fun dates hot tubing, Netflixs in the lobby & rock climbing! Paisley loves to play with the kids & all the toys. Win-win!


Clothes $50
Our wardrobes are very simple and the majority of the time we shop second hand / thrift for clothes. This budget allows things to be replaced when needed and accrues to buy more costly things like shoes or coats.


Vehicle Repairs / Maintenance $50
A minimal maintenance fund covers things like oil changes and other minor repairs. I am fairly handy and have done some maintenance items to save on labor. In the event we have larger repairs we either add it to the budget (cutting other items to make room) or save over a period of time. Depending on the nature of the repair we may use our emergency fund to cover the initial cost then replenish the e-fund over time.


Date Fund / Blow Fund $50
Our weekly date nights mainly consists of free or frugal activities. Having a little fund to occasionally splurge on a date, eating out or other frivolous fun is nice to have in the budget.


Total $353

Grand Total $1396 – $1696


Thoughts? Questions? Are we forgetting any necessities? Jump in with your comments below!