Saturday, December 30, 2017

Budgeting and Health (updated on 12/30/2017)


Preparing to install suitcase solar on top of the van.

UPDATE: Boy, it is getting harder and harder to live off of Social Security alone, but now it is time to tighten my belt and change my spending habits.  I am putting it all out here for the world to see.

Changing from “Month” to mid-month pay date period.  3rd Tues of Month.  Not all budget categories are included but I have added one new one… spending for which I have no receipts.  I come up with a negative number, which is sometimes over the amount of income.  I am guessing it is due to Pay Pal gifts I received which I have not yet added to my spreadsheet.  But I will do that and get it to balance closer.  I am still calculating things from pay period Nov 15- Dec 19.  Hope to do a full year review of my 2017 spending early in 2018.

Month / Pay Period





No Receipts

August (full month)





not re-calculated yet

Sep 20- Oct 17






Oct 18 Nov 14






Nov 15 – Dec 19





not calculated yet

Dec 20 – Jan 17






1) Gasoline … Nov 15 – Dec 19… I was traveling with trailer in tow from CA back to AZ, hence the very high gas expenses.  For the next couple of months, I don’t plan to do much driving, so this figure should come way down.

2) Fast Junk foods… My eating habits have totally changed (since the removal of a tumor in March 2017).  (All $ is gas $… I keep telling myself.)  Dropped almost $30 and expect to be even lower for current pay period.

3) Groceries were high due to resupply, for longer stay in boondocks without frequent resupply. 

4) Meals Out… dropped a little and will drop even more this current pay period. I will be buying a fresh salad at the truck stop a mile away, about 2-3 times a week.

I expect all these items to be much lower the first pay period of 2018, and for the remainder of 2018.  I will not be participating in the Quartzsite Rock Club per doctors orders, so there will be savings there.

These are not by any means my only expense items. Verizon/internet fees, Gym membership/showers, SPOT fee, membership, Cloud fees, and other ETs as auto and dental insurance, come to: $295.00 monthly.  I can’t change much of those right now.

New major expense items… revamping my rig, to replace the vent fan which is leaking badly, install my solar suitcase on roof of van as it is getting to difficult to lift and set it up (it weighs 45 lbs. and is very bulky) with a bad shoulder, and arrest the peeling paint on my van, so it doesn’t look trashy.




I have been concentrating on my health and fitness lately and I promised a graph of weight loss since taking up the vandwelling lifestyle.  Changes over time.  LOL


Left by: Jacob (looking for his last name); Right: 2005 compared to 2014.




2005 Total Knee Replacements. I had no ability to walk down a grocery store isle, and was shopping for a wheelchair.  I was bow-legged. 300 lbs.
2007 Feb Retired on SS Disability.  Was finally regaining my balance and being more active, but a care accident give me PTSD, and I was unable to work.  Injured shoulder also. 285 lbs.
2007 Oct Began walking more and trying to get healthier. 260 lbs.
2008 Jan Diagnosed with COPD.  Probably had it for years.  Got Pulmonologist, had Bronchoscopy, other health tests. 262 lbs.
2008 Jun Continued to be more and more active.  Riding bike.  Got some other medical issues resolved, including a couple of surgeries. 251 lbs.
2008 Dec Was feeling healthier then ever and looking for new goals and challenges.  Learned to kayak and volunteers for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary… patrolling the Bay by Kayak. 240 lbs.
2009-2014 Bought my own kayak and hit the road to vandwell fulltime and Kayak America.  Completed 50th state on my 70th birthday, 5/16/2014. 236 lbs.
2017 Mar Carcinoid tumor (benign) found in my right lung and removed.  My COPD symptoms stopped almost completely. This tumor did not show up in the 2008 Bronchoscopy.  BUT my shoulder is getting very bad and I consulted a shoulder surgeon (partner of my Knee doctor) about surgery.  Reverse Shoulder Replacement required. (I cursed).  Recovery from this is lengthy, and it could be a year before I can resume normal activities. 234 lbs.
2017 Nov Trained for long distance hiking and still contemplating a “Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement”.  I am in a lot of pain.  Getting 2nd opinion on Shoulder.  My weight has not been this low in 24 years. 214 lbs.
Goal Because I am off the charts in bone density, I am at my ideal weight and a size 12 at 190.  I am not trying to loose weight, I am trying to be the fittest I can be for my age. 190 lbs..


My life could change drastically, depending on when, where, how, and IF I decide to go ahead with Reverse Shoulder Replacement surgery. Two surgeons have now said that is what is needed. I am actually terrified (this is the lady who is not afraid of anything?) that I might be worse after surgery.  I have tabled the idea for now and will concentrate on getting my rig in good shape this year, new tires are needed, a power steering pump must be replaced, and I can’t continue to load my kayak on top of van, so a special compartment will be built in the trailer to slide it in from knee-height.

In addition to getting my house in order this year, I will endeavor to get rid of all the genealogical materials I have been collecting and dragging around for decades.  Tall order for a year, but I will be in a much better frame of mine to deal with possibly life-altering shoulder surgery if all of this is under control.  These are hard adjustments for me indeed.


  1. I just read up on Reverse Shoulder Replacement. Sounds rough. I'll cross my fingers for you.

    1. Thanks Al. I can barely do stuff for myself now. I don't know how I will do some of this after surgery. Ughhhh.

  2. can you go into a nursing home for a while?


Who is Swankie?

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Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
Visit me on In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles in Spring 2017. In training now for the hike.