Saturday, January 28, 2012

RV Budgets (Part One)

This is a reversed sunset. I took this picture in the south,  facing east while the western sun was setting in north Osceola county in central Florida.There, that covered all points on the compass. 

And you wonder how I get lost so often...

Just amazing!  This world is just oh so beautiful. The more time I spend with nature the less regard I have for cities full of asphalt, concrete and excess traffic.  Give me mother nature any time. 

Now, beyond the beauty...

Many people email me about budgets for RV-ing. I dare say you can pretty much pick a budget, then learn to stick to it. You too can live happily ever after,  as a vagabond in an RV. That is much easier said than done. 

One way I keep my budget low is by not owning a car. My camper is a Class C (built on a van chassis)  so I am able to drive it to run errands. I combine all my errands, keeping lists (which I frequently misplace) of suggested foods or supplies I need or desire. Eventually I go fetch them  but I typically combine all that with a major outing that might  involve camping elsewhere, even though I may already be workamping with my "spot" provided for me. 

When I am traveling, without a homeport,  it's easy to shop as I go along from place to place. People often point out that my gas cost must be more since I am driving the RV instead of a car. Maybe it is, somewhat, but on the other hand, I am not paying for the cost of a car plus all the upkeep that involves. That empty hole in my budget leaves me money for gas. 

Sure lots of folks insist on towing their car behind their RV, everywhere they go, so they have a car when they get where they are going. But I think outside the box, I live quite happily without a car. Yet, I don't feel deprived in any way at all. 

I am not one of those folks that has to drive somewhere each and every day to be happy. I work at home (in the wheel estate) and I take on workamping assignments, that typically involve "volunteering" for the government in exchange for camping "as a perk" for volunteering.  In the end, this saves me camping fees, but I do have to donate my time. 

In many ways, shopping in my RV is a lot more fun. I can put my groceries in the refrigerator, right in the grocery store parking lot. The dog gets to go everywhere with me. If it's too hot or too cold for him to be in the RV alone while I peruse the food selections, there is the generator, to keep him in climate controlled comfort in his rolling dog house. Some non-food stores, allow the dog to shop with me. 

Harley has been in his share of hardware stores, RV stores, auto part stores, pet shops and so on. 

My private restroom goes everywhere with me, no more tracking down public restrooms when I need them. As a reward to Harley, I walk him right after I go shopping. He has come to understand the difference between the short "go piddle" walks we take in the landscaping of the parking lot  from the leisurely, let's tour the entire park or campground walks. (Yes, I am a good pet parent, we walk with poop bags and don't leave unsightly puppy deposits behind.) 

Because I don't own a car, I don't dash out for frivolous things. I plan ahead and keep a pantry in the RV stocked up with most of the food stables I like to have around. Even when I do shop or go out in my RV, I tend to make a whole day or several days  of it. Since my entertainment budget is pretty close to zero, I search the internet for dog parks and public parks that I can enter for free. Often after I am through with shopping, then I go explore a free park. This way I get more bang for my buck.  I've already spent the gas to go shopping, why not do some exploring and photography too. 

When I was workamping in north Georgia, shopping was 30 miles round trip, but the dog and I mostly took the whole day, taking time to enjoy freebies before we came home again to the park we were working in. 

Recently I've had to travel to Melbourne for medical mess, once a month,  which is only about 40-ish miles one way from where I workamp. Rather than just dash over for my appointment and back again, I made campground reservations for a few nights in Melbourne in Wickham Park. Besides the medical mess, I shopped at all my favorite bargain stores assembling groceries and supplies at discounted prices. Harley went to the dog park, we went to public parks, plus we camped out. We do a lot of touring on foot and paw. This is very budget friendly, as a little exercise has fabulous health benefits. 

A friend had offered to drive me over to the doctor's appointment and back in their vehicle, but I graciously declined. They seemed perplexed, saying they wanted to help me save money, it seemed a shame to drive the RV 80 miles, r just for one appointment. 

But I rattled off I wanted to go to Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Lowes, Winn Dixie, the dog park, the Latino place that has cheap produce plus the doctors appointment and maybe a few more places in the area.  Since all that would poop me out, I might as well spend the night at Wickham Park, and since it's so lovely there, it would be such a shame to pack up and leave the next morning, so I was going to stay at least two nights before coming back. Might as well enjoy the beautiful scenery there and shoot some photos, continue working on my writing, and repairing the RV, the usual stuff. 

So all in all I put about 100 miles on the RV what with shopping around the medical appointments,   but look at everything I did in the interim. With a car, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to spend the night in an alternate town or campground. 

Because I have this fatigue problem at times, having the RV along is wonderful. I came out of the grocery store, feeling a bit rough recently, so I put away the food, then closed up my shades, laying down for a short nap.  This refreshed me enough to continue with my errands later. 

Having my RV along, means I don't spend money dining out. The dog and I can eat anytime, anywhere, right out of our own fridge. Forgoing restaurants is a huge savings on a tiny budget. I feel that I eat much healthier foods, than  is typically available at restaurants these days. So many are chain and franchise places where the food was partially made thousands of miles away with lots of sugars and preservatives, then trucked to the restaurants for heating and serving. So I save money and hopefully prevent many future health problems by avoiding these rampant preprocessed food chemicals. 

I make meals into an art form. We've dined in parks and at wayside picnic areas, often enjoying the view of a lake, stream or river. We often have far better vistas than  are available at the local restaurants anyhow. 

Many people think it takes a lot of money to live in an RV and travel, but there are many ways to do it on a small budget too. Even a tiny budget. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg of some of the ways to live fulltime in an RV on a reduced financial plan.  

I will go into more details in a future post. 

It's raining...
My copilot is wearing his little red mackintosh, in anticipation of a walk in the drizzle.
Even the dog is on a budget. His raincoat cost $1 and he has been using it for almost two years. 


  1. But remember a dollar on the dogs budget is seven dollars on your budget.

  2. I think this lifestyle suits you or you simply are adaptable to any lifestyle you face.
    Either way, it is fascinating to see the inside story of a full time rv'r watching their budget.
    Are you scared being a single female out in the woods?

  3. This really was what I needed to read! I've been vacillating between keeping my Honda Odyssey I've been traveling in and buying a small motorhome.

    I love traveling in my van but living? I really really enjoyed reading this.

    If I'm going to stay somewhere, I'll rent a room for a month type thing... I don't want to fool with all the maintenance and such.

    You make the case for having my home with me... I'm a city person but am becoming more and more of just pure nature... love the forest

  4. Loved all three comments, gave me food for thought for future postings...

    Shoeless're a hoot!

    No, I'm not scared being a single female out in the woods... I've been scared being single out in the bars before... meeting snakes,wearing denim, spitting venom, hiding in the backseat of the car...

  5. Good for you! I also found there were lots of ways to RV without spending more than I had. I don't like to eat out, and I workcamped as well. The potential killer is maintenance and something major going wrong with the RV.

  6. We currently have a 40 ft 5th wheel, but as soon as our daughters move out, my husband and I are planning on downsizing to a class C. It's going to be great!


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