Is it cheaper to live in an RV than a home? It can be if you budget correctly. RVing on a budget is not only possible; it’s the smart way to go. While you can spend thousands of dollars a month traveling in an RV or full-timing, it doesn’t have to cost much money. Saving money on the road takes planning, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you ever spent so much in the past. Plus, saving money is fun and addictive! I love to make a game of it. It’s a joy to get the best deal possible. So how do you save money living in an RV?
Decide how much money you want to spend every month and stick to it. Sit down at the beginning of each month and write a budget. Include things like vehicle maintenance, fuel, eating out, campsite fees, internet or cell phone bills, food, clothing, electric and sewer hook-up fees, and be sure to leave a category for miscellaneous/unexpected.
When making your budget, ask yourself how much you need something to be happy. Remember that you’re living in an RV, so you have limited space. Therefore, every item you buy needs to be considered carefully as you will have to live on the road with it filling up your space.
Consider bringing in more money than you have going out by working on the road. Many full-timers have two cellphones with an unlimited data plan and use them as mobile hotspots to run their laptops. In addition, they work from the road as freelance writers, bloggers, tech support, call center operators, or other remote workers. Finding a way to bring in an income while you’re traveling in your RV, even if you only work a few days a week, is a great way to offset your budget.
Booking a seasonal spot for 3 to 5 months at a campground can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Most campsites offer a significantly discounted rate for booking a seasonal spot. If you’d rather not park for 3 to 5 months, you can consider booking for a weekly or monthly rate. It will save you a lot of money compared to paying nightly fees.
Another way to save money on campsite fees is to consider work trade. Many campsites are happy to offer free camping in exchange for work on the grounds. Some campgrounds are in need of site hosts and can offer free camping to hosts for the season.
Boondocking is a fantastic way to save money on camping fees. Many free sites have excellent access to lakes for fishing or swimming. Some consider boondocking parking in rest stops or on the side of the road, but to truly boondock, park for up to a week in a spot without water or sewer hooks ups.
You can find free camping in the United States in national grasslands and national forests for up to 14 days, and you don’t even need a permit. The best free camping is available at the Bureau of Land management. To find free boondocking sites visit Freecampsites.net
There may be times when you need somewhere to make a quick overnight stop without having to pay any fees. Most Wal-Marts provide free overnight parking for one night on the side or back of the store. Keep in mind that this policy varies from store to store and is at the discretion of the store manager.
Cracker Barrel restaurants have 3-6 parking spaces for buses and RVs for those dining at the restaurant. However, if those spaces are empty at the end of the night, they don’t mind if you use them for overnight parking.
If you’re feeling adventurous and handy, you can try your hand at performing your own maintenance. The cost of maintaining your slideouts, rotating tires on tow vehicles, and changing the oil can add up if you have to pay someone else to do it. Although tires are expensive, remember to change your tires when the tread gets low because poor tires can equal higher fuel costs.
If you’re not sure how to do these things, consider watching tutorial videos on YouTube to learn how. Read the manual for your RV, and purchase a basic road maintenance handbook. Be sure to keep your tires aired up, and check the fluids in your RV regularly. A pinch of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
While there are plenty of new RVs for sale, you can save a lot of money by investing in used RVs for sale from a specialty dealer like RV Wholesalers. Places like these specialize in low prices on trailers for sale, lightweight travel trailers, and used campers for sale.
When you’re shopping for RVs for sale, it can be tempting to opt for payment plans on the first big shiny RV you spot, but paying cash for one of the lower cost trailers for sale will not only save you money, but it will keep you from having to make payments in the future. Used travel trailers come in great shape. They’re often trade-ins by people who were looking to buy something bigger and fancier. So do yourself a favor, and consider a used model to save cash in the long run.
Eating out at restaurants can get expensive very quickly. If you’re looking for convenience food, have a meal prep day. Pick a day to go shopping and buy foods like sandwich fixings, baby carrots, trail mix, pretzels, apples, oranges, and your usual favorites. Avoid foods packaged in small snack sizes, as they tend to be expensive. Instead, opt for larger packages and buy sandwich bags to package snack-size bags yourself. To prep meals for on-the-go at picnics, buy meal prep containers or paper sacks for lunches. Even though meal prep containers are marketed as disposable, our family has been reusing them for months.
If you have to eat out, eat earlier in the day before dinner rush hour when restaurants tend to have lunch specials. Choose days like Tuesdays or Wednesdays when many places offer kids to eat free. Look for coupons online or in the local newspaper to save extra cash. Don’t be afraid to settle for a happy medium. You may want hot fresh food out but want to forgo the restaurant. Choose hot chicken from the deli and eat by the lake for a nice outing with food you don’t have to cook yourself.
You don’t have to spend money to have fun! OK, maybe a few dollars here and there, but you can have a good time for free or cheap. A few water guns from the dollar store, and the kids can have a water gunfight. A low-cost lunch from the grocery store, and you can have yourself a picnic by the lake. The whole family can take a hike in the woods for free. Be on the lookout for local deals too! Some local pools have free admission in exchange for a canned good, and most parks have a basketball court where the family can enjoy a good game together.
Who doesn’t love a good deal? If you’re going to do some shopping, consider installing honey on your browser. Honey will scour any website for deals and alert you if it can save you money. If you’re hoping to rent a kayak or visit an amusement park, try sites like Groupon or Living Social.
When you arrive at a new city or town, visit the local chamber of commerce to get pamphlets on the local attractions. Keeping apprised of what’s going on in the area can help you find fun, low-cost things to do. Buy a local newspaper to check out what’s going on that weekend and keep your eyes peeled for bulletin boards at the local supermarkets. Don’t be afraid to ask a local passerby where an inexpensive place to eat is located; people love to feel helpful.
Living in an RV doesn’t come with the expenses of a traditional home. While you don’t have a mortgage, you do have campsite fees, unless you strictly boondock. Overall, if you budget wisely and stick to that budget, living in an RV can cost a lot less than living in a standard house. If you get a good deal on your RV, perform your own maintenance, eat frugally, save money on campsites, use discount websites, and find ways to have fun for free, you’ll be well on your way to saving money on the road. You’ll definitely spend less than you did on your sticks and bricks home and never look back. Happy RVing!