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Save money while RVing with these 24 tips

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Who doesn’t like to save a buck now and then? Owning and driving an RV down the road isn’t cheap, but there are ways to save significant money and still live the RV lifestyle at the same time. You just need to know where to look to find the savings.

Here are some suggestions for saving money. (We hope you’ll add your own ideas in the comments.)

On the road

  • Plot out your route before your trip begins. Use phone apps like GasBuddy and others to find fuel stations along your route. Then check gas prices at these stations and plan to go to the station with the best price for fuel.
  • We joined the group called TSD Logistics Open Roads. Here’s how this system works: We deposited $200 into a secured account. The company issued us a card which we use to purchase diesel fuel at various truck stops. We get a discount for every gallon of diesel fuel we buy.
  • Pack travel food and drinks instead of eating out along your travel route. Not only will you potentially eat healthier, but you’ll save money too.
  • Try boondocking. Check with Walmart, Cracker Barrel, and other businesses about their policies for free overnight RV stays.
  • Make reservations at small local city parks if you prefer not to boondock. These out-of-the-way spots are often underused and come at a lower cost for the amenities you may find at larger (and more expensive) parks. Simply call the town hall or park commission for information about their park system.
  • Offer to work for the CG in exchange for a reduction in your camp fees. Pick up trash, mow grass, and offer specialty services if you’re skilled in plumbing, electrical, or carpentry work.
  • Pay with cash whenever you can. It will help you keep closer track of your spending. Some folks find using cash a better strategy than using credit cards or even debit cards. Why? Breaking a $20 bill is harder for some people than simply swiping a card.
  • Got a “spare change jar” at home? Take time to sort out all the quarters to use at the camp laundry.

When camping

  • Use Groupon, NCrowd, and Living Social or other platforms to find deals on tickets, products, and services near the RV campground.
  • Cancel any services you are not using while away from home for any extended time. For example, if your gym membership doesn’t transfer, put the membership on hold until you return.
  • Try fixing problems yourself before calling in a professional. Ask other campers for advice. If you must call in a professional, be sure to first ask around the campground for references.
  • If the CG offers free cable TV and/or Wi-Fi, put a hold on your home services to save.
  • Plan menus. Make your grocery list match your menu recipe needs. Stick to your list to avoid impulse purchases. Try to grocery shop after a satisfying meal – when you are not hungry.
  • Dry towels and other laundry outside rather than pay for the CG’s dryers.
  • Pay reoccurring bills before leaving home or make a note to pay them on time when traveling to avoid “past due” fees.

Back home

  • Check around for better insurance rates (truck, RV, health care). Call your agent or use free services like the Zebra to compare vehicle insurance, for example.
  • Keep up with recommended maintenance on your truck, RV, and home (e.g., HVAC) to avoid costly repairs due to neglect.
  • Similarly, regularly attend your yearly health checks (physical, eye and dental care).
  • Go over your monthly expenses. To get the most accurate accounting, go over the expenditures from the past three months by checking bank accounts or online bill paying. Are there things you could eliminate or cut back on usage (e.g., cut back on expensive habits like smoking, alcohol, or eating out)?
  • Check credit card statements. Especially look for online, auto-renewal subscriptions (like Classmates, e-book club membership, etc.). If you no longer use them, unsubscribe.
  • Did you know you can call and request a lower credit card rate? Or shop around for a different card that offers a better rate or cash back.
  • Begin the habit of waiting a week or two before purchasing items that cost more than $200. This “cooling off” time might help prevent impulse or emotional buys.
  • Don’t pay for entertainment. Instead, use your local library for movies, books, and internet. Even when on the road away from home, most places will issue a temporary library card. Use that handy service if it’s offered near your campsite.
  • Try local store brands of the things you buy most often. (Many store-branded items come from the very same place as the name-brand products.)

How do you save money? Please share your ideas with us!

##FT2.43

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Spike
15 days ago

I agree with others below that, assuming you are disciplined enough, credit cards are better than carrying cash. Lose your cash and it’s gone!

Use cards that provide rebates that you like (cash back for me!) I also never use cards that charge an annual fee. Pay the card on time in full to avoid expensive interest.

Use the information in your card statements to understand where your money is going. I bridge that back to detailed budgets. But then I was what Bob P so affectionately calls a “Bean Counter.” 🙂

Mike
16 days ago

We use credit cards for all our purchases. I’ve set up a savings account just for the cards. At the end of the day I add up all the purchases, this gives a second chance to see were your money is spent, and transfer the total into the card account. When the card is due it is paid off. No interest and I get the perks of the card, % savings,miles or points, depending on which card I use. Win win!!

Fred
16 days ago

We have a TSD/Open Roads account, but we haven’t used it recently because we also downloaded a Mudflap app on our phones, which is much easier to use. Every time we check both TSD & Mudflap to see which is cheaper, including any fees, & rebates, we find the Mudflap app nets out to be cheaper or the same as TSD. If you have a credit card with a generous rebate of 4 or 5%, then Mudflap is usually cheaper, because you can use your credit card to pay for Mudflap purchases & there are no fees on Mudflap purchases. If you want a simple to use discount on diesel, check out the Mudflap app.

Cindy
16 days ago

I always shop at thrift stores. You can find anything that you need, if you take the time to find it. It will be a fraction of the cost of a new item. Plus, it is like a treasure hunt. You never know what you will find. I bought a Columbia 3 in 1 waterproof parka that retailed for $230, and gave $8 for it. I got a very old piece of Navajo pottery for $3, and a Sioux Ghost Dance Shield for $2.50. The pottery is worth over $400, and the Ghost Dance Shield is valued at around $1200. If the store is not familiar with an item, sometimes they price it way too low-lucky for me…

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
16 days ago
Reply to  Cindy

Hi, Cindy. Aren’t thrift store treasure hunts fun? I found a beautiful 14k gold and jade ring one time for about $20. Wow! Happy Thanksgiving! 😀 –Diane

Gordon den Otter
16 days ago

On “use cash”, my wife and I have always been disciplined in our spending. We ensure we have the money before putting down the card. We get receipts for everything, and put everything into our budget. When we use cash, we tend to lose track. Therefore, we put everything on our credit card, and always pay the full balance. We use a card with no annual fee, that gives cash back.