By Gail Marsh
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 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.
- 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.
- 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/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!