Welcome back, RVers. So you’ve decided to pack your bags and head out in your RV full time. Great! In order you to this effectively, you’ll need a budget. It may be difficult, because no two RVs are the same, but it doesn’t have to be dreadful. And it’ll all be worth it once you’ve gained the experiences you’re about to have. Below we’ve listed just a few things to keep in mind while attempting to plan out a budget if you’re thinking about heading out in the RV for a while.
Turning into a full time RVer is probably easier than most think, and it doesn’t require you to travel all the time. A good amount of RV dwellers have a stationary home that they use occasionally. Some decide to hook up and rough it during the summer months, while staying at their permanent home the rest of the year. Others might decide to only be at their stationary home during the summer and camp out the other months of the year.
Time to Start Selling!
The biggest obstacle here might be the fact of having to sell quite a bit of your belongings. The thing to remember is to simply commit and don’t look back! Some people might think that living in an RV full time is way too expensive, but it might end up being much more affordable than you’d think. You’re forced to downsize on your belongings, you won’t eat out as often and there aren’t as many bills.
Once you’ve committed to making the plunge, your first step in the right direction is to start downsizing on what you own. In other words, start decluttering! You can look to websites like Craigslist or Facebook for help on this one, and you’ll make some money you can use towards your RV, motorhome or truck to tow your RV. You can take whatever you don’t sell to a place like Goodwill, and you can definitely rent a storage space for all your sentimental items. (We don’t expect you to sell or donate all of your stuff!)
Choosing the Right RV for You
The next step is finding the perfect RV for you and your family. An RV, also known as a travel trailer or fifth wheel, are vehicles you can tow with a truck. The good thing about an RV is that they’re typically much less expensive than a motorhome, and if your truck you’re towing it with has to be repaired, your whole home doesn’t have to go in the shop with it. Most repairs on RVs can be done on-site, and you can normally find someone to come to your mobile home and fix the issue. There’s a catch, though: you need to be pretty savvy with backing up your truck to your RV. You also have to be able to drive on the road while towing some pretty hefty luggage behind you.
A motorhome might make it easier to drive, but they’re much more expensive. You’ll also lose your home for a period of time when it needs repairs. Even if it’s as simple as an oil change or tire rotation, you’ll still have your home in the shop. On the other hand, motorhomes are typically roomier than travel trailers, and you’ll be able to tow your vehicle behind you. Another downside is that the floor layouts are usually for empty nesters.
Living in an RV vs Traveling in an RV
I think one of the things that hold people back from committing to full time RVing is their full time job. While this is most definitely crucial, it’s still doable. So being able to travel full time would require you to have a flexible work schedule so you could take weeks or months off at a time, but simply living in an RV doesn’t. You can easily set up camp at a campground and live there while still going to work everyday without missing a beat.
If you want to sort of ease into the full time RV lifestyle, find an RV park close to your home town and staying there full time is going to be your best bet, at least in the beginning. You can usually find a spot to rent for a month or so until you’re used to the minimalist lifestyle and financial situation. This is also a good idea for someone who still has that desk job but is working their way to having a flexible work schedule.
As far as traveling full time, it’s best to stay at places for at least a week because there’s normally a price break somewhere in-between. You can even book for a while month and only pay about half of the regular nightly rate. You’ll have to check what each RV park offers because they’re all different, but most set aside areas for long term stays.
It’s Finally Time to Set Up a Budget
You’ve sold most of you things, you’ve chosen your RV or motorhome, and you’ve decided if you want to travel or live in it. Now, you have to come up with some sort of spending budget that you’ll abide by while living the minimalist lifestyle. Very few people in the world enjoy talking about budgeting their spending habits, but it’s incredibly crucial to living in an RV full time. It’s great to have an ongoing worksheet of all your expenses to see where your money is going and to see if you’re staying on budget.
Creating a full time RV budget really helps you out in planning your RV living expenses and gives you a look on how much you really need to live off of. Having a budget also relieves any stress on whether or not you can afford to live full time in your RV. There are a ton of websites out there that have created an RV living budget you can use by adding in your own expenses.
How to Keep Your Budget
You don’t have to be a financial planner in order to come up with an efficient budget that works for you. A best practice is to have a budget spreadsheet which will help you make sure you stay within your means when you need to spend money.
You’ll want to keep track of everything you on your spreadsheet. This includes anything from monthly expenses like repairs, food and gas to early expenses like any kind of subscriptions you have (Amazon Prime, for example).
Keeping a budget also goes hand in hand with how resistant to risk you are. Some RVers like to keep a bigger emergency fund in case something major happens while they’re on the road, but others have a smaller fund because they might have the opportunity to make money quickly if a situation arises. That’s a personal preference, but it’s something you’ll need to decide on before you head out on the road.
While having your own budget and spending spreadsheet is a great idea, using online software is also a great option for truly making sure you stay on budget. Most websites or apps will pull your info from you bank account and puts the money you spend in a category. From there, you can see exactly where your money goes and gives you a quick, updated look of if you’re on track or not.
While the money you’ve earned from selling your belongings is enough to last you quite a while, it won’t last forever. Be sure that you’re finding some quick ways to earn some cash while you’re on the road. In fact, read this article we recently wrote on some way to make money while traveling!
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As always, come back to the RVUSA blog for the RV Tips of the Week on Monday, Travel Wednesday, and RV Tips and Tricks on Friday. Leave us a message below if you have any thoughts, memories or comments. We’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to receive our blog posts directly in your inbox, click here to join our free email list.