Look around RVers Facebook groups and discussion forums and you’ll see that one of the most popular questions is “What does full-time RVing cost?” Maybe it’s because this lifestyle gives people one of two impressions: that it’s incredibly cheap – or hideously expensive. I think the reality is that it’s somewhere in-between and not too different from a traditional lifestyle.
When it comes down to it, we all make different choices and there is no one answer for the true cost of full-time RVing. The only common factor between us is that when we set spending and savings goals, we can enjoy this lifestyle a whole lot more. Since January is a great time to get a grip on our finances, here are my top three tips for creating your own full-time RVing budget.
First, understand your RVing preferences.
All full-timer’s budgets differ because we own different RVs and we use them differently too. Some folks travel a lot, some just a little. Some prefer to boondock in free campsites while others can’t live without plugging in and hooking up at a RV park. Our choices will determine how much we spend on fuel, lodging and even groceries. If you’re already a RVer you probably have a good idea of what your travel spending looks like. If you’re brand new to RVing, I recommend aiming high when guesstimating your monthly costs.
- Visit websites like campgroundreviews.com to learn what rent costs at places you want to visit.
- Estimate fuel expenses with a tool like KOA’s fuel cost estimator.
- Compare your living expenses with this Family Budget Calculator
*Estimating the cost of ownership for specific RVs is difficult if not impossible because there are so many variables in condition, usage and age of the rig. The best way to get a sense of what your preferred make and model will cost is to talk to owners of the rig you want to own in RV Owners Groups and RV Discussion Forums for your RV.
Next, create a budget and give every dollar a name.
I learned this from my debt-free hero, Dave Ramsey, who teaches us that when you know exactly how much you can spend each month, you have a framework to follow that will help you reach your financial goals.
Creating a budget is easy, just start by downloading my free full-time RVing budget template for ideas about which categories to include in yours.
When you put your budget together, consider bypassing paper and pen and go straight to an easy web-based application like Every Dollar. This app securely connects your new budget with your bank account transactions, so that each time you swipe your debit card, the amount gets deducted from your monthly budget. This makes it very easy to find out if you’re sticking to your numbers.
Finally, stay disciplined.
Being on the road puts you in the path of sweet temptations like great restaurants, awesome RV resorts and entertainment opportunities like RV-friendly festivals. But what we’ve learned is that just because we have the ability to travel to great destinations whenever we want, that doesn’t mean we should. Full-timing for my husband and I means constantly balancing our yearning for fun versus our need to make money so we’re not broke in old age. To help us stay true to financial goals, we spend our downtime with full-timing friends who share similar attitudes about spending money.
Living on the road doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can be if you let it. Adhering to a monthly budget and savings goals will enable you to enjoy the lifestyle you’ve worked so hard to achieve and keep you moving with as few roadblocks as possible.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.