Many aspiring nomads are afraid to jump into the lifestyle because they’re clueless about what it costs. That’s good, because if you don’t know what something costs, it’s wise to avoid doing it until you do. As much as I’d like to be the full-time RVing expert who tells you exactly what this lifestyle costs, I cannot. Actually, nobody can. Only you can answer that question, and the only way to do it is to make a full-time RVing budget.
Three Steps to Make a Full-time RVing Budget
Personal finance expert David Bach made “The Latte Factor” a household phrase several years ago through books and TV. Bach drove home the point that seemingly small daily purchases of things like a $5 latte can add up to thousands of wasted dollars over several years. Now is the time to find out what your personal “Latte Factor” is.
Make a full-time RVing budget and you’ll see it isn’t much different than number crunching for a traditional sticks and bricks lifestyle. If you haven’t hit the road but already have a budget for your traditional lifestyle, you’re twelve steps ahead of the game.
However if you’re like most people and don’t know where your money goes, here’s what you need to do to roam the roads with a peace of mind.
Step 1: Choose Personal Finance Software
In the age of debit cards, electronic receipts and online banking, it’s easier than ever to track expenses. Whether online or stored on your hard drive, the best personal finance apps like Mint, Power Wallet and Every Dollar can automatically import your daily banking transactions. These ultra-secure programs connect to your accounts in a read-only secure format. Your data is never stored and nobody can transfer or remove funds from within the software.
Step 2: Assign RV-Specific Categories to Your Budget
Having a good budget can offset full-time RVing money challenges down the road. For instance, the accounting software you select will include a pre-made budget. You’ll have a section for income that gets deposited to your bank accounts. The budget will also have common expense line items like “Groceries” “Gas” and “Travel.”
Future full-time RVers will need to modify this budget to reflect the unique aspects of a full-time RVing lifestyle. Important RVing categories you want to add include fees for: Laundry, Water, Propane and Dump Stations, Roadside Assistance Dues and RV payments if you have one.
If you’re not on the road yet, you’ll need to make some educated guesses to build potential fuel and rent costs into the budget. First, guesstimate your fuel expenses. Start by creating a rough six-month itinerary showing how many miles you might travel. Next, search for online fuel calculators that can give you a high and low cost for your route. Finally, to determine your rent expenses just use the nightly rent at your favorite RV campground. This will be the a basis to determine average rent you’ll pay during that six months.
Step 3: Assess your Bottom Line
The last step is weighing your current and estimated expenses against income deposited into your accounts. That’s the only way to know if full-time RVing will mean traveling in comfort – or living on the edge. If the bottom line is negative, don’t despair. It’s a sign that you need to cut your expenses and develop sound RV business habits to make your dream happen. Understanding where every dollar goes is the only way to know if you can afford the full-time RVing lifestyle.
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.