Adjusting to a full-time RVing way of life presents all sorts of interesting new challenges that you never expect to encounter.
For example, when I lived a conventional life, stocking up on groceries was a perfectly reasonable and smart thing to do. I was proud of how skilled I was at buying in bulk and taking advantage of sales that would help us save money, keep our pantry well-stocked for culinary cravings and unexpected dinner guests. However, once we hit the road I found that getting out of the “stocking up” mindset presented many hurdles with every trip to the grocery store.
As our family’s main buyer of groceries and sundries, I had to stop buying large sizes and multiples because of the limited storage space in our RV. Turning away from “2-for-1” sales and buying smaller, more expensive containers of food items because they fit better in our refrigerator threw my world into a tailspin. Oftentimes even though I knew I should be buying on a smaller-scale, I would bring a cartload of groceries back to the RV only to struggle with finding space for my purchases.
Storing groceries could take more than an hour as I tried to stash them everywhere from under the bed to the closet and the refrigerator. Oftentimes I put too much stress on our Norcold RV refrigerator by cramming so many items inside that cold air couldn’t circulate the way it was supposed to. When it was over, I often beat myself up by for knowingly paying too much for groceries.
Sadly, I reached the conclusion that the domestic goddess savings tactics which took me years to develop had to be undone in a matter of miles if my sanity (and our relationship) was going to survive on the road.
Do you know what finally helped me enjoy grocery store trips? Time. After a year on the road, we had solid financial numbers showing what it costs to full-time RV. That’s when we discovered that although we sometimes paid more for small-scale purchases, our lifestyle more than made up for it by enabling savings in other areas. For example, we no longer had the monetary obligations of a traditional homeowner, such as property taxes, heating bills and home maintenance projects. In addition, we learned that although our fuel bill sometimes goes up during heavier travel months, in general, we spend less on fuel than the average person who commutes to work.
To this day we remain dedicated to keeping accurate numbers of what we spend on the road. We faithfully save every receipt and track our expenditures in Quickbooks Pro. Although it’s not the most pleasant of chores, making room for monthly accounting and budgeting gives us a complete financial picture. This helps me sleep better at night and I no longer have panic attacks whenever I force myself to walk away from clearance sales.
Out of all of the adjustments we had to make when we transitioned to a full-timing lifestyle, I never thought that learning how not to stock up and save would be one of the most difficult challenges to overcome.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
Try the RV LIFE Pro Bundle FREE for 7 days
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.