Budgeting Expenses as a Fulltime RVer

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Budgeting Expenses as a Fulltime RVer

Budgeting Expenses as a Fulltime RVer

Tiny homes are all the rage and many consider fulltime RVing to be the ultimate in modest living while allowing you to enjoy the freedom of the open road. They don’t always realize that there’s a cost of living to every lifestyle and when a person fails to plan and live deliberately, he or she can easily lose control of spending.

Enter the “B-word”—the fun and always exciting BUDGET. To successfully RV fulltime, you should have unlimited resources, or (more likely) a realistic budget so you know how much you can spend, how much you should save, and where you can make tweaks to stay on track.

Related Read: What to Include in Your Full Time RV Budget

Fixed Expenses

First, set aside a percentage (usually about 10%) of your income for emergencies (there are always emergencies), and then determine which of your bills remain the same each month. These likely include monthly payments for your RV, car, or truck (unless you own them outright), and insurance for each, as well as health and life insurance. They also include your basic cell phone plan with or without Wi-Fi, perhaps satellite radio or television service, and any RV club membership fees.

Depending on location, duration, time of year, and amenities, the cost of site rent can vary, but many campgrounds offer discounted rates to long-term residents. If you spend your time living at one or two RV parks for the majority of the year, site rent is unlikely to change and can be considered a fixed expense.

If, on the other hand, you limit your campground stays to special occasions, this would be considered a discretionary expense.

Variable Expenses

The amount you pay each month for these expenses is determined partly by the price at time of purchase and how much you use. Examples of these include fuel, propane, and food. It’s a good idea to keep track of all such expenses for a month to get a realistic baseline, adjusting for variance of fuel prices, etc.

In many RVs, propane is used for cooking and heating, as well as in the water heater. How much you use depends on whether you stay in colder or warmer climates, cook inside or outside, and whether you have an electric water heater.

If you typically stay in a campground and relocate only once or twice a year, you’re going to use less fuel than someone who travels fulltime and boondocks regularly. When you’re plugged into shore power, electricity is usually part of the site rent. Unless you primarily use solar power and batteries, when boondocking you may rely on a generator to power the utilities, which adds to fuel usage. Of course, the more you drive, the greater that expense will be, as well.

Food expenses can be reduced by buying groceries and eating at home. However, although buying in bulk from stores like Costco can be cheaper, this isn’t always the best choice for fulltime RVers who have limited storage space. Plus, the extra weight decreases fuel efficiency when traveling. It’s usually best to keep economy-sized purchases to items that you use quickly and buy groceries when you’ll be in one location for a while.

Additionally, although some RVs have in-home washers and dryers, most campers use Laundromats or campground facilities. The overall cost varies based loosely on the number of inhabitants and frequency of laundering. Pets and children, of course, increase this expense.

Related Read: Mastering the Art of Laundry in Your RV

Discretionary Expenses

All other costs are considered personal choices. These include dining out and engaging in different forms of entertainment. By choosing an RV park that offers a variety of amenities (and using them), you may reduce these expenses.

In Conclusion

Basically, take an honest look at where your money is going. Write down all of your expenses for a month and assess where you can make alterations. Although, generally speaking, smaller RVs cost less than larger ones, there are many things you can do to reduce expenses regardless of the size of your rig.

Related Read: Plan Your Camping Trip on a Budget

Consider using the campground amenities as your primary form of entertainment since you’re paying for them anyway. If you don’t plan to use them, consider spending less by choosing a more modestly-priced one or boondocking. By planning ahead and budgeting food and fuel expenses, you can live reasonably without breaking the bank.

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Carrie Todd


Carrie Todd

Initially, Carrie became a freelance writer, editor, and artist to support herself doing something she loves that also allows her to travel. Living in her Tourmaster coach, she has spent no more than five months in one place since October 2013. This ensures that she gets to experience the constantly changing scenery that accompanies the yearly seasonal changes, as well as meet new people across the country. She has since become a LuLaRoe Independent Fashion Consultant, as well to further this endeavor. In fact, Carrie considers herself fortunate, as most people have to be of retirement age to enjoy the sort of freedom she has, with every day bringing something different.

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