Living in an RV can be considerably cheaper than living in a house or apartment. Then again, it can get away from you very quickly, racking up exorbitant costs. It is so tempting to pick up every cool RV gadget that hits the market but that’s never a good idea. It may seem like fun to “fly by the seat of your pants” and run without any planning, but could be setting yourself up for some major expenses. My husband and I began our RV adventure because we needed to cut costs. While you may not need to cut back now, there may be a time that you do – or you may just prefer the simple, frugal lifestyle.
Find Free Overnight RV Parking
Many campgrounds have very reasonable overnight parking, but sometimes you might need a free night or two. This database of Free RV Parking lists a wide variety of businesses that allow overnight RV parking and other RV parking options. It lists different stores like Walmart and Target, but also has truck stops as well. What I really like about this site is that users can leave reviews of the listing, letting other users know if there is Wi-Fi or if you need to get the OK from the management or anything else.
Join an RV Club
If you are like me, you don’t really give much thought to an RV club – until you need an RV club. The right club can save you a tremendous amount of money each year from discounts are preferred retailers to free or discounted camping to free lock-out help should you find yourself on the wrong side of a locked RV door. Review your options and choose wisely, but more often than not, a good club can save you some serious cash.
Plan your Meals and Shop Smart
Planning your meals, even a few days or a week in advance can save you money. Beyond that, here are my tips – and my husband and I eat fresh food, nothing processed, and keep our food costs way down.
Check for sales before you go shopping. You can search online for sales flyers in your area. Check the sales and you can even plan your meals around what is available for cheap.
Buy local, buy fresh. Local farmer’s markets are great places to pick up fresh, local foods that are in season. They tend to be less expensive and taste way better, plus you support local farmers. We are currently near Charleston and when we want shrimp we just go down to the pier and buy shrimp right off the boats for a fraction of what we would pay in the market. Read: The Ultimate Guide to Farmers Markets
Use coupons – but only for things you will actually use. Don’t buy something just because you have a great coupon.
Take inventory of your pantry, freezer and refrigerator before you go shopping.
Don’t over shop; buy only what you will consume.
Buy fresh green onions and bell peppers on sale, chop them then put them in a freezer bag and freeze them.
Don’t eat out very often.
Use Strategies to Save on Fuel
Certain gas stations, like the Spinx stores, have rewards programs, while other companies run promotions from time to time. Credit card companies offer cash back for fuel and some gas cards give discounts on fuel purchases. Read: 10 Tips for Boosting your RV MPG. Look around, research, the deals are there. Other things you can do:
Consider longer term stays in one place. Many places offer weekly and monthly discounts plus you save money on fuel because you aren’t moving about. This essentially kills two birds with one stone.
Keep your RV properly maintained. Keeping your tires at the proper pressure and your vehicle tuned up will help give you better gas mileage.
Drop some weight – in your RV, that is. The more weight you are pulling, the harder your rig has to work and the more fuel it uses. Remember, simplify!
Lighten up that lead foot. The faster you drive, the worse your gas mileage will be. Take some time to smell the roses and slow down a bit.
Shop Smart for Household Items
When you start to actually move into your RV, there are two things you need to consider: 1. The space in an RV is VERY limited, and 2. Extra, unnecessary stuff in your RV means extra weight which means poor gas mileage. When you are getting ready to move into your RV and hit the road, try these tips:
Use items from your home first. There is no need to go out and buy items if you already have them in your home (and they will work just fine). Make a list of household items that you will need and then “go shopping” in your own kitchen, pantry, and garage.
Hit the thrift stores. Once you’ve exhausted your home inventory, go to some thrift stores to pick up items that you still need. Other resources include yard sales, classified ads, and Freecycle.org.
Think before you buy. Before you purchase that adorable tea pot, think about where you will store it, how it will be used, and if it has any practical applications. If it is just a decoration, skip it. Look for items that do double duty, even decorations.
Simplify. Decluttering is often a painful process, but you will be much happier if you just bite the bullet and go for it.
I would love to hear some of your money saving tips for the RV life. What’s your best one?
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