In my prior Frugal RV tip, I covered how to Simplify Camping. Camping, after all, is intended to be a simpler life event than living at home with all those electronic gadgets and conveniences. It is a time to cut the cord — or at least to cut back to only those things you really need to recreate. This article offers camping tips to help you manage your needs and wants for more recreational freedom.
Needs and Wants
Truth be told: RVs typically aren’t needs anyway. They are wants. What’s the difference? At the grocery store, a need is buying milk, bread and other staples. A want is getting soda, corn chips and snack cakes. In RVing, a need is something required to meet your camping goals and your budget. A want is not required but desired. Of course, one benefit to working hard through life is to be able to afford some of the things we want. However, once we own a trailer, motorhome, or tow vehicle, we cannot skimp on its needs. Vehicles need regular maintenance and repair.
The key to selecting which wants to fund lies in first defining their value to us. Everything costs something. Buying a larger RV has a price tag. Moving across the country for a new job also has economic, relational and emotional costs. Again, everything costs something. Value means getting benefits that are worth more to you than the costs. If a $50K RV will bring your life greater benefits than that money in the bank or invested in something else, then it has a value greater than the cost. If owning a $50K rig means you’re going to have to sell other valuable assets, take a second job and miss out on some other priceless things in life, then maybe it doesn’t have sufficient value to you. Value is as subjective as is setting a camping budget.
This seemingly is common sense. But we have all gotten over our heads at some point trying to define the difference between need and want — and assessing value. So a frugal RVer periodically reviews recreation goals and plans looking for what will offer the best value: benefits greater than the cost. By looking at each purchase, upgrade and other recreation transactions as an opportunity to seek the best value, we can fund more fun traveling. We can travel more and spend less.
Let’s talk about how safety fits into the camping equation. Once we buy an RV, safety is a necessary part of using it. It’s a need. Camping may or may not be a personal need for you (though my guess is: yes), but once the decision to RV camp is made, safety is as critical as fuel. You don’t want to just drive a motorhome or tow a trailer, you want a safe and trouble-free vehicle. Frugal RVers aren’t cheap or unsafe; they seek value for every dollar spent. That means safety is a vital need. For example, replacing worn tires comes before an interior upgrade. Finish that brake inspection before shopping for goodies. Spend some money on upgrading a vehicle or hitch before buying a larger trailer.
Frugal Camping Tips
Frugal RVers can get more things on their wants list by shopping for value. Rather than just writing a check, they do a little research first to make sure that the value to them is greater than cost. Here are some example camping tips:
- Ask your RV friends for recommendations on services, parts, fuel and anything else you buy to camp.
- Use the power of the Internet to search for recommendations and pricing.
- If possible, delay large purchases for a few weeks or even months to analyze whether it will be a need or an impulse buy.
- Keep a wish list for your favorite RV parts suppliers and make purchases on long-term needs when the purchase total or a special promotion offers discounts or free shipping.
- When upgrading appliances or major parts, resell the replaced parts (in good working order) through local ads, eBay, or RV clubs.
- If you are mechanically inclined, ask your favorite mechanic if you can assist with necessary repairs. Even simple jobs like removing the interior can save the mechanic time and you money – and teach you more about your RV.
- If you rent the RV you use, ask about prepayment discounts. Buying blocks of rental time can save you money.
The bottom line here is value: getting more than you pay for. It works for buying a house, shopping for groceries, or camping in your RV. It’s what makes you a frugal RVer.
>>Dan Ramsey, FrugalRV.com
Travel more – spend less!