Living Full-Time In An RV: How We’re Starting To Save Money

I won’t lie…

I’m not the best at saving money. It’s tough work when you’re not used to saving. And, when you’re living in an RV full-time it should make saving money easy. But, I’m horrible with money. That’s why I know we have to make changes.

By “we” I really mean me, because my husband is a thrifty spender and if I’m honest he wouldn’t spend anything if it were just him. So, I’m being the big girl and strapping on my budget britches to get serious.

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Why Would You Want To Save?

Well, not everyone does want to save when they’re living full-time in an RV. Some people want to use their money to have great experiences. And, that’s amazing!

If you’re like us though, you might want to save to find a house that will truly fit your needs and be something you can settle in to later. Or, you want to have a cushion to fall back on if times ever get hard.

Or, maybe you have kids and you’re saving for college. It’s not cheap to pay for college and if I can help it my kids won’t be burdened with student loans.

Living Full-Time In An RV: How We’re Starting to Save Money

We didn’t start out living full-time in an RV to save money. Well, not exactly. Initially, we were living in our RV until we found a house to rent that wasn’t well over our budget. It just turned into a permanent thing as we became more and more comfortable living full-time in an RV. Our kids were enjoying it too so it wasn’t a priority anymore to find a house.

My husband and I talked about staying in our RV and saving for a down payment on a house for when we were ready. This talk happened a few months ago and I’m sad to say we haven’t really started yet. Life crops up and tries to take things from you.

But, with the very real thought of possibly needing a good chunk saved up for a down payment on anything we’re starting to buckle down. We may not need a down payment if we get a VA Home Loan (that’s one of the perks of a VA loan). So, if we don’t need the down payment, we’ll probably still put money down to help lower the note.

Our First Goals

There aren’t many goals really. Just three steps, but they feel huge and sometimes unattainable. My husband tells me to breathe repeatedly when I go over our bills.

Step One: Get the first truck’s radiator fixed

I’ve been putting this off just filling the tank back up each time it leaks out. The leak isn’t horrible, so I haven’t been prudent about getting it fixed. My husband and I talk about saving to fix it, but then something more important needs to be done.

So, this is me making it known – we’re fixing the radiator first!

Step Two: Pay off one of our vehicles and consider selling.

We could easily pay off one of our trucks in 13 months if we put everything we would be saving towards paying off our truck. So, I’m pretty sure this is our definite second goal. One less payment when we go to buy a house would be great.

Then, if I could convince my husband to sell our other truck to buy a cheaper vehicle that would be awesome. Carrying two truck notes is ok if you’re not trying to buy a house in the next two years or you’re wanting to save money. We’re still talking about this though because my husband loves that truck despite my dislike of it.

Step Three: Save at least $10,000 for a down payment

Since we’re wanting to save for a house this is a number we both agreed on. This will go a lot faster once one of our trucks is paid off. What would have taken us 10-12 months will take drastically less. Meaning we would be right on par with our two-year mark.

How do I figure that? 13 months to pay off the truck plus roughly 6 months to save $10,000 puts us at 19 months which is under two years :).

I just need to really buckle in and make it happen.

How to Save Money Without Going Crazy

#1 Pay Yourself First

This one seems obvious, but can be the hardest thing to do. I tend to pay bills first when I know the paychecks have hit the accounts.

But, now I’m starting to shift money to our savings account to save for Step One above. Once Step One is accomplished the savings money will start going to pay off the truck.

Which, technically, would be “paying a bill” first, but since this is EXTRA going to that bill I’m not classifying it as that. This is to get rid of that bill as fast as possible so that we have that money to put in savings later. Not to mention, the faster we pay off the truck the less we pay in interest. Win-win.

#2 Know When Your Bills Are Due

If you’re not sure when your bills are due and have bills on auto draft it can be a big mess. You need to track when your bills come out of your account or need to be paid each month.

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Related Post: How To Cook A Full Meal In An RV

#3 Eat Out Less

Gah! This is the one that kills me the most. I feel like I resort to the same meals every day and then get really bored. I’m working on it though. Every. Day.

Some days are just hard. We run out of time as we run around town taking care of errands, and by the time I get home, I just want to sit down. It can get crazy pants.

So, we’ve budgeted $100 per check that we can go out to eat. Which typically means one time eating out at some place like Long Horn or a hibachi restaurant. We try to split meals to cut the cost, but after tip, we are generally at $60 and the last $40 we typically spend on extra groceries.

Related Post: A Family of 4: Journey to Frugal Living

#4 Make Up Your Budget Each Check

We tried Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and it was just really hard for us. With my husband’s pay schedule our bills rotate between checks every few months. I hate it honestly.

He used to be on a 1st and 15th pay schedule and it was nice. I knew when each bill was coming out of our account and when we were getting paid. With the bi-weekly schedule, I have to be on top of the ball or bills get left unpaid.

One thing I’m using to help me with my budget is my friend Victoria’s money-saving worksheets. She was able to save $15,000 in a year by cutting her food budget alone!

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#5 If There Is Leftover Money… Put It In Savings!

Seeing leftover money in the account and not putting it in savings is probably the biggest hurdle I need to overcome. Being real here. I see it and think of all the wonderful things I could buy. This is another reason we’re downsizing more of our stuff and becoming minimalist (stay tuned for that post).

Nevertheless, if you have leftover money at the end of your check and it’s not designated for a specific bill, just put it in savings. OR, leave it in your account and try reallllyyy hard not to touch it. This will help to not only grow your savings account but to also grow your checking account.

Having a decent size checking account is good for emergencies. Sure that’s what an emergency savings account is for, but if you have both an emergency savings account and a built-up checking account you’ll never go wrong.

The next best thing would be to use some of your excess money to pay bills. For us, that means paying off our truck.

Where To Go From Here

Since I have a pretty decent spending issue, I’m challenging myself to not spend money unless it’s absolutely necessary. This means I am consulting my husband and seeking his help to be strong and really decide if I need it.

For instance, I recently dropped our InstaPot (cries) and want to buy another one, but if I was being honest… I could live without it for a good while. I might not like to live without my wildly amazing and super awesome InstaPot, but right now I can.

It’s still able to make rice… we just put the pot outside to cook just in case something were to happen. We don’t want our camper getting blown up or a hole being punched in our roof. Is it wise to still use it? Maybe not, but I think it’s ok for now.

In any case, if it’s not necessary I’m going to try my best to avoid spending money on it. My very first step to being a minimalist, right after cleaning out my kids’ closets to donate their “too small” clothes.


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