RV Expenses & Budgeting
This section will go over some of the common expenses you will encounter while out traveling full time in your RV. It’s vital to know these numbers, as best possible, in advance so you can budget for them properly. If you’re determined to live full time on the road, this is one area you cannot afford to not take seriously.
Everyone’s budget is different. Each of us has different wants and needs. What is important to some, will not even register for others. Therefore, I’ll use the types of expenses I had as an example. Once you’ve read mine, I suggest you write down your projected types of expenses for the month, as well as any types of variable expenses you may incur during your travels. The more informed you are, the better off you’ll be once you’re actually out on the road.
Typical Monthly Costs
RV Cost – Are you paying a monthly payment or do you own it free and clear.
RV Insurance – Shop around for the best price and roadside assistance plans. The larger your RV, the bigger the bill each month.
Health Insurance – An important thing many newbies forget to calculate into their monthly expenses before heading out. You need health insurance!
Household Items & Food – Try and figure out these expenditures in advance. I’m sure the numbers will change every month, but try and get as close as possible.
Propane – Shop around for prices. This is a difficult one to gauge until you’ve been on the road full-time for at least a few months, and have learned your monthly usage patterns.
Internet/TV/Phone – If there being used, then you need to account for them.
Mail – How do you get your mail? Do you use a PO Box?
Laundry – You need to wash your clothes. RV parks usually have cheaper facilities than normal laundromats.
Storage – Do you have a storage unit you need to pay for each month with all your old stuff in it.
Subscriptions – I’m a member of paid subscription services like Good Sam Club, Netflix, Google Music, Amazon Prime. Basically any service you a pay a monthly or yearly fee to use.
RV Dump – When those reserve tanks get filled they need emptying. Some dump stations are free, but others can cost you a few bucks.
Campground Costs & Parking – Are you staying at free campsites or paid campsites. Try to figure out your destinations far in advance, so you can find out prices, and budget accordingly. Not knowing these costs in advance can seriously wreck your budget.
Tools – I wasn’t much of a do it yourself type of guy before hitting the road. This meant my tool box was pretty barren. I try and save a little each month to purchase new tools I may need if I ever break down.
Entertainment – Life is for the living. This is your monthly allowance towards going out and enjoying yourself. I try to give myself a fixed amount every month, and then I plan out most of my activities in advance.
Overages – I always set aside an overage fund each month for things like grabbing a drink at a store or some beef jerky.
RV Maintenance – Everything breaks eventually. Be prepared or face the consequences when it happens. I set aside a little each month for monthly maintenance and actual breakdowns.
Clothes – These don’t last forever. At some point, you’ll need to buy new apparel. I set a small amount aside for my wardrobe.
Diesel – Depending on the amount you drive and fuel prices, this number can jump all over the place. I always map my route out a month or two in advance, to try and estimate the costs as much as I can.
Eating Out – If you enjoy going out to eat, then this is an expense you’ll need to try and plan for.
Upgrades – Every year, cool new gadgets are released to make RV living a little more comfortable and fun. If you’re like me and want to buy some new toys every year, then you need to budget for it. I also save up for eventually doing larger upgrades and refurbishments.
From all the expenses mentioned above, you can tell there’s a lot of different costs that go into RV living full time on the road. Having a budget in place will allow you to continue pursuing your dreams for as long as you desire. Having a solid budget will also help to ease some of the money-related stress you may start to feel once out on the road.
There’s a bunch of great resources online for how to manage an RV budget. Check out the links below, to help you create your own working monthly budget. Remember to keep detailed records, and track all of your spendings. This will allow you to find ways to reduce and eliminate expenses going forward.
Gone With The Wynns
Planning out your trip in advance is a key element to a successful trip. I always try and plan a few months in advance to make budgeting easier.
Here are some online sites that can help you plan your next trip easier. Some of these are free and some are paid services. Use whichever ones you feel comfortable with, or plan your trip the old-fashioned way by yourself.
RV Trip Wizard – Great site for trip planning but costs $39 a year to join.
Good Sam Club – Another good option. Free for Good Sam Club members.
Road Trip America – Good free planning resource.
USCAmpgrounds – Good free planning resource
Ultimate Campgrounds – Good free planning resource