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Managing your RV wants

Manage Your RV Wants (How to Simplify & Enjoy Camping)

Published on December 6th, 2021
Updated on February 17th, 2024

In a 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’s time to let go — or at least to scale back to only the essentials you truly need.

This brisk article offers camping tips to help you manage your needs and wants for more recreational freedom.

Needs and Wants

Needs and wants for frugal life

Truth be told, RVs typically aren’t needed 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 a 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 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 transaction as an opportunity to seek the best value, we can fund more fun traveling. We can travel more and spend less.

Camping Safety

Camping safety

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.

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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 the cost.

7 Camping Tips

  1. Ask your RV friends for recommendations on services, parts, fuel, and anything else you buy to camp.
  2. Use the power of the Internet to search for recommendations and pricing.
  3. If possible, delay large purchases for a few weeks or even months to analyze whether it will be a need or an impulse buy.
  4. 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.
  5. When upgrading appliances or major parts, resell the replaced parts (in good working order) through local ads, eBay, or RV clubs.
  6. 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 your money – and teach you more about your RV.
  7. 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.

Frugal Living Tips and Tricks (Video)

"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide

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