RVs are very complex systems with a lot of working parts that could potentially fail, even small ones without engines like my Casita. Ask any owner, even of a brand new RV, and you’ll quickly learn that they not only require regular maintenance, but that if you own one sooner or later something will break down on it or require fixing.
I’m not saying this to try to scare anyone away from this lifestyle, but rather state it as a fact of ownership to better prepare you. RVs, even ones meant for full-timing, aren’t built as well as houses are. Manufacturers make more money the faster they can churn them out, and the majority of RVs are only ‘vacation’ quality – basically the manufacturer knows they’ll only get used a couple times a year and so don’t need to be as durable.
When planning to go full-timing it’s important to take these costs into consideration, because you’ll be putting a lot more wear and tear on the RV than the average owner. If you owned a house prior to hitting the road it’s likely that you already set aside money for maintenance and this should not be a foreign concept. If you’re like me and have only lived in apartments where maintenance stuff was taken care of by your landlord it’s probable that you don’t.
But the emergency fund part was what I really wanted to talk about. Basically, if you’re full-timing, you should have one. How big should it be? Well, that depends.
This fund exists to cover all of the unexpected things that could crop up while on the road. My RV was made in ’99 and when I bought it in 2012, still has all of the original appliances. The water-heater needed replacing in 2015 and the fridge in 2016. Even if your RV is (or is going to be) new, things like tire blowouts and mis-calculated parking jobs still happen and cost money to repair. Better to have something set aside for these times.
Health care is another reason. Many younger people who full-time have plans with a deductible before health insurance kicks in, myself included. My plan also has a co-pay after that. I’m healthy and have no pre-existing conditions, but an emergency visit could be very costly even with insurance.
Because of this and a couple other factors, I decided that $5,000 was the amount my emergency fund should be when I hit the road. In April of 2016 I upped that to $6,000 because of rising costs and aging equipment.
$6,000 covers a lot. Now if I should happen to have a health crisis at the same time as a major mechanical failure I may be in trouble, but in the end it’s all about chances and I’m personally willing to risk the small chance that multiple very expensive things will happen at once. I also have insurance on the RV and truck and if I were to get into an accident there would be some coverage there.
Basically I researched what could go wrong while on the road and looked at my health insurance deductible, then looked at what I had in the bank and made my decision. Your number will probably be different than mine, and that’s okay. What’s most important is looking at your own situation and figuring out what you feel comfortable with. Don’t let anyone else tell you what the number should be, it’s your life and your decision.
Some people have a separate bank account for their emergency fund, if that’s what it takes to keep you from spending that money on something else, go ahead and do it. I’ve always been pretty careful with my money and just decided that my savings account should never dip below $6,000.
The unofficial part 2 of this post, the Vehicle Replacement Fund, can be found here.
Are you planning on having or do you have an emergency fund? What do you think is a good number for one?
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