When I was preparing to hit the road I made a list of the necessities for RVing, both things I thought of, and what other people said were must-haves. The list became so big that not only was it not affordable, it wouldn’t all fit in the Casita.
There was an important lesson here: not everyone’s definition of necessity is the same.
I made the decision to buy RVing things only as I needed them, and in the end it was the right choice. I may have occasionally spent more on one specific item than I would have had I shopped around for the best deal ahead of time, but it saved countless dollars on purchases that sounded good on paper, but in reality would have just wasted space in storage.
But equally worth discussing is the want-to-haves. When you’re on a limited budget, how do you decide what’s worth spending your precious moolah on, and what to hold off on buying? Pretty much everyone who’s interesting in RVing is on board with the idea that experiences have an equal or greater value than owning possessions, but we can get more specific than that.
Last year in a blog post about a different subject I briefly touched on a concept comparing money to happiness which works like this: spend your money on things that’ll net you the most happiness per dollar spent.
For me, this usually means avoiding the touristy stuff like the attractions in Tombstone, AZ mentioned in my last travelogue, and saving it for gas. It’s not that I don’t think the tours in Tombstone wouldn’t be fun, it’s that I could get more happiness spending that money on activities I enjoy more.
And while people usually take this to mean forgoing little pleasures to save up for the big ticket items, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Going out to eat costs more than eating in, but sometimes the happiness I get from it is greater than spending that $10 elsewhere. Despite boondocking most of the time to save on camping fees, I find it worth it to pay for a full hookup camp site a couple nights a month for the peace of mind of flushing my black tank well, and charging every electronic thing I own.
This guideline can also make unexpected expenses more palatable. I just finished getting some unexpected repair work done on my truck (it was nothing serious). I could get mad about the cost, but instead I look at it like this: I’m trading my money for a fully-functioning vehicle, which is absolutely critical to my happiness as a full-time RVer.
I live a pretty simple life, averaging less than $1,500 spent per month. But it always feels like I have enough. When you think of purchases as an exchange of dollars for happiness, it becomes much more clear what’s worth spending money on and what isn’t.