When you are thinking about cheap rving, fantasizing about your new life on the road, does it come to a screeching halt when you start to think about how to PAY for this new rv lifestyle? Yep…that little inconvenient point does keep bursting the bubble, doesn’t it? If you don’t think of it on your own, some co-worker will most likely “gently” remind you of that fact, with a little “you’re never gonna pull this off” look in his/her eye.
Don’t despair…fear that two weeks into your journey you wlll be broke, stranded in Kansas somewhere, calling your boss and begging for your old job back while telling the family “you were right, I am losing my mind” is actually…well…normal.
This post is just an introduction to the concept of work for rvers – more will follow in the future. For now you simply need to open your mind and take it all in. If you want a great resource to show you all of the various ways to make a living on the road, we highly recommend this tool before you get on the highway.
The first thing you must do is simple: forget everything you’ve learned since birth in regards to employment. Ok…let’s move on, shall we???
Cheap RV living is about changing the old patterns, rewriting the rules to fit your rv lifestyle. It is not about making a set income 40 hours per week, then denying the fact that after paying for your house, utilities, food, car, insurance, doctor and vet bills, food and gas…you actually need to use your CREDIT CARD to rent a $3.00 DVD. One little extra thought you need to change is this…credit cards are not income. No, you actually are NOT doing ok just because there is some room on those cards. Picture if all of your cards disappeared tomorrow – could you pay cash for everything and still live comfortably? Will let you answer that one yourself.
Next step – what you need to earn will completely depend on the financial “baggage” you take with you when you hit the road. That is why you need to liquidate anything and everything you can because every penny counts toward less monetary stress when you go rving. Gather up every asset and all income you have, buy a cheap motorhome (cannot emphasize enough here that you do NOT need a new or expensive, used rv) and keep the rest for when you first start out, so you can relax awhile as you figure this rv living thing out. After two years, we are down to only a handful of monthly bills, around $300 worth, aside from normal expenses such as gas, lodging and food. We didn’t start out that way, believe me! Imagine the financial stress if you are trying to manage car payments and an rv loan. Again, the type of rv jobs you will seek will depend on how much you need to pay after you hit the road.
Our next step – creative thinking to save more money. Draw up a list of the expenses you are certain you will have, while rving. Now look at each one carefully. Let’s see…cell phone bill? Think about being an “additional line” on a family member’s plan and splitting the bill with them to save both you and them money. Auto or RV insurance? Shop around for better deals and change the deductibles. Worried about lodging costs? Call Uncle Joe and see if he will let you stay on his vacated acreage 3 months a year in exchange for helping him out around the property. Gas prices? You don’t have to drive 2000 miles away when just starting out, so find a closer destination and plan to stay put for a season. Adapt, compromise and think your debts down to the smallest they can go.
Our final lesson for today – oh yeah…rv jobs! We cheap rving folks generally fall into two categories – lots of bills and few bills. Which category you fit into will determine what approach you will take. There is a third category…those that have “enough” income already from renting their home, savings and CDs, social security…these folks might not be wealthy but they have a revenue source that is enough to live simply and comfortably. For the rest of us, here are the paths we can go:
LOTS OF BILLS
You still can live the rv lifestyle, but you need to be flexible and compromise on your version of living the rv dream. You will need to find ways to get free lodging (like becoming a camp host, contacting family with land, checking for workamper jobs or advertising in newspapers as property sitters), pick an area you love but don’t move around much to save on gas. You have not failed if you need to work part time here and there. If there are two of you, even better. Imagine the relief of having so few bills compared to your “old life” and both of you working 20 hours/week to be comfortable financially. Maybe plan on two destinations per year and count on working a little to pay those bills off. If you have skills that can be used online, look into working online opportunities. There are no rules anymore but you need to accept your financial situation and adjust accordingly. Anything is possible…guarantee it!
If you just need a little income, you will find there are a lot of opportunities out there. You may find that working one season somewhere gives you enough money for the year. An example that we haven’t done yet (but have thought about) is National Parks. They have websites and LOVE summer employees in rvs. They usually provide lodging for your rv (or a discount) and you work in a beautiful setting all summer, taking hikes when not working…what a job! Use those 4 months of wages to take 8 months off. Other ideas are making money online, from the comforts of your rv. Selling online (antiques, books, etc.) from gems you pick up at thrift stores along the way (this is something we do and love it!). Maybe you have a skill so when you stay put for awhile, you can advertise your trade. Perhaps, if you stay at a campground, you can work the store sometimes. You need to get creative but opportunities to earn income are everywhere when your bills are low. These things would have never paid for your previous life, but when cheap rv living, they more than cover your costs.
How do we do it? Lots of ways. There have been times when we had very little in our pockets, from unexpected emergencies and the like. We remind ourselves there is no failing – no more so than rough times we had when we owned our home. You do what you have to do to recharge the battery, so to speak. In general, we sell books online, thrift store and sell “finds” online and, most recently, added blogging to the mix, after two years on the road. But Jim has worked, too. What will we do if we run out of money? Stay put and work for a bit, to build it back up…it is that simple. It is ok…honest. What did you do when you fell on hard times in your previous life? You managed. But this is different because you will sometimes doubt yourself and feel that all eyes are on you. You need to accept that this is your new lifestyle, there will be ups and downs just like in the old one you left behind, but the difference is this time you will take on the challenges as a happier person. That is our approach to rv life.
In closing, there is one other exercise for you to work on. We are all used to getting paid for work…getting cash in hand. But an rver can make money by eliminating common expenses, too – no money exchanging hands. There are many opportunities for free campsites in exchange for work. This can be equivalent to earning $300-400/month! So, once again…you have to start thinking differently and erase memory, since an embryo, on the “only right way” to do things. The current world is fast paced, full of fancy things you convince yourself you need (but you really only want them). The social stigma might be hard before you actually pull out onto the highway, but the huge community of people following the same path is here to greet you when you arrive. You are always welcome around our campfire…
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