How to BUDGET for RV Living

Can you afford RV living?RVer budget - learn how to save money living in an RV It is one of the most elusive answers that we all seek when making RVing plans. Will you be able to save money as an RVer? Can your current income support fulltime RVing? Due to the weight of the decision, and our own desire to assist our readers in achieving financial freedom and reaching their goal of RVing; we decided to take our answers a step further and provide you with some real tools to enable you to make a real RV living budget and confidently answer these questions for yourself. In other words, we got your back!

Shall we give ourselves a quick pep talk first?

Self, today we are tackling our budget. I know we hate to do it, but Chris and Jen said we have to. So, we will not be afraid of the scary blank lines we see. We will conquer this budget worksheet.  We promise not to be mad at Chris & Jen for making us face our financial situation. It is for our own good. We will persevere. We are disciplined. We are Penn State. (oops, not sure how the chant got in there)

Follow these simple steps to make your RV Living budget…

(we also have a video below to help you see this in action.)

Step #1       We need to establish your current budget in your home, so take out a calculator and your current budget. What? You don’t have a budget??? Don’t worry, we won’t judge. (We fall in to that category a lot of the time, so don’t judge us either.) In Step #2, we will help you build one.

Step #2       Print & Fill-in this worksheet: RVer Budget BEFORE RVing    Fill-in the budget column either by using your current budget from Step 1, or by taking the time following our worksheet to create a current budget. The instructions for creating your current budget are on the worksheet for you, but you are basically listing your total income, then using your knowledge of your expenses and the percentages we give you (based off of a lot of research) to fill-in what your budget expenses should be. A key step here is knowing that your total income MINUS your total budget expenses should equal ZERO. Meaning that you will have a ZERO balance at the end of the month, and all is right with the world. Then, at the end of the month, you will fill-in your actual expenses column. This is the moment of truth. Again, your total income MINUS your total actual expenses should equal ZERO. If you are over, great news, you can budget more in your savings. If you are under, still great news, you now know that you can no longer give your budget no attention, instead you need to put some work in to your budget to make sure that your expenses do not exceed your income either by decreasing expenses or increasing income.

Step #3      Now that your current budget is complete, it is time to create a RV living budget. This step will be trickier, as you will have to make some guesses. But, to help you to make informed guesses, we are providing our actual fulltime RVing numbers for you to use. I took our first year on the road numbers and divided them by twelve to provide you with a monthly average for informational purposes. You want to begin by printing the following worksheet: RVer Budget ON THE ROAD. Now, fill-in your total income and the budget column with the numbers that you already know from your current budget – food, health insurance, life insurance, etc. Then, take a look at our numbers and the notes I provided. For example, you will see our monthly total for campgrounds is $1013.00; but I made a note that these are full hook-up spots and you also know that we cover a lot of ground. If you are planning on doing a lot of boondocking/free camping each month or know that you will be staying put longer to take advantage of cheaper monthly rates, then you will be able to lessen our number for your own budget. Use our actual numbers and the percentages we provided to help you fill-in the rest of the budget column. Once you have all of your anticipated expenses in your budget column filled-in, then it is time to take your total income MINUS your total expenses and see how you did.  (Some of you have asked for it, so here is a second version of the RVer Anticipated Monthly Budget 2 worksheet that does NOT include our numbers.)

Step #4       Review your new RV living budget. Have you been realistic? If your budget only works if you are free camping 20 nights out of the month, then you may want to rethink it. Scrutinize your numbers and be honest with yourself. A dishonest RV living budget on paper will not serve you in the long run.

Our video with precise instructions to walk you through these steps…

Congratulations! You have stepped up and taken your financial situation in hand. Either you have found out that RVing is a good fit for your budget and may even save you money, or you have discovered that you are not quite there yet. If you fall in to the latter category, then take heart, my friend, there are a lot of ways to help you save money RVing. You just need to do a little more research and maybe even find another source of income. We want you to rock RV living, but more importantly, we want you to get out of debt. So, we hope that our worksheets and this assignment has helped you to see where you stand currently, so that you can move forward in pursuing your goals.

If you do have debt holding you back, then we recommend Dave Ramsey’s website and basically everything about him to help you.

Questions??? Leave a comment.

ready for the next step? Click here to Learn how to take your budget and use it to figure out what you can afford to pay for campgrounds.

Click here to learn more about our Cost for One Full Year as Fulltime RVers.


About Jen

I love travel, which led me to become a fulltime RVer. I love wellness, which I can talk about 'til the cows come home. I love being self-employed, which means I get to dabble in what interests me from essential oils to RV planners. But most importantly, I love my husband and our life together on the road!

13 comments on “How to BUDGET for RV Living

  1. The RVer Budget on the Road worksheet would have made a perfect addition to your calendar planner.

    • I like what you are thinking, Candy! Next year’s planner will be even better, and this would be great addition. Thanks!

  2. Sorry if I missed this in the video, but where is the health insurance expense in your RV Budget? I saw your RV contents insurance and RV/truck insurance. Thank you very much.

    • Hi, Lisa! Look in the category that says “Health” – the first line item there is insurance. That is where you should put your health insurance expense. Hope that helps!

      • Yes, I saw that line, but since the other entries on Chris & Jen’s RVer’s Anticipated Budget were to provide us an example of costs in each of the categories by using your average costs, I was hoping to get an idea in the area of healthcare costs as well. In your example, is there zero expense for health insurance? Thank you!

        • Got ya – sorry about that! 🙂 We only included our expenses that apply specifically to RVing to help people compare their current lifestyle with an RVing lifestyle. We did not include health insurance cost, because for most people, it will be the same as they are paying in there pre-RVing lifestyle. In our case, we took Chris’ side business and made it our only income when we became fulltime Rvers. We were new to self-employment and had to purchase our own health insurance for the first time. Our experience is different than most people and kind of complicated, so we have not included that number since we do not think it will be very helpful. We do pay for health insurance, but our plan is one that probably no one else would choose (short-term coverage). While we qualified for Obamacare, it was too expensive and had less coverage than we were able to get on our own. I may do a post at some point that talks about health insurance, but it is very complicated and also depends on your state of domicile; so for now, I would recommend that you do some research depending on which state you want to use as your domicile and see what your options are.

          • Thank you very much for taking the time to explain this to me. It really helped. Sorry that I got confused. You are correct in saying that healthcare is a very complicated issue. Because of skyrocketing costs, this subject seems to be near the top of people’s list of concerns, both RVers and non RVers. The selection of a healthcare plan that is both affordable and adequate is no easy feat. I’m glad you are considering doing a post on this topic. Maybe you should wait until after Obamacare gets replaced! Thank you again for your time.
            PS. I have been managing the health care benefits for the staff of a large Presbyterian church in the Bay Area in Northern Calif. for 22 years so I’m always interested in this topic, as you may have noticed….

          • I forgot to mention that my husband and I are part time RVers and love your channel! I especially loved the tour of the Civil War battle grounds and hope to go there in our RV one day. Thank you for sharing your experiences. We both think the idea of full-time RVing is fascinating. Unfortunately we both have non-mobile jobs at the moment though.

          • Wow, that would be quite a job! God Bless you! We have enough trouble managing health care for just the two of us! 🙂 You give some good insight here, and I do agree that it is a very relevant topic, and hopefully we will have some better options shortly. Also, thank you for noting that you enjoy the Civil War battle ground tours! I love history, and I love to hear when others appreciate it too! Our best wishes to you in your travels, and hopefully we will see you on the road some day!

  3. Thanks for this tool. It was timely as I make my 2018 retirement financial plans. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m reinspired by your comment to keep dreaming. Thanks.

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