Apr 072011

Sometimes I wonder how some people ever get to the point in life where they can afford an RV and become fulltime RVers, or even weekend campers, because they are just so…. well, there’s no other way to say it….so dumb!

One of the good things about my job is that I get a lot of mail and e-mail from newbies just starting out in the RV lifestyle, asking my advice. And one of the bad things about my job is that I get a lot of mail and e-mail from newbies just starting out in the RV lifestyle, asking my advice.

I really like helping people, and I find it very rewarding when somebody a year or two or three down the road tells me that my advice helped them transition successfully into the RV lifestyle. However, there are some people that I just want to say “Why do you ask for my opinion, if you just plan to ignore it, or argue with me about it?” Over the years, I have had quite a few people ask me how to do something, or what product or service to use, and then tell me why my advice is totally wrong. I know I’m not the last word on anything, and I sure don’t know everything, but still…..

A good example is a fellow who recently contacted me asking what emergency roadside service I would recommend for his truck and fifth wheel trailer. I told him that we have used Coach Net for years, and overall, we have been very satisfied with their service. He replied that his regular insurance company offered towing, and wanted to know why he shouldn’t use them, since they were about $40 a year cheaper.

I explained that as a fulltimer, the insurance he used in his sticks and bricks house might not be the best option, that we have heard of some polices that would tow his truck but not his trailer, and others that don’t understand the needs of RVers, and the specialized equipment needed to tow an RV. I added that Coach Net also has RV service techs available that can often talk you through a quick repair to get you back on the road. His reply to me was “Yes, but we’re talking $40 bucks here. For a rich guy like you, that may not be much, but it is to me.” What can I say to a guy like that?

Back when we had our MCI bus conversion, I put the whole story of our bus conversion project on our website, and since then, I have heard from a lot of folks wanting to convert a bus, or who were in the process, asking for advice. More than one asked me about school buses, which can be purchased at very attractive prices. I always tried to explain why schoolies were not the best choice; they don’t have bays underneath for storage, many insurance companies won’t insure a school bus as an RV, and some RV parks won’t let them in. Yet, more times than I can remember, the response was “Yes, but I can get a great deal on this bus.”  Okay, go for it.

One that really befuddled me was the gentleman who was converting an MCI bus similar to ours, and spent several hours going over our plumbing system, asking me where we got our fresh and waste water tanks, water pump, and such. The next time we pulled into Elkhart Campground, he was there with his bus, and proudly came knocking to invite me over to check it out.

The first ting I noticed was a metal rack he had built onto the roof of the bus, and the several large plastic tubes in that rack that ran the length of the bus.. He explained that instead of “wasting” bay storage space on a fresh water tank, he had built the rack and fabricated a system of long PVC pipes, that he had capped off on both ends and plumbed together, so that his fresh water tank was on the roof. “See, I didn’t have to buy a $350 tank, and I didn’t need to spend $75 bucks on a water pump, or $350 on a water heater,” he explained. “I just crawl up on the roof with a hose and fill the tanks, the water flows down by gravity so I don’t need a pump, and since I painted the tubes black, I get enough solar heat to give me hot water. I saved a ton!” I wanted to tell him that he added a ton of water to his roof, and to ask him how the bus handled on curves, but instead I just walked away.

And so it goes. I welcome questions, and I’m flattered that so many Gypsy Journal and blog readers seek me out to ask my opinion. But if your mind’s already made up, I sure don’t want to confuse you with facts. It’s a waste of both of our time, and it gives me a headache.

Yes, sometime you can save a buck. Once in a while you can even save a “ton?” But then again, you can also lose a bundle. 

Bad Nick doesn’t suffer fools lightly, as you can read in his latest Bad Nick Blog titled Money Talks. Check it out and leave a comment. 

Thought For The Day – In life, when you know you’ve done all you can do, and you know it is right, let it go and move on. Only then will you be able to start living again.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  10 Responses to “Save A Buck, Lose A Bundle”

  1. We call this “being stupid cheap” and when we’ve done it, it comes back to doing it right, regardless of the price.

  2. How about tripping over dollars to pick up pennies? Or in the vernacular of or English cousins “penny wise and pound foolish”? Nick, I’ve seen it with people, I’ve seen it with companies. As a former electrician, the scary part was when friends would invite us over to show me the work that they had done (and I was supposed to praise) on electrical stuff and how they had saved by not hiring me. Then when you point out things, oh boy, loose the dogs of war!!!
    Dad was probably the worst. But then, it may have been a father / son issue also. He is a smart, practical, hard working person, but DAD, I studied this, worked in the trade for 10 years, have been tested, licensed, retested for a higher license, passed and as a Master / Contractor electrician “It is not safe for you or Mom. It is a great job, but……
    I hear ya Nick. Been there, done that. You and Terry have a great day and hope that your feeling better.

  3. “You should never try to teach a pig to sing because it can’t be done and it annoys the pig!” Sometimes offering advice is just like that, yeah it is!!! Even when someone asks for it. Stupid is as Stupid does.

  4. I’ve never been able to figure out why many people even ask for advice. I guess they are looking for someone to backup the conclusion they have already come up with. I had this happen numerous times when people contacted me about stuff in my area of expertise (high liability training-firearms, taser, OC spray, etc). I can’t remember how many times I spent a goodly amount of time explaining what should have been a better option for the inquiring person to have them ignore all better options to go in their original direction.

    However, I did have the opportunity to have a number of them return to say they should have listened to my advice. I try real hard to not say I told you so…

  5. Good blog, Nick.

  6. Nick,

    We value $40 just like the next person, I guess, but when I read that comment about the guy placing all that importance on saving $40, after all the great RVing reasons you gave him to consider Coach Net, I wondered if maybe he’s financially in over his head. False economy….save now; pay later!

    And the guy with all those water pipes on his roof? I just wonder what happens if he finds himself stuck somewhere during a hard freeze? What’s the likelihood of burst pipes? Ugh!

    Your blog is a great resource, and the two of us just might want to ask you a question or two before we finally move on into the whole, long-term traveling thing. Alaska is in our future; we are sure of THAT.

    I can promise you, if we EVER bother you with our question(s), we will value your thoughts and ideas and take them very seriously. We won’t ask our questions with any intention to argue. We will ask them with the understanding that you and Terry have YEARS of RVing experience, which is valuable to those of us receptive to hearing it and learning from it.

    BTW, we have Coach Net ourselves and have been very pleased with their service. Up to now, I think we’ve only used them for our personal vehicles, and that has worked well for us. So, I know when the time comes, emergency road service for our RV will be just fine, as well.

    Keep talking to us, sharing your lives, your thoughts, and adventures. SOME of us are seriously interested in learning from you. We don’t have time to make ALL our own mistakes and then still manage to get anywhere down the road to OUR own adventures! We prefer to learn what we can from YOU and try to avoid some difficulties when possible.

  7. As I’ve learned, no good deed goes unpunished!

  8. Here’s what I learned in my previous area of expertise. When people ask for advice start by asking what they plan to do. Look for evidence of pride in their plan. Those people are looking for praise not advice. I learned to say neutral things like, “Wow! What a plan!” which they would take as praise. 🙂

    Of course, that could get me in trouble too when they would later say, “Linda Sand said it was a good plan.” 🙂

  9. “An Rver is a guy driving a $250,000 motor home, towing a $40,000 car and looking for a free place to park.” (Anonymous)
    Not always true, to be sure … but some folks are just clueless. You can’t fix stupid.

  10. The one with the plumbing on the roof cracked me up. Not that I havn’t done some pretty idiotic things in my life, I think it was more that I could relate to spending infinite hours on doing something only to complete it and wonder what I was thinking! I can relate to that guy….spooky I know.

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