How Can We Afford It?

 Posted by at 12:34 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 212013

When I wrote in yesterday’s blog that that just like swallows returning to Capistrano every year, fuel prices are going up right on schedule, I should have added that also right on schedule, people are starting to freak out and say this may be the year they have to hang up the keys. I heard from three different blog readers asking how we can afford to live and travel in an RV much longer the way things are going.

Okay folks, let’s put things into perspective. Yes, fuel is going up. Just like postage, groceries, and the price of just about everything. It’s a fact of life, prices go up a lot more frequently than they go down. But how much is a spike in prices really going to cost you?

I just looked at my blog for this time last year. We were in Yuma, Arizona where diesel was $4.05 a gallon, which isn’t that much less that what my friends in Yuma say it is today. When we left Florida headed to Arizona in late January, we filled up with diesel at the truck stop here in Wildwood at $4.19/gallon. Today it is $4.39/gallon, a difference of 20 cents a gallon.

It’s roughly 2,000 miles from here to Tucson, and we average about 7 miles per gallon in our Winnebago motorhome. So last year we used 286 gallons of fuel to make our trip west. Prices were lower the further west we traveled, but to make thing simple let’s use that $4.19 price all the way. That means we paid $1198.34 for fuel from Wildwood to Tucson.

Making the same trip this year, paying $4.39 a gallon, it will cost $1255.54. That’s an increase of $57.20 according to my calculator. That’s not going to make us hang up the keys. And it’s not like we’re going to turn around the next day and head all the way back across the country again!

Now, factor in that the last time we filled our motorhome’s tank was back was in November, and that we still have nearly a half tank left. Than consider that, using our Thousand Trails membership our camping cost for the last fourteen weeks has been $5/night for a 50 amp full hookup site. That’s $490 in campground fees between November 21 and when we leave here next Wednesday. How we can afford to live and travel in an RV? How can we afford not to live and travel in an RV?

Besides, the friends we have met in the RV community are the best in the world. In yesterday’s blog I wrote about visiting with our friend Al Hesselbart, and yesterday we had dinner with other good friends, John and Kathy Huggins, who produce the excellent Living The RV Dream podcasts. We chose Sonny’s Barbecue and it was excellent, as always. The restaurant wasn’t too busy, so after we finished eating we sat around talking for a couple of hours. In the next day or two Kathy is going to be talking to Miss Terry about cooking in an RV and how she incorporates her spinning, weaving and crocheting while living in an RV, and then sharing all of that in a future podcast.

Thought For The Day – How can the sky be falling? Didn’t it fall yesterday? And last week? And last year? And…

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Nick Russell

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  19 Responses to “How Can We Afford It?”

  1. How true – as much as I hate diesel prices going up, it is happening again. Like last year at this time. Not enough for us to hang up the keys either. Maybe we’ll stay in place a couple of weeks longer and get some savings on our campground fees. Our eat out a few less times this year.

  2. That $57.20 equates to cutting out a few trips to the Chinese Buffet, then you can cross the country for the same amount of money. You always have said Terry is a great cook. According to Mickey Ivey’s “RV Notebook” software program which I still use, since Jan 1, 2008 we’ve spent $25,344 on “groceries” and $12.439 on meals out. Even if we refrained from eating out 50% of the time, it’s a lot of diesel fuel.

  3. Not enough to get us off the road either. Prices are going up, but as long as I can keep on a truckin, I will do just that. Take what ever steps is necessary to make this dream live on. And with blogs such as this one it puts it in more perspective!

    Thanks Nick for keeping it real!

  4. Very well put, Nick. I so agree with you and wonder how many people actually do the math? We just returned after being away for two months. I have not totaled up what we spent on fuel and, nor do I care. It was a wonderful 5,000 mile trip and, except for coming down with the flu while in New Orleans, I would not change anything. AND, we will not hang up our keys for anything.

  5. Exactly. When we began full timing about 3 years ago, we decided to track our spending just to see if our money was going where we THOUGHT is was going. All of our expenses were very much in line with our projected “budget” except … eating out! We then decided that, since it really wasn’t good for us anyway, we would limit our dining adventures and dine at home more often. The result has been that we eat more sensibly, Mr. Wonderful has become a VERY fine grill master, and our expenses are just where we want them. Fuel is one of the LEAST expensive things we buy!

  6. For those of you that are going to hang up the keys because of the fuel price increase. If you were in your S&B home and the price of heating fuel went up $0.30 cents per gallon. Would you not buy fuel oil and freeze in the house? Or would you suck it up and pay the price? Perhaps eat home more.

  7. Yeah I know Nick,people think we have a lot of money also because we can travel in our motorhome six months out of the year. We visit family,spend a month close to Myrtle Beach and other places. We do boondock as often as we can. Last year we averaged $6.41 a night in campground fees and we don’t have any membership clubs. So that gives us extra fuel money.

  8. I so agree Nick…In 2008 while we were in Texas outside of Austin (the 1st year we were fulltime) the diesel fuel sky rocketed to $5 a gallon, up from about $3 the spring before in VA It stayed in the $4.80 to $4.88 range across the country all summer and I can remember being thrilled when it went down to $4.13 a gallon!!
    We at first wondered if we had made the right decision and if we would be able to sustain our lifestyle but here we are going on 7 years and we are still in it.

  9. Perhaps some of those folks are looking for an excuse to hang up the keys.
    The price of fuel is going up right now, but I hear it will go down again. Not as far down as we would like, and the price will fluctuate naturally.
    Support alternative and renewable fuel research for the future of the planet.

  10. If you really want to see how much/little it’s costing you to travel, try looking at the fuel cost by the mile, my last fill-up was at 46 cents a mile, what’s the cost of a campsite by the hour.


  11. Several people have asked me if the $5/night camping cost includes our yearly Thousand Trails dues. Our billing period “calendar year” for dues is April 1 – March 31. Our annual dues are $550, which gives us 50 nights of “free” camping and anything over 50 is $5/night. Since April 1, 2012 through our scheduled leaving date of February 27, we have stayed in Thousand Trails system parks 171 nights. So out total cost for camping in the system was $1,040, which comes out to $6.08 a night.

  12. Do your math. Your numbers are not accurate. It is 50 miles from the 3 Flags campground to Orlando TT and you have spent two 3 week stints in each so you have to factor in the cost of travel between them 4 times (200 mile) plus motorhome payments, car payments, insurance, wear and tear on your RV over if it was sitting still, not to mention food, sat TV, etc. Your delusional if you think you are “camping” for $6 a night. You sound like Obama the way he figures a budget.

  13. Randy, living expenses and travel expenses are not the same thing. We’d have certain costs whether we lived in a house or RV.

  14. Hi Nick,

    It sure has been a long time since we met in Quartzsite!

    I just had to throw in my two cents on this one: No matter how penny-wise your math is, the fact is you’re getting your money’s worth by having the guts to live the way your heart tells you instead of how fear would limit you. Thanks for this post – it was an important thing for me to hear today!

  15. We are in the process of figuring out what it will cost us this summer to travel, we have nothing set yet, but we know we will do some traveling, we do use membership parks and RPI which is $10 a night. Gas is expensive but if you do a budget and try to stick to it as close as you can you can still travel. Only one time in the nine years we have been full timing has the cost of fuel stopped us and that was our trip to Alaska back when gas was almost $4 a gallon here in the states. We do not eat out as much as we use to but that is fine. No way are we hanging up the keys because of gas prices. Travel safe on your way to AZ.

  16. Great way to put things in perspective, Nick. We are not full-time yet as we are waiting for our son to finish school, but it is still our dream/plan, and so far, nothing has happened to fuel prices to make us reconsider that plan.

    I think there are plenty of other areas in which to cut expenses without thinking about hanging up the keys (such as dining out as several have already mentioned). I personally believe the RV lifestyle will continue to be a lifestyle that accomodates a variety of incomes and budgets for some time to come.

  17. You do have to look at the total picture- not get freaked out by the price of fuel. The wonderful thing about this lifestyle is that you have flexibility in many choices like how far you travel in a day, where you camp. So many options that can reduce your expenses. And then, you have to think of all the benefits – (usually) a happier, healthier and less stressful lifestyle plus adventures you would never have had if you’d stayed in the stix ‘n brix life. Don’t let life pass you by because of fear!

  18. Just wanted to say that while cost of fuel is important there are many other costs in RVing. Things like depreciation of the RV, eating out, new clothes, visiting attractions, etc can be expensive also. And if you hang up your keys, now what? Are you going to just sit in a S&B? This is your life, your only life. And by the way, you don’t take anything out of this world when you die. Even your body is left behind. So now is the time to enjoy each day. Money is merely a means to buy the needed supplies. Fuel is jut one of many costs to RV or to travel whether in an RV, car, plane, train, boat. No need to panic. Reassess your budget , change a few allocations and keep on RVing.


  19. I need advice…My husband and I have been RVing the past 3 years. The last year has been a giant challenge. I was told I had kidney cancer and would need surgery.
    January 14th 2012 I had surgery in Knoxville Tennessee. This has put our finances
    on the rocks. We both have positions this spring at RV parks but we are wondering how we are going to make it until then….we have tried calling our credit union and bank with no success They like to know you are currently employed. If anyone has suggestions, please contact me through my email address. I would greatly appreciate your time and interest.

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