Cost-saving tips RV enthusiasts can get excited about.
RV ownership is experiencing unprecedented growth, appealing to everyone from retiring baby-boomers to younger buyers. It’s a lifestyle that can be as simple as weekend camping trips and tailgate parties to extended vacations or a seasonal home for snowbirds.
Whether you’re already enjoying the RV life or yearning for it, it’s important to understand the costs involved so you don’t undo all your hard work you’ve put into financial planning and saving for the future.
Creative ways for RV owners to save money
If you are one of the 18 million RV owners in the U.S., you know that monthly RV loan payments are only the beginning of your expenses. The average RV budget also includes: insurance and gap coverage, maintenance and repair costs, insurance and registration, and storage space for when the vehicle is not in use. Then, there’s the costs you incur while traveling, such as gas and propane fuel, cable and internet access, parking and hookup fees, and how you’ll make your meals.
Marianne and Randy are the ultimate RV enthusiasts. In June 2000, the pair purchased a Class B 1986 Roadtrek RV and set out on a yearlong road trip. They were hooked. Since then, the couple has taken numerous extended adventures between 5-6 months long, as well as countless shorter trips.
A handyman and a waitress, the two are often asked how they can afford their RV lifestyle. Drawing on their years of pennywise adventures on the open road, they founded Frugal RV Travel and offer the following tips on how to save money on RV camping:
- Choose public campgrounds over private. While most public lands charge a fee for campers, they are almost always less expensive than private, commercial campgrounds with concrete slabs and swimming pools. Or, consider boondocking in the woods and enjoy the chance to unplug and get closer to nature.
- Find the cheapest fuel available. They recommend apps like GasBuddy that can help you compare the cost of fuel at different vendors near you in real-time.
- Join a camping discount club. Popular options like Good Sam and Passport America offer discounted access to campgrounds and cash savings on purchases from fuel to pet food.
- Live frugally… just as you would at home. The same common-sense practices you use at home to maintain your personal finance budget will also serve you well on the road.
For even more ways to maximize your RV experience, click here.
Financing and budgeting your RV purchase
Are you thinking about becoming a first-time RV buyer? If so, there’s a lot to consider. “Buying an RV is a long-term, adventurous investment that isn’t right for everyone,” cautions travel website tripsavvy.com. “It’s more than just buying an RV. It’s learning how to drive or tow it. It’s learning how to do your maintenance and when to take it to the shop. It’s learning how to overcome the sticker shock of gas prices versus mileage.”
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is the founder of award-winning finance and lifestyle blog MakingSenseofCents.com. She’s currently traveling North America in an RV and offers these four steps to afford the RV lifestyle:
1. Be realistic about your RV budget and learn about the different types of RVs.
2. Create a monthly travel budget. Creating a budget doesn’t end with the RV purchase. Just like home, also think about what you spend each month on everything else.
3. Find ways to save.
4. Earn money on the road.
Once you’ve made the decision to purchase an RV, these two experts share advice on how to get the best deal. “RV dealerships generally expect you to haggle,” notes Schroeder-Gardner, who purchased a Class C RV in July 2015. “We negotiated the price of our RV and were able to get almost $30,000 off the price without much work. All we had to do was ask, ‘What’s the lowest you can do?’ and we received a great price.”
“Depending on your credit score, how much you’re willing to put down for a down payment and other factors, financing may be easier said than done,” according to tripsavvy.com. “If you can finance through your dealer, you’ll get interest rates closest to what your bank would offer with good credit. If you finance through a third-party lender, you’ll often pay a higher interest rate. It’s important to make sure you can afford the monthly payments on an RV or trailer, along with looking to pay it off early whenever possible.”
Biweekly loan payments can help with affordability and early payoff. It’s a finance strategy car buyers have been using for years to manage their payment obligations, shorten the terms of their loans, reduce interest charges and accelerate equity.
Biweekly loan payments are designed to coincide with when you get paid. By simply splitting your existing monthly RV loan payment in half and paying that amount every two weeks, you’ll make the equivalent of 13 monthly payments over the course of a year instead of 12. On a monthly basis, it’s not a big change, but making just one extra payment a year will save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in interest over the life of the loan.
AutoPayPlus is a leading provider of automated biweekly and accelerated loan payment services for mortgages, student loans and credit cards, as well as auto and RV loans. Examples of the loan benefits RV customers are achieving with AutoPayPlus’ biweekly payment schedule are:
- Andre in Illinois who is paying off his loan 32 months early and reducing his loan balance ahead of schedule by an extra $11,363.81.*
- Cynthia in Rhode Island who is paying off her loan 24 months early and reducing her loan balance ahead of schedule by an extra $6,479.63.*
Use our free biweekly RV savings calculator to find out your potential interest savings and how much faster you can pay off your RV loan using AutoPayPlus.