10 easy ways to save money living full time on the road
It is not a myth, you can save money living full time on the road, in an RV. Want to know how exactly? Well, this is a million dollar question and I would be millionaires if I opened this discussion on Social Media. So, I will try to answer the best way, most honestly. Remember, these are MY experiences. It doesn’t define the right from wrong. Some ideas will resonate with you, some might not because everything is relative.
Before the transition from a house to a road living, I haven’t heard or read much about the full time living in a house on wheels. If such a life existed, that was oblivious to me. We were total newbies with zero experience, without a single idea what we were getting ourselves into. This was something we knew we had to do, thus, research wouldn’t have changed our decision.
Now, after 18 months of this amazing life, I read loads of other full-time travelers’ stories. I realize each person gives THEIR OWN opinion that might or might not be relative to anyone else’s.
We decided we were GOING TO DO IT, be own bosses. Own our lives
Living the mobile life certainly isn’t equal to living in a house. It is cheaper but takes conscious effort. Think a typical house residing demands constant solutions for bills, repayments, and maintenance. So does the van living, although in smaller proportions.
We sure took our time to learn the new way of living. Downsizing and minimalistic lifestyle required a huge mind shift.
Continuously look for ways to lessen your expenses
EVERY SINGLE DAY. It requires going out of my way to hunt down bargains. It keeps me in a permanent “searching” mode. There are so many ways to save, you just have to look.
As a result of a persistent search for improvements, we educate ourselves continuously.
Here are my 10 easy ways to save money living full time on the road
- Use local libraries
They are a great source of:
- Free Wifi or wired Internet
- Homeschool work and research
- Children’s activities
- Free classes
We sure take a big advantage of local libraries. Everywhere we go, there are several branches within a reasonable distance. What one branch doesn’t have, another might. I and Nick spend a good half a day twice a week. Love the calming atmosphere, availability of many resources, comfy seats.
Being able to utilize their excellent high-speed WiFi connection is a blessing. After all, a library is a far more suitable place for a child than Maccas. Wouldn’t you agree? A very convenient way for families with more than one child. While a younger child attends a reading book session, older kids can research, read, play a table game and do the school work.
I have always been able to obtain a reading novel for Nick required by his school at no expenses for me. Isn’t it great? While we lived in a house, I used to buy a required book without even thinking to visit a local library. Wow, that’s a mind shift at its best!
- Free WiFi or one hour of on the Internet using their computers
- Educational books and magazines
- Nice change of the scenery for a school work
- Availability of classes and activities for children and adults
- Homework help
- DVDs for entertainment and education
- Free language classes
- Buy at farmers or producers markets
What is the difference, you say? Well, quite honestly, I have always questioned why some market stalls looked like they are retailers and some as a fact were real farmers who grow the food and sells it themselves. The real producer’s market allows farmers only, that is it to it. Although it’s not an easy task to find one nearby your home, there are out there if you are happy to drive.
What I do is I Google all markets in the new area, then go visit them. Simple. I talk to a person behind a vegetable stall to find out how and where the produce is grown. Also, another point to be mindful of is spray free vs. organic.
You can find a market near you by checking on the Farmers Market Association Australia Page. Our favorite market to this day has been the Northey Organic Markets on the Northern side of Brisbane. Follow this link to their page here.
It’s a HOT topic for me, so believe me, I have done extensive research on this. This is my passion to bring the best for my family, but also affordable. How do you do organic and affordable? Get to know the farmer, stick with them, but in bulks ( if possible ).
At the new market, we have just discovered, one stall offers cash back when $100 spent ( and all organic! ). Tell you that made me ecstatic is understating! If you know me or have been reading my health articles, my feelings would be quite clear to you. I love doing the spy job on all my researches and then sharing the knowledge around.
We buy locally made bread, eggs, fermented foods and health condiments at markets. Yes, it is cheaper than at health shops. If markets aren’t an option, Bulk Source becomes incredibly popular for non-perishables.
- Prepare easy meals ( and stick to the shopping list )
It’ll be a lie to say I have found the best solution to cut out on food shopping but there are millions of ways to save on cooking! We primarily make our food on a barbecue and in my precious pressure cooker. By buying a ramp of lamb or beef instead of single fillets or a whole chook is what I consider money and time-saving. Also, cooking in larger quantities allows us to have lunch the next day or simply freeze meals which can be. Think of all the dishes you can serve with just one chook!
Oh and barbecues. What Aussie doesn’t appreciate them? Every caravan park would have hot plates for cooking. In paid parks they are usually clean, a pleasure to use. In free camping, well you decide.
Say NO to Takeaways. It’s a rarity for us. Lately non-existent. Due to the strict diet, there are very limited choices. I share why here. After purchasing my pressure cooker the need for taking away seized enormously as the cooking became less time-consuming.
- Save on taking away coffees
My never-ending love. My pleasure. Whereas my body doesn’t actually react to coffee as a stimulant, my tasting buds do salivate just by thinking about it. I do buy bulk coffees beans, grind them in a herb blender and brew in my favorite Espresso Stovetop Coffee Pot. The old style beats times. We also discovered 7/11 $2 coffees. Great option on the go, works with own travel cups too. We have completely stopped paying for coffees at cafes. For the price, they charge I can get a kilo of beans. Period.
- Make your own supplies (shakes, juices and smoothies etc)
I have decided long ago that no one can make a healthier drink for my family than me and myself! No-one but you know if your bowls are clean, veggies are from local markets and have been in great storage conditions. You can add or take away ingredients without paying extras. How much is for one organic shake? $9? We have them every day. That’s $558 savings every month! Think: $9 x 3 people = $27 a day. For the price of one, I cover all three of us. Do your maths.
- Utilize parks, swimming pools, and cheap gym memberships
When we move to a new location, it takes me a good couple of weeks to find an affordable gym preferably within the close approximate. The best way to get FREE gym workout is to visit every gym in the area signing up for their FREE passes: some offer a day, some a week, some a month for a dollar a day. True, you can literally exercise FREE of charge, afterward to pick the one just right for you. It’s legit and absolutely the best way to find a good gym!
We also love utilizing parks: they are grassy, safe, away from roads. It’s a great FREE option. What you can do in the park: walk, run, skip, cycle, do boxing, cardio, Interval training, yoga. Just about anything, if you ask me!
- Make laundry bills disappear
I remember, right at the beginning of our journey ( read HERE ) we were learning by watching and observing. I thought wow that is so cool when you just slide a couple of $$ into a slot, come back later and your laundry is done. Washed and rinsed! It felt like we were on holidays permanently! Hmm… Not surprisingly after the first few weeks those few $$ were disappearing pretty quickly. That scary looking aggregate that swallows dirty clothes still had its mouth open, every time we walked in. It demanded more money! One day we sat down, pulled out a piece of paper and started calculating. Yep, you guessed it. Those non-important $$ sucked the heck out of our weekly allowances.
Then we came up with a great solution: a portable washing machine! I cannot tell you how awesome those teeny tiny plastic things are. Of course, we picked the dual tub, meaning it washes and spins! By investing a whole $126 we saved thousands !!!
- Make the most of non-cleaning time
Wait, what’s housework? Have been living in a home on wheels we have saved money but most importantly time on cleaning. I used to dreaded cleaning days, it was an endless useless spent time doing the tedious job: moping, dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, mowing, blah blah blah. To clean a 27-foot van you will need one bottle of universal cleaning product, a battery-operated stick vacuum with attachments ( they are great for window seals, air conditioner, little corners and spaces a vacuum head won’t reach), a pack of microfiber cleaning clothes and… that’s it. That’s all you’ll need.
- Check for good “steals” in second-hand shops
Now, who doesn’t love Op Shops??? It’s like walking into a museum where you feel yourself reach because you have a couple of $$ in a pocket and everything is cheap. Let me tell you, I have sold EVERYTHING we owned in the house, so I certainly wasn’t prepared to buy something I needed to replace again for the full price, or brand new. Especially stuff for kids like toys, books, DVDs. Bigger shops always stock an array of new products like cleaning and bathroom essentials. I picked up brand new bamboo pillows cheaper than they are at a dollar shop. In winters, second-hand stores stock plenty of blankets, throws, warm stockings, hats, gloves and of course the snow gear.
- Stay long term in caravan parks
I’d like to advise you to go on and free-camp your heart out but unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Not in a long run anyway and not with kids in tow. The problem here is it’s a short-term accommodation, thus you will end up moving faster than setting up your camping chairs. Unless this is your intention, a long-term stay is a way less stressful lifestyle. What I am saying is, families aka mums and dads still have to earn the dollars, so that requires them to nest in one spot for a bit of time.
The solution: the best you can get out of me is next: when you know the length you will be spending in one destination, search for the long-term van parking. They are not free but definitely a cheaper option. Longer the stay the cheaper it gets. The difference is that some places include the energy consumption in the price, others don’t. All the places we have been to always include the water usage which comes handy ( think all the washing you will do without paying extra unlike in a house!)
We use our own washing machine and don’t pay water bills. Handy? I think so. The biggest energy bill we have received in a month was $59, compare it to a typical household usage of anywhere between $150 to $400.
So, it is what it is I wanted to share. Of course, the tips you have just read aren’t the only ways to save money and aren’t only living on the road saving tips, they can be applied to regular life, regardless. But as the story goes, one needs a change to change oneself, right? Without the initial stage of our adventurous lifestyle, we might have never shifted our minds the way they are now, trust me, habits are darn hard to break! Please, feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts and suggestions, I am sure you know some other tricks for keeping that buck last longer. And if you are in the early stages of starting your own road life, I say good luck, enjoy your life to the fullest and definitely drop me a line now and then. See you on the road!
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