Friday, June 13, 2008

Balancing the budget

I was making copies of the book I wrote two years ago on how to RV frugally. I have been reading many posts on the RV Travel forum and other forums about handling the high price of gas. Many RVers are blaming the government, the ecologists, the Middle East and other factors. It's perfectly fine to place the blame elsewhere and we have the right to do so. However, I believe some of the blame lies within us. We knew this was coming.

One of the best pieces of advice I received on financial planning came from my parents and grandparents long ago (all of whom went through the Depression). They told me to save for a rainy day. It sounds trite but you've all heard it. So I did.

In the 70s, I read a short book that helped with my financial planning: The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason. I'm not going to reveal everything (I think you should read it yourself) but the first three principles are as follows:

10% of everything you earn is yours to keep. Pay yourself first.
10% of everything you earn should be saved. There's that rainy day.
10% of everything you earn should be invested so the money will grow.

You live on the rest.

When I bought my RV in September 2001, gas was $1.59 per gallon. I put 50 gallons in the 75-gallon rear tank and 25 gallons in the front tank. I never touched the back tank after that (other than adding Stabil) and when I sold the RV in 2007, the new owners were very pleased.

When I bought my second RV in June 2007, gas was $2.29 a gallon and I filled the single 72-gallon tank. Then I worked on the rig so I could get the best mileage possible.

We all know what the price of gas is now. So where does the extra money come from to purchase the gas? How many of us use the first 10%? How many of us have that first 10%?

My plan included having food for 90 days in the RV. No matter what happened to fuel or shipping costs, I could survive. That plan was done little by little on every payday shopping trip.

My savings plan included purchasing gold Sacajawea dollars every payday and saving them 20 at a time in 35 mm film canisters. You don't spend the money, it's easy to store and save. That became my B of A account: Bank of Adrienne. The economists used to tell us to have three months' salary on hand. I don't have that yet, but I have three tanks of gas. Maybe I should think of the savings as filling my tank.

Some RVers are selling their rigs at a loss because they can't afford the payments or they can't afford to drive them. With the economy in a recession, they're not finding many buyers. That's very sad and they have my sympathy. I truly wish they would find a way to keep their RVs for the peace of mind it will give them.

For me, an RV that's paid for is a great way to survive a recession. It's inflation proof. No matter what, you're never homeless. In case of disaster, you're protected and mobile. The registration and insurance fees decrease with time.

And when you finally think you've lost your mind and decide to escape to Canada or Mexico, you'll have a way to get there.

Yes, I'm trying to get you to smile through this trying time. We're going to make it. So start saving or add to your existing savings. It's raining, but the sun will be out soon.


  1. You can take the road liability and collision insurance off your stationary RV. Saves a lot of money. Just have comprehensive which will cover it for theft, hail, falling trees, falling aircraft and whatnot. If you have to drive it, in an emergency, a phone call to your insurance agent will get it back on the road legally. Penny, TX

  2. Interesting thoughts. I just got done posting a series about figuring out needs and wants, financially, and then making those realistic goals, so I'm interested in things frugal in general. (This series of articles is at if anyone's interested.)

  3. Loved your story. Yes, I am having a hard time making ends meet and paying all the bills but I'm hanging in there and riding out the storm, Edie in FL