Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Econ 101

Money. Everyone has to deal with it in their own way. The economy is fragile right now and there are no signs it will recover any time soon. I have a strong suggestion to help us deal with the recession.

The price of gas has dropped significantly. This is a welcome relief. While we're celebrating, remember when you fill your tank to take the money you saved (perhaps a dollar per gallon) and put it aside for future emergency needs like when the price goes up again. Then make it difficult to use the savings for something else. The last time I filled up, the RV took 60 gallons. I bought a $50 gas card so I can only spend that "extra" money on gas. That's as it should be.

Like most people, when I received a tax refund, I would use some of the money to pay bills and blow the rest on frivolous wants rather than needs. As I grew older and hopefully a little wiser, I began to really assess those wants.

Now I take any "extra" money I save and keep it in a fund to use for the same purpose. Recently, I shopped at two different stores, both of which had huge sales on clothing. I can buy a year's wardrobe for under $300. The money I saved on the clothes shopping, in this case $80, was just enough to purchase jewelry marked 60% off at a store that will be going out of business after the holidays. For those who haven't heard, Mervyns is bankrupt so you should be able to find some great closeout bargains in the next couple of months.

Grocery shopping has bargains throughout the year and with the extra I save, I purchase dehydrated and freeze-dried food as a back-up. I have meals for 90 days stored in the RV and supplement fresh food as needed.

I haven't watched television in months and I don't miss it. Even when I had a satellite dish, I found I wasn't taking advantage of all the channels I could receive. The monthly fee I save on TV is used toward purchasing items for electronic devices like my laptop since that is how I earn my living. New optical mouse and VOIP headset on sale? Batteries in bulk? No problem. If I want to watch a TV program, I can select it and watch it on the laptop at my convenience. If there is nothing I want to watch on TV, I have over 300 DVDs and many spoken word recordings I can listen to. Did you know all the Harry Potter books read by the versatile Jim Dale fit on one DVD?

The holiday shopping dilemma that would leave me with a high credit card balance in January was solved years ago when I became an RVer. I have no room to store presents in the RV. In a sticks-and-bricks, I would purchase a gift item any time I found a sale: a bargain in August? No problem. Buy it, wrap it and store it until December 1 when I would mail it. Now I find out where non-computerized friends and family shop, purchase gift cards throughout the year and send them in their holiday cards. I design the cards, print them and have them ready to mail during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. For those friends and family with computers, they receive an electronic holiday card with the online gift card to shop at home at their leisure. They can wait for the after-Christmas sales and make the best use of their gift.

These are all suggestions that have worked for me and may work for you. I'm not Suze Orman by any means. I just want to make the best use of the money I have so neither my friends and family nor I feel deprived.


  1. Hi There,

    Sorry I didn't see a place with contact information, so I decided to post on the comments.

    I would like to suggest a link exchange with the RV ebook "A Solo Woman's Guide to RVs", that has just been newly released by author Janet Groene and Duffie Books.

    Go here for more information on the ebook http://www.solorvwoman.com/ or if you would like to see where to purchase it, go here. http://www.duffiebooks.com/order.htm

    The link could be on either of these sites.


    email me at theresa@duffiebooks.com

  2. Thank you for the invitation. I've already contributed to "The Woman's Guide to Solo RVing" by Jaimie Hall and Alice Zyetz. We have an excellent DVD in the RV Bookstore" "Buying a Recreational Vehicle" by Chuck Woodbury with the Better Business Bureau.

  3. How do you watch TV on your laptop?? Would love to watch the San Diego Padres play

  4. Obviously you don't have the same wardrobe needs as any governer, and you are buying for yourself, not your large family as she was.
    You are still a big spender in my book as it has been along time since I spent $300 on wardrobe needs, obviouly we have different needs. But on the whole I agree, selling our sticks & bricks was a liberating experience and we aren't retired but stay within a 30 mile area when "in residence". As more than 1 person has said, if you don't like the neighbors, or the management, pick up your marbles and leave.
    K in NV

  5. I watch TV on my laptop through streaming video from the station. For example, I enjoy "CSI" and the latest episode is available on the CBS website the day following the telecast. There is also an archive of the season's episodes. I click on the one I want to watch and enjoy. Eventually, I will purchase a TV tuner card that plugs into my laptop so I can watch live TV.

  6. I was just teasing. If I had that kind of money to spend on a wardrobe, I wouldn't know what to buy first.

    I definitely have to go shopping with you. I thought I was doing well purchasing a year's wardrobe for $300 including shoes, underwear, skirts, blouses, pants, sweaters, blazers and jewelry. Looks like I can take some lessons on how to save even more. Back to the spreadsheet.

  7. I think you need to stick to RV'ing and not make comments on others clothes. don't be critical unless you have walked in someone elses's shoes.  Your politcal comment put you in a bad light. We need to look at character and unfortunately your comments makes me wonder about your character.

  8. I apologize and have removed the comment.

  9. hello
    We are also rv'ers who haven't retired yet and I would love to know how you make money on the laptop. Jobs are so hard to come by right now, especially if you are within 3 months of retirement. Someone suggested filling out surveys--what's your thoughts on that?
    I can't even begin to imgaine spending $300 on a wardrobe right now our quest is to survive until March when social security kicks in! haha

    I hear ya tho on the Sat/Dish tv etc--we get whatever we can with our antenna on top and will use a convertor box when we have to, rather than buy a new digital tv. I guess we have learned to be content with what we do have. We also love dvd's and yes, even VHS (imagine that--everyone sells them at yard sales now) and many times the vids are much better than what is offered on tv that nite.

    I hadn't heard about mervyn's but at this moment, that would be a "pipe dream" SHOPPING when we are Surviving! haha
    We love this lifestyle and wouldn't trade it for anything, but being Social Security people will be much better than right now. I am battling for disability, my hubby is wanting work, has applied all over so for right now, we will carry amish people to wherever they want to go and call it good. Where there's a will, there's a way.

    Sorry for the length of this. I will be subscribing to any updates on this! Enjoyed reading it! Thanx I had never even thot of making own christmas cards to go with giftcards etc or even doing electronic cards with an electronic giftcard--might be safer to go with electronic giftcards. thanx for that thot too. Annie in KY

  10. I was lucky or psychic because I started planning for a recession in June 2001 when I had a premonition there would be another big quake in the San Francisco Bay Area. All summer, I gathered gear, food and money for the earthquake "go bag" in my car trunk. Then 9/11 happened while I was purchasing my first RV. I loaded everything from the car into the RV, and learned about boondocking and other survival techniques. Then I wrote the book on frugal RVing and practiced what I preached. That's why I had enough in savings to take advantage of huge sales at two different stores. I didn't purchase anything frivolous and the classics I have will last at least two years. I make my living as a forum administrator here at RV Bookstore, and take care of the RV Travel and Free Campgrounds websites. I'm also a volunteer camp host at a CA state park so that covers my rent and utilities except for propane. In return, I sell firewood, answer questions about fishing and the local area, and generally chat with campers. It's a tough life but...;-) Send me an email and I'll try to help.