ACHIEVING FRUGAL FREEDOM
Budgeting doesn’t have to be boring. Have fun and feel great as you enjoy your RV life cheaper than ever!
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS OLAFSON AND MAZ MACKAY OLAFSON
Life on the road is about new experiences, enjoyment and adventure, but sound planning is essential to make the most of this lifestyle. Understanding and managing your money well will ensure that you will achieve your goals. In fact, becoming creatively frugal should be an enriching experience! You may have to challenge some preconceived ideas while you find the courage to self-assess and take charge, but with a little effort, you can have the time of your life on a budget.
WHY CREATE A MONEY PLAN?
In order to successfully develop and then follow a budget you should have a clear reason for doing it. Think of your budget as a plan. This plan forms a map to help to get you where you want to go. Everyone’s situation will be different. You might feel financially stressed or have seen your income reduced by the lowest interest rates in your lifetime. You may have a big plan that requires some serious savings to achieve. Maybe recent retirement and leaving a comfortable salary behind has been a challenge, or it could be a case of your wanting to be more efficient so you can travel indefinitely. Whatever the ‘why’ might be, planning and living a fruitful, frugal life on the road starts with a ‘can do’ approach and a commitment to achieving your objectives.
Even millionaires use budgets! In fact they are essential to creating and maintaining wealth; knowing where your money goes really matters. You can start by recording all your purchases using a notepad or a budgeting app. You’ll find templates and ideas on the Internet very helpful. After one month, check your spending – this will highlight where changes and savings can be implemented to help you achieve your goals. Start by planning to make one saving a day, and keep a tally of how much you save over the next month. You will soon find yourself developing new spending habits.
BE CREATIVELY FRUGAL
There are many creative ways to extract more value from those hard-earned dollars. Living an RV lifestyle offers some unique opportunities for flexibility in basic budget expenses such as rent, electricity, entertainment and transport costs.
We can decide where we want to live and how much we will pay, for a day, a month or longer. Home is wherever we decide to stop. We might linger longer to save on fuel costs, or look for caravan park or showground deals with a free night bonus. We can freedom camp, generate our own power and live off the grid. Or we can choose to celebrate, live it up and pay for a five star resort.
Here are just a few ideas that have paid off for us.
For starters, we love our coffee! By brewing our own rather than heading off to the café every day or so, a couple can save enough in under 12 months to pay the van rego and insurance.
We love cooking, too. Our van was selected with a good kitchen in mind. We have fun creating interesting dishes using local and seasonal ingredients, especially for evening meals. Lunch often consists of corn thins with cheese and pickles or maybe some home cooked corned beef cooked in our trusty thermal pot.
A little planning pays off. Create an ‘essentials’ shopping list and make those purchases when on special. Think carefully about anything you add to that list. Enjoy eating in, buy in-season produce, prepare and freeze meals, create your own mayo, hummus and condiments, or take a picnic basket when you head out for the day. Carry snacks and drinks in your tow tug fridge or esky.
Have some errands to do in town? Batch them together and tackle them all in one trip. Make sure you have a list. Coordinate your shopping day with the local farmers markets. Ride a bicycle or walk to enjoy the experience and the health benefits. Improved health means more long-term savings too!
Regular basic maintenance of your rig saves money and inconvenience. By using Internet resources or assistance from fellow campers you can successfully undertake many tasks yourself. Most essential work is demonstrated for you on YouTube or blogs. And if you aren’t computersavvy, a neighbour will gladly find that resource for you. It is especially rewarding to invest in yourself by learning new skills and acquiring the essential tools to put those skills into action. Becoming more self-sufficient really pays off, not only financially but because you’ve achieved something tangible to benefit your RV experience. That’s a great return on investment.
Resolve to become a champion bargain hunter. Support local community projects and meet keen volunteers while picking up great deals at charity shops. On our journey through Broken Hill and into South Australia we found a perfect duffle coat valued at a couple of hundred dollars but priced at only $4.50.
BUDGET CREATION TIPS
• Know WHY you need that budget
• Know what your income bottom line is
• Know your regular spending, then look for where you can save
• Set some short term, achievable and realistic savings targets
• Be prepared to review and adjust regularly
• Use online budgeting tools – or just a notebook and pencil
• Use bank accounts that help you automate your essential spending and saving
• Have the family fully involved
• Reward yourself as you achieve your targets
Being frugal doesn’t mean you won’t reward yourself! In fact it is important that your plan includes treats. After all, you will be having those little victories that free up money. Consider experience-based treats that improve your life, tick the boxes on your bucket list and create lasting memories.
WE ARE PERFECTLY PLACED TO ENJOY A FUN, FRUGAL LIFE
Life as an Aussie Nomad offers us wonderful opportunities. We can take even greater control of our finances, travel to wherever we want, meet amazing like-minded people and choose to either live off the grid or at the finest holiday locations with all the best facilities. By developing a plan and taking action to become a little ‘richer’ every day, this life will be all the better, more fulfilling and relaxed. You’ll find a wealth of benefits to the “creatively frugal” lifestyle!
BE A BLACK BELT LIST MAKER
• Establish an “Essentials” shopping list and purchase only when on special. Shop with a purpose. Is this value? What are the benefits? Do I need this?
• Keep a record of items as they run out to ensure you buy only what you need
• Make a record of maintenance tasks and date due (e.g. anodes / wheel bearings)
• List your dream purchases (e.g. more solar) think about the return on investment. If it’s a goer, modify your budget and plans, and save for them
• Utilise camping Facebook pages, websites, Apps and books to develop a personal list of the best value campsites