SMARTER SHOPPING BOOSTS THE BUDGET
These money saving ideas can help stretch your dollar even further
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS OLAFSON AND MAZ MACKAY OLAFSON
Life on the open road is about enjoying wonderful experiences, relationships and adventures, but every Aussie Nomad wants good value for money. Managing your budget using smart techniques when shopping for the essentials, and a few luxuries, is really rewarding.
Whether buying groceries or, a new clothing item, managing vehicle running costs or eyeing that latest RV or tow rig accessory, here’s some handy tips that have saved us money and improved our journey:
Grocery shopping can be a challenge. Retailers use store design, product displays, and advertising to create an illusion of value and increase your spending. The bill just keeps on heading north! Do not despair! With a quick inventory of your pantry – you’re in an RV so it won’t take long - you will know exactly what you need. By creating a list and sticking to it, you’ll enjoy a smarter shopping mission, dodge the impulse buys and avoid those blank moments wondering: “do we need more milk or eggs?” OK, you’re armed and ready - here are some tips you can use to smarten up the grocery shopping experience:
• Don’t shop if you are hungry; have an ‘eat-in’ snack, then off you go!
• Use cash! Research shows that using plastic results in an average 30% higher spend
• Plan your meals. Have favourite recipes ready to use up left-over ingredients such as sour cream or pre frozen seafood
• Always use leftovers. Perhaps cook a little extra so you can enjoy delicious bubble and squeak or pies next day. We love leftovers for breakfast
• Have an ‘essentials list’, then add the extras you need. If you spot an essential that’s a bargain, snap it up if you have the pantry space
• Look for specials, but check use by dates on sale items and only buy what’s on your list.
• Make a habit of looking at the lower shelves. The bargains are down there!
• Check out the opposition. Walk or ride your bike, find the bargains and enjoy the exercise
• Cheaper cuts of meat have great flavour especially when cooked in a thermal pot or camp oven
• Local butchers, farmers markets and bakers offer top quality, freshness and value
• Combine lower cost in-season fresh with out of season frozen vegetables
Unless you’re heading off the grid there’s no need to overstock your pantry and fridge, (adding weight to your rig)! Just up the road there’s another town deserving of your dollars
With space at a premium we always think carefully about what clothing is essential and will best meet our travelling needs. Being on the road can require anything from a T-shirt to a heavy coat, (often in the one day!). It’s so easy to fall in love with an item at the store, only to find it sits unused in the wardrobe. If it’s never worn then that’s just wasted money! Whether you’re on holiday or full time nomads, you can save with these smart shopping tips:
• Plan what you pack in your RV to avoid having to buy another of the same item while on the road
• Layering really pays off! There’s a multipurpose for every item! Coordinate colours so you can wear a range of outfits using surprisingly few pieces
• When shopping ask yourself “What do I already enjoy wearing that will be complemented by this new purchase?”
• Always try clothing on and concentrate on feel and fit. Be absolutely certain before handing over your cash
• If dry cleaning or ironing is required, find a wash and wear alternative
• Reverse coat-hangers or use coloured dots to monitor what you actually use. After a season, if that item hasn’t been worn, donate it to charity
• You’ll have favourite, essential items! If you find them at a great price then consider snapping up one or two more. You know they’ll be well used!
To really save money, many nomads use local Charity Shops to donate surplus items and find seasonal bargains. This is where you’ll pick up genuine brand names at amazing prices. You’ll support worthy community projects plus have the opportunity to chat with the volunteers. Just think of these as ‘Clothing Libraries!’
VEHICLE RUNNING COSTS
Many of us obsess about fuel pricing yet it’s the overall “cost of ownership” that really matters. From adopting an efficient driving style, doing your own basic maintenance or smarter fuel shopping, there are plenty of opportunities to save. Here are some ideas that can lower your running costs:
• You can tackle many essential maintenance tasks yourself. With unlimited information to guide you, (forums, fellow travellers, magazines and YouTube), learning these skills is rewarding; and saves money
• Check out the new FREE ‘Fuel Map’ crowd-sourcing app for tablet and smartphone to find the nearest or cheapest fuel deals. There’s a handy log book feature to monitor your costs too!
• Fuel discount vouchers are great, especially if you have already shopped smart at the issuing supermarket. But avoid tempting treats and offers at the servo checkout! (They are there to relieve you of your cash and will negate your fuel savings.)
• Need a mechanic for your vehicle or RV? Shopping for logbook servicing? Ask the locals for a referral. We’ve saved hundreds on the road and met some honest tradespeople who really know their stuff
• Carrying a bike on your rig? Enjoy some exercise, stay a day or two longer in the one spot, see the sights at a leisurely pace and save fuel
Caring for your rig is important. We might roll our eyes at a bloke who is forever polishing his pride and joy. But, his efforts will result in a long term sustainable and affordable Aussie Nomad experience.
RV AND TOW RIG ACCESSORIES
Many Aussie Nomads sell up, borrow or dig into their superannuation to buy every bell and whistle they’ve ever dreamed of when getting started. Then, with the benefit of experience, they can find that latest expensive gizmo has hardly been used. Here are some tips we found useful on our journey:
• Initially, do your research, then purchase only the essentials to support your travel requirements. Any extras you might need will soon become evident
• Separate ‘Wants’ from ‘Needs’. Don’t let your emotions get in the way! There’s freedom in not having any ‘Joneses’ on the road to keep up with!
• Accessories can be costly. Ask yourself “will the benefits in convenience and safety be worth this expense?”
• Online shopping offers real savings, but value must be measured against the quality of the product
• Before purchasing, check independent online reviews. Careful though! Some are sales pitches sponsored by the manufacturer
• Check the delivery charge, especially when you’re in regional or remote Australia. We purchased two new
AGM house batteries and saved on price plus another $110 with free delivery to the rural caravan park
By using sound planning, starting with a quality basic setup and employing smart buying habits, you can enjoy your own ideal setup.
One of the freedoms of life on the road is that you can escape the consumer driven grind and the pressures that entails. You can eat well, dress smartly and travel comfortably on a budget with smarter shopping habits.