Seven Important Considerations For Your RV Budget

michael and tiffany dunagan smiling in their rv

Like many people, we decided to pursue full-time RVing as a way to save money and enjoy traveling at the same time. Years before we even bought our Tiffin motorhome, we put a plan into place to make sure we could successfully and financially accomplish our dream.


We worked hard to pay off all our debts. We also sold our house and most of our possessions, and used that money to help fund our RV expenses. For example, when we sold our living room furniture, we used that money to pay for a year’s worth of RV insurance. We set goals all throughout the selling and downsizing process to make sure we had enough to help cover large expenses.


We joined various loyalty programs as soon as we started traveling to help keep costs down. You can collect credits for things like gas and groceries, and then use those credits for discounts or freebies. Some money-saving programs, like Rakuten, actually give you cash back for shopping at certain stores.

And lastly...

One of the most important elements to making our RV dreams a reality was setting and sticking to a realistic budget. We have been RVing for three years and have found that many expenses are just like when we lived in a traditional sticks and bricks house. There are some expenses and costs we didn’t think about or anticipate, and we’ve had to adjust our budget accordingly, but we’ve tried to stick to it as closely as possible.

Regardless if you’re RVing to become debt-free, stay debt-free or just want to manage your finances better...

Here are seven things to remember when setting a budget for your RV adventures:

  1. Don’t Skimp On Insurance

    You will have yearly, recurring costs, and your biggest expenditure will likely be your RV insurance (and your car insurance, if you choose to bring one along). Do not skimp on this coverage, especially your RV insurance, since you will be driving your home on wheels all over the country. Shop around for the best deal and ask other RVers for their recommendations. Keep in mind that some RV organizations offer insurance and roadside assistance. Situations and prices change from year-to-year, so be sure to check for better rates every year.

    The interior of Micheal and Tiffany Dunagan's Tiffin Open Road

  2. Consider State Taxes And Fees

    The state where you decide to domicile will affect some of your costs. State tax rates, vehicle registration and insurance are a few examples. Do your research beforehand and decide what is right for your personal situation.

    Micheal and Tiffany Dunagan smiling next to the flora-bama sign

  3. Buy A Campground Membership

    The best way to save on campground fees is to buy a campground membership, and there are many options to choose from. It may seem like a large expense at the beginning, but this purchase definitely helps you stay on budget. We bought a Thousand Trails membership and used it almost exclusively for 18 months. Plus, by staying at campgrounds, we typically don’t have any electric, water or sewer bills. If you do decide to purchase a campground membership, don’t forget to factor the yearly renewal fee into your budget. 

    Micheal and Tiffany Dunagan's RV at a Thousand Trails campground

  4. Have Money Set Aside For Maintenance 

    Regardless of the make, model or year of your RV, maintenance and repair costs need to be included in your budget. We bought a new motorhome, so all of our “shakeout” repairs were covered under warranty. We do still have regular maintenance costs on both our RV and vehicle—things like tires and oil changes. If your RV is not under warranty anymore, plan to put a significant amount of money into an emergency repair fund. We’ve heard a good rule of thumb is to set aside at least $2,000, which can help cover small emergencies.

    Tiffany Dunagan sitting at her designated workspace inside her Tiffin Motorhome RV

  5. Stay In One Place For Longer

    Go slowly! This will help you budget and save money in two ways. First, slowing down and not moving locations as often will help you save on gas. Choose a central location that you can stay for a while and enjoy daily excursions. Second, many campgrounds offer discounted rates for longer or off-season stays. A couple of times, we found it was the same price to stay for one month as it was for three weeks. Always ask if there is a weekly or monthly discount, as these are not always advertised. Whenever we travel, we often stay at Cracker Barrels or Walmarts to help save money on campsites in between locations.

    Micheal and Tiffany Dunagan's RV at a RV and Bus Parking spot at a Cracker Barrel

  6. Take Advantage Of Free Activities

    These can be local activities or campground activities. Whenever we are headed to an area, we will Google “free things to do in [insert location name]”. By doing this, we have learned about holiday parades, free concerts, even free guided tours. There is so much to do in every town if you look for it. RV resorts and campgrounds also have so many activities included with your stay. Learn to line dance, play pickleball, play mini golf, or canoe on the campground lake.

    Tiffany Dunagan inside the jaws of a shark replica at a roadside attraction

  7. Cook In Your RV

    Resist the temptation! Eating out can become a huge, unplanned expense. Keep your RV stocked with healthy food, do some meal prep so you always have something to eat on travel days, and let appliances like an Instant Pot become your best friend. We try to budget for one restaurant meal every two weeks. But if we are staying somewhere that is known for interesting food options, we may splurge. 

    Micheal and Tiffany Dunagan's RV at a campsite with a grill to cook outdoors

The great thing about RVing is that there is a style for every budget. You can boondock more to save money and be out in nature more, or you can stay in some very luxurious RV resorts. You can cook meals on the campfire or you can eat out for most of your meals. Knowing what you want to get out of RV life and setting (and sticking) to a realistic budget will help you live this adventure as long as you want.

This article does not constitute professional and/or financial advice. Please consult with a trusted advisor to determine the best course of action for your individual situation.

Class A RVs

Built with the same framing and construction as commercial trucks and buses, Class A motorhomes are some of the largest vehicles on the road. What does that mean for your next adventure? Lots of room to stretch out and get comfortable. From spacious sleeping and lounging areas to full kitchens to upscale bathrooms, Class A vehicles take features and amenities to a higher level.

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