This Saturday we almost bought an RV. We have been prospecting for the past few weeks and visiting various local RV dealers. At our third RV dealer, we got double teamed by a couple of manager+trainee (I believe). After mentioning our frugal budget, we got steered in the direction of a 34′ class A (1991 Georgie Boy Encounter). This unit had no slide outs but it was 5 feet longer than anything we have previously considered. So far we have had me pulling for smaller sizes and DW pulling for larger sizes. For me it is a compromise between size and maintenance/depreciation costs. We’re still rookies (and the salespersons can really smell that) and thus I don’t want to go very high for our first model (which may be our last?!). I basically the costs of this one sunk.

(*) For the experts, we’re looking to become full-timers but generally not to drive the thing around (e.g. the equivalent of a house boat). We have considered the idea of a fifth wheel, but we don’t have a truck, also we would like to avoid commuting in a truck.

For that reason I am also forcing myself to go slow (When they started talking about price, the first “number” was “under $20,000. Then after my hemming and hawing (Yeah, dude, just try to get me excited about spending money, I challenge you! :-P ), the numbers started dropping “$18,000″, “$16,000″, “$14,000″. Then they went inside and left us alone (presumably a salestrick). Out comes the general manager with a new number “$12,900″(**).
Now I could sell a few positions and have that money in a few days, but I don’t think that would be the best way to do it. Instead I propose each of us saving $1000 a month. That way we should have a useful amount of money in 6 months which is a reasonable amount of time to make sure that we really want to do it. If we can not manage to accumulate the money and ditch enough stuff, I think we’re not ready. Doing a lifestyle change on the spur of the moment is just bound to end badly.

(**) I later checked the blue book value and this number was around the low end. Just goes to show how little we know.

Another stumbling block which I think should be cleared first is to literally get rid of a lot of the stuff we have. Now, I don’t think we have a lot, but we certainly have more than what will reasonably fit in an RV. Besides, if you moved recently, you know that people usually are surprised to learn how much more they have when it’s all out on the floor compared to when it’s stored in closets, drawers, etc.
In my case, I pride myself on not having much clothes, but I still have enough to get dressed for about 10 days without doing laundry. I still think it would be impossible to fit that into a tiny RV closet. In addition there’s my text book addiction. I have a lot of 1200 page books on investments and economics. Those would be nigh impossible to sell (They fetch $1–$3 on the used market) and are difficult to borrow in the library. On top of that I have a bunch of weights, rings, clubs, vests, etc. Other than that, I think I’m good. DW+common possessions, not so good. Therefore we’re having a yard sale the coming weekend.

In terms of getting rid of stuff, I think a good list of guidelines are

  1. If you are surprised to learn that you actually own “one of these” it definitely goes, no excuses.
  2. If it has cob webs on it, the spider says it goes. After all possession is 9/10 of the law.
  3. If it has not been used for a year or I would say even over a month it goes. A month is probably a very stringent goal and I am certainly guilty of violating that limit. However, except for a few books, I don’t think I own anything else I wouldn’t sacrifice for the “year”-rule.
  4. If it doesn’t “fit”, it goes. This goes literally for clothes, but it also goes toys that are no longer acceptable in your current life. Like the beer bong or the 300W mono amp.
  5. If there is a double, one goes. For instance, there’s no reason to own two waffle irons or two lawnmowers.

I think this list is self-evident and a fairly good starting point. I’ll let you know how our yard sale goes next Saturday.

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