Friday, May 26, 2017

Money and the RV Travel Lifestyle

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You May be RV  Richer 
Than You Thought

    Last week’s post asked  Can You Afford RV Living? Now let’s look at the black ink side of the ledger. What money do you have? Where might new money come from? How can you make your RV dream come true?
    Get out a pencil and paper, literally or digitally.

Sources of Income in the RV Lifestyle
    Many RV travelers work as they go but here are some other ways you might have money coming to you.

    * Will you rent out your house or sublet your apartment?  How much money will be left over after paying the mortgage, rent, maintenance and management costs? 

    * If you are not going to sell your home, but will rent it while you travel in your RV, can you earn more by renting it piecemeal? For example, you may rent out empty land to a neighbor to garden or rent out an extra garage or outbuilding. 

    * If you own a campground lot that is in the rental pool, how much can you expect it to bring in per year? (How many nights a year will you be there yourself,  and what average occupancy rate can you expect when you’re gone?)

    * If you’re leaving your present home, are you due a refund of the utilities or damage deposit you paid when you moved in? 

    * Are you due money for alimony, inheritance, royalties or structured settlement?

    * Whether you are retiring or just leaving your job at a young age, meet with the Human Resources staff at your company to see what benefits are available. Even if you don’t have a pension, there may be funds  waiting for you in unpaid overtime, expense account refunds or sick pay . Important! Can you get a leave of absence or sabbatical that will allow you to keep some benefits while staying away for six months or a year?

    * If you’re going to travel by RV and have the discipline to handle a credit card without going into debt, forget cards that rebate in airline miles. Pay off the balance every month, get a no-fee card and elect the cash back option. Then charge everything, from fuel and food to campground fees. When you need the money, claim the accumulated rebates. They usually range from 1% to 3%. 

    * Review your life insurance situation. What do you have now? What do you need now? There may be accrued funds, such as interest, that you can withdraw now without reducing the death benefit. 

    * There is a penalty in closing a Certificate of Deposit before it matures but in a pinch you may be able to withdraw accumulated interest. 

    * Did you leave behind any items for sale in a consignment shop? You may be owed money.  

    * Every few years check for Unclaimed Assets in any state where you have ever lived or had financial dealings. You may have forgotten a bank account,  or a check might have arrived after your forwarding address expired.

Friday, May 19, 2017

What Does RV Life Cost?

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What Does It Cost in 2017 to Live and Travel in an RV?               

    Whoo, boy, that is a tough one. When I’m asked what it costs to live full-time in an RV, I have a question of my own. What does it cost to live in a farm house? A condo? A co-op?  Let’s think it through.

     The answer, is course, is HOW you live in that RV or condo or apartment. Do you eat your crackers with caviar or Cheez-Wiz? Do you take a fitness run every day or work out in a fancy gym?
    Do you play the Lotto? Have a $6 latte every morning? Do you have debts, such as student loans, that will follow you no matter where you go?
   There’s no substitute for making your own list of your OWN income and expenses.

Ongoing Costs
    If you have these expenses now, you will have them when you move into an RV.

 + Banking, brokerage, other financial services
 + Cell phone, ISP, domain
+  Child support, eldercare, alimony
+  Debt service (credit cards, car and/or RV payment, student loans)
+  Dues, church, charity
+  Entertainment (movies, books, music downloads, concert tickets)
+  Groceries, restaurants
+ Gifts
+  Health including insurance, co-pays, dental and eye care, vitamins, birth control, memberships or subscriptions such as a gym, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, )
+  Non-food supermarket purchases (paper goods, cleaning products)
+  Personal care (toiletries, cosmetics, hair salon, bling)
+  Pet care, food, supplies
+  Retirement fund contributions
+ Soft goods (wardrobe, shoes, household linens)
+  Sports and hobbies (lift tickets, greens fees, court time)
+  Subscriptions, publications (magazines, newspapers, online newsletters)    
+  Other obligations   

PROBLEM SOLVER: Sticky windows work easier, last longer when lubed with the new 3-In-One Window and Track Dry Lube. It's from the people who make WD-40, the RV woman's best friend. Windows glide open and shut,  yet this lube doesn't leave a sticky film that collects dust and debris. Love it! 

Expenses That May Change or Stop
    If you have these expenses now, they could change or stop if you hit the road with an RV as your only home.

+ Bus fare, commuting, uniforms, other costs related to your present life
+  Rent or mortgage, homeowner association fees
+ Utilities, home maintenance, yard care
+  Other

Expenses You’ll be Adding in the RV Life
    This involves from guesswork but start this list anyway. 

+ Any car,  truck or vehicle you’ll have in addition to the RV itself
+  Campsites
+  Furnishing a new RV (a one-time expense) plus regular additions to a replacement fund
+  Fuel, oil, propane, dump fees
+ Insurances specific to this new life
+  Mail forwarding service
+  Medical insurance (rates may change depending on your “home” state)
+  RV payments, maintenance, repairs, license
+  Satellite TV, Internet, radio. Phone
+  Storage unit, safety deposit box   

    By putting these items in black and white you have the big picture. Can you make it happen? It may be more possible than you think. 

PROBLEM SOLVER: The squealing and grating sound made by RV slides when they open and close is an increasing problem in campgrounds. It's annoying and it's also a sign that your slide's guts are suffering. Get 3-in-One RV Care Slide-Out Silicone Lube  It actually extends the life of the slide by protecting against water, abrasion, wear and corrosion. 

Next week: income to balance the expenses listed above. What resources do you have now? The answer may surprise you.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Real Stories from RV Full-timers

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Hot Flash: If you're on the road and need work, Amazon CamperForce is hiring in Kentucky.  Hookups available. Work this fall through December 23 at a fulfillment center,  filling Amazon orders. Then move on.

Facts from RV Folks
    Do you yearn to go on the road full-time in an RV that will also be your home? Here from my mailbox are frank comments from people who are living full-time in a motorhome or travel trailer. Some are singles, some couples. They asked to be anonymous. 

    Janet: What’s your plan for later, when you can’t handle full-time travel any longer?
    Fulltimer #1:  “ When I hang up the keys  I intend to buy a park model in an RV campground. This is the lifestyle for me for good. “

    Janet: Tell me your story.
    Fulltimer #2: I’m 34 and have been full-timing for two years in a Class C motorhome I bought used.  I work in campgrounds and Amazon fulfillment centers as needed to keep up with the payments. I’ll have more free time next year when the RV is paid off but for now it’s fun to travel to different jobs around the country. I have loved RV camping since I was three  years old and our family camped in a converted school bus. Now I’m living my full-timer dream and loving it .” 

    Janet: You two say you are 82 and 87 years old. Do you know what you’ll do when you have to give up the full-timing lilfe?
    Fulltimers #3. No but we are looking into the Escapees program in Livingston, Texas.
 This is our life. We will be RV-ers until we die.”

    Janet: You two have been full-timing 30 years now and your current RV is 19 years old. Tell me about your travels and your plans for the future.   
    Full-timers #4. Well, we’re now 72 and 80 years old and plan to move to an assisted living facility when we have to. For now we move on every one or two weeks. Our home base is Florida because we like the weather and we have relatives there. Our next purchase will be a new dinghy. That’s a car we’ll tow behind the motorhome. 

    Janet: You say you’re full-timing but find it hard to get by on $30,000 a year.
    Fulltimers #5. We love the motorhome but it’s time to settle down. We’re building a house in Florida and we'll get jobs there. We may go full-time again someday. Who knows?

    Janet: Tell me how you’re doing in your 38-footer on a budget of $50,000 a year.
    Full-timers #6. “We love our unique,  custom designed RV and have no plans to replace it but we couldn’t afford a newer model anyway. Ours is a diesel pusher with four solar panels on the roof to power our inverter. We survived a summer in Alaska and have seen much of America, with many places yet to be explored. We are trying to put something away for a rainy day. Our present motorhome was paid for through the sale of our home.”

    Janet: You two also live on $50K a year and your RV is a nine-year-old 35-footer. How is that working out?
    Full–timers #7 We will leave this life only when it’s time to go into a nursing home. Meanwhile we stay in one spot for six or seven months, then move on every three days or so for the rest of the year. Our most vexing problem is finding good motorhome service.

    These snippets are just a peek into the full-time RV life. It begins with making the decision and ends when you’re ready to move on to the next adventure. Want to go  NOW, not wait to retire?  I full-timed for 10 years, making a living as a freelance writer and author. My book Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition tells you how.

Friday, May 5, 2017

RV Travel: Downtown Mobile, Alabama

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 Springtime is the perfect time for a walking tour of vibrant downtown Mobile, Alabama

Miss Janet also took her SATW Traveling Teddy Bear to Mobile's Mardi Gras Museum so they could tell her 5th grade class about it. See

Meandering Downtown Mobile

Downtown Mobile, Alabama is walkable, talkable and taller than I remembered. I'd also forgetten how French it is. 

For 60 years in early America, today's Azalea City was the capital of French Louisiana. Its downtown streets are named for saints and Dauphin Street honors the French heir to the throne.

To make the most of a visit to a city, I like to park in one place and spend the day sightseeing without having to move the RV (or the toad, if I have one.) My schedule for the day might include museums, funky shops and other points of interest plus morning coffee, lunch,  afternoon drinks.
    With springtime breezes blowing and the Colonial Fort about to reopen as an exciting new attraction, it was time to case downtown Mobile. My first stop in a big city is usually a Gray Line bus trip or trolley tour to see get my bearings. In Mobile, it’s a Gulf Coast Duck Boat. In and out of the water, the amphibious craft hits all the points of interest and it's a barrel of fun too.  I had a glimpse of the vast USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park and put it on my must-see list for an all-day visit later.

    By the end of a Duck tour, you’ll have the lay of the land and a good idea of stops you want to make later. Here is just a taste of what’s within the downtown grid.:


* Serda’s Coffee Company for breakfast, morning coffee, lunch or an afternoon gelato. John Serda learned the coffee trade from the ground up as a student in Costa Rica. He imports, roasts and brews coffee fit for kings.  


    * Dauphin’s for a gourmet lunch with birds-eye,  34th-floor view of the city and bay. Owner and former NFL star Bob Baumhower is a masterful restaurateur who has put together a dazzling setting, gifted kitchen team and an extensive menu with sophisticated flair. 

    * Fathoms Lounge in the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel. This modern, high-rise hotel is a cool place for an afternoon refresher. Or drop into the Royal Street Tavern in the revered Battle House, also a Renaissance hotel.  This historic treasure has elegant touches worth a special visit just see the decor.

    * Bienville Books on historic Dauphin Street is a book lover’s paradise. If you’re like me, you could spend an entire day here.

    * The Colonial Fort of Mobile, founded in 1702, reopens soon as a modern, fast-paced, interactive attraction in the actual brick fort where it all began. Interpretive characters in period costume bring history alive for you from its French, Spanish, English and American past. Walk from here to the History Museum of Mobile, housed in an elegant old government building. Even if you have  no time to see the museum displays,  drop in to see the priceless WPA murals in the main entry.

    The vast vacationland that is southern Alabama is another story,  but for a day trip for city girl, downtown Mobile wins in a walk.

    See Janet Groene’s book Living Aboard Your RV, a Guide to the Full-time Life on Wheels, 4th Edition.


Friday, April 28, 2017

RV Women and State Laws

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The more toys you have with you, the more fun you'll have in your RV travels. 

State Laws and the RV Traveler

    Cross a state line in your RV, girlfriend, and suddenly  you may be breaking the law.    

     Whether you’re driving a motorhome with towed car or a car/truck towing a camper, it pays to pay strict attention to state laws and speed limits, which are often lower for vehicles with a tow. Most of the differences among states apply to towing but others apply to all vehicles such as right turn on red or whether it’s legal to have a firearm on board

    Also, seat belt laws for campers vary by state even though RV manufacturers are required to provide restraints only for front seat passengers. It’s just plain dangerous, and illegal in some places, not to have seat belt for back-seaters. (I’m personally also in favor of restraints for pets after my friend’s beloved parrot was killed in a collision and another friend was injured by a flying poodle in a panic stop.) 

    The speed limit if you’re towing a travel trailer may be much less than the speed limits for cars and it may be 10 mph or so less than  those in the state you came from. Allowable width of your trailer? It may be six inches less in one state than another.

    For example, when you cross over from Alabama to Mississippi, you could suddenly be exceeding the maximum towing speed, which is 10 mph  less. Or, your trailer could be too wide. Maximum width is 8 feet in some states, 8 1/2 feet in others. The requirement for trailer brakes is 1000 pounds less in one state than another.

    In addition, states differ on their rules about multiple trailers. If you're hauling a camper with a boat behind it, you'd be OK in one state, not in another. Overall length limits are set by states. Sometimes it applies to the trailer itself, sometimes to the trailer plus vehicle.

    Start with your own state, then keep asking questions as you travel.  Everywhere in the U.S., the trailer you're towing should have tail lights and a license plate light.
Definitions, sizes or requirements vary state to state but you'll also need: 

     Safety chains: These chains, which cross over in the shape of an X to connect the trailer to the tow vehicle, help prevent separation if the hitch connection fails.
    Brake lights: People behind you may not be able to see the stop lights in your car or truck. The towed trailer needs its own lights to indicate braking. Don't get rear-ended.
    Clearance lights: These are always a plus but may not be required. It depends on the state and the size of the trailer.
    Turn signals: For the same reason you need brake lights on the trailer, it’s a safety plus to have separate turn signal lights on the trailer.
    Reflectors: They are inexpensive, easy to install, use no energy and are a big plus in keeping your rig  visible.
    States may also require:
    Breakaway brakes: If your hitch fails, power brakes kick in.
Also good to have:
    Flares: If you need to stop a big rig you may not be able to clear the road completely. Give ample alert to oncoming traffic.
       Tie-downs: Get the best tie-down system suitable for the load, from lawn chairs on the rear end to a kayak on the roof. Learn to use it correctly. Bonus points if it locks, protecting your bicycle or canoe from theft. 

See Janet Groene's easy recipes for camping and RV at

Friday, April 21, 2017

Boost Your RV Cell Phone Signal

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Can You Hear Me Now?
    Are you getting enough use from your smart phone when you’re on the go in your RV? There are still many dead zones out there and many other regions where reception is slow or unreliable.  What do you need to know about cell phone signal boosters for vehicles?

    The test site rates ten units, scoring them them 7.48 to 9.8. Maximum gain (in decibels) in their tests is as low as 23 with their top six models delivering 50 db.  Test models  have 2, 3 or 5 frequency bands. Weights vary widely. The site’s  top award winning weBoost Drive 4G-M weighs just over a pound, with some models weighing as much as 3.5 pounds.

    The success of the new weBoost Drive 4G-X RVcell phone signal booster (it's made specifically for RV's)  brings up questions women should ask before spending several hundred dollars for such a unit.

    In addition to peace of mind, such a unit may also be a business tool that is (1) tax deductible or (2) paid for by your employer. Ask. 

      * I have a smart phone, laptop and a tablet. How many devices does this unit serve?

       * The installation of a booster in my office took hours, a technician and a mile of wires. Can I install and set up an RV unit myself? What is involved?
    * My last booster worked only with some cell phones.  Is this one compatible with all  major networks?

    * Just how much of a signal boost does it deliver?  Most units now promise “up to” 32X.

    * I love movies.  I hate dropped calls. Will it improve upload and download speeds? Voice quality? Signal reliability? 

    * What kind of warranty does it have? Money back guarantee? (The weBoost has a two-year warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee.)

* Does it work as well underway as when I’m parked?

* Does it require an antenna? Permanently mounted? Directional or omnidirectional?    

* Are any other accessories required at added cost?
See Janet Groene’s easy recipes for camping and RV travel at campandrvcook

For today, any day or Mother’s Day, Janet Groene’s paperback book Cooking Aboard Your RV, 2nd Edition, is filled with delicious shortcut recipes 

Leslie’s Lane

Leslie Royal is half sunshine, half jumping bean. An energetic writer,  she specializes in consumerism with endless tips for women on travel,  finance, freebies, scholarships and jobs.  Her upbeat enthusiasm is boundless and her smile lights up a room. You’ll see her features in magazines such as Essence, Fortune and Black Enterprise and perhaps you follow her blog, Leslie’s Lane. Now get her book.

Friday, April 14, 2017

RV Full-timing with Children? Homeschool Rocks

blog copyright janetgroene, all rights reserved. To ask about rates to place one ad for one year on all Groene sites email

This blog is available for Kindle by subscription. Amazon auto-sends it to your device each week.  Free trial.

What RV Women Need
To Know About Homeschooling

    Is your children”s school schedule keeping you from going full-timing? Homeschool can get you Out There sooner than you think. 

    For answers I went to Shirley M.R. Minster, M.S. Ed., a Master Degree certified teacher with credentials in education, educational guidance, and counseling. A founder of Royal Academy Education and a long-time leader in the homeschool field, she works full-time as an online teacher.
    Learn more about Royal Academy at

    QUESTION: I am a single mother on a budget. I can’t afford a large RV. What space do I need for a school setting?

     SHIRLEY MINSTER. A child needs only  a flat space on which to write or draw. The table is fine, but so is a lapboard.   Have a quiet area (the bed space, for instance) so reading and writing can be more focused. A good reading lamp is helpful, too, and internet capability. Younger children  need art materials, which can be boxed up so they don’t roll around.. I recommend a math textbook and some reading books, but with the accessibility of textbooks online, and excellent choices of literature online, space isn’t as much of an issue as in earlier years.
    Children can work inside or outside. Keep one school box per child so school materials are all together.

    QUESTION: When leaving a homeschool program, how can I return my children to  public school?
    SHIRLEY MINSTER. Records are important. Keep a portfolio for each year that each child was homeschooled. It should include the child’s picture, a list of courses completed, names of textbooks and materials used, a list of literature read,  field trips taken includingphotos of places visited and proof of projects completed (e.g., murals, posters, science experiments). (If you keep these reports and photos on a thumb drive, make sure to have a backup.)
    If you kept grades for your child, write out your grading scale (i.e., A = 90-100, B = 80-89). If you didn’t use a traditional grading system, write a simple explanation of how you knew when your child was ready to move on to higher levels. I also recommend that you include an explanation about the many enriching opportunities your child had while Rving.

QUESTION; Is any financial aid available?
SHIRLEY MINSTER. No, but look for materials in used bookstores, Goodwill, and Salvation Army stores as well as online. Suggest to family members that they give gifts of books and materials, but be specific so you have what can be used that year. If you have more than one child, look for materials that can be re-used.

QUESTION: My son has ADHD and is now in a special program in public school. Is it fair to him to try homeschool?
SHIRLEY MINSTER: Often a child with ADHD is very successful in homeschool because he can focus on one subject at a time for a smaller amount of time. The atmosphere is more conducive too. There is no classroom noise, no other students distracting him. Because you are celebrating what he is learning and his personal interests, he will enjoy homeschooling, too.

QUESTION; When I’m on the road, all alone, where can I get help?
SHIRLEY MINSTER.  First, go to state and national websites. They often list free, downloadable materials. Also, check out the state library. AAA and the National Park Service have  interesting materials, many of them free.I also work with families who are on the road, on the ocean, in the air!
JANET GROENE ADDS: There are also online support groups for full-timers with children such as (www.) and (www.) 

QUESTION: How far can my children go in homeschooling?
SHIRLEY MINSTER: You can continue through high school. Students who are considering college can take online courses. Some parents stay in one location for a semester so their high schooler can attend a local college on campus. If a student is considering a career in science, it’s important to have lab equipment and materials available. They can be purchased through supply companies. Your child can take an online course, do the experiments in the RV, and complete the course.

QUESTION; I don’t have a college degree. Can I handle homeschooling for my kids?
SHIRLEY MINSTER: One does not need a college degree to homeschool. If the parent does not feel qualified, either hire a tutor for that  subject or enroll the student in an online course. A LIVE-TIME course is better, in my opinion, than one that has been taped because the student can ask questions immediately rather than emailing questions and waiting  until the teacher gets back to him.

QUESTION; Tell us more about your role.
SHIRLEY MINSTER: Royal Academy is a full-time, internationally accredited, year ‘round school. Our staff will design the program that best fits your child. We work live-time (personally present) with each child .We also write courses to fit each student. Some classes have up to 5 students and they can interact, encourage, and have fun with others. Other courses are taught one-on-one. Our teachers and staff love to travel, too, so you’ll be talking with like-minded folks!

JANET GROENE. Thank you, Mrs. Minster. /

RV Travel on a Budget, a Mother and Son Guide to Roadschooling the USA is available at