Friday, January 20, 2017

RV Traveler and Broke? Here's Relief

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 When You’re on the RV Road
And  Need Cash NOW


    Did you ever find yourself out of money and far from home while traveling in your RV? Maybe it’s a repair shop that won’t take a check or credit card. Or your credit cards are maxed out. Or there’s a snafu at your bank and no ATM will give you money. 


     Here are ways to raise cash soon or sooner,  no matter where you are. 

 
Pawn Shops
    Pawn valuables for cash and reclaim them later when you have the money to repay the loan with interest. If not, the pawn shop sells your stuff. 
    Pro: you leave the shop with cash in your pocket.
    Con: you don’t get full value for the goods. Pawnbrokers assume risk  and deserve a profit.
    411: Interest rates, time limits and other terms of the loan are set by state law and vary according to where you are. Understand your rights and risks. Get it in writing.

Consignment Shops
    Clothing and antiques are popular consignment items but some shops accept anything from tools to appliances. 
    Pro: No up-front cost.
    Con: You surrender your goods and, depending on the contract, may never get them back. Seller keeps 40- to 50%. Items may sell slowly or not at all.   
    411: Shopkeepers are choosy,  may not accept everything you bring. They set the  price, may reduce it over time, then may donate your items to a charity after a certain length of time. Know your rights to reclaim goods that don’t sell. Some shopkeepers pay only once a month or only when your account reaches a certain amount, so you could have a long wait for your money.   


Online Selling
    The largest and best known of sites are Etsy and eBay, where you can sell almost anything to almost anyone. There are tricks to the trade and not everyone makes money. In fact, you may have to pay to list items whether or not they sell.
    Pro: you’re advertising to a worldwide audience. Some items sell better overseas.
    Con: you have to pack and ship items, pay a listing fee,  and pay a commission on sales.  Unless you name a reserve price you have to accept whatever the auction brings. Working through local sites in person can be awkward, even risky.
    411: entire books are written on successful eBay selling, so expect a long learning curve. Note:
Cragislist is a well established site for local sales and LetGo is an app that is also city-specific. Craiglist is free but geared to local audiences. LetGo has limited coverage.

Yard Sales
    This is the easiest way to raise cash. Simply unload things in the RV that you can do without. It's unlikely the campground will allow you to have a sale at your site.  If you sell at a flea market you’ll have better crowds but you must pay a fee to set up there.  It’s free to set up in a friend’s yard or at a country crossroads, but results could be iffy.
    Pro: cash in your pocket today.
    Con: it’s hard work to assemble, price and display goods.   
    411: Yard sale thieves are on the prow. Don’t let anyone inside your RV.  Be suspicious of personal checks. Have one or two trusted helpers . Never leave your goods or cashbox  unguarded.  Most yard sale amateurs price items too high or too low. Check prices online to get a ball park idea of what things are worth. Be prepared to haggle, but don’t cave  too early in the day. Most yard sale goers turn out early, fold about noon, so you might tell earlybirds to come back in a few hours to see if you're reducing prices. It's likely they'll pay your pride rather than risk losing the item.


Borrow Against Life Insurance
    If you have had  a policy for more than a few years, it has probably built up some equity and may also have accumulated dividends. Ask if you can withdraw the dividends or borrow against the equity.
    Pro: the company already has a relationship with you, so money comes quickly and you’re charged a low rate of interest.
    Con: if you don’t repay the loan it comes out of the benefit paid to your heirs.
    411: the policy might also be used as collateral for a loan, leaving your life insurance untouched. 

 
Structured Settlements
    If you get regular payments from a lottery win, jackpot, annuity or lawsuit settlement, you might sell the contract in exchange for a one-time cash payment. Do an online search for Sell Structured Settlement. Dozens of company names pop up. Shop and compare.
    Pro: it’s an easy way to get your own money all in a lump.
    Con: you’re sacrificing reliable, long-term income for a short-term fix. It takes time to shop wisely. Even then you’ll probably get less than if you let the contract play out.
    411: there may be tax consequences. 


Cash Transfers
    In this electronic age it’s still possible to get physical cash from far-away friends or family in the form of a postal money order,  cash sent by registered mail or via Western Union.  Transfers can be purchased online at WesternUnion.com, on the phone using a credit card,  or in person at a Western Union location. At the post office, use registered mail, which requires signatures all along the route.

Do you yearn to live the full-time life on wheels? Janet Groene full-timed for ten years, making a living as a freelance travel writer and author. Her book starts with making the decision and choosing the right rig, then goes through every step of the way.  Be sure to get the latest edition. See Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Staying Fit on the RV Road

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. To ask about rates for one ad, one year, all seven Groene sites email janetgroene@yahoo.com


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A Perfect Fit

    Is your fitness program giving you fits because you are  always on the go in your RV?  Here's how to take it with you. 



National chains such as  Gold's Gym, 24 Hour Fitness, Anytime Fitness, LA Fitness, and Curves allow you to have consistent service, equipment, coaching and program anywhere you are. 

Here are just some of many options for women on the go:
    BlueCross/BlueShield members get discounts on a choice of more than 9.000 fitness centers through a program known as Blue635. Ask. 


    Camping resorts offer fitness centers with widely varying rules and facilities. This information may not be on the campground’s website. Keeping up a consistent workout program will require research.

    Franklin Antoian is one of Shape Magazine’s Top 50 Trainers in America and
 founder of the online personal training website,  iBodyFit.com.  Take a look at it. He also suggests looking into LA Fitness, which he says has a  version of membership that allows use of any facilites in the country.
    Some areas of the country are heavily covered by LA Fitness while other areas have no sites at all, so look at their map at LAFitness.com to see how if this chain might fit into your travel plans.

    Koko FitClubs are found in almost every state at more than 100 sites throughout North America. Members are welcome at all of them at no added cost. The concept is based on individual attention, caring coaching, technology. Try it free for a month for $30. Annual memberships start at $59 monthly. Whether you want to lose weight, manage chronic pain, get healthy, build muscle or just start moving again, Koko has a plan just for you.

    Motels and hotels usually have a fitness center and swimming pool and may offer a day pass or monthly membership to outsiders. Call ahead to ask about rules, rates and whether  parking is available for an RV.

    YMCA/YWCA centers throughout North America may offer a guest visit for free or fee.
Facilities and staffing vary according to location but most offer swimming,  while many gyms do not.

What to look for and look out for:

 
    * According to the Florida Attorney General complaints against fitness club contracts are second only to complaints about robot calls. Shop carefully, know what you’re getting at all sites and read the contract. Try before you buy.


    * Understand each company’s philosophy. Is your goal overall wellness, strength training, weight loss, mental calm or training for a specific sport? What protocols are available and what certifications do staff have?


    * Senior discounts and family memberships can be found. Shop around.  Know not just the cost of membership but what you get, and do not get, for the price. Is the use of some facilities at extra cost?


    * How convenient are the gym’s hours and are they the same at every member of the chain?  Some are open 24/7.


    * Is the gym registered with the state consumerism department? Have any complaints been filed? If so, how were they resolved?


    * Does the gym require a long-term commitment? It's a good rule of thumb to avoid long contracts.


    * Does the gym charge an up-front fee? Service fees, such as registration fees, membership fees, processing or start-up fees, may be required. However, says the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, it must be considered a "reasonable and fair service fee," meaning no more than 10 percent of the contract price.


        * What's the best way to pay? Use a credit card, debit card or check to pay each month.


         * Setting up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account may result in problems if there is ever a dispute. Is there a cancellation fee?  Does your state law allow penalty-free cancellation in writing within X days? 
Beware of automatic renewal clauses.  Some travelers find they have been automatically signed up for another year and charged to their credit card.

    * What laws in your state are in place to protect contract signers in case the gym closes or moves?



Friday, January 6, 2017

Spot On Tips for RV Cleaning

Blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. To ask about the rate for your ad, one link, one year (52 weeks), all seven Groene sites email janetgroene@yahoo.com

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Out, Out, Damned Spot! 

    Stubborn water spots are an eyesore on a shiny RV surface and it’s getting harder to avoid them.  Why? Many campgrounds, parks and cities now use treated waste water to irrigate landscaping, lawns and golf courses. The water has been sanitized, of course, but it leaves crusty water spots that are very difficult to clean.  In some regions even  rain or drinking water can leave your RV windows and paint full of spots.

 
    Here some spot-on tips for RV cleaning problems.

    * Sprinkler heads can get out of adjustment. If you find your campsite gets overspray from the campground’s automatic sprinkler system ask the manager to readjust the spray pattern.

    *  If you use a commercial, drive-through truck wash it’s likely their water is already filtered. If you wash your RV yourself, consider buying an in-line water filter that screws on the hose. It removes contaminants that occur even in city water.

    * Don’t use just any detergent. Cleaners that are formulated to wash an RV are gentle on the surface, tough on dirt and they won’t destroy a good wax job.

    *  A telescoping brush handle helps you reach high spots on the RV.

    * Never wash the RV in the sun. Wash small areas at a time. Rinse diligently to remove all soap residue and any abrasive dust or grit. Dry quicklyInvest in a large, extra-flexible, extended handle squeegee to dry contoured surfaces.

    * Wax the RV’s exterior regularly to keep deposits or bugs from getting a grip.

    * Buy a yard or two of inexpensive nylon net and wad it up as a scrubber for stubborn bug stains and bird droppings. It won’t scratch the paint or gel coat. Don’t use green pads, which are more abrasive.

    * Some stains such as bird poop, nuts, acorns and bug splats contain chemicals that can permanently etch paint or gel coat. Remove than ASAP. Spray gently at first with distilled water or club soda to soften a spot that has dried on.

    * Stubborn sap and tar stains get more stubborn as they get older. Try dishwashing detergent, hot water and patience. Commercial products from the auto supply store are a lifesaver, but follow directions for your own safety as well as the RV. 


Do you dream of going RV full-timing? You can do it now at any age with tips from Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition. Chapters tell how to choose the RV and furnishings, find work on the go, homeschool children and cope with the problems and pleasures of RV life.


See Janet Groene's recipes and camp cooking tips at Camp and RV Cook.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Donate Your Old RV?

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. To ask about rates for one ad, one year, all seven Groene sites, email janetgroene@yahoo.com


That derelict RV in your back yard may be worth more as a charitable tax deduction than you think. Get it towed away for free. 

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 Donate Your RV
    Do you have an RV that you no longer want?  Sometimes an old RV is worth more as a charity  tax deduction than as a trade-in.  And, if it can’t be moved, it’s a plus to have a charity  tow it away and give you a tax receipt.
   
    The airwaves crackle with catchy jingles about the  the good things that this or that charity will do with the money received from your donated vehicle. You get the tax deduction and, in most cases the charity will remove it free. 

    Not so fast. Start with a search for “donate+RV”. Most charities that accept cars also accept motorhomes, travel trailers and other RVs. Next check with the IRS to make sure the charity is  registered as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.

    This means your tax deduction is probably OK with the IRS. It does NOT mean that the charity does the good works it claims to. 

    Now go to websites such as Charity Navigator and find out where the money actually goes. Even at some of the best-known charities, huge chunks of money are siphoned off by bloated  executive salaries, fund raising, advertising, travel and other hijinks . Sadly, say the watchdogs, only about a third of Americans investigate those heart-rending ads for hungry children or abused animals.

    Through Charity Navigator you can learn how much of the group's  money actually goes to fight disease or feed children versus how much is spent for fund raising, salaries, travel and other perks.  Then look further to see if monies are used in a meaningful and effective  way.  What cancer research, where? What children or animals are helped? Where, how and by whom? 

    Still interested? Here is what to do. Know your vehicle’s year, make, model, approximate mileage and its condition inside and out. Pictures help.  You will need either a title or registration and bill of sale for your RV. Some organizations will work with you to get a replacement title. If your RV is an orphan, try to connect online with an owners’ group such as Fan owners. They can tell you where to look for the VIN.

      Remove your license plates before the RV is picked up. To transfer the title, put your name in the seller section exactly as it appears on the face of the title. Be sure to get a tax-deductible receipt from the charity so that you can claim your deduction. You may have to keep after them to issue it.  If you feel you have been flimflammed, report them to the IRS. 

Lastly, don’t be too quick to give your RV away. Older RV’s are coming back into vogue and are commanding good prices from people who restore them. You may be able to sell it regardless of condition.                          





  

Friday, December 23, 2016

Better View: Windows for a Better RV

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. To ask about rates for one ad, one year, all seven Groene sites, email janetgroene@yahoo.com

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 Sometimes it's best to hire a professional to re-window your RV for better insulation, clearer view or easier operation.










Windows on the RV Scene

by Janet Groene
     The windows in your RV look out on a different scene every day, a panorama of wonders. The view is a constant reminder of why you went RV-ing in the first place. Yet windows can get cranky, break, leak or let in too much heat or cold air. 

"With a little guidance and the right parts, anyone can repair their windows on their own," said Dave Pallas, President of SWISCO, a supplier of replacement window hardware. Here are his tips.

1) Faulty Windows - If windows won't open or won’t stay open, it may just be a matter of adjusting or replacing existing hardware. For hung windows that open up and down, first inspect the sash support system. Most sash support systems are located on the sides of the window and may be hidden by a cover. Inspect your sash support system and see if it's causing your window to fall or stick. For a casement or awning window that cranks open with a handle, it may just be a matter of replacing the handle mechanism.

Janet adds: sticky windows may be your first clue that the RV or slide frame is twisting or sagging. Windows may get balky if wood rot has invaded supporting wood structure. If changes occur, find the cause. It could be serious.

2) Drafty Windows. Replacing weather stripping is an easy solution. Weatherstripping, which comes in many types,  is used around the perimeter of your window sash. Make sure you get a compatible size and shape.

3) Security - Broken window locks and latches should be replaced for your security and safety.    "This is probably one of the easiest DIY projects," promises Pallas. "Just be sure the replacement parts you order match in size to the old ones."
Janet adds: you may have to get these parts from your RV manufacturer or a camping supply store. 

4) Broken or Foggy Glass - If the glass in dual pane windows is foggy, it means the insulated seal was broken and the insulated glass unit needs to be replaced. It’s best removed and replaced by an RV professional.

5) Damaged Window Screen - Window screens, like glass, can be replaced. Keep your old screen so you can take it to be measured for a replacement. If your screen frame isn't damaged, it can be reused and fitted with new screen mesh.
Janet adds: don’t settle for just any screen mesh. Many materials,  colors and gauges are available. Be sure, however, to replace with a screen that matches existing screens or the new one will stick out like a sore thumb.

Although aimed more at the home owner than RV-ers, some useful window information is found at swisco.com.

  Stocking your RV pantry for boondocking, Quartzite or emergencies? Survival Food Handbook is a guide to choosing and using staples from the supermarket. No high-priced survival foods needed.

Friday, December 16, 2016

RV Women Find a Way

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. To ask about rates for one ad, one year, all seven Groene sites email janetgroene@yahoo.com




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Like Hacks for the RV Woman
 
    * Just between us girls, i-Cool towelettes were developed for hot flashes but now they are catching on for use by both men and women of all ages.  Thanks to natural botanicals the cooling effect lasts up to 30 minutes. Apply to the back of the neck, inside wrists then wipe your brow. Use them in the gym, for active sports on steamy days, when cooking and for many other cool-off needs.


    * I don’t get car sick when driving but I’m not a good passenger.  Back seats are especially upsetting to those who are prone to motion sickness. Psi Bands (pronounced sigh bands) are a drug-free accupressure cure for motion sickness. Many people swear by them.
    Keep them handy for guests too, and slip them on before going out on the water.  The secret to preventing seasickness is to keep it from happening in the first place. The bands are re-usuable and available in kicky designs including unisex. Simply wear them on both wrists.  Psi Bands are cleared by FDA.


    * Wear a USB Drive Medical Dog Tag. If you’ve been to a doctor lately you know how long it takes to fill out all the forms. As a traveler you could see new doctors any time. They need to know your medical history, the medications you’re currently taking, your insurance information and who to contact in case of emergency. Now everything can be entered by you on one USB drive to go everywhere with you. Each medical facility you visit can just download into their database.


     * Expand counter space in your RV galley with a cutting board that fits over the sink and also serves as a colander. RV sink sizes vary, so measure first to make sure it will fit. There are many sizes and styles.  I like this one.

    * Fly the American flag in your campsite and you’ll make friends quickly. This sturdy flag is sewn, not printed, to stand up to years of sun, wind,  furling, flapping and unfurling. The 14 X 18-inch size is just right for RV use.  


    * My needs for storage swell and shrink with the times. Preparing for a long spell of boondocking I load up on supplies. That’s where this fold-up storage crate comes in. It’s good for collecting firewood around the campsite, a catch-all, an extra pantry for canned goods for a month in the outback. When it’s empty, just fold and stow. 


    * A compact luggage trolley stows in very little space yet can carry big loads of laundry, firewood, food supplies, jerry jugs and other campground cargo.

     * A roll-on-on suitcase is an instant storage bin. It’s easy to slide it in and out of storage spaces such as the RV basement or under a dinette seat. And it means you’ll always have a suitcase on board in case you have to leave the RV during repairs or take a flight during a family emergency. 



See Janet Groene's RV-ready recipes at http://www.campandrvcook.blogspot.com