Handling money while RVing
Friday, November 06, 2020
No one talks about it much, but handling money is a part of traveling. You need to decide how you want to manage your financial affairs during an extended RV trip. Adjust the hints below based on your comfort level with the internet and philosophy on money.
Paper bills in your forwarded mail may be delayed for weeks. Instead, plan to use the online billing option for everything you can. Use the automatic payment option when you can, too, so you won’t accidently miss a due date.
We don’t like to automate credit cards so we can check for errors or someone using our card number. But for most other bills, we automate the billing if the company has that option.
ATMs are useful for cash or deposits (watch for added fees). Yet there are times you need a physical bank and your local bank will most likely be far away. It is best to open an account in one of the big banks. Wells Fargo has the most branches in the U.S. but is not in some states. Chase and Bank of America are also popular.
Learn how to use the online banking app for your bank. You can check your accounts, balance your checkbook, and transfer money easily. You should also learn how to use the online check deposit option that most large banks have on their phone app. This will save you a trip and is quite easy and safe.
The first assumption is that you have a credit card or two. These should be used for most purchases. There are people that like to use cash as much as possible, but, frankly, it can be difficult if you are traveling the country in an RV (though not impossible). On the other hand, the world of camping uses cash more than you expect.
You will want to stock some cash in your RV for those times when you can’t reach your bank or ATM. Having several hundred dollars in $20s hidden away can be very helpful. Make sure you also have enough $5s and $1s for things like toll roads.
A roll or two of dimes and nickels are good to have but are not as critical as quarters. Having $50 to $100 of quarters sounds like a lot, but they are handy for laundry. Most RV parks can sell you a roll of quarters, but it can be more difficult at other parks. Plus, having quarters in your RV is more convenient.
Note that theft is rare in camping. Most of it involves things left outside the camper. Of course, you should make sure you lock your RV when you leave the campsite. Just in case, there are lots of cubbyholes in an RV that may not be obvious to a thief where your cash can be hidden. Storing money in those spots may be more for peace-of-mind but it doesn’t hurt.
Doing taxes in an RV isn’t that different from your process at home. Set up a folder in your RV to collect tax information. If you will be away from your home during tax season, make sure you have the years documents with you when you need it.
You can use tax software like TurboTax or every town has an accountant or tax firm that you can visit. Once you are done, submitting your taxes online is easier and more convenient than printing and mailing your forms. You will also get a refund quicker this way (best to have it deposited directly to your bank account).
Very occasionally you may need to print something. Some people have printers in their RV. If you don’t, many times an RV park will let you print something free or for a small fee. Most libraries will print what you need for a fee even if you don’t have a library card. Make sure you have a memory stick along with you to transfer the files for printing.
The more you plan for your financial needs before you leave on your trip, the better.
- Use online billing and automatic payment whenever you can.
- Open up an account with one of the big three (Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America).
- Use the internet for everything you can.
- Have a credit card and use it.
- Have some cash with you.
- Keep your tax records organized.
- Own a memory stick/USB flash drive.
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