Wants vs. Needs

Now that I am making roughly 25% of my income from last year, I really have to know the difference of needs vs. wants. It’s a necessity for me to be able to make this distinction, not a luxury. I know the four walls concept of needs: food, shelter, transportation and utilities. But of those, what is really necessary?

Food: I’m trying to eat healthy and find that my lowest bills at the grocery store have been lowest when I’ve stuck to just buying fruits and veggies. Once I allow myself to go to the natural foods store, I am veering into wants territory. My pets need to eat as well, so I order their food from this amazing company Chewy.com that ships your order for free, after $49. It’s not hard for me to meet that cutoff.

Shelter: I have a monthly lot rent of $215 and an RV payment of $82. I’ve been paying $100 on it just to start knocking away at the interest.  This is the cheapest I could find in this town, other than if I were to be boondocking, and then I’d need a bigger vehicle to pull this trailer.

Utilities: I have a cell phone and the second to lowest prepaid smartphone plan through Verizon Wireless – $60/month. I paid cash for the phone (an older Samsung Galaxy model, definitely not the fanciest and newest) so at least that’s not a recurring expense. I’ve been paying for my own internet network but just decided to cancel it and just rely on my park’s wifi. I might upgrade the data allotment for my phone and use it as a mobile wifi hotspot, since the internet alone is costing me over $70/month, which I find completely outrageous. The actual monthly bill is supposed to be $54.95, but thanks to “miscellaneous taxes and fees” (what a crock) that add on over 30% of the balance, it comes out to $73 for the month.  I plan on putting that savings toward the RV payment. 

My electric bill – well, this is what happens when the energy company in town has a virtual monopoly. The “Base Rate” is $22, and it even says on the bill that the lowest amount you can be charged, per month, is $35. Um, when I was in Boston, my electric bill for some months was about $19. So on the months that my bill is under $80, here, I think I’m doing well. Last month it was $77. Still, it totally burns me up to see that “base rate” pile of crap sitting on my bill. My heat in the RV is electric and I have bought two extra space heaters in case they are needed on top of the other winterizing I plan on doing and have done.

Propane. I have a propane tank that costs me $1 to rent for the year. Normal price is $82, but because of my employer, I do get a HUGE discount on that annual rent. Since i eat a lot of salads, that allows me to do less cooking. And I recently bought an electric frying pan from a thrift store so I can saute my veggies on there instead of using the propane on the stove. Even with the aforesaid *base rate* pile of crap, I think I will still save money by using the electric pan more often than the stove. It’s what I saw my mom do, growing up, while we were RVing.

Transportation: I’ve got a 2013 Mazda2. I wanted a newer vehicle with low miles for my move out here. People ask me if I could have brought my electric bike out here and used that to get to work. I suppose I could have, but I had noticed that the battery wasn’t lasting as long the last few months I used it in Boston. Also, most of the roads in the sanctuary are unpaved, so it would do a number on the tires, if not flatten them on a regular basis. It was more of a city bike. The loan payment on the car is $141.42 per month, and my plan is to go gangbusters on that loan as soon as the RV is paid off. The interest rate is quite low, about 2.99%. I get a discount on my gas because of my employer – it only ends up being about $.50 per fillup, but you know what? Every little bit counts and helps.


Entertainment: On the recommendation of a new friend and fellow RVer at my park, I did buy myself a small, cheap TV ($100 was my limit on it and I got it for $98 at Walmart.) Also bought myself an indoor antenna and I plan on getting about 13 channels for free. That is plenty for me, especially after not having TV for a few years. Just thinking ahead to the winter when a lot of stuff closes in this small town. If the park’s wifi doesn’t end up meeting my needs, I know where I can go and pick up various wifi signals, and also be around people.  Yes, I know this *need* for entertainment is really a *want*, and I do feel a bit guilty about it. Altogether, it cost me about $150 with the antenna and HDMI cable, and yes that equals two months worth of internet but after that, it’ll start paying itself off. That’s the way I am looking at it anyway.

I am somewhat counting some of the gas I pay for as entertainment. This is because, out here, you have to drive pretty much everywhere. If I want to go to a national park to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, I have to drive there. It costs money. But the relief and sense of satisfaction I get from being around such beautiful surroundings is priceless and something I’m willing to pay that little bit of money for.

I’ve met a group of very nice ladies who usually go out to dinner on Friday nights. Always to places that are inexpensive, thankfully, but they make a point of getting together and socializing. I’m glad to have been newly invited to the group and it’s something I am going to start budgeting for. I feel like this is a want and also a need – I need to be around people sometimes, in order to fight the loneliness that can inevitably creep in when you have moved to a new place.

My last want under “entertainment” is to be more creative. I am taking a course on blogging from the heart and hope it will help me improve the quality of my writing and subsequent posts. It was about $148 for six weeks, but I’m meeting new people and reading new blogs, and learning a lot as well as finding my community (or should I say, an additional community), and to me, that’s worth the price of the course.

What do you consider needs and wants in your life? Please drop me a line below – I love to read and respond to comments, and one of my goals and dreams is to grow this blog into a community of like-minded souls. As always, thanks for reading.

15 thoughts on “Wants vs. Needs

  • I love your posts. I like hearing about your costs and how you figure out what is worth it and what isn’t. Also the Greenies on Chewy.com are a great buy! You are very inspiring and it seems to me you are making the change with great grace and that cannot be easy.

    • Thanks for saying that, CArol, because sometimes I don’t feel like I’m handling things gracefully at all. By the way, one other thing I really like about Chewy is that if I have ever ordered something by mistake, rather than having me return the item, they tell me to donate it to an animal shelter or sanctuary and still refund me the cost. I think that’s pretty amazing.

  • Oh I meant to ask about any community gardens around where you live or if your friends and you could start one in your RV Park. I grow vegetables from seeds and then some put in the ground and others do better in containers (like peppers). Could be a way to cut costs further…just a thought

    • I don’t know of any community gardens around here, unlike back East, I could have told you about three of them! Some of my neighbors do have a lot of plants but they also have a lot more space than me, and probably more sunlight too. But it’s worth looking into to see if anyone would be interested in starting one. Thanks for the thought – I’ve definitely been thinking of what i can grow for myself next summer when the weather turns warmer again.

  • A friend of mine, Kim, was just in your area a couple of weeks ago, and she volunteered for a few days at an animal sanctuary. It occurs to me that the two of you may have met. She is a part-time RV’er in a Chevy-based Roadtrek. Ring any bells?

    HA! Never mind . . . I just read her current blog entry, and she mentions you by blogname, so guess you did meet up! Small world! You may see her comments on my blog from time to time.

    Virtual hugs,


    • I had no idea you guys were friends!! And yes, we did meet up and I’m so glad she was able to go to Lone Rock – that’s one of my favorite places I’ve found out here. I can just unwind and relax, and the water temps are pretty amazing, even now.

      She really inspired me with the Roadtrek – I’m definitely wondering what my next RV home would be when the time comes. 🙂

      • Strange! I was just standing at the sink starting dinner and wondered if you had seen my comment. It wasn’t two seconds later when my phone made its alert noise to signify a WordPress event! What a mind-blowing event!

      • Funny how that happens, huh? Yep, I can only respond to comments on my computer, so sometimes it is only once a day I can get in to check the blog for comments. It was super cool to meet her. What a small world!

  • Sounds like you are making smart choice and living deliberately. Thanks again for everything you are doing for all the animals!

    • Thank you, Kim! And it was sooo awesome to meet you in person and I’m so glad you made it out to Lone Rock. I love your photos of that special place! And I’m so glad you got to volunteer for a few days too!

  • Great post, Terri. My main comment is that good self-care (a need) includes certain things that nourish the soul, including social interaction and spiritual practice. It sounds as if for you the hours you spend at the parks fits the latter just as ladies-night-out does the former.

    • Thank you, DAvid. I was at Zion earlier today and it really did help nourish my soul after the past week and how rough things have been with the animals, etc. I do see groups of people and couples, though, and they do make me feel a bit lonely at times. But I’m working on it.

  • Sounds like you’re getting it all figured out Terri. Much respect goes out to you for making the huge transition across the country into unfamiliar territory and far away from friends and loved ones. Loneliness is like a black plague…some people escape, but most usually get a good dose of it. I know I do. Is the blogging class you’re taking an online class? I really want to learn how. I care about you and think you’re very special. Hugs from Kansas!!! Lol.

    • Yep, it’s an online class called Blogging From the Heart and it’s run by Susannah Conway. She’s in the UK, and I think with the exchange rate, it cost me about $137? There is a private facebook group, which is great for support, and you get assignments/prompts/interviews every week day for six weeks. We don’t talk about the mechanical stuff of setting up a blog so much as the content, how to be truthful and authentic, etc. Susannah is definitely both if you read her blog. (Just google her and you will find it.)

      Thank you very much for caring, I do appreciate it, and am not just saying that, Gary.

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