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.