Thursday, August 29, 2013

My Old Pal

This has been a difficult month for us. We lost our loyal and faithful border collie, Charlie, to cancer. He has joined his two "brothers" across the Rainbow Bridge. Each one of our three boys was 14 years old upon his passing. Our beagle Shadow crossed with on Christmas Day from cancer, just before we became "snowbirds." Then we lost Buddy, our long-haired orange cat, to kidney disease on Valentine's Day of this year.

Each of our pets chose us, rather than us choosing them. Charlie came to us on an airplane from Florida to New York when he was 8 years old, after Jim's Aunt passed away from cancer. He was such a good boy, and I am so happy that he was able to return there one last time. Shadow was an abused and abandoned doggie when he appeared on our doorstep, but in time, he became the boldest one of the threesome. His endless energy filled our days with joy. Buddy came with our home, after we told the sellers "no, we really don't want a cat." But leaving that sweet, demanding ball of fur behind for us was the most wonderful, unexpected housewarming gift that we received.

With Emmie off to college, we are empty nesters once again, and even more so without our beloved fur babies to keep us busy. I have submerged myself into writing pieces for an upcoming anthology of memoirs along with a couple of nonfiction articles that plan to pitch this week. I am looking forward to our next trip down the East Coast in mid-October - the ocean reminds me that God is all-powerful and has prepared a grand reconciliation for all believers.

Monday, August 5, 2013

RV Living Frugality - Part I

Everyone makes a trade-off at some point in life. For example, your family may skip eating at restaurants for a year to save money for a kitchen remodeling project. The questions to ask yourself are, what do I want and how can I get it?

Those of us who travel around the country by RV choose to give up many of our personal possessions in exchange for new adventures and friends. We must run a tight ship, so to speak, in order to afford the “upscale” vagabond lifestyle. Since so many people have asked me how we can afford RV living, I have prepared a list of money saving tips for the basic necessities.
  1. Food – Clip coupons and shop the sales, especially buy 1 get 1 free deals. Stir-frying on the grill is a healthy and affordable. Crockpot meals = leftovers for a second dinner. Instead of going out to eat, buy a good quality frozen meal for a special meal. Eat lighter and get in shape!

  2. Clothing & Household Items –Shop end of season clearance sales and make routine visits to thrift shops. Go yard-sailing. Save time and find the best variety online using the free ship-to-store option. Choose multi-tasking items like apparel pieces that you can mix, match, and layer (another example: a Pyrex measuring cup for measuring AND microwaving foods).

  3. Shelter – Shop around for the best RV deals and bank interest rates; don't rule out pre-owned models. Weigh comfort and storage needs with style, and factor in the cost of maintenance. Consider adding a portable patio room to a small unit for increased living space. Ask about single night campsite discounts for boon-docking (dry-camping with no hookups). Skip the park and take advantage of free overnight parking (some Wal-marts and Cracker Barrels allow it, but always ask first). Make reservations for state and national parks or VFW campsites. Most RV parks offer discounted lot rates for monthly and seasonal rentals. Barter your expertise or services in exchange for a discount.

  4. Transportation – Tow a light, economy vehicle (we call these toads). Buy a scooter, which can get up to 75 miles per gallon of gas. Plan to stay in walking or bicycling distance to a grocery store or a discount department store; bring backpacks along to carry your purchases back to your campsite (baskets for bicycles). Long-term RVers might consider trying to find a campground near the public bus route. Taxis are for emergencies only!

    Stay tuned for more tips in part II of RV Living Frugality...