Stay frugal or go big?

Discussion in 'General Camping Discussion Forum' started by jcrew6311, Mar 18, 2017.

  1. jcrew6311

    jcrew6311 Member

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    I know my question is a personal decision but wanted input from others on what you guys would do...

    Background info...
    *Financial goal- pay off 168k left on mortgage in 5 years and be 100% debt free with a rental property and our residence paid off with at that point very very good income flow.
    *Family- right now we have a almost 4 year old and a 1 year old.
    *Current camper- a 2003 Coleman Taos I got last year for $2300. No sink on the inside.
    *Our vacations- 3-5 days in San Diego or los Angeles areas w beaches and theme parks.

    So, with that in mind, here's my dilemma. Our vacations in the ultra tiny Taos have been anything but relaxing and convenient with 2 little kids. All of our cold food is crammed and soggy in a ice chest cooler, our stuff is scattered everywhere, and literally we can only use our camper for sleeping in because there's no space to do anything in it, even hang out. Our kids need space that this Taos isn't providing anymore. Now, near me locally I just saw a 2007 Niagara high wall with slide out, shower, ac etc going for $7k and looks in excellent condition. I also saw a 2002 Coleman Bayside almost the same space minus the shower for $3500. I am so tempted to get one of these, but as I stated above, my wife and I have been dead set on paying our house off asap. I told her once we pay it off, we will upgrade and there will be similar deals available then. Also, by then the children will be 8 and 5 and really ready for more room and longer vacations. It's just very hard right now because I must say our camping experiences have not been easy at all because of our lack of amenities needed when with little ones.

    So would you all take the better deals now or stick to your financial goals first before?
     
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  2. jumpoff

    jumpoff I'm in a camping state of mind

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    You are very ambitious financially and have set really good goals...congratulations for that. However as I can tell I'm quite a bit older I can tell you from experience that you never get your family time back. I would say reward your family with whichever one you want. Besides think of it this way....the only money you really spend when you buy a used camper is the difference between what you pay for it and what you eventually sell it for. So if you spend 7000 and sell it a few years later for 5000 you're only really spending 2000.
     
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  3. JPBar

    JPBar Well-Known Member

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    Agree with ^^
     
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  4. jcrew6311

    jcrew6311 Member

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    Thanks for that idea. I completely agree but I'm also wondering if this "issue" is more of a it would be a struggle regardless of what we are in because 3 and 1 is just a hard combination in general. I'm wondering if when our 1 is 3 and 3 is 5 if the Taos wouldn't be sufficient because they would be a bit more calm and able to listen to directions.
     
  5. soft 17

    soft 17 Active Member

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    Kinda in the same boat and decided that taking on the new debt of a new pop up is worth it for the family time to come. Although we are close to paying off our house we have lost the enjoyment of ground tent camping and having a pop up with all the amenities will bring back the desire to camp more. We ordered a new one and have planned multiple trips! Hope you make a decision that works best for your family.
     
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  6. CamperMike

    CamperMike Active Member

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    As the kids get older they still enjoy the space. I would get an older 12' camper possibly with a slide out. It might delay paying off the house slightly but really what's the rush? And realistically you will be selling the Taos so you wouldn't be out that much money. By the way I am frugal with money but also realize that if the small camper is preventing you from having fun the savings isn't Worth it. The $1500 or so it cost us to upgrade from an 8' to a 12' with amenities a few years ago was so with it. We also have two kids and at the time of the upgrade they were maybe 2 and 6. Now they're 6 and 10.
     
  7. bknjohnson

    bknjohnson Tyngsboro MA

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    Very admirable financial goals, would love to be in that situation and congratulate you on attempting to stay on that path. In my experience, there will very likely be more significant life changes which will extend your five year mortgage pay-off goal. "Unknown unknowns" could be medical bills, repairs to the house, replacing a vehicle, education expenses, job changes so many things could happen in the next few years that make that five year plan extend to six years, seven years, etc. For example you do not say what your tow vehicle is, if you upgrade to the newer PUP will your TV handle it? How much can you budget for any repairs to the new-to-you PUP that you may need? Do you have any other known large expenses coming up?

    I do not say these words to alarm, my caution is from someone with a "few" years of life experience, don't let yourself become so focused on paying off the mortgage that it becomes a stressor. As your kids get older and get involved with sports or school activities, the time you will have together starts to diminish. Yes, you have the choice to upgrade once the house is paid off and deals will still be out there. If camping with your family is something you all want to do more often, and you believe spending upwards of $7K now on a newer PUP with more amenities (easy for me to say, it's your money not mine, right?) will make these experiences more enjoyable and possible lead to more family time, in my personal opinion it's worth it and I can't imagine it will derail your debt free timeline significantly. You will never get this time back. You might consider giving yourselves a range of time for meeting your goal. Give yourselves five years as a target, and no later than when your oldest starts a certain year in school perhaps.

    Best of luck, and happy camping!
     
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  8. terry1419

    terry1419 Active Member

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    I agree with what others have said but let me play Devil's Advocate here. Your kids are 1 & 4. How much do you think they will remember? Not much for the older one I'll bet for at least a couple of years and several years for the younger. I took my son fishing a few times at age 6-7 and he only remembers going to the bait shop. He does remember family vacations from when he was 9 and older. A few years ago we took my oldest grand daughter camping when she was 10 and just last year she didn't remember it and even after showing her pictures of her walking the dog in the CG but she did recognize her bicycle in the pictures.
    So think about who you are trying to make memories for. If you want a larger camper because you need the room to be comfortable and you and the wife enjoy camping that much then go for it but if you are trying to generate memories for the kids, I say forget about it for a few years.
     
  9. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    Personally I would not be as focused on getting your house paid off. It is a good goal for sure, but this time with your kids is precious, and it won't come back again. I see far too many friends that are so engaged in getting debt paid off early, working long hours, putting off vacations or making them smaller, and I see the results in their family relationships. Get a camper that works for you, that you can tow safely with whatever your TV is, and get out there and make those memories. These are the foundations that you are building for your kids - don't squander your time. As they get older you will need a bigger camper anyway.

    I bought a 12' box with a dinette slide out and absolutely love it. I have the inside fridge, and carry a spare 12v combo fridge along with a 12v thermoelectric cooler and that usually takes care of my refrigeration needs for an extended weekend campout. Shower/toilet as well. We use the toilet all the time, but have yet to use the shower. However - for smaller kids like you have the shower would be a good thing to have. My son and I love camping in ours, and it was one of the best purchases I have made. I just wish I could have done it earlier, but we are making the best of it now.
     
  10. West Coast Canuck

    West Coast Canuck Jumped to the dark side ......

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    I admire your ambitious goal as well, paying off your mortgage is a huge milestone and sets you up for financial freedom. I think you answered your own question, if you are not enjoying the current camping situation due to space....I would pull the trigger on something bigger and enjoy your family while they are still young. I am guessing roughly you are saving $30,000 plus per year towards your mortgage and the pup is $7000. That is about 3 months of saving to enjoy a larger pup now. Life is too short, camping is one of the things we enjoy every year.
     
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  11. Dingit

    Dingit Well-Known Member

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    How campy do you camp? Do you plug in at an RV park or do you go places with dirt? Sheets or sleeping bags?

    I grew up tent camping based in southern California. If you pretend you're tent camping, your current popup is spacious. :) In CA, you don't really need AC (no offense, Central Valley. We love you but we don't camp there.). You rarely need to hide from rain because it doesn't rain in the summer so you don't need a popup to hang out in.

    When your kids are a little older, they will take up LESS space because they will be out more. Right now the kids and their gear (especially the little one) will drive you bonkers but it's temporary. In a few years you won't be stuck in the camper.

    However, might as well be comfy, and the Niagara will be comfier so if you get one, get that one. Paying off a house $7k sooner isn't much in the grand scheme of things. (If spending that amount of money actually affects daily life and not just paying off the house, don't get either "new" camper.)
     
  12. 94-D2

    94-D2 Happy Campin'

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    7K on a 168K house has little impact in the long range picture. 7K on a pup equates to $400 a month for a year. A much bigger impact. Buy the pup now and you imprint your kids with pleasurable family camping memories. If your not having much fun in your current pup, the kids will imprint with that. I bought my first pup when my kids were 7 and 13. They imprinted well but I think they would still be camping if I did it earlier. I didn't have a lot of time back then, and I do now. The kids don't. So my advise is get the pup now and make the whole experience as best as possible. Get the sink, fridge, space and eliminate the negative aspects of your trips. I think that is a better investment than paying off 168K a year earlier.

    Happy Campin'
     
  13. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    I would keep it small now. In 5 years, your kids will be 6 and 9...prime camping age... And you will be mortgage free. Go big then.
     
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  14. jcrew6311

    jcrew6311 Member

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    Wow thanks so much for all of the input. I'm still torn but definitely good advice all around. We have a f-150 that tows 6200 lbs so no worries there. Also I believe the next few years will actually help me accelerate our house pay off because currently the kids are in preschool and daycare which is a $1500 a month fee right there, and once they are in school, even just the older one, that will drop to $1000 then $300 once both in school.

    As was mentioned by a few people here, my theory is right now we really only got 3-4 times a year in the pup and I believe it will be a few years before they actually remember any of what we are doing right now. The bigger camper would help my wife and I more, but for just 3-4 times a year of 3-4 days max in a hook up area w the beach and theme parks, I feel the smaller camper isnt a bad stick to plan. I'm so tempted to get the new pup but the problem is every year seems to bring that new "big" purchase that sets us back a few thousand each time from our goal (road bike, trading our van up to the truck, getting our current pup, a new paddle board, etc). I definitely am going to upgrade eventually, I'm just trying to not get carried away all at once and get another thing that will just slow us down more.

    One thing is for sure though, the quality of our camper or financial goals will never hold me back from taking my kids out to enjoy memories. It may just mean us 2 adults have it a little harder for a few years just for a few nights at a time lol.
     
  15. jcrew6311

    jcrew6311 Member

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  16. jumpoff

    jumpoff I'm in a camping state of mind

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    My thinking is that the less you pay the less depreciation you will have suffered when you go to sell. If you sell that Utah in 3 or 4 years you'll still probably get around 3k for it...
     
  17. terry1419

    terry1419 Active Member

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  18. terry1419

    terry1419 Active Member

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    If you are serious about your financial goals, stick to them as much as possible. You are still young and don't really need everything all at once. You have plenty of time for "toys". If you are not serious about those financial goals, which are very admiral and aggressive, stop fooling yourself and enjoy. [2C]
    Am I being too harsh? Maybe. Would I tell my own son the same thing? Yes.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
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  19. hawkedshad

    hawkedshad Member

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    I would work with what you have. Pay off the debt. Then when it's paid off reward yourselves with something you really like instead of just settling.
     
  20. kstephens

    kstephens Member

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    You are only young once - you don't get do-overs with kids. Balance your financial goals so that you maximize time together as a family. I feel we could be much more disciplined in paying off mortgage, however, I know my kids only have one shot at childhood (7 year old twins), and I plan on spending as much time as possible together NOW.
     

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