6 Tips on How to be a Frugal Scamper Camper

Our combined expenses each month, totals approximately $1550.00. That includes bills, SGI, campground rent and loan payments. That is before food, entertainment, fuel, dog treats, etc. I make about $800 a month at my part time job, so Zach is expected to bring home the rest at this point, and he does. All of my Etsy earnings are going in to savings because at this point, our goal is to save, save, save...and everyone knows that can be difficult on basically one income. It's not always easy, so we have had to change a lot about the way we live. However, we make it work, and I am proud of us for finding ways to save, be frugal, and still have fun.

Here are some of the things we have been doing to try and keep our expenses down on the road.

1. We make our coffee at home. I am a coffee addict, and even though I have always made coffee at home, I don't even know how many hundreds of dollars I spent in the past year buying coffee at gas stations, Tim Horton's, etc. We have cut back immensely on this one expense by using our re-usable cups, and taking coffee with us. We have also found that most places will give you a discount if you bring your own mug.

2. Whenever possible we get gas at Superstore or one of it's affiliates. Not only is it usually a couple cents cheaper than other places, but you get Super Bucks with every fuel purchase. When you drive a big truck like we do, those Super Bucks add up to free groceries fast. They definitely have come in handy this winter when we were between paychecks, but needed coffee, bread, margarine, etc.

It's no secret that a truck like ours is a gas guzzler. We live right between Victoria and Mill Bay, so nothing is that far away. However, we have learned to only make necessary trips, and try to combine errands as often as possible. If I have to work, that will be a day when we get our errands done, for instance. We like to save our gas for things like visiting family and friends and going on adventures.

We also like to use our Canadian Tire card to purchase big things when we can, because we get Canadian Tire money back, which comes in handy!

3. Not only have we quit smoking, but we do not go to bars or restaurants. I can actually count on one hand the amount of times we have gone out to eat or drink in the past four months. However, the times we have gone out have felt super special and fun because we don't do it all the time. We have also only ever bought alcohol to drink at home twice.

4. Learning to be smart grocery shoppers has helped immensely in saving money. Not only do we do common sense things like stay away from brand names, use coupons and only buy what we need, we compare prices between stores, and hold off on purchases if we know we can get something cheaper somewhere else.

Most stores in Victoria do not have plastic bags available to use, and if they do, you are paying for them. Instead of buying the reusable grocery bags, I have made my own, using some of Zach's old T-shirts.

We try our best to plan our meals in advance and get to the stores early ( meat from the day before is usually very cheap in the mornings!). When purchasing meat, I want it to get us through at least 2 meals. ( making broth for soup from a chicken, for example.) All potatoes, onions and dry goods are bought in bulk.

5. We reuse everything that we can. All plastic containers are kept to use for storage ( food and otherwise.) Any and all plastic bags are reused in some way. So many things come wrapped in a plastic bag ( bread, rice, pre-packaged meat is usually bagged again at checkout, all bulk bins and produce sections have plastic bags to use, etc.) All small bags are kept and used to pick up dog poo on walks. All larger bags are used for garbage bags. Paper and cardboard packaging is also kept, because we need it to start campfires. We have also started saving our egg cartons, so I can return them to be reused when we buy farm eggs.

6. Everyone knows that Zach has an affinity for websites that sell used products, and that I have a thing for places like Old Navy and Walmart that always have awesome sales. We are trying to curb these impulse shopping habits, and also use them to our advantage. If we need something, we check online used sites first, before just heading to a box store to get it. When I do buy clothes or craft supplies, I am waiting for deals, and really am only buying things that I need. I signed up for the Old Navy newsletter, so I don't have to drive in to the city "just to see what they have."

Other things we have been doing is using only rechargeable batteries, buying dog food and treats in bulk, going to barber shops instead of salons, fixing and refurbishing things if possible before throwing them out and we are always looking for free activities to do around the island and beyond.

What do you do to save money? Do you have any tips of your own?


A Short Tour of Site #28, Malahat Mountain Meadows, British Columbia

This is our new campsite. We like it because we actually feel like we are living in the forest, unlike our other site that didn't have any trees, and was next to somebody's backyard. It's pretty and comfortable, and I can't wait to have people over for campfires...we have had a couple already, but it would be nice to share the fun.

This is the rear of our camper, which is a good place to put things. :) Take note of the dog food, wiener sticks, ladder, wood, and we always have an extra jug of drinking water full, just in case.

The outdoor dining area. Take a look at the ivy Melanie gave us for our wedding! It's doing better outside the camper than it did inside.

We have been living without a television since we sold our 52" flat screen last June, and we were slowly dwindling down our cable long before that. When we wanted to watch a television show, we were just watching it online. When we got the Rocket Hub, we had to kibosh online television watching, due to the amount of bandwidth it used, and sometimes, the internet connection just wasn't fast enough to watch something anyways. Needless to say, we got on just fine without a TV. However, having this little guy that Uncle Bruce dropped off for us has been nice. I get to watch Law & Order every day at 4pm, and it has given us something else to do on those rainy days and nights when you can't be outside and you've read and watched all the internet already.

When the topic of buying a hot plate to use as a stove came up, I visualized a rusty old 70's green and/or yellow piece of crap. But leave it to Zach, he found the sexiest hot plate in town. I love it, and it works well as our stove. Added bonus - no burners to clean! Woot!

The small bar fridge we had been using since we moved in to the camper died on us last month. We ended up having to go only a few days without a fridge though, because Zach found a good deal at Costco, and got us a brand spankin' new one. I guess it's still technically only a bar fridge, but to me, it's huge. We can fit a whole jug of milk in there, and we don't have to buy miniature condiments anymore.

Every evening, we come up with a list of things that need to be done the next day. We don't always get everything done, but we try our best. :) It not only helps to keep us organized, and to know what chores or errands need to be done, but it helps me remember what day of the week it is. When you spend most of your time in the forest, it is really easy to forget what day it is. Especially since the majority of the people we interact with out here don't seem to care what day it is either. It's great if you ask me.

That's it for our tour for today. Hope you enjoyed it. If there is anything else you would like to see, don't hesitate to ask!


How to do Dishes the Scamper Camper Way

Even though my wonderful husband is busy hooking up the water in the kitchen sink as I write this, which will give us running water for drinking, ( good-bye Nimbus jug) and rinsing things, and a receptacle to dispose of water, this here wife will still need hot water to do dishes. I have gotten so used to doing dishes without warm running water, that it doesn't even bother me. It is just a part of my day, like it was back when I did have a proper kitchen.

Due to limited counter space, and only having enough dishes as we need, we need to keep on top of this household chore. Dishes are usually washed twice a day, unless we have a day when we aren't eating as much, or can reuse an already soiled plate, pot or cup.

Unlike the original pioneer women, I get to do my chores in sweatpants instead the traditional pioneer dress.

We have been hauling our water in a large water jug. I figured out soon after we got here that the best place to get hot water is in the shower, so the shower is where we fill our jug. We are now camped closer to the public washrooms, so it's just a quick walk down to get the water, it isn't like we are hauling it uphill both ways or anything.

See? It's not so bad. I do wish I would remember to buy a pot scrubber though.

Since we haven't been able to use our sink to actually hold water, the sink has been where we put the clean dishes to dry once washed, and we wash the dishes in a large Rubbermaid container. I have been dumping the dirty dishwater in the bush behind our campsites, but after tonight, I can quit polluting the campground with our dirty water, and dump it down the sink, where it will find it's way to the sewer. This makes me happy inside. I don't like being a litterbug.

Apparently when I am happy inside, I look like a psychopath outside.

So that is how we wash our dishes. Not that different than anybody else...well unless you have a dishwasher.


Question Period

A few weeks ago I put out a call on Facebook and Twitter asking people what they wanted me to write about on this here blog of ours. I had pretty much hit a writers block...even when you're living in a caravan in the forest, life is life, and it isn't always exciting. Sometimes it's just about going to work, watching TV, and worrying about how you are going to pay your bills. These are a good chunk of the questions that I got asked after my call out, and I'm going to answer them as best I can. If you're question isn't here, it is because it is going to get a blog post all to itself...so thanks for helping to cure my writers block. If you have any questions that aren't here, just leave them in the comments, and I'll make Zach answer them. :)

Where do you do your laundry?

We lucked out, and the campground we are parked at has laundry facilities. They are clean, and work well, and the laundromat is a good place to hang out if you want to hear gossip about other residents of the park or the the staff.

On our way out here we did our laundry at Zach's grandparents place in Armstrong...and if they don't mind, we probably will on the way back too. ;) Or maybe we'll hit up one of my relatives.

Do you ever get sick of each other?

Of course!! Up until I started working ( which is only 2-3 days a week) we were together for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 2 months in a 16' one room camper. If we didn't get on each others nerves once in awhile, we would be freaks. I think we're doing rather well though. Some couples would be headed for divorce by now, and we're still loving and laughing.

How are you making money?

Zach is doing his computertron stuff just like he did in Regina. I am working part-time at a private group home in Langford. I occasionally make some money from my Etsy store. We are not above looking for paying gigs on Used Victoria, selling our stuff if we can, and picking bottles. You do what you gotta do.

Why are you not travelling more?

All of the above work doesn't pay enough at the moment. We're both working again though, and we're catching up on things, so with any luck we'll be able to put some cash away, and have some disposable income soon. In the next month or so we'll hopefully be able to get around to seeing the north part of the island. Zach also bought a book of all the roadways on the island, and we want to do some touring around on back roads in the truck to see what we can find. We were hoping we'd be down in the States by now, but we like it here, and if we have the money, we'll try get there on the way back to Saskatchewan.

Are you coming back to Saskatchewan?

Yes. The timeline isn't set in stone, but we will be back in Regina in May or June, until August sometime. We'll be sure to keep everyone posted as plans develop.

How do you cook? What do you eat if you don't have a freezer?

Even though we have a propane stove and oven, we do not have any propane. That hasn't slowed us though. For the first few weeks, we made everything in the slow cooker or on the charcoal grill, and now we have a kick ass modern hot plate too. We've also got a fire pit in our site, if we really needed to cook on it. I don't even feel that the propane is necessary at this point.

Not having a way to freeze food is a bit of a pain. I am sure our diet would be a bit more exciting if we could. We always have canned and dried goods on hand, and if we are going to eat meat, we have to buy it and eat it that day. It just takes planning. Nothing goes to waste around here.

What do you miss the most about Regina?

I think we both miss our friends and family. It's taken some getting used to, not being able to just call up someone and hang out. We're a bit out of the loop too, so anyone who feels like letting us in on what's new is quite welcome to call! You should all just move here. The weather is better. :)

What do you like most about the campground you are staying at?

It's affordable. The trees. The people we've met. The other dogs. The trails. The stream that runs through it, that sounds like a group of people talking all at once. The creepy train tracks. It is close enough to Victoria that everything is close by, but we get to be in nature. I just love it here.