Monday, July 28, 2014

Tips for Buying a Used RV

We recently purchased a newer pop-up trailer. It's the third pop-up my husband and I have owned and the 4th RV (recreational vehicle) overall. People are amazed at the good deals we find (on regular vehicles too) and ask me how we find them. I thought I'd share our tips for you.
1. Decide what you want- When we decided we wanted a roomier pop-up, we checked out used RVs online. We learned what features were available, what layout we liked, and what brands those were. We looked at a few and settled on what features were a must and which weren't that important.

2. Get an idea of prices- When researching vehicles we got a good idea of how much things cost. Cost can really vary in the used market, but it seems as if most people have an idea of how much their vehicle is worth. Once you have a good idea, you have to decide a price you are willing to pay. You might have to adjust your want list depending on budget.

3. Learn about common problems- Learn about what could be wrong with what you are looking for. With a pop-up trailer, you want to know if there are any leaks or repairs to the canvas. The older ones with a storage trunk in front (particularly the Colemans) leaked. How bad is the leak? We looked at one that when the dude open the trunk about a gallon of rain water dumped in. He said, "Well that's never happened before!" LIE! The corner of the trunk had a squishy floor and the wood inside and the inside cabinets had water damage that went up about an inch from the floor. No thank you! Is the vehicle ready and safe to be towed? We always ask if it's smoke & cat free due to our allergies.
Find a forum or online group to help find out what to look for when you are purchasing, in particular with certain models.

4. Decide how far you are willing to travel to get what you want- If your wish list if flexible then you might luck out and get what you want locally, but you need to decide how far you will go. We had some flexibility with our time schedule so we looked as far as 5 hours from our home.

5. Stalk online sites- With the first 4 in mind, stalk CraigsList, Ebay, and sale listings. Both our last 2 pop-ups were found on CraigsList less than 30 minutes after they were listed. Pop-ups in particular sell very quickly. You've got to stalk and pounce! I found the cPro CraigsList app very helpful. I was able to set filters on my searches and double click to remove ones that didn't fit our desires. Then when I searched again just the new ones would pop. The downside of this app is that it seems to get new listings slower than on the computer.

6. Have money in hand- Good deals on vehicles disappear quickly. Have cash or quick access to cash on hand. Many sellers will work with the first to show up with money. You have cash with you (as opposed to a deposit or the need to return), the seller is often willing to bargain with you.

Other tips~
Make sure the listing is legit! Sometimes on CraigsList you will see the same vehicle (often at a very low price) listed on several CL locations. It's spam. Trying to get your info!
No vehicle is perfect! All RVs seem to have some issue or another. It will be hard to find something in mint condition! Some things can be easily fixed, others are deal breakers!
Fall is a great time of year to get a good deal on an RV! People don't want to pay storage fees over the winter and good deals can be found as there are fewer people willing to buy!
Take someone experienced with you! If you are new to RVs you might want to take a friend familiar with them with you to check it out. They would have a good idea of what to look for and how to test things out.
Make sure you ready to tow! If you are buying a trailer you need to be prepared to tow. Make sure you have the proper hitch, ball, electrical and anything else you might need.
We ended up finding exactly what we wanted about 15 miles from our house. I contacted the dude immediately and we were driving it home about 90 minutes after he listed it. He said his wife would be shocked when she got home. We quickly listed our older pop-up and were contacted right away and it was gone the next day! Once I get some good photos of our new trailer, I'll do post about it. We've already camped in it twice, but I forgot to get inside photos. I'm also going to do a post on tips for selling your used vehicle soon.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summertime Dog Prize Pack Giveaway from Petmate

Petmate contacted me to review some dog items that are perfect for summer. Since we have a dog (Cocker Spaniel named Cooper), I agreed. They sent the following items.
Chuckit! FireFly™ LED Ball allows for late-night fun. This ultra-bright, multicolor LED ball fades between colors, creating a constant motion helping dogs- and their playmate- keep their eyes on the ball. This was too hard to get a photo of in the dark, but my dog had a lot of fun chasing it. The colors are bright and the kids enjoyed throwing it.

JW® PlayBites™ Caterpillar is designed to hold a variety of treats and excite canine senses. This indestructible caterpillar is great for family road trips or fun outdoors. Our dog went nuts over this! His kibble is small and fell out quickly, but stayed in place when I stuck it in with peanut butter. He really enjoyed it.
Aspen Pet® Self-Cooling Mat conforms to ambient room temperature, keeping your dog cool and comfortable. The non-toxic cooling gel absorbs body heat and no water or refrigeration is required. Our dog gets really hot and worn out from our nightly walks, especially with the warm humid summer weather. He loves to flop down on this to cool off after a walk. I just want to know if they make these for humans because it was so cool to the touch!
Petmate would like to offer one lucky Diana Rambles reader a Summertime Fur-Babies Pack. This includes the Chuckit! FireFly™ LED Ball,  JW® PlayBites™ Caterpillar and Aspen Pet® Self-Cooling Mat. This giveaway is open to people 18 yrs and older with a US Address.
Disclosure: I received a Free product for review. My opinions are 100% mine.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My Quest to be Healthier

I encountered challenges over the past year or so that have really taken a toll on my body. I've put on weight, especially through my mid-section. I know that age has its influence too. I've gotten to the point where I am not OK with how I look and feel. It's time to take action.

I've created my daily 5 for health. Nothing drastic or weird, just easy steps to be healthier and stronger. A few of these steps are things I've been doing all along, but now I am making sure I do them each day.
First step is an apple a day. This has become an addiction for me. If I don't have my apple I am out of sorts. Kind of like skipping that morning cup of coffee. Apples are inexpensive and highly portable. If I am not on the go, I use my handy dandy corer to remove the core. That's my favorite way to eat them because I don't have to pay attention to whether I eat seeds or not and I feel like there is less waste. You know that old saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I believe it's true!
Next step is drinking lots of water. I like water. It's the main thing I drink. Occasionally I'll have some milk or a soda, but usually water is all I drink. I tried to increase my intake early in the day and taper off in the evening so I don't have to get up at night to use the restroom. This time of year I go through a lot of ice with my water and am thankful for our ice maker!
The next step is a newer one to me. Its daily bike rides. My husband loves riding his bicycle. In fact, he was on his bike when we met. I've always had trouble with riding because I can't find a comfortable seat, but a few months ago my hubby found one a great (used) bike for me with a comfy seat. Now I quite enjoy riding. My daughter *LOVES* us taking bike rides together. I use the Map My Ride app to keep track of how far we go. I try to do 4-5 miles a day. I am not concerned about speed but rather peddling! My legs are firming up!
Another new step is planking. I decided to start planking after a friend suggested resistance exercises when I am telling her I have no control over my middle. I started to look into joining a gym, but I knew I'd go a week or 2 and then stop going. Then I'd be mad and ashamed that I was wasting money. I was telling another friend that I was going to check out a new gym that was opening and she suggested that I try planks. What? A quick free exercise? Awesome! I could only do about 15 seconds at first, but now I am easily able to do 45 seconds. Now that I've shared that I will work harder tomorrow to increase up to a minute. I do feel my core getting stronger!
Last is an oldie but a goodie~ walking! We have been doing this for years. My hubby and I walk the dog each evening. The dog loves it and it gives us chance to talk about our day and upcoming events. We are good about walking when we are on vacation and away from the dog. I am not so good about walking in the dead of winter, but I try to go walk at the mall or other inside venue.

Another important step for maintaining good health is to have good health insurance and get regular checks ups. Our family gets regularly scheduled physicals. If you don't have a health plan you should check out HBF for their health insurance plans. Their health hub outlines a variety of options suitable for everyone.

I am going to continue my quest to be healthier. I see older people with what I consider preventable ailments. I think to myself that I don't want to be like that. I want to take care of myself and be there for my family for a good long time. My next step is to make sure I am eating well every day. I found some great tips and recipes in the Living Well section at HBF. I can't wait to try out the Salmon soba noodles and bok choy with mirin and soy dressing. YUM!