Planning and Making a Budget for Your Pop Up Camper Remodel

Peggy Sue before and after.

If you are looking to buy a new Pop Up Camper or just want to update the one that you have, a budget is necessary to keep you out of a money pit.  Peggy Sue is our first pop-up camper, and I had a mental budget in mind when we started.  I also know that expenses can really get away with a dollar here and a few dollars there.  I created a spreadsheet at the beginning and started tracking our expenses for our pop up camper remodel.

If you are starting from scratch, separate your expenses into three categories.   Allocate money in your budget for:
  1. Cost of the pop-up camper you are purchasing
  2. Supplies and work to remodel the physical space
  3. Camping Supplies for your camping trips
I realize that camping supplies are really not part of the remodel, but these expenses become part of the project.  They are necessary to actually camp, so it is hard not to consider this part of the project.

In your remodel plan for expenses such as:
  • Curtains
  • Cushions
  • Painting
  • Awning Replacement/Repair
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Canvas
  • Tires
  • Other Basics
Also, you might want to make a master list of everything you want to do on your project.  Then, prioritize that list.  Ask yourself what things must be completed to actually camp?  And, what are the things that are more cosmetic and not necessarily needed to actually camp?  Being organized can really help you to stay within your budget and not break the bank.  

Some of our projects include a table, new curtains and cushions.
Create a timeline for the work you plan to do.  This will also help with the budget as you can spread the expenses out over a period of time.  Your timeline will create markers that allow you to see what you have accomplished and left to do. For me, it is important to see that seven out of ten things are done.  Checking things off of a list is much more tangible than just saying I have a lot done or that there are only a few things are left to do.     

When we started our remodel, we gave ourselves 2 months to do the big work before our first trip.  Since this time, we have had little projects each month on things that we have either discovered or that we just spread out over time.  For example, we have known since the beginning that we would want to paint and replace our decals. on the exterior.  Those were low on the priority list and cosmetic.  They are currently on the June list of things to do.

Replacing the city water inlet, adding sealant around the roof and repairing the center roof seam were also projects that we did.

Spreading out the tasks isn't just good for the budget, it helps you not to burn out.  In two months we did a major overhaul on the interior of our pop up.  I was slightly frazzled from working full time and working the hours of a second job on our remodel.  Looking back, I would have given myself a few more weeks to get it done without such a major push.  We have enjoyed the finished product, but it is okay not to rush so much.  I understand the desire to get out there and enjoy your brand new camper, but it is okay to take your time!

I've created a Pop Up Camper Remodel Planning Sheet to track expenses.  I have already entered the formulas so that you can enter the quantities and amounts.  This spreadsheet will calculate the totals and do the work for you.  

This Google Sheet can be added to your Google Drive and edited as needed.

The planning sheet has three worksheets within to budget and plan:
  1. Remodeling Cost Worksheet
  2. Camping Supplies Worksheet
  3. Totals Sheet
The remodeling sheet has a place for each of the major categories to track expenses.  I think that it is wise to enter in numbers and quantities as you go.  Each time I purchased something from Walmart or Amazon I entered in the numbers and quantities.  Also, keep your receipts!  If you find that you bought too much of something or changed your mind, you can take it back.  I probably returned $50 or more in things that we changed our minds about.  

Finally, be practical.  Look around your house and use what you have.  We had leftover paint from a bathroom project that we used to paint our cabinets.  I had spray paint that we used to paint our cabinet hardware.  

Look around your house for sheets, pillows, baskets and decorative items that you aren't using but could find a new home in your camper.  I have repurposed lots of household items for storage and more.  Look at thrift stores and yard sales to see what you could use.  

When you are finally done and enjoy your first night on the road, you can sleep easy knowing that you had a financial plan for your fun.  I didn't want to owe anything on this project.  We made a plan and paid for everything as we went, and it made a big difference for us.  

How did you budget for your camper?  Did you do a big remodel?  Planning is key to any successful project.  If you did a major overhaul on your camper, I'd love to hear from you.  The enthusiasm of campers out there is so exciting.  I love seeing what other campers are doing to their spaces, and how life is enjoyed on the road!
Peggy Sue after the interior work was done.
If you want to know more about the products that we used to remodel our pop up camper, check out my Pop Up Camper Remodel Page.  I've also shared each of the projects that we have done to our camper.  Follow along to see our summer projects.  We have several exciting ones that I'll be sharing in the next couple of months.  And yes, I have a budget for those.