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“How a monthly allowance saved our marriage.”

Good morning, my friends, and welcome to another week of Apex Money. I’m late with this Monday installment because I spent my entire weekend unpacking instead of reading about money.

That’s right. Five weeks after our move, Kim and I are still unpacking stuff here at our new house. That’s the bad news. The good news is that we’re almost finished! In fact, I’m hopeful that we’ll unpack the final boxes later this week.

Before I dive back into house stuff, though, I took some time this morning to browse the interwebs for recent money stories. Here are some of the best that I read…

Why are American homes so big? [The Atlantic] — “Over the course of the 20th century, government policy, the invention of cheaper, mass-produced building materials, marketing by home builders, and a shift in how people regarded their houses—not just as homes, but as financial assets—encouraged ever larger houses.” [This is an interesting article that suggests this is a complicated question to answer…says the man writing from his 3400-square-foot home.]

“How a $500 monthly allowance saved our marriage.” [Slate] — “As time has gone on, our system’s secondary benefits have become clear. The allowances tend to contain our discretionary spending, and make us feel comfortable about the rest of our money going into a common pot and common savings.”

On Solitude. [Ideas & Musings on Substack] — “Hence another paradox of solitude : the problems that solitude can help you overcome often make it hard to take the time to do the solitude in the first place. But the time I take gives me back double. I’m so much more effective, so much more precise. So much more in tune, in sync.”

RV dealerships think new campers are pieces of junk. [Jalopnik] — “If you’ve purchased an RV recently and felt that your new rig is more of a pile of crap than you expected, you’re probably not imagining things. According to a report from RV Travel, longtime RV dealers are tired of manufacturers building RVs with terrible quality, too and they’re complaining about it.”

I feel like that last article deserves a bit more comment from me. I realize that not many of you are in the market for an RV, but because I haver personal experience purchasing a motorhome, I feel like I can offer some good advice.

You see, seven years ago my girlfriend and I were in the market for a new motorhome. We were visiting dealerships and attending RV shows. It was clear from the start that — as the above article notes — most RVs are crap. They’re expensive and poorly made.

Our solution? Tons and tons of research. Online, we browsed RV forums to read real-world experiences from actual owners. We subscribed to a an RV review service (the name of which escapes me). When we met folks who owned RVs, we asked about their experience.

In the end, we narrowed our search to a handful of brands: two brands in the top tier (yes, that’s right — there are only two top-tier RV brands…and neither is producing new RVs) and maybe four or five brands in the second tier. And we focused our search on low-milage used RVs. In January 2015, we purchased a 2005 Bigfoot Class C motorhome. It was a solid choice.

The bottom line is this: If you’re looking to buy an RV, take your time. Buy quality. And save yourself big bucks by buying used.