Camping is something that at some point in our lives, whether we enjoyed it or not, the majority of us have experienced. The reason is pretty simple: a lot of people enjoy the outdoors, and even if you don't, it's an inexpensive vacation that can actually teach you a lot about how to manage your money.
At its most basic, camping is an exercise in denying yourself creature comforts, stripping away the things you don't need for a few days and getting back to basics. This is a practice that a lot of us should be applying to our finances more often.
If you went camping as a child, then you already know how it forces you to make your own kind of fun as the wonderful world of the great outdoors suffers from a distinct lack of TVs, gaming consoles, stereos and movie theaters.
What does that have to do with everyday life? Well, it teaches that you don't always need to spend money to be entertained. Instead of always going out and buying the latest video game or springing for the premium cable package, try picking up a hobby like gardening, sewing or model making. These simple activities are more rewarding in the long-term than consuming media, and it's easier to control the associated costs.
After coming home from a camping trip, have you ever felt stifled by your house, even claustrophobic? While the feeling may fade over time, there's no denying that for a lot of us, our houses tend to become cluttered with knick-knacks, trinkets and all sorts of other decors we may not even like, let alone need. And even worse, we often spend more money than we'd like to admit on these unnecessary household embellishments.
Why not try and hang on to some of the minimalism you enjoyed when camping? Instead of buying more stuff for your home, try taking a minute to think if the space you're planning on putting more items in wouldn't be better left empty. Even a little minimalism can go a long way toward saving.
One of the things that make camping interesting is that compared to almost any other kind of vacation, you end up spending a lot of time in close quarters with friends, family and fellow campers. Theme parks and cruises have all kind of big, loud attractions to occupy most of your attention, but not camping. Next time you're planning a big expensive trip really ask yourself if it's the best way of growing closer to your family.
Probably the most important lesson you can learn from camping is to make do with what you have and not live outside your means. While there are valid reasons to borrow money or take out title loans, borrowing money can often come back to affect us in negative ways. When you're camping, you can't suddenly run to the store or order what you need - you just have to make do with what you have on hand. We should all try and live a little more like that in our everyday lives.