June 30, 2016

June 30, 2016

Thursday, June 30

 

The boss called me yesterday and let me know that she thinks she found us a place to park our new home.

Two days ago we drove the area and scouted RV parks central to our current jobs.  There are several options but several are pretty seedy.  We found 2 that we liked quite a bit in great locations.  Our favorite of all has a waiting list.  Fingers crossed that an opening comes up this summer or fall.

In the meantime, I’m going to check out my wife’s find.  She stated that she found an RV campground offering a “summer special” through September for $150 a month that includes water, sewer, and electricity! If this is accurate that will increase our saving over the next few months by over a thousand dollars.  Very exciting news.

An update on the RV.  The seller contacted me yesterday to let me know that we will sign all of the purchase paperwork and get our RV orientation on Friday.  As we don’t know anything about 5th wheel ownership it should be a very informative class.  Hopefully, the individual giving the training is patient!

We have informed both of the kids about our plan and let them know that mom and dad are moving into a 5th wheel.  Both of them were very supportive and excited for us.  I hope that our actions motivate them to live the best lives they can imagine.

I also spoke with my parents about the plan.  We had discussed the idea with them several months ago and they were a bit surprised at our intentions.  After telling them we were going to act on our ideas they are supportive as well.

Current issues to overcome:

  • We need to sell 95% of our belongings.  (including a few family collectibles, not sure exactly)
  • WE have a family heirloom clock that I need to find a home for —a call is due to my parents to figure out what will make them happy–
  • Decide on a place to park the new home
  • Find great renters
  • Figure out health insurance (the boss is tackling this one)

(Post Script)  We checked out the park with the discounted rates…..it’s a no-go.  Too many permanently parked campers there and the facilities were a bit grungy. There was no warm and fuzzy feeling about living there for any length of time.  Saving a few dollars at the expense of our safety and peace of mind is not part of our future plans. The search for a place to park continues……

“You’re in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.”

-Dr. Seuss

June 22 & 25

June 22 & 25

Wednesday, June 22

 

So the plot thickens….

Yesterday the Boss and I sat down to figure out some of our financial goals.  We figured out our emergency funds requirements and Set some goals for how much money we needed on hand to confidently hit the road.  We also figured out our expected monthly travel budget!   The numbers are estimates based on our current cost of living but I believe we are pretty accurate knowing our spending habits.

The big unknown is HEALTH INSURANCE…..this will be the next hurdle.

Today we spent the day driving central florida looking at RV’s.  WE started last night on craigslist and a few RV sales sites and there are sooo many options we set out to educate ourselves a bit.

We managed to decide on what we want and don’t want, approximate size to meet our needs and have an idea what we will need to spend.  There are lots of options, brands, and configurations.  Decisions need to be made.

Saturday, June 25

 

Sitting at home in the early afternoon today, engaged in the same conversation as usual (working out details of our escape)  the boss stated that if living in an RV for the last months here in Florida would shorten our time until freedom she was in.

We worked out the math and found that if we put a renter into our primary residence and moved into our camper we could increase our savings rate by $570 a month.  In 9 months that $5130 extra = over 2  months emergency fund once on the road!  It will require we find a place to park with utilities for $650 a month.

I was surprised as hell by her ambition and at the same time, a bit frightened that the reality of it happening was in front of me.

Looking around at RV’s (specifically 5th wheels) the other day we ran into a very impressive deal.  A used 31’ fifth wheel in like new condition for 5k under retail price.  It met all of our needs and the boss found it very comfortable. Long story short we agreed to return and take a look at it, arrived, made a lowball offer and THE DEALER ACCEPTED THE OFFER!

We now own a 5th wheel camper.  We don’t have a truck to pull it yet but we own a camper!

The dealer agreed to deliver it when we were ready so now we need a place to put it.

This week will be “find a place to put our new home” week.  More to come soon!

 

Post Script (written 7/17/2016)

 

While reading back through my journal I realized that this short paragraph stating we found an RV and then bought it sounds a bit rash.  (It was a bit rash) The longer version of the story is as follows:

The boss and I had no idea of what we were looking for in a camper/new home with wheels.  Our search started with local used RV lots.  We looked at:

  1. pop-ups and small tow-behinds (way too small and no bathrooms)  –I have to admit I liked the prices and the idea of towing behind a smaller vehicle!
  2. Small motor coaches (Class C).  Although they had bathrooms (sort of) the boss and I decided that the space was a bit too intimate.
  3. WE RULED OUT Class B and C coaches.  WE didn’t like the idea that if our vehicle broke down our house would be in the shop as well.  The prices of these units were a bit intimidating as well.
  4. Larger tow-behind campers were nice but the small roofs and low ground clearance were turn offs.  (I am 6’4”)
  5. WE DISCOVERED 5th-Wheels!

What drew us to fifth wheels was:  1)  Bang for the buck! (ignoring the price of the truck to pull it)  2)  The ceiling height!  What a spacious living space (if you can consider 300ft spacious) 3) The bathrooms and bedrooms would fit the needs of a large adult and his mate.

Once we discovered that we were shopping for a fifth wheel we focused our search.  The boss wanted comfort, storage and utility.  My focus was a bed that would fit me, a size that would be manageable to tow and park and a price tag that would allow us to purchase without debt!

We found it a bit too quickly as mentioned above.  Great price, met all of our needs and the deal was closed.

The purchase was as follows.  I called the salesman a day after showing us the rig asking him to explain why the price was $6000 under any price I could find online by any other seller.  His reply appeared honest (I am distrustful of salesmen) when he said they got a good deal on it through trade-in and they just wanted to move it off the lot.  He suggested that if I was interested I come in and make an offer.

Our intention was to remain debt-free through this process so we were hesitant to go back and make the offer on something we did not have the cash for.  We debated dipping into our cash reserve and making a low-ball offer and then financing the balance with the intent of paying in full before hitting the road.  That was our plan.

We arrived at the dealership and gave our “Out the door price”.  It was the sticker price as advertised but I required that be our final price after tax, title, license, and be sold to us with a warranty.  Our salesman took the offer into his manager’s office (the typical sales maneuver), then returned and congratulated us on the purchase of our new 5th wheel.  We in-house financed the balance for a ridiculously long  term with an insignificant monthly payment.
Its pretty frightening how simple it is to purchase an RV!

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Financial Plan, June 20 2016

Financial Plan, June 20 2016

Looks like we need a written financial plan to make this happen

 

I just got off the phone with the Boss (Mrs).

We discussed whether I should start exploring winter time employment opportunities in the mountains.  She thinks we will be ready in the spring.  Looks like river guiding will be the first escape job (if I don’t find another awesome job before then)

As we discussed dates we recognized that we still do not have a JUMP date set.  The big question is how much savings do we need and when will we have it?  Time to put pen to paper I suppose and figure out the math.

Guesses for now:

Real estate: We need money to protect the rental properties and provide for maintenance.  Given our current cash flow on each, our monthly savings rate is:

  1. +$0 monthly on one (paid off in 4 more years)
  2. +$450 on one (paid off in 10 years)
  3. + $550 on one (30-year mort)
  4. +$500 on one (30-year mort)

This provides $1500 a month to cover property expenses, save and invest. We can’t spend any of this money while we travel.

Safety net $:  we will want 6 months of living / travel expenses in reserve (just in case).  I suppose we need to figure out what our monthly expenses will be once on the road.

We need a travel home:  If we sell both vehicles we will have $20,000?  Not a bad start but it’s looking like we might end up spending $40k – $50k to meet all of our requirements (truck and RV)

Cost of Health Insurance:  what will it cost the 2 of us to carry health insurance while we are partially employed.  Will the health insurance cover us as we travel? ……………..

I just disappeared into the internet abyss but found a bit of info…..There is much research to be done on this subject.

Month to Month Expenses:  I ASSUME that food and phone will remain similar.  The boss’s prescription meds should be comparable?Internet, gas, road expenses?….misc budget, play money?

Figuring some of this out will help clarify if working seasonally will provide the income needed to meet this budget. How much can we or do we need to make?  Work for $$$$ a few months then go do fun stuff on the cheap???  Can we just work a few months here and there?  Can I generate passive income with an online gig?

Soo many questions but it’s more fun to figure this stuff out than to sit in front of the TV and watch life tick by.

Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
― Warren Buffett

Soo many questions but it’s more fun to figure this stuff out than to sit in front of the TV and watch life tick by.

Introduction to our Journal

Introduction to our Journal

This is the opening page of our ongoing Journal.

 

It started as just a place to organize thoughts and concerns and grew into an ongoing documentation of our transition from status quo to living full-time in an RV.

Journal Introduction / Disclaimer

As you begin to read through this journal it will help to understand how it started and who we are.

The Boss and I had been discussing our midlife options for some time and began considering an RV lifestyle.  Leaving you home and steady paychecks for a life on the road was a pretty big concept to swallow so I started to write down the pro’s and cons and keep a journal of our ideas and planning.

Some of the journal is a bit scatterbrained. So were we at first as we tackled the questions involved in making this transition.  The journal is posted here as it was originally written on a day by day basis.  All typos, bad grammar, and missing words are a result of my brain dumping onto a laptop.

Some posts are more thorough and intelligent than others.  If one gets a bit painful to read please skip to the next. This has been an interesting life transition.  It is our pleasure to share it with others.

Backstory

Here is a bit of backstory to help it make a bit more sense. (this is the abridged version)

  • Married in 1991
  • 5 years in the US ARMY as an infantryman. 
  • 2 amazing children, boss and I went to college
  • Moved from upstate NY to Central Florida in 1998.
  • Raising kids, adventures, successes, failures, jobs, built a house, bills, work, debt……
  • 2010 our son graduates HS and entered the US Navy!
  • 2012 our daughter graduates and heads on a life of adventure!
  • 2013 ….. Mid life crisis kicks in (kids are gone… now what?)
  • 2014 …debt free (after considerable effort to make it happen)
  • Reduced spending to shorten our timeline to financial freedom
  • Spring of 2015, visited our daughter on one of her adventures in the mountains of Idaho (it’s amazing country).  The boss and I were offered positions at the ranch where she was working.  It seemed like a dream job and a fantastic opportunity.  We had to say no because of inadequate retirement investments/savings and a house full of STUFF.
  • DECIDED THAT A CHANGE NEEDED TO HAPPEN!
  • 2015 introduced to the idea of real estate investing, bought an investment property, renovated it, rented it out.
  • 2016 purchased 2 more properties, rented one and moved into the other (put tenants into our old home)
  • The boss quit her job of 17 years and found employment that she enjoyed. I want to do the same but don’t have a good plan in place to replace my income and benefits.
  • We started planning our escape!

June 2016 Before the Journal started

This is the first written document of our adventure.  After weeks/months of small talk about the idea of quitting our jobs and running away in an RV we actually began to entertain the thought of actually doing it!

To make sense of and document all of the ideas I attempted to jot them down on the computer.  Here is the result, A sloppy and mixed up declaration that I made to myself on May 3, 2016 at 6:08PM

Its not the most intelligent document.  It appears to be more of a brainstorm note secession.  I left it unedited for authenticity.

I think my intent was to rationalize if this decision was sane or not.  Maybe I was trying to talk myself into it?

 

“I will not settle for a mediocre life.”  What do I need to do to ensure that I dont?

Positives -vs- Negatives

  • What do i stand to gain
  • What do i stand to lose
    • (fear of regrets and life not fully lived)
    • Options for the years with grandkids
    • A strong and solid retirement without the need to work
  • The tradeoffs

 

MOTIVATIONS

Where did this idea / these ideas come from?

  • Podcasts
  • Books
  • Influences (the kids)

 

BUDGET

  • The budget and finance decisions that made it possible
  • How will we get around
    • Transportation (RV living?)
    • What to live in and how to get it from place to place
  • The budgets for the future
    • Securing our investments (long term financial future)
    • Rainy day funds
    • Costs to pull this off
    • What will this cost.
    • How long will it take to come up with the $ to do it

 

INVESTMENTS

  • Where we stand now and what it will pay
  • What will our Golden years look like financially?
  • Will we be able to age with dignity or need to work forever?

 

PRIORITIES

  • What are the things in life that I value and how can they be realized with this plan?
  • Will we miss out on other things as a result of “running away”?

 

HEALTH

FRIENDS AND RELATIONSHIPS

CHOICES

VARIETY

SERVICE 

  • Can we be of service to others as we travel
  • Is this plan selfish?

 

OPTIONS

  • What choices are in front of me?


PLAN

  • Transportation
  • Something to live in
  • Jobs
  • Resumes
  • Locations
  • Income

 

HEALTH INSURANCE…. The big what if

  • Where to find it
  • Can we afford it
  • What are the options
  • Wat if’s  … Concerns over catastrophic events and the one left behind
  • Insurance based on income?

 

FALLBACK PLAN (what if it all goes bad) what if it was all a terrible idea?

COURAGE (not an absence of fear but action in the face of fear)

ACTION

  • Take the leap and the net will appear

 

COMMITMENT TO ACHIEVEMENT

  • Living to my full potential
  • Is “running away” a route to a better tomorrow or a mid life crisis decision
    • Better to run to something than from something
  • Will exploring my options open doors of opportunity?

 

A KICK A$$ WIFE WHO WILL LIVE THIS LIFE WITH ME

  • The importance of a sidekick to tackle this adventure with.

 

Post Script (November 2016)

This is a taste of the confusion that the Boss and I experienced while putting together this plan.  We talked about it for hours and considered positives and negatives, risks and rewards.  In the end, we decided that not going for it would result in the biggest regrets.

We decided to make it happen!