August 23 – 29, 2016

August 23 – 29, 2016

Tuesday, August 23

Researched how to use our thermostat for the AC unit.  Have not had a breaker pop since.  Also turned off the AC when we used the microwave today.  No sense in taking the chance and not a bad idea to start good habits.  The solution to the problem of the AC being on all of the time is to move out of Florida.

Switching over to LED bulbs in the RV.  (great writeup and info from 3 different sources)  http://www.doityourselfrv.com/replace-incandescent-halogen-bulbs-leds-rv/

I’ve got my order into M4products.com for a 5 “aluminum plate” led replacement “bulbs”.  

Swimming laps in the pool.  I believe that this is the 5th day of getting in 10 laps in the community pool.  It’s so nice to swim in a pool that I don’t have to maintain!  I only hope that lap swimming will be an option once the campground fills up.

First dinner out with RV park friends (the camp hosts to boot!)  We were very excited to have our first sit down with full-time RV campers and decided to recommend a local restaurant.  It would have been nice to stay home for a cookout but it’s still uncomfortable hot here in Florida.

We got to learn about how they transitioned to full-time life, got their Work Camping positions and what their plans were once this work obligation were over.  They are fun people with big smiles and seem beyond happy to be living the life that they are.  They quieted some of our concerns and bade us quite excited about the opportunities out there.

Poor drainage on the slide out covers.  Need a PVC rack to solve.  Added a project to the to-do list.  While on the roof working on the AC unit I discovered water pooling on the slide out covers.  It has turned into quite the moldy puddle of debris.  On other units in the campground I saw that people had made PVC shelves to slide under the canvas to help with drainage.  The PVC parts and pipe have been purchased, just need to get them built and in place.  

Looking at solutions to the RV wobbling while we are inside.  Looked at chock blocks for the tires and other contraptions. Tripods for the fifth wheel tongue were not highly recommended as the solution on the internet.   Will need to research more and try various options.  Maybe it’s just the nature of living in a home with wheels.  I compare it to being on a boat but the boss is less impressed with a house that wobbles and we walk around.

Thursday, August 25

Planning for the day we hook the RV up to the truck and pull out.

We have been so busy this past year.  Not busy in a bad way but by choice.  These past few days I have come to recognize we have time and space to breath a bit.  Life has become a bit simpler.

Ther RV is settled, and we have become acquainted with some of the nuances of life inside an RV.  Our rental properties seem to have the kinks worked out, rent is on time and the phone is not ringing from our tenants with concerns or complaints. Our jobs are chugging along, providing paychecks that are moving us quickly toward our savings numbers.  Things are good and we are both recognizing it and taking the opportunity to relax a bit.

I am trying to catch up on the website, writing, exercise and reading.  The boss is enjoying the opportunity to slow down and put her feet up a bit more.  Regardless of the tasks at hand, we are both trying to appreciate the situation we are in and be grateful for the opportunities in front of us.

So what is the next step to pull the plug and head down the road?  

The boss has been scouring the Work Camper websites and is excited at all the diverse opportunities and positions available.  (Add list of websites that Christy gave to Kay to look at).  It seems like we can go pretty much anywhere to live for “free” and make a small supplemental income. We were warned at dinner the other night by our friends (the campground hosts) that not all RV parks and campgrounds are created equal and that we are currently staying at one of the better ones they have experienced.

This warning has me a bit hesitant to make a commitment to hosting at a place we have never seen.  We would be basing the decision on camper reviews and would know very little about the owners or managers of the property.  I am positive about very few things but I do know for sure that PEOPLE ARE CRAZY, all in our special little ways.  Good crazy or bad it is a consideration. Hopefully, with time we will run into recommendations and come into contact with more people with more experience that us (any experience).  Hope to learn from their successes and failures.

I want to become a river guide in Idaho (or anywhere beautiful).  Having been to Idaho and seeing the Middle Fork of the Salmon river this is my goal.  It happens to be among the top rated rivers to raft down in the US.  I am assuming there is pretty steep competition to guide on this magnificent river through untouched country.

Here are my hangups with obtaining a guide job:

  1. I have never even been whitewater rafting (small detail?) But how can it not be amazing?
  2. Much like the campground hosting, we will need to pack up and drive ⅔ of the way across the US for an unknown opportunity.
  3. The season for guiding is short and there will be no guarantee of income once we get there.
  4. Guiding in Idaho requires state licensing.  This will require I obtain significant training once we get there (some of the training I might even have to pay for).  That equals an unknown income for an unknown time and additional expenses before the first paycheck.

Despite the hangups, I believe that I am still going to make it happen.  So far I have created a list of all of the outfitters I could find on the internet in the areas that I am interested in working. I have filled out one online application and have yet to hear anything back.  The plan is to just keep plugging away at it until I figure it out.

The boss is supporting me on this crazy idea with the idea being that we will find a location where we can set up camp, she will find a tourism-related job that she enjoys and we will have a crazy first summer on the road.  

The dates for this would be March through August. Then we will ???? The insanity of all of this makes for fun conversations but we are both up to the challenge I think.  Sink or swim (pun intended) It will make for a great life story before it’s all over!

Friday, August 26

??When to hit the road ??

We now live in an RV and continue to work our full-time jobs.

So far the boss and I have stayed busy with “making things happen”.  Making decisions, downsizing, moving into the RV,  settling in, learning about our new “home”.  Now we find ourselves in a position of infinite possibilities but are suffering from a bit of indecision.

The current plan is to hit our financial benchmarks then hit the road.  We are calling the magic benchmark number $30,000 liquid with all debts paid.  Our actual numbers from our estimates are $12,000 cash reserve for road-life rainy day funds (6-months expenses) and then $16,000 cash reserve to protect our rental properties.  We have been back and forth on the numbers quite a bit but always end up back at these approximate figures each time.

Why not save more?  This would be the safest and easiest path.

We have steady employment with decent income and benefits.  Health insurance is covered.  I don’t anticipate seasonal positions on the road paying anywhere near what we are making.  I don’t see a situation where our expenses will be this low again.  If we just kept saving at this rate we could amass quite a pile of cash.  

Why not do this for another year?  

Another 2 years?  

Wouldn’t it be great to hit the road with 3x our anticipated “fall back cash”?  4x?  10x?

I don’t have an answer.  Yes?…. At what cost?

Are we fools to give up the “sure thing” in exchange for a nomad lifestyle?  The math says so.  But i’m not sure living well is all about the math.

I recently read that a “fall back plan” can become an obstacle in achieving goals.  Knowing that a plan B exists provides options and an alternative to success in any endeavor.  I’m not sure I agree but I do understand the logic.  If failure is an option …..well….. Its an option.

Why not hedge all bets against failure?

Conversation with self:

Why not stick with the “sure thing” and amass as much $$ as possible until you are too old to work anymore and then ensure that you have the maximum number of options at all times?

Well….. not taking advantage of any of these options defeats the purpose. 

Are you living to collect options without ever choosing one?

Are you afraid that choosing one option could cause you to miss out on the possibilities of another?.  

Its psycho babble but….it’s a bit real.

Paralysis by analysis.  

The freedom to be able to choose our own path is causing a bit of angst.  We could avoid the discomfort by following societies norms and just continuing with the status quo, collecting money and aging.  Or….  we could continue to follow the path that we have already chosen, stay the course and commit to a new and uncertain life.  A life full of unknown opportunities, challenges and experiences.

Not knowing what is around the next corner is a bit spooky.  It’s also exhilarating and energizing.

I say we stay the course and look forward to the opportunities, challenges and experiences that the path ahead may bring.

I think i just talked myself into hitting the road in March.  I’ll need to run it by the boss.

Rant complete.

Saturday, August 27

RV Toilets are Awsome!

Before I begin I want to throw out a few disclaimers:  

I have only been full time for six weeks and during that time have spent one out of every 3 days away from the RV (at work).  

Also in the past month I was out of town for 1 week.

That said, in the days that I have been at the RV I remain in awe of the steadfast resolve of this porcelain combatant.

THE RV TOILET!

I’m a big guy (6’ 4”,  250lbs) and eat a pretty high protein / high vegetable fiber diet.  As a result I tend to engage in combat with porcelain warriors from time to time.  They often put up a good fight but with the aid of a plunger, some profanity and steadfast determination I ultimately become the victor.

This is not the case with my RV porcelain opponent.  Regardless of what punishment I subject it to the result is always the same.  A quick gulp and flush with a smug reply…..is that all you’ve got.

Of course it is is design perfection.  No trap or J-pipe to slow its movements.  No ornate trinkets or ineffective gadgets to hold it back.  Like a cheetah it is perfectly designed for its role in the wild.

I throw my punches and sprinkle my work with TP confetti.  The challenge has been made.  It’s the Toilets turn.

Its reply is always the same.  A vacant thousand yard stare.  A look of indifference.  It knows that it will be the victor and finds my challenge borring.

The side lever is pushed.

In moments the battle is over and once again the toilet is the victor.  It remains stoic.  No rowdy “in your face” or taunts at my failure to best him.

The RV toilet is a thing to be admired.  We can learn from this inanimate servant of our.  Demonstrated attributes to admire:

  • Humility, service is rendered without comment or expectation of thanks
  • Conditioning:  the toilet knows its place in this world and maintains a constant state of readiness to do its doody/Duty
  • Bravery:  mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty (thank you merriam-webster.com)

RV toilets are awesome!

 

Monday, August 29

Living day to day

A tropical depression is hitting Florida today. Hurricane Hermine.  As with all big weather events the predictions of where are all over the place.  Not a hurricane any more though though, winds are expected to 25 mph with lots of rain.

The storm scare got the attention of our RV park manager and I came home to find our RV tied down with hurricane anchors.   This consists of steel cables anchored to the concrete on the rear 2 support beams under the fifth wheel.  There is another strap on the tongue of the fifth wheel as well.  In not sure if they would overcome significant winds but it’s a nice thought.  (TAKE SOME PICS)  Ahhh…..the joys of summertime in florida.

Currently investigating an RV park side hustle.  I recently overheard a conversation at the park office that an RV exterior wash costs $60.  Now, I am yet to wash an RV but I can’t imagine it taking longer than an hour.  $60 an hour minus the costs of detergent seems like a nice chunk of supplemental travel cash.  I’ll start with mine and leave na update.

The LED conversion went well.  I received my shipment of “plate lamps” with wedge bases.  They installed easily and look great.  http://www.m4products.com/alplate-24-5630-nw-natural-white-double-aluminum-plate/

Note:  Added April 1, 2017 Since changing out the few LED’s from this first round we have gone on to replace all of the bulbs with intentions of dry camping in the future.  Because of the costs associated with replacing so many bulbs, I tried ordering E-bay LED’s.  The cost was 1/10th of the “high-end bulbs”.  We have not had a single problem with the cheaper LED replacements and intend to continue to use the cheap ones in the future.  Money saved is money earned!!

Im struggling with the intent of all of the overhead lights in our RV.  It appears they installed lighting for an operating room in here.  There are double lamps everywhere.  I suppose they just didn’t want anyone complaining about not having enough light.  We plan to replace the bulbs that we use and leave the other bulbs in the less used or not used light fixtures.

We are getting better at managing our electrical use.  We got a bit greedy yesterday and had the AC going, warmed food in the microwave and had the TV on.  All was well until the boss took a shower.  About 2 minutes in the breaker popped.  We are assuming that the addition of the water heater pushed the load over the edge.  At least we recognize the reason and can plan to be more careful in the future.  Still learning.

Another event was the replacement of our bedroom mattress.  This was an unanticipated and unwelcome expense but the boss was insistent.  It seems she does not enjoy the dent I create in the mattress and the pull on her body that that dent creates.  She referred to it as a black hole in the bed where i sleep.  Picky, Picky.

We have had this discussion years ago and the end result was us mattress shopping for our old king sized bed.  It was money well spent and resulted in wonderful sleep for years.  We would have brought that mattress with us if it would have fit. The lesson learned was that the cost of a mattress hurts less over time.  Better we replace our mattress immediately and get it out of the way.

We hit the local mattress stores and tried to avoid laughing at the sales people when they quoted us prices.  THEY HAVE GONE UP IN RECENT YEARS!!  WE did find a mattress that reminded us of our old one but of course it was out of our “mattress budget”.  Out of habit I asked if they had any “scratch and dent” mattresses (not knowing if there even was such a thing).   The salesperson stated that there was a clearance outlet in our area so we gave it a visit.  BINGO!  They had the mattress we liked for half the price.  It had a scuff on the side from where the packaging had torn.  Half price was nice but it was still at the upper end of our budget.  I asked what there best price was to make the sale happen right now.  They came off the price another $175 dollars without any haggling.  SOLD!  And we stayed under under budget.

I still have to purchase fifth wheel hitch for the truck but after that I believe all of our large expenses are out of the way.  We upgraded the chairs and are happy with the bedding.  We have yet to identify anything that is not suiting our needs.  There has been a bit of research on solar panels and an upgrade to the 12-volt system in the RV but that is nothing that we currently NEED.  I would love to not do this upgrade but staying in the RV outside of campgrounds is something we would like to explore.

Currently searching for a new theme for the website so that it looks organized. I can only do some much with the free theme that I am using.  Im quite sure it’s limited by my abilities but something a bit more intuitive and organized to suit my needs would be nice.  Less tech stuff and more content is my goal.

WE continue to work and save. I intend to go back to teaching EMT at a local community college and have been waiting for scheduling of my fingerprinting and drug screen.  Once that is done I will be back in the classroom.  I am looking forward to it for both the income and the experience.  I always enjoyed teaching.

Working out has been going well and the boss is on board as well.  No injuries and we are both feeling great.  

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please”

-Mark Twain

Reach out to us and say hello!

The internet is a big place, thank you for stopping by our little corner!  Please let us know what you think, share your comments, concerns and questions with us.  Its nice to know that people care!

August 15 – 21, 2016

August 15 – 21, 2016

Tuesday, August 15

Cooked my first meal in the in the RV!  The gas is enjoyable to cook with, the stovetop is adequate.  The counter space presents challenges but I think we can adapt.  A full thanksgiving meal might be a challenge but Taco night is no big deal!

The chairs were as advertised.  They look great in the RV (hope the boss agrees) and are extremely comfortable.  —-The boss just walked in and approved!—–  great timing.

The gray and black tanks on the RV needed emptying again.  With the boss home alone for 7 days we made it 10 days until ¾ lights showed up on our tank gauges.  It looks like weekly pump out will work well and keep us safe from whatever it is that happens when you don’t empty the yuck tanks. 

The pool at the RV park has come in handy for 2 days in a row.  As it is the down season we have it all to ourselves.  Doing laps has been a pleasure in a big pool that I don’t have to take care of myself!

Time to go sit in those chairs with my feet up.  Past time actually (it’s 9pm)

Friday, August 19

Electricity is like magic to me.  I’m a fairly smart guy and have had some formal electrical training but unfortunately never applied myself to master the material.  Electricity has always been there to do what I want when I want, without conditions.  Not anymore, with a 30 amp service and RV breaker panel—

Here is what I learned late last night and today (thanks to the educational value of a crock pot). The situation started last night with our house master breaker popping.  We were home at the time and noticed the lights and AC turn off (easy to identify), found the breaker and reset.  Turned off a few lights and the fan that runs in the bedroom.  Reset the breaker and things were fine until an hour later.  This time the RV breaker inside was fine and I checked the service outside and found it to be tripped. Reset again and hoped for the best.  Long story short……we were using our crockpot for the first time and the main circuit breaker to our rig would pop when the AC compressor kicked in. We are using too much electricity, This was my diagnosis.

Fast forward to this afternoon.  AC and power all morning and our crockpot food was done so it got unplugged.  After taking care of some afternoon projects and enjoying dinner, and we settled down in the house.  THE OUTSIDE BREAKER THREW AGAIN!  This time with nothing on but the AC, the small living room fan and 2 lights.  

I did some studying online and found this to not be too unusual a situation.  An AC is an AMP hog and RV service is notorious for being fickle. My concerns / questions now are; is the AC in need of cleaning/servicing?  (this will have to wait until Saturday) or is the AC problematic and in need of replacement (It’s 6-years old but hardly used).  Could it be that keeping an RV cool in the summer heat of Florida is just taxing on the unit causing it to run more inefficient?  These are issues I need to figure out and AC is a top priority to me when its 98 degrees with 80% humidity.  I can’t wait to get out of Florida in the summer! Until then I will need to learn my RV electrical and Amp draws intimately.

Installed the first of our Max-air vents on the RV roof.  The bathroom vent fan needs to stay on to keep the room from getting damp from wet towels, moisture in the shower, swimming pool clothing that needs to dry.  Because the fan needs to remain on the vent cover needs to stay up.  The problem we identified with that is we live in Florida and the likelihood of daily rain is high.  It is counterproductive to have it rain into the bathroom when we struggle with moisture already.  Enter the Max-air.  It installed easily and not the vent can remain open.  Great design, and straightforward installation.

On a personal note:

The boss pointed out that I have become a bit unreasonable with not spending money.  She is correct.  I hesitate to spend the first penny unless the purchase is identified as “a complete necessity” and one that will satisfy a need for an extended period of time.

There is a result of an epiphany that took place while selling all of our belongings. This realization is still a bit haunting to me still.  As we were selling off our “treasures and belongings” I recognized how many things we had purchased over time and the massive amount of money that we converted into stuff.  Granted, some of this stuff added value and comfort to our life but soooo much of it was just stuff.  Impulse buys, things we just “had to have” trinkets and gadgets.  As I dug through these items and then sold them for pennies on the dollar I recognized the waste.

We have been a pretty frugal family in the past several years.  Living on a budget and working to become debt free kept us motivated.  And yet we still seemed to accumulate junk along the way.  Now that we live in a space where everything needs to have a place and be kept there I feel the need to “keep it simple” and minimize the “stuff” we purchase.  

I find no enjoyment in buying things but I am also not financially motivated.  Money to me is simply peace of mind and options, a tool that will allow us to move forward and live an adventure as opposed to the rat race.  I recognize the utility of money to buy things that provide comfort, value and service but finding the balance between that and “instant gratification purchases” is what I struggle with.  It will be a work in progress I suppose.

Sunday, August 21

Spent the morning emptying out the last of our stored items in the expedition, transferring to our storage location and then going through and consolidating some of store “Stuff”.

Its tough to stay focused while going through old children’s books, photos, and personal items.  The boss and I stayed strong.  Out went our old yearbooks, teenage memorabilia, odds and ends that we might need to look through again but serve no purpose.  I tossed my old Army certificates, awards, and collectibles.  The boss started unloading her scrapbooking supplies.  It was a successful trip.  We kept it short to prevent it from turning into “work”  we have plenty of time before we become fully mobile and have yet to determine our final storage solution while we are on the road.

Yesterday evening was spent with the roof AC unit.  I watched a few youtube videos on RV AC service and got to it.  I cleaned the internal coils and filter (they were not dirty).  Next, I headed to the roof to get into the outside parts.  After removing the cover i was happy to see that the Unit was clean and appeared to be in good shape.  The coils were spotless.

I found that all of the manufacturer info is on the inside of the shroud and helped tremendously with identifying what I was working with.  After putting the shroud back on I hit the internet to research our unit and got all of the specs.  The unit is an electric hog and with a 30 amp service to the RV we pretty much have to be selective with what electricity we use and when.  

I’m happy to find that nothing is broke but the I now know that you can’t take electricity for granted when living in an RV.  It’s time to study more and learn how to operate more efficiently.  LED light bulbs anyone?  I also found out that the 12-volt system runs off of a converter.   I thought the 12-volt was straight from the battery.  So much to learn but I am enjoying the process.

The boss and I were invited to dinner by some neighbors in the park.  The campground hosts!!  Finally get to hear the inside scoop from experienced full-timers.  I’m excited to hear everything that they have to share.  

Other accomplishments +learning experiences:

Converted our garden hose water supply line to a “white hose”.  The tap water in the RV tasted like garden-hose!  Surprise, that’s where its coming from dummy!  The boss found that this product existed and it’s a great improvement to our water flavor.  Hopefully we can quit buying bottled water now.  Curious to know how others keep water when traveling.

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. “

-Benjamin Franklin

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!