I often get asked the question “Are you retired?” Probably because, like many of you, I show the outside world what I want them to see and it may not always be reflective of the total reality of my life. I give you a glimpse of the fun part!
Are we retired? Well, we’re working on it as fast as we can!
The answer is “NO”! The fact is Tempo and I both work full-time jobs and are too young to officially be “retired”. Tempo is an office manager for a national real estate management company and I am a Partner at a CPA firm in Texas (I don’t do taxes so no tax questions please). We live comfortably in a stick and brick home in the suburbs of Dallas…and in our Berkshire RV “The Whip”! I added the “and” because more and more we find ourselves traveling for a week or two at a time in our RV and less time in the office or at home. In fact, since we started RV’ing in August of 2015 (a six and a half month span) we have traveled about 6,000 miles (July 2016 update; make that 10,000 miles…yikes!). Yes, that is a lot for “part timers” and a staggering time commitment. Let me share with you how we do it.
Determine what you want out of your life.
Life before our RV life was very different. We worked hard and made a comfortable living. We worked a lot. Vacations were woven into work and work was woven into vacations. We both carried two computers on every trip, our work computer and our personal computer. Upward mobility and accumulating a retirement nest egg was all we cared about. Then a series of events happened that opened our eyes; First, the 2008 Recession (from which the world has still not fully recovered); Second, a string of health issues beginning in mid 2014 through early summer of 2015 (to both of us). Tempo and I came to realize our retirement goals were not certain. In my first career, I experienced the fragility of life and how quickly events can turn bad on you. Recent experiences were a sobering reminder of that fragility. So we made a decision. Work, while very important to us, would longer be our number one priority. Quality of life would take it’s place. We planned to prioritize travel (act like we retired) in spurts, make less money and we adopted AussieOne (we already had Big Red and Griz). We also bought a brand new RV, twice!
Assess whether your job is flexible enough for the RV lifestyle
Naturally, we watched all of the popular YouTube travel videos and read the blogs of full-time travelers. We noticed though, making money directly from travel is a challenge. Some people are able to make a living and some struggle. We have specific financial needs. Realistically, we knew we would need to continue to work in order to fund our travel so we had to make a choice; keep our current jobs and morph our work style to fit the RV lifestyle or switch to part-time contract work using our current skill set and credentials (I guess I could learn to do taxes – boring). By carefully examining how much of our work could be completed remotely and through discussions with our respective bosses (tricky) we determined that we could go on the road much more than the average part timer and still keep our full-time jobs. This is our current state.
Set a long-term goal and make a plan to achieve it
Goal: We want to travel full-time in our RV along with our three fur babies. Goal set. Now what?
We took an inventory of your current financial position and realized we were in decent shape. Most of our debt is in our house, an appreciating asset that would be paid off in three years. Winning! Once we pay the house off we could rent it out and use that income stream as a supplement to our savings. Or we could sell it and invest in another income producing investments. We also accumulated a lot of stuff over the years much of which is sellable. Should we decide to sell the house converting the stuff to cash would increase our savings.
Continuing to work would fund this along with paying down other minor debt and our RV note. We decided Tempo would keep working until we make all the value added and necessary improvements on our house and extinguish our debt. She would also keep working to build her custom jewelry business “Faithfully Jeweled” found on Etsy (yes that is a plug). At some point in time Tempo will stop working.
I would continue to work for the time being as my job is very conducive to working remotely for long periods of time. At some point I would transition to part-time contract work or not work at all if financially feasible.
You get the picture. Plan to plan, then plan and plan some more.
Execute your plan
This is the easy part if you have truly thought through the logistics of settling your financial affairs and focused on down-sizing over a predetermined period of time. Follow your script but be flexible and patient in your expectations. Life has a funny and sometimes not so funny way of laughing at your plans. We are in the beginning stages of executing our plan. We call it “Operation Exit Strategy”. It’s not for everyone, but, it’s our way. Are we retired? No, but, we’re working on it as fast as we can!
March 2017 update
Tempo is retired! Her last day of work was the end of January. She is currently focused on her custom jewelry business and had joined our daughter in the LipSense business. She is also spending quality time with AussieOne!
We are two years away from having our home paid off! My firm has merged with a larger firm and I am enjoying the new challenge. While we are facing many changes and challenges, the new pace and freedom has us excited about the future.
Tempo’s (former) employer was always great about letting her work remotely. But retirement is better! We can now decide on Wednesday that we are leaving town on Thursday night for a long weekend…somewhere.
Go with the wind I say!
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