Having Enough

having-enoughRecently I received an e-mail from a want-to-be full-timer who wasn’t too far off from retirement age, but wished they could hit the road early. They said money one was one of the factors that kept them from going now, because “you can never have enough”. Allow me to point out that you can, in fact have “enough”. I proceeded to write out a lengthy but quickly written e-mail about how to decide what “enough” was, but I thought others would benefit from this term I picked up from a lifestyle design blog (AoNC) called sufficiency.

While I’m sure the RVing community at large means well, it can be frustrating for a prospective RVer to try to pin down how much they need to go full-timing because every full-timer they ask is going to give them a different number. This is because while one dollar has the same value for all people, how much money equals ‘a lot’ or ‘a little’ (or enough to go full-timing) is relative.

The adult years before retirement are referred to as ‘the rat race’ because of the predominant theory in our culture that one can never have enough. That there is a finite amount of wealth to be had, and to avoid falling behind your peers you’d better keep working as hard as you can as long as you can. And so, no matter how much money we might have, we look at our bank account and are never satisfied.

While it wasn’t always the case, since I decided to go full-timing I’ve lived by the idea that we can have enough, that life should not be just about scrambling to get the largest piece of the pie (although if we’re talking about a physical instead of a metaphorical pie, then yes there might be some scrambling for the largest piece, ahem).

Some people I talk with who still live in the ‘real world’ speak to me as though I must have given a lot up to live like I do. I make quite a bit less now than I did working in my field at a ‘real’ job, so while I may have gained mobility, I had to sacrifice in other areas of my life to accomplish it.

Never judge your quality of life by another’s standards. While I may have less living space and a smaller paycheck, I don’t feel like my options have been significantly limited. It’s all relative. I prefer to spend my money on gas to travel than on fancy clothes or lavish home furnishings. I’ve never been particularly impressed by the expensive tourist traps that can cost travelers a lot of money when they’re on vacation. I just don’t need as much money as some folks do to live life the way I want to.

How much do you need to achieve sufficiency? It can be broken down into something as simple as this: Figure out how much money you need, for items like food, gas, personal care, insurance coverage, etc. If you’re planning on going RVing, figure out how much you’ll need for the initial RV purchase – if you don’t know how much you need for that yet, it’s time to research what kind of RV you want, and how much it’ll cost. Then add in how much money you want: for gas to travel, for entertainment, for modifications you’d like to do for your RV, and you’ll also want a little extra coming in to set some aside for an emergency fund and/or a retirement fund.

Once you have that number, that’s it. There’s no reason to run yourself ragged to earn more than that. At that point, earning more isn’t going to be increasing your quality of life, it’ll be hindering in actually with the added stress of work and less time to do the things that light you up.

In the name of transparency, I haven’t quite mastered the concept of sufficiency, but I’m getting closer. I calculated it out and knew what my number was before taking the RVing plunge, but I left about $1,500 short of my original savings goal due to burn out at my job. That money was what I had intended to set aside for solar equipment for boondocking, and through picking the work camping gigs that would give me the most money for my time and with your use of my Amazon affiliate linkΒ (thanks!) I’ve been slowly closing the gap. While I still won’t have enough to spend part of this winter down in the deserts of the southwest and check out the scene at Quartzsite, I’m pretty hopeful for next winter.

If you want another way of looking at it, I’ve also heard of the concept of sufficiency as living a life of abundance. Living and working as though you can never have enough is operating under a mindset of scarcity, and it leads to a constant state of unease. Unease because you’re always worried about the future. Unease because you’re weary from over-work and not taking enough time for yourself. Living abundantly is being self-aware enough to throw off the mantle of scarcity that kept our early ancestors alive in hard times. It’s taking deliberate action to decide for ourselves what enough looks like and learning to trust in ourselves that we can handle what the future holds.

Right now I have everything I need and most of the things I want, and I sincerely hope you’ll join me in abundance – it feels good.

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39 Responses to Having Enough

  1. Shirley September 7, 2013 at 7:10 am #

    Your article was great. We are slowly working our way to the freedom of the open road and this just reaffirms our desire to make the change and live a mobile lifestyle. Thanks!

    • Becky September 7, 2013 at 10:59 am #

      Glad you found it helpful Shirley. Thanks for commenting and good luck getting on the road!

  2. Mike LeBlanc September 7, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    What I most enjoy about your blog is that you write in a way that gives one “food for thought”. Thank you for taking time to organize your thoughts and share. This writing is one of the very best!

    • Becky September 7, 2013 at 11:06 am #

      Thanks Mike, glad you liked it. I stayed up until midnight finishing it, haha. I was dead set on getting it out on Friday in attempts to get back on a steady schedule, but it took so long to write it was actual the first hour of Saturday.

  3. Todd September 7, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    Thanks for sharing, Becky. I always refer to the work, work, buy mindset as “chasing your tail”. I moved one more step away from that circle this week when I bought a different hauler. Next step is marketing the S&B. Oh yeah, lest we forget, getting rid of all those things that I once thought I needed.

    • Becky September 7, 2013 at 11:08 am #

      Sounds like you’re making good progress Todd, congrats. Good luck on downsizing, best advice I can give is do it one small bit at a time in multiple waves to avoid getting overwhelmed.

  4. Carolyn September 7, 2013 at 10:10 am #


    I am still enjoying following your rving lifestyle journey.

    You are doing great!

    • Becky September 7, 2013 at 11:09 am #

      Thanks Carolyn, it’s nice seeing your thumbs up on my FB updates every time a new one goes up.

  5. Wayne from PA September 7, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Another good post, Becky. I have a little anecdote to add (don’t I always?). I retired from teaching at the end of the past school year. It was two years earlier than I planned, but state budget cuts caught up to me.

    When I received the notification, I started doing a new personal budget, based on my available retirement pay (partial teacher pension and social security). I took my last paycheck stub and subtracted out everything I wouldn’t have to pay once I was retired: FICA, unemployment insurance, union dues, state and local income taxes (a PA law for retirees), my pension payment, and so forth. I then multiplied this times the 26 paychecks I received per year and it came up to a whooping $8300.00. I added to this my commuting gasoline, the clothes I had to keep replacing for work, money to buy lunch and drinks at work, supplies for my classroom, etc., and the total of what I would save came to over $10,000 per year. I came to an amazing conclusion:


    Now, I know not everyone is at my age (really, really old) or is in the same economic situation, but when I mentioned this at a family gathering over the summer, my brother’s wife’s parents (okay, I know that got complicated..lol) said, “Yeah, we never had any money until we retired”. Hmmm, interesting observation.

    So, I have a specific goal over the next (approximately) 2 years…that is to save up enough money to get the type of RV I want (used). I have the opportunity to work 80 days a year as a substitute teacher without affecting my pension, so I will do that. Then, I’m heading southwest.

    But, I suggest others do the same thing I did. Look at your pay stub. Subtract out those things you won’t pay if you aren’t working (and some of that depends on your state laws). Subtract your direct working expenses,..gasoline, clothing,etc. Then look at what income you will have coming in. You may be surprised at the result.
    Wayne from PA recently posted..Getting Older but Not SmarterMy Profile

    • Becky September 8, 2013 at 10:43 am #

      Huh, interesting Wayne. Since I’m going to be working age for many years to come I of course factor taxes into every dollar I make, including the online ones since I still gotta pay on that, it just happens at the end of the year. This information should be helpful for those who retirement age but are holding on a bit longer for more money, thanks for sharing.

  6. Mike LeBlanc September 7, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    GREAT COMMENT by Wayne! I too am a retired educator and went through the same thought process. The important thing is to keep track of every expense and constantly find ways to save pennies and nickels; these will add up to $$$$’s.

    • Becky September 8, 2013 at 10:45 am #

      Yep, even small expenses add up over time. Just cutting soda out of my budget saved me a fair bit of money. πŸ™‚

  7. Gayle September 7, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    You caught the big lesson that Americans need to learn: “Never judge your quality of life by another’s standards.” !!! And please, may I add MY biggest life lesson: “Never judge YOUR OWN SELF-WORTH by another’s standards.” THEY can never be right, because THEY are not YOU! To Becky: The more philosophical you get, the more I enjoy your (already wonderful) blog!

    • Becky September 8, 2013 at 10:47 am #

      I try to balance philosophical with practical advice. With travelogues thrown in when I’m on the road, because I know I sure like reading about new places. Thanks!

  8. Rosemary Rizzo September 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Becky, your advice is so very sound and well thought out. At my point right now, it is getting rid of all the accumulation and stuff I thought I couldn’t live without. This is a very hard part of deciding to full-time
    Thank you for your encouraging advice and thoughts. Hope to see you on the road in the future.

    • Becky September 8, 2013 at 10:48 am #

      I’m sure we’ll meet on the road one day Rosemary. Just keep plugging away at downsizing bit by bit, you’ll get there. πŸ™‚

  9. Marcia GB in MA September 7, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

    Great post! I really like what you said about figuring out what you need to live and working past that number is not going to improve the quality of life. I hear so many people say they are tired of living the way they do in today’s world. Many folks are living the RV lifestyle on $2,000 a month or less. They work camp like you do or have an internet business. In order to make it all happen, they make a plan, get rid of debt, use some savings to buy a used RV/trailer, maybe have Medicare or some other cheap health insurance, a little cushion in the bank in case of repairs/emergencies and so on. These folks budget everything in advance: gas, food, free or low cost camping, cell phone, maybe buying or trading in books and clothing when they want something new. It’s a frugal way to live but the places they visit and the people they meet along the way more than make up for that. It’s simple: most of us don”t NEED 1/10th of what we currently have. It’s all in how you choose to live your life.

    But I don’t have to tell you that, Becky πŸ™‚ You have lived this reality everyday for the last 2 years. I’m only trying to extra encouragement for those who dream about it.

    You are an inspiration to all of us.

    • Becky September 8, 2013 at 11:05 am #

      Heya Marcia, glad you liked the post!

  10. Kim September 7, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    Beautiful post. I read it twice! Looking forward to your e-guide.
    Kim recently posted..Fall Trip PlanningMy Profile

    • Becky September 8, 2013 at 11:08 am #

      Thanks Kim, and I can’t wait to hear about your trip this fall. πŸ™‚

  11. Dawn September 7, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    Excellent points. I learned long ago when I was a runner never to compare myself to anyone else…the lesson applies to more than running. You are so young to be so wise.

    • Becky September 8, 2013 at 11:10 am #

      Glad you enjoyed it Dawn.

  12. Paul Dahl September 8, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    I have to laugh when I hear these financial gurus who espouse that you need hundreds of thousands of dollars to be able to retire. In their eyes, that is “enough”.

    We don’t, and I’m sure most people don’t either. Some people look at us like we’re crazy to have given up our house and most every belonging to travel full time. Many more wish they could do it, but get hung up on “stuff” and making enough money to support that stuff.

    I have a brother that is working himself into an early grave. 70-80+ hours a week to support a lifestyle and a fancy house in a fancy neighborhood that he pays over $30K in taxes yearly. Then he takes a one or two week vacation so he can relax and “enjoy” life.

    Enough is a state of mind. You have done an excellent job in trading stuff for quality of life, you have enough to really enjoy yourself. The experiences you’ve already had on the road most people will never accomplish in a lifetime.

    Once again, a well written and thought provoking post! Keep up the good work. :c)
    Paul Dahl recently posted..Washing TadpolesMy Profile

    • Becky September 9, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

      Heck, I think 40 hours a week is still too much work, but sadly a girl has to eat and pay RV insurance. πŸ˜‰

      I just hope my writing helps others see that there are other options out there besides the standard work as much as you can until you retire model. So many people I’ve met just seem miserable all the time. Life shouldn’t be like that.

  13. Kathi & Michael Williams September 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Fun stuff. Just a note to Wayne and any other teachers out there: I worked as an educator for decades and decades, but we do not pay into SS, at least in CA. I recently found out I “qualify” for Medicare, but because I’d only worked 26 units’ worth outside of education, I’m supposed to now PAY $451 monthly for the privilege of Medicare!! (NO way, Jose!)

    We’ll find out this week if I can ‘borrow’ units’ worth from hubby, but it’s not set yet. Perhaps it’s the same with policemen/firemen/other public servants, so please be sure you know the difference between what it means to ‘qualify’ and be eligible for free Medicare!! If I were single, I’d be completely screwed as my working pension from teaching would be sucked up by Fed. Medicare rules & all the other hoopla of health insurance, medications, etc!

    We’ve been prepping for the road since we bought our first tent in the 70’s, and loved our 36′ Gillig bus for another decade, but now we’re just hoping to get a small truck (Nissan Frontier?) to pull our 17.5 footer. Again, prices for even a used truck seem rip-off huge, but we’ve wangled a 0% interest rate, so may go for it…good luck and smart financial decisions to all!

    • Mike LeBlanc September 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

      To follow up on Kathi’s comment…Social Security is not held out in Louisiana either…I went into teaching having paid into Social Security for over 25 years…I am able to draw each…small reduction of Social Security because I retired as a teacher….but still a nice check.

      • Becky September 9, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

        Thanks guys for further information on retiring as a teacher – it’s going to be helpful to some folks out there. I just love how you all add to the conversation, makes this an even more valuable resource for those looking to get on the road. πŸ™‚

        As for you Kathi and Michael, good luck and have fun getting on the road!

  14. Walt September 9, 2013 at 12:18 am #

    I personally agree with this idea, but convincing my wife is another thing altogether. We have an autistic son to provide for, so that does hamper things a bit. Having recently lost my job at 56 years of age, I would love to hit the road tomorrow, but I know it won’t happen. Some days, I despair of it ever happening because of the need to provide for our son.

    • Becky September 10, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

      I work with a full-timer who is retirement age, getting a pension from a teaching job, and also a SS check – enough money to full-time off of without working. During a bad night at work she said she should just quit the job, she didn’t need the money to stay on the road anyway. I asked her why she does it then, and she told her about her son.

      Her son is grown, but suffers from horrible seizures, to the point where he can’t hold a steady job. Sometimes he is so ill he can’t care for himself. She continues to work on the road even after retiring to afford his medical care, she’s spent about $300,000 on hospital bills, medication, and alternative therapy for him, but that money has kept him alive.

      She always wanted to travel, so she work camps as a way to travel but still be able to care for him. Right now we’re both holding our breath, because he hasn’t had a seizure in 15 weeks, a recent record.

      Maybe work camping would allow you and your wife to continue providing for your son after you hit the road, and maybe it wouldn’t. I don’t know your situation so I can’t make recommendations, I just wanted to share this story in the hopes of inspiring you to look at alternative solutions. Maybe there is a compromise that would allow you to do some of both.

      • Walt September 10, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

        Thanks. I know it can be done. I’m just anxious to do it now while my wife insists on waiting a few more years. I guess we’ll get there someday, the dreaded word to someone who is impatient.

        • Becky September 11, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

          Just hang in there Walt, and best of luck!

  15. Kim and Jerry Portelli September 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Even in our “bricks and sticks” home, Jerry and I never had any debt, outside of our mortgage. For us then, jumping into the full-time RV lifestyle was relatively easy. Working seasonal jobs covers exactly what we need it to and I can attest, we are definitely not doing without anything :)! In our research before hitting the road, many told us not to get “bogged down” in the financial balance sheet. If we did, we were told, we would never pull out of the driveway!!
    Kim and Jerry Portelli recently posted..Mountain HiMy Profile

    • Becky September 10, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

      Looking at the finances in the planning stages was one of the more boggling aspects of getting on the road. You need to do some to make sure you don’t blow what you have early in your adventure, but it’s going to be an estimate (albeit a good one) since you can’t know exactly what’s in store once you hit the road.

      But yeah, debt bad. Freedom good. πŸ˜› I hope you two are having fun, have you made it to Arizona yet?

  16. amy September 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    My soon to be ex was fussing at me about my talking of going FT-RVing & he said “i don’t want you to have to do that, i want you to be stable.” Somehow he doesn’t see that having to start my life over again at the age of 45, having been a stay at home mom for 15 years doesn’t facilitate stable in this economy, if planning to go the “sticks & bricks” route. I’m thinking it will be easier to be “stable” in an RV since so many of the decisions we make are OUR choices…travel or sit, campground or wally world for a night or two along the way, free concerts in the park or disney world. I think in an RV our expectations are more realistic because we have taken our lives “back to basics” and put an emphasis on things that are important to us. And as Becky points out, that will always be different for everyone.

    • Becky September 10, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

      I agree Amy that stability can definitely be found in a RV depending on how you play it. I lived stationary in my RV in the town I’d been living in for about four and a half months before truly going full-time. This period allowed me to get ‘stable’ – seeing what the expenses looked like, discovering and fixing the minor problems in the RV, adjusting to the smaller space, and transitioning out of my more traditional job.

      My monthly rate at that RV park was $350, cheaper than any one bedroom or even studio apartment in the area (coastal, touristy). It’s was definitely a cheaper living option for a single person, and would more easily allow one to get back on their feet financially if you’re just re-entering the workforce now after a long absence.

      Good luck and let us know how it goes. πŸ™‚

  17. Drew in California October 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    Thanks for a well-written blog. I know it takes effort and forethought. You use two excellent words (among many others), sufficiency and abundance. The seemingly conceptual gap between those words can be closed by another word: contentment. Just as in writing, it takes effort and practice to be content and live abundantly.

    “I live in a very small house, but my window looks out on a very large world.” -Thoreau

  18. Pam Scola October 5, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

    Another great post, Becky!
    Amen, Wayne from PA !

    Thanks to a now defunct site called Simple Living, I was motivated to calculate my “true” hourly wage by adding my “outside of work” work related hours to my 40 hour work week, as well as the additional money I was spending due to work.

    The additional hours came from the cumulative hours I spent preparing for work, commuting round-trip, decompression time after work; ridiculous weekend entertainment expenses stress relief and compensation for my soul sucking job; shopping for “work drag”, etc. The additional expenses for gas and tolls, clothing and clothing maintenance, lunches (unhealthy ones), snacks, and drinks while at work, and dining out a few times per week because often I was too tired to cook after work.

    What an eye opener!

    After I completed the calculations of added hours and expenses I printed the amount of my “true hourly” wage and the question: “YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE?” on a sheet of paper that I cut down to just slightly larger than a US dollar bill so it would be obvious when I reached for money to mindlessly purchase something I didnt need nor really want.

    I also maintain a spreadsheet in Excel and input every cent out and every cent in.
    Another huge eye opener! I couldn’t believe the redundancies, nor the junk I was spending money on. “Mind the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves” is true!

    Both of the above have made enormous differences in my life. I’m on track to retire on December 31 and hit the road in my new-to-me paid for RV.

    Sorry this is such a long comment. πŸ™

  19. Tina June 8, 2016 at 11:52 pm #

    Hey Becky,

    Just a quick note to let you know I enjoy going back to some of your older posts for that pep talk πŸ™‚ This really does help me, I have some money saved and am just freaking out that it is not enough. How much longer should I continue to work? But really what is enough? And all the stress from work is just getting to be too much. I had forgotten about you leaving before you had the money you had planned on.

    I’m getting there, can’t believe you have been on the road for over 3 years now! WOW!!!!!


    • Becky June 9, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

      Hello Tina,

      Yeah, time sure flies! I still love full-timing as much now as I did when I hit the road in 2012, it’s been a great experience.

      It’s perfectly natural to experience fear in the planning stages of hitting the road, I sure did myself and wrote about it on a few occasions which you’ve probably already seen if you’re poking through my older posts.

      Best of luck to you, you’ve got this!

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