What About Retirement?

Hiding in my parent's yard

Hiding in my parent’s yard

Yesterday a reader asked me a really good question, something I’ve touched on before but never fully explained. Since I’m not making enough money to build up a nest egg, or holding one job long enough to acquire a pension, what do I plan to do for retirement?

The answer is this: I intend to work until I die or am incapable of working.

That might sound mildly horrifying, especially to those of you who’ve put in your 40+ hours a week for the entirety of your adult lives and are looking forward to (or currently enjoying) your well-deserved time off in retirement. But living this kind of lifestyle gives a person a different perspective.

What I do now doesn’t feels like a hardship to be endured. It’s a continuous working vacation, with a much better work-life balance than what I had those five or so years I was in the “real world” after college. I was already tired of working and the thought of being stuck in a 9-5 for 35 more years was intolerable to me. What I do now, I feel like I could do forever without growing weary of it. Yes there are periods of intense work, but when I volunteer in the winter there’s hardly any work at all. It’s like I get a mini-retirement every year.

Not that I’m just living for today and hoping the future takes care of itself. I do have an IRA and contribute to it regularly (Edit 2/9/16: 2015 ended up being a good year financially compared to my first two years on the road). It won’t be enough to retire at 65 or whatever the standard retirement age will be by that time, but it’ll cover me if I get to the point where I am incapable of working before I pass on.

The Northwoods, do you see Cas?

Wisconsin’s northwoods, do you see Cas?

Mind you, I’m also working on transitioning to online, location independent income sources that will be less physically taxing as I age (the e-guide I wrote for example), so that at 70 I won’t still be forced to deal with 50 hour workweeks of hard labor like at Amazon…. although I do know 70-year-olds who manage it just fine, and I hope I’m still in good physical shape when I get to that age – part of the reason why I jog and eat salads.

Now even with precautions, I realize there’s always the possibility something catastrophic could happen to me that would take away my ability to work before I’m ready and leave me destitute. But there’s also the possibility if I had decided to take a more traditional life path that something catastrophic would happen to me just after retiring, and that I’d never get to enjoy it. These kind of disasters fall into the realm of “things I can’t control”, so there’s no point in worrying about them. Life is full of uncertainties, but I refuse to be shackled by fear.

What it comes down to is this: I believe you can enjoy being a young full-timer now, without having to deprive yourself in your twilight years. What do you think?

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My campsite the past few weeks, I do have electric!

My campsite at my parent’s house the past few weeks, I do have electric!

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95 Responses to What About Retirement?

  1. Frank May 1, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    “You adapt to your surroundings/lifestyle”

    I’ve just been retired for about 2 yrs? don’t really remember and was “Born to Retire” heheh, meaning I have no problems not going to work.

    Having said that, while I never was able to hold a long term job, I was able to maintain through 2-5yr stints with not retirement fund.

    I used to think the same thing, that when the time comes, it comes regardless of what you’re doing and like the saying says, below, I don’t want to be just doing my time behind a desk.

    The downside is, of course, what if you’re not able to work at all, where do you live, what do you eat and as I’m finding out, what to do about medical.

    You have seen some full timers in the Camp Inn setups, so it can be done, you do, as I mentioned above, “Adapt”…

    It does take someone special to do what you’re doing at the age that you’re doing it, and my hat is off to you for your independence, resourcefulness and spark of adventure.

    As you know, it’s not always easy, and as you also know, it doesn’t matter if you’re behind a desk or out watching a sunrise, you’ll still have “Uneasy” time, so enjoy it while you can..

    cheers…

    Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming… WOO HOO.. What a RIDE!”

    • Becky May 1, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

      I do enjoy that quote Frank, it’s a good one. 🙂

      “The downside is, of course, what if you’re not able to work at all, where do you live, what do you eat and as I’m finding out, what to do about medical.”

      That’s why I’m working harder at saving up money and paying into my IRA this year, so that even though I won’t have enough for a traditional retirement, I’ll have more for those kind of expenses. We’ll see how it goes!

      And you’re right. It’s not always an easy life, but it’s a much more rewarding one!

      • Lynne N. August 28, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

        Hi Becky,
        I just found your site. Thank you for sharing life with us. Especially those of us who cannot rv at this time. It is refreshing to see pictures as well as the stories!

        Now, as far as medical goes, herbs and essential oils are a great plus to know. Many
        times it will treat what you have. Thus saving you a lot of money out of your pocket.
        I try to learn herbs of the area you are in. I have been to several states. Also there is a good book ( actually several that i have ) that can show and teach you these things. One is a Native American guide to herbs.
        Take care and learn all you can wherever you go.
        Lynne.

        • Becky August 28, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

          Welcome to IO Lynne!

          It’s interesting to see the trends in how traditional medicine is treated by society. For a while after the rise of modern medicine, herbs and other more natural type treatments were seen as total bunk, but now science is proving that there may be something to them after all.

          I personally believe each has it’s uses, part of my general “moderation in all things” outlook I guess. 🙂

    • AL Atlansky May 19, 2015 at 7:51 am #

      Since happiness comes from within, each of us “should” follow our needs. No, not at the expense of others. But to live how we desire to feel good about ourselves. That is true happiness! Many people, I dare say, especially a lot of women I know, live according to the “norm” of their social circle. The truth is, most friends are “fast friends”, that is to say, if you live the way they expect they are your friends.
      My point is simply that life is short. Being happy means and is about following your dreams, needs and all things that make you happy.
      OK, personally, I need to feel happy and do, when I get compliments. (To some degree that shows my insecurities.) Again, personally, I get it by cooking great meals or helping an old lady cross the street, whether she wants to go or not. LOL
      I always giggle when people tell me about being “old.” (Like that matters!) Health matters, age is but a number! I know dead thirteen year olds that died of heart attacks!
      Sure, there are social norms. If that “floats your boat” follow them!
      Some people like Joe & Kay Peterson elected to follow their dreams. They enjoyed the fruits of that and accepted the down-sides. They lived “outside-the-box” and loved every minute…….or at least most of the time! To this day, at eighty-eight years young Kay can teach much to real listeners with open minds and hearts.

  2. Jerry Minchey May 1, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    If you had one million dollars in the bank, at today’s CD interest rate of 0.93%, that would give you $777 a month of income.

    It doesn’t take many books or other location-independent projects to bring in $777 a month of income.

    In other words, writing a couple of books would be as good as having a million dollars in the bank.

    Just my two cents worth.

    • Becky May 1, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

      Interesting Jerry, I’d never looked at the the interest numbers like that before. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Lea May 6, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

      Well, if you had 1 million $, you would have it in investments like mutual funds, stocks and bonds, not a CD paying $5,000 a month (conservatively)–not that you should spend all of it, plus your 1 million would be continuing to grow as well.

      Anyway, it’s great that you are trying to put what you can into your IRA now. X amount of money invested when younger translates into far more money saved at retirement age than the same amount invested when older. Not having a mortgage or kids, you may even be doing better than a lot of others your age.

      • Lea May 6, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

        Somehow some of my text above got deleted. That should say: “not a CD paying less than 1%. You would make more like $5,000/month.

        • Becky May 7, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

          Thanks for sharing Lea and I think you’re correct. Sad as it may sound, I have more money saved up than a lot of my friends and acquaintances that are near my age. Yay IRAs!

  3. Ron May 1, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    A good perspective, may good health be with you & ENJOY!!!

    • Becky May 1, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

      Thanks Ron, glad you enjoyed this.

  4. Kim May 1, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    Becky,

    Even with your plans to continue to travel and seek work that you enjoy – even if it means not having a ‘traditional’ retirement – you are still ahead of many.

    I’m thinking of all the people your age with crushing debt – student loans, a mortgage, credit cards, etc …. Add a couple of kids into the mix, a divorce …. Well, as I say, you are doing great AND living on your terms!
    Kim recently posted..Southwest Trip Expense ReportMy Profile

    • Becky May 1, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

      Yes Kim, I’ve been very fortunate to not have debt to worry about and it makes a huge difference. I have several friends with significant debt and it weighs down every decision they make that involves money. I decided when I was buying my truck and RV to not go into debt to get the latest and greatest, and it was possibly the smartest decision I made.

      Glad you had a good time in the SW this winter, looking forward to reading about this summer’s adventure!

  5. Ken May 1, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    I think more and more people are discovering alternatives to the American 9-5 and I think it’s great! I’m considering doing the Anti-Sabbatical approach of working for a year and then taking a year off. But it’s definitely swimming upstream from a cultural perspective.

    • Becky May 1, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

      Yes Ken, a lot of people don’t get it or think it’s risky, but like you I’m finding more and more people who agree with this way of thinking. Maybe we’re starting a new trend here. 😉

      • Lynne N. August 28, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

        Or maybe…we are reverting back a little bit to the way we all used to be?
        I believe people were meant to enjoy life. The things that were put here for us to enjoy.
        Sure, most of us dont have a yurt… ( I would love one personally! 😉 ) but we have a little better as far as solid roof.
        I like the idea of leaving no footprints. I hate things to be messed up or trash laying around.
        Life sbould be enjoyed to the end.
        And don’t worry about dying..that day will come when it is that time
        It is said that society has drilled it into our heads that we are supposed to have a 9 to 5 job.We just need to lighten the load of all the material things that we really don’t need.
        Lynne.

        • Becky August 28, 2015 at 8:55 pm #

          Cultures always work like that to some degree I think Lynn, an ebb and flow in policy and what’s considered “normal”, “fair”, and “correct”.

          I agree with you that life should be enjoyed, I’d also say that contribution is important to a fulfilled life. What form that contribution comes in (raising a family, teaching, charities, big projects… basically helping others in one form or another) is up to each of us to decide for ourselves.

  6. OpenSpaceMan May 1, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    Becky_

    I read articles or studies all the time that say 70 > 80% of Americans hate their jobs and are over worked, stressed out, fight rush hour traffic and then collapse on the couch for a few hours, hit the sack and then wash n repeat. What fun…and most don’t have a ton in the bank, unless your a Goverment/State/City employee, pensions will be rare in the future.

    *This lifestyle design business is gaining traction…experiences over possessions. I’m getting closer everyday to my lifestyle design. Trading one year of work for one year off. Totally doable if a person doesn’t mind thinking outside the box and can be trainable.

    **You should be in better mental and physical shape then your contemporaries in 30 years.

    ***When I go to the health club I just run thru the machines do some cardio and stretch. Got to stay in shape if your gonna be employable as we get older.

    Great Post! Trendsetting can sometimes be a lonely business.

    • Becky May 2, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed this post OpenSpace. I think there are a lot of different kinds of people out there, and there is no best solution for how to live. Julie for instance loves her career and being a vet tech, and she likes having a predictable full-time job, but she did enjoy having those 6 months off to travel. I’m just glad that there are other viable options out there for those of us who don’t fit into that mold.

      Congrats on getting close! What kind of work are you planning to do during your year on, and what are you thinking of doing on your year off?

      • OpenSpaceMan May 2, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

        Becky_

        I’d love to be a digital nomad but I haven’t invested the time in that yet. I have exp. working many different jobs at resorts; Houseboat Instructor ( the person who explains how the mech./plumbing systems work ), Lake harbor pilot, Bartender ( getting a little to old for the high volume sports bar stuff, but I can make umbrella drinks at some lazy bar ), Mate on a charter fishing boat, I’ve done grounds setup for boat shows, barbeque fest and concerts ( rough work ), put up hurricane shutters, serviced air conditioners, basic construction, Store display setup.

        As you can see a lot of medium & low skill type stuff but I’m pretty flexible and I always try to get a letter of recommendation from my last gig and don’t burn bridges.

        Presently I sell ( full commission, not for the weak hearted ) furniture, mattresses & appliances. Good money certain times of year…but it’s weekends and evenings.

        This is how I’m paying off my van and some medical bills. My self imposed debtors prison sentence should be over by the end of the year and everything besides food, gas, insurance and propane will go into the escape fund.

        *I also play in a one man band at farmer’s markets, coffeehouses and retirement homes ( mostly volunteer but get paid on some gigs ). It’s not the traditional one man band that you where on your back. I play acoustic guitar, harmonica and sing and play homemade foot drums all at the same time. I spend most of my free time doin’ this for beer money if i’m lucky.

        **Probably a dozen other things I can’t think of right now. I was a movie extra for a while when I was younger, not much fun and not much money.

        Knowing that your out there living right for all us sinners is what keeps me going.

        – I think that was from “The Big Lebowski” .

        Peace.

        • OpenSpaceMan May 2, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

          Becky_

          That being said everyone will always need a place to sleep, a place to sit and a way to prepare food but that’s no guarantee that it will continue to be sold the traditional way. I work with several salespeople in their late 60’s early 70’s and they walk several miles everyday at work and they are some of the best at the company and in pretty good shape. A commission sales gig is easy to get anywhere. I’ve been hired back by the same place before after taking a walkabout.

          As long as I keep my fuel cost in check, overhead low and have enough of a cushion for major van maintenance and repairs, eat right and stay in shape so I have options, that’s about all I can do. On the odd non-working year I still plan on probably working a few outdoor gigs in high season to cover my insurance and beer.

          The best laid plans of mice and men/women right?

          • Becky May 3, 2015 at 9:36 am #

            Sounds like a good plan to me OpenSpace, I hope you have no problems paying off the medical bills and can make your escape soon. With your varied work history, I don’t think you’ll have a problem finding work on the road.

  7. Cary May 1, 2015 at 8:04 pm #

    This is what I know… Becky you have options, and you can change anytime you choose. You are young, intelligent, independent, and very resourceful. If at any time you choose to join the rat race, it will not be a problem, and the race will always be there. What you are doing now is enjoying life on your terms, and not worrying about all of the what ifs… You have taken this lifestyle by storm, and based on what I have read in your post, you plan and think things through carefully.

    When I was your age a lot of people joined the newly formed Peace Corps, as a way to travel and see the world… In my opinion what you are doing is wonderful. You are doing all of this while you are young and have both the health and ability to do so. You can do this the rest of your life, or you can stop anytime… With the knowledge you are gaining, and the skills you are acquiring along the way, there are numerous companies or organizations that would hire you in an instant to be apart of their team.

    Once again… you are inspiring your readers and making us rethink our own lives. To be able to do that is powerful.

    As one of my childhood movie stars use to always say “Happy Trails To You”

    Great Post… as a reader above stated…

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 9:39 am #

      Glad you enjoyed this Cary and thanks. I totally agree with you about the rat race, I left my vet tech career on good terms and if for whatever reason I ever decided I wanted to get back into it, there wouldn’t be a problem.

      My version of that quote is safe travels and happy trails. 🙂

  8. Mike May 2, 2015 at 4:18 am #

    Thanks Becky. I do appreciate your insights. After 6 months full-timing, I have decided that this is the lifestyle for me.

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 9:43 am #

      Glad you’ve enjoyed it Mike! 6 months seemed like the tipping point to me when I was getting started, they were the hardest months. People who make it past that point tend to keep going. 🙂

  9. Rick May 2, 2015 at 5:15 am #

    Each of us is given one life – and to live it as we choose. I went the route of the military, earned a pension, now live a carefree life starting in my forties. It took a lot of long, hard days/weeks/months/years of work – but that’s all in the past. Good luck with whatever path you decide to go down. You’re a very intelligent person so I’m pretty sure you’ll do fine whichever journey you decide to go on.

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 9:45 am #

      Glad you found a path that worked for you Rick, enjoy your retirement and thanks. 🙂

  10. Bill May 2, 2015 at 6:46 am #

    You have great insight for your age. In your spare time read up,on the power of compound interest. Starting to save what you can now will pay big dividends later.

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 9:47 am #

      I’m not familiar enough with it to know exact numbers, but I understand the concept Bill, thanks.

  11. Cathy P. of KS May 2, 2015 at 6:57 am #

    We have taken a lot of what others would call “risks”, leaving jobs and moving to other areas. I had one friend being critical because we went to Disney World with the kids as she felt we should be saving for retirement like she was and she would go when they retired. I just ignored her and sadly, she never reached retirement age. Memories are worth SO much.

    It gets easier all the time to choose adventure over the conventional humdrum of life.

    Retirement? At 60, I am the paid caregiver of my adult son with Down syndrome who is 28 years old. I can’t really ever retire from that so that is why I am choosing to go ahead with full-timing plans now. “What if………?” I always ask myself a million of them and realize that I can’t control most of the variables so I go with “What if I would die tomorrow?” Silly to worry about. I am a veteran so have VA Healthcare if I need it although I generally choose homeopathic medicine for myself and my son as it works without side effects.

    We live where there are many retired people living at all different levels. The happiest and most thriving are the ones that keep busy with either a job or volunteering. SO many people become depressed by just sitting around, count me in that group.

    Becky, by the time your turn comes for retirement, the age will probably be 90 years old and, what, you’ll only maybe have 12 or 14 years left at that time.

    Life is for living. To chase that dangling carrot that retirement is for 40 years…………..

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

      Stories like that were very motivating to me when I was preparing to hit the road. Who knows, I could be one of those people who won’t live past a traditional retirement age. There’s just no way of knowing what the future may hold, so I say live your life now. That doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t also have some care for the future… I think it’s possible to successfully do both.

      Sorry to hear about your friend Cathy, I’m glad you took your family to Disneyland! I hope you and your son have a great time on the road, safe travels and happy trails!

  12. Katherine May 2, 2015 at 8:26 am #

    HI Becky,

    very inspiring and interesting post. However, re potential income sources in retirement, you still have two allies on your side: Time and Social Security!

    1. Time
    You are young!! Assuming you would put away $50/ month ($600/ year) in an IRA in a simple Target Retirement Fund, you would have over $100 000 in there once you retire (assuming 35 years of contributions and an average 8% return). You can check potential scenarios using a compound interest calculator like Money Chimp on the web.
    In addition, at your income levels, the IRA contribution would make you eligible for the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit from the IRS, which is a refundable credit, i.e. even if you don’t owe any tax you will still get this credit from the IRS, Basically, the government gives you money to reward you for putting away money for retirement.

    2. Social Security
    In 35 years, Social Security will still be around in one form or another (which government would do fully away with a program that benefits a major part of the electorate?). For low income earners, Social Security replaces a much higher share of their income. At the income levels you posted for last year, that would be typically around 50-55% of your average yearly life time earnings. That’s not a lot but it’s not nothing!!

    Good luck with your travels and keep going – I enjoy reading every post!

    Katherine

    • Katherine May 2, 2015 at 8:32 am #

      HI Becky,
      one quick correction to what I said above – the retirement savings contribution credit is NOT a refundable credit (should have double-checked before I posted!!), i.e. if your tax liability is reduced to zero because of other nonrefundable credits, such as the education credits, then you will not be entitled to this credit.
      But in general, an IRA contribution is fully tax-deductible and will lower your taxable income.

      Thanks, Katherine

      • Becky May 3, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

        Hi Katherine,

        Yep I have an IRA as stated in the post, combined from my two 401k plans I had in my vet tech jobs… it was a pain to get them both made into one account but easier to keep track of. I’ll do better paying into it in the future. Glad you enjoyed this post, thanks for reading.

  13. Terri May 2, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    When I first read your comment to the other reader, and now this post, I have to admit it makes me feel so much better. Just like you, I have been questioned so much by well-intentioned folks, as to what i will do if a catastrophe happens, or if I hurt myself, etc. And those are valid questions to consider but if I let myself be ruled by them and the fear that they induce, I would just stick to what I am doing now and never have any hope for anything different to happen. Anotherwards, slowly die one day at a time. You always seem to think things through, with maturity way beyond your years, and I know if there is one thing you are, it’s disciplined. If you say you are going to bulk up your savings/IRA this year, I have NO doubt that you will do as you plan. And you know what? You could walk outside of your parents’ house tomorrow or outside of Cas tomorrow and something bad could happen (in my situation, I could get hit by a bus or a train) and then where would my life have been left? Not a wholly lived one, that is for sure.

    I know when I have my small house, and make the career switch, I know I’m not going to be making nearly what i am now, and while the thought does, of course, scare me, I know i will feel more fulfilled and happy. And that’s what it is all about.

    As always, love your posts and thanks for the inspiration.
    Terri recently posted..What a difference a week makes, and other thingsMy Profile

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

      A lot of times people’s responses are born out of fear because they couldn’t imagine taking the “risk” themselves. They don’t realize that it doesn’t need to be risky, or maybe they’re afraid to admit that no matter what they do to stay safe, disaster could still hit them too.

      I don’t know who decided that making money should be a top priority in life, but they were wrong. You and I know better Terri, and you’re welcome. 🙂

  14. Jodee Gravel May 2, 2015 at 9:12 am #

    Pensions are no longer the norm and by the time you are retirement age there will be very few who have them to live on. People will still have worked in soul-sucking jobs for decades, but if they didn’t feed a 401k or set up their own IRA, they aren’t retiring with an income. Having a traditional job no longer means having a traditional pension, it’s not where employers are putting their money. Because of this changing trend you are going to be miles ahead of so many your age. Do make that IRA a priority, and don’t panic when it takes a hit every now and then. It will bounce back 🙂

    In addition to writing about the RV lifestyle you could easily add financial reality articles to your repertoire!
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..One Month Til Launch – OMG!My Profile

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

      I’m not an expert on the subject, but from the little I’ve seen I’d agree Jodee. I think my parents were the last generation that can expect to have a sizable pension.

      And yes, I’ll do better with the IRA. 🙂

  15. J. Dawg May 2, 2015 at 9:20 am #

    A good thought provoking post. Make and live the life that brings you the most happiness, not the one other people expect you to live. That’s sort of how I look at things. You are prudent to think about things like this. But, know that things change. Five years ago, I wonder if you thought that you’d be living this current life. And who know what it will look like in another 5 years. You ponder the question – what if something bad happens? But more likely – what if something good happens? You may be just one article or book away from perhaps becoming a best selling author? Or you may be offered a dream job or meet a person who changes your life. All you and any of us can count on is knowing that it will change.

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

      Yes J. Dawg. That’s why when people ask me how long I’ll be full-timing, I tell them “Until I find something else I want to do more.” Because that’s the truth. I don’t even try to put a date on how long I’ll be doing this, it would be a total shot in the dark.

      Five years ago, no. 4 years and 9 months ago, perhaps. That was my big wake up call day. 🙂 A lot has changed since then, and I expect a lot more change ahead. It’ll be exciting!

  16. Pete W May 2, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    Becky,
    Great post. While I feel that we all should build a retirement fund, we all should live a life that is not defined, or imprisoned by that. We should live and plan, but live first. I want to encourage you in what you are doing, because what you are doing is an encouragement to others. I am sure that there are many people who read your blog and see that it can be done, that an alternative to the common path is out there. You and others are modern day Thoreaus, living an adventure, saying to the world, “hey I’m over in that scary place and it’s actually pretty cool”.
    Keep on.

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

      Thanks Pete, I’m glad you enjoyed this post. 🙂

  17. Alaskan Gypsy May 2, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    ok, attempt # 3
    I enjoy your blog. I am currently at home in Alaska but will head for Montana n 2 weeks to retrieve the RV and hit the road.
    As for internet access while traveling I use my ipad which works as a hotspot for my laptop. I have yet to find a spot with no coverage.
    In fact I tend to use it instead of available wifi because it’s faster
    I get it via AT&T and don’t know the price for it alone as my plan is a phone w/ internet, the ipad w/ internet, and the hotspot option.
    Good travels, keep the shiny side up.

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

      Hello Alaskan, and thank you for commenting.

      First time commenters need to have at least one comment approved by me before it’ll display publically on the blog – that’s how I keep the spam out. You’re good to go now, thanks!

  18. Jim at Growing Faith May 2, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    There is no guarantee you will live to be old. Yes, the average life span is XX years, but we are not all average. Tomorrow could be your last day. Thank you for sharing your perspective, and I agree with you. I am also a relatively young full timer (42 years old) and I have a similar perspective.
    Jim at Growing Faith recently posted..Gone FishingMy Profile

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

      You’re welcome Jim, glad you enjoyed this. At 42, I think you still fit into the young full-timer crowd since so many are 60+. 😉

      Take care.

  19. amy kaplan May 2, 2015 at 11:13 am #

    Idleness is the Devil’s workshop.

    Much better to be busy until the day you die or simply can’t anymore then not. Retirement is an outdated idea.

    Keep moving, Becky!

    Thank you for inspiring all of us, Amy
    amy kaplan recently posted..Safety.My Profile

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed this Amy!

  20. gene May 2, 2015 at 11:38 am #

    I enjoy reading your posts. This one, though scares me for you. I am a finance professor at a university and I teach people just a bit younger than you. The miracle of compounding is so great and by not saving now, you are missing out on so much later. For the numbers:
    Invest $5000 each year for 35 years earning 8% on average in your Roth IRA (holding good stock mutual funds) and you will have $861,584. Wait even 5 years to start and the same ending value requires 7605 a year. Wait fifteen years to start (leaving only 20 years) and you need to save 18,828 a year.
    “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is today!” You have said that you have a goal to increase your contribution. I hope that means that you have a written plan and added this to your required ‘expenses’ for the year (added it to the budget of REQUIRED ‘expenses’).
    On the positive side, you do live a very frugal life. AS a result, if you continue with these habits, you will not require a large retirement nest egg or income!
    On occasion I have read this website: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/
    If you have a chance to read some of it, I think that you will find it helpful and you may find that you do not need much saved to be financially independent. Your posts indicate that you are pretty close to financial independence that now.
    However, as I stated at the beginning, not saving when you are young sacrifices the greatest thing you have going for you when it comes to retirement savings, and that is the miracle of compounding. Whatever else you decide to do, please, for your own sake, make saving now a priority. It takes so little now to reach a goal and takes multiples later!
    One last set of numbers just for an illustration… To save a Million Dollars, if you earn 8%, but have 40 years to do it requires only 3860 a year. To do it in 20 years requires 21,852 each year.
    Im not saying you need $1M, I m saying that whatever you need, it is much more achievable, with far less pain and sacrifice if you start it now. Wait too long, and it becomes impossible.
    Plant that tree today! Give it time to grow. It is much easier to do now, than to wait!

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

      Gene,

      Please don’t be too worried for me. My IRA has some in it from my previous full-time jobs, and yes I’ve written it into my expenses for future years. I won’t be able to put $5,000 a year in (I only make $16,000 a year right now!) but I hope to keep upping the number as I go. 🙂 Thank you for your concern and for sharing that link. Never hurts to have more resources.

      • Jerry Minchey May 3, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

        Becky,

        Putting $100 a month in your IRA (using Gene’s numbers) starting at age 30 and continuing for 35 years will give you $206,780 at age 65.

        Add a small Social Security check, a little bit of workamping and some income from your books and Amazon affiliate income (assuming that’s still working 35 years from now), and you should be ok by retirement time. Not rich, but it will support your frugal lifestyle and then some.

  21. Cindy the pet sitter in Mesa, AZ May 2, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    What do I think?

    I think…for being young enough to be my daughter, and she being a huge inspiration to me doesn’t preclude you ALSO being an inspiration to me. 🙂

    I read your “fear” link, too. I HAVE lived like a “hobo” and when I was a a teenager, no less…my parents were not to be depended on then, nor now. At age 57 all I know how to do is pet sit, which I will not make any dependable money at on the road…it’s hardly dependable money now sitting stationary. However, I am training myself to do other things, which can be done on the road. At least I can write, and I managed to get educated…along the way. I must be good for something…right?

    Having already had the actual experience of a “worst case scenario” I certainly find myself petrified with fear from time to time. But…you know what? It was all preparation…all of it.

    Thank you Becky…

    Keep on truckin’ kid…someday soon you’ll see me out there, too 🙂

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

      Luckily Cindy there is a lot you can do on the road to earn money, even if you don’t have much experience or education. All of my work-camping jobs haven’t required anything more than a high school diploma or GED, it was all about being dependable and a good worker. Just about anyone could earn a living on the road doing national park work in the summer and Amazon in the fall as long as they’re physically capable and have the right attitude. I didn’t get started on writing until after I’d been on the road a while, you can keep learning new skills as you go. 🙂

      Best of luck to you, and hope to see you on the road soon!

  22. Scott May 2, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

    Love this topic. Ill try to make this quick:

    I retired at age 16. Moved out of my parents home, traveled across the country and ended up starting a business painting houses in L.A..

    I retired at age 18. Traveled the country “working” on and off (as I pleased -and needed-) at odd jobs, living in a van and a couple short term rentals. Then,

    I retired at age 20. Panned gold for a “living” for a year. Traveled around the country some more, I had the time of my life, and gained un-measurable job and life experience. When I tired of traveling, I joined the Rat Race during a construction boom near Chicago, was very successful, made lots of money, had lots of toys, and got lucky with some real estate. So

    I retired at age 30. Sold all of my “stuff”, and put the cash in stocks. I Moved to the rural mountains of the Ozarks, Homesteaded, raised livestock and a family. I got lucky, and my stocks did well. So,

    I retired at 40. then I developed a pretty decent art business and started traveling the country again (in a class B) ultimately selling my prints to over 300 shops and galleries. Was doing alright till a divorce, where I lost almost all of my cash reserves. So, what to do?

    I retired at age 50. Built a log house from scratch. Started painting locally on the roadsides for tourists, and in the woods and around the creeks and rivers nearby whenever it felt right and the urge struck. Was living on next to nothing and having the time of my life. When the recession hit and people stopped buying my art, “Work” turned up and I’ve been employed on a salary for sometime now, but guess what? I’m planning my NEXT retirement. This one is going to last awhile! 🙂

    My point is, Life has ups and downs. RETIRE means “To withdraw from one’s occupation or position”… Who says there is a limit to how many times you can do that? Many of us never really “retire”, and some of us live our whole life “retired”.

    I told my mother I was leaving on vacation once, her priceless reply was
    “your WHOLE LIFE is a vacation!” And she is right!

    As far as I’m concerned Becky, when you went full time, you retired! 😀

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

      Very well put Scott, I liked your story.

      I did retire at 28 when I hit the road, in a way. And I retire multiple times a year when I leave one seasonal job to have a little fun before the next, hehe. Thanks for sharing.

  23. David Swanson May 3, 2015 at 8:19 am #

    Becky,
    I thought like you all my life as an artist and person with a variety of jobs that gave me an up and down income. You are spot on!
    I am now living luxuriously, happily and very low stress in my Prius on my $800 a month of disability Social Security income. I have medical, dental, and food share.
    I worked untill I no longer could due to wearing out my thumbs as a potter.
    Dont ever let anyone try to tell you not to follow your heart!
    I’m currently along the northshore biking and hiking. Where are you in N. Wi?
    David

    • Becky May 3, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

      Glad you’re enjoying yourself David! Jim who comments here also lives in his Prius, and I follow a lady who has off-grid property in NM but travels a lot in her Prius too, the gas mileage must be fantastic. 😉

      My parent’s house is located outside of Wisconsin Rapids, so it’s actually central WI vs. north WI, it’s just that the states south of here call this the northwoods. 🙂 It all depends on perspective and where you live, hehe.

  24. David H May 6, 2015 at 6:09 pm #

    As a counterbalance to those who’ve focused specifically on ‘fear’ I have to say I sense more fear permeating everyday life in what are pretty good neighborhoods/suburbs (and I live in an area of higher and higher rent and homeowner demand) than I’ve ever noticed traveling on the road or camping. Anyway, we are all different, and good for you Becky doing what you are.
    My memory is I posted about one of the following two sites once before, cannot recall which, but fwiw, for you or anyone interested, some more travelers.
    Just google ” professional hobo “, and the other is ” foxnomad “.

    • Becky May 7, 2015 at 3:16 pm #

      I think fear is more prevalent in our society than it use to be and I believe the media’s to blame. Every little thing that goes wrong anywhere in the country is now reported on in the national news for everyone to see or read, where it use to just be local. It makes it seem like it’s a more dangerous world because you hear more stories but it’s not that there’s more total, you just hear about every one in a wider area.

      Thanks for sharing.

      • Alaskan Gypsy May 7, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

        Becky, while I agree with you I blame the electronics age. Use to be all TV and Print. Reporters researched, verified, and reported not usually the same day.
        Now in a rush to be first they throw it out there unverified, heck not even spellchecked, with a lot of coulds, maybes, etc.
        Lazy and pressure to be first. Not to mention the plain flaky ones.

      • David H May 7, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

        Agreed. Hopefully not to sidetrack the thread… in that vein maybe of interest is a positive news website I recently stumbled upon, apparently the work of one woman (while raising three children), http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/

        • Becky May 8, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

          Yes Gypsy. I guess I should have explained “media” a little better in that comment than I did, because I had that in mind too.

          David – Thanks for sharing! Don’t have the time to poke at it right now, but once I’m settled in at Yellowstone.

  25. Teresa May 7, 2015 at 7:42 am #

    Has anyone looked at (or been successful with) workamper.com for temporary jobs?

    • Becky May 7, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

      Teresa, I have a subscription to workamper.com and use it to find most of my winter jobs. The majority of jobs on there are hosting gigs for campgrounds, many of which are volunteer only, but there are some paying ones as well. Amazon.com and the sugar beet harvest are on there. The National Park jobs I find through coolworks.com which costs nothing.

  26. Tom Dunn May 11, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    There’s no one right way to live a life. When I was in my early 20s I thought I wanted to live your lifestyle. Then I met the love of my life. Had never really thought about children. Then came Mark. Those two events have developed into the most amazing adventure of MY life. I guess we would be considered traditional. Sue & I are in the field of education. It’s very trying/rewarding. And we do have lots of time off. We have used that time to travel and experience life. When asked “what is the meaning of life” the American philosopher Joseph Campbell said it was the “experience of being alive”. Here’s to being alive!!

    • Becky May 11, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

      “There’s no one right way to live a life.” I say that all the time Tom, you’re absolutely correct. Here’s to discovering what makes you feel alive, and pursuing it with all your heart. 🙂

  27. Tommie Kelly May 20, 2015 at 5:18 am #

    I am a full time RV wanna-be about to turn 78, and a recent widow. There’s no way I can maintain an RV by myself as I have significant chronic back problems which also limit my energy expenditure per day. Other than that, I think I could afford it on $1900 a month retirement if I had the cash to buy a dependable RV outright, and if it wouldn’t give my two middle aged sons heart attacks, which they have strongly predicted. But the subject I want to address is the IRA thing. Since the stock market is rigged, has completely collapsed twice and is predicted to do so again, aren’t there better investments for you young people to be making than depending on stocks, much less CDs which are guaranteed to not keep up with inflation?

    • Becky May 23, 2015 at 11:40 am #

      Not that I’ve found Tommie, but some programs are better than others. I personally feel the stock market is not a “bad” way to go. My dad for instance has done pretty good with it (on average).

      I afford full-timing on about $1,333 per month so I’d say you could do it on $1,900 a month, it all depends on your spending habits of course. Best of luck to you!

    • Lynne N. August 29, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

      Personally I wouldn’t play the stock market. It will collapse. It has been fed for too long. If you have money in it, I would definitely get it out now before you lose everything.
      Not to sound ” doom & gloom”, but I would prepare myself for living in the rv, off grid. I believe this is what they call boondocking right? Or did I get that wrong?
      It is better to be self sufficient. ..than relying on something that may go down.
      I have also heard that some of the state parks are having ” problems. ” some are closing and some are partially closing. So I don’t know where many of the rvers will be staying if they close? Just a heads up there. I like to stay informed.
      Lynne

  28. Aeta June 9, 2015 at 9:15 am #

    I am also a firm believer that life is full of uncertainties and that realization should not keep anyone from doing what they want to do. Although I did not travel by RV. or boat, I still managed to lead a fairly nomadic lifestyle by having lived in different cities, states, and countries, as well as hold down various white and blue collars jobs. I was even scorned by relatives and friends for years on my refusal to settle down in one time zone and one career for most of my adult life. Just the thought of doing what most people are doing made me cringe in disgust when I first set out on my own, and still has the same effect as I count the last few years towards retirement–however one defines what retirement means. Even my own wife and children had to adjust to the unconventional manner in which we lived our lives as a family; but, in the end, we all turned out alright, and we’re all the better for having lived a life that is not the same as everyone else.

    • Becky June 9, 2015 at 10:38 pm #

      Glad to hear that your experience living a highly nomadic life has been positive Aeta. 🙂 It’s so sad that there is such pressure from society to live a certain way, I like to think that the possibilities are limited only by your imagination and your work ethic. As long as your willing to work hard for your dreams, just about anything is possible.

  29. David H. November 14, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

    Just reading over some content of late and some of this thread again, and occurs to me to say in the FWIW dept, you a/o others on the road might want to at least have a brief look at this website re trading/investing for another income stream candidate. https://www.dough.com/
    If nothing else just scroll down over the home page and I think you’ll see the Dough folk are not the typical stereotype one might associate with the investing/trading world. Tom Sosnoff, the one with the beret, is the founder. If interested, a google search on him will show his prior achievements.

    • Becky November 18, 2015 at 7:40 pm #

      Thanks for sharing David, never hurts to have another resource. 🙂

  30. Ken February 8, 2016 at 11:12 am #

    Hey Becky, I really enjoy reading and so envy your lifestyle. My biggest concern for you would be retirement. I worked “for the man” for probably more years than you have been alive. For the longest time I never worried about retirement(I was going to work forever, too). I was fortunate that my “working for the man” came with a pension which I never really thought much of, at the time. The last 5 years of my work life, I even went full time in an RV, while still, “working for the man”, moving around the country as a computer engineering consultant. At 63, a serious health care incident forced me off the road and into retirement. Although I spent so many years, hating having to “work for the man”, I am so thankful now, for both the pension and higher social security check I receive base on my past income. I so hope you are able to work forever as you said, but do save as much as possible, because life can really throw you a curve, when you least expect it. I wish you all the best, enjoy reading your blog and yes, living your lifestyle, even if it is only vicariously.

    • Becky February 9, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

      I’m happy to hear that you have a good pension Ken and hope you’ve recovered fully from your health scare.

      More and more often I’m hearing of companies dropping or dramatically decreasing their pension plans. Maybe the recession has something to do with it or maybe it’s just a change in the climate of big business but it certainly seems to me that “The Man” is no longer offering incentives to keep an employee with the company for decades like use to happen in the past. I personally think the days of comfortable pensions are coming to a close and my generation won’t be seeing those rewards when we reach retirement age.

      Either way, my chosen field and what I went to college for (veterinary technician) was not the kind of job that came with a pension anyhow.

      I should probably update this post since I ended up doing considerably better financially in 2015 and did put a sizable amount into my IRA. I do understand the need to save for the future, thank you for your concern.

  31. Rick March 12, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

    I loved your answer to the retirement question, very honest and to the point.

    I have spent the last 26 years working for the same company, in an office environment and am now approaching retirement. In my youth I was quite the wanderer, and did two trips across the US on foot. Then marriage and family happened, and with that, of course, came responsibility. So now, I am alone…the wife left many years ago, the kids are grown and gone, and I am 22 months away from getting my wanderlust back. I wish I had done this years ago, but even though I just turned 60, I still feel 35 on the inside 🙂 hopefully that will carry me for a while. Thanks for sharing your experiences, and I wish you much happiness!

    • Becky March 12, 2016 at 7:20 pm #

      It’s an important question to think about for someone in my position Rick, I hope it inspires other young travels to think about their futures.

      Congrats on your approaching retirement! I wish you all the best and hope it comes quickly. 🙂

  32. stan March 18, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    I wouldn’t be too concerned about planning your life 30 years down the road. Life on this planet will not be anything like it is now, if it’s even still habitable! Everything you know now will be obsolete. We will not be using fossil fuels, batteries, or even solar and wind power. We already have free energy technology that’s being kept from us. It’s just a matter of time. Look up Steven Greer with the Disclosure Project. : )

    • Becky March 18, 2016 at 3:34 pm #

      Given my age I can’t make a comparison, but how much has the world changed from 1986? Interesting to think about. I’d say we live in interesting times, but I believe everyone lives in interesting times. Either way, I’m curious to see what the future holds. 🙂

  33. Park Kitchings June 13, 2016 at 5:50 pm #

    Becky…..more power to you. Life is short, live it large while you can. Hope to see you out on the road one day.
    Park Kitchings recently posted..Gear ReviewMy Profile

    • Becky June 14, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

      Absolutely Park, take care!

  34. Liz June 21, 2016 at 7:17 pm #

    Here’s a topic I have not seen on your blog: End of Life Planning.

    As the next of kin of an 80-year old RVer who passed away in a motor home camp out of my home state, was not found for well over a week, was finally carted away by the local coroner’s office and the RV declared a bio-hazard, I am left with the aftermath. Although I have a will he made nine years ago naming me beneficiary, I have spent quite a bit of time trying to track down information which will determine asset/liabilities and whether I should take on the responsibilities of executor.

    I have been told by a local (California) attorney that I need to determine his place of residence and his assets/liabilities. This is not easy to do. I have learned that his RV was licensed in South Dakota (from your blog I learned why), his mailing address is in Sioux Falls, SD, that it could cost $8-10,000 to do a unattended death-cleanup of the RV, and that the two accounts he listed in the ’07 will may or may not exist today and no one will divulge anything at this stage. I don’t know if he has a South Dakota Driver’s License…I am still investigating, trying to pry information from the coroner, etc. I assumed he was a California resident, but perhaps not.

    Does a South Dakota RV license require a South Dakota driver’s license? There is a question of jurisdiction regarding the will.

    My recommendation for RVers: have up-to-date wills or trusts (trusts are better) or other financial info with all pertinent details so next of kin can actually carry out any wishes the RVer intended. I am told the Nevada county he died in can take over, with cremated remains going in the county crypt for the unclaimed, and Nevada keeping any proceeds, if any, from the estate. Currently the RV is locked up contaminated. Don’t mean to be a downer here, but this topic is something to consider.

    • Becky June 21, 2016 at 9:05 pm #

      I’m sorry you’re having to deal with that Liz, it doesn’t sound like he gave much thought to what would happen after he died. And you’re right, that’s definitely something a full-timer needs to consider.

      I always tell RVers to have driver’s license and vehicle registration in the same state (as many things as possible in the same state actually – bank, doctor, business, etc.) because that makes it easier for legal reasons to claim that state as your residency as you’re discovering. But no, he doesn’t necessarily have to have a South Dakota driver’s license to have his vehicles registered there. I’ll cross my fingers that he does though for your sake!

  35. Claudia September 12, 2016 at 3:42 pm #

    Becky,
    Just a thought. How are you qualifying for Medicare?

    • Becky September 14, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

      I’m a little confused by what you mean Claudia. If you’re talking about health care, I don’t qualify for Medicare as I’m pre-retirement age and make enough money not to fall under Medicaid. I pay for my own plan through the Affordable Care Act, you can read more under the Useful Stuff page: http://www.interstellarorchard.com/useful-stuff/

  36. Paul September 28, 2016 at 11:22 am #

    Wow, this subject has spurred a LOT of “helpful comments. Here’s mine. This is from Dave Ramsey. (condensed)

    2 guys, both 19yr. #1 put $2000 a year into mutual fund for 8 yrs. #1 stops contributing. #2 starts, same $, $2000 a yr. until 65 years old. Both have let their $$ ride, rebalancing once a year. #2 has over $1 Million BUT #1 has over $2 Million!

    The point is, in retirement investing TIME is the big muscle. Put as much away as early as you can.

    #1 input = $16,000. #2 input = $76,000. #2 never catches up. TIME! (start early)

    Disclosure: IRA’s came available in the 80’s. I was 40. My retirement will be OK. Not great, but good. My wife and I are lucky to have some pension $$ coming if they don’t take that away too.

    • Becky September 28, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

      Yep Paul there are a lot of financial bloggers and books out there that say the same thing. You can never start too early, which is why I set up my IRA right away and pay into it as much as I can.

  37. Kavita Goyal December 18, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    That’s true that life is short and one must do what they love and live a fulfilling life.

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