Old Diary

Dollars and Cents Always Enter In

2015020818514103Last evening we went to the Sunday Night Ice Cream Social.  This was the view as we came out of the clubhouse.  Another lovely sunset and a string of golf carts!  Those things are DANGEROUS!

The Ice Cream social was Ok.  $1.00 for a dish of ice cream, a little topping and conversation.  And once again I was struck by the variety of people that you meet while RV’ing — whether boondocking in the wilderness or parked cheek by jowl in an RV park.

I never seem to have my phone with me when there are people in the pool.  Yesterday there were about a dozen at one time and then when I thought to take a photo — hardly anyone!  Go Figure.  We’ve gotten into the water each of the last three days for somewhere between an hour and 2 1/2 hours. 2015020815084201Pool temp:  between 83º and 87º.  Hot tub about 104º.  So far we have avoided sunburn — which is nice because Peggy too often burns before anything else.  I’m glad she’s being able to enjoy without the burn.

A lovely chat with a couple more British Columbians had me thinking about the bottom line of all retirement:  $$$$$$.  Peg and I were not the lifetime long retirement planners.  At times we didn’t know whether we’d get to retire at all.  But here we are having the time of our life.

One thing I think I need to say about There’s no right way to RV, is that whether you are rich or poor there are ways to do this:  some are more humble than others, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money while you are RV’ing.

Country-Coach-Prevost-1-450x289 IMG_1160Your RV can be all sorts of things, from a new multi-million dollar posh RV, to a far more humble personally  converted VW van.  Only you can tell how much you have to spend on a ‘new home’ — whether it’s sticks & bricks or the 4, 6, or 10 wheel variety.

How much you spend parking it is also entirely up to you.  There are RV parks where you’ll drop well over $100 a night, and then there are places you can park for free, nothing, zero, bupkiss.  How much you choose to spend doesnt’ have to be static — you can go cheap for a week, a month or a year, and then splurge if you want — the great part about RV’ing is that you have choices.  In general we spend less per month on parking our RV than if we were renting an apartment, and certainly less than we were paying for Real Estate Taxes, utilities, and when we had them home mortgage payments.  RV’ing doesn’t have to be expensive.

Food — well, food is quite another matter!  You can eat quite cheaply.  But the fact of the matter is that an awful lot of RV’ers — retirees — have worked hard all their lives and like to splurge on a nice meal here and there — or even regularly — or even daily.  That is not different from being retired in sticks & bricks.  My father-in-law was a union painter — he worked for 30 some years painting homes, offices, you name it — and when he retired, because his wife had died  quite a few years before (when she was 50),  and because he never chose to learn how to cook, he ate at least one meal out every day of his 20 some year retirement.  I look at the residents here and I don’t think anyone here is cooking all their meals in their RV.  There are numerous nice restos nearby, the seafood is ridiculously fresh, and when you can dine outdoors as you can in many places here — why the heck not!?

So, food — well, that depends on your life style.

Things like insurance take a lot more thought.  And depending on whether you are of Social Security and Medicare age  — or perhaps your work history was such that you didn’t qualify for either — then insurance can get to be touchy.  A lot of insurance companies have a problem with people who don’t live in sticks & bricks.  But there are solutions available and all you have to do is hunt for them and then factor them into your budget — however rich or poor.

Entertainment ought not be considered when making RV’ing decisions — let’s face it — no matter who you are or where you live you are going to spend money doing things you like, going places, time in the internet, going to the movies, going out dancing — you name it!  The difference between sticks & bricks and RV’ing is that:

  • your range of choices if wider — put yourself where the things are that you want to do,
  • if your interests change, you have the choice to do something different:  living in Milwaukee I could have done things I enjoyed for about 4-5 months and the rest of the year I’d have been waiting for other weather.

Of course you have to decide if you are living in an RV, or vacationing in an RV.  The cost of vacationing rises exponentially if your purpose in RV’ing is to see all of North America that you haven’t seen before, and do all the touristy things that you’ve only heard about until now.  That is a much harder call to make. Depending on your budget you can do some of that.  How much is up to you.  Peg and I have seen a lot of this country while we were working — we have no desire to go see Disney World again, or Los Angeles again,  or many other things;  we’re out here having the experience of living in different places with new people — making each day a little bit of an adventure even if we do nothing more than get out of bed!  These aren’t the neighbors we knew for 35 years, the birds here are different from those in Wisconsin, the plants are different, the food is different — right down the line.  All we need do is get up, and get out of bed and our retirement is new and exciting all over again.  We are truly blessed.

The Canadian couple we talked with yesterday were traveling in their own Roadtrek.  class-c-motorhomeThe couple we met today are renting a Class C coach from friends of the family while they search for a retirement ‘area’ — and if they find one this year they plan to spend a week or so in each of several RV campgrounds to see if there’s one they like — or whether they should consider long term rentals, or perhaps purchasing a condo in whatever area they settle upon.  Finding a retirement solution doesn’t have to be RV’ing — it’s the right solution for us, but maybe not the right solution for others.  And — in many cases you don’t have to be in a hurry to make up your mind.  Just because you had a schedule while you worked does not mean that you have to apply the same rules of planning to your retirement — take a break, do something different, don’t even think about WHERE to retire or HOW to retire –just do it. Perhaps what you thought was the perfect retirement for you has changed and is no longer.

For more RV couples than not, that is a decision we all have to make at some time.  For most of us we will not die in our RV!  For many of us, a partner will pass and suddenly what was fun for two of you may not be as much fun for one of you.  Or age and infirmity will get the better of you and you’ll realize you can’t physically do the things you have to do if you are going to RV.  For others, their nest egg will disappear and they will be forced off the road — it’s an eventuality not to be overlooked.

I hear a lot of people talk about the issue of fuel costs — and yeah — gas and diesel are expensive.  My approach to budgeting fuel costs is to consider how long we are staying in any one place.  I ‘plan’ our travels under the assumption that the coach is going to cost $0.50 / mile in FUEL only.  (ignoring wear and tear, routine maintenance, etc.).  So, if we travel 300 miles to get to the next campground that means it’s going to cost me $150.00 in fuel.  If I drive like a man-possessed we can wrack up a big fuel bill in a hurry.  But our approach is very simple — On average — the further we travel to get to a place the longer we try to stay.  If I average that cost out over the length of my stay — then staying longer means it’s costing me less money per night to stay there.   88804d2a1699ac14d73d920f86d2d154For example:

Averaging that $150 out over a seven night stay (before heading out to another place) then it’s costing me an extra $21.42 per night for the privilege of being there.  But if I stay there one month — 30 nights — then it’s only costing me $5.00 per night to be there.  By planning an efficient route, thinking carefully about how long to stay in any one place you can find ways to get your costs into line with your retirement income.

There are plenty of RV’ers who workcamp, that is to say they find campgrounds, parks, even stores where in exchange for ‘x’ hours a week they are provided with a full hook-up site, or cash, or all sorts of other barter goods.  9729184dbf3b90871c58ccbf24699a40If you are willing to work a little, there are ways of lowering your costs — if that is a problem.  It all depends on how much you want to do what you think you want to do.

So, if you really want to RV but you don’t know if you can afford it, think a little more creatively,  forget about boxes and start to think outside the box.  There are RV blogs by people who spend a lot less than we do each year and they are quite happy.  There are RV blogs by people who spend an insane amount more than we do.  And they too are quite happy.  Go — find your bliss.follow-your-bliss

So, there you have it,  thoughts for today.  Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Journey DL, Old Diary

Keep Calm and Carry On

The other evening I was reading one of my favorite authors, Peter Mayle, a quirky collection of essays called Acquired Tastes. As I read along I came upon this passage in the introduction:

I am not sure at all that [people of extraordinary means] enjoy themselves as much as we think they do.  And Why?  Because, damn it, something is always not quite right

Expectations tend to increase in direct proportion to the amount of money being spent, and if you’re spending a fortune you expect perfection.  Alas, life being the badly organized shambles that it so often is, and with so much of it dependent on the behavior of erratic equipment (servants), perfection is rare.  After a while, the rich realize this, and then they start looking for trouble.  I’ve seen them do it.  Details that we would consider trivial assume enormous significance: the breakfast egg is inedible because it is marginally underboiled, the silk shirt is unwearable because of a barely visible wrinkle, the chauffeur is insupportable because he’s been eating garlic again, the doorman is either insufficiently attentive or overfamiliar –– the list of maddening blots on the landscape of life just goes on and on.  How can you have a nice day if some fool hasn’t warmed your socks or ironed your newspaper properly?

I remember a fact-finding mission to a luxury hotel in Venice, a magnificent establishment with an equally magnificent chef. Impossible, I thought, to fail to enjoy dinner in such a place.  But I was wrong. Sitting at the next table were four resplendent examples of old money from Milan.  They were not happy.  The white wine was not chilled exactly to their taste.  A finger was lifted, but the waiter took longer than thirty seconds to arrive.  Good grief, what is the world coming to? Throughout the dinner, I could hear totally unjustified mutterings of discontent. NO matter how delicious the food, how splendid the surroundings, things were not quite right.  And this atmosphere –– almost suspicious, poised for disappointment –– pervaded the entire room.  There wasn’t a jolly millionaire in sight.  It was the first and only time I have ever eaten in a subdued Italian restaurant.

After a few experiences like this the thought of living permanently among the rich doesn’t appeal to me at all. But I have to say that some of their minor investments … are extremely pleasant and potentially habit forming…

It’s entirely possible that this is the best illustration of why I no longer care for the trappings of wealth.

There was a time when I was crazy mad about a career.  I wanted to advance at work (before I turned to my photography), to get money — lots of it — and to make a name for myself. Things did not go according to my plans and my first few jobs put me in positions right near the owners of several businesses. Having the chance to hobnob  (on a small scale) with business owners it didn’t take long before I realized that these guys (and in those days they WERE all guys) weren’t very happy at all.  What’s more, they worked so hard they hardly saw their family, or their spouse, and they surely weren’t happy about money:  they worried about it, the horded it, the wanted ever more no matter how much they had.  All this while I was poor as a church mouse but I had a wife I loved, and eventually Kathryn came along and I was delighted to have a family.

In short order what I wanted out of life changed;  it changed dramatically. I still worked hard — usually harder than other employees in whatever department I might have been — I was never afraid of hard work.  But advancement wasn’t exactly what I wanted.  Peg and I learned to live below our means — finding it much easier to be happy when we weren’t up to our eyeballs in debt.  We got to the point that I’d balance the checkbook every few months, I knew there was money there because we simply didn’t spend every penny we made.  I probably shouldn’t have been quite so cavalier about money — but that’s me.  We scrimped and saved to do things others on our sort of income didn’t seem to do, or couldn’t afford to do — but it was possible because what other people though of as necessities we valued as luxuries; and we didn’t have all those toys that we might have easily been convinced were essential.

I have no regrets at all.  Our retirement may not be as plush as some of our friends.  Our RV is 10 yrs old, our car is 8 yrs.  We go out to dinner a few times a month but no longer at the posh places we might have chosen 40 years ago.  We are comfortable because our expectations are lower and we can afford to be delighted with almost anything that happens.  We can enjoy our life.  And our retirement.

It’s possible to live with so much less than we U.S. citizens think.  I love this old image from the London Blitz — not for all the rubble and damage but for the simple smile on the Milkman’s face.  All we need to is keep calm and carry on.

I’d like to think that we’ll get a buyer for our house in a few hours or a few days at most…. but I don’t know what will happen.  All I do know is that if you want challenges, then this photo is a challenge….. and all you need do is

Keep Calm, and Carry On…

This is what "Keep Calm and Carry On" really looked like

This is what “Keep Calm and Carry On” really looked like

  • Calm (whatdoyareckon.wordpress.com)