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by Ron
Another Look at Full-timing Costs

This past month, the view from the drivers seat was behind our little Toyota as we tooled around Palm Springs, California. You all know about our months stay at a park model while our motorhome was being painted. Since we weren't traveling I thought that this would be a good month to write about full-timing costs. Last year at the Life On Wheels conference we did one seminar on full-timing finances and this year we will be doing three. It was fun doing the seminar and it was well received, but in retrospect I think that this year we need to discuss more on bare bones full-timing along with some suggestions on how to do it.

Let me explain. One night in the park model Barb and I got talking about all those people who worked so hard all their lives, but because of some very good reasons they were not able to save much or are not blessed with a pension. Are they restricted to a routine retirement looking out the window at snow banks in a northern community without travel and adventure? Are they to be denied walks on the southern beaches and/or visiting our beautiful national parks and historic sites? In other words is the full-timing lifestyle affordable for those subsisting on social security or a very limited income? My comment to Barb was, "of course it is affordable for those folks with some careful planning."   Her response was typical Barb as she said, "Well, why don't you tell them that in our finance seminar."  In defense I thought that I said that expenses were controllable and could be adjusted to income, but I have to concede that I was concentrating on the $2,000 to $3,000 a month range. That is where a lot of full-timers fall. 

So this year in our seminars we will spend some time on the finances of bare bones full-timing. It doesn't necessarily involve boon docking (dry camping) most of time. Mixing in some volunteering and maybe some easy/fun workamping (with pay) would make the adventure affordable. Initial investment for equipment can be very modest taking advantage of the abundant used RV market. We saw dozens of good used RVs at Lazy Days last year and most would be fine for full-timing. In our book, Movin'On, we discuss ways of reducing costs and the book's suggestions can even be refined or added to. Consider the following:  an inexpensive voice mail service and those calling cards that you can get just about anywhere can be exchanged for a cell phone in order to keep in touch with family; longer stays cut campground and fuel costs; farm markets are plentiful and provide healthy meals; winter heating bills and property taxes will be things of the past.  The game is to keep costs at a bare minimum; it can even be fun to play.

No one has to set up in the snow without being able to take a stroll in the sunshine. We will try to make that point clearer in future finance seminars at Life On Wheels and at Lazy Days next January. 

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