2019 Decisions – Done

This will be the year of our “semi-retirement”. We saved enough to leave early!

This seems like a long list but many of the items can be finished in a day or less. And in some cases, I’m hiring the work out.  Some of these items have been moved from other years because I was too busy to get it done or it simply was not the time to make the decision.

  • Expand the list of places we want to visit using a searchable database/spreadsheet organized by state. Was referred to this site to get started. Maybe use Google Maps or both. This is expanded from the  2015 decision because more than likely ratings on camp grounds and other stops would be more accurate the closer we are to retirement. I’ll include only permanent landmarks and leave the detailed trip plans to be made when we are on the road. Started the spreadsheet a long time ago and add to it as we find places we want to visit.
  • Mobile Office: I have a separate list of tasks to complete and I’m implementing a lot of it this year. In early 2019 I plan to be up and running so I can test the process out at a local campground. I’ve decided on a 15.6″ laptop, maybe a stand alone monitor for split screen and the smallest lazer jet printer I can find that will still do envelopes. I am keeping a part-time office job while on the road.
  • Sell one family car. This will be done before we buy the truck or will be traded in for the truck. We are keeping Karen’s car until just before we leave full time. I’ll still be working until then and she will want something other than the truck to drive. Ended up trading it in on the truck. I had bids from three dealers what they would give me for the car. It was not worth my time to sell it myself.  I also discovered Carmax will buy cars as well, although I did not use them.
  • Consider if this is the year to buy the truck. Of course we will do this if we plan to buy a trailer in 2019. Here is a link to my blog posts in 2017.  I had already sold an old truck, hot tub and motorcycle and more in preparation for this. In January I found three trucks equipped the way I wanted on dealership lots within eight hours driving time. All were slightly used 2018 (one year old) trucks. I contacted all three dealerships who made offers.  Bought a 2018 Ram 3500 Laramie crew cab longbed, 4×4 with the high-output Cummins 6.7L diesel, Aisin transmission and 3.73 gear ratio. The truck is rated for nearly 25,000 pound of towing and with these options comes with a net cargo capacity of 5,300 pounds.  I was able to save 23.1% off the original MSRP. This truck has options I had not necessarily wanted but can use such as air bags for auto leveling when towing.
  • Contact Real Estate Agent: Karen is handling the sale of the home because she has a better eye for their value. I’d like to put the house on the market by maybe early summer. Also gives the agent notice to be on the look out for buyers. Initially we looked to sell in early spring, although I understand March listings are better because there are less homes on the market. We are in a seller’s-market right now and they are going fast in our price range. As soon as we get the fifth wheel and after a couple trips we will get the house on the market and plan to live in the fifth wheel if it sells before I retire later this year. We told everyone we are moving. Maybe we will get lucky and someone will hear about our home from someone we told earlier that it’s going on the market.
  • Home Improvement: Septic system changes. The city put in a low pressure sewer line in front of our house which by law we have to tie into before we sell the house. Priced this out in 2017 and as we may put the house on the market in the spring of 2019 we need to get this done earlier than later. One of several things to do before buying the truck. Moved from 2018
  • Home Improvement: Improve landscaping in front of house. Already started and focused on what growth pattern of plantings will be at the time we sell the house. May have to have that concrete step replaced or repaired. Goal is to have it looking good the spring of 2019 for home sale and only need to do a little maintenance just before the house is listed. Bought a bunch of plants for 50% off.  I’m not going over board such as making major upgrades to hardscapes. I’m just fluffing up what we already have. Moved from 2018.
  • Home Improvement: Finish painting outside of house.  I’m using expensive paint that last a long time and shields fading caused by UV rays. Hiring a painter to handle a tall side. I’ve got about two days worth of work left on this goal. Moved from 2018.
  • Home Improvement: Replace three bedroom carpets and stair carpet. I’d pushed it off to the final year before we sell the house. We have dogs. Our living room and kitchen are not carpeted. We can close the bedroom doors to keep the dogs out and Ringo will be spending more time in his kennel as he is the one that has accidents. Having had one large garage sale, selling off some furniture on Craigslist and a pending sale sure will make it easier to replace the carpet.
  • Attend the 2019 RV Show: Would do this just for fun as I know enough about trailers I can evaluate them online.  A local favorite dealership just happened to become a Vanleigh Vilano dealership. We are going to buy a new unit and put it out to bid to three dealerships. We did not attend the show this year.
  • Buying a high profile luxury rig this year: The 2016/2017 models would most likely be the year we would purchase a relatively more expensive rig from as a used unit.  Owning it a few months before we go full time will enable us to get used to it and have anything fixed that needs it.
    • If this is the year we buy, then also call wholesale warranties to get an estimate on an extended warranty with cost if we bought now or in one year near end of manufacturer’s warranty expires.
    • Moved this from 2018. No time to use it until 2019 and why store it for the winter. Might also be living in it once the house sales before I leave employment.
    • March 2019 we ordered one to be built. I’m hearing the build date is mid-April so probably will have it late April or early May.
    • Here is the post about picking up our new fifth wheel. Page back a couple posts and you find the preparations we made before the trip.
  • Consider selling the house and moving to a month to month rent.  Bank the extra savings to be used to hack away at the $6000 we are short (as of 2015 estimates) each year we leave before 59 years of age. We decided back in 2015 not to do this. We have pets and also want to enjoy our current home and land while we still own it. We looked at this option again in 2017. It’s less expensive for us to live in a paid off house ($570 a month) than an $1,100 apartment.  We have to make repairs to the home regardless before we sell it and as we are not living in the house for much longer, we don’t expect any additional major repairs.
  • Purchase a fifth wheel hitch. B&W Companion. Stop looking and just buy it! this one is for the Ram truck puck system. 25,000 pound capacity with over 6,000 pound pin weight capacity. That will handle as big a trailer as I would want.
  • Get the dents fixed on Karen’s car. We will be trading my car in on a truck and most likely selling Karen’s ourselves. Although she wants to consider just having one vehicle, which is the truck.Moved from 2018. Decided to sell it as-is. With only 50,000 miles it runs great. Everything else I fixed up before selling did not result in enough extra to cover the costs of it.
  • Sell Karen’s car. I can see this being one of the final steps before we pull away in our RV. Other fulltimers had this as a nearly last step as well and others just kept the second car in storage to be used when they returned to their home state or nearby during extended stays. I’m going to get a bid to fix dents and one from Carmax to see it as is to see if it’s worth it.  Then guess at what it would be worth if sold by us if fixed up. We are keeping the car until I retire in 45 days so she has something to drive. So far she has not taken the truck out. An option is to sell to family member with a down payment and monthly payments after that. Not my favorite thing to do but one needs to help family out. I prefer to take it to dealerships for an offer or sell it on line. We ended up selling it quick and effortlessly at CarMax.
  • Design a business card so we can hand them out when on the road etc.. I moved this to an earlier year as we are wanting to meet others now, before we hit the road. Move this from 2016 because we were not sure if we would be keeping our older phone numbers, going to one phone or what. But we want to get this done earlier than later so when we met people we can share our contact info.  I usually use Vista Print. But here is an interesting idea at moo.com. All cards have different backs that can be your photos. The final decision is to wait until we are on the road. We will for sure know the phone numbers we intend to keep and there are better usages for our time right now.
  • Apply for a US Passport. For times we venture into Mexico and Canada. Also not sure if it will help once we apply for a driver’s license in another state. A local Post Office handles this. Can get these at Post Office and I noticed a Walgreens drug store that handles them as well.
  • Check into RV driving classes – maybe call a local trucking school to see if they can refer to a class. Sure have been watching videos and reading everything I can. Here are a link to one of best over-all towing videos. Friend has a fifth wheel and has volunteered to give us lessons and even said he would go with us to pick it up if we want. Because I have experience towing trailers, not this size however, I felt confident enough without the training. I sure will pay for Karen to learn once we are at a rally that offers the classes. I talked to a lot of friends with fifth wheels who compared pulling a small trailer against what I would be experiencing with the larger trailer.
  • Start more in-depth review of RV technology such as phone, television, solar and other.  Consider what should be added at the time of purchase and what to wait on to see what is popular. Most likely we will add tech after we are on the road. (actually started in 2015 because I was finding ideas as I read other blogs)
  • Start studying outline for RV maintenance.    Check lists rule! I started reading up on this in 2017. In October of 2018 we decided the Vanleigh Vilano would be our trailer so I joined their Facebook page. Users provide constant tips and there is even a suggested maintenance list available. Otherwise I just read various forum posts to learn what I need to know. When on the road I’ll help others with projects and learn more. I’ll especially look for someone changing brakes or repacking wheel bearings to learn from. Although I may not want to carry the tools to do to much.
  • On-line banking review.  Got some early advice to look at Credit Unions for free national ATM usage.  As of 2015 we are with Bank of America and have been for years. Wells Fargo seems to be popular amongst full timers. Decided to stick with our current bank which is Bank of America. Also in 2016 I joined USAA. They offer about every service you would ever need to include insurance and financial planning.
  • Actually finish going paperless.  Moved from 2015 when I started scanning and shredding. We will need to have bills and similar forms of paper mail sent electronically to avoid having to pay for extra mail forwarding. Already have 90% of our papers scanned and just have to get the remaining bills cut over to online.
  • Draft up an itinerary for our first year first few months on the road. Found this idea on the Meandering Maddox’s blog. Bet I can get Karen heavily involved in this one. Figure we will just plan where to go from November 1st to our wherever winter place. I’m not interesting in planning for a year at a time. Wow, can’t believe I just typed that!  We have plans for the next eight weeks as of going full time. We have not decided how long we want to stay in a single spot for winter. This first year Karen wants to move around over winter. I’d like to stay parked for two months or so.
  • Research and join camping clubs for reduced park rates and other benefits. Decided to just stick with Good Sams and certainly Passport America until after we are on the road and find our travel style. We may also join Escapees depending on if we use their mail service.
  • Finalize research on healthcare: Karen will have Medicare after 18 months. I’ll be providing my own. Starting following this topic hard in 2017. We are building up our HSA account as much as possible while I’m still employed. This includes the extra $1,000 you can add if you are 55 years of age or older. I really want at least the amount of what would be our deductibles in this account to start off. I’m researching the logistics involved in transitioning from my employer’s plan to whatever we choice. This could effect the timing of moving to our domicile state in that we may need to do this 1st thing or pay for a COBRA benefit short-term. I’ve been contacting people on forums for advise. As of 9/19/19 it’s going to be Texas. We wanted a state in the Midwest as we are from the Midwest and would most likely spend the most time near here. Also as we are pre-Medicare age Texas has the most selection for Healthcare compared to the other popular fulltiming state which is South Dakota. I am deciding between short-time health care which is good for three years and has nationwide coverage in Texas and the Affordable Care Act.
  • Select domicile (as of 2014 TX, SD and Florida are popular). I will most likely maintain a separate list of steps. I read where some change their mailing address a few months early so they can see who they have to notify that their address has changed. Also helps in establishing the official domicile. They just have the mail send back to their sticks n bricks house. And establish domicile before the end of the year for tax purposes. Leaning towards Texas because if is one of the three most popular, is close to Missouri and family, is a place we would consider for winter.  The healthcare options are better in Florida. As of 9/19/19 it will be Texas.
  • Check life insurance rates before taking pension options.  Based on a study I did in November of 2017, it’s cheaper to get the life insurance over a 10 year period than to reduce the pension benefit and provide 50 to 100% survivor benefit to Karen.  It’s about break-even at 50% survivor benefit. We have retirement accounts to fall back on as well. So far we have decided buying short term life insurance is the best bet for us.
  • Vehicle fuel savings memberships. We get this with our Good Sam’s club membership already.
  • Look into what bank to use when full-timing.  Done. I see no reason not to just stay with Bank of America. They are a national brand with excellent online services. As a veteran I also jointed USAA and might make use of their insurance and or banking services as here in 2016 their ATM service is free.
  • Find out how to access pensions.  In 2014 when I revised my retirement plan I had anticipated using IRA accounts. That changed when I decided to keep a part-time job when on the road.  We are not going to need to get at IRA funds as part of our travel budget. In 2017 I hired a financial planner and consolidated resources. We are thinking about starting off with a certain amount in our checking account and replace what is spend with pension income and workcamping. In 2018 I signed up for retirement from one of the three small plans I’m getting. Took three months to setup and there is direct deposit into my banking account.
  • Prepare house for market and list it  In reality this started back in 2015 with scheduling home repairs spread out through the years. Completion of this step is simply having the home to ready to show condition which are covered in other goals. Three offers in two days!  Buyer paid $1500 over listed price.
  • Rent a storage unit. In 2017 we are leaning towards a 5×10 unit and a couple boxes stored at our daughter’s house. It’s worth the money to not have to make the hard decisions if we might need something later. In 2018 we decided the 5×10 was best for us. We can go back in a year and get rid of everything. What about the most secure storage options? We went with a 10×5 climate controlled. 
  • Safe Deposit Box or not? Nope, don’t have one now in 2017. Karen is taking stuff with her on the road in our new home and the other valuables can be left with our daughter.
  • Consider starting travel blog rather than adding to this blog. I could see the need for a different theme. Na, keeping it as it is so I don’t loose any followers. Although I may consolidate all the planning related pages into three or four pages rather than having it be the general theme of the blog. A cool blog name would be Home on a Hitch.
  • Hmm.. Complete final purge – do we move into the RV while house is for sale or leave furnishings inside house for now? We have a second garage sale planned for spring. All will go other than what the realtor wants to stage the house, if any, plus what we want to live with in the home before the sale. We are expecting a mad rush to move out – dispose of the rest once the house sells.  Fortunately we will have the fifth wheel to fall back on for a residence. Took three large garage sales and finished off with donations to get it done. Filled the extra space in our 10×5 storage unit with items we were not sure if we wanted to get rid of and stuff going to family. Also kept some power tools for planned upgrades on the fifth wheel when we get back from winter break.
  • Get a second credit card for travel. From a different bank in case our main card gets blocked for some reason while a new one is  being shipped.
  • Consider fuel savings cards and places. I have a loyalty card for one of the big chain truck stops. I’ll add to this later as we go.
  • Get up to speed on current “best” RV construction. Done -With special attention to weak points.  Started construction methods research in 2015 and kept current.
  • Purchase an RV rating subscription. RV.org is the one that comes to mine.  I’ll have to see what others are recommending at the time. Did this in 2017. With as much research as I’ve done this was not a big help. I’d only suggest buying one during times they are advertised at a discount, that is unless you have very little time to plan.
  • Review exit strategy We decided just to save back some of the proceeds from selling our house and then decide when the time comes. We are trying to spend at least six years on the road and know what our net income should be then. So we have an idea of what we could afford and looked at what is out their in our price range if bought today. See how it went with Jack.
  • Find an RV park near Kansas City and Springfield worthy of spending a season at so we can visit family. Make use of RV Park Reviews.com. Got the KC one done (Smithville Lake is best for us so far). I’ve gone as far as I have time for now. We continue to visit local parks.
  • Gather up Medical Documents: Get with our local doctors and get all our records we might need once on the road or if we get doctors in our state of Domicile

There will be more to do once we are on the road or are in our domicile state for the first time. Much of all this will fall into place on it’s own such as deciding to get new doctors or not.

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