Budgeting Part Two – Initial Start-up Cost for Trailer and Truck

This is the second part of three posts regarding our budget for fulltime RV living. You can hit the back button or go here for the first part. Thank you for the comments on the last post. 

And happy new year to all!  Karen and I are looking forward to 2018 for many reasons. One is the vacation time I’m able to store-up and roll into the following year is maxed out. Finally, in 2018 we will be taking all the vacation earned that year.  My fellow employees may not like it, but 2019 is going to be the year I’ll be able to take the equivalent of one week of vacation each month breaking in the future RV.

My first post on budgeting included a few comments of how we got to this point in the process. This next post is about the budget for initial start-up costs for the truck and fifth wheel. I’m working on the final post which is our draft expense budget. I’ve learned from others the first year on the road is most likely the most expensive time, so you will see I’ve planned accordingly.

I’ll be including just a few key points as explanations when writing about the truck and trailer budget.  

This budget includes purchasing the truck/RV, equipping it and all associated taxes, and licensing fees. At the advice of others, we are avoiding a few initial purchases for furnishings until we get on the road and figure out what works for us.

Earlier, I came up with a list of accessories to furnish the RV or truck. Landed a few Christmas gifts off that list. Thank you family!  But the real purpose was to establish a possible budget for equipment depending on how extravagant we might be. Here is a link for Items to Purchase in a spreadsheet you might want to purchase over time. Another blog post to refer to might be the summary as of May 2018 regarding the truck and RV purchase decision. Here is the link to that post. I should also point out, once a year I go back and look at our financial planning, which was first updated to include going fulltime to an RV in September of 2014. The plan includes our expected income at “retirement” and net assets. To get to what amount of cash we wanted to spend on a rig was a challenge. I suppose the best way to summarize that process is I came up with a conservative net worth, meaning I tried not to overestimate what we could sell stuff for and the return on our retirement savings accounts. I looked ahead to our retirement date and added on inflation costs for a truer picture of what it would cost to buy more stuff and how much less our old stuff would be worth. Karen and I had to talk – a lot – about how much we wanted to keep stashed away for when we eventually come off the road or whatever. I’ve had a financial plan since 2001 and have grown to trust the numbers.

I’ll get to the topic at hand. These numbers are accurate as of 3/2/17:

 Truck and Accessory Budget:  $65,000 for the truck and $1,700 for accessories.

  • I’ll not get into it much as to why, but I’m leaning towards a Ram 3500 dually. With 4.10 gears and air suspension. Our max trailer weight will not exceed 18,500 pounds and this truck will also handle the pin weight.
  • We hope to get the best transmission offered in whatever  brand truck such as the Ram Aisin. Ya, I know Chevy probably builds a better transmission even if their warranty is no better than Ford’s or Ram’s.
  • You can refer back to the decision on trucks by going to this page.
  • I’ve not given up on a Ford but generally believe the Ram is the best value when furnished the way I’d like it as a 2018 model.

2018 Truck Pricing

  • I’ve been shopping online for nearly a year, mostly to come up with pricing and typical availability. Same as others, I’m finding it hard to locate a truck within reasonable driving distance from home equipped the way I want it. Hopefully I’ll not need to order a new one. We are also not against buying one used if it has under 20,000 miles on it. These trucks hold their value, so we will have to consider the difference closely if not bought new.
  • If we keep our color choices to a few and bend on leather vs cloth, the selections of what are parked on dealer’s lots increase.
  • This time of the year and a bit earlier, I’m finding with incentives the new trucks are priced anywhere from around $8,000 to $12,000 below MSRP.  You might be able to save up to 22.24% off the original MSRP if you can find a one year old used truck with less than 20,000 miles on it.
  • We are buying the truck before the trailer, maybe as early as next summer. Ford made major changes in the 2017 heavy duty. Rumor is  Ram is making major changes in their 2019 models, having already added few minor improvements in 2018. Maybe we can find a 2018 priced to sell just after the 2019s hit the dealers lots! Also Chevy/GMC made some engine upgrades in 2017.
  • We are going to the February 2018 car show in Kansas City to check out the trucks in more detail. Yes Karen, we will also look at the cars. She is from Michigan and car shows are a big deal up there.


RV and Start-up Accessory Budget: $74,655 for the “luxury” fifth wheel and $10,000 for accessories:

  • It took a long, long, time for Karen and me to come up with or short list. We continue to fine tune that list as new floor plans and construction details change at least twice a year.
  • One of the tougher decisions has to do with what construction methods you prefer, especially for suspensions, tires, frames axles and more. Go here for my post on heavy vs lighter trailers.
  • Another good way to eliminate fulltime trailers from your own short list might be to consider cargo capacity. For us, we are looking for 3,000 pound cargo capacity and above. Just remember, added options take away from cargo capacity so look for the sticker on the trailer that lists the actual cargo capacity. Often, you will find dealers post a photo of the sticker in their adds.
  • Establishing a budget for the trailer is a big first step in deciding what price point you want to spend your money in. Unfortunately, this first step includes a ton of research and I hope being able to follow my own research has helped. As always, the details include what Karen and I want in a trailer, your expectations will be different.
  • We remain somewhat open to a used trailer, maybe as old as three years. But are leaning more towards a new trailer in last years model. The new trailers are announced around February and arrive on dealer’s lots beginning around July or so. Prices start to drop on current year trailers in October or so according to my own online research.
  • The new trailers announced in February will most likely have changes by the time they hit the dealership lots. And then more changes later in the year. For example, the 2018 Keystone Montana 3120RL is a recent new floor plan and just came out. That trailer caught our eye as a 35’ option that retains the same foundation construction as the longer units but with greater cargo capacity.

Montana 3120rl

  • I think we can reasonably expect a new trailer to be discounted 25% off MSRP. And if purchased as last years model, anywhere from 30 to 35% off MSRP. That’s my goal anyway. I’m not sure, but dealers may be able to manipulate the “MSRP” price so shopping around to get a better idea on starting price is a good idea. Either way, the deal has to be fair for both the seller and buyer.
  • We have been hitting the local RV shows hard since 2015, often spending two days touring. In 2015 we used the show to decide on a fifth wheel because we want to be more comfortable when parked. If we planned to move a lot more and wanted to be more comfortable when traveling, we would have gone with a motorhome. Between the 2016 and 2017 shows (and dealership’s lots) we were able to finalize a floor plan which is the rear living room model. We also learned a few of our must have items.
  • The 2018 RV show, considered a holiday around here, is next week. I’ve got my list of questions done by manufacturer. We plan to spend a lot of time checking the details such as do the kitchen and other storage areas work, shower size, electronics, seating and more. Thankfully our short list of brands to select from is down to a few and will most likely become even shorter after next week. All the brands we are interested in come to our local show other than one. A new RV friend toured that one for us earlier this year and reported back.
  • We expect to buy as earlier as next fall. I’m open to holding off to early spring of 2019 as a last resort. We want to use the trailer for vacation before “retirement.” And to a lesser degree the trailer might become our go to home in the event our current sticks and bricks sells quickly once we put it on the market in the spring of 2019.

I’m looking at the RV and truck budgets as a sum total. We might save a little on the truck and spend it on the trailer. Or we might try and beat the budget and put the extra in our account for travel. Some might think this is too much to spend for something that depreciates and especially with a big chunk of one’s lifetime savings. I’ve come to believe RV living and travel is a calling. It’s something we got to do.  I’ll leave it at that.

Budgeting Part Three – Draft Expense Budget and Details by Line Item (coming soon)


Budgeting – Part One

Hopefully the below details might provide a little research assistance for others and perhaps solicit more feedback. I’m breaking the topic of budgeting for fulltime RV living out in three blog posts. This first part provides a little background on how Karen and I progressed through the process. The second part will include our anticipated start-up costs to purchase a trailer and truck. The third post will include our anticipated first year expense budget by line item with comments about each expense item.

Part One – Background Comments of Importance

Our budgeting process started on September 10, 2014 when Karen and I decided to spend our future in an RV. Back then, we planned to take off in 2023, but like so many others, moved the date up. For us to leave earlier required taking a closer look at finances and placing a degree of faith in what others had been experiencing on the road in terms cost.

A month later, in October of 2014, I had completed a search for fulltime RV budgets. Anyone that has researched the topic for more than a few hours quickly learns there are many styles of travel and each has its associated costs. I discovered RV forums and found many new friends willing to share information. Karen and I talked and came up with what we think will be our form of travel. Over the years we have somewhat fine-tuned our expectations. Today, our plans would look like this; Spend the first year moving around more often than in future years and not lock ourselves in, budget wise, to volunteering or workcamping to reduce expenses. After the first year we might “settle down” a bit. This seems to be a common theme. You have to start somewhere and for me that was reviewing Howard’s years of actual costs over on the RV Dreams website. I also found Kirk and Pam over on the Escapees RV Club forum. Averaging their budgets became the starting point for ours. Since then, like others, I read blog posts for current actual costs and comment back and forth on blogs and in forums for more specific questions.

By November of 2014 I began taking a closer look at more detailed financial planning which mostly considered income sources. It did not take long to discover that healthcare expenses would be of greatest concern and I’ve been reading everything I can regarding the subject. When we move along in our future RV Karen will be eligible for Medicare about nine months later and I’ll be providing my own health insurance. Today, healthcare cost remains a big concern and fortunately we both currently have no big medical issues.

Finances became the guiding light in establishing our new take off date of November 2019 and required we save to retire early. A side benefit of taking years to plan was for the most part we stopped buying anything we could not easily sell, use in an RV, throw away or give away. That really helped reduce expenses. I also kept a side job for added income which became a job I’ll be taking on the road and requires about 10 hours of my time weekly.

I decided to budget two ways. One for initial start-up costs and second a budget for annual expenses.

Coming up with a budget for our RV and truck start-up costs has really helped reduce the number of trailers we considered and is a great starting point in your own search. I included everything in the RV and truck budget that makes up these start-up costs to include sales tax and licensing. So those will not be part of our first-year expense budget. Over a year or so, I modified the RV and truck budget to meet our expectations once we had a better idea of what these things cost at the price point we found ourselves drawn to.

A long time ago a wise man, who was the budget officer of a major corporation, told me  there are two words that make up a budget.  And as one goes along they may find themselves adjusting the numbers for good cause.  He said that’s why they call it a “budge it.” Of course, these revised estimates had to become part of our financial planning as the money does not appear out of thin air, especially if one wishes to remain debt free. For those not overly concerned about being debt free on the road and earning there way as they go, check out the Camper Chronicles blog. I’ve been following Lee and Tracy Perkins since January of 2015. So far, they are proof it can be done. Although their form of travel (lifestyle) is not ours, their example surely does provide one of many backup plans.

All I’ve written about so far has to do with our budgeting plans leading up to the day we take off. The picture is not complete unless I mention an exit strategy once we decide to come off the road. Yes, I know planning that far out cannot be done with 100% accuracy and there is much that can and will change. If we were able to make this lifestyle a permanent change the planning would be easier but that’s not practical. In comes having remaining finances to make a big change later. So, I decided to use six years as our expected time on the road.  Sure, our time on the road could end earlier and sure it could end later.

Regardless there will be major expenses to consider, such as buying/renting/financing a new home whether that be a replacement RV/truck or not. For us, we found a way in our financial planning, for the most part, to leave most of our retirement savings alone and a chunk from the sale or home. The sacrifice will be having to work on the road or volunteer at times for a minor portion of our expenses. Planning takes the fear out of the unknown. So we have a plan A, B and C. Things change and having backup plans we are willing to do has taken the fear out of this for me and Karen. Although for the most part she trusts my opinion and lets me figure out the financial portion on my own. Karen and I have talked about what each of us wants in our future lifestyle. There are no compromises that we are both not willing to take together. We both appreciated a comment from Sharon and John of the On the road of retirement blog. They both agreed that if one or the other wanted to come off the road they would give six months’ notice. We met with the bubbly couple here in Kansas City back in June of 2016.

Thank you to everyone we have meet over the past three years in-person and online for all your advice and friendships. You are good people and set great examples of how to make the fulltime RV lifestyle work whatever one’s expectations might be.

Part Two – Initial Start-up Cost for Trailer and Truck

To complete the budgeting process I think it will be appropriate to explain what has become our needs and wants out of a trailer and truck. I’ve posted several times in the past on the subject and over time changed our financial planning to meet the changing budget. There are so many ways to get started on the road and a lot of opinions to go with it. I’ll give you the background and the reasons we are using in this next blog post. 

Part Three – Draft Expense Budget and Details by Line Item (coming soon)

In following other’s examples, the last portion of this three part series will include our detailed first year expense budget and plenty of comments about each line item. I’ll do my best to draw from earlier blog post or research to cover some of the thought processes that went into each expense item. Hopefully helping other’s out that are just getting started and soliciting comments from them or those more experienced.

There are many sources out on the internet that provide a template to get started. For me, I decided to copy, buy, borrow other’s work as a starting point. I’m handy when it comes to spreadsheets. But decided to purchase John Hinton’s work from the On the road of retirement Blog.  Budgeting for the Full Time Rv’er ebook comes with his spreadsheet. John writes about expense categories and included them in the spreadsheet.


Stay tuned…

Truck Shopping

Just started truck shopping….  I dread shopping for automobiles in general because of the dealership process. From walking on the lot to telling the finance guy you’re not interested in what he/she has to offer. The best part of the process is getting home and finding something to take off the dealership stickers that trash the new ride.

Truck shopping for something to pull up to a 18,000-pound trailer is a new experience all together. I’ve done most of the homework and posted about that some time ago. We are looking for a one-ton dually diesel pickup truck and are targeting Fords and Rams.  What I’ve been finding is the Ram seem to be more “affordable” or dare I say, might be a better value for the dollar. I’ll get this out of the way and say all three manufacturers will get the job done so I’m not downing the Chevy/GMC. As part of the research, just like with RVs, I’ve read the truck forums, watched the videos and bugged a lot of new RV friends for ideas.  Today, I received an email alert to a new YouTube video from a site I follow.  The guy that puts on the videos is a Ford guy, even if he does not admit it. I enjoyed this video where he talks about the value of a Ram truck.

We are looking to buy a truck by next August. Yes, before the RV which may come as late as November of 2018. I know the top six trailers we are looking at and am confident we will buy the right truck with the capacity to haul any one of the six. We have a need for a truck to haul stuff off from the house, haul stuff in to fix up the house and it might be the right timing to go to one family car (truck) in the process.

I’ll let you readers in on another observation I’m hoping not many people are figuring out. One way we might buy our trailer is as last year’s model. From my research, the 2019s will be announced around March of 2018. Then the 2019s will arrive at our local RV dealerships around June/July of 2018. Then we should see the prices on the 2018s coming down around that time and surely by September of 2018. Last year the prior year’s model were relatively plentiful in September. But this year, they were almost non-existent by November.  So, the secret I wish others would not find out about is everyone else is looking for the same last year’s models. Guess it’s not a secret after all. Just be aware of it. That’s another reason we are looking for a truck by August and as soon as possible thereafter looking for the trailer. I’m figuring if we find a trailer we best be able to drive right there and get it – before they start to disappear in September. Or we might have to order the trailer or settle on a used one.

Having spent more time looking at specific trucks has brought up a few more considerations. Mostly, the difference in gear ratios such as the Ram 3.73 vs 4.10 or the Ford 3.55 vs the 4.10. I’d written up a blog post discussing the subject in more detail but decided to skip posting it. I’ve got charts showing the towing capacity of each truck and every combination of these gears works for the weights we are looking at.  In the truck forums most people ask about fuel mileage nearly as often as they ask about towing capacity. The best advise I’ve had is select the truck for towing and forget about the narrow fuel mileage differences. We can discuss this more in the comments section if you want. The second best advise I received, for our truck situation, is to not buy one with the 3.55 gears and most say just get the 4.10 gears. Here is the best blog post I’ve ever read about truck shopping. If you don’t have much time or desire to research your purchase, just read that post and go buy a truck.

The second observation I’ve had is it’s hard to find a truck equipped exactly like I want without ordering one new from the factory. This is even more apparent when only searching within 100 miles of our home. And especially if we want to trade in one car when we do it and therefore don’t want to drive a long way to only find out the deal is no good. I’m looking at trucks with less than 20,000 miles on them and don’t intend to order a new one. This plays a role in that I’ll have to make compromises to find a decent used truck which might include going with a different gear ratio, color or whatever.  I like the burgundy two tone trucks by the way. However, our current silver cars sure don’t show the dirt as much nor did the white ones. If that’s important.

I’ll keep you posted on the search….  And I’m still pecking away at our first-year budget for fulltime RV travel and will pass that along later as well.



Downsizing Efforts

Took a “break” to finish up scanning my final business documents. Beginning with 2016 documents, the scanning went much quicker as I had stopped using staples for the most part.  If you have done any heavy scanning, then you know STAPLES SUCK.

Karen has been going through a lifetime of photos and is about ready to start scanning those. A couple months ago she must have had a wild hair because she scattered then sorted paperwork all over the living room floor.

Here is a link to my December 2015 update post regarding going paperless. Yet another benefit of planning so early is having time to adjust our paper habits to include having a reason to convert to digital services for bills, banking, the part-time office job and more. I’ve also added a small external hard drive to our arsenal of computer appliances. It’s a very fast drive that connects to our tablets for mass storage of all our scanned documents, old and new photos.

Karen decided to move her desk from our study to the sunroom. The view out the window is a lot nicer as the trees have dropped their leaves, revealing the rolling hills beyond them. Should have done that years ago as it’s a nice space to work out of.  A side benefit was clearing more room in the study (our third bedroom) to make room for sorting through stuff.  There are pills of stuff out in the open in several other rooms. No big deal as long as we can walk around it 😊.

Click to Enlarge Photos

Started a few garage sales boxes and planning for maybe one sale next year.  I’ve also started posting more expensive items on Craigslist with more regularity. Maybe this winter we will learn how to eBay and Karen has used the local Facebook swap and shop page where she sold some purses. There are lots of benefits to taking years to plan for our mobile future. Among which is saving money by not buying anything that we can’t take on the road later.  And “trash day is Tuesday” so we often fill the bin weekly with what we can’t sell. Before all this we might have cleared some space only to fill it with junk stuff later.

I’ve also been sorting through older scanned or digital photos of views outside our home. We live on a flat hilltop where the views out back and front change dramatically with the seasons. I’m hoping to take one of our old photo binders, which was freed up by scanning photos, and fill it with outside landscaping photos for potential buyers of our home to see when touring the house. Our current plan is to put the house on the market the spring of 2019.

I’ll bet for you on the road, all this sounds familiar!  I’m working on a blog post regarding budgeting. I’d done some earlier estimating for the sake of financial planning. And know our first year on the road may be the most expensive. I’m hoping to bring together all the notes and such I’ve tracked down from other’s blogs and the great advice I’ve received over the past couple of years.  Figure I’ll come up with a first-year budget and then adjust it while on the road from then on.  I’m hoping you will get something out of the upcoming post on budgeting.

I’d also like to take a moment to thank you all for the comments on my last post regarding emotions. There was much advice passed along which I’m taking to heart. If you are not one to read the comments section, the ones from that post are worth it. I felt comfortable putting it out there because I consider you all friends. And being as honest as possible brings the issues as close to the root problem’s as possible so the advice really hits home.  Thank you again.

I’ve also been picking away at the 2017 list of things to do and decisions to make.  As we moved our takeoff date from 2023, to 2020 and then to 2019 I had to move a few decisions forward to earlier years.  Got to get busy with those items during this winter. We will let you know in 2019 if we plan to rent a storage unit or not.

is a website Karen found.  It contains a tremendous amount of information on outdoor journeys such as hikes, national parks and more which are included in its 6,152 adventures (and growing).

Emotional Stuff

Planning for a future in an RV is not all about the finances. Money is just the means to an end. Whether one wants to retreat to an RV roaming the country or just stay put inside a home while the world swirls around them, to me it still is about the emotions of it all.

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a long, long time. Mostly because it involves putting myself out there and disclosing the person I’ve turned out to be – at least to some extent. I’ve read other’s awesome blog posts or stories about their journeys in life and have always appreciated their willingness to post about, for lack of a better word, emotions. I know they open themselves up to criticism. Maybe because others may not have caught the jest of the message or the writer failed to come up with words to explain something important to them.  For those that take the time to let their feelings out, I for one thank you. Seeing the not so good sides of a lifestyle helps paint realistic expectations for those of us getting ready to start navigating down the same road. And for sure, reading about the good times is refreshing.

The stable person in me can respond to a catastrophe such as a terrible car accident or horrible things that happened to a person or family. I can take charge and know 100% what needs to be accomplished. There will be little emotion in those decisions as they are based on experience and training.

The not so stable person inside of me I tend to regard as the emotional person. I am unable to have a 15-minute conversation with anyone about the crucifixion of Christ without crying. Especially if I give much thought to the Trinity wherein God is three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit just as water takes three forms (a liquid, solid and vapor). Each is the same in different forms. What gets me emotional is when I think of God doing what he did for people like me. Being nailed to a cross and having the ability to make the pain go away but not saving himself. Or as the Father, watching his Son in agony to the point his Son asks why he has forsaken him. I don’t deserve it and cannot imagine the love God has for sinful people like myself.  If you have not watched the movie The Shack, do so.

I’ve given much thought over the years as to what has made me the man I am today and how these features in myself will play out in the future. Coming up with a format for this post has been next to impossible. I found myself wanting a template to follow and even refreshed my understanding of  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, referred to as personality theories. Fundamentally I know we all are very similar. That is how it’s possible to guess how each of us might respond to life’s issues or more specifically, why it’s possible to understand where a person is at mentally or as part of a society.

I tend to think, in terms of Maslow’s theory, that we bounce between lows and highs in his triangle of needs. At times we feel we have everything under control. And then other times we fear for or safety which is a primitive need per Maslow. At the top of his list as we develop as a person is self-actualization. This level of need refers to what a person’s full potential is and the realization of that potential. Maslow describes this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be. I’ve read that in his later years Maslow explored a further dimension of needs he titled self-transcendence. As I understand it, this next step is when we find our “actualization” by giving to some higher goal outside oneself, in altruism and spirituality. Personally, I’ve got a better way to describe the ultimate realization of being all you can be.  My father used to say all we can hope for is being content with where we are at in life. My uncle told me anything can change in ten years. I witnessed the greatest person I had ever seen. He was not a famous movie star nor ruler of man. He was my grandfather. I watched him in his hospital bed sometime before his death, he was holding his son’s hands as they flanked each side of his bed.  He gave them comfort only a father could do. My uncle and dad were strong men, well advanced in their understanding of life but still needed a father’s hand. I personally had to leave the room, standing in a stairwell to keep the tears to myself.

I am a complainer by nature. I was that way as a child and am as an adult. I’m not proud of it. I sometimes complain when there is not something to complain about, that’s how bad I am.  I don’t want to become the elderly person that lives near us, alone in a house. This person is a complainer and family does not even come around anymore. I’m glad the roof of the house is relatively flat because when she lands on her broom on top of her roof she will not fall off. She can be a witch and every other word that rhymes with it. I’ve also been around her when she was a caring, giving person. But she drifted in between these good and bad emotions and now is surely lonely. That is not the person I care to become.

I’m a type A personality. If you look up the definition in Webster’s book, you will find my name listed in the description of what the word means. I’ll look it up – “related to, characteristic of, having, or being a personality that is marked by impatience, aggressiveness, and competitiveness and that has been implicated by some studies as a factor increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease – see Mark Seneker.”

I don’t want to die of a heart attack before I get a chance to see the Grand Canyon. But I now where these personality traits come from. And if I know that then I also know how I can change for the better. This trait comes from at times having to take care of myself as a child and at times not trusting anyone for my safekeeping other than myself. The only way, I assumed, to make sure things worked out was to do it myself and therefore to depend only on myself.  I know that’s not reality because we all need each other.  I know that’s not reality because there are so many good people in life that care about others. I know that is not possible because every time I look at my wife and her caring personality, that wraps herself around another’s needs while at the same time doing her best to take care of herself. She humbles me, and I trust her. For my own Maslow step in life, I need to be around more people like her.

As a youngish police officer there was an RV park in one of my patrol districts. There were older trailers parked there, which I now know can be referred to as long-term campers.  And there were newer RV’s that stopped for the night. The place was run down, and I never could understand why anyone from out of town would stop there. Now I know that’s all they were doing; just stopping for the night to rest and today would just post a comment on rvparkreviews.com warning others what to expect. As a cop, I viewed everyone in the park as a potential problem. Although now that I think about it, I met a lot of good people when responding to calls there. Some had financial problems, and some were just parked to work construction in the area.  Some had children they sent off to school while they worked nearby minimum wage jobs.  Others were drunks and received all the wrath I had to offer if they did not behave. Boy does life change in full circles. Now I’m looking to move my wife and I into RV parks at times. Little did I known there were people in that RV park in my patrol district that were just stopping by on their way to a wonderful location where no camera can take a picture of its wonderfulness. I guess I’m growing and reaching another step. Karen and I live in Missouri. As part of a future RV family we have met people from New England and New York, from Kansas and California, from Texas and Michigan.  All are wonderful people and I never once wished the visit would end.  I for one need those kinds of people around me. Maybe it’s because of their ages and having completed similar life challenges and that is what binds us. I care not to overthink it, I’ll just assume we are likeminded people with common goals.

Another personality trait of Mark is I get frustrated with others. To the point it causes stress and brings on a pain in my right chest. I’ve had many discussions with counselors about this. Two preachers, a phycologist and only my closest friends of which there are not many. I’ll describe when I get frustrated as briefly as possible. Co-workers who are not doing the best they can drive me nuts. Children and adults who are not taking responsibility for what they have done or have not done, drive me nuts. People drifting through life, seemingly unaware of nor caring about those around them, drive me nuts. Preachers said pay attention to those that are not doing any of the above and ignore those that are. Counselors say come up with coping mechanisms.  Some friends would not say anything, thinking it would harm our relationship. But close friends say shut-up and find something to be happy about because there is a lot of good people I’ll meet in life.  Fact is, I’m positive at one time or another I have not done my job the best I could, or I’ve not taken responsibility for my actions or I ignored those around me.  I hope others have not judged me the same that I have judged them.

I had first intended to lump this post into categories which have nothing to do with finances but are another part of RVing. Such as relationships, standards of comfort, ability to compromise, physical limitations and it’s time for a change. No need. Those out there new to the lifestyle, planning for their trip or have been there done that, all understand. Just like those that were police officers understand the emotions of the job and we don’t have to talk about it much with one another. Other’s may not understand our humor or coarseness.  I hope one preacher got it right. That once I leave the job I’ll find out 80% of people are good and not anything like the 20% I lock up.  He also says that will be the hardest part of it all, that is becoming part of the good society. I’ll admit, I use the struggles of the job as a crutch to blame the pain on.  And the guys and gals I work around really are the best this country has to offer. I’ve been to their funerals, retirements and picked them up off the side of the road after they were injured.  They do their jobs everyday which at times might include just showing up. I’m pretty sure I’ve not violated any department policy about posting on public media about the job with these comments.

Fact is, there is much to my life outside of work and my past experiences in general. I’m failing to recognize the good in life. To sum it up, Mark needs a change and my family, especially my wife, deserve a changed Mark. I think I’m getting a handle on myself, or at least trying to. Planning for a future in an RV, the travel, the down time, being with family and you sure is making the waiting more tolerable. I don’t know if I can ever become the man my grandfather was. But if I intend to I best get started.

I’ll close this emotional me with this.  There are many times in life when a change is in order. It helps us grow as people. It renews our inner selves. It pushes us up a step in Maslow’s chart. It makes the pain go away. And, for sure, there will come another day when change will be in life’s order. I tell myself I’m getting ready to release the new me.  I’ve earned it and so have others around me.

I read this through for typing errors. It’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to.  Even if it’s about my emotions. 

Preparing for Mobile Office Work

Mobile, by definition, means the ability to move or be moved freely or easily. These are my long-term goals as I prepare to move a part time job from my home to our future in an RV.

Back in December of 2016 I posted an update on our financial planning. That month I’d brought up the idea a current employer wanted me to keep a part time office job.  Doing so would prevent having to draw from retirement funds while on the road. What a great opportunity and a good business deal that was good for both of us.  It did not take long for me to accept the offer. Since then I’ve become more confident keeping the job will work out. Especially after meeting others who are already working an office job from their RV and contacting others online regarding connectivity such as phone service. I really appreciate those of you who spent time answering emails or responding to comments on the topic. Thank you!

In January of 2014 I sold a small construction contracting business which employed five people. I sold it to the then superintendent who kept me on as it’s office manager. In short, the job requires about 10 hours of my time each week. I work from my home on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and again on Saturday mornings. The hours are flexible, but I always try and make myself available on the phone on those days for consistency.  Folks know they can get in touch with me during those days.

For the past several months I’ve kept a notebook at my desk and wrote down by category each major task I typically accomplish on the days I work. Usual office stuff such as payroll, customer invoicing, monthly/quarterly tax preparation and such.  Maybe not so typical is bidding floor plans from prints.  I came up with 20 titles for tasks I perform in my job where I needed to figure out how to get them done on the road.  Always keeping in mind, the greater goal is to make the move in a way which will cause the least inconvenience to my boss, customers, vendors and employees. I suppose success will be that few people will even know I’m sitting in sunny locations hundreds of miles away from them.

I’ve got the list sitting next to me as I write this. There are a few areas that have been more challenging to figure out and I would appreciate any advice you have to offer.

  • Mail service when a business is involved: Karen and I will establish a mail service in whatever state we decide to domicile within for personal use.  I’ve read everything I could find regarding how the Escapees RV Club mail service works for example. They are a little vague about business mail but state they provide the service. I’ll most likely end up calling each service for an explanation as to how they handle business mail. I’ve starting moving everything possible over to online service to avoid mail but there simply will be a need to receive some mail and for sure scanning services where they open the mail and scan it when requested.
  • Computer hardware for tiny homes: I’ve already decided a laptop and external monitor will be the way to go. When I’m out of range for WIFI or cellular service I’ll have the ability to drive down the road to connect. But what about printing?  Again, I’m doing what I can to go paperless. I mostly receive floor plans, maybe three to four a month, via PDF files. I may try and find a software to use in taking measurements but generally must print them off on an 11×17 printer.  Maybe half a dozen times a year, it’s better to have them printed in larger format by a service provider such as Office Depot. The boss says this one is easy. Tell the customer to send prints in a format I can use, or they will not get the best quotation (price estimate) possible. For lack of better ideas, I’m thinking to just go with the smallest laser printer possible and keep the 11×17 printer in a box for those times I need it.
  • Changing the business office address: Correspondences come to my home address now. The business address will change to the boss’s office once we leave in an RV. There will be times he has to forward items on to me. And there will be times I mail items to him to sign and expect him to forward it on in the mail, such as quarterly taxes. I’m thinking about training him on using a phone application to take photos to send to me and maybe getting with his wife, whom I’ve worked with in the past, regarding items he needs to sign and mail.

I’m hacking away at the list of converting the home office to a mobile office. It will help that we are planning to purchase the RV well in advance of going full time. That will give it a chance to test everything out from a local RV park or wherever. If anyone wants to have a longer discussion on the topic, just post in the comments section. I’d love to talk about it.  Here are a few more areas on my list to improve for a mobile office:

  • Signing up for mobile tax payments and filing forms. (In progress)
  • Customer invoicing. (Some already prefer emails)
  • Cutting down on business “junk mail”. (Faxing a form letter to take me off their list)
  • Cutting down on need to print stuff.
  • Working with accountant to submit end of year documents for taxes. (Will use their file server)
  • Researching affordable internet and cell service. And signal boosting.
  • A work area in the trailer.
  • Having all or most all vendors submit bills electronically.
  • Finish scanning old documents.

I suppose my office space can be the dining room table or sitting on the floor in the living room. But I’d rather figure something out that can be setup and torn down easily when not in use. Karen came up with a few interesting photos of mobile offices and I’ve been keeping a list of ideas I’ve heard about.


new flash  Vanleigh RV is introducing a new fifth wheel targeting the fulltime RVer. It’s called the Beacon. Click here for a brief video. I hope they do a better job with cargo capacity than the Vilano model has. I think they will because of 8,000-pound axles.

new flash Quick list comparing the 2016 Keystone Montana vs Grand Design Solitude differences per Camping World. I saw a similar list at the local 2017 RV show. This will give you an idea of what to look for that might not be easy to see.

Boondocking at Apple Butter Days

For more than 10 years I have traveled to Mt. Vernon Missouri to spend time in the Adamson log cabin during a three-day festival known as Apple Butter Makin Days. Here is a link to last year’s trip.

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2017 Adamson Cabin Crew

The 1854 log cabin was moved to a lovely location to be restored over a period of 20 or so years with my father and uncle leading the effort.  For the past several years my sister Mary and I continued the tradition of putting on a living history demonstration at the cabin which is secluded on a hillside away from the thousands of people attending the Apple Butter festival.

This year a special person showed up. We don’t consider any member of the Adamson family to be a guest at the cabin as it was their home. Steve Adamson flew with his wife and son’s family from California to Missouri. He is the great-grandson of the man and wife who originally built the cabin. So many stories he had to tell. So much amazing family history. I could have talked to that man for several more hours, but we had visitors (tourist) to show around. Steve’s own father had lived in the cabin as a child. You must seize the moment when someone who lived the history is willing to pass the experience along. I’ll never give another tour of the cabin without thinking of what Steve had to say about it.

Much goes into opening the cabin up after it sits during a year of solitude waiting for the festival. Mary and my uncle’s daughter – cousin Kathy setup and cleanup the cabin as they live in the area. I make the 180 mile track down to southern Missouri for the event. Thank you to both for making it so easy on me. Especially this year as they had to rid the place of two snakes that slithered inside the cabin hunting mice I’m told.

For years we had slept and cooked in the cabin for the three day event. But this year I borrowed a Class C motorhome. Thank you Lisa and Brent!  This was the first time I had any experience with RV boondocking even for a short period.  The Winnebago Navion 24J is built upon the Mercedes-Benz sprinter chassis with a diesel engine. It drove like a van with 50% better fuel mileage and stability than the Forest River Sunseeker we rented a couple years ago which had the Ford gas engine and chassis.

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Learned a lot from the boondocking experience in terms of what to expect from a unit setup the way the Winnebago was. The experience helped form a few questions about solar setups when the next weekend Karen and I met with our RV friends Russ and Kay of the Destination Unknown Blog as they were making their way from New Hampshire to Colorado.  We got to know the couple through blogging and arranged last year to meet at a local RV park. This time they were boondocking at a local winery as part of a program they belong to known as Harvest Host. Sorry, forgot to get any photos with them this year!

It sure seems like we are part of the community – less having our own trailer. Ingrid definitely got it right in her latest blog post over on the Live Laugh RV Blog when she wrote The Best Thing About Rving.  To quote her the best thing is “the community of like-minded people and the forging of new friendships that makes this Rving lifestyle so special and so much fun.” Karen missed this year’s trip to Mt. Vernon. Too bad as our RV friends Dean and Cheri drove in from Oklahoma to the cabin for a visit. Their blog is Travels with Bentley. Third time we/me were able to meet the couple in as many years.  Amazing folks – all of them.

For the past couple years, I’ve been driving around Mt. Vernon looking for spots to park up to 40’ fifth wheel.  This time next year we hope to boondock in Mt. Vernon Missouri in our own home! Or we can make us of an RV park down the highway I got to know while dumping the motorhomes water tanks and topping off the propane.