Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Is It Worth?

I read blogs, websites and the various forum sites during the evening hours.  I can keep one eye on a TV program, if it is worth seeing, and one eye on the monitor to read stuff.  And, boy, there is a lot of stuff out there. 

Much of what I read pertains to a fulltime RV lifestyle, since that is of particular interest to me as a fellow fulltimer.  I am always interested in people, their opinions, their particular outlook on FT living, the thoughts for their future, and how they are holding up in these tough economic times we are in.

                                                           Avila Beach on a recent trip (about 5 minutes from Pismo).DSCF6806 

Some have given up their fulltime dream even before it got completely started and some have left the fulltime lifestyle after several years to settle back into a stix-n-brix.  Some others are hanging onto their dream of this lifestyle in hopes of better times ahead. 

Seems to me in most all of the stuff I’ve read, the folks are very realistic about their options.  They seem to be   content to forge ahead and follow their plan.  The freedom of living a life in an RV with wheels to move them about is still of great importance to them.  It is to us, as well.

                                                           A main street in Avila Beach with shops and restaurants.DSCF6807 

I can only speak for our situation and it may be different from other fulltimer’s goals and dreams.  Like so many others, we’ve experienced diminished savings due to the recent recession and stock market disaster.  The economic climate begs the question….”what is this lifestyle worth?”  What is it worth to you to be able to keep going as you’ve been doing?  How much are you willing to change to hold onto your dream?  What can you give up?  That is…of course….if any change is needed at all.  There are many RVer’s with good pensions, savings and retirement benefits to carry them forward, which is all good.  What to do, then, if a change is needed?

Workamping is an option a lot of people use as a way of meeting financial needs.  The younger set of fulltimer’s I read about are using workamping to keep them afloat.  Volunteer positions at state and national parks can get you a free campsite in exchange for your work.  This helps with the rent budget.  If you stay in one location to be a workamper or a campground volunteer you aren’t driving around burning up fuel, which is a savings.

                                                           Another beach view at Avila and many people enjoying the sunshine.DSCF6808

But what about the rest of it?  Most of the fulltime RVer’s who are under the normal retirement age were tired of the rat race involved with a 40-hour work week.  They searched out a new lifestyle.  Perhaps it is a healthier lifestyle for themselves.  A lifestyle that allows them to see the country while they follow a dream.

That can come with a price which is where my post title “What Is It Worth?” comes from.  If you have elected to bail out early on the career path (as we did) there may be some compromise to be made at some point.   In our case, in order to not have to go out and work for earned income, it means we rarely go out to a sit-down restaurant for a meal.  We like to reserve that money for times when we meet a fellow blogger, or friends or family and go out for a meal.  We have a very, very small entertainment budget, we don’t buy a lot of new tech-gadgets or gizmos (OK…NONE), we will drive our present car for many years, and we do not go to high-end RV parks as they are too expensive for our budget. 

                                                           Restaurant with outdoor seating in Avila Beach.DSCF6809  

If you’ve been used to playing golf twice a week, going out for restaurant meals 4 to 5 times a week, buying every new gadget and gizmo that comes out, going to the movies often, going to live concerts or theater productions, having his and hers vehicles in your parking spot, and staying on top of the fashion trends, are you willing to give any of this up?   Would you be willing to put an end to any of these things in order to continue and maintain your fulltime lifestyle?  Those can be some big decisions if any of those expenditures are very important to you.

If you are just struggling to put food on the table, pay your vehicle insurance, pay for medical insurance, and buy life’s necessities while you are living this dream, again, is it worth it?  The stress of a difficult work week may now be replaced by the stress of keeping the dream together.  This is a very tough decision that many people are facing right now.  I am really wondering how it will all play out.  Are any of them going to have to put the dream aside and settle down with a full-time job again?   There is a high unemployment rate out there and good jobs may be difficult to find.  Most of us with a fulltime RV dream have to compromise somewhere with something in these tough times.  I am cheering on each and every fulltimer out there, as I sincerely hope you can hold on during these tough times. 

                                                           Outdoor chess set at a small hotel in Avila Beach.DSCF6810

Fulltime RV living isn’t stress free or problem free, but it certainly has some great benefits that may, or may not be, tangible.  I remember very well a blog post written by Al of the Bayfield Bunch several months ago.  Part of what he wrote had to do with a “sack full of problems”.  I can’t quote him directly but it was something about  when we live in the stix-and-brix world we may have a sack full of problems to deal with relating to that home.  If we move into an RV fulltime we exchange the previous sack of problems for another sack of problems.  We still have a sack of problems, but it is just a different sack.  Anyway, I thought it was a great post and I think about it often when we are faced with some problem or another.   

The same theory can go along with being in the working world.  We may have hated our corporate, or 40-hour plus workweek and decided to chuck it all, but we still have to find some sort of income to just be able to survive.  That’s where I ask myself the question, “Is It Worth It?”  For us, personally, the scrimping, cutting corners, being thrifty, having great limits on all spending is completely worth it. 

NOTE:  This post was intended to explain our philosophy about the fulltime lifestyle, the give and take of it, and is in no way intended to reflect an opinion on other people’s choices.

Until next time… long for now!


Gypsy said...

This is a well-written and thought-provoking post. Each of us have our own take on it, but you are pretty much right on with the majority, would be my bet.

I took an early retirement a long time ago, and lived in my own gypsy world for many years. Even with 5 years spent in a stix & brix in North Carolina, I still traveled extensively. But I sure gave up the entertainment, eating out, fashion, and all the rest. I am totally happy (although not exactly content with my current status of sitting and waiting) with my decision to retire early. I'm also totally happy doing without what I gave up a long time ago.

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts. They certainly apply to our lifestyle and I could not help think that this same thought process must be used in other lifestyles when times are tough. Indeed, if you find yourself out of work and living in a house that perhaps was too expensive even when you had work, you now must make some hard decisions.

We must all take stock of what we chose to do to live the way we would like too. Not facing reality and choosing wisely will have potentially life changing results.

I always like to tell my kids that good decisions tend to lead to more good decisions and vice verse.

Anonymous said...

As I see it, we have to live somewhere. My thought is, I want to have a different view out my window, often. No, I don't want to travel every day, or even once a week, but perhaps once every month or so.
We don't favor fancy resturants, or play golf, or have other expensive hobbies. In fact, for the last several years, our recreation has been to go out in our RV.
So making the move to fulltiming made sense to us, and in fact, is proving cheaper than past living in a rented condo.
We are still working full time, living in a nice RV park in the same general area we have lived in for 20 years. My wife will retire soon, with a small pension, I will probably keep working (internet based) for a long time, but we love living in our RV.
I maintain a strict budget, and know where all the dollars go. It only has to be as expensive as you make it, you just trade the fixed foundation for one on wheels.
Dan & Barb

K and D in the RV said...

Margie, this was an awesome post - we completely agree with you. When we made the decision to look into this and perhaps pursue it, we had many friends who could not possibly imagine being without their big houses. We can. My work stresses are so big that it is a no brainer for us. We cannot wait to start our new lifestyle, and by the way, we have great support from our 2 boys and family towards our decision. We are also aware that our new 'home' ( the 5th W ) will have its' own upkeep and problems - that is just life!

Vera said...

My husband retired at 48 years old and he has not looked back. Sometimes though I think he works harder now than at his former job. We are very happy with our life. The only thing better would be winters in the South, but it is nice at home too.


I always enjoy reading realistic posts like the one you have just written. A post that asks questions & stimulates thought process's. How refreshing to read about thoughts & feelings, fears, apprehensions, dreams, common sense & a logical approaches to very real situations. Well done Margie & good for you to shine some light on the other side of RVing!! Careful now, you just might end up in the bear pit with Rick & I............

Levonne said...

Margie, I continue to be impressed with the quality of your blog - the thoughtfulness in your posts and your pictures. Is it worth it? This is a question John and I are continuously asking ourselves. So far, it has been worth it to be campground hosts as a way to explore Central Coast California while we try to relocate to the area. This was our dream when we set out over a year ago. It continues to be our dream to find work and a community that we will love in CCC. We're also become increasing more open to whatever might be delivered to us from the universe.

Sue and Doug said...

I say it is 'so worth it'.just a different sack of troubles is all!..we have a few more years of working for a living..but we will be one of those younger fulltimers who will be working to keep the budget under least part time anyway! is short..sometimes if you wait until you can afford would never do it! it having children or selling everything and hitting the for giving up things..I am so with you on that one..even now...when I go shopping?..the only things I will buy will be items that can come with us!
once again a great post, Margie!!

Kimberly and Jerry Peterson said...

We brought the sack with us but have learned so many great lessons in these 6 years that we would never give up this lifestyle. Staying out here through the good and bad times for us has been completely worth it.

Love your post and REALLY LOVE THE NEW PHOTO!

Judy and Emma said...

So, your post has me thinking. Yes, I think it's worth it, but lately my mind has been edging towards some possible changes in my fulltiming style. It will take further thought. :)

Rick and Paulette said...

Great post, Margie, and judging by the thoughtful comments left so far, you have certainly made everyone sit back and think a bit about priorities and lifestyles. As for giving up things, I'd have no problem at all with most of what you've done - except for the gadgets and gizmos. Gotta have those no matter what!!

Carol K said...

Not only did you write an excellent blog today, Margie, but you have received excellent comments. Good job sparking the discussion!

I think it's good to be aware of exchanging one sack of problems for another. Life is not carefree, no matter how we live it. Being aware of the pitfalls of each type of lifestyle is important. There's no room for putting our heads in the sand, even if we are lucky enough to be hanging out at the beach! ;-)

Cindy said...

Hey Margie great post. After living the way we have this last year..I could write a book on how to live economicaly!! lol
I know we aren't full timing...yet....but someday..when we do..I think it will be so refreshing not having these huge financial burdens hanging over our house..the upkeep..the utilities...I know Walker could workcamp with the best of them.
Thanks for sharing..Hugs Cindy and Walker

Jerry and Suzy said...

We're with you all the way, Margie! Our full-time lifestyle had to change a couple of years ago, but not because of finances. Medical situations kept us in one location for two years. But in thoe two years we got a wonderful opporetunity to buy a used park trailer for our lot in Benson, and that has been splendid. Of course, that put a couple of new problems in our sack, but so what?

The Gypsy G-Mas said...

Margie ~ I like the topic of your post and you did a great job of explaining your philosophy. Life is full of trade-offs, regardless of what type of lifestyle you are living. We, too, have given up eating out in our attempt at frugal living. The trade-off is that we have to cook more, but it's not so bad because we have the time and enjoy it. And what we've gained on top of it is a more healthy lifestyle. I prefer to focus on what I've gained rather than what I've given up, because in my estimate, there are a heck of a lot more gains.

pidge said...

To us it is well worth it. We are "The Frugal Travelers" for a reason. We really are very frugal, and I think we have seen and been a lot of places we could not have gone to before selling our home and grounds. Like you, we visit very few expensive RV parks or places to eat. I do keep us on a very strict budget. So far, it works for us.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

John and Carol said...

This was a very thoughtful and interesting post. We are only 49 days from our early "retirement" for many of the same reaswon you mention. It gives me great comfort to read your words. Thanks for sharing them with us.

Margie and Roger said...

Yes, to me it is worth it. We aren't at SS age yet, so our budget is quite tight. I do miss having money to spend freely, but I would not want to return to a house and a 40-50 hour week job to have that extra money. I want a new camera and in the past I would just go buy one...but now I have to decide, do I want to put that money towards a camera or diesel fuel for the next trip. So, I'll be keeping my current camera because I would rather have that next trip.

KarenInTheWoods and Steveio said...

Great post! When I look at our meager budget, where we are still paying mortgage, taxes, insurance, heat and upkeep on the house PLUS we already own the motorhome and pay on that too, plus upkeep, insurance and fuel. Working on a tight budget now helps us to know we will do fine later at retirement level, when we sell the house to full time it. Steve's pension will be almost the same as his take home pay now.

Karen and Steve
(Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard