Whenever I undertake a new project or set out to accomplish a big goal, I have a little ritual. It starts with a new notebook. My notebook of choice is the extra-large Moleskine® journal, lined.
My ritual involves going to the bookstore in search of the perfect project journal. Though I have to admit, they are sold two to a pack so I have plenty of empty ones on my bookshelves. I look and touch pretty much ever one on the display rack as I imagine writing in the journal. I run my hand over the crisp virgin pages of the journal not shroud in plastic. Smaller and/or unlined ones, I seriously consider. But after thirty or so minutes of intense consideration, I pick the packet with two journals. The extra-large lined one. The one that will match the blank ones on my bookshelves.
I went through the ritual when I first decided to explore the idea of living in an RV. And once home from the trip to Barnes & Noble, I removed the plastic wrapping and the paper band that encircles the pair. I sat at my dining room table and opened the cover of the gray journal.
Don’t you love that moment? Perfect empty pages just waiting to be filled with ideas, thoughts, plans, doodles and the occasional coffee or wine ring (depending on the time of day).
Where to start?
On the first page I brainstormed ideas for the name of my adventure. I thought by naming it, I could understand it, define it. Boundaries in the form of a name felt like a way to control the idea and focus the goal.
But the greatest name in the world wasn’t going to mean much if I couldn’t afford turning my life into an RV life.
I turned the page in the journal, switched from pen to pencil and started to think on paper.
At the point I bought the journal, I’d already done preliminary internet searches so I had a sense of costs. I wrote on the top of the next three pages the calculations I needed:
- Start-up costs.
- On the road costs
- Total funds I’d have by the time I hit the road.
Since I spent the better part of my 20s and 30s in debt, the single requirement I had before giving thumbs up to my grand scheme was that I had to be able to embark on the journey debt-free. I was (and am) committed to never be in that precarious position again.
While planning this blog, I decided I would share detailed financials. I do this in hopes others who might be thinking of taking their own journey will find it valuable.
My estimated beginning income without having to dip into any retirement accounts was $211,000: 40% from selling my house, 10% from liquidating my possessions and the rest from savings and investments.
My conclusion? I could do it!
Remember, I headed down this path as a means to an end. My desire was to create more hours in my life for writing. With estimated monthly expenses of $3,000, after startup costs, I’d be left with enough to “buy” three to four years of freedom before I had to earn money again.
For me, the scariest aspect about my three journal pages filled with numbers was the knowledge I would be trading in all my appreciating assets for depreciating assets. As a person averse to risk I find I have to compartimentalize this fact. If I linger on it, it isn’t too long before doubt floods my brain and the inner voice tells me my idea is the stupidest one I’ve had to date. And, I’ve had some stupid ones along the journey of life.
But sometimes you have to hold on to the belief that things will work out even when it isn’t in your nature.
I wish I’d started this blog in 2014 when I started the process so I could have documented what I learned in real time. I say this so you’ll understand the numbers I am sharing are from what I knew in 2014. They were my first attempt to understand if funding a Supersize LIFE was even possible.
In next month’s Finances post I’ll reveal how I calculated the $3,000 per month on the road costs. And in next week’s post I’ll explain the first steps in the long process of choosing the right RV.