Once I settled on the idea that I didn’t need a million dollars to stop working, the idea of not continuing to work a full-time, traditional job came to me with more and more frequency. But coming to those conclusions didn’t mean I had a clue what came next.
I have never had the travel bug or a passion for the RV lifestyle. Maybe if I had, this option would’ve come to me a lot sooner. As it happened, I pretty much tumbled over the idea. But once it was inside my head, I couldn’t get it out. It was like the proverbial snowball rolling down a hill. First, pebble-sized, but with momentum and time, it became as big and fast as a rocket.
Now, it almost feels like a lie to say full-time RVing wasn’t the dream all along. So, how did the pebble-size idea start down the hill? Like this:
My first thought was to ask my employer if I could cut back to part-time. It was a safe, easy option. The most logical choice. And I’m nothing if not logical. I am the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) for a nonprofit where I am solely responsible for all things financial. But because we are small, there is a whole lot of things I do under that catch-all phrase “other duties as assigned.”
My job runs the spectrum, from running payroll to running to Costco, from budget analysis to analyzing clogged toilets to determine whether I could fix it or if I should call a professional. In other words, half of my job is “other duties as assigned” and doesn’t take one iota of financial know-how.
The idea was to reduce my hours to 20 hours per week dedicated to the organization’s finances. Then, with the other half of my salary, the organization could hire a 30-hour bookkeeper/office manager. This “other duties as a assigned” specialist could help with some of the routine financial operations plus order the copy paper; haul the recycling to the recycling center; deal with office machines, renters, computer viruses and clogged toilets.
It was actually kind of a kick-ass plan.
The organization would get 50 hours of labor for the same amount of money they are currently paying me for 40. For this to work, I knew I’d have to downsize. I couldn’t maintain my house on part-time income. I didn’t mind because I am not particularly attached to my house and for one person a 3-bedroom, 2.5 bath and a double car garage might be overkill. Smaller and cheaper was easy to get behind.
I could even picture it: small house, daily walks with my dog, daily sessions of writing and working five hours four days each week.
I need to pause here to say I like my job. Going in every day as a full-time employee is not a hardship. I don’t dread Sundays the way I know so many people do. I’m satisfied with what I earn and my benefits. I feel appreciated. I know I am good at what I do. It would actually be the perfect job for me…if I just didn’t want to be doing something different.
But the truth is parttime would never work.
I knew it all along but it took a few weeks before I was willing to give up the fantasy. There would be project or deadline or new employee or some other reason my time would be invaded. It happens now on the weekends and when I’m on vacation. Part-time works in theory but reality has nothing to do with theory. Plus, my mind-picture was always during the summer with warm sun, blue sky and green grass. And three-quarters of the year in Alaska I wear a coat.
Going cheaper and smaller carried over into idea number two. A tiny house.
If you haven’t heard of the tiny house movement, you will. It’s gaining momentum fast. The cost is so little compared to a regular house, utilities are practically nil. I could buy a tiny house with my savings and get a fun, easy, no-stress job (can you say barista, book seller?) to maintain my life.
But there was a catch to idea number two. After 23 years in Alaska, I just don’t want to live here anymore. It’s nothing against Alaska which is extraordinary in more way than I can name. But I simply don’t enjoy the cold dark overcast winter months. The problem with having lived in one place so long, it makes it impossible for me to know where I want to live. No idea where to put my perfectly-imagined tiny house. Why? Because I haven’t ever really been anywhere.
After idea one and idea two went down as failures, I finally came to idea number three. I could live in an RV! An RV: a tiny house on wheels.
I could travel, maybe even find a place to put a tiny house one day. I could see this grand country I was born into. Exploration. I could become an explorer, an adventurer, a nomad, a gatherer of experiences. And best of all, I could gain the hours in a day I’d been searching for all along.
The longer I considered the idea of full-time RVing, the more brilliant the idea became. The more brilliant the idea became, the more excited I got. Plans and new pictures started to fill my head. It’s weird. I came to the idea not as a first solution, not even as a second solution, but now it turns out to be the perfect solution. I feel so passionate about full-time RVing now, it’s almost strange to remember I gave serious consideration to other options first.
Have you ever struggled with finding a solution only to have the answer hit you like a ton of bricks later? Please share in the comments below. And come back next week to learn how I changed a light bulb. And, yes, it has everything to do with RVing.