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many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-18-2005, 02:17 PM   #1
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many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

I spend some time on occasion on a message board for motorhome owners. The moderator of the site is Andy Baird. He owns an older motorhome he calls Gertie. Andy has his own website, www.andybaird.com, where he talks about his motorhome travels.

He recently ER'ed at 55. From his web site (Andy, I hope you won't mind me quoting a few paragraphs):

The "Die at your desk" plan

About ten years ago my company put on a retirement seminar that convinced me there was no way I'd ever be able to retire. It was a very good, comprehensive presentation: they had a woman from the HR department, a pension plan representative and a spokesperson for the Social Security Administration. I took copious notes and brought away a sheaf of handouts. What I learned was that I should plan on using a combination of savings, Social Security and pension to replace at least 80-90% of my current salary...and to that end, I should not even think about retiring unless I had at least $800,000 in the bank.

Now, at this point in my life I had $2,000 in the bank and owed $16,000 in credit card debt. It was obvious that I could no more contemplate retirement than I could plan a trip to the moon. I was going to work until I dropped. So I stopped thinking about retirement, because it was obviously just not going to happen.

And that's how things were for the next five years or so...until I got Gertie. Oh, I paid off the credit cards and started putting more money in the bank, but that $800,000 figure was always there, looming like a high stone wall between me and any thought of retirement. When friends asked whether I had a retirement plan, I joked that I was on the "die at your desk" plan.

But one friend—Gertie's former owner, Judie—suggested that I look closely at what I really needed in order to live, and think creatively about ways to reduce my living expenses. When I did, it began to dawn on me that if I took a few simple steps (mainly getting out of expensive central New Jersey), I didn't need anywhere near 80% of my salary; in fact, I figured I could get by on about 30%. The key assumptions were that I'd sell my condo, get out from under the mortgage, taxes and condo fees, and live fulltime in my motorhome.

That still isn't going to be easy, since my pension—a laughable $964 a month, or just under $12,000 a year—will only be about 15% of what I was earning at ETS. I'll have to bring in another $12,000 or more in order to make ends meet. My freelance businesses—graphics and technical writing—will be the keys to survival...at least until Social Security kicks in, seven years down the road. Actually, I'm not doing badly on that score: I'm already making about $10,000 a year freelancing in my spare time, and once my time is my own, I can increase that.

This, then, is what retirement means to me. It's not going to be a "sit around fishing and playing cards" affair. But I wouldn't want that anyway—I always have more projects in my head than I have time to work on! No, I'll still be working (though not as hard!)—but on my own terms. I'll be creating graphics or writing user manuals at my dinette table, while the panorama of mountains or forest or desert fills Gertie's big windows. I'll watch the sun rise and set and the clouds blow across the sky. I'll stop and go for a walk, take pictures of a chipmunk or a collared lizard by the trail, and post them on this website.


Financial planners and the popular press can easily scare people away from thinking about retirement by pushing the necessity of having 70-80% of preretirement income to retire. Many might give up saving, believing that there is no point to try.

I really like Andy's williness to give it a shot, despite not having a lot of resources. And who cares if he works a little on the side to make ends meet. There are no rules.


Read his journal about going fulltime at http://www.andybaird.com/travels/ful...fulltime01.htm.
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-18-2005, 02:23 PM   #2
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

Inspiring story, Martha.

Ha
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-18-2005, 02:44 PM   #3
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

Thanks Martha,
We all need one of these stories every now and then.
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-18-2005, 03:40 PM   #4
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

Good one. I have heard about these mobile home guys. I wonder if you have to set up a post office box in a state (maybe one without state taxes?) I think that they even have their own "lobbying group".
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-18-2005, 04:17 PM   #5
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

You have to be a resident of some state. Many fulltime motorhomers seem to choose South Dakota. No income taxes. No need to personally come to South Dakota more than once every five years to renew your drivers license. Low sales tax on vehicle purchases.

For mail, many use a forwarding service, like through the Escapees organization (www.escapees.com).
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-18-2005, 05:02 PM   #6
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

I enjoyed perusing this site, and its links a couple months ago. Not sure I want to work in a campground, but lots of good info.

http://www.workamper.com/WorkamperNews/WNIndex.cfm
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-18-2005, 05:21 PM   #7
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

Is RV living really that economical.

How much do one of those Gerdy's cost?
and gasoline and hook ups at RV parks.

If I would go the way of RV living I would buy one of the trailers that you pull with a pick up truck.
This way when stationed you have the pick up to get around with.

I can't imagine taking a Gerdy to to supermarket or the Post Office.
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-18-2005, 05:33 PM   #8
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

Live in a Mexican village without running water/electricity and cook on a flat rock - when spring comes - cross over to Texas - fire up your good used Winnie and go visit the kids/grandkids in Colorado and go where ever.

I worked with this guy in my Colorado days and my buddy who retired from the old plant who related this tale is inclined to embellish things a bit from time to time.

Knowing both - there is an element of truth - and a reasonable amount of B.S. I don't believe the part about the flat rock.
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-18-2005, 05:34 PM   #9
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTM
Is RV living really that economical.

How much do one of those Gerdy's cost?
and gasoline and hook ups at RV parks.

If I would go the way of RV living I would buy one of the trailers that you pull with a pick up truck.
This way when stationed you have the pick up to get around with.

I can't imagine taking a Gerdy to to supermarket or the Post Office.
Yeah, we discussed that - I would prefer a trailer that could be left somewhere at times, my SO thinks hauling a trailer is a PITA. * *We talked about just living in one for a year sabbatical- *It would not be my permanent chosen retirement lifestyle - but it might grow on ya...

Gas - the big ones get about 5 mpg gas and about 10 diesel, I think. * :P
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-18-2005, 06:33 PM   #10
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTM
Is RV living really that economical.

How much do one of those Gerdy's cost?
and gasoline and hook ups at RV parks.

If I would go the way of RV living I would buy one of the trailers that you pull with a pick up truck.
This way when stationed you have the pick up to get around with.

I can't imagine taking a Gerdy to to supermarket or the Post Office.
You could tow a car or pickup behind the motorhome.* I saw some KOA rates in Florida that were about $300/month for full hookups.*
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-18-2005, 08:29 PM   #11
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

Martha, thanks for sharing the article.
I am thinking of RV'ng when I hit my mid 60's. I'm not sure if it would be full time or just 5 to 8 months a year.
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-19-2005, 07:40 AM   #12
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

You can do the fulltime motorhome lifestyle on the cheap. I believe Andy's motorhome is of mid 1980s vintage and thus was very inexpensive to buy. It is well maintained and of a brand noted for reliability and longevity. It is only about 22 feet long so fairly easy to drive into towns, etc.

Don't make a habit of staying in rv parks. Spend winters in Mexico or on BLM lands near Quartzsite Arizona boondocking. Visit friends and park in their driveway. Park outside of Walmart. There is a guide to free campgrounds throughout the US.
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Full Timing in an RV
Old 07-19-2005, 10:05 AM   #13
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Full Timing in an RV

There are many thousands of families that live the Full Time Lifestyle. DW's Father and ES (Evil Stepmother) have lived in various RV's for about 15 years now, every since they retired. I think they are on their 4th Motorhome, as he keeps trading up to a nicer one every few years. He always wanted a Diesel Pusher and he's finally got there with his current Harney Coach Works "Renegade" Keep in mind that their income is very bare bones, far less then we would consider living on, but they do the workcamper thing to help mitigate the expenses. Essentially in exchange for some hours of work in the RV Park, they receive a free space with hookups, and usually some extra dollars besides. FIL would need something to do anyway, and he enjoys being "The Man" making things happen. When he visits our area in Central California, usually on his way North or South, we put them up in a nice park in a place called French Camp.

They have an "address" for the purposes of a mail forwarding service, and belong to some of the popular RV Clubs including SKP's. Generally after no more than a year and often just a few months FIL gets tired of the current gig/location and just moves on down the road. By the way most Motorhome FT'ers don't go without transportation. They just tow a "Toad" or "Dingy" for trips to the Grocery/Pharmacy/Restaurant, in his case a compact pickup that crates his Cooking Grill around. Modern Motorhomes with Slideouts can be quite comfortable, borderline spacious. Certainly enough room for two people that like being in close proximity.

And they've been, or will be just about everywhere in the Continental US. We keep considering one of these...

It's called a Trek
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-19-2005, 11:16 AM   #14
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

My in-laws are full time RVers.* They love it!* They've traveled to Alaska and all around America.* Every winter is spent in Florida with a group of fellow RVers who have become good friends.** RVing is a very social lifestyle.* Their only regret is that they didn't sell their house and start full timing as soon as they retired.

I applaud people like Andy Baird who have come up with creative solutions that allow them to retire early.* An RV isn't a MacMasion, but how much do you really need to live?* *
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Re: Full Timing in an RV
Old 07-19-2005, 11:18 AM   #15
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Re: Full Timing in an RV

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyM
Modern Motorhomes with Slideouts can be quite comfortable, borderline spacious.* Certainly enough room for two people that like being in close proximity.
Yeah, no kidding - we toured a few of the high-end ones at a local show recently - *they were HUGE - with the slideout, the living room was bigger than mine at home, for sure!
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-19-2005, 02:53 PM   #16
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sue
My in-laws are full time RVers.* They love it!* They've traveled to Alaska and all around America.* Every winter is spent in Florida with a group of fellow RVers who have become good friends.** RVing is a very social lifestyle.* Their only regret is that they didn't sell their house and start full timing as soon as they retired.

I applaud people like Andy Baird who have come up with creative solutions that allow them to retire early.* An RV isn't a MacMasion, but how much do you really need to live?* *
You know, I would love to try living aboard a boat, but RVing has no appeal at all. Maybe it's my strong need to be on or near the water at all times, or maybe
"boating" offers more cache and I viscerally see RVs as "trailer parky" ??
I have traveled in RVs and had relatives who were permanent RV gypsies.
Different strokes I guess..........

JG
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-19-2005, 03:56 PM   #17
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

We would have to have some sort of home base..even if it was a shack. Sometimes coming home is a very welcome sensation.
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-19-2005, 03:56 PM   #18
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

Neat story. Probably not my first choice but I could do it if the alternative was to die of old age in the cube farm. That 80% rule of pre-retirement salary is such a joke.

My neighbor has a big RV in the driveway. His 3/2/2 1700 sqft home is full with stuff so the three kids don't fit no more. Apparently at least one of the kids moved to the driveway - we see her climbing out of the RV in the mornings.

Vicky
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-19-2005, 04:49 PM   #19
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

Quote:
Originally Posted by MRGALT2U
You know, I would love to try living aboard a boat, but RVing has no appeal at all.* Maybe it's my strong need to be on or near the water at all times, or maybe
"boating" offers more cache and I viscerally see RVs as "trailer parky"* ??JG
Hey, Mensa Man, better check your dictionary. Your "cache" just took a hit.

Ha
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)
Old 07-19-2005, 07:15 PM   #20
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Re: many paths to ER (or, in the retirement house there are many rooms)

Quote:
Originally Posted by HaHa
Hey, Mensa Man, better check your dictionary. Your "cache" just took a hit.

Ha
No thanks. I write very fast and seldom check the dictionary so some
glitches are unavoidable. Anyway, my stuff is pretty good,
spelling and grammar aside. I'm sure you agree

JG
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