State of Our Retirement: Getting ahead of the game

Published April 20, 2016   Posted in How to Retire

Behold, my fellow readers – my first installment of what I am calling the “State of Our Retirement” (SoOR) address, where I briefly give you fine people the low-down on what’s happening and where we are in our drive towards financial independence and retirement from full-time work.

State of Our Retirement

It has been an amazing year thus far, and my wife and I have finally come to the conclusion that what we’re doing is, well, fairly extreme. We don’t personally feel our new lifestyle is all that extreme, but compared to conventional wisdom and the general population, it’s pretty bat-shit!

Lest you get confused about exactly where we stand with all these blog posts that I’m throwing up about the Airstream and our move, let’s take an opportunity to “see the forest for the trees”, as it were, and take a look at exactly where we are in all this and how much further we have to go.

The ultimate goal

My wife and I have a goal to quit full-time work and travel the country 100% of the time in our Airstream RV. Necessarily, this means we will no longer own and live in a traditional “sticks and bricks” house. We will live in our Airstream, which we’ve named Charlie. Our planned budget for our years of full-time travel is between $25,000 and $30,000 per year.

To accomplish our goal, a few things need to be done first:

  • Buy and move into the Airstream
  • Sell both of our homes
  • Become financially prepared to quit full-time work
  • Hit the road!

All by the end of the year, plus a couple of months, as I will explain below.

Where we are today

We’ve made incredible progress this year in pursuit of our goal of full-time travel. Like I’ve discussed before, my goal is to retire by the end of December. That date can’t come soon enough as I derive very little satisfaction out of what I do for a living.

My wife will call it quits next February around her birthday in order to achieve eligibility for Social Security. She has already told her boss that she’s out the door next yearΒ though the majority of her co-workers remain unaware of her plans.

Also – As of Friday, April 1st, we are living full-time in our Airstream.

…which leaves both of our homes to sell. We have a house in Tucson that is currently under contract for sale. It sold for $11,000 over asking price after only two days on the market. We were floored that it went that fast…and at that price. All the work we put into getting that place really paid off.

This leaves my old home south of Tucson that I’m currently renting out. The lease is up in August and I have informed the tenants that I will be selling the home upon lease expiration. I’ve also offered to let them out of their contract early, penalty-free, if they are able to find a place before August. This enables me to put the house on the market sooner and hopefully get that mortgage off of our backs.

Once that house sells, we will have absolutely ZERO debt to either of our names. No mortgages. No loans. No nothing. Everything we have will be an asset rather than a liability, including the Airstream that we currently live in.

From a financial standpoint, we are firmly on track. While we don’t have a hard-and-fast number that we need to meet before retirement, we have met (and, in the case of the sale of our main house, exceeded) our estimates so far this year. Even the stock market has rebounded nicely, which positions us well to move into retirement with a solid financial footing.

From a vehicle standpoint, we bought our Dodge RAM 2500 to pull the Airstream and I just sold my motorcycle to a family member, which frees up the bike’s insurance costs to help pay for the truck’s coverage. We now have the RAM as well as the CTS that my wife currently drives to work.

To recap:

  • We bought our Airstream and are living in it full-time
  • Our main Tucson home is nearly sold
  • My old home (now a rental) will be put on the market by August
  • Sold my motorcycle, leaving us with the Dodge and the CTS

The to-do list

We are in good shape thus far into 2016, but there are still several things that remain on the to-do list before we can officially call ourselves retired from full-time work (trailer trash travelers?).

From a budget perspective, we just keep saving without any major changes to the plan. We are a little ahead of the game at the moment with investment gains and the sale of our home, so we are looking to be in real good shape.

Once the lease is up in the rental home, the house will be cleaned up, put on the market, and sold as quickly as possible. I’ve already decided that I want to price it to sell because I want that mortgage gone as soon as possible. Once the house sells, we will be 100% debt free.

Can’t get much better than that!

Actually, it can…once we are traveling full-time, which brings me to the next order of business: work until December (for me) and the following February (for my wife). We can’t do anything to shorten this timeframe unless one of us quits early. While I’d absolutely love to, my wife won’t let me!

Just gotta keep working until that magical day comes that represents our last day of full-time work.

Once we both quit, we will sell the Cadillac CTS that my wife drives to work, leaving us with only a single vehicle – Clifford, our big red Dodge RAM 2500HD that we use to tow our Airstream.

Once the CTS goes, we’re off to the races! We’ll grab our two dogs and hit the road and probably spend the rest of winter and spring in Arizona (the Phoenix area) and the summer in the higher altitudes of Colorado or Utah.

To recap:

  • Keep saving as much as possible, but we’re looking good
  • Sell our rental house by the end of the year (hopefully sooner!)
  • Quit both of our jobs
  • Sell the CTS and hit the road

Overall, we are looking good. We’re stoked to start traveling and itching to start experiencing this wonderful country of ours. I will be making a bunch of photos and videos for our companion photography web site over at FullTimeExplorers.com and my wife will be writing and posting videos about Airstreaming and living small at AStreaminLife.com.

Fun times ahead. Thank you – applause welcome. Β πŸ˜‰

We track our net worth using Personal Capital



Comments

57 responses to “State of Our Retirement: Getting ahead of the game”

  1. Sounds like a great plan. Do you have a countdown calendar hanging in Charlie? What’s been the reactions of you immediate family?

    • Steve says:

      Hey Brian – actually, no, we don’t have a countdown calendar here, but my wife has one at the office (that isn’t labeled “Countdown to retirement”, of course!). The family is actually pretty happy for us and anxious for us to get on the road. Much to our surprise, we haven’t felt any negative backlash at all from either side. They all think it’s pretty cool.

      Can’t argue with that! πŸ™‚

  2. It doesn’t get any better than no debt (I’m guessing since we still have our mortgage and car loan)! Looks like you have a lot to get done this year in preparation but have made good progress so far.

    Hoping the Airstream living has been going well so far! I can only imagine what people think once they learn that you moved into a trailer full time πŸ™‚

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Thias, completely agree – no debt is just awesome. Getting rid of our last two mortgages will make us truly debt free, and that’s gonna be one awesomely satisfying feeling…we think! πŸ™‚

  3. Kristin says:

    Great to see such well-laid out goals identified and your progress towards execution on them! Very inspiring stuff!

  4. I hope your home sales go smoothly! The thought of being debt-free is so appealing. We are getting close, too. It seems to offer so much freedom and flexibility.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Kalie. So far so good on the sales front. Tucson house sold, so that’s one of them out of the way. Now to wait for the rental contract to expire so I can unload the remaining abode!

  5. Ronni Deam says:

    Really exciting! I’ll be following you guys on your sites so I can live vicariously through you till my husband and I can retire and do the same thing πŸ˜€

  6. Kate says:

    It’s great to see all the hard work come to fruition. I can’t even imagine how excited you must be!

    Congrats on all the amazing progress. Inspiring to say the least πŸ™‚

    • Steve says:

      It is pretty darn exciting, Kate. We are certainly looking forward to the next stage truly taking off at the end of the year. Work ends and exploration begins. πŸ™‚

  7. Apathy Ends says:

    is this the retirement equivalent of the “senior slide”?

    Congrats and keep us posted through the end of the year!

    • Steve says:

      Yup, something like that! Thanks for the comment, and I’ll definitely keep writing about both the good and the bad in this unique adventure for us. πŸ™‚

  8. Robin says:

    This sounds like a dream!
    I hope and think you have done your numbers but I need to ask; If you have/own a house you don’t live in and rent it out to a family that probably will stay many years. How can this not be good dept and create passive income and cash flow? This “fixed income” every month can either be invested in a Vanguard Stock ETF or just make you retire earlier thand December.

    • Steve says:

      Hi Robin,

      A couple reasons why we don’t want to continue renting the house. First, I still have over $100k left on the mortgage, so we aren’t exactly making any money by renting it. In fact, with the HOA fees, we are actually losing a little bit of money every month by renting it out. Second, we have absolutely zero interest in being homeowners going forward. We’ll be traveling full time and won’t necessarily be accessible all the time. We don’t want to deal with coordinating or paying for repairs or finding tenants. I understand that a good management company will do this for us, but we’d be losing *even more money* by paying another organization to assume this responsibility.

      So at this time, continuing to own the home and rent it out just makes no sense, financially or otherwise, for us. I want that house sold as quickly as humanly possible. πŸ™‚

      • Robin says:

        Good answer. Thank you. This makes more sense to it. We are currently looking for houses to buy and rent out. Here in Sweden the first 5000 USD in income from renting out your house is tax free. If we find a cheap house in good shape it could be a interesting business case for passive income.

  9. Glad everything is going to plan, and what a great plan it is! Actually, I’m surprised you sold the bike. Figured you’d put it in the back of Clifford on your travels and then use it to get around when you guys are stationary.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Fervent – hauling the motorcycle with us was actually our first thought a while ago, but the more we considered it, the more trouble it was going to be. Not only would we need to have a lift installed in Clifford’s bed, which isn’t cheap, but we’d also essentially lose all that potential storage space – and this was the more impactful negative. Even though we’ll be driving around a diesel truck now everywhere we go, we still feel it’s the better of the two scenarios for us going forward.

  10. Steve says:

    I’m sure unloading the house will be a big relief. Hope all goes well. How were you transporting your motorcycle? In the truck bed? Like this break down.

  11. I hope these turn into “Are we bored yet?” updates! πŸ™‚ No debt would feel amazing! This week I’ve been thinking about how great it will feel to pay off the mortgage. We’re not doing anything amazingly drastic like you guys, but we’ll pay down that mortgage eventually! Hopefully soon!

  12. Terrific job! I have never had any luck selling my homes. Maybe I should take a lesson from you. Hopefully I am in the last one I will ever buy! If you make it to Colorado, we would love to meet you. There are so many exciting adventures ahead!

    • Steve says:

      We definitely plan to spend a lot of time in Colorado, actually. I used to live in Colorado Springs and generally loved it there. Awesome views and ever-changing weather. πŸ™‚

  13. Tawcan says:

    Great summary and plans. Yes it’s a bit extreme to the average Joe’s but that’s what early retirement is about – breaking out from the norm! Having 0 debt will be pretty awesome.

  14. Stockbeard says:

    Congrats on reaching the milestones here.
    I feel the need to add more milestones to my plan as well so that the long wait goes faster… I need to do that!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Stockbeard – I love establishing milestones. It keeps us on the straight and narrow and allows for some accomplishments without actually achieving the whole damn plan! πŸ˜‰

  15. Congrats Steve, look like you are moving full steam ahead with your plans. Hope you are counting down the days! They will come quickly. I am sure you have all you have double checked all your financial assumptions. Even though you are retiring I assume you have sizeable passive income for any unexpected expenses that can severely affect these plans, correct?
    Enjoy the freedom and soon to be debt free life, it must be a truly amazing feelings.

    • Steve says:

      Oh I am definitely counting down the days. We have passive income mainly in the form of investments, but we also have no doubt that we’ll probably pick up work here and there along the way – whatever seems fun to do, we’ll try it…and, of course, write about it! πŸ™‚

  16. Hey Steve, amazing to think you are so close to being debt free. That will be an amazing achievement. The power of having goals, having a plan and then knocking those goals down one by one is powerful stuff and very inspiring. Congratulations on getting so far in your financial life πŸ™‚

    Tristan

    • Steve says:

      Thanks DividendsDownUnder! Appreciate the words of encouragement – it really is amazing what people can accomplish if they put their minds to it, prioritize those goals over your immediate superficial wants and desires, and just get it done. It’s not instantaneous, but it happens! πŸ™‚

  17. That’s pretty amazing, Steve. Solid work on all fronts. I love the idea of being a full-time traveler once I retire, but not sure I could pull it off like you. I have to ask how some of the logistics work…like where you will get mail or things shipped to you? If you are traveling across the country all year, will you have a State tax return to complete? I’ve just never looked into it and these are probably stupid questions. Any other logistic issues you expect?

    • Steve says:

      Hey Green Swan – that’s a perfectly legitimate question. Most full-time RVers choose a “domicile” state to establish residence. There are services out there that act like your home (like the Escapees organization, for example). You get an address where your mail is shipped and they will hold it for you. Then, every once in a while, you’ll give them a local address where ever you happen to be in the country and they will simply ship all of your mail to that address. You pay a monthly fee for this service, and whatever state this service happens to be in, that’s considered your home state. You almost never actually have to BE in this state, however.

      Texas and South Dakota, believe it or not, are popular states that RVers pick.

      • I see, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that there is a nice and convenient service like this. That’s very intriguing. I look forward to forward to hearing more about it as you begin your journey in retirement! Thanks.

        The Green Swan

  18. Mr. SSC says:

    Sounds like a pretty solid plan and it’s getting closer and closer. As a follow-up on the domicile comment, do you think picking Texas is due to no state income tax, and with no property, you’re not paying on the backend with property tax? Just a thought, because that’s what I’d look for, lol.

    Looking forward to some fun reading, and hopefully there’s nothing unexpected that pops up in prepping your rental for sale.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Mr. SSC – income taxes are part of it, but healthcare is another big part because the state is fairly generous with full-time RVers and their ability to obtain inexpensive healthcare while traveling around the country (basically, rarely actually being in the state of Texas). I do believe there are rumors of a change to that policy in Texas, however – which may encourage current full-time RVers to look elsewhere for their domicile.

  19. Jason says:

    Excellent plan and by then you all should have a cool million or more in your accounts. Look forward to hearing more.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Jason – we certainly won’t have a million by the time that we leave to full-time RV, but that’s okay – we don’t need anywhere near a million to live the lifestyle that we’ve chosen. πŸ™‚

  20. Mr. PIE says:

    Zero debt. Hitting the open road. No 9-5 work.
    Bummer. πŸ˜‰

    Fun times . Cue Racsal Flatts and the music. “Life is a highway…”.

    Ah, takes me back to watching Cars movie with my kids a billion times over…..

  21. Man, that is so exciting, Steve! Congrats on taking action and making it happen. It will be so awesome for you to travel everywhere in the States and I look forward to reading and seeing all about it. You are an inspiration to many for sure. Thanks for sharing so openly as always!

  22. Sabbaticalia says:

    Plan looks solid. I think the general term is “full-timer” for living in the RV as the main shelter. Check some of the full-timer RV blogs and forums; there’s a well-regarded mail-forwarding service based somewhere in Texas, for instance.

    Too bad you don’t have a visible countdown to full-timer status like Mr. FireStation did for his early retirement. I count up my progress towards RE on a calendar, in terms of days of retirement covered (out of a full 366). I’m about eight years out so the projection still fluctuates around mid-May. πŸ™‚

    • Steve says:

      Appreciate the thoughts, Sabbaticalia. Yup, “full-timer” is the term. Well aware of the mail-forwarding services as well. πŸ™‚

      Yup, no countdown clock on the blog for me.

  23. It’s amazing to hear all the progress you’ve made over the last few months and watch your plans come together. The more I think about it, the more I’m liking the idea of not being a home owner. Aside from our primary residence which we’ll sell this summer before moving to England, we have two rental properties. One is doing fine, the other has foundation issues. I just don’t want to deal with that crap anymore. How great would it be to be completely debt free. You’re so close!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, DTG. Regarding being a landlord, you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head for us – we just don’t want to deal with all the crap of owning the house. We would much rather be debt-free NOW than keep one (or both) of our homes for the eventual promise of truly profitable side income.

  24. Applause!!!! Fantastic plan, love seeing it executed. Look forward to following your travels.

  25. Love this update! My favorite part is that you aren’t trying to cram in a WHOLE BUNCH OF PLACES to visit as soon as you quit, and you’re instead going to take it slow, get adjusted to your new lifestyle, and really soak in the places you visit. Good call. πŸ™‚

    • Steve says:

      Thanks ONL! Yup, we are definitely going to take things slow to avoid burnout. We have the next 50 or more years of our life to see the things that we want to see and do the things that we want to do. Especially after retirement, it begs a very important question: “What’s the rush?” πŸ™‚

  26. Morgan says:

    Sounds like you have a solid plan! I think it’s awesome that you guys are rewarding yourselves after years of hard work. This is a great to-do list you’ve set out to keep you all on track. Thanks for posting!

  27. […] Coming up in the week ahead on ThinkSaveRetire: On Monday, we’re talking about the meaning of the word “deserve”. Do we deserve early retirement? And on Wednesday, I’m publishing my second installment of the State of Our Retirement. […]

  28. […] my first installment of the State of Our Retirement series, I laid out the year as planned back in […]

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