SWB's path to financial independence

Where are you and where are you going?
SavingWithBabies
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by SavingWithBabies » Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:23 pm

Progress: 55.4% ($665,500/$1,200,000)

We're a couple days into RVing. We took off for the Upper Peninsula and made sure we had reservations over the 4th. Staying at a kind of interesting campground that has a lot of families from the nearby town take a spot for a month or the whole season. But it'll be the whole extended family each with a spot and an RV. This year, we ended up in what was supposed to be the 5th spot for a big family so we ended up splitting them down the middle which is slightly awkward but everyone is nice enough (and after all, one of their family cancelled). Rate is $21/night with just electric (15 or 20 amp) but we're right on the water. We drove through another place on the same lake that is $28-30/night with full hookups (price differs with 30 amp versus 50 amp electric and it comes with sewer and water). We'll be here through Sunday then off to another place on Lake Superior (so northern UP).

I forgot about the 1st of the month financials. Everything looks good. We spend a bunch of money fixing up the SUV (all the parts I bought, no bling bling all necessary stuff except maybe $15 on headlight polisher to remove haze). I went up and edited in progress just now.

Moving out was a big hassle -- our monthly storage fee is $85/month for 10x20 space (really, bit smaller) and then $50/month to store the boat and the sedan (so $25/month each with 3 month minimum -- storage locker is no minimum besides month chunks). Moving with little kids is hard as someone has to spend most of their time dealing with the kids while the other moves. But we got it done. So much stuff. We really pared down but yeah, I'm ready to get rid of more of my stuff because it's not worth holding on to (ie 5.1 speaker setup, some coral reef aquarium stuff, some film photography stuff, probably one of the 3d printers, etc).

Some annoyances dealing with HR at the new place around what is standard for lodging expenses. I'm realizing I'm frustrated with that kind of bullshit and should just not ask anymore and do my thing and if their expectations don't align with mine, push the fuck back because who works for who? Yeah, they don't work for me but it's all a two way street. Still thinking maybe I should have gone the contracting route (and really it's not too late).

After not drinking in forever, I'm one beer in on the 4th. Going to stay up and watch the fireworks over the lake from town (and the state campground and of course the ones from the campground we're staying at including our hand fireworks -- ie sparklers and that kind of thing suitable for little kids). Someone just left off a really loud firecracker. Louder than the loudest firearm I've ever heard so pretty damn loud to me. This should be interesting...

classical_Liberal
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by classical_Liberal » Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:13 am

SavingWithBabies wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:23 pm
5.1 speaker setup
I'm a bit of a sound snob. For white noise when I have to sleep during the day, for movies, and music. After I started moving every 3-9 months for work I very quickly became annoyed with my system. It was a total time sink to move and set up. I ended up selling it and bought a ZVOX sound base with the proceeds. Now, it's not a real system, but it's pretty F'en good and these things are built to last. I actually prefer it to my old system for movies, thanks to the accuvoice feature, but it's not as good as the real thing with music. Still, it can shake my walls with bass if I want it to. Set up it a breeze, bluetooth or one digital audio cable and the AC. The box is so heavy duty I can stand on it, so it's strong enough to stack almost anything on top of it in a small space. I'm sure you could even fit it in the RV and use it when you have electric. I'm over three years in with heavy use, with frequent moving/banging it around, and no speaker problems. It gets a highly recommend from c_L.

SavingWithBabies
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Location: Midwest, USA

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by SavingWithBabies » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:18 am

@c_L I hadn't hard of that device/company but it looks great. I ended up using an inexpensive soundbar which was okay. It boosted voices well which was the main concern while avoiding being too loud for apartment living. Before we moved into the RV, we actually didn't have a TV setup but I'm still hoping we'll have a house at some point and I can have either a big TV or a projector (guessing big TV will fully win by the time I get around to it). However, we don't want to expose our kids to any movies/TV so that complicates things. I did have a 40" TV in my office I used as a monitor but also had a couch aimed at it so could use it for movies.

But I'll keep the ZVOX in mind. Sounds like a good solution.

SavingWithBabies
Posts: 530
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Location: Midwest, USA

Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by SavingWithBabies » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:26 am

So far, RV living is going well. We had a family meetup with my brother and parents in Baraga. We're on night 3 of 4 in Marquette (then there is a music festival in the city campground so we can't stay longer -- it's hard to get spots on the weekends too as it books up fast). I think we're going back to Baraga next as it's a bit off the beaten path and easier to get sites. Fast internet there too so could spend a month there at very low rates ($100/week for 30 amp electric and they have a dump station with fresh water, flush toilets and showers too but those are up in the forest part of the campground so have to walk/drive from the water part of the campground). This is at the Ojibwa campground there -- it's really nice, reasonably priced, on the water, has beaches, little marina, etc.

We've had a couple of heavy rain storms and no leaks so far so my work appears to be good. I have found some of the parts of the RV where the pop-up shells connect have openings so it's perhaps out of alignment for some parts or the foam in the canvas "bags" is wearing out. I think it's an alignment thing mostly but not sure. But we can put some things in the three problem areas (one area, just a small napkin, another some foam from a foam noodle -- cut into 4 smaller long slices, another a small washcloth). Thankfully, those areas are indirect from rain so no issue with water coming in. But when camping in the mosquito-thick woods, they definitely were coming in and biting us. I'm still surprised it took us so long to figure out the problem but now I think the only mosquitos coming in are those that get in the door (when entering/exiting).

Career-wise, I'm on the fence regarding resigning from the full time offer I accepted before I start. I'm still mulling it over. I would prefer to take more time off and then do contracting work and I'm trying to think it through to make sure I'm not making a rash decision. I think if I turn down the offer, that there is a really good chance they would never hire me again but it would just be that one company so not too big of a deal. And they might not take it too personally. I don't know...

SavingWithBabies
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by SavingWithBabies » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:32 am

Also, found kids bike just like our oldest son's bike next to the campground dumpster. It had some better things like good tires (his old tires were starting to crack with age), an adjustable seat and adjustable handlebars. Plus some reflectors in the wheel. And nicer pedals. So I spent some time swapping all that stuff over to his bicycle which also make it a little more boyish/gender neutral (his bike was a purple Disney girls bike that we took all the stickers off -- really nice metallic flake purple paint job protected by all those stickers).

Plus he has learned how to ride a bicycle before 4 without training wheels! Just last week, he figured it out. So he is excitedly pedaling around. I think starting with a balance bike really helped.

SavingWithBabies
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by SavingWithBabies » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:35 am

I forgot to mention, right now my parents are still staying with us and instead of tenting, they are sleeping in the RV. So we have 4 adults and 2 kids in this trailer and it's working fine. We (wife, two kids and myself) sleep on the king bed on one end and one of my parents is on the queen bed on the other end and the other is on the fold out couch. So far, so good although it's definitely a lot of people in small amount of space so it's great for when grandparents visit but I full timing with that number of people in this trailer would be a bit tight :).

SavingWithBabies
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by SavingWithBabies » Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:22 pm

I forgot my 1st of the month post and of course with the markets today, the net worth has gone down. Ah well...

I took $50k of the $110k cash stash in the money market fund and put it in VSTAX. That should clear today at the market close price. Maybe I'll regret it but we'll see...

Also transferred $1,500 out of money market to credit union as my big name bank doesn't have any ATMs in the boondocks but the credit union is part of a network of credit unions that have free reciprocal ATM usage. This will get us cash with no fees.

I turned down the start of the new job. I'm supposed to get back to them shortly about starting in September or October or just parting ways. I need to talk things over with my partner some more but I'm fine really going any direction just need a good plan.

The RV life is going well. Today, I fixed the shower faucet leak that was getting worse and worse. I thought it was the cartridge so I turned a $2-4 job into an $11.xx job by buying new cartridges but it was really just the little rubber seals at the bottom -- one was worn out (cracked). At least that $11.xx included some plumber's grease which I'd guessed was the same as petroleum jelly but found it definitely was something else. That made it easier to insert the rubber bits into their holes.

I've also settled on a method of dumping our black and grey water and filling our 40 gallon fresh tank without having to move the trailer. I bought a big blue RV tote (a little over 40 gallons in capacity) with heavy duty inflated wheels. It hooks up to the hitch on the SUV and one can roll to the dump station at a sedate 5 MPH max speed. Or walk it over but where we are now it's a long hike with some incline. For the fresh water, I bought a couple more 7 gallon water containers and rigged up a hose from the hardware store with some fittings. I fill them up and then one by one drain them by gravity into the RV holding tank by putting them on something higher in the rear of the SUV and using the hose contraption. This works great although I think my hose is either non-drinking water safe or off gassing a lot still so we keep a spare blue container to use for drinking water. If the hose is still making the water funky, I plan on cutting up an RV drinking water hose (seems to be the cheapest way to get a section of drinking water hose around here). I can dump all our fluids in one run and refill the water tanks in two runs (or just remember to bring them along whenever we go anywhere and refill them on the way back to the trailer).

Since I stopped working, I've done a little bit on my side project and definitely used my computer recreationally but I've been outside way more. I've noticed my vision has improved for long distance -- I can see across the bay we're camping on. The other side is mostly forested with pines with lots of ridges plus a small city so plenty to look at for detail.

The day before we left Ann Arbor, an inflatable kayak popped up on FreeCycle with the caveat it had a leak. We figured why not? So we picked that up and the person getting rid of it even gave us a portable electric inflater (for the kayak type of thing and even car tires -- it has come in handy). Anyway, I eventually tracked down the hole and patched it and it's been fun dinking around with it. It (technically) seats 2 but we've had the whole family in it (all with life vests of course). I do wish we had our sailboat up here and/or some hard sided kayaks (a fishing one would be great although I'd use the sailboat to do some trolling as that seems to be the way to catch big lake trout/salmon here).

I've got a good tan going. Got a haircut and talked about Trump with stylist. Got something of a feeling for the people up here in rural Michigan. So far, I like it. I like it a lot. I think it's a bit too remote for my wife but Marquette might be just barely acceptable. We'll see...

SavingWithBabies
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by SavingWithBabies » Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:27 pm

I forgot to mention, the biggest downer that we appear to have finally resolved was mosquitos getting into the trailer. The mosquitos are thick up here -- thicker than anywhere I've been. And it seemed like every night, somewhere between 2-5 made it in (as mentioned above in prior post). I found all kinds of gaps and figured out methods to fill them but still, the damned things were making it in. I finally took a leap of faith and bought some window mesh screen and cut some test pieces and put them where our access/vent panels are for fridge. That seems to have solved it! Although it's only a been three nights without mosquitos and the weather has changed so still testing to verify.

suomalainen
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by suomalainen » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:16 pm

Been following along - it's a great little adventure! To recap since I think I got a little confused with some missing parts to the story - you resigned the old job without a next job lined up, with the idea that you would slow travel from MI to LA from July to December, correct? But then shortly after resigning you had also interviewed / had 4 job options lined up and it sounds like you accepted a full-time offer to start sometime in August? But then you backed out of that one? Is that right so far? And maybe you'll start in the fall with that one? Or ring back 1 of the other 3 at some point? What is the (loose) itinerary for the rest of the year?

SavingWithBabies
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by SavingWithBabies » Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:10 pm

Ah, yeah, I didn't explain very well.

I resigned my job mid-June after lining up the next one to start in early August. So I already had the next job lined up. But I've been enjoying not working too much to go back to work and I also had some interesting contracting opportunities appear -- well, more a source of such opportunities. I also got offered remote contract (or employee) at a not-exciting but stable rate via an old employer. So it felt less risky to push back. So I told them I didn't want to start and was fine parting ways, gracefully of course (well, as much as possible). They replied that I could start in September or October and I need to get back to them shortly.

Loose itinerary is:

- Upper Peninsula of Michigan (mostly to see if we liked Marquette enough to consider living here)
- Ann Arbor in September (family wedding)
- lots of uncertainty here -- ideally, go to Chapel Hill area of North Carolina, then maybe Florida or go to Southwest (New Mexico), mostly just avoiding the winter up north but partly to see if some specific areas are places we'd like to live, late option was to add in Freeport, Maine (but have to watch out we don't get too cold)
- New Orleans in December (family wedding)

I'm not quite sure I can work the remote job while we live in the RV. It's hard to get quiet space with a 2 and a 4 year old. I am also outside way more so my day to day is different. My current thought is fuck it -- let's try. I'm ready to work in a different way that lets me be outside more. It requires confronting my inherent procrastination. If I could avoid procrastination, I could get my day work done in probably 1/3 of the time I have spent in the past (toss in a little bit of time on top of that to monitor communication lines to ensure I'm "available").

That said, I think it's like 80% procrastination and 20% something else -- time to think things through perhaps? But that time is not really productive in front of a keyboard so if I can figure out how to do the work without being at the keyboard except when necessary... And if not, just quit the job. Seems like not a big risk?

I should mention I think it's a range of potential ways to work:

- in RV / campsite
- escaping to the SUV (but heat/cold)
- driving somewhere else to work (but I take the only vehicle)
- everyone one else going somewhere else with the vehicle

We'd also need to only move on or near the weekends or make short hops in evenings.

classical_Liberal
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by classical_Liberal » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:57 am

I hope you continue to enjoy the time off! I'm glad you made the decision to hold off on work for now. If your are still really enjoying the down time, soak it up.

When you do start work from the RV, you'll definitely have to create space in your days without the fam around. It probably seems daunting at the moment, but if it becomes the norm, everyone will get used to it quickly.

If you do winter in NM, check out the state parks pass there. You get a substantial camping discount to all of the state parks and can stay two weeks at a time. Might be worth it if you are going to move around, but stay mostly in the state.

SavingWithBabies
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by SavingWithBabies » Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:06 pm

While camping in Marquette, ran into an interesting guy and his family that have been doing the living in a trailer/traveling for 5 years including some international stints and travel to Alaska. I didn't get a chance to ask how they did it financially but he has an old Toyota pickup truck, some surf boards, an A-style pop-up and a young family. From what I could guess by our conversation, they have the social/frugal side of things figured out extremely well and are able to get by on minimal money with few possessions. I still wonder about health insurance and all that but I don't know how to ask in person the kind of questions one would expect here.

It was interesting to get his take on Marquette. We've been leaning towards renting here for a year to see if we can handle the winters. I'm the one that can make it to roughly end of January and then start getting a bit down about the winter dragging on. So if it goes into March/April up here... The only way to hack it I think is to do outdoor sports so if we do rent up here, I'm not going to hold back on buying equipment to get outside during the winter.

There is still the allure of staying with the trailer life and heading south when it gets too cold. Decisions...

SavingWithBabies
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by SavingWithBabies » Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:05 pm

Learned a bit more about the interesting guy -- his wife is a nurse and I think they use her work ability to get by when needed but otherwise live off of savings. My wife was talking to her about how it's hard to rent when you don't have a job and she agreed and mentioned something about "even when you have 50k in your bank account". So I'm guessing they are able to live on much less than us and really stretch things in able to live the life they want. That said, their oldest is going to need to go to school soon so they are looking at settling down for that (potentially here).

Kids do seem to root people with their educational requirements. Unless one goes the homeschool/unschool route but that definitely seems to be the road less traveled with all of the fears and struggles that go with taking the less popular route. I think it's common to also think kids need some stable structure in their lives and extend that out to living in one area and growing up with the same peers. I suspect if I went to go look for research on that, I'd find studies going both ways but I also suspect it's difficult to pin point if it's the moving around or the home life. It always seems to come back to the home life and how much interest the parents have in the development of their children.

The other aspect about homeschooling though is that it puts a lot on one parent. I think my wife would rather teach and send our kids to school. Although I've asked her and I think it's one of those things she goes back and forth on. If we could get some help from my mother (if we settled down and they relocated close to us), homeschooling would definitely be more viable/attractive.

For me, one upside of my wife working is we can get on her health insurance so I'm free to do whatever job-wise (take risky contracts, not worry about benefits as much, etc). But I honestly would like what is best for our kids and for my wife over that -- I'm fine with figuring out how to make sure we all have what we need health insurance-wise.

Time away from work has been great. I haven't really done any programming in a month or so besides some minor bug fixes on the side project. But it looks like there will be some more work there. I also have been thinking about the system and way back had some ideas of how to architect the data storage/relations differently. I'll probably work on refactoring in that direction although with the slow uptake, it's a bit painful to put the time in on it. But I do think it would be enjoyable and interesting. The downside is almost inevitably introducing some bugs/glitches and having to jump on those so I am not rushing into it.

SavingWithBabies
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by SavingWithBabies » Mon Aug 19, 2019 9:06 pm

We looked at some apartments/houses for rent in Marquette and so far weren't blown away. But we're looking at more tomorrow. If we find something we like, we'll probably settle down here for a year and I'll take that job. If not, we'll keep on RVing and I think I'll focus on coming up with another side business to keep my skills up to date (assuming we have health insurance figured out -- need to get back to our mailing address at a relatives to figure that all out). Or maybe take some other work. Or just not work.

I think my tan along with our washing machine and clothes line gives away our fulltiming status. It's interesting in the campgrounds. Plenty of retired folk during the week and families in spurts. People mostly keep to themselves besides casual conversation.

One odd thing we've noticed is that we barely ever see anyone else eating outside. We like eating outside with the kids as the cleanup is easier. Plus it's just nice to sit outside. The flies can be annoying on occasion and the sun can intrude but I'll take it. But it seems like most others with some kind of enclose living shelter that has a table (so not tents) eats inside. Or they are on vacation and eat out?

We're mulling over buying fat bikes. Not a cheap proposition but the trails here are amazing. If we stay, we'll definitely buy them but even if we go, it's tempting. But have to figure out if we can make it work with the kids (speak of, the oldest learned to ride a bike a month before he turned 4! he had a Strider/balance bike so that seemed to help -- he wanted to ride like the big kids with pedals and now he is doing amazing).

SavingWithBabies
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by SavingWithBabies » Mon Aug 19, 2019 9:15 pm

I'm also really enjoying deepening/strengthening my relationship with my wife. It's been amazing having time without the distraction of work. If I had the funds to be FI, I would not deliberately seek work. It does have me thinking about how to swing affordable health insurance and make just enough to cover our bills while the investments (hopefully) grow.

classical_Liberal
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by classical_Liberal » Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:55 am

Luke(SWB) feel the power of the dark side(Semi-ERE).

Family father
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Re: SWB's path to financial independence

Post by Family father » Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:51 pm

Hi SWB,
SavingWithBabies wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:05 pm
Kids do seem to root people with their educational requirements. Unless one goes the homeschool/unschool route but that definitely seems to be the road less traveled with all of the fears and struggles that go with taking the less popular route. I think it's common to also think kids need some stable structure in their lives and extend that out to living in one area and growing up with the same peers. I suspect if I went to go look for research on that, I'd find studies going both ways but I also suspect it's difficult to pin point if it's the moving around or the home life. It always seems to come back to the home life and how much interest the parents have in the development of their children.
Just thinking aloud but, maybe even more important than the school itself is the chance to practice and learn social and emotional skills..
SavingWithBabies wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:05 pm
I think my wife would rather teach and send our kids to school.
Both DW and I would too..

:oops:

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