And yes, you're supposed to read that in Buzz Lightyear's voice. :)
So, 2015 has come and gone, and man are we POOPED! The year passed like a whirlwind, and the dust is most definitely still settling around us both on the tiny home front and with my work schedule. Even though our routines are normalizing here in Colorado and we're barely 2 days into the new year, we're still looking forward to our tiny house travel in a year or so. I know, I know. Focus on the now. Admittedly I've always been the type who likes to daydream about the future, and while I know I need to rein it back a bit to deal with current affairs, this post is about the "and beyond," too. I'll save the harsh(ish) realities for the end and share the cooler bits now.
Having now been exposed to three different groups of awesome THOW/RV families from Alaska (Tiny Tall House, Tiny House Growing Family, and The Play Forest) and hearing about their adventures in their home state, we've been discussing changing our tiny house travel plans to include some interesting seasonal jobs - including a possible stint in AK vs. just visiting by cruise ship - rather than just sticking with travel nursing assignments. Also, it'd be great if the workload could be shared by us both and yet still allow plenty of time for Brand to work on school and us to explore as a family. I'd be a liar if I said I enjoy being the sole source of income all the time, but it's a burden I'm 100% willing to bear to put our whole family on the path toward what I think is the best goal anyone can ever set: to create a life you don't need a vacation from!
Now don't get me wrong - I love my career - but I'd much rather do something fun while we explore this great continent of ours. There'll be plenty more time for me to work in the clinical setting, and Brand has a long career ahead in a similar setting once he finishes school, too. Why not take advantage of the unique opportunities full-time THOW/RV traveling has to offer while we have the chance? After all, part of what has made our tiny house adventure possible is this brief window of time between both Brand and R.A.D being in school full-time. If ever there was an appropriate time for us to carpe this diem, that time is NOW!
So, here are a few seasonal and travel-friendly ideas I have for us:
Remote tele-transcription while on the East Coast visiting family? Done!
Sugar beet harvesting in Montana in the fall? Why not?!
Greenhorning on an Alaskan salmon boat in the spring or berry picking in the late summer? Heck yes!
The timing for adventures like those would have to align with our primary travel plans, but I can't deny the cool factor of telling people, "We fished on a salmon boat in Alaska," sure does have a lot of sway! Still, as fun as it is to plan for the future, no matter how close that future may really be, we do still have to focus on the here and now. Boring! But necessary, alas.
Of the many reasons we chose to spend a year or so in Colorado before hitting the road - still just a long day's drive from our Texas family; me being able to stay with my same employer; because Colorado, duh! - having the chance to pay off at least the vast majority of our debt (not counting the truck) while in a stable parking location and with stable employment was the numero uno "Pro" on our list. Unfortunately, the higher cost of living in the area, along with some unforeseen and expensive variables, has required me to take up a 2nd job again if we want to make any real headway toward becoming debt-free. It's not what I wanted for myself - I'd much rather be home with my boys or out exploring the beauty of this state - but the ends most definitely justify the means. I'm fortunate to have a career that allows me to work 12-hr days, which means I have 4 days off per week anyway. I'm more than willing to sacrifice an extra one to get the ball rolling on what is the most important piece of our traveling lifestyle puzzle!
We've been through the broke-cycle before, but this time is different because our priorities are different. Before we just wanted to pay cards down so we could buy more stuff. Now we want to pay cards OFF so we can close the accounts completely and really start building up savings. I know, I know. Closing cards will adversely affect our credit ratings, but we obtained most of those cards when we were young and broke (read: sky high interest rates and big annual fees). Unless we can talk the companies out of charging us annually for cards we won't use, we'd rather just keep the best few cards and take the debt-to-income ratio hit that sucks your credit score into the crapper. Yes, that may hurt us a bit when we do go to buy land in Washington - and who knows, maybe we'll suck it up and wait until after we do that - but I'd rather eliminate the temptation all together.
Anyway, no matter how we get from A to B, the end game is still the same: end 2016 without any (or at least very, VERY little) credit card debt remaining, save a yet-to-be-determined amount in our savings account plus an extra buffer amount strictly for travel expenses, and prepare to head out on our travels in early 2017. We've also got to squeeze in the time and squeeze out the funds to finish the remaining work on the tiny house itself. Can't forget that! If we've achieved our financial goals by the departure date, I see no reason we can't travel a bit more leisurely and take more adventurous jobs along the way to continue funding the journey.
We'd of course love it if we had enough saved to not HAVE to work along the way, but I'm a realist and know we'd need more than a year to achieve that unless I worked even more than I plan to now. I consider our time in Colorado to be a working vacation, and I'm not willing to completely sacrifice the vacation portion of the equation! Instead we have to get on the "Budget Train," something we've only used abstractly in the past, so we can buckle down our finances, prioritize the remaining house projects, and maximize my days off to explore our beautiful temporary home state.
I also want to share a link from Technomadia, who have a great post about working while traveling. That's actually where I found the sugar beet harvesting idea, along with a bunch of other really cool options for alternative income means. I've got another link I'll have to add later that gives even more non-office-based job ideas, which is where I found the info on doing mobile transcription. That one, incidentally, potentially pays pretty well. Definitely worth looking at if you've got the skills to listen to audio tapes and accurately type out what you hear. Maybe my medical background will give me an in to the higher paying medical transcription options. Hmm... :)
That's it from us for now. We hope your holidays were merry and bright, and we wish you all the best for a prosperous, adventurous, and productive 2016... AND BEYOND!