Fickle fate

I keep changing plans, it seems like. But for the record, the new plan involves a road trip from Detroit to Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Portland, commencing sometime mid-June.

Just so ya know.

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A Change In Direction

My original goal, to be in an RV full-time by June 2014, looms months away from being completely shattered. An unexpected job loss drained the little savings I had accumulated, and life got in the way of finding alternatives.

Except, of course, for the one alternative I’ve found, which I might just like even better.

My new goal, and all of the craziness therewith, is to take a 6-month working holiday in New Zealand in 2015. I’m going with my cousin Em, and we’re going to have a blast.

I’ll have to write more about everything that’s involved in getting there, but for the time being, I have a picture of Hobbiton as my computer background to remind me just what I’m giving up Starbucks for.

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The Changing Seasons

It has been quite a while since I’ve updated you all on my journey’s progress. Unfortunately, this is because there has not been quite as much progress as I had hoped. I had originally planned to, by now, have established myself in a freelance community, and to have several jobs under my belt by now.

This hasn’t happened. Work cut my hours for a while, so there was a period of angry sulking. Then, they added more. A lot more. And then my manager asked me to go full-time, which made me both very happy and very nervous.

Many of my coworkers have talked about how they had plans while working part-time, to just get enough money to move on. Then, they went full time and just gave up on other plans, because it was paying the bills and gave them health benefits.

I’m worried that, between a lack of time to even try to develop another career path, and the security of knowing that I will get another paycheck every week, my dream will fall by the side of the proverbial road.

Fall is upon us, and the colder weather is making me want to flee to Texas. The urge to leave is keeping my hope alive, but my current roommate is also proposing just moving to Oregon when this lease is up–the same time I’d hoped to get on the road. Maybe that would be change enough for now? Maybe not.

All I know at the moment, is that I’m having very difficult lessons forced upon me with regards to life and making choices. I still have time, and it’s still possible, but can I give up the stability of knowing where my next paycheck will come from, for the freedom of the road?

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Possible RVs: Part 2

This past weekend, I had the wonderful experience of going with some friends to a lakehouse. My old roommate’s family owns one, and her grandparents have the fortune of living right next door. Her grandmother was kind enough to take me on a tour of the lake, so I could see all of the lovely little cottages and houses for sale with lake frontage. Aside from wondering if I shouldn’t change my plan, get a boat, and live there instead, I got to drive past a great number of RVs in people’s yards.

I started with my heart set on a Scamp because I wouldn’t have to upgrade my tow vehicle, but after seeing some of the other compact trailers out there, I might look seriously into some others as well.

I made myself a list of the brands I was seeing:

  • Jayco
  • Nomad
  • Puma
  • Cirrus
  • Silverback
  • Dutchman
  • GulfStream
  • Coachman

I almost liked it better when I thought I knew what I wanted, because now that I’m looking at other options, I’m getting a bit overwhelmed. However, it did open my eyes to the idea of a Hybrid trailer, like the Starcraft AR-ONE Hybrid Travel Trailer. I found a used 2012 model with a bathtub(!) for around $12k. That’s not at all unreasonable. The only caveat would be that I could not stay anywhere cold, not with a pop-out bed like it has.

Looking at the available options makes it a little more difficult to choose an RV, but I need to remember how focused I’ve been on this, and remind myself that I have to be smart about what I’m doing.

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Learning About Loan Terms

If (when…) I have to take out a loan to finance the purchase of my new home, I will most likely go through my credit union to do so. When I went to make my usual savings deposit, I asked about something I’d seen on their website: “Recreational Merchandise may qualify for a longer loan term.”

Now, I understand that a longer term means more paid overall. Interest piles up. However, it also means a lower monthly payment. If I keep my trailer well under $18,000–as I very well plan to–the typical loan period is 96 months.

Factoring in the budget I’ve been working on (which is much refined from my earlier ‘guesstimating’ post), the estimated $200/month for a loan is reasonable for a brand-new 13′ Scamp. On the other hand, if I seek out something used, and can find it reasonably intact, I could have loan payments as low as $70/month.

That’s a big gap, one which I need to work on reducing. But in the meantime, the fact that I’ve thought about it and worked some more out is still progress for me, and frankly I’m proud of that. I can’t be proud of my recent spending habits, nor of the fact that I still haven’t landed any freelancing jobs, so I may as well find something that works in my favor right now.

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The Tale Of My First Despair: A Budget Story

Once upon a time, there was a girl. Like many girls, she had hopes and dreams and worked part-time retail to pay the rent. When she came up with a dream that required a little bit of start-up capital, she became excited. She could do it, she thought!

Then, she took a look at her spending over the previous two months. Even with being as frugal as she thought was possible, she still came out well behind where she thought she should be. Three large (by her standards; none was over $30) impulse purchases set her back by several weeks, and none of her bids were working out on various freelancing projects. Despite having ten months to go, the girl began to lose hope that her dream could come true.

She scoured her budget, looking for more things to cut out. Gone was taking the winding, tree-lined scenic route home. Gone were the fancy color-changing nail polish she had wanted all summer. Gone was the notion of a new computer; of more summer dresses. But really, none of these were things she regularly bought anyway. This was sacrificing small hopes in favor of a bigger dream. What could she actually cut, that hadn’t already been pruned back to the bare basics?

She went through her budget again. When all things were considered, 24% of her last month’s expenses could have been avoided or mitigated. That’s a lot, and that gave her hope for the next month.

Next month, she didn’t have to buy pants, eye shadow, or nail polish. Next month, she could start fresh, and if she just tucked away a little bit more of her paycheck every week, she could be fine. And as she looked at the numbers, she breathed a sigh of relief.

It was a small setback. Nothing more. She could make up for it easily, with just a little more diligence.

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A Sobering Look At The Challenges I Will Face

While her post was primarily about making a living in music, Charlotte Hothar linked a very good article from The Guardian about the problems we know are facing workers, creative and technical, and the economy worldwide. While the Guardian’s focus in the article was on Europe, I know that this is also an issue in the US. I will confess to having worked for free, several times, and usually with no actual profit for me in either experience or references. It’s frustrating, especially when you are already crunched for time and money, between school and part-time work, but I believed everything that said, “Do free work for experience” and promises that, “You can use it for your portfolio.” It’s not the fault of the free-workers, usually. They want just as badly to make money, but they’re told there’s no other way at first.

I knew from the beginning of my journey that this was going to be hard. I’m pretty sure everyone whom I’ve told, is just humoring me when they say, “You can do it!” Articles like this make me nervous, yes, but I absolutely cannot let fear stop me from trying. Jump feet-first into the deep end, and if I have to move back home, so be it. I don’t do things by halves, so I won’t give up on this, either. That’s exactly why I’m starting now, but it’s also why I don’t have a fall back plan. You can’t give 100% if you know there’s an easier alternative.

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