Thursday, October 27, 2016

Our Six Month Report

Mary and I have been full time living in our motor home for six months. Our house sold on May 20 so October 20 was six months. We actually started this April 16 when we went to Tiffin in Red Bay Alabama to watch our motor home construction. After six plus months we are doing fine and believe this was a good decision. Here are some things and advice we found since starting.

1. Cost of Living and retiring to a motor home is about the same as our expenses at our house. 
Different expenses replaced the home expenses but the total is about the same.
Our house was paid for and so is our motor home.
We have no loans or credit cards balances so that helps.
Here are the largest monthly expense categories in our budget.
Camp ground rent can be expensive so our budget is $1000.00 per month.
Groceries and restaurant costs are about $700.00 per month.
Medical expenses are estimated $1000.00 per month.
COBRA and medicare supplement is $625.00 per month.
Fuel costs for motor home and toad are $400.00 per month (may go up if pump goes up)
Vehicle repairs are $500.00 per month, this includes coach and chassis repairs.
Your costs may be less and ours vary depending on the area we stay in.
If we stay healthy, medical should be less, we hope.
Our motor home and Jeep are both new so repairs should be less, we hope again.
Our budget assumes the worst so we are always prepared if costs go high.
If you pull money from the bank to meet expenses, the general rule is you need
$240,000 in savings to draw out $1000 per month. With 4% interest you will not run out!
Of course, interest is low so other investments may provide the 4% but be careful.
If you need $2000 per month, you can do the math.
Do not start retirement if you owe money on your house, cars, credit cards, etc.
Read this book by Wes Moss "You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think".

2. Medical Expenses can be high and have the potential to be much higher when you retire.
I am on Medicare and so far it has paid my expenses except for the deductible items.
A Medicare supplement pays what Medicare does not pay.
The supplement does cost $92.00 monthly and will increase with age.
A drug plan is another $18.00 monthly expense.
Some drugs are not covered or the quite expensive ones can have a high co-pay.
Mary is on a COBRA plan until she turns 65 so that is another $525.00 per month.
The COBRA plan does have good nation wide providers which we need when traveling.
Locating doctors when there is a problem looks like the main difficulty.
We continue seeing our old doctors when we are in the Indiana area.
If your health is good you need to keep it that way!

3. Internet access and a PC is a requirement. Do not even consider doing without.
Do not rely on camp ground internet, they usually don't work.
If you do use open wifi, do not do any banking or credit card purchases!
A good PC with a flatbed scanner and laser printer are required.
Use some external hard drives for your storage, not the PC. 
Use at least two, backup the first to the second unit.
Hide the external drives. Better yet, hide one somewhere else as the backup.
Use encryption on the drives to prevent data loss if stolen.
E-mail is required to send and receive documents such as insurance,  medical, etc.
The printer is required to print documents that you will receive from various sources.
The scanner is needed to scan in signed documents as PDF's to e-mail back out.
We use a Verizon phones and MiFi which has worked well and works almost everywhere.
Our data plan now has 22 GB and it is usually used up by the end of the month.
Travel plans require plenty of research and that requires plenty of data.

4. RV Club Memberships can save you money. Here are the ones we use.
I won't spell out the details so visit their web sites to see for yourself.
Savings on camp site rental usually more than pays for the annual cost.
FMCA https://www.fmca.com/ first year is $60.00, renewal is $50.00.
Good Sam Club http://www.goodsamclub.com/ first year is $27.00.
Passport America http://www.passport-america.com/ first year is $47.00.
Escapees RV Club http://www.escapees.com is great for full time RV'ers.

5. RV Forums are a good way to learn from others. Here are the ones we use.
There are many others available is you search. 
Use caution because what you read may not always be the best info.
Turn your BS filter on before you start reading.
General use forum is http://www.rv.net/forum/, select your area of interest.
FMCA has a forum but it's down as I write this. Try them later.
Escapees RV Club forum http://www.escapees.com 
Tiffin Motorhomes forum http://www.tiffinrvnetwork.com/forum/ is very good.
Most RV brands have a forum so search for your brand.

6. How to locate RV good camp grounds? Lots of choices, here are the ones we use.
Look carefully before reserving. Resorts are usually not a resort, some are.
Full hookups are best for longer stays but cost more money.
Extended stays save money, monthly rates can be the same as a 2-3 week stay.
State and other http://www.reserveamerica.com/ with reservations.
Federal lands http://www.recreation.gov/ with reservations.
Good to find almost everything http://www.allstays.com/ with filters by state.
Another to find many parks with a map http://www.rvparky.com/.
Reviews are a big help with BS filter activated http://www.rvparkreviews.com/
Good Sam also has reviews. Search Google for reviews and there are many more available.

7. Google Earth is required! Here are some things you can do with it.
Don't reserve until you use Google Earth to see for yourself, up close.
Search for Google Earth then download the small program.
Check the area around the camp ground, see what is there.
Where are the trees? Sometimes hard to see on Earth but you will have a general idea.
Use Google Earth /Street View to "drive" the roads leading to the park.
Use Google Earth /Tools/Ruler to measure the camp sites and road widths.