There are a lot of skeptics out there, people who have either never considered, or have assumed they just couldn't, make it out on the road. And there are those who are full-timing who aren't sure we'll be able to make on our planned budget.
The first group, I feel I will just have to do it and not concern myself with the naysayers; if you are afraid to take the risk for something you want to do, doesn't mean that I am afraid to take the risk for something I want to do.
The second group, I listen and absorb what they say. I run the numbers in my head and compare it to what they share. I look at how they do things, and compare it to how we plan to do things and weigh the differences in terms of budget. I have great respect for their words and questions, and take what they say to heart.
This post is a follow-up to my last post on budgeting, as some have questioned our budget; their replies will be addressed here.
Either way, though, we will do it. We have run the numbers, and we know it will be tight but not impossible; we will be equipped for what we have been called to do. We have seen others who have done it successfully for years on less than we will have. There is only so much planning one can do, and we have done that (and are continuing to do it); God will see to the rest.
Circumstances change. They can change whether we're in our sticks and bricks or whether we're on wheels. By God's grace we handle them now, and by God's grace we'll handle them then. (Jer.17:7-8)
We have always lived on a limited budget. We live very frugally and live on much less than most people; we qualify for lots of handouts (though we rarely need them and do fine without), such is our income. We will continue to live on a limited budget vita in via. And then, if anything, there will be MORE opportunities for us. Without getting into our very personal financial details (although I will moreso once we're actually "out there"), here is a comparison of our expense now and our expenses later.
First, we live by cash. (Romans 13:8) We don't have credit cards or a mortgage. When we buy something we pay for it. Big purchases we pay for ahead of time by saving up for them, not after-the-fact with interest (higher cost). Were this not the case, we wouldn't even consider this!
Second, we tithe on our income. We hold to the OT 10% law as a minimum. God meets our every need, above and beyond what we return to Him (which is His in the first place!). This is a spiritual concept; it isn't about "I scratch your back and you scratch mine." It is a fact of giving joyfully to the Lord out of gratitude, for the work of His church, and seeing the evidence of His promises in action. (2Cor.9:7) If this is a foreign concept to you, or you don't understand the importance of tithing and faith in our budget, then none of this will probably make any sense to you anyway :).
Third: Our expenses will be more comparable to what they are now. Our property taxes will translate into campground costs. (More on this next paragraph.) Our natural gas and electric bill will translate into propane and gasoline. Our food bill will remain the same, at the worst; at best it will be smaller, as we will be living - and eating - on the same schedule; even one less full meal per day will make a difference in our food costs! We will not have our $100/mo. DirecTv, and our cell phone bells and whistles will be no more; basic cellular service will cost less. The cost for our internet will be comparable (in price, at least!) to what we pay now for cable internet.
Camping site costs - We will take advantage of every possible situation but for the most part, at least for the first couple of years, we will be staying locally, and we do have access to a lot with electric and water. When we travel we will use various cost-cutting means from boondocking and dry camping, to visiting family and friends, sleeping in free lots by night, and parking/walking in areas of interest by day. There are myriad websites and blogs that detail how to do this.
Health insurance is a big question, as it takes up such a large portion of most people's incomes. Between the VA system (Pete is a veteran and his health needs are met through the VA) and Christian-based healthcare ministries (such as this one) it is much more affordable than what most people pay. Our local medical system has a sliding fee scale for those of us with lower incomes, and I use that for nearly all of my health needs. (LOVE my doctor there too!) Other insurance - full coverage of course - on our rig we are hoping will be comparable to our homeowners' now, but if it isn't, we will adjust our budget accordingly.
We won't be going out there without an emergency fund in place, although I trust our Father more than money - which loses value - as He has never failed to meet a need and promises that He never will.
Our income: Pete will be receiving his social security which, since he will retire at 62, will be less than if he waits another 4 years, and will be equivalent to about 80% of his current income. As long as my current seasonal employer keeps hiring me each year, I will continue to have that income; we can allot it so that it is spread out throughout the year. I will simply have to assure that I am always where I can have a strong and reliable internet and cell phone signal so that I can continue to be a reliable employee, and we will plan our travels around those connections so I can work. If the company were to change and/or I were to lose my job, I would seek out similar employment.
There isn't much that Pete can't do. He's worked maintenance in various capacities, done electrical work, repaired various equipment, landscaping, etc. in his years of employment. (He was a cop in the USAF and worked security as a civilian as well.) He will be able to handle many of the maintenance and repairs on our rig, which will cut down on expenses, and also we are both looking forward to the potential prospect of workamping. We've even been studying up on gate guarding and think that actually sounds like it could be right up our alley for at least part of the year, as a potential job! And there are other things, but you get the idea...
Even with all of this, there is always the chance (a pretty good one actually!) that God has a different plan for us, once we get out there, and all of our budgeting and planning will change! It wouldn't be the first time :).
What it comes down to is this: We are led to do this. If you aren't walking with Christ, it won't make sense to you anyway...we don't know the future but God does, and He is leading us into it confidently. Our Good Shepherd doesn't lead his flock over the edge of a cliff, but to green pastures. And that's where we are going.