The bottom line is, there are so many ways to make the finances work! We know people from all walks of life who have figured out how to either make their skills portable, or to gain portable skills: nurses, web designers, plumbers, e-bay sellers, network marketers, crafters, artists, app developers, programmers, youtubers, virtual assistants, photographers, restaurant reviewers, authors, teachers, tutors, university professors, massage therapists, circus performers, traveling bands, preachers, and even 9-5 corporate employees who have convinced their managers to let them work remotely. Chances are you can find a way too.
But isn’t travel so expensive?! Did you win the lottery?
That’s a common misconception, because vacations are expensive. But traveling full-time is nothing like a 52 week vacation. The pacing and pricing is totally different.
Keep in mind, what we’re doing is much cheaper than what we used to do. Our monthly expenses are literally a fraction of what they were. We have no mortgage to pay, no electric or water bills to speak of (they’re included in the $60 monthly dues for our RV Resort membership). Our main expenses are vehicle insurance (equivalent to what we always paid), gas (we drive less now than we did commuting to work), and phone/internet (and the latter is minimal as we have a grandfathered unlimited data plan).
Of course we also travel internationally, and plane tickets aren’t cheap (though it helps we can buy whenever they are cheapest). And though we love living simply, we definitely don’t want to pass up on once-in-a-lifetime experiences if we can possibly help it. We have to generate income, just like anyone else. This isn’t a vacation, it’s our life! So right now we’re implementing a variety of ways to fund our preferred nomadic lifestyle:
1) Business Consulting: By far this is our biggest income stream, at least for now. We’ve run consulting businesses for years. If you’ve read our story, you know we’ve been entrepreneurs for a long, long time. Dan’s always focused on finance, operations and technology, and Jen has always leaned toward sales, marketing and strategy. Right now Jen pretty much has her hands full schooling the kids, running Silver Lining Life, and caring for our special needs daughter. But she’s been known to advise a friend here and there, and is taking the Business Foundations Series online from Wharton School of Business.. Dan meanwhile is the real breadwinner for now, as outsourced consultant and COO for multiple organizations.
2) Business Ownership: Both of us have been working since we were teens. While that seemed like a hardship at the time, it has turned out to be another silver lining situation. Over the years we have slowly gained the knowledge and connections that allowed us to succeed as entrepreneurs, and have since started, grown, and run multiple multi-million dollar companies (sometimes as a team, sometimes individually). We’ve been in high-tech, real estate, franchising and pure business consulting. Not to say every endeavor pays off, we have had hard knocks along the way, (can you say global financial melt down?!) but those that have done well have ultimately resulted in a financial safety net in the form of profit sharing, ability to sell our stock, and income.
3) Promotional Partnerships: One main reason we love this lifestyle is that we get to try a lot of new things. Learning about our experiences is valuable to others, especially those planning travel to that area. So, we sometimes strike up promotional partnerships with organizations that provide relevant services, products or experiences for our community. We HONESTLY review or otherwise provide a bit of publicity in exchange for compensation or alternate forms of remuneration (barter, product/service samples, etc.) . Because we’re getting things comped we would have paid for in after-tax income, every dollar is in essence doubled. It is a great way for us to have fun while saving a lot of $, while providing valuable information to you at the same time!
4) Advertising Revenue: We’ve gathered a bit of a following online – at this point we’ve had up to 120,000 views of our unique content a month, across a variety of channels. We have started selling a limited amount of ad-space, in the form of banner ads, sidebar ads, etc., as well as participating in select affiliate commission plans for those organizations that we use personally and believe in thoroughly. To inquire about our advertising rates, please contact us.
5) Proceeds: In the 45 days leading to our launch, we sold 99% of our stuff rather than pay for storage. We kept a few boxes of priceless mementos, such as baby blankets, favorite stuffed animals and artworks, and a few family heirlooms, but all else was either consigned, auctioned, sold, donated or dumped, including: clothing, jewelry, furniture, sporting goods, and our Lexus SUV. Selling all the contents of a large home gave us the means to get rolling!
6) Retirement Funds: We do have funds which provide us with a minimal guaranteed income per month. For our first several months, we relied mostly retirement monies so we could just relax and reconnect as a family. This wasn’t our long term plan, but it did allow us to take a true sabbatical while we dealt with personal issues and also got our ‘road legs’.
7) Credit/Private Loans: We use credit cards to pay for most of our everyday expenses. We pay off the balance each month, but doing this allows us earn rewards such as cash back, air miles, hotel discounts, etc., and has the added benefit of raising our credit score. Having these credit lines also provides peace of mind if we ever have a big emergency, though that would be a last resort due to high interest rates. Instead, we took two small personal loans before we launched, which we kept as emergency funds. We just weren’t sure if there was going to be large unforeseen expenses and this way we know if our car breaks down, or we have a medical emergency, we’d be prepared. Once we knew we had a handle on what to expect as far as our income and expenses we returned these funds.
8) Savings: I know this isn’t technically earning, but we all know the famous Ben Franklin saying “A penny saved is a penny earned”, so we’ll include it in this list. A lot of what we do for fun is free or nearly free, as we got a National Park pass for $10 (check in to the every 4th grader in a park for a great deal now). Beaches are free! We also have reciprocal membership which provides tons of museums, aquariums, zoos and science centers. And the resorts where we stay have pools, tennis/pickleball courts, pool tables, arcades, mini-golf, plenty of room to hike or ride bikes, and sometimes even bowling, fishing and boating. Activity directors plan movie nights, pool parties, holiday festivities, camp-fires, hay rides, field trips and more. And ALL of this is free with membership! House sitting has saved us many thousands in lodging, car rental and even food (since we can cook at home). And again, since we get a lot of products and services in exchange for promotion and consulting, we save doubly – on taxes and expenses. Win-win!
9) Royalties: A few years ago, Jen and Ariana created a company based around a cast of characters called The Artzy Girlz. The company sold jewelry, accessories, art supplies, cosmetics, crafts and books. With the support of an incredibly talented young writer (fellow worldschooler, Hannah Miller of edventuregirl.com), we authored two books. The books are now up on Amazon. We’ve received minimal royalties to date, but have done nothing to promote them. We’ve since begun to learn about self-publishing and book-promotion, and hope to increase this over time.
10) Real Estate: If you know us at all, you probably know we are big fans of real estate as a way to generate passive income. Fix and flips and other immediate methods are great, but buy-and-hold rental income really can’t be beat in our opinion. Though we got hammered in US Economic Meltdown, for many years real estate comprised the biggest portion of our financial portfolio. We are once again ready to build a new portfolio of rental homes, particularly in areas where the rent-to-mortgage ratio allows for positive cashflow. We are also actively seeking partnerships with experienced real estate professionals who need capital investments.
So that’s it for now. Nothing too big or mysterious. All very do-able, if this is your dream!