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One of my closest friends from grade school through high school use to say over and over, “Life is what happens when you are planning something else.”
Sometimes when you are planning on reaching for a safe and practical financial goal, an opportunity to make a crazy, out of this world dream become a reality arises instead.
Our family’s safe and practical financial goal
Our big financial goal for this year was to finish renovating our second rental unit, get it rented, and then work hard to add enough money to what is left of the inheritance from my dad to purchase and renovate and rent a third rental home.
It was a stretching goal for us, one that would have us working hard and saving hard.
Our hope was the result would be more month to month income to help us help the kids with college now and help us with retirement later. It
is was a very practical, safe financial goal.
But then we entirely changed our goal.
How practical became crazy
I remember the exact moment our practical goal started to crumble. It was March 12th, my birthday, and we decided to spend it together as a family of five. Our first stop on our family day was the gas station for gas needed for the trip.
While my husband filled the gas tank. I started a conversation with the children that completely changed our goal from practical to, “Oh, my word! What are we thinking?”
Me: “Hey kids look at the super tiny RV!” (one of those super compact ones)
Kids: “Wow that is small”
Me: ” That is the size of the one dad and I plan on taking on our cross country trip after you all leave home.”
Kids: “Buy something bigger, go a few years sooner, and we will all go with you.”
Me: ” Really, I always thought you guys didn’t want to leave your friends and normal daily life for that long?”
Kids: “But think of all the places we would see?”
And so began the crumbling of our safe, practical, and normal financial goal.
My birthday celebration was hijacked with a day long conversation of where to go on the trip, what to take with us, when to leave on the trip and how to pay for the trip.
The exact moment the normal financial goal was traded for crazy
We eventually got to the big word: BUDGET. Honestly, I thought that this is where our crazy dream idea would have to stay a dream. After all, we were not planning on doing this RV trip until the children were all grown and gone. With our youngest currently 13, we still had at least 6 years to figure out how to fund it.
But now with this new dream we had less than one year to make it happen, because in just over two years it is very likely that we won’t be a family of five living under one roof–our little birds are growing up and are getting ready to leave the nest very soon.
That short timeline presented a BIG problem. Unlike many RV traveling families, our main provider for our family, my husband, does not work at a “take it anywhere” type of job. My husband is an RN. He physically has to be at his job to work it. That leaves us with rental income and my blog income as the only sources of income coming in each month we are on the road. Currently, after taxes and expenses these two income sources average $1600 a month. Obviously we are going to need more than that per month to live on the road.
And in that second practical was replaced with crazy
As soon as the words “where would we get that kind of money in that short amount of time?” were uttered, the solution became obvious. We could swap our practical goal of investing our savings in a 3rd rental unit for a RV trip of a life time.
And then we started to panic
When we got home that night from Indy, I purposely set out to figure out how we couldn’t afford this trip. You see, the battle of the “what if’s” was setting in. I am the head numbers person for the family and I kept thinking, “What if I didn’t get the numbers right? What if something goes wrong with the rentals? What if the blog stops bringing in an income?”
But no matter how many times I came up with a valid excuse not to take the trip, a just as valid solution came up to take care of my excuse.
A few days later my husband started to panic. Being the provider, his main “what if” was–and still is–what if he can’t get the RN position he loves back after the trip? He was also struggling with “what if we don’t have enough put aside for when we get home to last us until he gets back to full time work again?”
We both had a horrible case of fear-filled “what if’s.”
After several days of fear induced flip-flopping, my husband and I decided the best way for us to give up on the practical goal for good was to become fully committed to the new crazy goal and the best way to do that was to buy the RV and start telling people that we were going on a cross-country RV trip.
And yet we are still doubting
I would be lying if I said I am now 100% sure that this decision is the right one.
However, I do know that we are doing our best to be smart about our rather crazy decision.
We are paying cash for it. We are keeping back an emergency fund so that if we get home and my husband doesn’t get a job right away, we have funds to live on. We are researching ways to keep the trip as affordable as possible. We are over budgeting in all areas to make sure we have enough.
However, we are both in our 40s and retirement is getting closer than we want to think about and 2 rentals isn’t going to provide livable income for us and that is concerning. Plus, before that we have 3 children whom we would love to help with college expenses in any way we can.
But here is something else I know. This is our last window of opportunity to do such a trip as a family of five. It is now as five or later as two.
As I stated above, we were planning on doing this trip later with just the two of us. Essentially, we are just swapping timelines. We are going to travel now (well, within 6 to 8 months) instead of working, which means we will work later instead of traveling.
My husband and I have passions and talents that make us great at turning rundown, low-priced homes in good neighborhoods into livable rentals. The moment we get home from this crazy trip you can bet we will be itching to start saving up for another property.
We are not giving up our goal of retiring off of rental income. Instead we are simply putting it on pause so that we can enjoy the here and now with our children while they are still living with us.
(plus it also helps that we living in a town with extremely low real estate prices – the home we currently live in cost us $10,000)
We will get back to practical–but for now we choose crazy!
How about you? What dreams are you pushing to one side because they simply are not financially practical according to the widely accepted norms of society? Is the risk of going for them worth the possible payoff? Are you willing to face the “what if’s” head on?
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