I fully realize that there are many people who will look at us and say, “Wow, they’re so lucky to have been able to pull this off. We could never afford to take that time off.” There are plenty of people who’ve already said that.
I want to share that planning this trip was not easy for us financially, nor was it quick. We planned, scrimped and saved to be able to do this and, as you’ll see, we didn’t do it with a 40’ brand-new motor home. A used 19’ travel trailer with five people (and a huge poodle) isn’t exactly plush!
We are absolutely fortunate that Bret has an amazing job with a terrific company offering a structured benefit that made it possible for him to be away from his job for the length of our trip. Bret is an actuary – a mathematician for insurance companies. To become a full-fledged actuary required him to study and pass a series of 10 exams that each required between 400-500 hours of studying. It took him 7 years to pass them all. THAT was sacrifice. We held off on having kids until the last test was taken specifically because we had a plan to make a good future for ourselves and knew that passing those tests was part of that plan. Oh, and college? We both paid for that on our own.
I was a stay at home mom for 10 years. When we wanted extra money for something, I would work to earn the money. I sold Tastefully Simple for several years and had a successful enough business that I was able to buy into Disney’s timeshare, the Disney Vacation Club. When doing Tastefully Simple parties in the evenings no longer worked with my family’s schedule, I went through training to become a parent facilitator with the Love and Logic Institute. I taught hundreds of parents that parenting can be fun and effective. Once the kids were in school, I realized I could have a job that required more of me and I studied to become a Virtual Assistant. I currently have a thriving practice with clients I love.
Once we set a date for our trip, we really buckled down with our budget. We went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and moved to an all cash and envelopes money management system to eliminate our debt. I became coupon crazy and signed up for The Grocery Game, which made couponing fun. I gave up all coffees out with friends, manicures, pedicures, eating out and my membership at the local Y. We learned to groom our own dogs, cleaned our own house and mowed our own lawn. We drove cars with 150,000+ miles on them. We were determined that this would work, so we worked for it.