Sorry for the delay….we’ve been working extra hard around the campground because all the hosts that were suppose to show up April 1st, just didn’t (insert side eye) so we’ve been pulling double time, plus this also happens to be one of the 40 hour work weeks I mention below. If you are interested in hosting with us at the beautiful Curry Hammock State Park, call the office at (305) 289-2690. You’ll have to fill out the online application for Florida State Parks, which you can find here.
Like I promised, this blog is about how we manage to live this “homeless chic” lifestyle, minus the beggin’ on the street. As important as what we are doing for income now is, it’s only about 50% of why we can do what we do. The choices we made from the beginning of our life together, 11 years ago, helped us get to where we are today. High impact decisions such as: living as close to debt free as possible, smart real estate investments, saving….pretty much “adulting”. Also saving money on every day decisions, like buying generic, carpooling, BJ doing car maintenance himself, cutting off cable, buying clothes at Walmart, working multiple jobs at once if we needed to, so on and so forth. We didn’t know 11 years ago that we would be doing this, so other than just being smart with our money for common sense sake, we didn’t have super big goals in mind, just knowing we didn’t want to live paycheck to paycheck.
We’ve bought and sold multiple properties, and actually kept our first home as an investment property (we bought right after the bubble burst and got a phenomenal deal). We’ve been renting it out for the last eight years or so. The MONTHLY profit, after paying the mortgage and property management company isn’t HUGE, but every YEAR the market gets better and better and we’ll be able to have some options on whether to sell or keep renting, it’s all about the big picture. The last home we bought, we paid cash, so when it was time to sell, that was all money straight in our pockets, and the value had more than tripled. Of course we had to put some work into it, but even with investment costs, we had a nice profit. Other couples may have chosen to use that chunk of dough as a down payment on a move-in ready, much more expensive home, but the thought of not being held to a mortgage (which usually means stuck working 40 plus hours a week) gave us a huge sense of freedom. It was a nice security blanket, knowing that if for some terrible reason we both lost our jobs, we’d be fine. We could bag groceries or even flip burgers a few days a week, and still live pretty comfortably. Financial freedom is one of the best feelings in the world, and in my opinion that comes with the ability to have options. Feeling backed into a corner to work a job you hate, commute farther than you want, spend more time at work than with family, could drive the most sane person crazy, so we did what we could to avoid that as much as possible. Believe me in the beginning it was a true struggle, ramen and hamburger helper for dinner 6 out of 7 nights a week, driving cars literally til the wheels fall off (ah, that good ol’ Corsica), long work days of 9-5 jobs, then moonlighting second shifts, but it was all 100% worth it!
Ok, but what you’re really here for….how do we make and save money on the road?!?!?
Location independent and remote work is all over the place. Once we started looking and actively applying, it wasn’t long until we both had jobs. We work anywhere from 10-40 hours a week. And we try to work our hours together so the rest of the time we can play! Sometimes, along with the hours we put in hosting, our “work” week is technically 50+. But the 40 hour weeks are few and far between and we don’t mind one bit, it just helps feed the dream.
So what do we do? I manage databases for companies using CRM software and BJ….well, BJ’s work is hard to explain, and he was kind of told to not really talk about it….but social media evaluator is the actual job title. Where did we find these opportunities….Flexjobs. Flexjobs is a job search website, much like Monster and Indeed, but mostly geared towards remote work. There is a yearly subscription of $50, but we signed up during a promotional period and only paid $35, one of the best investments we ever made. There are designations that companies who use Flexjobs are given, which allows you to kind of weed through the “unverified, too good to be true” ads, so you aren’t wasting your time. (Sign up for FlexJobs today and use promo code FLEXLIFE to save up to 30% off!)
We don’t make nearly as much money as we once did, but we don’t need as much either. Our only monthly expenses are groceries, entertainment, fuel and cell service. These jobs give us the freedom to work from wherever, whenever (as long as hours and quotas are met), so the pay-cut with less restrictions and responsibility was truly a win/win for us.
The saving money aspect of this lifestyle is just as important as making money. Hosting is a must for us. As you know from previous posts, we volunteer (around 20 hours a week) at a state park (National Parks have hosting positions too) and get our site (usually with full hook-ups and sometimes cable) for free. The volunteer schedule is set by days, not hours, so even on our “work” days, we have spare time to do what we want, usually we just try to kill two birds with one stone and get as much of our “real” work done on the days we host, so the rest of the time can be true OFF days. As I’m typing and preparing this blog post, BJ is snoozing in the recliner with the pups, and we’re “working”. Hosting is a great trade off, and it isn’t hard. The couples that were here at Curry Hammock with us were well into their 70’s. Whichever state you are interested in hosting with, just visit their park system website, find the volunteer or “get involved” tab and look for information on hosting. Most of the time you have to fill out an online application and submit it with a list of the parks or region you’re willing to work. Once I know our app has been received I give the park a call, and talk us up to the manager to try and help our odds of being selected. There are other options such as Harvest Host and WWOOF (WWOOF also has opportunities all over the world). Both of these websites have yearly subscription fees. WWOOF provides volunteering and “workamping” options for shorter periods of time than state parks usually require. You can do a few days, weeks or months, at places like wineries, organic farms and ranches. We haven’t experienced it yet, but we are definitely looking into options for when we get out west. Also, private RV parks offer hosting positions, with a free site and, occasionally, a small hourly pay rate as well, however they usually expect a bit more time and work from their hosts.
And then there are ways to make passive income, such as monetizing a blog/website or YouTube channel, and finding sponsors for your Instagram posts. I’ve researched these options, but all are a little more start-up work than I want to commit to right now, and have a very slow process before you actually start seeing $$$. There are multiple blogs and Facebook groups that offer information and courses on how to make passive income. Maybe one day I’ll have the patience, but right now I’m fine with just focusing on our remote work. Here are a few links to learn more.
RV Doing This (running a virtual assistant company and much more)
Roadschool with OurVie Adventures (sponsorships)
The Freedom Theory (monetizing a YouTube channel and much more)
Making Sense of Cents (Michelle makes 6 figures monetizing her blog and offering courses, she is FULL of information)
We also dabble in Amazon Seller. We purchase clearance items at places such as Walmart, and ship them to Amazon to be sold. We pay Amazon their cut and then they pay us the rest once the item is sold. We found TV stands for $30, and sold them on Amazon for $199!!!! This revenue stream is nice, because there isn’t too much upfront costs and we pursue it when it makes sense, and don’t bust our tails, chasing store closings and driving far out of our way. A fellow from Georgia, not far at all from our home town, is the ultimate Guru on Amazon Seller. Here is a link to Jason’s website.
But I think most importantly, we’ve stuck to our roots and still just try to live our day to day lives as cheaply as possible. I worried with being in new places the urge to go out would get the best of us, however we’ve done pretty good with cooking most meals at the camper while hitting the occasional happy hour for appetizers and drinks. We check out discount days and coupons for attractions, but mainly focusing on free entertainment and activities. Down here in Marathon, Publix is the only grocery store, which is more expensive than I was used to spending. But their weekly ads offer some great savings. I meal plan based on BOGO items and try not to deviate from the list. We order from Walmart for non-perishable items to save on the things we can wait for, as long as I take inventory every so often, to avoid must have situations. I don’t mind working to save and making every penny stretch as far as humanly possible.
We’ve only been at this since July, so we still have a lot to learn and (fingers-crossed) there will be new opportunities that pop up that may change the way we do things. But so far, our current setup has fit perfectly with how we pictured this lifestyle would be. We plan on taking hosting breaks, and either paying to stay at campsites or boondocking, ensuring we don’t get too burnt out. Boondocking is also a great way to save while on the road. Boondocking is just dry camping, meaning you’re staying somewhere with no hookups at all. Either at a WMA (wildlife management area), which are really only good for small rigs, they are usually off the beaten path and down dirt roads or sleeping at a rest area or Walmart parking lot for the night, instead of paying for a site at a park. But my most favorite way to boondock, is in a casino parking lot. Most are very cool about it and will let you stay for a night or two, and it doesn’t hurt that I’m just walking distance from penny slots!!!!
There are two resources that were absolutely priceless in our research and beginning planning stages. The first being, The RV Entrepreneur Podcast with Heath and Alyssa Padgett. This 20-something couple has so much drive and ambition, it is infectious. They want a lot more out of this lifestyle than us, but are willing to work extremely hard for it. Start listening to the podcast today and check out their blog. The second was a book my Mom bought us, Young RVers: How to Enjoy the Freedom of the RV Lifestyle While Making a Living on the Road. Along with income ideas, Jerry also explains the logistics of receiving mail, getting health insurance and choosing which state is best to claim as your residence. And don’t let the title fool you, the tips in this book span any age group. Without the resources from both, I would not have known just how attainable this dream was.
I hope this answers some questions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us through the Contact Us page here on the blog, or you can email me directly! None of this is mind blowing, life altering information, but all combined together it has helped us live our dream!
Here are some more helpful links:
Appen Global (online work)