Last week I revealed that I am planning a “gap year,” starting in the next few months. So how about some details? Let’s define my gap year!
Work Remains a Focus
I will definitely still be working in some way or another. I may be offering my employer my continued service as a part-time remote employee (or contractor), to ease the transition (for both of us). If they can make it work, I may continue to work for them 10-20 hours/week for a while. It will definitely be a trial arrangement, and I think there’s a greater than 50% chance it won’t work out. If they don’t like my offer, then I have no issues walking away completely.
One of my main motivations in this experiment is to push myself into entrepreneurship. I believe I have the right mindset to be self employed, but I’ve always played it safe and stuck with a job that has a predictable income. So this year won’t be spent watching 12 hours of Netflix every day and falling deeper into depression, instead I will be focusing intently on building a client base and implementing some business ideas while I am “away” from full-time work. My real hope is to find modest success and more flexibility, and not ever need to return to a traditional job.
My SO and I keep separate finances, and we split household expenses. Over the past year and a half I’ve saved most of my side hustle money and extra income in cash. I have enough saved outside of retirement and investment accounts to cover my usual household and personal expenses for about a year. I keep my lifestyle inexpensive (aside from the occasional luxury vacation), and I hope to spend my usual $18-24k during the gap year. If I don’t earn a penny during this experiment, I should still be okay (and my investments should continue to grow on their own).
Of course, the part of my brain that is obsessed with saving doesn’t like the idea of spending $20k that has taken time and effort to save, but I’ve resigned myself to the possibility. I already have a few side hustles that brought in ~$12k (before taxes) in 2017, so hopefully with increased focus on making money outside of a job, I will cover most of my expenses without needing to tap all of the cash.
Of course, our financial picture and regular expenses aren’t set in stone – I will need to buy health insurance (and who knows what else) as I make this transition, but I’ve decided to not worry too much about it, and instead trust that no matter what happens I can handle it.
Oh Yeah, and We’re Moving Into a Travel Trailer
The last, and potentially most exciting part of the gap year plan, is a year away from home. I’ve lived in the same area my entire life, and I have never given myself much opportunity to consider other options. By leaving my full time employment behind, we’re free to be a bit more adventurous. Right now the plan is to buy a truck and a 5th wheel trailer to live in, and rent out our house for a year. My SO is employed in medicine, and she will switch to a “traveling” position, accepting temporary (~3 month) assignments around the country. This has it’s own advantages for her income and career, and gives us the opportunity to temporarily live in 4 different and new areas over the next year, and to explore a bit on the road between assignments. I am excited to experience life in different places, and in new ways.
We hope to head off toward her first assignment at the beginning of July. Leaving full time work at the beginning of May gives me two months to focus on prepping everything and “moving” into the trailer. My work is all done on the computer, and can easily be location independent, so the trailer will also have to serve as my home office (if you have any recommendations for mobile internet solutions, please share!).
We are working right now to finalize our plans for what type of truck and trailer to buy, and I am struggling a bit with how overwhelming the options are and how widely the prices range – but it seems that we’re about to spend a lot of money on our temporary home. If it all works out, our mortgage will be covered and we’ll just consider the monthly cost to own a fancy truck and towable living space our “rent” while we’re away.
We’re also struggling with the reality that we have way too much stuff, and we are minimizing and decluttering by necessity. This would be a great exercise any time, but we have the added pressure of a deadline, so it’s definitely overwhelming.
Hopefully the extra few months I am arranging before we leave home will be enough to manage and wrap up the dozens (or hundreds?) of loose ends and details. I also hope to document more details of our adventure on this blog over the next year. So what do you think of our plan? Do you have any advise as we make drastic changes to our lives over the next few months?
[featured image courtesy of Doug Coldwell]