How Much Would It Cost NOT To Work This Summer?

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I’m nearing the end of my contract- only five weeks left! As always, when we’re facing the end we have to decide whether I’m going to extend, or if I’m going to find another nursing contract elsewhere, or if we’re going to take a few months off to do what we really love, which is hike and camp and find new birds and watch baseball. Given that I spent the first three months of 2018 sitting in the camper while Greg worked part-time, we agreed when I took this contract that given the chance I would extend. But… that little nagging voice who always shows up when I start working again has started whispering her sweet nothings into my ear. “Do you really want to work the summer?” “Wouldn’t you rather work later in the year instead?” “Those mountains aren’t going to climb themselves, and you just bought all that backpacking food…” Oh that voice. I like to think it’s MoNa herself beckoning me out of this life and into the outdoors for good.

Today I made the mistake of riding my bike to REI, “just to test out some backcountry camp chairs”. Greg’s working at an airport in California for a couple of weeks, so I’m keeping myself entertained. Mona, help me, REI was having their Anniversary Sale.

After picking out a couple of heavily-discounted chairs I made the bigger mistake of putting a fully-weighted pack on and wandering the store looking for deals. I’m tearing up just thinking about it! I love hiking and camping SO MUCH! What am I doing in this life?! I wasn’t trying the pack on for my sake, because I love my pack and she has a lifetime warranty so I’ll probably be buried with her, but for my brother’s.

You see, one of my brothers has grown tired of his real life and he’s quitting his job to go travel the country for a few months before he settles down in a mountain state for good. I could not be more proud and excited for him. He’s going to hike and camp and fish and backpack and I get so excited talking to him about new gear my heart feels like it’s going to explode right out of my chest. I told three different (male) REI employees who tried to lead me to a woman’s pack that I was actually shopping for my brother who had never been backpacking before, and that he was quitting his job to go travel the country and hike and camp and fish and… did I mention that already?

I listened to FIRE (financial independence retire early) podcasts there and back again, as I always do when I exercise, and by the time I got home that whisper in my ear had become a dull roar. “DON’T YOU WANT TO GO LIVE IN YOUR TRUCK AND TRAVEL THE COUNTRY AND HIKE AND CAMP AND FISH AND BACKPACK WITH YOUR BROTHER WHO’S NEVER BEEN BEFORE?!?! HE NEEDS YOUR GUIDANCE!!! AND GANNETT SHOULD BE CLIMBED!!! AND ELBERT!!! AND KINGS AND BORAH!!!

I know I’m in trouble when Alexa plays Of Monsters and Men’s ‘King & Lionheart’ on repeat. If that song doesn’t make you want to submit your resignation, I don’t know what will. Maybe it’s actually Alexa who’s whispering to me.

You all know I live and die by the budget, so I thought I’d sit down and figure out what it would actually cost us to do exactly what the voice tells me. Longest… blog intro… ever…
Here’s our current budget: 

Rent/Utilities 1140
Groceries 375
Misc 225
Gift/Give 200
Gas- Truck 170
Gas- Car 100
Phone 81
Auto Ins 79
J Allow 50
G Allow 50
J Life Insurance 7
Healthcare 0
Work expenses 0
Plasma spend 0
Cash spend/withdrawals 0
Car maint 0
Truck maint 0
2477

If we couldn’t stay under budget and spent $2477/mo, we’re looking at needing $7,431 for another 13 week contract, just to exist. But what if we just changed our lifestyle instead? What if we didn’t take any other contract and moved out of this massively-inflated house and lived out of the back of the truck? Don’t be concerned, we’ve done this before.

The two big things that will change, obviously, are rent and gas money. We’ll still need gas money, of course, but I went ahead and planned a huge road trip just to see how much we might need.

 

These high points aren’t going to summit themselves.
We’ll need a Vegas break on our way home.

 

I over-estimated and said we’d drive about 6000 miles, which is probably way too much but you know how I like to over-budget. Back when I was single, on a nursing school break I did 10,000 miles in two months and loved every second of it, so 4000 miles less with an extra month might work. Or we might roll into Yellowstone and never drive more than 60 miles away from it. Who knows, let’s budget.

Our truck is a beauty, and efficient. Just not when it comes to gas. We have a 26 gallon tank and average about 15 mpg on the highway. For over-budgeting sake, let’s say she averages 12.5 mpg. GasBuddy tells me the cheapest gas in our area is $2.71/gallon, and the average price in the U.S. is $2.98/gal. Holey moley! I thought I was WAY over-estimating when I figured $3.00/gallon. Oh well, that’s what GasBuddy and FuelRewards are for, to save us money on gas, so I’m sticking with my $3.00 est and we’re driving 55 mph everywhere we go.

  • 26 gallon tank x 12.5 mpg = 325 miles/tank
  • 26 gallon tank x $3.00/gal = $78.00/tank
  • 6000 miles / 325 mi/tank = 18.46 tanks

Isn’t this fun? I freaking love math. And money is just basic math.

  • 18.46 tanks x $78.00/tank = $1439.88 

Geez, that’s not much more than a month of rent here. We can sleep in the back of the truck for free of course, but we might occasionally want a campground and flushing toilets, so let’s estimate the finest campgrounds in the National Park System are $20/night and we stay in them half the time.

  • $20/night x 15 nights = $300.00 / month

But what about showers and laundry and wifi? Why, hello Award Wallet, how many hotel points do we have?

 

What are we, millionaires?!

 

Jk, that includes our airline miles too. But we do have at least six free night stays between our Marriott, IHG, and Hyatt credit cards too, so I think we’ll be just fine.

This, boys and girls, is how dreams are made.

But what about Sheila, my beloved Subaru? We could store her somewhere, or we could just sell her and be done with it. Emotional attachment to things will only keep you shackled to those things. KBB estimates a 2006 Subaru Outback in good condition with 165k miles could bring in anywhere from $3057-$5430 on the private market. Let’s call it $4200. Anyone interested? I think she’s in very good condition, but for the sake of budgeting…

And how long are we talking about traveling here?

Well, we’re very fortunate that Greg is able to go home to North Dakota every fall to help his dad harvest, and that I have a temporary job waiting for me at the local health department there, so… Harvest generally starts around the end of September, beginning of October, and my contract is up the last week of June, so let’s say three full months, same as another contract. Our new we don’t have jobs or a home and live out of the back of our truck budget: 

Rent/Utilities 300
Groceries 375
Misc 225
Gift/Give 200
Gas- Truck 480
Gas- Car 0
Phone 81
Auto Ins 79
J Allow 50
G Allow 50
J Life Insurance 7
Healthcare 0
Work expenses 0
Plasma spend 0
Cash spend/withdrawals 0
Car maint 0
Truck maint 0
1847

 

Getting much better. But… maybe we won’t drive all over the country but do what I mentioned earlier and just stay around maybe the greatest area on the planet- the Wind Rivers, the Tetons, Yellowstone Park, the Beartooths, the Bob, and Glacier. We have lots of friends and family in those areas, and we’re excellent house guests. Let’s say we pay for lodging every third night instead of every other: 

 

Rent/Utilities 200
Groceries 375
Misc 225
Gift/Give 200
Gas- Truck 240
Gas- Car 0
Phone 81
Auto Ins 79
J Allow 50
G Allow 50
J Life Insurance 7
Healthcare 0
Work expenses 0
Plasma spend 0
Cash spend/withdrawals 0
Car maint 0
Truck maint 0
1507

 

If we sold Sheila for $4200, that would damn near cover the entire trip, and I’m quite sure I can find a way to save an extra $321 over the course of three months.

But what if we happen to make a few dollars on the road? What if people clicked through some affiliate links* on this blog ? What if Greg does online surveys while I write? What if someone hires me on Fiverr to make them a budget? Our possibilities are endless, and they have nothing to do with showing up to work 40 hours every week, selling our souls for the sake of a living.

But wait… what about the money we’d miss out on? Well yes, we’d leave our combined monthly incomes behind, which after maxing out our respective 401ks and paying our bills comes out to about $1100/month, which is a small ROI versus the cost of freedom. But… we would miss out on about $5300/month in 401k contributions, at least until they’re maxed out. But also… I get a 401k at the health department, so there’s still time to catch up! And we can work after farming!

This is why I keep track of our money. This is why we spend less, and save the leftovers, and why we invest before we ever spend. Not because we love money (which I most definitely do) but because money gives us the freedom to move about the country, or the world, on just any old whim.

Will I refuse an extension to this contract? Will I refuse to get another job if I’m not offered aforementioned extension? I don’t know yet, but it sure is fun to think about. And it sure makes going to work a lot easier, knowing I don’t have to be there.

The world is the back of our Toyota Tundra.

 

p.s. I’m pretending I never wrote I Got A Job! so don’t even bring it up. Poor Greg. At least I love hiking and camping and baseball!

* This shameless plug is never at any extra cost to my readers; I get paid by advertisers for promoting products I believe in and recommend. 

 

Here, enjoy some ‘King & Lionheart’. And Greg running from an Arctic Tern.

 

 

You have any big life dreams coming up? How did you prepare?

2 thoughts on “How Much Would It Cost NOT To Work This Summer?

  1. I am drooling over your high point list! We are spending the summer in the Northeast. We are both working travel contracts. But our days off will be filled with high points and other bucket list items. I love your inspiring posts. Go get it, girl!

    1. I’m drooling too! A GIRL CAN DREAM. Ahh, we loved New England’s high points, esp Katahdin and Marcy. Mt. Washington, however, can suck it.

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