How we paid $91,000 of debt while full time RVing

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Today I have a guest post from Julia Chickery of ChickerysTravels.com. She and her husband paid off a massive amount of debt while full time rving with their 5th wheel travel trailer. I love debt payoff stories because they are so inspiring! Anyone can pay off debt with the right mindset and some sacrifice. Here’s Julia’s story!

How they decided to start living in an RV full time

Three years ago we found ourselves at a crossroads in our lives. Our three sons had moved out on their own and we were completing our Air Force careers after 20 years. Our sons lived in different states, and after moving so much with the military, we didn’t feel tied down to any one area. We decided to leave behind our 2400 square foot home and start RV living to travel the country.

Looking back, we feel we made a financial mistake by purchasing a new, and rather expensive fifth wheel for RV living (44’ Heartland Cyclone Toyhauler) and truck (Chevy 3500 HD). We essentially traded our $2,300 house payment with our RV/truck payment and campground fees. We also had student loan debt and a timeshare that we still owed on.

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Why they decided to pay off debt fast while also full time RV living

Couple holding hands. They paid off $91,00 in debt while living in an RV

After 2 years of full time RVing, Sean read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover over the Christmas holidays in Dec 2017 and shared it with me. Shortly after that, we set a goal of being debt free within 2 years.

We’ve been working really hard and have paid off $91,000 in debt in last 12 months!

That debt was a combination of the following: 2014 Chevy 3500 HD diesel truck, Parent Plus Student Loans for our sons’ college, and a timeshare vacation condo.

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The best part about it is, we don’t really feel like we’ve sacrificed our standard of living to do it. We still stay in our preferred full hook-up campgrounds while full time RV living and go out to eat occasionally. The main thing is that we have become more intentional about our spending, making sure our money goes towards things that really matter to us.

One of the most important reasons we wanted to be debt free is to set a better example for our three sons who are young adults and just starting their careers.

Another reason is that we realized how much money we were wasting by paying on interest, instead of buying when we have the cash.

Their 4 strategies to debt payoff while living in an RV

Couple full time RV living with their 5th wheel in full-hookup campground
  1. We both work full-time while also full time RVing.

We’re in our 40s and are not ready to retire. We were both able to negotiated remote work arrangements with our employers, which allows us to put $5,000 per month toward debt.

We also started a small business, Chickery’s Travels, with a blog, podcast, YouTube Channel plus two books: Full-Time RV Finance and A Complete Novice’s Guide to RV Water System’s Preventive Maintenance.

To learn more about how to earn an income while living in an RV, see 5 Ways to Fund Full-Time Travel.

  1. We sold things we no longer use.

When we first downsized from our home and started living in an RV full time, we had 2 large storage units. This year we went through them to determine what was really important to us. As a result, we sold more than half of it and now only have one small storage unit.  We also had a Harley Davidson motorcycle that we didn’t use very often and sold that as well as a car. If you’re having trouble downsizing, check out our article on The 3 Areas That Make The Biggest Impact.

  1. We follow a budget.

Becoming more deliberate about our spending, and following a budget has had the greatest impact on our ability to pay off debt. Prior to this year, we kept a very loose budget: just a list of bills really. Now we have a monthly budget where we establish specific limits for every category of spending such as fuel, groceries, etc. using the free Everydollar app. It’s not really about sacrificing; it is about prioritizing. We love the saying, “You can afford anything, just not everything.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”We love the saying, “You can afford anything, just not everything.”#debt #payingdebt #debtfree” quote=”We love the saying, “You can afford anything, just not everything.””]

The great thing is, we decide what is important. Want to know more about budgeting for full time RV living, read our article, How Much Does It Cost to RV Full-Time?

  1. We look for ways to save money.

Along the way, we’ve found many ways to save money. For example, slowing down saves with monthly campground rates and less fuel. While we do have a budget for dining out, we save it for special occasions or restaurants we really enjoy rather than doing it out of convenience. We also don’t buy things on credit anymore so we don’t have to pay interest. For more ideas, see 7 Ways to Save on Full-Time RV Travel.

Why they love their life living in an RV full time

We aren’t escaping the constraints of society, we simply love the adventure and the ability to travel when we want. We still consider ourselves to be fully engaged in society with the added flexibility of being able to relocate when and where we want. As property owners and landowners for almost 20 years, we do not have a problem with the constraints placed on that ownership such as HOA or property taxes.

We’re not sure how long we will travel full-time in our RV. We don’t have an “end” date, but do believe in contingency plans.

We’re taking our time and enjoying this lifestyle and all that comes with it. We hope you will follow our adventure!

Check out this video from Chickery’s Travels!

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