We’re a little embarrassed to admit that we didn’t get serious about paying off debt until 2017. Up to that point we were living the standard American lifestyle of buying things on credit (including our truck & RV) and making payments. Now we’re sharing our story in hopes it will help others like us.
I guess the bigger issue is how we got into this much debt to begin with! It is pretty sad when we look back at it now. When we first decided to RV full-time almost five years ago we purchased a very large Fifth Wheel (44’ Heartland Cyclone Toyhauler) and truck (Chevy 3500 HD) brand new. Instead of saving money, we essentially traded our $2,300 house payment with RV/truck payment and campground fees. We also had some credit card debt and a Parent Plus Student Load.
It wasn’t until 2 ½ years later in Dec 2016 when we watched a documentary on debt in America that we set a goal of being debt free.
We got serious about paying off debt and in the last 2 years we have paid $139,000. We could have paid off more, but I (Julie) am a bit of a princess and didn’t want to sacrifice my standard of living too much. We still stay in our preferred type of campground, which is full hook-up with paved pads, WiFi, heated pools, and hot tubs. We still go out to eat and have fun, but we do prioritize and make sure we keep our eye on the prize.
Debt Reduction Techniques
Here is what we have done to allow us to live the life we choose while working towards our financial goals.
1. We kept working.
We started our full-time RV journey almost 5 years ago with both of us working as full-time employees. In the last two years, we’ve transitioned to part-time and freelance work to allow us to grow our business. Click here to read more about how we earn an income on the road (and how you can too).
2. We sold stuff.
When we first moved out of our home 4 ½ years ago, we had 2 large storage units. After the first 2 years, we went back through our stuff and reassessed what was really important to us. We sold the items we no longer needed and now have one small storage unit. The largest item we sold was our Harley Trike because we were just not using it often enough to continue to justify towing it around the country with us. If you’re having trouble downsizing, see our article on The 3 Areas That Make The Biggest Impact.
3. We budget every dollar.
This, by far, is the most important part of our financial strategy. Before starting our debt free journey two years ago, we kept a very loose budget. It was really just a list of bills to make sure we paid them on time. What we didn’t really do was track what we did with the rest of our income. This made it very easy to lose sight of how much money we were spending. Now we have a monthly budget that is geared towards our goals. It accounts for every penny of income. We use the Everydollar app to track spending. It’s not really about sacrificing; it is about prioritizing. We love the saying, “You can afford anything, just not everything.” The great thing is, you decide what is important. Want to know more about budgeting for the RV lifestyle, read our article, How Much Does It Cost to RV Full-Time?
Click here to get our FREE full-time travel budgeting worksheets.
4. We have developed some strategies for saving money.
Along the way, we’ve found the methods that work for us to save money. For example, traveling slowly is a double saving on both campgrounds (with monthly rates) and fuel (by consuming less). We also don’t buy things on credit anymore so we don’t have to pay interest. For more ideas, see our article: 7 Ways to Save on Full-Time RV Travel.
Want to Learn More?
If you’d like to learn more about paying off debt, purchasing an RV, budgeting for the RV lifestyle, earning an income on the road, and saving money while traveling full-time, check out our program Full-Time RV Finance.
Kelly McDaniel says
GREATA article guys! We have heard many success stories as a Result old Dave Ramsey’s program. It’s good to hear how you’ve applied to to the RV lifestyle.
As I read your article I saw ourselves in your journey. We pay on time and our credit is good, but we do not count every dollar anymore. The first 6-8 months of RVing (We were “most of the timers” – now full time for 8 months) we tracked every dollar and mile, to the point where I was able to get a cost per mile. It was helpful, but we took our eye off the ball. It was for estimating the cost of travel more than actually budgeting our $$.
So, I now plan to download your spreadsheet budget and look at Dave’s plan in earnest.
Thanks for the article and we appreciate what you guys do!
Kelly & Kathy McDaniel
“Away We Go 2.0!”
We’ll Catch You Down The Road
Julie Chickery says
So glad you found it helpful! One thing that really keeps us on track is listening to Dave’s podcast when we’re driving. Just reminds us of our goals.
That’s amazing that you were able to pay off so much debt in such a short time. I’ve never been good at budgeting and it is something I definitely need to work on.
Julie Chickery says
Just paying attention to it, being mindful in our spending, and actually setting the goal made all the difference.
Such a great post and super inspiring and motivating to see what y’all have accomplished! It’s also re-inspired me to start listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcast, it’s been a while but I was always extra motivated when we would listen to his audiobooks or podcasts while driving.