Exit Strategy: What is yours? Is it to ride off into the sunset in your RV? Do you even have an Exit Strategy? If not, you should.
In my planning, I was so giddy with the shiny jewels of camping (Jackson Hole antlers, Balloon festival in New Mexico) that I almost forgot that last bit of planning – The Exit Strategy!
So, you probably have one, right? Here’s a couple scenarios that you might be considering:
1. Just Park it. Find one of the Goldilocks places you love the most and park the RV for good. You know, not too hot, not too cold, just right. Possibly near a college town and medical center? Cost associated would be the land and possibly having utilities installed (water, sewer, electricity, etc.). Or you can buy a pad site that is already set up for an RV. That cost should be still in your nest egg as you travelled. But prices vary based on amenities, communities and location. I just saw on Zillow a pad site with a small storage shed and spot for the RV in Alabama for $100k. That seems high to me but on the other hand, you can get a pad site in a 55+ community in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for under $20k. What is your budget for that type of retirement when you’re in your late 80’s and simple actions like just walking down the camper steps becomes a risky endeavor?
2. Buy a Park Unit in Arizona or Texas or Florida. You love the warmth and the sunsets and you can endure the heat in the summer, if there is air conditioning and internet! So that would be small house in ADDITION to parking for your rig. What is a budget for that? That could be a $200k chunk of change! Perhaps you settle into the house in your mid-eighties and use Amazon, PeaPod, Door Dash, etc., and maybe take the occasional trip in the RV. This initial expense and recurrent costs would come from your nest egg.
3. When you started full timing, you kept your primary home or your secondary vacation home and maybe rented it out while you traveled. So now that you’re getting off the road full time, you go there and stay. Again, near medical services and maybe even near family. This was a long term plan and was thought out BEFORE you even went out on the road. You already had a vacation home that was paid for and you rented it out (or not) while you traveled but you planned for it to be a place you could come home to after the RV life. Hopefully with no stairs! If paid in full already, you will still need to pay taxes and insurance, utilities, etc. You also have to figure out what to do with the RV – park it on the property if allowed by your HOA, pay to store it if you still plan on making short trips in it (an additional cost) or sell it.
4. Maybe you have a plan to move in with the kids. Maybe you can park the RV on their property and the RV becomes an In-Law suite. You have money set aside to do the improvements to your kid’s house to accommodate the rig set up.
5. OR ……… you get surprised by a tragic event while on the road and must figure it all out on the fly. Stuff happens. We’re not young chickens any more. Our health might not be ideal. Our bodies wear out. As humans, we don’t like to think about our mortality but it’s always hanging around the edges of our thoughts. Are you prepared? I will to dig deeper into this possibility later in this article.
The fact is, if you are living on the road, there is certainly a chance that you will die on the road. Especially if you are reaching 75 or 80 or 85 or above. I know this may not be what you thought the Exit Strategy was about, but it is. Being prepared to exit if the plan goes awry. And, as the saying goes “you know that you are over the hill, when your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fulfill”! There are many ‘old dogs’ out there on the road. What happens when your memory and reaction time start fading?
If you are in one of the first four examples above and something happens, it will be much clearer what the process is. You will have already exited the RV lifestyle. You will be at home if an ambulance is needed and you will have people and/or family around you to assist or family will drive up and have a place to park and a place to stay while they help you though recovery.
If you are on the road, it will be a bit hectic, to say the least.
One scenario on the road: Life is just great. You just get finished FaceTiming with the kids and grandkids and everybody expressed their love. You enjoy a glass of wine, get ready for bed and settle in for a little reading. As you lay down to sleep, you tell each other how much you love each other, how awesome this lifestyle is and say goodnight. But unfortunately, one of you don’t wake up in the morning. It sad to think about but it happens.
Well, as peaceful as that may sound; how do you cope with it? You didn’t see it coming. You will be at a campsite in Tennessee or wherever and were expected to leave tomorrow. Now what do you have to do? Call the Camp Host. Call an ambulance, deal with a coroner. You must take the toad and go to town. Maybe you have a family plot in another state. How do you get your spouse there? You have a lot of phone calls to make. Your kids will be worried about you. Offering to fly to you. And that’s the easiest, smoothest version.
Imagine another version that you are at a truck stop, on the way to the next campsite. And what if it is the spouse that controlled the finances in your family, the one that made all the arrangement to pay the bills, the one that knows where the life insurance is? What if the surviving spouse doesn’t know how to drive the rig? How will they deal when the unexpected happens?
I am here to tell you how important it is to have a plan for the unexpected. All those financial details about Campsite memberships and monthly budget that we wrote about in the first article seem meaningless in the face of your life change at that moment. But planning here is necessary if you are on the road in those Golden Years.
So what do you do? You contact your Financial Advisor.
Your Financial Advisor (and yes you should have one) will be the focal point to help with your Life Insurance, Long Term Care Insurance, Annuities, IRA’s and Contact information. When the unexpected happens, they will be the one spot to fax the death certificate to and they will have everything moved to your name. I know there is an old school philosophy not to have all your eggs in one basket; but you really need all the baskets on the same porch. Your advisor can become your ‘Agent of Record’ on all the old polices and accounts. Nothing needs to change on how the accounts are set up, they are just linked to one home spot. So, for instance, that Life insurance Policy that you bought 20 years ago which was linked to the agent that sold it to you – if you even remember who that was – it will be associated with the Advisor, who can call on your behalf, conference the spouse in on the line, and guide the conversation during this tough time.
If the survivor is not the financial person in the household, wouldn’t it be great to know there’s only one phone call to make regarding finances? Not an 800 number, by the way. A direct number to your Financial Advisor who is intimately aware your personal financial situation and understands your wants and needs. When you get that Death Certificate from Tennessee, you can stop at a local office and have it scanned and all accounts will be put into the survivors name. You will have a someone looking after your best interest and will take the Death Certificate and execute the Life Insurance Policy or the get the Pension plan transferred, etc. You can easily see what a a benefit that would be.
If whoever controlled the finances, linked all those accounts under the ‘porch’ of an Advisor, they would still control everything while living and then take care of their spouse in Death and not leave the surviving spouse with uncertainty in a tough time.
My hope is that you already have a trusted Financial Advisor. You will not regret it if you find yourself in this precarious situation. He/She will be a blessing during this stressful time.
If you don’t already have one, I would highly recommend getting one. Please look for a trusted source. Do your research. If you don’t know where to turn, I would be glad to help. I am passionate about camping, understand your situation much more than most Financial Planners would and it would be my honor. Edward Jones has 20,000 local offices across the US and Canada. A personal connection with an advisor will be so valuable and help in the ease of transition. A good advisor will help with ALL aspects of your trip on the wide-open road. They will ask the right questions to help you have a PLAN in case something happens while you are still on the road.
The keys take-aways for this article are:
- Discuss these potential situations before they occur.
- Each spouse should learn to drive the rig or have an emergency membership that will assist.
- Consolidate your holdings for simplicity in case of such emergencies to minimize stress.
I hope this article was helpful to you as you take steps to plan and do what is important to you! If you have ANY questions, regardless of how big or how small, please do not hesitate to contact me. It would be my honor to help in any way I can.