Ask me anything! All the answers
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Last week, I published a post asking for questions about, well, anything. The deal was simple: The floor is open to any appropriate question, and I'll answer as honestly as I can. Today, I answer them.
Ready? Here we go. All questions will be italicized. My answers are provided below each question.
Slow Dad asked:
Is that YouTube video really you? The one with the wet suit, the gallon of baby oil, and the teaspoon of sand. If it is then I respect your flexibility;-)
Why thank you, sir! Though blowing my life savings on baby oil seems foolish, the YouTube views are just top notch. :)
As an escapee programmer what skills/technologies would you steer a high schooler towards to maximise both earnings potential and career longevity should they live in a high wage, high cost of living part of the world?
The programming world is an interesting one. There are so many employers out there who basically want you to "know" just about everything - Java, C++, C#, Python and, of course, web-oriented languages like PHP, CSS and a solid grasp of usability. To me, this can't reasonably be required from a job candidate.
In my experience, web developers are a dime-a-dozen. Everybody knows how to build a web site. The barrier to entry with web development is much lower than a C++ (or more likely, C#) programmer. As such, web developers don't tend to have quite the job security and salary that GOOD programmers in desktop-based compiled languages do - at least in my experience. The market is flooded with web devs. Java is a very popular language that many organizations need help with.
Java is a very popular language that many organizations use. I have found that Java is a solid foundational language on which to build a more solid portfolio of knowledge that includes similar languages, like C#. In other words, if you know Java, you'll probably be able to pick up and run with any high-level language. Though I'm personally not a huge fan of Java, it's a popular choice among organizations and a great foundation on which to build a career with in IT.
To the high school student: A portfolio of projects often help. Saying that you "know" a language is much different from demonstrating your experience. Personal projects help get your foot in the door at companies. Give yourself increasingly complex projects to complete. Save your best work and be prepared to show and discuss them.
ESI Money asked:
What are your future travel plans? (key places you want to be sure and visit)
In the United States, we plan to stay out west for a while and see as much as we can out here. We've already checked major landmarks off of our list - like Bryce Canyon, for example. But, the Teton Mountains are on our list for the very near future. I've seen the Rockies (lived in Colorado Springs for several years), but I've never seen the Tetons.
In the future, we'd like to make the Maine -> Florida trek, starting in the fall and slowly cruising into Florida as winter sets in. Thereafter, we're not really sure. We know that international travel is in our future. We might caravan down into South America with a smaller Class B-type of RV. But, that's a ways into the future.
What are the worst parts of living in an Airstream (there have to be some downsides, right)? My parents are considering an RV and would like to know what they’re in for.
To me, it's dirt. The rumors about keeping your RV clean are true. It's tough, especially when you boondock like we do out in the middle of nowhere. Granted - it doesn't take long to clean something as small as this, but you gotta do it often. Very often.
Also, things happen. We've scrapped bottom trying to get into a spot. We've also backed into a rock that was covered by tall grass that we didn't see, causing some small damage to the rear of the Airstream. Basically, unless you're campground surfing out here, things will happen. Damage is bound to occur. You need to be prepared for that and take it in stride. When your house moves all the time, things can and do break. It's all a part of the lifestyle.
I know you do some work on the side these days — is that enough to cover your annual expenses (letting your investments grow) or are you pulling from investments to fund retirement?
Combined, we earn somewhere in the neighborhood of a third of our living expenses. Keep in mind that we planned on ZERO income post-retirement, so anything that we earn now is just icing on the cake. We do not depend on this income to sustain our lifestyle. The remaining balance we pull from our Ally savings account, which currently holds about three years of living expenses. Yes, we keep a lot of cash.
The Patriots: greatest team ever because of skill or cheating?
Ha! You can only cheat so much when it comes to professional sports. Though I'm not a Patriots fan, my money's on skill. :)
I am about to retire early myself and plan to begin my own blog of my adventures. What advice can you provide regarding PRIVACY. You obviously are very transparent but at the same time a blogger such as yourself is concerned about you and your wife’s personal safety as well as financial safety.
Excellent question, and this really comes down to personal preference. Like you said, I'm a pretty open blogger. We publish our full net worths. Our real names. Our locations. But, we're definitely concerned about our personal safety and privacy. There are some techniques that you can use to keep your blogging environment more private.
For example, use privacy protection on your domain name. Anybody can look up who registered a domain name, and unless privacy protection is enabled (which is generally offered by the domain registrar), your personal details - including your address - will be public.
Be careful what you talk about and say both on your blog as well as in comments or forums. A properly motivated person can scour the Internet for YOUR comments and begin to link pieces of the puzzle together. Seemingly innocent things you've said in different contexts online can, if brought together, reveal information that you may not want public. Bottom line: Be careful, but not just on your blog. Be careful with ALL your endeavors online.
And this includes social media, especially Facebook. If you have a personal Facebook account and connect that up in any way with your blog, you risk compromise. Even a mere mention of your blog on Facebook could be enough.
If you don't want it known, NEVER talk or write about it.
I love the idea of your airstream, your dogs, your outdoor adventures. Is there space for firearms in an RV?
Yup - we have two. I've found that you can prioritize space for almost anything that you'd like to bring. If you're a hunter, you'll be able to find space for rifles and shotguns in most RVs.
Aren’t you at all concerned about how inflation ( consumer goods, fuel, AND cost of healthcare) may negatively affect your early retirement?
Nah...that's the cost of doing business as an early retiree. While we can't control inflation, we can control what we buy, when we buy it and how much we earn post-retirement. Inflation won't keep us from pursuing our chosen lifestyle.
What programming languages do you see being valuable over the next 5-10 years?
In my view, a language is a language is a language...meaning, the language itself isn't as important as knowing how to write computer code. In other words, once you can write competently in one language, you'll be able to jump over to another fairly easily. It's just learning slightly new syntax.
If I had to pick out a specific language, Java would probably be my choice. Java is a very, very popular language choice among many organizations. C# might come in a close second depending on the organization.
My recommendation to your son: Encourage him to look at job openings in his chosen field of interest - not so he can actually apply for the job yet, but to get a feel for what those companies are looking for out of their candidates. He might find that Java isn't as prevalent in his ideal industry. Then again, it might be. Or if he has an interest in gaming design, for example (highly, highly, highly competitive field, BTW!), then companies might want more knowledge in spatial design, physics and other qualities specific to that industry.
What’s the family and in-laws think of the whole early retirement, traveling in an Airstream?
Both families have been incredibly supportive of our chosen lifestyle. My folks RVed full-time for 12 years (and my dad retired at 49), so they already had experience in this sort of thing. This kind of thing was newer to my in-laws, but they too were supportive and encouraging throughout the entire process. They were probably a little confused at first about why we would choose to downsize this much, but I think they've gotten used to it. :)
Route to Retire asked:
What have you run into since retiring that isn’t as good as you had hoped or is just completely unexpected in a not-so-good way?
That's a damn good question, and a tough one to answer. Early retirement has absolutely been the best decision that I've ever made. Not once have I ever wished that I was working again. Half the time, I don't even know what day of the week it is. While there are down sides to living a life on the road, I just can't think of any down side to retiring early. We don't need the money. I don't need a job to fill my time. There's nothing that a job could possibly provide that I'd consider being an improvement over our current lifestyle.
Fervent Finance asked:
I believe kids aren’t in your future. Have you had a vasectomy?
Ha! I like your style - but no, haven't taken that plunge. But you are 100% correct, kids are definitely not in our future. In fact, the absence of children is a huge contributing factor to our early retirement.
Where are you monies invested? A search through your blogs suggests they are at Vanguard, can you be more specific?
The large majority of our investments are in Vanguard and Fidelity.
I am a big fan of targeted retirement accounts. Funds are automatically diversified and risk-managed based on the "retirement" year. The further away from the target year, the greater percentage of stocks to bonds. The closer we get to the target year, the more our investments get transferred to less risky bonds. We also invest in LifeStrategy Growth Funds, Money Market funds and a wide variety of other mutual funds through a Vanguard brokerage account.
How much of your savings are in retirement vs non-retirement accounts? I ask because we will be fully FIRE’d at the end of the year and we are building our plan for living in retirement without access to our retirement funds for about 10 years.
It's about a 70/30 split retirement to non-retirement. One strategy that we used before retirement is establishing three years of living expenses in an Ally savings account. This is way more cash than most people would care to keep, but it works for us by keeping our withdrawal strategy dirt simple. We'll also use the Roth IRA conversion ladder strategy later in life to gain access to our retirement funds without incurring a penalty.
We also earn a small income through side hustles that I do. It funds about a third of our living expenses at the moment. It's purely for fun, though - we don't NEED this additional money, but it's always nice to have.
Do you have any type of fitness routine now that you do not go to a gym?
I use resistance bands for weight training. They work fairly well, though it's not a 1-to-1 comparison to the gym. I do miss the gym sometimes! We also hike and bike for additional cardio-type exercise.
Do you have a favorite beer?
I like ambers. My all-time favorite beer is the Deep Canyon Amber from Thunder Canyon Brewery in Tucson, AZ. When no ambers are available, you will generally find me sipping a porter or a stout.
What’s Courtney’s biggest pet peeve with you?
Wow, good question! It's probably a combination of me not putting things fully away and always forgetting to lock the door at night. I will generally put objects in the vicinity of where they go, but for some reason, they generally don't actually end up back where they belong. :)
Are you coming to Michigan?
We will, but not sure when yet (perhaps 2019). We plan to make a Maine to Florida trip at some point, and we will probably cross the U.S. West to East using the northern route. I have some family in Michigan as well that I could visit, as well as several blogging buddies. ;)
Are you getting T-shirts? ?
Hell yeah. Still sourcing them, but it'll happen.
Plan Invest Escape asked:
What set of cirumstances would lead you back to the (corporate) workplace?
Great question! I consider going back into the workforce to a full-time position to be an utter failure at early retirement. This is absolutely the last resort. If this happens, it's because we screwed up, big time. Shit. Fan. Meet.
What would need to happen? We'd need to run out of money because of some combination of our spending or the market completely crashing. One of the qualities that my wife and I have is flexibility, and we are determined to stay as flexible as possible as to avoid getting anywhere close to heading back to work. This could mean spending less, but it could also send us abroad to live in less expensive areas of the world, like Thailand or Costa Rica. We'd move overseas before accepting a fate that included full-time jobs.
We would also consider work camping for a summer to help save some cash.
In short, things would have to go really bad. Not only would our money need to run dry, but we'd also need no prospects for any other type of work outside of corporate America. Part-time gigs before our money runs completely out might be in order. More or less, we would see it coming - at least in theory.
If we're forced back into corporate America, I would definitely consider that to be my biggest personal failure.
Now that you’re living in a small space, do you and your wife sometimes feel that you are spending too much time together? How do you find “me time?”
This is a common question, but also a good one. We haven't felt that we spend too much time together - yet. One technique that helps is - although we are physically close to one another during the day, we do separate things. The wife is generally on the couch with our dogs. She knits. Or reads. Or works on YouTube. I am at the desk doing blog stuff and other development.
We each do our separate thing often with headphones on because we're listening to music or vegging out to some YouTube videos. We give ourselves the space we need to feel productive even in a space as small as this one.
About how many hours do you usually do “work” (for yourself) – for Rockstar Finance, etc. What number of hours is too many?
I generally work in the neighborhood of 10 to 15 hours a week doing Rockstar stuff - every hour I quite literally love. I spend another couple hours a week blogging, which isn't nearly as much as I anticipated before I called it quits. YouTube takes up another few hours every week as I edit and put together videos for our YouTube channel. As you can see, I still spend a lot of time at the computer, but it's in support of things that I actively enjoy.
It's tough to put my finger on how many hours would be too many. I go based on feel. If I feel like I'm productive, I can work for hours and hours and not feel like I'm doing "work". My priority is doing the things that I enjoy during the day both inside and outside of the Airstream. As long as I still have time to hike and bike, explore cities and nearby wilderness and still get work done at the computer without feeling burned out or disengaged, I'll be a happy camper. So far, that balance is working out nicely.
Matt Spillar asked:
Where is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled, and where is the place you’re most excited to go?
Favorite place is probably Bryce Canyon in Utah. Amazing landscape. As for the place that I'm most excited to go - Seattle. Believe it or not, I've never been to Seattle. We probably won't make it there this year, but definitely next year.
Favorite bands/type of music?
Honestly, I don't listen to much music especially outside of the gym. But, I'll usually tune Pandora to Daughtry / David Cook / Breaking Benjamin, etc when I need a tune to work out to.
If you could travel back in time and tell your 16 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Stop spending so much damn money. I spent a lot of money even though I had a budget. I considered everything left over to be "free money" and spent it accordingly. Bad, bad habit.
If you had to live somewhere long term again (other than Arizona) where would it be?
I'm not sure I can answer that question yet because there's so much of this country (and the world) that I haven't yet seen. I love the northern Oregon coast in the summer, but the winters would probably get to me. I could see us maintaining two residences - one in the northwest for the summer along the coast and another somewhere down south.
If y’all wanted to start travelling internationally (EUROPE, ASIA), what would you do with your airstream, truck and belongings?
We probably won't consider international travel until we no longer want to live in the Airstream. We'd sell the Airstream and perhaps the truck and take off for a while. We can probably bum some space to store things at friends and family's places, but we may also use that opportunity to downsize by selling the majority of our things. Of course, that's pretty far off in the future so it is tough to say with any degree of certainty exactly how all that would play out.
Have y’all ever considered buying a boat and doing the “great loop”?
There is no way we'd live on a boat. We might spend a couple days on a boat, but to own one and maintain it? There's no way that will ever happen. We just aren't boaters. Boats are expensive, so for us, the cost would not be worth it.
I’ve noticed that you and many others like Personal Capital. I can’t get past the idea that it is an unnecessary risk to have all that financial info kept in one location. Why do you think the reward outweighs the risk?
I don't see using Personal Capital as much of a risk. It is true that all your financial account information is being funneled through a single source, but there's also a TON of liability that the company holds because of the seriousness of that data. It is in their best interest to design the safest possible environment to access and bring in your account details.
Moreover, using Personal Capital to access your financial information is arguably safer than logging into your bank or investment institution yourself. Use their encrypted network of communication. It also helps me monitor what's going on in my financial life without logging into a bunch of different web sites and sending usernames and passwords across the wire (encrypted, of course).
The visibility that applications like Personal Capital provide is just outstanding. It shows us where all of our money is. The types of investments. Returns. Cash flow. All in one integrated dashboard. To me, that kind of simplicity is definitely worth the effort and risk.
Working Optional asked:
Future travel plans – both w/ and w/o the Airstream?
Side hustles? Time vs $ (if applicable)?
What isn’t as rosy about early retirement?
Investments – Where/What?
We'll be in the United States for the foreseeable future. Like I've said in answers to other questions, we'd like to do the Maine -> Florida trek one of these years. Other than that, we don't have specific waypoints. We just want to see whatever we can. Unlike many other travelers, our goal isn't to see "every national park" or something like that. We just go with the flow. Once the Airstream is gone, we might set our sights internationally and look at travel throughout Asia and South America. Europe might also happen, but that'll be a more expensive proposition.
Regarding side hustles - I work with J$ with Rockstar Finance, as well as maintain a YouTube channel with my wife. I thoroughly enjoy every minute that I spend on these things, but the moment that I stop enjoying them, I'll also stop doing them.
As far as I'm concerned, there's no downside to early retirement. None. I came from the information technology sector that I didn't enjoy working in, so I am probably a little more unique here. Other than the fact that I no longer have a huge income coming in, there's very little not to like about getting up whenever I darn well please and having the entire day to spend as I like.
I'll direct you to an earlier question about investments. We take the easy approach with this stuff and lean on targeted retirement accounts and mutual funds. We don't day trade or pick stocks.
I feel like a retirement needs at least 3 legs…ie a little rental income, brokerage dividend income and then also our IRA (for me) and my husbands 403b. I struggle with should we invest less in the brokerage and more into the husband’s ROTH…. which offers less options. How do you decide? Especially now that you are retired but have some blog income?
At the moment, we aren't actively investing. We are living off of whatever we earn online and from our checking account, which occasionally gets supplemented by our Ally savings account. So for us, the answer is simple: We aren't adding to our investments. We aren't withdrawing, either, and that's the big one for us. We'd like to wait as long as possible before tapping into our investments.
I've always been a "keep it simple" kind of person. I didn't overthink investing. We opened a brokerage account and funneled everything outside of 401k investing straight into that. We did max out our Roths while working.
John Odorzynski asked:
What feedback has your friends and family given you about retiring at 35? I get really strange looks when I tell people that I don’t plan on going back to work at 37.
The family has been very supportive. My dad retired early too (at 49) and traveled the country full-time, so they were completely onboard. My in-laws were a little more surprised by it, but they too have been incredibly supportive throughout this process.
As for friends, that's a mixed back. None of my friends have been hostile or unsupportive, but it's clear that they either won't, or can't, do anything even close to what we are doing. My friends generally make good money and, therefore, they tend to spend that money. They see themselves living the traditional life of a 40-year career and retiring somewhere in their 60s. And, I don't begrudge them for that decision. It's their life and that's fine.
All in all, even though some people don't understand how I could retire THIS early, they've all been fairly supportive.
I would like to know more about traveling with dogs and pet friendly travel. Are there any restrictions on taking your dogs on trails in national parks in the US? Any other advice/info you can share about traveling with dogs in an RV/trailer.
Good question - as you know, we have two rescue dogs that travel with us. Unfortunately, there are typically restrictions on national park trails, so we don't even try anymore. State parks are a mixed bag - just depends on the trail. We hiked many trails along the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon where leashed dogs ARE allowed. So, you can definitely find more dog-friendly trails.
I will add that most areas have been very dog-friendly. People are walking dogs around most cities and many restaurants will also allow you to bring your dogs in. No campground has ever refused to accept our dogs, either.
How did you decide how much to put into retirement accounts vs. ‘taxable’ investments? What is your draw-down strategy?
Both my wife and I always maxed out our retirement accounts when we worked full-time jobs. Your 401k will reduce your taxable income and the Roth provides an avenue to withdraw tax-free when the time comes. We plan on using the Roth conversion ladder at some point in the future once we exhaust our Ally savings account.
We have three years of living expenses saved in an interest-bearing Ally savings account, and that is primarily what we are living off of (aside from any income from the blog and other side hustles). The goal is to not touch our investments for as long as possible. We spend in the neighborhood of $25,000 to $30,000 a year.
Once we exhaust the Ally account, we will begin using the Roth conversion ladder to tap into those funds that were invested previously for our living expenses - as needed. Any income we generate will be used first, of course. We'll only tap into our investments for additional funds needed beyond what we may earn in the future.
What camera do you use for filming your videos?
I use the Sony A6300 mirrorless digital camera - very often with the Sony 18-105 f/4 OSS lens. It's a perfect combination for me. It's light weight, high quality and keeps up with whatever it is that I'm doing.
What are your political views and how do they relate to your early retirement lifestyle? Not so much as who you vote for but what do you stand for.
I am a Libertarian through and through. I believe in less government interference both economically as well as socially and generally oppose government spending on, well, the majority of what the government spends our money on. Our two-party system is an absolute wreck - thankfully, we still live in one of the freest countries in the world...for now.
What is your take on Thousand Trails? We are researching (probably too much) to become full time.
It's funny that you ask about Thousand Trails - we are thinking about buying their yearly membership next year, which entitles us to 30 free nights of camping. Every night thereafter is in the neighborhood of $4 to $7 a night - for full hookups. You buy for a particular region of the United States. We'd most likely opt for the northwest, but we'll see. If you stay at Thousand Trails campgrounds enough, it is definitely worth the expense.
Have ya'll come up with a number that if your investments got down to that you would have to resort to plan B and go back to work? This is our biggest fear and the reason we suffer with the ONE MORE YEAR problem.
Not really. I think if that time ever comes, we will just implicitly know when we need to make a decision about what we do next. It might include more work, but it could also include living overseas for a while in less costly areas of the world. At this point, nothing is off the table.
Mr. In The Wheat asked:
Having been in the RV for awhile are you now interested in either renting a place for say 3 months a year to get a break from the RV and close quarters? Or alternately buying a small place in a LCOL area? Or if you plan to keep RVing, how long do you currently expect to do that? Cheers.
We've thought about this off and on, actually. We have no immediate plans to settle down anywhere for more than a few weeks at a time. I definitely think that time will come, though. While we love to travel, we also do see the wisdom in just chillin' in a place for some time before moving on to something else. Not sure when that time will come, though. It's not here quite yet.
We have a house we love, I like the idea of traveling and so on, just wondering why you didn’t work another year or so and have a home base to come back to and rent your house out or something.
Neither my wife nor I had any particular interest in keeping a home base. I tried my hand in the rental game, but I quickly learned that I'm not a landlord. I have no interest in that and don't have any desire to do it again. For us, it made more sense to sell both of our homes, pocket the cash, and just set sail. Some time in the future we might own again. We also might rent instead. Not sure yet.
Jeff from Jersey asked:
1. Any plans on traveling to the East Coast?
2. Any big beer trends you are noticing on your travels? We are seeing a tremendous amount of breweries in the Northeast brewing these “hazy, mildly bitter” IPAs. Was wondering what you are seeing out West.
3. How much cash do you keep on hand?
4. With your travels so far, have you visited any places you would like to invest in local real estate?
1: Yep, but it won't be for another couple of years yet. We love the west coast and plan to see as much of the country out here first. We know the East will be a much more expensive proposition for us, and both of us lived out there before and aren't in any real hurry to return. :)
2: The Northwest is IPA country, unfortunately. I am definitely not an IPA person. I just don't like the hops. I'd rather taste the BEER than the hops, so I much prefer ambers and porters/stouts to IPAs.
3: You mean in the Airstream, or just cash in general in the greater scheme of our investments? We have three years of living expenses saved up in an Ally savings account. We actually keep very little cash physically on us.
4: Not yet. We talk about perhaps settling down on the beach somewhere, but we aren't sure where yet. There is still way more of the country to see before we even consider something like this again.
Do you think it wise to buy a home in this market?
If I were a betting man, I'd wait until the market comes back down to reality. But keep in mind that I am NOT a real estate investor. I don't keep up with the real estate market at all, so take my advice with a giant grain of salt.
A mortgage is people's largest debts - something that amounts in many cases to hundreds of thousands of dollars. To me, that's a HELL of a lot of money, and probably a debt that I will never accept again unless it makes sense to do so. If you have a choice to avoid a huge mortgage, I'd definitely go that route. Once our mortgages were complete, our savings rate skyrocketed and so did our net worth. It played a huge part in our retirement this early in life.
How long do you think you will enjoy living in a trailer in the great wide wilderness? I can certainly see doing it for a year or two for a sabbatical, but I would want to rejoin society at some point.
Very good question, and one that we ask ourselves every once in a while. Right now we have no real desire to settle down, but I could see in another couple of years taking it a bit slower. We have discussed future plans of spending the entire summer in a place like Seattle and the winters down south. We know that we'd like to be by the ocean. It will happen eventually, but it's tough to put a finger on exactly when.
Primal Prosperity asked:
What is your general breakdown of your $30k per year expenses?
Most of our expenses go towards food and healthcare (through Liberty Health Share). Close to 50%, combined. Then, our diesel bill every month really depends on how much we drive. Campground fees are budgeted at about $400 / month, but we rarely hit that because we're boondocking for free so much. The summers will be more expensive in general due to the heat and our need for hookups in order to run our A/C.
Do you think you will ever consider living in a brick and mortar residence again in the future? If so, would you probably buy or rent?
We will most likely live in a brick and mortar house at some point in the future. At this point, though, we just don't know when. I have absolutely no interest in owning property again, but it might happen if it makes the most sense at the time that we're looking for a place. That's so far off, though, that it is tough for me to speculate at the moment. A traditional home will happen, eventually.
How old are your dogs?
Both of our dogs are rescued, so we're unsure exactly how old they are. We believe that our Poodle is around 11 and our white boxer is around four. Our 11-year-old poodle is showing no signs of age at the moment, though. She just loves to eat.
Primal followed up with a few more:
When you are regularly at a gym:
– What is your favorite body part to work and what specific exercises? How many reps and sets, etc…
– Does Courtney lift too?
– I know you mentioned mostly vegan at home, but do you do any other eating patterns? i.e. IIFYM, IF, OMAD, clean/intuitive eating, etc…
My favorite body part depended on my mood a lot of the time, hehe. It started out as chest but then moved up to shoulders. Once I get back in the gym (this fall for a few months), I'm sure I'll pick a new favorite. Typical guy to favor his upper body... :)
Regarding reps and sets, I always liked to mix it up to keep myself off guard. Sometimes, I'd do three or four sets of 10. Other times, I'd do 10 sets of 10 in rapid succession for a total of 100 reps. I'd go slow some of the time and fast other times. Nearly every time I set foot in the gym, I tried something different based on how I felt at the time. If I felt strong, I wouldn't stop at the societally-approved three sets of 10. I knew when I was getting a good workout.
One of my favorite exercises was the old-fashioned lateral raise to hit the medial head of the delt (shoulder). Though the shoulder press is generally considered to be the "mass builder", using good form on the lateral raise definitely increased my shoulder size when I was in there every day. I also enjoyed front raises, but using a neutral grip instead of the traditional palms-down pronated position.
Courtney used to lift with me but stopped when she was putting in some overtime at work before we left in April. When we return to Tucson this fall, she's threatening to lift with me again. So, we'll see.
Regarding our diet, we eat as cleanly as we can, though we don't follow any special eating regimens. Courtney is gluten and dairy free due to her headaches, so she's more strict than I am. I've tried intermittent fasting and have had some success. In fact, I plan to re-engage with IF once we're back in Tucson after FinCon17. We're going to Puerto Vallarta, MX in January of 2018, so I want to make sure my "beach body" is on point!
Get Rich Quick'ish asked:
Do you HATE to lose, or do you LOVE to win?
I hate to lose. In an earlier life, I was much more competitive than I am now. Over the years, though, I've learned that "winning" most things just doesn't matter. You don't need to be perfect. You don't need to finish first. It's the 80/20 principle, and I follow that as much as I can. Maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses, but when it comes to finishing first...I literally couldn't care less.
How do you maintain those close personal connections with others because you are traveling full time? Skype, etc are okay but what about physically getting together with your close friends and family?
Excellent question. With friends, it's tough. We haven't been back to Tucson since we left and haven't seen any of my friends, nor Courtney her's, since we set sail April 1st. We do plan to return in the fall, though. But aside from that, there's no getting around the fact that you just won't see your friends nearly as much - if at all - after deciding to full-time RV. Family would be the same way if they lived close to you while stationary.
For me, though, we've seen my family more often than we did while stationary. They live in an area of the country that's easy for us to get to (Utah). The nice thing about this lifestyle is we can be anywhere. In fact, we've planned a couple of family get-togethers where we'll travel in our Airstream to join them. We just spent two weeks on the Oregon coast with my in-laws (and my folks joined us for a couple of days). We plan to do the same in early September in the Teton mountains.
I haven't Skyped with anyone. Unless we are face-to-face, I don't really engage in visual communication. It's just not my style.
And so, while we don't see each other as often, the time that we do spend together is much more meaningful, and we get to do it in more fun places around the country. We plan for a couple of trips a year where they will simply meet us somewhere that we both want to visit. Next year, for example, we're planning a couple weeks around Glacier National Park. This is a super unique and, if you ask me, a much more fun way to spend time together - even if it's not nearly as often.
The Vigilante asked:
Very important question. Quite possibly the most important and deep of all the questions posited so far. Please be completely honest in your response to this inquiry of the utmost importance.
Did you like the ending of How I Met Your Mother, or did Robin not really deserve it?
Ha! Honestly, I love the show, but we don't watch any television in the RV. Thus, I regrettably can't answer your question. Though, I can't imagine she'd deserve it? ;)
Philip Russel asked through email:
Where did you go to college?
For the first year, I went to the University of Tennessee. Unfortunately, they didn't have the degree program that I was after (Information Technology or Management Information Systems), so I transferred out to Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs for the remainder of my tenure as a college student. I graduated Summe Cum Laude in 2005.