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January 8, 2020

How I Quit My Six-Figure Job and Took A Year Off – with Michelle and Jacob Wade

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Sometimes, hustling to make more money is not the answer.

Today, Andy talks to Jacob and Michelle Wade, who recently took a “year off” with their family of five. Jacob is a former sales professional and the blogger behind iHeartBudgets and Michelle is a stay at home Mom raising and road schooling their three children.

They sold their home and all of their possessions and hit the road in an RV in the summer of 2018.

Our guests will be telling us why they took the leap and left their daily grind, how they planned their sabbatical and how they’re educating their children on the road. 

Why Jacob Left His Job

Jacob Wade was working in a highly stressful job in tech sales. When Jacob and Michelle had their third child, Jacob's job required him to travel frequently. He got promoted to Account Manager and was practically living on a plane. Tuesday to Thursday he was traveling, and so when he was at home, his mind was constantly concentrated on work. 

He and his family were going through medical difficulties and were also doing some house shopping at the same time. It was too much, and one day Jacob got overwhelmed and had a breakdown. He realized he was overwhelmed with life and needed change.

When Michelle and Jacob realized that there was a chance they could change their lifestyles, there was no turning back. Before, they used to fantasize about going on an RV trip. But now, they were going to make it happen.

Jacob did the numbers and had to make a decision to rent or sell the house. After some thinking, they decided to sell the house and everything they owned, so they could take a long trip in an RV. 

RV in front of The Guadeloupe Mountains
The Wade Family's new house In front of the Guadeloupe Mountains

How They Sold the House

They had bought their house for $329,000 on an FHA loan with very little down back in 2010 in the Seattle area. It was listed in 2018 and ended up selling for $532,000.

They could have sold it for more, but decided it was time to leave in August 2018, just around their 10 year anniversary. Jacob was making 6-figures at work and was doing very well, but he was aware that there was a huge lack of balance.

At the end of the house sale, Jacob and Michelle walked away with around $180,000 after fees. This was enough of a freedom fund to get on the road and start traveling.

The Freedom Fund and Involving the Kids

The first year, they didn’t hold back. They did everything they had wanted to do since the beginning. Living off $5,000 a month (which was actually less than what they were spending in Seattle), they were exploring every nook and cranny of the US. In total, they hit 25 states and almost 20 national parks, taking it all in. 

How did the kids take it? At ages 6, 4 and 1, the kids loved it.

The minimalism motivated the kids to get rid of their stuff, using something they called “an adventure jar” – money they got from selling their things. Then, they could use this money to go to a nice museum or go get ice cream. 

They were able to fit all their toys in two toy bins that fit in the RV and sold all the rest, a nice little profit to put in the jar. The children saw this entire exploit as a huge adventure and were very excited.

Related Interview: Why We’re Quitting Our Jobs and Moving to Hawaii (And Why You Shouldn’t) – with Erica Gellerman

The Sabbatical Continues Longer than 1 Year

They left on August 17th in 2018 and came back the next year for the summer for a wedding and to see old friends. 

Jacob loves living on the road so much that he’s doing everything he can so he doesn’t have to go back to a 9 to 5 job working for someone else. His goal is to build his site (iHeartBudgets) into a business and help people build their own freedom fund as well as become financially free.

Pursuing entrepreneurship is what they want to do and they’re going to make it work no matter what. Jacob’s passion is helping people get on a budget and help them build their own version of freedom. 

Homeschooling the Kids

Michelle home schools the kids while on the road with the RV. She explains that the kids learn by doing a bit of everything and that many times she doesn’t even have to try, it just happens. They learn a lot about geography and history through the national parks, they learn math with grocery shopping and have incorporated education into everyday life things.

They are incredibly well rounded and they also take part in the junior ranger programs which require writing, problem solving and maths. 

The good thing is that they also get to acquire life skills, and they have a sort of awareness and common sense that isn't taught in traditional school settings. The great thing about homeschooling, Michelle says, is that you can cater the education to your kid – they no longer need to sit down on a desk all day. 

Family at Devil's Tower
Wade Family in Front of Devil's Tower

The Family's Current Financials 

Michelle and Jacob started at $180,000 – where are they at now?

Jacob says they’ve slowed down a little. They’re building an online business, and they’ve got about two years of savings put away. They’re doing entrepreneurship and trying to grow their income. They can do this because living on the road is actually pretty cheap. Sometimes they pay $500 per month on camping fees for rent and utilities – much less than in Seattle. 

They’re now spending $3,500 per month – most of it is in high-quality food since they consider it an investment in their health. They also pay for a health share plan and other costs that come with an RV, such as diesel and reparations. They highly recommend checking out Fulltime Families on Facebook to learn about other families who live on the road.

How can you get started?

Is the RV life for you?

Jacob says that the first step is to look at your finances:

He says it’s wise to have a minimum of 12 months put away if you’re going to try entrepreneurship, and six months if you’ll go back to a normal job. 

He also emphasizes the importance of being prepared.

Do your research:

  • How do you want to travel?
  • Is it going to be a motor home?
  • Are you going to tow a trailer along?
  • What kind of safety do you want for the kids? 
six figure job sabbatical rv

Jacob and Michelle had to remodel their RV quite a few times, and having an emergency fund for those kinds of accidents is essential.

Lastly, set a date. Use SMART goals so you have to commit to a certain date and push through. 

If you're aching to explore the country, live on the road and forget the 9 to 5, the RV life may be for you. You don't need to go full out and quit your job; why not test it during the kids' summer break or even just for a week?

It's a nice and safe way to try it out before fully committing.


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Carpe Diem Quote

“Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.”

Douglas Pagels

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Would you sell your house and move into an RV?

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Andy Hill

Andy Hill is the award-winning writer, speaker and podcaster behind Marriage, Kids and Money - a platform dedicated to helping young families build wealth and thrive. Andy's advice and personal finance experience has been featured in major media outlets like Business Insider, MarketWatch, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and NBC News. Trusted as a personal finance influencer and corporate financial wellness speaker by global brands like JLL, Andy’s message of family financial empowerment has resonated with listeners, readers and viewers across the world. When he's not "talking money", Andy enjoys wrestling with his two kids, singing karaoke with his wife and watching Marvel movies.

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