Tips & Picks

Living the Mobile Lifestyle in Retirement - Chapter 2 - No More Money Pit


Betty Fitterman - By Betty Fitterman

As we approached retirement, we realized that the failing economy had done a real job on both our savings and our businesses.  Up until now, money had not been an issue.  We lived a great life, more padded than most, and we could always work and make more money. Then reality set in.  We were living way beyond our means and dipping into our retirement. As a result, we would be retiring with just about half of what we hoped.  Still, that was enough to live on, if we were careful.

Our solution?  Liquidate and go mobile.  Sell everything we didn’t have a strong emotional attachment to, store what was important to us, and fulfill a lifelong desire to travel.  We bought a four-year-old luxury RV with only 4000 miles on it, a king-sized bed, convection oven, oversize refrigerator, washer/dryer, sleeper queen couch, all-leather furnishings and a five-foot kitchen with quarry tile floor.  If this was downsizing, it certainly wasn’t down scaling.

To see how we worked out our financial quandary without sacrificing our dream, check out the chart below.  Some things in our life remain unchanged:  medical/dental expenses, food and restaurants, and vehicle maintenance.  We sold three cars, stored the fourth, then purchased a little tow car to pull behind the RV.  Fewer cars, but the big rig costs more to maintain, so we’re spending about $300 a month, the same as before.

We saved in interesting places too.  Dry-cleaning, house-cleaning, cable, landscaping and newspaper delivery all went away, saving us an additional $1300+ a month.

The bottom line is, while our bottom line has changed dramatically, our dream of travel while living well hasn’t.  I love my mobile home, and although I long for a little garden to tend, that’s about the only thing I miss about landed living.   What a surprise.


Monthly Expenses 4200 Sq. Ft.  Home
                                on 2 Acres
500 Sq. Ft. Mobile Coach
on 6 Wheels
Mortgage  $7000  $990
Taxes   3160   0
Gas/Oil/Electric   800  1200 (RV only)
Maintenance/Repairs   300   300
Gas/Cars   200   100
Car Insurance   500 (4 cars)   250 (2 cars)
Landscaping   250   0
Home Cleaning   400   0
Dry Cleaning   340   0
Cable TV     200   0
Fresh Flowers   0   40
Storage   0  800
Newspaper Delivery   40   0
Total $13,590 $3,840
(Not Included)    
Vacation Allowance $20,000 -- 3 one-week vacations, 5 weekends $20,000 – 350 days parking at RV campgrounds
Betty Fitterman was in advertising for over 30 years before her retirement in July of this year.  An award-winning writer, she was EVP/Creative Director and a member of the Board of Directors of Lintas Advertising until 1997, when she and her partner Frank DeVito formed DeVito Fitterman Advertising, which today is a successful agency serving blue chip clients like Johnson & Johnson, Ricola, ASCAP. Fujifilm and Arch Insurance, among others.    To read her humorous observances on mobile living, visit her blog at


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