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Old 07-01-2014, 02:47 PM   #1
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Think you Cannot Afford a 'New(er)' Airstream?

Many years ago I worked in the banking industry. In my current business (telephone answering service) I have a lot of clients who are small entrepreneurs.

One of the fundamental things that I have learned is that many people get into big trouble because they don't understand the basics about money management.

I could easily exceed the max size limit for a single post just covering the basics - so instead I'll cover everything BUT getting an Airstream with a lick and a promise. Basically money is not magic, and comes in finite amounts. 50% of all lottery winners go bankrupt because their new spending habits exceed their new wealth - just like their old ones exceeded their former income. You can't have everything. No matter how much money you get you'll always need to know the difference between "WANT" and "NEED" and "REALLY NEED". You really need to have basic food, basic clothing and a safe place to sleep. Beyond that a way to pay for medical care and education is pretty darned important. Having a couple of thousand in the bank just for stuff that hits the fan, also vital.

It's very easy to get far too acquisitive. Do you have seven big screen TV's - thousands of dollars in sound systems, pay for Sirius when you could just plug in your Ipod in the car, have a $100,000 super kitchen and rarely cook in it, own more than 30 pairs of shoes, collect Rolexes and coins, and Japanese art, and and and and.... Uh. You've got too much stuff and an Airstream will add to the problem not cure it. (Unless of course you're selling off all but one of your collections to get the Airstream.)

IF you ARE financially responsible (not needing to be a raving miser, just not spending like the proverbial drunken sailor) you probably CAN afford an new(er) Airstream.

First, ask anyone who is waist deep in renovating one "how much do you spend every month on this project?" Have a box of Kleenex handy - the answer will bring tears to both your eyes. Next, while going into debt for something as "frivolous" as an Airstream seems borderline insane, third grade arithmetic could suggest that a $5000 downpayment for a new or newer Airstream, plus a monthly payment of $500 could... over at least the first two or three years.... be almost exactly what the out of pocket cost of getting into a renovation could cost. (Or if you're like Sergei and his famous Argosy cavalcade it could be far cheaper than doing a "Sistine Chapel" quality job.)

If you don't buy brand spanking new but get one that's a mere year old as I did, and you get bored, sick, over it, whatever... And you got something as popular as an Eddie Bauer, you should be able to unload it in a couple of years without taking a huge loss. And even with the down payment, monthly payments, loss upon sale... you'll still be likely to be at "break even" compared to doing a renovation yourself.

If you really can't afford a newish Airstream, could you get a job flipping burgers two nights a week and earn enough to pay for one? If you really don't LIKE to do renovation work or you aren't handy, this approach would actually be less work, however it would cut into your camping time too.

Of course, you'll be on the road from day one with a new(er) unit.
And if you DO count the cost of your labor into doing a reno... egad! Who really CAN afford to do a renovation. I personally think Colin does great work for reasonable prices, but I know having one done professionally is going to be like paying list for a new one at a dealer. The major benefit, custom work, high end finishes.

------------------------------
On the other hand - If renovating an Airstream is a fun family project, that brings you closer to your spouse and children and/or it just gives you a "high" and a priceless feeling of accomplishment, then Happy Renovating! No one should rain on that parade.

The only worthwhile caution is look around and ask yourself how many half finished projects you've had in the past. Or how many projects have you finished at the cost of being sick and tired of having them (like my old house - the money pit). Renovating another old house? OK, yes I would IF I won a $100 million lottery and had to do nothing more strenuous than point my dainty little finger at the construction manager and say "I want it done this way."

Paula
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Old 07-01-2014, 03:18 PM   #2
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My first reaction is "What, they still have telephone answering services???"



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Old 07-01-2014, 03:21 PM   #3
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A valuable post! Thanks Paula.

Just be sure to set aside $65 for WBCCI membership.
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Old 07-01-2014, 03:23 PM   #4
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OR - you could buy an older Airstream, use it while you renovate it and sell it for more money than you paid. Put the profit into a savings account and use the original invetment to buy and restore another older one - rinse, repeat, etc. until you have cash to negotiate with. And I am not talking about spending $500 on a comlete overhaul, but more like $5000 -$6500 for a unit that is solid and doable to update and renovate/ repair, while fully functional. That's what we have been doing. Started with a $700 tenit trailer and worked up to a '78 Argosy motorhome. Dave Ramsey says that your total investment in transportation should never be more than 1/2 your annual income...that includes cars, trailers, motorcycles and boats. I'm afraid that the lottery is the only way we will ever be able to afford a new(er) Airstream. But we do welcome others' cast offs. ;-)
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Old 07-01-2014, 03:47 PM   #5
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Airstreams are not "trailers", they are lifestyles!

The best investment I ever made was dropping a buttload on a newer trailer. I work hard, so I an choose not to spend my free time flipping trailers.

I do like your concept and congratulate you on your success. It's just not for me, I'd rather spend all my free time camping.
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Old 07-01-2014, 03:58 PM   #6
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I bought an old trailer, used it while I renovated it, and I'm still using it ten years later. I've never found a layout I like as well as the one I've got. And I never went into debt for it - sold my pinball machine collection to pay for the initial investment I don't really have the yearning for a shiny new trailer at all.
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Old 07-01-2014, 04:32 PM   #7
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Spend less than you earn. If you can't live on what you have now, you'll have the same problems at all income levels. Solid advice.

However, there is a difference between a guy with 250K in a brokerage account financing 80K and a guy with 0 dollars in savings financing 80K.

Just like there is a difference between someone who earns 150K a year buying a 40K new car and a guy who makes 50K buying a new pickup truck because he can "afford" the monthly payments.

I have a classic Corvette, (it's for sale ;P ) and have spent plenty of time discussing restorations on the Corvette forums. Folks have a tendency to romanticize their projects. Under estimate true costs, ignore hidden costs, and basically all around lie to themselves about how much time and money they're spending. A few folks will eventually admit they've stop counting how much money they've spent. I can't see it being any different here.

Unless you're keeping a spreadsheet of everything you spend you might be romanticizing your savings.

Also, time is money in my book.

But then again, to some folks cars, and maybe airstreams are tools. To those of us who love them, it's no different then spending money on your kids.

Cheers
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Old 07-01-2014, 06:56 PM   #8
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Good post Paula. Just to add a data point to this: it would have been FAR cheaper if I had just started out with an almost-new 16' CCD or Safari 20', the trailers that first attracted us to Airstream.

Instead, we bought the almost-new T@B (which had strong resale), restored an Argosy (great trailer, but money pit), and got the current Safari (which, according to the ads, hasn't depreciated in the 2 years we've owned it.)
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanB View Post
Airstreams are not "trailers", they are lifestyles!

The best investment I ever made was dropping a buttload on a newer trailer.
I thought you misspelled boat.
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Old 07-01-2014, 08:55 PM   #10
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if you do not have a “fun budget”....or if this spending is simply stretching things to discomfort....severe heartburn and stress, buyers remorse, or financial problems will potentially ensue....

Since I became a working professional with money in my pocket (while years before I grew up with nothing)...I made sure all obligations both short, mid, and long term were taken care of, then I had a “care free fun budget”....its quite liberating...

Having 2 kids now makes budgeting freaking more complicated....seems like every month now is something totally different.
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Old 07-01-2014, 09:12 PM   #11
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What is MONEY?

As I see it, the real problem is that most people don’t understand what “money” is. Over the years I have ask many to define “money”; and very few can really do it; it seems to be an intangible to most.

Definitions of money address what money does, but not what it is. Money quite simply = effort/energy over time. If you put out the physical or mental effort/energy over time you acquire money as a medium of exchange with others.

Once one realizes that money = effort/energy over time, they can more readily assess whether they have accumulated or can put out enough effort/energy over time to afford an Airstream or whatever standard of living.

I believe people get in money trouble because they feel like money will just eventually happen, not relating that it only happens through diligence on their part.

Now I’ll climb down off my soap box.
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Old 07-01-2014, 09:19 PM   #12
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PhamGeek,
I have seen lots of your posts, you seem to have good priorities.

Smiling kiddo on your back, and Happy Wife in a well-chosen lawn chair. Having 2 kids is an "it's always something" financial experience for sure. But I can tell you that having just squeezed through the other side (Got both out of school. One working and the other going to grad school), that somehow, you just figure it out as you go.

Paula, I think you are trying to say that if you are in the situation of evaluating the FULL COST of nearly new vs used-but-needs-some-updates, that it is easy to rationalize and fool yourself if you are not careful about how much things will cost on the project. Very similar to houses that need work. There are handy people who like to tinker around, and can enjoy a fixer upper. There are folks who know they are not handy, and will budget and save accordingly to get a house that doesn't need updating. And then there are the sorry folks who think that being handy is easy, cheap, and fun and they get into a hot mess.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:09 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PharmGeek View Post
if you do not have a “fun budget”....or if this spending is simply stretching things to discomfort....severe heartburn and stress, buyers remorse, or financial problems will potentially ensue....

Since I became a working professional with money in my pocket (while years before I grew up with nothing)...I made sure all obligations both short, mid, and long term were taken care of, then I had a “care free fun budget”....its quite liberating...

Having 2 kids now makes budgeting freaking more complicated....seems like every month now is something totally different.
We have one. I did a Dave Ramsey thing way back when I was 22. Good advice, but his advice will only ever take you so far.

I developed my own 30/20/50 plan around 24yrs of age, and I've been sticking to it ever since.

30% is our income is our living expenses. 20% is what we use for whatever. 50% is savings and investments.

As my income grew so did my living, but it never grew more than 30%. This formula pretty much is what is allowing us to go full-time with newer vehicle and trailer.

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Old 07-02-2014, 10:32 AM   #14
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Great Post.
To me, my AS is a tool = home (30 months full timing)

I put a lot of time/energy = money to afford it.

If I don't use or see something on a daily basis
I get rid of it.

"Institutional lending is a form of slavery" especially
if the borrower is not money savvy. Back in the day
our schools had classes called "Home Economics".

There should be as part of our educational system
a rigorous means of understanding credit/borrowing
from an early age and subsequent follow up through g12.



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