Finding a way to Make Money and Travel isn’t hard, but it does require some creative thinking (or outside the box as we like to say). As with any successful business, its about figuring out what people need and filling that need. That is exactly how Anne started her location independent bookkeeping business.
The aha moment: When Anne realized she enjoyed monthly tasks like paying bills and reconciling bank accounts, while lots of other people (and business’) loathe the idea of updating their books, paying bills and all that kinda stuff!
Anne doesn’t have a website or blog to plug here. She started this business after retiring from her 9-5 job at 52 yrs old. She is just one of the many people looking forward to the full time travel lifestyle and she knew there was a way to make money while living on the road. If Anne can do it, so can you!!!
Hi… My name is Anne. My husband, Rich and I are planning to be full-timers in 2015. We are both semi-retired, and travel quite a bit. I work part-time as a “bookkeeper/bill payer”. It is work I enjoy; but more importantly, it is work I can do from anywhere that I have internet access.
We started traveling extensively right after I retired from airport management in 2004. A friend who flew professional aerobatic routines in air shows across the country asked us to follow him from show to show towing his large 5th wheel support vehicle. We would leave one show as soon as it was over and drive all night to the next venue. It was such a thrill to hit the road driving his dually and towing 40 feet of toy hauler to airports and military airfields while he flew his airplane and wowed crowds. We had a blast meeting so many famous aviators during that time including the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds and the Hurricane Chasers.
Another favorite pastime has been riding our motorcycles through Arizona, Colorado and all the way up to Toronto, Canada. My happy little bookkeeping business has followed us everywhere. As long as my laptop fits into my saddlebag I am golden and my business thrives. Thank you internet!
Describe your working situation and what line of work you’re in; If you have multiple streams of income that fund your lifestyle, tell us what they are.
I started my business to supplement our retirement incomes and hubby’s small computer support business income. My clients are families, seniors and busy professionals who hire me to pay their monthly bills and reconcile bank/credit card statements. I help clients coordinate their budgets and compile data for their quarterly and end-of-year tax preparation.
Have you always had this job? At what point did you realize that you could bring in enough income to continually fund a location independent lifestyle?
My first career lasted 30 years. I worked for a local municipality in law enforcement and aviation management. I retired at 52 years old which was way too young to sit in a rocker on the front porch, right? I took a couple of years to travel and play with grandkids while I went back to school for my accounting certificate. I started working for clients while still in school and learned a lot along the way. Most importantly, this line of work was something I could continue to perform while doing what I love, TRAVELING!
How many hours do you put in a week and what does a typical workday look like for you?
This is Anne’s office:
The hours I work vary based on what needs to be done that particular week. On average I work about 10 hours per week which leaves me lots of time for play. I can regulate the number of hours I work by capping the number of clients I’m willing to serve. My work week consists of monitoring clients’ expenditures, paying bills as they come due, downloading invoices and reconciling checking and credit card statements. I provide monthly income/expense reports and look-aheads for the upcoming month’s bills. At tax time, I compile transaction data for the clients’ accountants (Anne is a Bookkeeper not a CPA).
If you are willing to say, what is the average yearly salary for someone in your line of work? How long did it take for you to start earning a comfortable/typical living for this line of work? If you don’t feel comfortable giving numbers tell us, are you scraping by, are you able to put money in savings and pay your bills or are you raking it in?
Bookkeepers generally charge from $35 to $65 per hour but I don’t routinely charge hourly rates. My clients have been with me for many years and usually pay a flat monthly fee. This helps me and the client budget because we know exactly how much my invoice will be every month. I also give discounts for seniors, military and emergency responders. All told, I bring in enough to keep us in popcorn and pizza. My income could be significantly increased if I wanted to work more hours per week. So realistically, I’m not really “raking it in” but my small business income supplements our pension incomes and allows me to continue to contribute to my Roth IRA. One of these days we will qualify for social security then we’ll really be rollin’ in it!
What are the most essential pieces of equipment or programs you need for working while traveling?
My most essential business tool is my wonderful hubby! As sole proprietor of his own business, Arizona Technologies Consulting (AZTC), he is an awesome computer/techie guy and keeps me securely connected no matter where we are. He is the one who chooses my equipment, hooks it up, teaches me how to use it and fixes it when I break it. My business keeps humming along seamlessly because of him. The only real connectivity challenge we’ve had while traveling has been on cruise ships out in the middle of the big blue, but even they are getting better.
Essential equipment includes a tethered cell phone with a personal hot spot, laptop, iPad and scanner. I use professional accounting software, spreadsheets, email, internet browsers, instant messaging, efax and virtual meeting services. I do keep my trusty throwback calculator on hand just in case…
I use Intuit’s Quickbooks Accountant software for reconciling accounts and generating financial reports. I use Skype for virtual meetings.
Who are your clients? Do you find them or do they find you and how? What is your rejection rate? How many clients do you pitch to finally win over one? You don’t have tell us who your clients are directly, just how you go about getting the work.
When friends and family found out I was starting this business they lined up out the door and around the corner. Apparently, not many people enjoy bill paying and reconciling statements as much as I do. Go figure. Anyway, I started working with seniors and eventually blossomed out to providing services to families, busy professionals and people who love traveling as much as I do.
I have been very fortunate to not have to advertise my business. Word-of-mouth from existing clients has kept me at capacity. I carry business cards but do not have a website or any other marketing materials.
I enjoy a very intimate relationship with my clients so when we sit down for an initial consultation we are in essence interviewing each other to make sure we are a good fit. If I think they could be better served by someone else, I make a referral. We are in a committed partnership based on trust so it’s really important that we like each other. Also, my clients need to be somewhat tech savvy enough that they are able to scan and email or fax documents. Clients who need in-person, hands-on or hard-copy services get referred to someone in my professional bookkeeping network.
What are the best things about working while traveling? Those things that make you think wow; I really am living the dream.
The single best thing about this business is that I can work from anywhere, as much and anytime I want. I do some of my most productive work at 2AM while our mini-schnauzer Sammi sleeps at my feet. On a park bench or in the truck while tooling down the road, as long as I’m connected to the internet, I’m able to serve clients. If we have a movie or an afternoon of shopping planned, I can always flex my work schedule to accommodate the fun.
Busy times are usually the first of the month when client’s bills are due and mid-month when the previous month’s bank statements come out. Look-aheads are sent the last week of the month for the next month’s bill pays. The work is fairly predictable which allows for more ease of planning and flexibility.
What are the worst things about working while traveling? Any ways you’ve found to avoid or cope with this frustration?
The number one thing I did as a traveling bookkeeper to make life easier was going paperless. It is very easy and efficient to go online and download utility bills and bank statements as electronic files. Clients can email and fax documentation for you to save in password-protected files. Printing, shredding and discarding paper waste is not secure nor is it good for the environment. Maintaining paper files and keeping them secure in hard-copy form is best left to the brick and mortar providers.
Secure internet connections are essential to keeping clients’ data safe. The local coffee shop wifi won’t cut it when you’re working on financials. Your fiduciary responsibility to your clients includes keeping their records, logins and passwords safe and private. No fudging on this one. You must establish your own encrypted and secure connectivity.
If you could go back in time and give yourself 1- 3 pieces of advice about starting in this line of work, what would it be?
Do it sooner! Love what you’re doing and start doing it as soon as you can.
Make sure you build in a charitable component into your business. If you love animals, donate your professional services to a no-kill shelter. If you have a special place in your heart for a particular non-profit, offer your services at a reduced rate. Generosity of spirit will always come back to you.
The Fantasy Job
What is one of the most creative ways you’ve heard of someone else funding a location independent lifestyle? The one that made you wish you had thought of it first!
While I don’t know anyone who has actually done it, I’ve always thought it would be cool to use the garage portion of a toy-hauler to set up a service business like dog grooming, manicure/pedicure, barber shop, catering or any other services that full-timers might use on a regular basis. That way you could travel and bring your workstation with you to campsites and RV resorts across the country. Earning a living while traveling is a dream most anyone can achieve if they put their mind to it.
So, did Anne’s story spark any aha moments for you? I just love when someone creates a mobile business out of something most would consider a brick and mortar service. Just goes to prove that even the seemingly normal (mundane, boring, tedious…there’s loads of adjectives I could use to describe my personal thoughts on bookkeeping?!?) jobs can be travel friendly.
Please take a moment to leave Anne a comment (question or bookkeeping request) below. We are so thankful she took the time to share her intimate business details with us. If you would like to share your Make Money and Travel story, please email us!