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anne bookkeeping

Make Money and Travel – Anne’s Bookkeeping

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!!!

Meet Anne:

anne bookkeeping

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.

make money and travel

bookkeeping

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!

 

The Job(s)

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!

 

The Hours

How many hours do you put in a week and what does a typical workday look like for you?

This is Anne’s office:

bookkeeping

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).

 

The Pay

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!

 

The Tools

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.

 

The Clients 

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.

 

The Up’s

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.

 

The Down’s

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.

 

Hindsight

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!

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (50)

  • Janice Henning

    Hi Anne, how do you do work remotely for seniors who generally don’t have or work with computers? Thank you!

    Best,
    Janice

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  • Caitlin Burton

    Hi Anne! Thank you for sharing your story. I am currently a college student looking to start doing this type of work. I’m glad I’ve finally found someone who loves bookkeeping as much as I do. Most people think I’m weird. I guess my question would be how did you get started? I don’t have a network of people like you seemed to of had. What would be the best way to get my name out there? Thank you again for sharing this story!

    Caitlin

    reply
  • Betsy

    Hi Anne,

    Thanks for sharing!! My husband and I are starting to explore the RV lifestyle, and bookkeeping is a business that sparked my interest. We’re still young, so we definitely need to work. I’ve handled some of all of the bookkeeping for a few businesses now as part of my 9-5 job throughout the years, so I have some experience. Love your story and hopefully we’ll meet on the road some day!

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  • Elizabeth

    Thank you for this article! Anne, I would love to chat with you. . .I’m a bookkeeper myself and am thinking about starting my own remote business. I see that this post is a few years old, so not sure how often you read the comments anymore. . .if you have time and are willing to share some of your experience please get in touch w/me.

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  • Nannette Amneus

    I, myself am a bookkeeper but am chained to a desk with a public accounting firm. One of my specialties is filing 1040NR returns for Canadians that have to file US tax returns as non-residents. I wonder if you have seen a lot of people having to do this as they are traveling during nasty winter months? I do have a few side clients and would like to expand my services but am not sure how to do that. This is actually the first time I have seen a bookkeeper working on the road and am truly inspired. My husband is disabled enough so that he can no longer work full time and so we have dreams of my working on the road so we can travel. We are avid campers and 4-wheelers and follow the tiny-house lifestyle. We would love to get out on the road but I worry about insurance and internet connections. How easy was it for you to make that leap and what would you say, on average, you spend maintaining your business on the road?
    When I do get a new client, I have them get QBonline so that I can easily access from anywhere. I already follow the paperless process and feel it would be a natural transition for me, I am just trying to crunch numbers as I am the sole earner for us. We will both be 50 in a year and have started a 5 year plan but this makes me feel like we can get this done faster. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I am primarily interested in the day to day expenses like insurance etc. Do you carry liability insurance for your business? Do you have a portable hard drive that you store your documents? Do you use Dropbox? Do they 1099 you at the end of the year and do you expense any costs of your traveling for “home office” etc.

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  • Claire

    Hi Anne,

    You are living my dream! I am currently on the road with my husband, but I am studying to become a bookkeeper online. My biggest worry at the moment is being able to transfer all the theory I’ve learnt into gaining and helping clients – especially as I have no prior bookkeeping experience. How did you make that leap?

    Thanks,
    Claire

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  • Rachel

    Hi! I’d like to know about what kind of experience or education you need! I have always liked crunching numbers, budgeting and organizing. My main hang up with bookkeeping has been knowing state laws for tax purposes. I have been a small business bookkeeper in the past and used QB. Any info is helpful! Thanks!

    reply
  • Susan Sanders

    Hi Anne, I am a contract bookkeeper in Toronto and my husband and I are planning on doing the same thing that you have done. This has given me the inspiration to take my business on the road in both Canada & the US, and rather than trying to figure out some brand new way of making an income. I am very experienced in the Canadian version of QB, but do you know how different the American version is and would it be possible for me to keep books for an American professional or company if one approached me? I already have Canadian clients but I know it would not be possible for some of them to stay with me for various reasons, so I know I would have to look at taking on some new clients. I appreciate any advice you have for me.

    Thanks Anne!
    Sue

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    • Anne

      Hi Sue, Intuit QB Pro allows the user to enter transactions using international currencies so you should not have problems serving American clients.

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      • Susan Sanders

        Great thanks Anne!

        Sue

        reply
  • Anne, if you are looking for more bookkeeping work please email me. I have several clients who need QB data entry for all of 2015.

    reply
    • Anne

      Hi Ed. I just sent you an email. Thanks

      reply
  • Michelle

    Hello Anne,
    I’m so glad to see this as it’s a goal of mine and my husbands. I would like to talk with you about what services you us to ensure security for your client’s information. Paperless I believe is the best way to go and would love hear how you are going about doing this.
    Thank you for sharing,
    Michelle

    reply
    • Anne

      Hi Michelle. Please email me for more info on secure internet access.

      reply
      • Vanessa

        Hi Anne,
        I currently provide remote bookkeeping services and am looking for online services and tools to help streamline the paperless exchange of documentation (and save the trees!), as well as tips for what type of hardware to use for secure wifi.
        Thanks for sharing your story!

        reply
  • WOW! So excited to see what you guys have been doing. I am in the process of trying to re-create a similar opportunity. I did the “sell all my stuff/get out of dodge thing when I was 35, single, no dependents and moved to Belize. That was great for about five years. Upon re-entering the “normal” world in Southern California, rather then go back to the grind, I was able to eek out a small living on Catalina Island. Now married, with two cats and aching to once again travel, seeing your life style, shares that it is possible. When you wrote you can’t spell and struggle with grammar…you had me! Love, love, love, travel-adventure writing but have been to fearful to post- thank you for writing that it is possible. Now I have a heck of a lot to do to research and see if this can be my and my hubby’s reality as well. Thank you so much for sharing this. Kiss and cuddles to kitties.

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  • Trudy

    Hi Anne, your story has given me encouragement that I can generate income from the road. I have been an A/R bookkeeper for many years and I am currently taking a Quickbooks 2015 course. Can you recommend a good place to train to achieve my bookkeeping certificate? How did you do it? My husband and I plan on being F/T Rving in the spring of 2018 and now is when I need to gain the knowledge to put my piece of the income pie together. I appreciate any insight that you are willing to share. Finally an occupation that I can see myself doing from the road. You are an inspiration!! Thanks in advance for your reply.

    reply
    • Anne

      Hi Trudy. check with your local community college for accounting certificates that offer classes in computerized accounting. Mine used Intuit QuickBooks software.

      reply
  • GARY G

    Anne, after reading your story, I had an “aha” moment and emailed a former business associate and my CPA with an idea!!!
    Thank you.
    Gary G.

    reply
  • Anne,

    I admire your situation. My wife and I are planning to semi-retire and travel full time as well and I will continue my Tax Practice part time on the road. It can be done, I have clients all over the country that I have had for years and never met because we do everything on line. I would like to exchange emails with you privately to see if you can do some bookkeeping for several of my clients. You can contact me through my website.

    Ed

    reply
  • Elena

    Anne, good for you!! I actually enjoy working full time in a school (lots and lots of people) and love having those big breaks in between: summer, winter, spring so that is when I like to travel with my family or with just my husband. I would so love to get a mani/pedi like you suggested while I’m away from home. So many times you get caught up in all the planning and packing that I forget or don’t make time to get my much needed mani/pedi done. Even a hair salon and/or barber would be a good idea 🙂

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  • Rick Robison

    This has interested me but I have not gotten off dead center to try it. Are there certifications you can get that will help get new clients? Are you bonded and insured? I know you said you were pro advisor in Quickbooks but are there other certifications or organizations you are a member of? Any suggestions on moving forward on this is greatly appreciated. I am also interested in trying to find a small business or two (pizza shops?) that I can work with.

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    • Vickey

      >> I am also interested in trying to find a small business or two (pizza shops?) that I can work with.<< Hmmm. Now *there's* an in-park business I'd love to buy from. Fresh, wood-oven baked pizza made to order on site. The aroma would be irresistible, too. Built-in marketing. 😀

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  • Erin Gabler

    Anne

    Are new clients so trusting to give you access to their bank accounts. How does that work when you are paying their bills.

    reply
    • Anne

      Hi Erin, my service is customized for each client. Some clients prefer to establish a “funding” account with a login and password for my use only. They transfer $ to that account and I use it to pay their bills. Other clients give me full access to all their accounts because it is easier for them. There is LOTS of trust involved from both ends 🙂

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  • Anne, this was a fantastic read! My biggest question: Is it just as easy to run other people’s household bookkeeping as it is your own? I’ve built (and re-built as circumstances change) budgets for my family using the simplest tools, and I know that so many people have a hard time budgeting and juggling bills and so forth. I have a full-time job and my husband and I run an artsy business, but doing something like this, on my own terms, sounds fascinating – especially as we’re looking at possibly moving into an RV within the next year!

    Sorry for the run-on, and thanks for any response you have time for!

    reply
    • Anne

      Hi RJ, Keeping your own books is not the same as keeping someone elses’ books. You need to understand income/expenses and their tax implications. If it’s your data, you are familiar with how your books affect your own taxes. When doing someone elses’ you need a broader range of accounting knowledge to set up their chart of accounts correctly. I recommend formal accountancy training for anyone wanting to pursue bookkeeping as a career. Good luck! (Sorry it took me so long to respond.)

      reply
  • Tran Thi Nguyen

    Anne, I’m blown away!
    Your post is very inspiring and gives me energy to succeed with similar dreams!

    Personally, I started working remotely from my laptop while traveling (now in HCMC Vietnam) doing IT work as a freelancer. I do love it, but now I’m trying to get into affiliate marketing.

    I hope soon I will be working 10 hours a day too & travel all over Europe:)

    Again, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story!

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  • Anne

    Thank you Nikki and Jason for your insights and inspirations. Your website has helped us make the decision to follow our dreams and your wonderful videos have lit our path to get there. We look forward to the next exciting episode of Gone With the Wynn’s.

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  • Tammy

    That is great! I have been in the healthcare field as a nursing assistant for 20 years..I would love to take it on the road but not sure how to go about it. I can do private duty without a license but to do that on the road and find clients might be a challenge. Any ideas fir maybe advertising this? Sounds like a long shot but caring for people is what I do 🙂

    reply
    • Did you read the story on Eric the Traveling Nurse? https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/make-money-travel-traveling-nurse

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    • Shawn

      Tammy, I travel with the pipeline and the last project I was at we had a medic trailer on site six days a week the entire length of the job. I believe they were RN’s that were manning the trailers, but you may want to look into it. Our job lasted almost a year, it was unusually long. You make good money and can afford to travel after. Pipeline work may be slowing at this time, but our corporate office has told us that 2016/2017 are going to be very busy years. Low oil prices will not last forever. Hope this may help:)

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  • Kim

    I have been racking my brain trying to figure our how to use these same skills (that I LOVE) to create income while on the road. I guess I just have trouble thinking outside the box. Who knew the average everyday person would pay someone to pay their bills and reconcile their accounts?!?! You just gave me hope to be able to fulfill me and my husbands dream to travel full time!! Thanks!

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  • I loved this post, too! I am a full-time, independent bookkeeper now, and have been doing it for 6-7 years. I still love balancing bank accounts, just like Anne does! It’s crazy because I never loved math, but I am detail oriented and things just always have to match. In a few years, I plan to start collecting SS and to only work part-time, but be able to work on the road when I need/want to and get out of the house and offices more! Thanks for sharing, Anne, and Jason and Nikki; you all keep us hopeful for at least some of your experiences!

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  • Mike

    Anne, this was an inspiring story that rang true for me. I just want a “Retirement Career” that can give us some a little extra income. This was one of my ideas…. Thanks for sharing!

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  • A. Myers

    What an inspiration! This is exactly the kind of thing I’d love to do, and it’s wonderful to see it “in action”. Thanks much!

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  • Neal

    Thanks for sharing your story, Anne. I really enjoyed reading of how you’re managing to combine travel with work. Thank you!

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  • Thank you so much, Anne, for sharing your wonderful story. We were moved by a couple of things in particular.

    First, we love that you cap your business, ensuring yourself time to more fully live and enjoy your life. We also subscribe to the mindset of earning “enough” vs “earn all you can.” It makes the mobile life that much more worthwhile (and that much more different) from “the rut” we left behind.

    Second, a “partnership based on trust” is so key to a satisfying relationship with customers. Your success has obviously earned you the freedom to choose your clients wisely, both for you and for them.

    Being a pilot myself, and avid airshow aficionado, the flying angle of your lifestyle made me very jealous! And the photo of your workstation with Jason & Nikki’s site on the screen was an awesome touch. 🙂

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    • Anne

      Thanks Geeks! Hubby and I enjoy your videos 🙂

      reply
  • Susan

    Great article! My husband and I are semi-retired and are looking for additional income streams. He’s a CPA, so this line of work may work for him as well!

    reply
  • Colleen Marzigliano

    I loved reading about your on-the-road business. I too love this type of work and find it very interesting. I currently work part-time at a dentist office as his office manager/bookkeeper but we are stationary at the moment. I would love to get a business going like this if not for people’s personal finances then for small businesses. Thanks for the insight.

    reply
    • Anne

      You can do it! Good luck.

      reply
  • John

    Thank you Anne for your story. Very interesting and I was impressed at the end when you mentioned building in a charitable component. Best of luck.

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  • Mark

    As a UK bookkeeper in training I’m interested to know what Anne’s bookkeeping qualification is.

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    • Anne

      Hi Mark. I have an associates degree in accounting and am a certified pro advisor in Quickbooks.

      The associates only took half as long to earn because I already had a bachelors degree so the core classes were already out of the way 🙂

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  • Justine

    That is fantastic Anne. So good to hear someone in my line of work working on the road.
    I have an Associates Accounting degree and service small businesses with primarily bookkeeping services. I probably spend my time 50/50 between my home office and my clients office depending on my clients needs.

    I recently purchased a towable camper and would love to travel more, but most importantly, I would love to spend more time in CO in the mountains, where my daughter also resides.

    With my current clients I do not think it feasible to work remotely with them, but am interested in moving toward that solution, and stepping out of the box.

    I would love to chat with you if you ever have a moment to call or email…

    Thanks and I wish you the best of success in your business and travel.

    reply
    • Anne

      Hi Justine. Congrats on your new camper! As long as your clients are able to scan and attach documents to emails or upload to a shared cloud drive, you should have no problems taking it on the road. I would be happy to chat any time. My email address is [email protected]

      Good luck!

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  • Loved this post! I love hearing about how others make money and travel. Sounds like you found a great way to make money that allows you to do what you want. Working 10 hours a week sounds amazing!

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    • Anne

      Thanks Michelle. 10 hours a week is an average. It gets a bit busier around tax season but over all the best part about scheduling is that I can easily clear my schedule to go have fun.

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