By Janet Groene, F47166
Here are some tips and tidbits to help full-timers earn, save, or spend money more wisely.
Enabling the disabled
If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits but want to earn supplemental income that still allows you to keep receiving full disability, call Maximus Inc. (866-968-7842). Among the many services this company performs for the federal government, it is an outside contractor that helps the disabled find jobs.
Attention, full-timers with school-age children: If you’re involved in a 529 college savings program in one state and adopt another state as your home base, beware of state taxes. For example, if you roll over the savings in your New York 529 plan to another state’s 529 program, New York will charge capital gains taxes on any profits. Other states that may tax your 529 savings if it’s moved to another state are Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Maine, and Pennsylvania. Check with your tax adviser.
The write stuff
Regular readers of this column know that my husband, Gordon, and I support our roaming life with travel writing and photography. As a freelance writer, you can mail in your manuscripts from anywhere. And if you’re working with editors who accept manuscripts and photos by e-mail, you don’t even need a mailbox. Now another travel writer, Gordon Burgett, has put into book form tips on how to make a living by traveling and writing. In the Travel Writer’s Guide ($17.95, Communication Unlimited), Mr. Burgett focuses on writing well and selling what you write, and how you often can turn one trip into many articles. Although he flies to his destinations, most of them overseas, his advice works just as well for full-timers traveling on North American roads.
Mr. Burgett offers FMCA members a 10 percent discount off the book’s regular paperback price “” or its $15.95 price if downloaded in Microsoft Word format “” when you call (800) 563-1454 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell him you heard about the discount from Janet Groene of Family Motor Coaching magazine.
Right place, right time
If you love cherry blossoms, apple butter stirrings, pumpkin festivals, art shows, and all the special events that celebrate a city’s best seasons, check www.festivalfinder.com to schedule the best times to visit places along your route. (If you’re not a festival fan, consulting this Web site is also a good way to avoid crowds and traffic.) This is just one of the tips from Penny Pincher’s Almanac: 2753 Surprising Ideas for Getting the Most Value Out of Your Money, Home, and Possessions ($15.95, Readers Digest). This gem of a book gives incredible ideas on how to dine out more cheaply, save at supermarkets, attend sports events for a song, beat the high cost of prescriptions, and keep the motorhome clean for less. This book is sturdily bound for many years of reading and is fun to thumb through time after time, trolling for ideas. It’s sold at bookstores and through online booksellers.
Talk is cheap
The cost of satellite phone service (voice, fax, and data) has gone down to $1.49 per minute for KVH Tracphone owners who activate the mini-M data service through Inmarsat Airtime. At the same time, speed has quadrupled to 9.6 kbps. For more information, e-mail email@example.com or call (888) 584-4163.
Calling all Christians
Add focus and meaning to your full-time ramblings by joining the Roving Volunteers in Christ’s Service (RVICS). Whatever your talent, from carpentry to typing, there is a need for it. Men usually sign up for 21 hours of work per week; women work fewer hours. Assignments vary from a minimum of 30 days to as long as a year in one place. You might tutor children, re-roof a church, or sew lap robes for shut-ins. Members meet for campground fellowship, Bible study, and potlucks. For more information, contact RVICS, 1800 S.E. Fourth St., Smithville, TX 78957; (512) 237-2446 from 9:00 a.m. to noon, and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Central Time: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The worlds of business and banking are constantly coming up with new ways to thwart identity thieves, but the problem continues to get worse. This can be especially true for full-timers who are sometimes out of touch for long periods and may be late discovering that their credit cards are maxed out and their savings stolen. Credit card giants VISA and MasterCard now require merchants to print only the last digits of the credit card number on the receipt, not the entire number.
Also new this year at the three major credit reporting agencies is the practice of notifying the other two agencies when someone calls one of the groups to report identity theft. The agencies are Experian (888-397-3742); TransUnion (800-680-7289); and Equifax (800-525-6285).
If, heaven forbid, you find that your identity has been stolen, a single form called the ID Theft Affidavit enables you to notify everyone, including your creditors. It’s available online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
Books for trippers
Reader’s Digest’s Off the Beaten Path: A Travel Guide to More than 1,000 Scenic and Interesting Places Still Uncrowded and Inviting is a newly revised and updated version of a book that is perfect for full-timers who shun interstates. Use it as a guide to find the best places in all 50 states that you might not learn about in other guidebooks. It’s a slick, coffee-table book with lavish color photographs. Keep it handy and refer to it often. It’s sturdily bound for a lifetime of leafing and looks far more expensive than its $30 cover price.
One of our favorite trips is to follow the rim of the Gulf of Mexico in northwest Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. The route follows the famous white sands of the Emerald Coast through Panama City, historic Pensacola, and colorful Biloxi. Now a new edition of Coasting: An Expanded Guide to the Northern Gulf Coast ($15.95, Pelican Publishing Company) brings travelers up to speed on where to go and what to see, including the best places for bird-watching, golf, fishing, and gambling; how to find old forts, art colonies, and seafood restaurants; plus much more. The book is available at bookstores; from online booksellers; or from the publisher by calling (800) 843-1724 or visiting www.pelicanpub.com.
Rough Guides have gone all over the world with savvy travelers. Now the series includes Chicago ($14.95, Rough Guides). You won’t find a better guide to sight-seeing, spectator sports, museums, neighborhoods, and the incomparable ethnic dining of the Windy City. Thanks to a good public transportation system, motorhome travelers can enjoy a night on the town without driving into the city. Another Rough Guide, Boston, is now out in a third edition. Attend a Red Sox game, make a pilgrimage on the Freedom Trail, see Walden Pond, or read up on Cape Cod. The book has 27 maps and sells for $15.95.
In doing a major renovation on your motorhome or when designing a custom coach, what are the most important or offbeat changes you would make? For example, one full-timer couple sacrificed one cupboard under the sofa to create a “doggie restaurant.” Food and water bowls are placed in a protected niche where the dog always has access to them, and the mess is confined to one area. Send your ideas to email@example.com or c/o Family Motor Coaching, 8291 Clough Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45244.