A short conversation with Jillian from Montana Money Adventures

As I mentioned yesterday, Get Rich Slowly is making the leap to video. It's a brave new world! I've been skeptical about this for a long time, but one of the things that convinced me to give it a try was an interview I did with my pal Jillian (from Montana Money Adventures) a couple of months ago.

For those unfamiliar, Jillian Johnsrud (and her husband Adam) are from Kalispell, Montana. When they were married fifteen years ago, they had $55,000 in debt. After deciding to get better with money, they paid off that debt, then started to save for financial freedom.

What makes Jillian's story unique is that she and Adam are doing this with a family. And not just any family. They're doing it with a large family. They have six children — two biological and four adopted — all of whom are relatively young.

This summer, Jillian's family took a ten-week “mini retirement” during which they traveled around the western United States. They passed through Portland in mid-June, so I drove out to their campsite for a breakfast of (burnt) pancakes and some lively conversation. It was a fun time. (That meeting became the basis for my article on passive income vs. passion income.)

After breakfast, Jillian and I sat down for a twenty-minute conversation about money, mini-retirements, and finding your passion. This format was super simple and made me realize that yes, even I could do video. Not every channel (or every video) has to have slick production.

To start, we talked about travel. “Why are you on this trip?” I asked Jillian.

“Because my kids are little,” she said. “Some things in life have an expiration date. Putting seven people in a pop-up camper and doing ten national parks has an expiration date.”

I talked about how Kim and I explored the U.S. by RV in 2015 and 2016, and about how visiting Jillian's family made me miss life on the road. Some of the things that Jillian and I have both learned from our respective trips include:

  • Exploring the country by RV isn't as expensive as you might imagine. In fact, we found it's no more costly than day-to-day life. When you factor all costs, Kim and I spent about $5400/month combined to live on the road. (If you ignore the cost of the RV, we spent less than $100/day.)
  • After living in a small space for an extended period, you realize you don't need all of the crap you have at home. “It redefines the line between want and need,” Jillian said — and she's right. In our case, living in a small space made us realize we didn't need the large home we had…so we downsized from 1800 square feet in the city to 1200 square feet in the country.
  • When you're on the road, you spend far more time outside. In everyday life, it's easy to fall into a trap where you spend all of your time in your house, in your car, in your office. But RV life forces you to spend more time out of doors, and it's amazing.

Jillian and I then talked about the difference between a normal vacation and a mini-retirement. Many people feel trapped by their jobs. Some get “burned out”. A sabbatical is an excellent way to pause, take a break, and gain perspective on life. In some cases, a career break might lead you to change jobs. In others, it might actually give you a greater appreciate for the job you already have.

We also talked about taking risks and the fear of failure. “If you feel like you might want to try something, do it,” I said. People tend to regret the things we don't do more than the mistakes we make. Don't live a life of “what might have been”. Take chances. Try new things. Explore the world!

More about...Travel

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S.G.
S.G.
2 years ago

Ive been entertaining the idea of taking next December off of work, the whole time between Thanksgiving and new year. It wouls take surprisingly little vacation and it would align with other vacation plans we’re making.

I am weighing the pros and cons and trying out different scanarios in my head. My biggest fear is that we’ll take the time off and spend most of it just sitting around like lumps.

Flo @ Casual Money Talk
Flo @ Casual Money Talk
2 years ago

Jillian totally nailed it with “[travelling] totally redefines wants and needs”. I too recently took a (very) mini road trip and the whole experience just further reinforced the idea that you really don’t need a lot of “stuff” to be happy. I’d pick a simple life on the road with my loved ones (once I achieve LeanFIRE) over the cliché image of the life of the rich and famous any day.

herman schwartz
herman schwartz
2 years ago

Nice interview. It’s true what you say about traveling on the road.
Only one suggestion: I don’t like videos with music in the background. It’s very annoying. If you must have music, can you at least make it lower/softer? Other than that, perfect.
Thank you.

Jeff P
Jeff P
2 years ago

I loved the article, but I’m sorry, the music was just too much for me.

S.G.
S.G.
2 years ago

I’m confused. She’s travelling with her husband and six kids for a total of seven people? I have used my hands to count that out and it’s just not working.

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