It’s hard to believe that we are heading into the last month of the year! While this year has been a great one for traveling the same cannot be said when it comes to finances. Maybe things will start looking up in 2023, but there are still some dark clouds on the horizon despite the recent positive turnaround in the markets. We need to remain optimistic, but at the same time we also have to be realistic about what is yet to come which is likely further economic decay at the hands of an out of step federal reserve.
We are now one month into our new work-camping jobs and it’s going fairly well so far. Some parts of the job are much more labor intensive than we were led to believe during the interview process and it can get a little frustrating because it often seems like we are doing a lot of manual labor instead of working events. On the bright side, we have been able to get more hours than are needed to cover the cost of our site fees and utilities and little extra cash never hurts.
This will certainly change once the new year rolls around and the prime season rates kick at the resort as the cost will be triple what we are paying now! They guarantee we will get enough hours to cover our expenses, which is fine, but this is kind of the rub when it comes to this type of arrangement. Since we have to pay the full retail price, even as work-campers, we will also have to work a lot more hours to cover the prime season cost. So I wouldn’t bet on having anything left over going forward.
You might be asking “Didn’t you say you get your site and utilities for free?” Yes, technically we do. But this company does things different than most other campgrounds when it comes to their work-camper program. And to be honest this is probably the first and last time we will agree to this type of arrangement as it really doesn’t benefit us past having a place to park for the winter in a mild climate.
Just to be clear, we’re not complaining as we knew all of the details before we agreed to the position. However, until you are actually on site and get rolling it’s hard to see how well the compensation and perks offset the time and cost we put into the job. Now that we have experienced how this structure works we can’t see ourselves agreeing to this type of arrangement again in the future. It doesn’t make sense to devote this much time for what we get in return, especially once prime season rolls around.
We are actually lucky that we came in as a couple and can split the hours. Some of our co-workers are single and have to carry the full burden of hours to cover the cost. And when the rates turnover to prime season they will have to work the equivalent of a full-time job just to keep their site! I can’t see how single folks could agree to this type of arrangement as it’s not worth it to spend all of your time working just to have a place to park! That’s just crazy!
To help our audience understand how this works, and also to help those who might be considering work-camping in the future, there are technically four ways companies/campgrounds/resorts handle work-camper programs. Maybe there are more, but these are the ones we are familiar with.
1) Work-camper’s get a free site as a perk while also earning a hourly wage, usually minimum, for any hours worked.
2) Work-camper “volunteers” their time to help out in exchange for a free site. No funds are involved in any way.
3) Work-camper gets paid at an hourly rate and the cost of the site is deducted from the earnings and the work-camper just gets paid the net amount. Sometimes you get above minimum wage or your site is charged at a discounted rate so you benefit one way or another.
4) Work-camper earns an hourly wage working on site, but has to pay for all expenses at retail cost as if they are a regular guest.
Unfortunately, we are in category number 4 right now, which is the least favorable situation, and this is a very expensive resort when the winter months roll around. So technically we are getting our site for free, but it doesn’t feel like it when we turn around and give almost all of our earnings right back to the resort. And when the prime rate season starts in January this will get amplified and we will have to work even more hours to cover the cost.
Due to the cost structure and the low compensation it’s hard to justify being a work-camper in this structure unless you’re desperate for a place to park for the winter. It was explained to us the real benefit here is in having access to all of the activities and the events that go on at the resort. So far we haven’t been able to take advantage of any of these activities, except for the gym, due to our work schedule so that’s just not panning out as advertised. We also pay taxes on the earnings that just get cycled back to the resort so that’s another thing to consider in the formula.
As an accounting professional, I get that they probably have this structure in place for tax purposes. However, the structure is just not attractive without some sort discount on the site and unmetered utilities that would allow more money stays in the workers pockets instead of just giving it right back to the company. It’s also not conducive to keeping quality and effective work-campers for the entire season, let alone enticing them to consider returning year after year.
From what we have heard retention and getting people to return appears to be a huge problem for this resort and the sister properties in the area. In fact, only one couple at our resort returned from last year and that’s only because they have family that lives locally and they come here to see them in the winter. There were some other couples who were expected to return but they “had something come up” which is work-camper code for “I found a better deal.”
Hopefully some of these issues will be taken into consideration and adjustments can be made. We really like the area and the resort is great if we can find time to enjoy it. We also enjoy our co-workers and most of the resident snowbirds. We would probably consider coming back if they made the structure more attractive and worthwhile. As is we will just ride out the season and check this off as experience.
Here is how our portfolio performed in November 2022:
(Our original portfolio goal $1.5m)
Portfolio = $1,388,696
Our Portfolio Increased By $69,975 or 5.31% From The End Of October
Year-To-Date Our Portfolio Has Decreased By -15.42%
Net Worth = $1,442,365
Our Net Worth Increased By $71,858 or 5.24% From The End Of October
Year-To-Date Our Net Worth Has Decreased By -14.25%
For the first time this year we had back to back positive months. Looking back this is actually the first time we have had back to back positive months since the summer of 2021! Yikes!!
Historically speaking, we are heading into the best period for equity investors and in a typical business cycle we could reasonably think that the markets would be positive over the course of the next few months. However, there has been nothing typical about the markets or the economy in 2022 and we have to be realistic about our expectations on how far this market could possibly move with everything that’s going on.
While massive interest rate increase have already taken place there are more on the way. And as we have said many times before the effect of the increases has not hit the economy as a whole yet. Sure we see the impact in interest rates sensitive places like housing, but other areas of the economy have barely started to feel the squeeze.
Let’s not forget there is another meeting of the Merry Band of Morons, better known as the FOMC, just around the corner and they will undoubtedly continue to extend their streak of policy failures into next year. And this meeting will surely be followed by another continuous barrage of verbal diarrhea from the fed gang that can’t think straight further confusing and annoying investors.
Expect this nonsense to continue until they realize they over did it once again and have to change course. Some say Jerome Powell is channeling his inner Paul Volker. I would argue he is more like the Joe DiMaggio of policy failure.
In short, keep some powder dry as there might be more good buying opportunities heading our way as our economy continues to slide towards more negative growth next year.
Here is how we did on our spending for November 2022:
Monthly Budget = $5,000
Total spend for November 2022 = $4,096
Over/Under Monthly Budget = $904
Over/Under Budget YTD = -$1,172
Less Prepaid Site Fees = $391
Net Over/Under Budget YTD = -$781
November was a pretty good month on the expense side of the ledger as we managed to stay under budget by $904. We probably could have done a little better, but we got an early start on Christmas shopping and then we ended up buying a plane ticket for our son to come visit us on his holiday break. We also enjoyed a nice day at the brewery with our fellow work-campers. Ya gotta live!
Year to date we are now only over budget by $781, net of prepaid site fees, which we should have no problem covering unless we blow the budget up when our son arrives. That could happen in the food category alone as it gives me a reason to ramp up my smoker usage!
It would be nice close out 2022 on a positive note in the markets, but it would be even better to close out positive on the expense side. That would mean that our budget is sound and we were able to live within the plan we created when we retired. Looking into the numbers there are definitely some tweaks that will need to be made as we overspent in some areas and underspent in others which was to be expected. Overall we are pretty much on point and that is great to see!
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See you on the road…………….
P.S. If you haven’t heard we started an online store called StuckonCamping where you can get some of our designs on stickers, magnets, shirts, hats, tote bags and more! Check it out for camping, hiking, RV and other outdoor designs!
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