Our Gap year provided answers to our list of questions, answers to questions we didn’t even think about asking and more questions. If you have considered taking some time off or retiring early you might have had a few of these questions. Here is what the year off has taught us so far.

I wrote about being ok not knowing all the answers, dealing with risk and fear of failure in Part 1. Here is what we have learned so far.

Questions we knew we had before our Gap Year

Will we be able to find work after this?

What will our spending look like if we aren’t working?

Will Mr. Mt miss the 9-5? Enjoying being home so much?

Do we like traveling with 5 little kids?

Do we have enough income for our expenses?

Could we homeschool our kids short or long term enabling us to travel longer?

Will we be bored?

What will people think about this? Will we care?

Questions we started asking during our Gap Year

Will I be ok not funding our IRA?

How will I feel about pulling money out of our retirement accounts?

Will I want to go back to work?

Do we want more income?

Is there a downside to having freedom and flexibility?

See we had questions! In the last year we have been better able to tease out some of the answers. Here is where we have landed thus far.

Will we be able to find work after our year off?

This was the number 1 question we had. How do we find work after our gap year? We worried. We planned. We hedged our bets. You know what? I totally forgot about it. I forgot to add this question to the first draft. I forgot to add it after the first round of edits. The question just fell off our radar. Mr. Mt created a plan for staying top of mind and securing employment after our year off. It paid off and he was offered a few jobs (all better than his last), and kind of felt like he was constantly being recruited. Which is odd, beings that almost never happened while he was still working. There were a number of things we did to help facilitate this, but I am still a little surprised by the result.

What will our spending look like if we aren’t working?

It’s actually been a lot lower than I expected. I didn’t carefully track our spending before Mr. Mt quit. This year, however, we have carefully logged every expense. I really wish we had started this sooner! Every month the numbers continue to surprise me. I had estimated $3500 with flex room up to $4000. Even with our giving we are averaging $2800. That is a big freaking gap. But now we know. This is super important info as we think about what our next season holds.

Would Mr. Mt miss the 9-5? Enjoying being home so much?

When we started our gap year, I was leaning towards him really missing his work. He loves the work so much. He is incredibly talented at what he does. But I was wrong. He doesn’t miss the 9-5 at all. He has been offered a number of jobs during this last year. There was almost no temptation to jump back into work early. He does some volunteering in the social services field still, and might expand that.

He has thrived being home. He kind of likes being a stay at home dad. But he has also balanced his time with taking on a lot of projects. He also doing a semester of college right now (again, just testing things out.) So he is out of the house about 20-30 hours a week.

Do we like traveling with 5 little kids?

This is a legit question. I mean, really, 5 little kids and a dog in a pop up camper? It was a coin toss. Total disaster or really awesome. I had no idea. So we took a 6 week trip and found out that we all really loved it. But don’t think for a minute that I had any confidence in that outcome.

Do we have enough income for our expenses?

The next post in this series will deal with all the numbers. But the short answer is yes, for right now, but maybe not really. It’s complicated. Probably 800-1000 words complicated. We wrote about being Work Optional.  Our passive income covers 100% of our fixed expenses plus some. We get to be very choosy about the work we do. No more doing work we hate, or dreading Monday morning. We have a lot of flexibility but I am not sure we aren’t out of the game forever.

Could we homeschool our kids short or long term so we could travel longer?

This is something we thought about a lot during our road trip. 4 out of the 5 kids are in school. Before I had kids I was 90% sure I would homeschool future children. Emphasis on before. We took a second look at the idea this summer for the purpose of travel. What if we wanted to travel for 6 months? What if we wanted to take a road trip for a full year? Could we swing homeschool for a few months or a year? We landed on a solid, Maybe. For the right reason, in the right season, and the right length of time.  A year ago I would have said, “No, not ever, for any reason.” Now, I can wrap my mind around a situation where we might and it would be a good thing for everyone.

Will we be bored?

Ha! Oh dear, I think I just choked on my coffee. But yes, that was a small concern. In reality, we have another problem. Neither of us are working and we still have too much on our plate. We actually are talking about hiring a housekeeper. Life is just full. Like sometimes too full. There are so many good things, and we keep scooping them up.

What will people think about us taking a Gap Year? Will we care?

I went into this knowing it would be a little weird. That some people won’t know what to make of it. Holy crap. Apparently if you have 5 kids, everyone, and I mean everyone will think it’s weird. Or they will have strange questions but not feel comfortable asking. When Mr. Mt send out his resignation letter letting people know he was taking a year off, his coworkers thought he had secretly been promoted. His bosses thought he had found a better job. Basically they thought the whole “taking a year off” was a cover story!

Do I care? Oh boy, you betcha, I do! I wish I could say that I don’t care at all. But that is a flat out lie. I care. I care a LOT! I want to tell people that we have these exciting or at least normal jobs. Or I want to have this great elevator pitch about passive income, creating space for your biggest dreams and the magic of compound interest. But I don’t. I mumble something about taking some time off. Then worry that the person thinks Mr. Mt was laid off, or we can’t find work because we are lame losers.

I thought this would be a 2 on the scale of gap year problems. Honestly, it feels more like a 6. In the first post I talk about minimizing risks, this one blindsided me. I might start making something up. We won the lottery? I received a big inheritance from a great uncle? Ugh. 85% of people are like, “That is so cool, I would love to do something like that.” But that other 15% look at me and I see the wheels spinning. It’s a mix of doubt or pity. It makes me want to pull out our Net Worth summary, our passive income chart, and months of expenses and do a tell all. I really wish I didn’t care. But apparently I do care, a lot. It’s embarrassing, and stupid. Maybe I need to read another Brene Brown book, or two. I never promised you would like all the answers I found out.


Care-a-lot, I Care-a-lot (clap/clap, clap/clap)

Questions we didn’t even think to ask

Will I be ok NOT funding our IRA?

Um, no. Not at all. This didn’t even cross my mind. We are taking a year off; we won’t invest. End of story. Nope. Not the end. It’s become a habit that is very uncomfortable to break.

How will I feel about pulling money out of our retirement accounts?

As we looked at options for the future, I have considered starting to pull the 4%. Um, yeah I really hate that idea. I quickly learned that while it’s a nice backup plan. It can’t be THE plan. It gives me the heebee geebees. Our rental income, on the other hand, I will spend that all day long and never look back. But actually cashing out stocks makes me feel slightly ill.

Will I want to go back to work?

I left work about 1 ½ years before Mr. Mt sent in his resignation. And never looked back. Actually, every time I drove by my old place of work, by heart was filled with joy and gratitude because I wasn’t working there. Like every single time. Ok, it still happens.

But then we took this year off, and something shifted. It was something unexpected. After we were both home, and had some flexibility I started thinking about my professional growth. Not just on little projects, or hobbies. But like a real career. I saw ways I could add value. I saw the problems I could solve. It’s evolving. But I am catching a vision that is exciting. Where I might have a career that I am not only good at but passionate about. So I am doing more side projects. I am testing the water with my toes. I have no bold declarations, but I am searching to find the answers to questions by trying.

Do we want more income?

This never crossed my mind. After we had enough to meet our monthly expenses, we are out! But that shifted a bit this year. There are other big projects and adventures we want to take on. There are bigger ways we want to give. I have also thought about our future income more. How will we be able to help our kids as they move into adulthood? It’s not something I talk about a lot, but one of our kids has special needs, and there are situations we need to consider. Expensive situations.

So I don’t think we are finished on the income side. I had planned on Mr. Mt going back to work, if only part time. Now I am thinking something bigger, and maybe me instead of him. This was a huge surprise for me, but something to keep talking about.

Is there a downside to having freedom and flexibility?

Don’t you hate it when lottery winners complain? Yeah, poor you. Now you have 50 million dollars and SO many problems. Whatever.

Don’t hate me, but this might sound a bit like that.

We really wanted more freedom, more choices, more flexibility. We saved, invested, created passive income and keep expenses low to do that. And it’s amazing for about 1000 reasons.

What I didn’t realize was that once you have freedom and choice.

Well, you have a lot of choices to make.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m glad we have choices. But I now have to figure all these out. We aren’t stuck in one job we hate. There are 10 jobs we could do. We aren’t stuck in one town, state or country. We could move almost anywhere. We aren’t limited to one weekend activity. There are dozens within reach.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. Because it’s exactly what we wanted. But sometimes I want to buy a magic 8 ball to help me out. Being stuck kind of streamlines the decision making process.

In part 1, I talked about venturing out, even when you have questions. “We don’t start because we have all the answers. We start because we have things we want to learn.”

I feel like we learned so many things in this last year.

Things we never could have learned if we didn’t test the water.

And our trajectory is forever changed because we are changed.  We now we have new questions and we will set out to find those answers.