Today in our Life on the Move series we have a look at how we handle administrative tasks while on the road.
- General mail handling – Before departing on our adventure I knew I needed to find a solution for the mail. I kept putting it off because this was relatively small peanuts compared to some other items on the list. But eventually this one needed to be resolved. There are services that will handle your mail for you for a small fee. It really is quite reasonable and if we were going full time I’d build this into the budget. Another option is to have the best brother ever to handle your mail for you. Lucky for me…I have one of these who offered to help us out! We forwarded our mail to my brother’s address which the USPS is ok with for 6 months or even up to 12 months. I’ve worked to reduce our paper mail as much as possible so most of what we get is junk. The down side to the paid mail service is you pay for them to handle junk mail you don’t want anyway. There are some ways to get rid of or reduce junk mail but I waited too long to get this done. So my big brother recycles the junk and is mostly then left with tax documents, car registrations, and medical bills. For those he scans them in, emails them to me and from there I handle things electronically.
- Banking – Online banking is pretty slick. I made sure my clients could pay me through ACH, wire transfer or Chase QuickPay (one of them mailed me paper checks prior to our trip). So far every bill I’ve received I’ve been able to pay online and I already had all of our recurring bills set up for auto payment.
- Shipping – Amazon is awesome and Amazon Prime is even awesomer. Even at the fast pace we move it’s not too fast for 2 day free shipping. So we can order something and have it delivered to the campground we’re at…often it is delivered right to our door. We always talk to the office and find out the appropriate way to address the package. We’ve only had two places that seemed like they didn’t routinely handle other people’s mail: McDonald Observatory and Goose Island State Park. However, both were very willing to help out and we got our packages just fine.
- Scanning documents – Tiny Scanner is your friend. I found out about this free app from the couple who rented our house while we are on the road. When we signed the lease we had everything packed up and were leaving so we had no access to a scanner. They whipped out their phone, took a few shots and sent me a PDF. I’ve since used the app numerous times and it is super wicked cool!! Its my new favorite app.
- Signing documents – At home I would print the document, sign it, then scan it to PDF and send it back. But we did not bring a printer with us and that just seems so tedious and lame anyway….can’t I just do it all electronically? Good ol’ Adobe Acrobat Reader…you know, the plain Jane free application that’s been around forever…gives you the ability to not only fill in PDF forms but also sign them. It allows you to draw your signature using a pointing device but, if you are like me, this looks nothing like your signature. The other option is to use an image of a signature. So Steph and I each signed a sheet of white paper using a nice big sharpie and I took a high res picture of each. When I need to sign I just point it to those image files and voila!! It only let’s you use one signature at a time but this is soooo much easier than printing out and rescanning. Why I wasn’t doing this before I do not know.
- Vehicles – Since we will be returning to our life in Longmont we had to find a place to keep our cars while we were traveling. My parents and sister each took a vehicle and are storing it at their house. My neighbor, a famous Mustachian, is storing and using our utility trailer. He also loans it out to other neighbors who use it…we are happy to be able to share it with neighbors. All three of these vehicles have their registration renewal fall within our traveling dates. Fortunately I can renew online…except for the one vehicle that needs emissions testing. So, bless their hearts, my sister and parents drove that car up to Boulder county to have the emissions done and they renewed registration while they were there too.
- Taxes – Ughhh…its just way more complicated than I think it needs to be. I have hired this job out the past number of years to a woman who used to be our neighbor. She has been at 2 different firms but both have had really nice secure client portals where I can upload and download documents and sign things electronically. I never have to meet with her or do any physical paper handling. So, whether I’m in my house in Longmont or our little rolling home parked somewhere in the USA I can get my taxes done.
As you can see, one of the key components is a support team back home and we are blessed greatly by our family (not mentioned above, but definitely significant supporters are Steph’s folks who are storing a bunch of our stuff at their house). The other key component is having good internet access. I’ll try to do an update on how that is working out but the short answer is Verizon coverage has been great everywhere we go and 20GB per month seems pretty comfortable. The hotspot/jetpack is the only hardware we use and it gets the job done.