I follow Mike’s blog, The Good, The Bad and the RV. He bought a brand new 2015 Newmar Dutch Star and only a year or so later he had traded it in for a 2016 Newmar Essex.
I’m not sure what motivated his decision to change coaches so quickly. He must have taken quite a hit on the depreciation cost of the Dutch Star even with a trade-in on a coach that was sitting on a dealer’s lot.
He did post about some of the issues he had in the first few months with the Dutch Star:
Our brand new Newmar Dutch Star had the following problems, which took months to fix:
- The passenger seat had a spring poking out of it (this was noticed pre-purchase and the salesman assured us it was a simple seat replacement. It ended up taking 2 months because Newmar refused to replace the seat)
- Both the mid and aft floor heat switches randomly turn off after being on a short time (sometimes as short as 30 seconds)
- The Oasis burner turns on and off constantly, forever. The burner starts up, runs for 1 second, and then shuts off. 5-10 seconds later it repeats this…over and over until I turn the burner switch off.
- The rear, drivers side leveler jack left a large puddle of hydraulic fluid when I last retracted it
- The USB port in the dash is not working
- The fresh water hose has developed blisters between the inner and outer layers and now leaks
- The passenger sofa bottom fell off when putting the slide out and will not reattach
- Windshield wiper fluid does not dispense when the button on the steering wheel is pressed
- When playing DVD audio through the AV receiver (for surround sound), the sound cuts out
- The sun shade on the passenger window no longer retracts
- The night shade on the drivers window is coming down askew and sliding towards the front of the coach. It used to come down straight, but now, when unrolling, it ends up 3-4 inches away from where it started.
- The front leveler jacks sound horrible when extending. Having owned this same system in another coach, this sound doesn’t seem normal.
- The kitchen faucet is overly loose
Right after buying this unit, we took this coach on a two week trip. It then sat at the dealership for over 2 months! We then took it on a one month trip. Problems on the list still were not fixed so it went back to the dealer for almost another month. So the unit spent 3 of the first 5 months at the shop.
We have had our fair share of issues as well. This is our list.
First, the warranty punch list after the first few months of operating the coach:
- Kitchen Sink Leak: drain pipe leaks where drain meets down pipe immediately underneath the sink.
- Loose Fabric Trim: fabric trim by pantry drawer leading into bedroom has come loose in a couple of areas.
- Cracked Floor Tile: cracked floor tile driver side behind the recliner that is closest to the kitchen galley.
- MCD Day/Night Shades: MCD Day/Night Shades over dining area appear to require reprogramming. Day shade inoperative over main dining area window and night shades over main dining area window and small dining area window out of synch.
- Winegard Rayzar Digital TV Antenna: Unit is producing an E3 error during operation (motor movement error).
- Sofa Bed Latch: Latch for inflating sofa bed doesn’t stay closed when inflating.
- Passenger Side Basement Door: When door side slideout is open, first basement door rubs bottom of slideout (door out of alignment).
- Front Wheel Vibration: At highway speed, roughly 100km and above, front exhibits a vibration that is characteristic of unbalanced wheels.
- Driver Side Fuel Cover: Missing clearcoat
- Engine fault light triggered by outdate engine firmware
- Driver side tire bulge
We had a couple of recalls including the infamous “your coach could catch fire” recall:
- 467 RSB – Recall 16V 826: Power Steering Fluid Leak (potential fire hazard)
- 472 TSB – Slideout Motor Mounting Bolts (under-torqued). We heard loose mounting bolts on both front slideouts (Full Wall Slideout and Off Driver Slideout) while driving the coach.
And, since then, a few other items which have not been resolved yet:
- Side radiator lower grill almost disconnected from body of coach
- Oasis hot water heater pump failure
- Full wall slideout uneven — literally rises up a quarter inch or so after slides are deployed
- Levelling jack leaking hydraulic fluid
Along with a few more new recalls that will have to be resolved:
- 483 RSB – Recall 17V 420: Driver Passenger Shade
- 486 TSB – MCD Remote Shade Motor Replacement
- 488 RSB – Recall 17V 497: Battery Cable May Rub Against Frame (another potential fire hazard)
- 493 PIB – Freightliner Lightbar: instrument panel odometer value may reset and no match the engine ECU odometer value
Well. Quite the list for such an expensive coach.
And, like Mike, our coach has to go to the dealer for an extended stay. Typically 3 to 4 weeks. Which isn’t an issue now since I haven’t retired yet. But when we plan to be in the States for about 6 months of the year, I don’t want to have the coach sitting at some dealer for a month or two.
We certainly expected some issues with our new coach. And given Newmar’s reputation as being one of the better manufacturers, it does seem a bit troubling to run into so many issues after only a few thousand miles on the chassis.
We hope to run the coach for many more years.
I hope this list doesn’t get much longer.
If you haven’t seen it before, take a look at the following video:
Now that is a motorhome.
But I was curious about the backstory. Who built this machine?
Turns out that it was built by Ron Anderson.
According to Ron’s LinkedIn profile:
We build multi-tasking vehicles for multi-tasking companies and people. ALL sizes and shapes. We specialize in providing the only 1200 Square foot portable trailer in the world. We own the patent to this product and have spent the past 20 years perfecting a production unit. Uses are limitless as our design expertise is not limited. Outside the box hardly describes our company, more like outside the planet fits much better. We routinely see what others cannot seem to grasp until about 2 years after we develop the product. We have dozens of examples of this to show you. Our company has led the industry for over 25 years. Our goal is to get the world to understand it’s a 1200 Square foot, 3 story trailer that can have any interior you want, and set up with one person in as little as 10 minutes. So what ever will fit in 1200 square feet, will fit inside this trailer. Your product can go to the customers not the other way around. This is your, on location Portable office or your on location trailer or anything else you want it to be.
From 1990 to 2001, Ron had a business called Star Trax Celebrity Coaches. The company was a luxury custom coach builder and he had an incredible list of clients including Vin Diesel, Brad Pitt, Jim Carrey, Denzel Washington, Harrison Ford, Adam Sandler, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Former President Bill Clinton amongst many others.
He took a break for a year or so to sail around the world and then returned to start a new company called Anderson Mobile Estates.
Here is a video outlining the new class of RV product:
I had never heard of his company before nor had I heard about Star Trax Celebrity Coaches. I just assumed that the A-list actors were buying coaches from builders like Marathon, Liberty and Millenium.
Filed under #moneynoobject.
I had a few lingering questions after I made the decision to retire in July of 2018. I posted about whether we will have enough money in retirement here and whether we will be happy in retirement here.
The last lingering question is whether we will be healthy in retirement.
And healthy must include the following factors: physical, emotional and spiritual.
What you see pictured above is a Wahoo Kickr Snap. I use it in my pain cave which I describe in this video:
This is how I choose to maintain my physical fitness. And it really does not matter what form of physical activity. Being healthy, particularly as we age, is all about movement. Keep moving. Walking. Running. Cycling. Skating. Whatever inspires you to keep moving.
Although not as convenient in a motorhome, I will be setting up a similar pain cave for my regular workouts. Hopefully, we will be in good weather most of the time and I will be able to ride outside.
To be healthy from a physical perspective means regular exercise and good nutrition. Both are completely under our control. The onset of a critical illness is often outside our control.
My life expectancy is 81 years. And, if I make it past age 65, I have better than 50% chance of making it to 80.
The best strategy is to keep as active as possible right up until the very end. And retirement provides all sorts of opportunities to keep active.
The emotional side is my development opportunity. Ensuring that I have a purpose and mission in my retirement years will be a critical component to emotional health. As will social interactions and relationships. I am not as concerned about the latter as we have met so many wonderful people in our travels with our motorcoach.
Lorraine and I enjoy a strong faith and we will continue to develop ourselves in our retirement years.
What I am learning for this part of retirement?
- Keep physically and mentally active
- Stay connected with family, friends and community
- Keep eating a healthy diet
- Volunteer to help maintain health and social contacts
- Set new goals and maintain a sense of purpose
- Plan for the weeks and months ahead to give yourself targets and things to look forward to
There are times when I wish I could be like Lorraine and Tabby. They both model love, kindness and happiness to me every day. Even when I don’t deserve it!
I had posted earlier about our retirement puzzle and, now that I have committed to a retirement date, three lingering questions:
- Will we have enough money?
- Will we be happy?
- Will we stay healthy?
I have a truly impressive spreadsheet that contains a detailed budget expense worksheet for the current year. It also contains a summary of the following financial ratios along with specific targets:
- Gross Debt Service Ratio
- Total Debt Service Ratio
- Liquidity Ratio
- Solvency Ratio
- Housing Payment Ratio
- Annual Savings Ratio
- Debt Payment to Income Ratio
- Total Savings to Income Ratio
- Total Debt to Gross Income Ratio
- Total Debt to After-tax Income Ratio
- Total Assets to Income Ratio
We carry no debt and all of our ratios look great right now. They did not always look that way though especially in our thirties with kids and mortgages and lots of other expenses.
My spreadsheet contains a worksheet for our net worth, a detailed breakdown of our investment assets and allocation, our passive income from investments, our investment portfolio performance over the past 25 years of investing, pension estimates, income and taxes paid for my entire career, and retirement ratios for Neutral Income Retirement Target and Real Discretionary Income. The latter trying to answer the question: do I have enough for retirement?
This is not just any spreadsheet. Oh no. This spreadsheet is a work of art.
And you can see the trap, can’t you? I have approached retirement largely from the first question, from a financial perspective. I have spent countless hours over the years planning and investing to get us to this point.
But really, with less than 8 months from retirement, we will have whatever we have from a financial perspective. And it is more than enough. My real discretionary income will go up in retirement.
The second question, will we be happy, is a more important question than whether we will have enough money. Well, at least it is now once I had some confidence that we are going to have enough money in retirement!
… many people spend forty years building an impressive retirement nest egg, but no time at all thinking about how they are going to enjoy retirement. Indeed, the biggest mistake you can make with your retirement planning is to concentrate only on the financial aspects.
Freedom and happiness are easier to attain than you think. Take your lesson from children. Don’t fret about the future. Don’t regret the past. Live only in the present. The happiness you have at any moment is the only happiness you can ever experience. Reminisce about your great yesterdays, hope for many interesting tomorrows, but, above all, ensure that you live today.
All things considered, your retirement reward should be a life that is at least as exciting and interesting as your work life was. In fact, with creative and constructive use of your time, you can be happier than you ever were in the workplace, regardless of how much satisfaction your work provided.
I can learn how to be happy from Lorraine. And from Tabby. That golden retriever of ours is the Zen master of happiness and contentment.
And I need to turn that question around into a statement:
We will be happy.
I know it.
I can feel it.
Friends of ours own a Newmar King Aire coach similar to the one pictured above. They bought it used. It is a 2013 model.
We own a Newmar Dutch Star coach. We bought it new. It is a 2016 model.
Their coach would be 5 years old. Ours is now 2 years old.
Notice anything different in the following insurance premiums?
We are both insured with Aviva Canada with basically the same coverage. The two coaches are valued at almost the same amount of money. And yet, our premium is almost $3,500 higher per year. We have a clean driving record, no tickets, no accidents. And we do not drink.
So why such a dramatic difference in the cost of the policies?
We talked to our insurance broker and we were given a number of reasons:
- They bought the coach used and you bought it new
- They must have a group discount
- Their coach is 5 years old and your coach is new
- You are the first owner, they are the second owner
Needless to say, we are now shopping for a different insurance company.
I could understand a few hundred dollars difference to insure the coach but over three thousand dollars?
Lorraine knows this better than anyone.
I like things neat and tidy.
Whenever we travel, whether it is in the car or in the coach, clean is good. Especially the windshield. But preferably the entire vehicle.
And I am also fussy — in case that wasn’t clear yet — about the products I use on the finish of either the car or the coach. I hate scratches and swirls in the finish. I want to keep the finish looking like new.
Relatively easy to do with a car.
Very difficult to do with a coach.
Unlike the picture above, not every place we take our coach has a resident detailing service.
But I have found something that I hope Lorraine might add to the Christmas list this year. Something that we can use to make the task of keeping our coach clean much easier.
I already have the tools I need to wash the coach. The big challenge is how to dry the coach. Particularly if it is outside in the sun.
CR Spotless offers a couple of packages specifically for motorhomes including this luxury package:
Don’t panic Lorraine. There is a basic version for about $500.
I guess it depends on whether you think the people in the RV park are criminals or whether the type of RV park, such as the one pictured above, might attract criminals to commit a break and enter in such an upscale setting.
I came across this article on the web where a proposal for an RV park met with substantial resistance from the community of Kyle, Texas near Austin. The developer claimed that the RV park would consist of 50 to 55 sites for upscale coaches that start in the $300,000 range and that the park was targeting vacationing families and retirees.
Here are some of the more interesting comments made in the article:
…residents from the Kensington Trails subdivision spoke during the item’s public hearing period, with many suggesting that the park would attract crime into the area.
…those who live in RV parks typically don’t “connect” with the city they’re living in.
…a 13-year police officer, said RV parks see a higher number of transients, sex offenders and those who can’t otherwise find housing and this increases the likelihood of crime-related incidents these areas.
The zoning was denied.
I wonder if the developer showed photos of upscale motorcoaches like the one pictured below?
I suspect Kyle’s Planning and Zoning Commission was thinking that an upscale RV might look more like this one:
Someone asked me how I felt when I handed in my retirement notice.
Well, it felt a lot like I was quitting.
I suppose putting in a retirement notice is similar to quitting. Except that there is no next job on the horizon. And, because I presently serve as a senior executive in an Insurance company, I can’t just give a couple of weeks notice. In my case, I have provided 9 months notice to allow the CEO time for an orderly transition.
So, although my intentions are clear, I still have a few months left before I am officially retired.
We have been planning for retirement for years now, and yet there are a few questions that continue to worry me:
- Will we have enough money?
- Will we be happy?
- Will we stay healthy?
Being a numbers guy, I have been preoccupied with the first question. This is probably the most common question that people have when they think about retirement: how much money will I need to retire well?
Keep in mind that I am offering a Canadian perspective. The U.S. is a very different country in terms of asset and income variance. To enter the top 1 percent of income in Canada is roughly $225,000 a year. In the U.S. the entry point is almost $600,000 Canadian a year. And in Canada, there are only about 300,000 tax filers in this category.
A recent poll issued by BMO Harris Private Banking, claims that people with at least $1 million of investable assets think they need $2.3 million to retire well. Canadians with at least $1 million of investable assets reflect only 1 percent of the population. Most Canadians will never be able to accumulate that much money for retirement.
Ask most Canadians the same question, and they might say $1 million. Or less. Or more. Very few have a clear idea of what is needed.
My approach was very straightforward. I tracked all of my expenses and I categorized them. I had two columns: one for my expenses while working and one for expenses that we would carry on into retirement. I then looked at contributions from pensions and identified the gap. That gap represented the target retirement savings that I thought I should have before I could call a retirement date. And, of course, there could be no outstanding debt carried into retirement.
Let’s take an example.
We will assume a household with only one income earner and let’s assume that single income earner is doing okay. Much better than the average.
In my province of Ontario, income at the 50th percentile — the median where half make less and half make more — is just under $40,000. Yes, you read that correctly, $40,000. Income at the 75th percentile is $72,000 and at the 90th percentile it is $110,000.
Let’s use that number.
Our single income earner, roughly 10 years from retirement, will pay about $30,000 in taxes on $110,000 of income. That leaves him with $80,000 to spend.
He holds a mortgage which costs him $18,000 a year. This assumes that he put 20% down on an average house and he carries the balance as a mortgage that is paid down over 25 years. The house would be worth about $400,000.
So, he is now left with $62,000 to spend after taxes and mortgage. Out of that amount, he has a number of expenses to cover: cars, food, entertainment, raising kids, saving for retirement. Which, if we look at the average household expenditure after tax, means he has very little, if anything, left over.
But, what might his expenses look like after retirement?
His mortgage would be gone. Saving for retirement would be done. Money spent on raising the kids would be done (hopefully).
In all likelihood, he would be able to live to the same standard in retirement at roughly 60% of his pre-retirement income. Indeed, Sun Life completed a report where they found that the average retired Canadian was living quite well on 62% of what they earned before leaving work. That ratio goes down as income goes up. One of the few benefits of a highly progressive taxation system in Canada is that high income earners can likely live quite well on much less, say 35 to 50% of their pre-retirement income.
So let’s see where our single income earner might stand.
This is what he can count on in retirement. Assuming that he intends to maintain his standard of living, he would need to achieve about $68,200 per year. Based on averages, he might see the following:
OAS: $14,000 (for both himself and his spouse)
Well, lucky fellow! He is almost there at $67,000. His gap is really only a few thousand. Let’s say he needs $10,000 more per year, a total of $77,000 to fill the gap and provide some buffer. A simple way to calculate his target retirement savings is to multiply $10,000 by 25: $250,000. If invested appropriately, he should be able to take out 4% in the first year and then increase his withdrawal by the inflation rate in subsequent years.
If our single income earner did not have a great pension, let’s say only $25,000 then his gap would be $30,000 which would mean a target retirement savings of $750,000. That amount of savings is a pretty big number for most Canadians. Let’s hope he understood the need to put money aside during his working career! Although, as some financial planners would say, you will have whatever you have when retirement comes along. If you are within a few years, there is not much you can do except try to work longer and accept a lower standard of living whenever retirement happens.
The most recent data from Statistics Canada shows families whose highest income earner was 65 or older, had a median after-tax income of $57,500 in 2015. Our single income earner in our example will be taking in more than that in retirement and he will likely enjoy more discretionary spending now that the kids have gone and the house has been paid off.
Every person will have a unique situation in terms of how much is enough money for retirement. From all of the reading and research I have done in this area, I have reached a few basic conclusions:
We will live on much less in retirement because our income taxes will be substantially lower. We can easily live to the same standard on an after-tax basis with an income replacement ratio of 45%.
Thank heavens I set money aside when I was younger. That is the only reason why I can retire earlier at 61 as opposed to 65. Fortunately I have always worked for companies with defined benefit pension plans. Although not indexed for inflation, they are worth a lot of money to me in retirement. To get a rough idea, I took the annual income stream from my pensions, multiplied it by 25 years — I hope to live that much longer! — and gained a deep appreciation for 35 years of pension contributions. I also set a lot of money aside in my 40s which gave time for my investments to grow over the following two decades. That combination of company pension plans and personal investments provides the foundation for financial independence.
Having enough is a very personal matter and in the long run doesn’t mean very much. Having enough to not worry about money is probably the best perspective. As I have done my own research, most people in retirement do not consume like they did in their younger years. They value time and relationships. They find purpose differently from when they were working.
Lorraine keeps telling me not to worry about the numbers.
We have enough.
So. Will we be happy? Will we be healthy?
More on those two questions later.