Some years ago we had a prospector that often opined on this and other issues. His name was "Hardrock" Hendricks. He warned about going whole hog into prospecting without a safety net. He said that one should at the very least have that SS check coming in. There was another couple named (IIRC) Ed and Joy Cole. They wandered around selling New 49'rs club memberships and general stuff at Gold Shows. They had sold the house in Anaheim CA and bought in Blythe (I "think") and used it as a base of operations. They also beeped, sluiced and generally hunted the elusive yellow metal. When I was a lot younger I had given this some thought. The New 49'rs was selling memberships for $300 down and $30 a month. They had claims in the Happy Camp CA area and Apache Junction AZ. Camping on the claims was totally allowed. Soooooo, I thought that since there was no rent (other than $30 a month) that was a good deal. Happy Camp until winter and AJ in the cold months. It sounds like fun but I thought better of it and stayed driving long haul truck. I did meet a guy at I-Bar that took quite a chance. He joined the LDMA and he also bought a detector (Infinium L&S) and a nice tent. He took a bus to Colombia and a cab to the bottom of I-Bar. He was stone broke but thought he could make it by prospecting. I've never seen him again. It's a fun dream but it reminds me of what the other truckers used to say "If I had a million dollars I would keep trucking until it was all gone." It's a big jump but only you can make that decision. It's different as a hobby from what it is as a "business". If I find $10 worth of gold I'm happy since it's a hobby. If I found $40 as a business I would NOT be happy. The difference is the PRESSURE to succeed. Good luck.