First off, you must know this one fact about me: I don’t think like other people. I don’t do things like other people. I don’t reason like other people. I live by my own rules. Because of this, I have very few “close” friends (but many acquaintances). Most people think I am weird, strange, rude, obnoxious, opinionated but they only come to that conclusion when I reveal a part of myself to them. So, I have learned over the years NOT to let anyone know anything about me.
I didn’t plan my retirement as most financials advisors would recommend: save your money and invest. I lost twice in the stock market and I have no intention of making three times a charm. I understand that our current stock market is at an all time high and sometimes I sit and calculate how much more money I would have now if I had just stayed the course. The stock market is a fool’s game and anyone who bases their life on it, is, IMHO, a fool. See? I’ve ticked you off already.
When the economy and the stock market took a dump in 2008 and gazillions of people watched their portfolios wither and die, DH and I spent our time laughing at everyone from the sidelines. That’s because The Great Recession had no effect on our financial standing whatsoever. As people were losing their homes due to foreclosure, facing massive job losses, income disruptions, repossessions etc. DH and I just cruised through the greatest financial upheaval in history. Why were we unscathed? Because in 2001 we made a conscious effort to get out of debt, live without a mortgage and own cars without loans. We suffered greatly in order to stay out of debt. I knew ahead of time that DH and I were to avoid any involvement with banks at all costs. Everyone laughed at us and said we were crazy.
Who’s laughing now?
Since I was a child, I dreamed and calculated my retirement. I always knew how I wanted to live my life once I no longer needed to work for a living. Back in 1997, one of my bosses once asked me how I saw myself in retirement. I didn’t have to think long before I gave him an answer. I told him I envisioned myself owning three homes: one in the mountains, one on the beach and one in paradise (where ever that might be). Now, ask yourself…….was this a normal answer to a normal question? No. I told my boss that my retirement would be spent by me traveling and living in each of my three homes throughout the different seasons of the year.
When it came time for me to actually plan out my retirement, I did it backwards. I didn’t say to myself that I planned to live on $60,000 a year, nor $100,000 a year and then work and save towards that goal. No, I did it the opposite. I figured out how much guaranteed income I was going to positively receive ($2,700 a month or roughly $32,400 a year) and I channeled and geared my life downwardly until I reached the point where I could comfortably live on $32,400 a year AND own my three dream homes.
- Note: DH and I are currently living on $36,700 a year BUT that’s because he is still working. Once he stops, we will have no problem whatsoever to live on $32,400 (or less) a year.
At 50 years of age, I retired. (DH is planning to fully retire at 62, eighteen months from now). I owned a home in the mountains, a home near the beach and my paradise image of the 3rd home turned out to be an RV. (I’ve gone through a series of at least 4 to 5 RVs since 2001) I came to realize owning an RV is really my ticket to paradise because I can travel/drive to any location that gives me joy.
One piece of advice from a financial expert that I do follow is the proven fact that two retirees, at the age of 65, will need approximately $260,000 in cash, at that point in their lives, to cover the next 20 years of Medicare co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance premiums etc. etc. etc.
I don’t think consciously about frugality every single day because I knowingly am living my life already at its lowest price point. I check my bank balances each and every day and I check my consumer credit once a week. I always know my bank balance, cash holdings, credit score each and every day. Without even thinking I know what I can afford, what I can spend, what I can buy, how I can comfortably live within my parameters. I know how much I can spend on groceries each week, how much my newish sneakers would cost, how much gas I can put in my car, what kind of clothes I can safely buy, how much I can spend if and when I sit down in either a restaurant or fash food joint. I know all these things consciously before I step outside my home.
Should higher expenses creep my way, I can weekly change my budget, make cuts to the expenditures, find another path through the maze and painlessly adjust my life accordingly. There is NO lifestyle inflation here. While most people think they need MORE money to manage their retirement lives (think inflation), I find ways to stay within my guidelines and I never give increases a second look. I call it: needs vs. wants. As long as you are covering your four walls (roof over your head, food on the table, transportation and necessary utilites i.e. electricity, heat/ac & hot water) everything else is just noise.
I don’t know anyone else who lives like DH and me. I have met a few retirees who’ve come close and these few have become our very dear friends. I suppose like-minded people are attracted to each other as some kind of kindred spirit or communal acceptance. I know that DH and I can’t really associate with people who are rich or spend large sums of money (whether real or on credit). We can’t take cruises or travel internationally. We can’t go out to restaurants or see expensive shows or concerts. We can’t go to functions that require formal dress attire. Because of this we’ve had to say ‘NO’ a lot and decline most invitations. (thus you lose potential friends) I can’t go to jewelry parties, lunch out with the girls or take up expensive sports (like tennis or golf) because I simply do not have the money to do so. I wouldn’t even try to rearrange my budget to do these things because in the scheme of things I do NOT think they are important.
I can not take anyone out to dinner BUT I sure as heck can cook you up a great meal that’ll be better than any restaurant you might wander in to. One thing DH and I will NOT scrimp on is the quality of food. We may buy food at a discounted price BUT you can be assured that the food we served is always top shelf!
As DH and I progress through our early retirement, we realize it’s only possible because we keep changing our bottom line. We keep going through downsizing and re-prioritizing what is important to us. Living in a nice home, driving a nice (reliable) car, living in both the mountains and the beach is primo importante (very, very important). Having the freedom an RV allots us to travel well is currently possible again for us, in part, due to a new series of innovations. We are in the middle of mastering boondocking, which is free camping (click here). Boondocking wasn’t as prevelant in 2001 as it is today. Our new, modern RV comes equipped to encompass the new trends in camping, making boondocking easy for us now (i.e it’s solar-ready) So, you see, life is a series of constant changes. We always know the bottom line. We just have to keep altering our path to stay on our course.
Most people, don’t want to live this way. Rather than living with less as their retirement progresses, they want to live with more. And for that they’ll need more money and they’ll need to watch the foolishness of the stock market. Only to survive yet another Great Recession.
Live well and prosper, my friend. Live well and prosper.