I’m so surprised at how many people still read and leave comments on this blog. It’s staggering. There are a lot of people, apparently, looking for answers about retirement. I’m not surprised. Working sucks and after being retired for over six years, I couldn’t imagine going back to that life. I was miserable. I chose my career based on happenstance. I should have taken a chance when I was 21 or so and gone back to school to become a graphic artist. But I didn’t. I’m retired now but how many years did I waste doing something I barely tolerated?
But I’ve gained new perspective since I retired and stopped writing this blog. I’ve done and continue to do the things I preached about. My wife quit her job a year and a half ago. We kicked our kids out of the house (on good terms) and sold the house last fall. We live in an Apartment in Reno, Nevada, and are actively planning to buy a motorhome and hit the open road next year. I began writing fiction and self-published several novels. I stopped that when the self-publishing market became to difficult and frustrating to compete in and now we have a YouTube channel. I loved writing and now, I love making videos.
Life isn’t perfect. My dad contracted a horrible staff infection last summer and spent four month in the hospital. It was a real challenge getting our sons off on their own. Selling our house was full of ups and downs. My wife, Jen, had complications from her gall bladder surgery that lasted 11 months. We’ve had issues with our extended families. And, as I’ve alluded to in the past on this blog, I suffered from back-related pain…sort of. That’s life!
But I’ve done things I’ve always wanted…like publish a novel or many as the case may be. We’ve traveled. We’ve spent time with our kids and been able to support them as they transitioned to the Marines and the other to college, though not often (thank God) monetarily. We’ve taken long hikes, explored many places and spent quiet evenings watching the sun set, smoking a fine cigar and enjoying some craft beer (me, not the wife). Life is good.
I’m practicing what I preached and I’m doing it with far less money than a lot of people retire on. We’re not poor but we’re not rich either. We’ve had to make sacrifices and hard choices. For instance, we love to travel and RVing will allow us to travel a lot more than we could with a house. We’ve had to make those kind of choices and we’ve made them. We do what makes us happy and what is important to us, not what we’re expected to do or what others demand. We live life on our terms and within our means. We are making the most of our relative youth (I’m 50, can you believe it?) while we still can. We are making memories and having experiences. That’s all that really matters in the end. Not money, fancy cars, big houses, golf club memberships, expensive toys, Facebook or being up in the latest new show on Netflix.
Those things aren’t bad in and of themselves. If you have the money, enjoy it. If you love golf or sports cars, indulge. I have a $40,000 Jeep Wrangler for Pete’s sake because I love Jeeps (paid for thanks to the sale of our home). But those things are what the rest of society tells you are important to be happy. The signals are everywhere. Even retirement planners are pushing that stuff. It’s all meaningless when you’re on your death bed. You won’t wax poetic about having high speed internet or the heated seats in your Mercedes (yes, my Jeep has heated seats). You definitely won’t regret retiring on a shoestring budget to do what you want when you want.
You’ll remember time spent with your spouse, family and friends. You’ll remember the experiences you’ve had, like seeing Yosemite for the first time or that nude beach you and your partner sneaked off to or all the sunrises you witnessed. You’ll remember the people that you love and the amazing things you did. Money is superfluous. It’s a means to an end, nothing more. Possessing it doesn’t make you happy and happiness doesn’t require it. Retirement, however you define it, is it’s own reward. The freedom it provides, if you let it, is invaluable. It is not boring. It is not depressing. It most certainly is not the end. Unless you decide it is.
So, when are you going to pull the plug and get on with your life?
With that, expect more from me in the future. I don’t know how often I’ll post but I’ve got more to say. I hope some of you will find inspiration or courage in my musings.