Early retirement and a major life change


Mona Liza and I were fortunate to have mostly stable jobs during our careers, both in the IT field.  But, we have always been good savers and have tried to invest wisely throughout our lives.  Once we were married, we worked as a team to save for an early retirement, not knowing at the time what we would do in retirement.  We don’t have children, and of course we realize the huge costs of raising kids would delay anyone’s retirement plans.  On the other hand, we’ve lived below our means (no new cars, few meals out and reasonable vacations) during the first 10 years we have been together.  Anyone with financial discipline can do what we’ve done, if they start early enough in their career.

Once we decided to pursue this crazy idea, we developed a detailed budget.  Then we continued working until we had saved enough to pay off all of our debts, and until we believed my pension would fund our budget.  Having a sizable emergency fund is crucial in this lifestyle, since major repairs on a motorhome can run into the tens of thousands of dollars (just like with a “real” house).  We hope to also continue to save a little money into an account that will allow us to take “side trips” overseas or an occasional cruise (I love cruises!).

Since we are in our early 50’s, we must adhere to our budget until the “old lady” turns 59 and a half, at which time we can start withdrawing funds from our retirement accounts.  In the meantime, either or both of us MAY work again.  If so, it will be because we want to, not because we have to.  That is a big deal.

From my perspective, it is hard to describe the incredibly liberating feeling of getting rid of almost all of our personal possessions, including our  home, and starting over in this new life.  Daily life is simple now, and even though I must clean and maintain the motorhome and car, it’s such a joy to have so little to worry about on a daily basis.  Incredible!

~Mona Liza

Speaking of major life changes… we are embarking on  a complete 180 degree turn around of what we are used to.  We were able to dispose of our home in Tracy, despite the turbulent housing market.  Throughout January and February of this year, we managed  to sell, donate, give and trash our possessions.  Due to limited space and weight constraints, I can’t take all of my shoes, purses and clothes!  I have to choose wisely, taking with me only what I need and what fits in the limited storage.  Downsizing and simplifying sounds crazy and terrifying, but as it turns out letting go is truly liberating. It is not emotionally easy at the time, but it can definitely be done.  The shedding of “stuff” from a big house to a motorhome was quite emotional for me.  But then again, these are just things I had acquired through the years and now I had to let them go.

Living on the road also means bidding goodbye, not only to family and friends, but also to the people that you have relationships with.  I made my last appointments with my dental hygienist, my masseuse, my hair stylist, my periodontist, my eye doctor, our landscaper and our neighbors – all of them were sad to see us go, but excited about our new beginnings.

This journey of ours is about living a dream, existing simply and enjoying every moment of life.  I’m excited to see how it works out.  Worst case, we’ll just quit and move into another house – and buy all new “stuff”!


  1. Steve and ML – you both worked hard for this (and continue to do so)! Good luck and enjoy every second of it.

    • Hey Ian, good to hear from you. Shame on me for not including you in the announcement of our new site. I’ll definitely get you into my appropriate contacts list for the future. Although it will be a while, we will be down your way someday to spend considerable time in the Anza Borrego Desert, as my parents used to do in their RV. It’s getting busier there these days, but it’s still a great place to pull off the road and “boondock” in the middle of nowhere for a while.

      Hope to see you sometime when we are in the area, and let’s keep in touch!


      • Hi Steve and Mona !
        I also just came across your blog as my boyfriend and I are hoping to follow in your footsteps…but we have a few years to go yet. It is very exciting to read and learn from others ! Safe travels !

    • We sure hope that any issues we encounter will be manageable. This is just like a regular home but due to constant movement problems can’t be avoided so we will just roll with it.

  2. I’m so happy for you guys! I’ll keep up with you all, growing greener with envy every day! It must be amazing to be starting this whole new chapter in your life!!!

    • We are a newbie in this new RV life so we will learn and enjoy as we go along. Watch out for us when we are in AR and make room for us in your yard.

  3. ML- you may leave behind family and friends but I’m sure you are going to meet new friends along the way. It is official, you guys are now my “idols”. Good luck and have fun. I’ll come along for the ride.


  4. I always think about this with you and other bloggers who travel a lot! Having to know me, I just can’t do what the two of you have done. I live in the moment. Today is the day for me. If nothing comes to me on my later days, so be it. I can say I have lived my life to the fullest. I’m not here to trash. i admire and look up to what you do successfully. But I have to be realistic. I’m just not the same. And I wish I can say the opposite. It’s really what one person thinks make him/her happy, what to sacrifice and how strong your pursuit is.

    Have fun and safe travel. Thanks for including me as one of your blogroll. 😀

  5. Congratulations on your early start! It looks as though you are pacing yourselves well, we like how you’ve done all the “border” states. We still lack New England and the Maritime Provinces to complete our odyssey.

    We’re in Florida’s panhandle heading for Tallahassee then Orlando, Sarasota, Miami for February and March. Looking forward to warmer climes. Hope to meet you down the road!

    Jim and Debbie
    dreamstreamr odyssey

    • I would urge you to visit NE and Maritime Provinces, it is worth the trip.
      I think we may be crossing paths when you head down to Miami. I will send you email of our route after our month stay here at Bonita Springs.

  6. Mona Liza … I couldn’t find an email address for you …. so here’s what I wrote in reply to your comment on our pad at Gulf Waters RV Park.

    You certainly could visit us here this winter … except that we are not going to be here. Our off-the-road travels will take us away from late November through pretty close the end of March. So, if you are looking to rent … well, hint, hint ;-)) All rentals are done through the office — here’s the — website. Owners have to advise the rental office of their own usage plans (I think the deadline is just past), so not sure what other sites might be available … best is to call the office (# on the website) and ask; I know they were excited when we told them our site would be available for winter rental in 2014-2015 because they were fast running out of available sites. Anyway, if you have specific questions you can reach me at my email address.

  7. Hi Steve & Mona Liza,

    Was on “Wheelingit” and saw “Lovely Lowes” so had to click on it. Love to read about new rvers. I like your name, Mona Liza. My husband and I are also in our 50’s and have decided to retire early in 2016. We’ve just bought our motorhome ( a bit premature but couldn’t turn down the great deal). Now we’re in the process of getting our house ready to sell in the spring. We are so looking forward to downsizing and selling our house so we can be free to enjoy things that really matter. Hope to meet you on the road.

    • Thank you Sonia, my mom did give me an unforgettable name 🙂
      I can relate to your excitement and we bought Betsy too while we were still working for we can’t turn away from a great deal either. Having the rig earlier actually helps you in your adjustment period from a house to a motorhome. Good luck in your downsizing and getting rid of stuff. You will find it very liberating.
      Hope to meet you up on the road one day.

  8. Hi Steve & Mona Liza. Just came across your blog and really enjoyed reading about your early retirement story. We can relate to the incredible feeling of getting rid of stuff and living simply. Look forward to following your journey and maybe we’ll meet some where down the road.

  9. I just reread your intro and noticed you lived in Tracy! I grew up in Tracy and still own my parents home there. Did either of you go to Tracy High? I’m having my 50th reunion in October! Hope you are having wonderful travels.

    • Yes, each post has a date it is published. But this section where you commented is considered a “Page” by WordPress and there is no date, but “Post” have dates. Also on the lower right margin, there is a section “Archives,” you can search by month, and another section “Post by States’ you can search by State. At the top menu, “Where we’ve been” posts are categorized by state. And, if you go to our homepage, there is a huge map, with pushpins of where we stayed around the country and that has dates too. Finally, there is “Search” button where you can type what you are looking for. Hope that helps Nancy, feel free to ask if you are still unable to find what you are looking for. Thank you for checking us out.

  10. Hi Steve and Mona Liza, I just started checking out your blog…great stuff! It sounds like Scott and I are following a similar path, but we are a few years behind. Also, FYI, we appear to have the same “address”! It was great meeting you at Navajo National Monument. Safe travels!

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