Early retirement and a major life change

~Steve

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”!