On the whole, people’s reactions to our ‘retirement plan’ have been positive, which I have to admit, surprises me. I guess I was expecting most folks to ask us if we’d lost our collective minds. But instead, we get encouragement and enthusiasm from comments like: “What a wonderful idea!” and “You’ll never regret it!” and “Now’s the time. Go while you’re young enough to really enjoy it!” Even the occasional “I’m so jealous!”
I’ve only encountered a couple of people (not naming names) that seemed…well…I wouldn’t say negative, but let’s maybe leave it at cautious. I even had one person react with “Wow, that’s…adventurous.” I got the impression adventurous was a very carefully chosen word, designed to deliver the message that they didn’t approve, but that they were also concerned about offending. And that’s ok. After all, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But I’d like to address the ‘cautious’ people to reassure them, if nothing else.
Their main concerns seem to be broken down into two issues:
1. ”That’s a long time in a little space. Won’t you get sick of each other?”
What this group of people may not realize is that Mike and I already spend more time together than probably any other couple they know. Unless we’re at work, chances are better than even that we’re together. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing. We can be working our asses off, cutting and piling firewood for the winter. We can be bustling around the kitchen preparing a meal. We can sit together in the same room for hours with the TV or our laptops. It really makes no difference what we’re doing, as long as we’re near each other.
Mike and I were best friends long before we actually started dating. Maybe this is the
reason we’ve lasted so long, I don’t know. But we have always enjoyed spending time together. Do we get on each other’s nerves? Of course. But never to the point where we don’t want to be with the other. If he has somewhere to go, I’m invited along, and vice versa. I’ve been told I live in his hip pocket. As long as he’s not complaining, that’s
perfectly fine with me. I really don’t think that’s going to change moving into a camper. Especially if we have somewhere new to explore every day.
You see, the one thing Mike and I have always made time for, is playing. We’ve never let the day-to-day problems and troubles grind us down until there’s nothing left. Even when we didn’t have a dime to our names, we’d still find something fun to do, if it was just going for a walk. We’re constantly teasing, clowning around and joking to make each other laugh. I’ll find a funny meme on Facebook and immediately text it to him, only to have him come back with another one. In no time, we’re in the middle of a joke war, each trying to one-up the other.
It might be cliché, but we’ve always agreed with the saying, “You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing.” We’re almost 50, but we still feel (emotionally at least) like teenagers. And since you’re only as old as you feel, well, you see my point.
2. ”Could you really walk away from your house and all your stuff?”
As far as the house and the stuff, I think most people are a bit brainwashed by society’s ‘rules.’ From a very young age, we’re taught and lectured that we must work toward the big house, the new car, and all the other trappings to be considered ‘successful.’ He who dies with the most toys wins, right?
I think the most successful people I know are the ones who make the most with what they have. If you are happy, and I mean truly content, with your surroundings, with your station in life, with what fate has seen fit to bestow on you, who says you need more? Why are we constantly killing ourselves with overtime and second jobs and mountains of debt just so we can be seen as successful by society’s standards?
I saw a sign once that summed it up beautifully. It read: I’m spending money I don’t have, to buy things I don’t need, to impress people I don’t like. I can’t say it better than that.
The way I see it is, if I have a roof over my head, a full belly, and someone who loves me for who I am and wants to be with me, how could you possibly be more successful than that? I don’t believe the media or society when they tell me I need more and more. I think we all get caught up in the trap that what we have is never enough. When does it ever become enough?
Let’s look at it realistically for a moment. We are in the process of paying off a mortgage on a 5 bedroom, 2 bath raised bungalow. The kids are grown and out on their own, it’s just the two of us here. We cook in the kitchen, sleep in one bedroom and spend the rest of our time in the living room. Why do we need all this space? Why do we need all the stuff that’s filling up this space? (Why do I have to keep cleaning all of this space? Ugh.)
The house is too large for just us. Why keep paying? Mortgage, taxes, insurance, repairs, upkeep, power, water, the list goes on and on and on. It really adds up when you think about it.
Now, if we took the money we were pouring into the house every year, and put it towards traveling, how do you think that would stack up? No mortgage payment, we already own the camper. No house insurance, the trailer is covered by our auto insurance which we would be paying anyway. No property taxes, it’s not a permanent dwelling. How quickly it comes ahead.
I’m not saying there won’t be expenses. There will be camping fees, depending on where we stay. Power and water will generally be included in this. When it isn’t, we’re planning on investing in solar, as well as running almost everything on 12 volt, which the truck will recharge. Drinking water will most likely have to be purchased. Propane will be another charge, for cooking and heating. There will also be gasoline, but we figure this shouldn’t change much from what we’re paying now, since the truck will mostly just be used for moving the trailer every few weeks. Most of the local driving and exploring will be done with Buddy, who gets roughly 50/mpg.
As for the ‘stuff,’ I’ve been steadily downsizing over the last few years, and have already cleared out a lot of clutter. Admittedly, a lot remains, but there’s really very little I’d have a hard time letting go of. What the kids don’t want, I’m going to sell off or donate to someone who needs it. A few family heirlooms will be packed and stored, and the rest goes. I’m always amazed at the amount of junk a family can accumulate through the years. And so much of it waiting for ‘Someday.’ Well, ‘Someday’ just got here. Time to clean house.
As for the `cautious` people, I hope I`ve put their minds at ease. Mike and I have always danced to our own beat. What may be acceptable or normal for some people may not necessarily suit us, just as our decisions may not necessarily suit others.
Basically, it breaks down to Return On Investment. Is our plan guaranteed to work? Of course not. Life offers no guarantees. But what are the memories worth that we’ll be collecting? Priceless. I’d rather regret the things I did, than regret the things I didn’t do.
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