I have decided to put into words what I have been fantasizing about for over 2 years. It's not some "get/be rich/happy quick/slow" technique. There is nothing to buy (quite the opposite actually). This is the post about how I plan to escape the "work full-time until age 67" plan that our materialistic society would have me do. If you "get it" then let me know. Your ideas and feedback are welcome! If this all sounds like a great amount of work just to underachieve then you are on the wrong blog my friend.
Step One: Erase all debt. Sounds easy, no? It kind of is. When it comes right down to it, it is as easy as not accepting additional debt and paying off the debts you currently have. Live within your means and don't spend money you don't have. It's common sense. Pay off your smallest debt first, then take the money that went to that payment and add it to the money you're already paying to the next higher amount. I know, it's the complete opposite of what we are taught, but for me it worked. The other way, the "right" way, made it seem as though I wasn't making any progress in eliminating my debts and this way does.
"Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry." - Hamlet Act 1, Scene 3
Step Two: Simplify What does that mean? It means cutting back on all of the extras that we think we need. If you don't use your land line, get rid of it. If you don't watch all 145 channels, get rid of DirecTV, everyone else is. We don't really need all of those channels anyway, right? Buying DVD's instead of using Netflix or Redbox? You could have watched almost 20 movies on Redbox for the cost of the one, single copy of "Hunger Games" you just bought. Afraid that you'll be mocked for waiting to watch it until it is rentable? Who are you trying to impress? Don't even get me started on the $65 video games....
Step Three: Prioritize If there are things that you want to do, like go to Hawaii or canoe down the Grand Canyon, it's going to be hard to fit that in your schedule if you're working 60 hours a week. And if it seems too expensive to do either one of those things let alone all the other "cheap" things you want to do, see Step Two. Repeat. Experiences are rembered, possessions are recycled...which would you rather build up? "Hoarders" isn't about what a person has done during their life, it's about how they let their material possessions supplant their emotions and about how those things are killing them. Trust me, you don't need another set of Allen wrenches, take your spouse to a nice dinner instead. You'll remember the dinner. You'll lose the Allen wrenches under the work bench and forget about them.
Step Four: Find Our "Money Floor" This means that I will need to find out just how little money I can make to survive. Then I will increase that amount by 25% at most. Finding our "money floor" will give us a baseline as what our wage needs to be or the minimum numbers of hours we will have to work each week to provide food, shelter, utilities, transportation costs and savings and not be stressed about not having enough to make ends meet.
Step Five: Find a House in Location "X" This one, I suspect, will a little more difficult to go into here due to the variables involved ("money floor", cost of living in specific areas, desire to own or rent, etc.). The "gist" is that we will be looking at about 5 or 6 areas of the U.S. to live in and we when we figure out the pros and cons of each, we will locate a house in that area to rent or buy.
Step Six: Sell The House We Currently Live In Again, this is slightly more difficult to expand on. Simply put, we intend to sell the house we've lived in for the last nearly-10 years for a small profit. A rather small profit, but again, due to the first three rules it will be enough.
Step Seven: Relocate to Location "X" Moving day! We are not taking any furniture. None. It's old, tired and outlived its usefulness and therefore won't be making the trip to Whereever. Personal possessions will be limited to one, possibly two, 5 cubic foot boxes. 100 articles of clothing can go. Pots, pans, utensils...those go....small appliances, maybe. No washer, no dryer, no refrigerator, no stove. No beds either, they are hand-me-downs and need to go. Small, packable air-mattresses will suffice for the time being. Books, CD's, DVD's...those were taken care of before, here and here.
Step Eight: Find Jobs My ideal would be to work about 3-4 days per week, averaging about 30 hours or so. I am doing that now AND making a house payment so without a house payment I should be doing slightly better. Yes, I will have rent or possibly a payment if I don't get enough to buy something outright, but nowhere near the financial obligations that I have now. What will I do with all the free time? Anything I want. Hiking, reading, biking, gardening, visiting with friends.....it doesn't matter so long a I am not "owned" by a job for 40-60 hours per week simply to scrape out a meager existence. I know in Monopoly, the one with the most at the end wins. Life doesn't work that way. I am not going to waste my life working, I want to live.
I know this all sounds totally crunchy granola commune-y, but to me it sounds exciting. There has to be more to our existence than the daily commute and 9 to 5 until age 67. This is my plan to find out what, and if, that "more" is.