We made the decision to downsize last year and Sheila and I traded six rooms that we never used for freedom. I started building our cabin in two thousand and five mainly to have somewhere we could go to and experience country living again after being away for so many decades. About two years ago after thirty years of working for the same company, I decided to consider retirement. It is the same process for most everyone I suppose and as I went through all the reasons to leave work, I also would find myself sifting through all the reasons to stay. It would always come down to one thing. Money. Someone told me once that my body would tell me when. It was saying, “now”. Nobody else could make this decision for me and there would be no going back. No “I made a mistake”. Here is the thing. If you wait until you have enough money to retire, you will die on the job. I have celebrated two birthdays since I left work and I am now sixty. believe me when I tell you, the hardest part is letting go. I believe that I timed it perfectly. Someday I will share why.
One thing that became obvious once the kids grew up and moved out was that our house was too big for two people. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the space but half of our house was never used. I remember thinking that I am dusting and vacuuming rooms that’s only purpose is to collect dust. To make retirement work, debt must be minimized. Nothing quite like being forced back into the workforce for a fraction of what you were making before because your bills pulled you under water. It is one thing to go back to work because of boredom, but something much different to be forced back to work because of debt. A fixed income is just that. Fixed. One thing we decided was that we needed to sell our home and move to the cabin. Move back to where we grew up. Back to Kentucky. Our home sold and then we had to decide what to do with a house full of furniture and a life full of memories represented by things that we had collected for over forty years. We decided to let it go, most of it anyway because in the end, its just stuff. At first it was hard. Hell, it was very hard but as it progressed it became easier and now looking back, I don’t miss any of it. At times I do miss the place we moved from and some of the people I worked with and why wouldn’t I? It had been our home for close to twenty-five years.
So here I sit, still in disbelief that we actually traded all of our debt for freedom. I sleep when I want, get up when I want and everything I do is completely up to me. I am learning how to manage a fixed income and get by on less but trust me, its much easier than I thought it would be. Our cabin, I guess I will always call it that, is a little more that one third the size of our home and we have had a fairly easy transition to smaller living. We have lived here for almost three seasons and as we are nearing winter, our Christmas tree is up and I wonder if this might be the hardest season on us because of the smaller space. We have spent so much time outside but now the cold weather has forced us indoors. Everything has been awesome until now but I have visions of me sitting two months from now at the keyboard typing over and over the same sentence. All work and no play makes Wayne a dull boy! If so, I hope you will send me a snowplow.