“I’m going to work until the day I die. That’s my retirement plan.”
I was doing an audit at a major pharmacy store when I heard the long-time manager of the store give the above response to a customer who had asked him if he was ever going to retire. I laughed when I heard that and told the manager that was my retirement plan also. By the time I shared this with my wife that evening, I could no longer find any humor in this encounter.
At this point in my life, I really felt like I would be working at a job I no longer enjoyed until I died or I just wasn’t able to work anymore. I was manager of a small bookstore making a moderate salary with little upside. Days off from the bookstore were spent doing audits and merchandising jobs at other retailers. On top of our normal living expenses, we had credit card debt and medical bills. Even making minimum payments left no money for savings. If I didn’t make some changes, it would be years before I had my debt reduced enough to start saving for retirement. It wasn’t a pretty picture for my future.
There are lots of resources available if you are looking to reduce debt. One of my favorites is Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness A common theme among most resources is to live a frugal life – cut your expenses and only make necessary new purchases. You then apply every dollar available to building an emergency fund and to paying off your debt. My wife and I moved to an apartment where our rent was about $400 less, we went to one cell phone instead of three, and instead of having 100s of TV channels, we now have only basic cable. The day may come when we just throw the TV out completely. All of these things helped us pay down some of our debt.
Just recently, we discovered another set of resources that have really put us on the fast track to, not only getting out of debt, but also to living an independent lifestyle. Our lives really started to change when my wife discovered Tammy Strobel’s website called Rowdy Kittens. This site was my introduction to what it means to live a minimalist lifestyle. The first time I visited, I spent hours reviewing the archived posts and following her links to the sites of others writing about minimalist living. In addition to reducing expenses and spending, Tammy’s site showed us the importance of reducing the clutter in our home and life. We really took a hard look at all the stuff we owned and asked ourselves how important it was to us and had it even been used in the last 6 months, or 6 years.
What we discovered is that we had 100s of things that we never used anymore. We moved a lot when I was in retail management and it is amazing how much stuff we had that never got unpacked from place to place. It was time for us to downsize! We begin to look at each item we owned and to make decisions whether the item should be kept, donated, given to family/friends, sold, or trashed. The book, The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta, was very helpful in suggesting a process for dealing with our clutter.
We still have a long way to go in our journey to remove the clutter from our home and lives, but I am confident that we will be successful. I am also confident that I can show you how to take this journey. Will you join us?
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