Retirement expert, Akaisha, details the internal struggle of selling absolutely everything they owned, only to find their plans scuppered by the start of the Gulf War. What a picture she paints; you’ll love her candid reveal!
…continued from Article 1…
In our previous article, I told you about Billy’s outrageous plan to chuck it all – our house in California a half mile from the beach – and everything in it, including our artwork, our beautiful imported furniture, our wine stash, kitchenware, spices, and our music collection! Not to mention our families, our friends and everything we called familiar. And then set out to travel the world.
I was less than enthused.
Billy is an idea man and he’s good at it. In fact, he’s a genius. However, sometimes the execution of those ideas can be a bit bumpy – and this was a ride I did not want to take.
Billy is also very persistent, which can be adorable or absolutely annoying – depending on the circumstances. In this case, my ‘annoyance’ meter was stuck on high.
So I said as calmly as I could,
‘So where do we start? What are we supposed to do to make this work?’
Work Hard, Save a Lot, Spend Little, Invest Wisely
Now the good part.
The first thing one must do is to work hard or work smart – preferably both.
We knew all about working hard since we owned the restaurant and it was open every meal period, every day of the year. We were now working hard on working smart. We utilized the money we were taking in and paid down our mortgage. We had already paid off our cars. Billy had the opportunity through his company to sign up for matched money from his employer for retirement funds. Any employer sponsored program that was offered to help him save money or invest money, we utilized it.
Because of our restaurant background, we often ate better at home than if we would have spent the $100 going out. We banked that money instead.
We got books, magazines and movies at the library instead of purchasing new ones. We packed our lunches. Basically, we made a game out of saving money and cutting back expenses. We were fully into saving a lot and spending little, and because of Billy’s talent with numbers, we were able to invest wisely.
Another secret we employed is that we tracked our spending. We knew exactly where our money was going and how much of it we had. No matter what we bought (a tank of gas, groceries, repairs for the house) we tracked it. We also logged in our income.
Because of our diligence in these areas, we were convinced that we could live a comfortable life on less than we had done previously. So we were ready to hit the road and travel.
Sell your Stuff
We couldn’t bring all our furniture with us on the road, nor could we bring our extensive vinyl music collection, our artwork, our kitchen equipment and spices, nor our massive work-related wardrobes.
We were nearing the countdown now, so in the newspaper we listed that we were having an estate sale. This was long before Craigslist or the internet, remember? We also made signs to post around the neighborhood saying we were having a giant sale.
People from everywhere flocked in and took our stuff out with them. One man – newly divorced – purchased items by the room – such as our living room Italian leather couch, love seat and lounge chair and all our fireplace tools. He bought our kitchen down to the boxes and boxes of spices. And he loved our vinyls, so he bought the whole collection without looking at most of them.
After two weekends of this, we then hit the flea market. I sold artwork, tapestries and Ming vases for a steal of a price! After days of this, what was left over went to Goodwill or we put into storage. We didn’t let anything hold us back!
Tip: Whatever you think you might want to keep in storage, cut that by two-thirds and save the money. Just gift it away. You won’t need these things, and it’s better to just start out that way without the added expense of buying your stuff all over again by paying storage fees.
Our Friends and Family Thought we were Crazy
Emotionally, this was the hardest for us to deal with. We never let on during the two years it took us to track spending and save every dime we could that there was a reason to our “madness.” There was no word for what we were doing, and our family and friends thought we were nuts.
No one except those on the show The Rich and Famous were independently wealthy…what made us think we could be?
Why leave perfectly good jobs? Why leave a gorgeous home minutes away from the beach? Why not have a pet, get new cars, and fill your living room with an entertainment system? Your Bar-b-que is old! Get a new one! We just bought this awesome bottle of Cabernet and it was only $75 – you should too!
It was hard not having their support, but at the same time, it let us know what we were made of and that we were able to decide on a goal and stick to it.
No One Size Fits All
While there are many ways to live a life, and we aren’t criticizing anyone’s choice, for us, FREEDOM was our motivator.
During our darkest moments of wondering what we had gotten ourselves into, we made lists of things we wanted to learn (how to play the saxophone, learn to watercolor); places we wanted to visit (Asia, South America); books we wanted to read; and everything possible that held our interest. That list was long and it continues today.
We are not the sort to become bored, but with our list in hand, on day one of financial freedom, we could always check our list if we doubted why we retired early.
We were now in uncharted waters. Billy had gone ahead to the Caribbean Island of Nevis, West Indies where we knew island life was “slow, mon,” while I finished up with the sale of items and packing stuff away in California. There, he secured a “temporary transition job” with the Four Seasons Resort Hotel. The official resort opening was coming soon and they needed his expertise to monitor restaurant staff and taste the food this new hotel was making.
I was to meet him there in a couple of weeks. I already had a plan for the next destination, a bit of online research showed me that the Vietnam visa on arrival program was available again, so I applied and we are going to Vietnam soon!
Challenges Make us Grow
But something happened on the way to the island.
This was January, 1991. The Gulf War had just broken out and the news was filled with terror. No one knew how long this war would go on and the media told everyone not to fly. We had not planned for this unexpected challenge.
Billy and I would speak on the telephone (there was no Skype or email at the time). Here he is on a laid back island in the Caribbean and I’m on the coast of California telling him I can’t fly to his location. I just can’t risk it.
Silence on the Phone
Remember now, I no longer have a job. I have no furniture since I sold it all. And I don’t really have my home, since we planned to rent it out. To pay for our mortgage myself, while Billy was on St. Somewhere, didn’t fit the plan.
In slow motion I sat on the floor in front of the TV and watched the news. My family and our friends told me I should stay there in California where it was safe and let Billy manage on his own. We are not foolhardy people, but to lie in bed with my imaginary blankets (the ones I sold) pulled up to my eyes just wasn’t our style.
No matter how conflicted I felt, I had to get on that plane. I simply HAD to look danger in the eye and worry about peeing my pants later.
Billy and I hung up the phone with Billy not absolutely sure that I would arrive via flights and water taxi as planned or be talked into staying in California. The Caribbean was thousands of miles away. Visiting there was one thing. Planning to live there for 6 months was quite another.
What was I going to do?
To be continued in Article 3…
AKAISHA HAS ALSO SHARED
- How and Why we Retired at 38 (1st article)
- Written and formatted by: Akaisha Kaderli
- Compiled and edited by: Krista Beauvais
- Photos: all photos are courtest of Akaisha Kaderli
- Early Retirement Date: 1991