The joy is in the journey
Posted by John | Filed under Uncategorized
Six years ago, (age 60, spouse age 64) I was not working and my husband was. He unexpectedly lost his job (life event not planned for). We were about 70k in debt (40K bal of mortgage, 10 k car balance, rest cc debt)
Jerry immediately signed for social security, I was not age eligible. Our income went form $ 6000.00 a month to $ 1500.00 per month. We had about 50 K in retirement savings and NO emergency fund. We mutually made the decision that EVERYTHING was on the table. We immediately quit the golf club, dropped cable, reduced or eliminated everything we could think of and sold everything we were not currently using. Jerry was able to secure a new job at a significantly reduced salary but was able to have our health insurance included in his benefit plan (at no cost to us). Now the $4500 / mo shortage had shrunk to about $ 2500.00. At the age of 60 I found work as a telemarketer further reducing our mo shortage to about $ 500.00 per month. And we cut up all credit cards! NO MORE CHARGING!
We immediately starting reducing our debt. I listed all debt and the interest rates. We first paid off all the credit cards, paying highest interest rates first. The first two years we were able pay off everything but the house. Because of my job, I found another job that paid significantly better and I was able to go on social security. Now our income was greater than the 6K we had when this all happened. but WE STUCK TO OUR DEBT DIET PLAN! Because we reduced our expenditures so much we were able to fully pay off the house by the end of the third year! Now we were debt free!
At that time we reviewed all our assets and decided we would stay in our house (no mortgage) and take the next two years to make the house as senior friendly and maintenance free as possible. New roof, windows, doors, siding, hot water tank, furnace, air conditioner and everything else we could think of. At my second job I was able to fully contribute to the retirement plan.
In five years we had not been out to dinner even once, reduced our gift giving to children and grandchildren, cancelled all magazine subscription, went to basic cable, gave up cell phones, no new clothing, no vacations, I cut my husband’s hair, he wouldn’t cut mine lol, no movies, etc. etc. etc.
I cannot tell you what a wonderful journey this has been. No gym memberships, we walk the dogs instead (the dogs love it), made quilts (that are treasured) as gifts and gave coupons for Jerry’s talents (he is very handy)! Invite family and friends to dinner (I do the entree and have everyone bring a dish to pass). We do our own lawn (gave up lawn service and snowplowing) and snowblowing. We get books and movies from the library. Jerry golf’s at our local municipal course at a greatly reduced price from the country club.
One of our goals was to be able to have Jerry retire at age 70. This past June he retired. Now he is my house husband while I continue to work. I only have to have one job now, our income is $ 5k a month and our expenses are only $ 2500.00 per month. That is what happens when one has NO debt and lives frugally.
Because we set up automatic savings while this was going on…..we have $ 50k in an emergency fund, significantly increased our retirement savings, and my job provides a retirement after 5 yrs. and I have been there six yrs now. I am hoping to reach 10 years.
To all those that say it can’t be done…..they are wrong. Our life is so much better today, by living well below our means and valuing those things that really count. Ourselves, our family, our friends, NOT THINGS!
I even make my own laundry soap @ about a penny a load. I wish this was long enough to tell you everything. Please remember” The joy is in the journey” and our frugal life is a wonderful life!