Imagine that you retired today. How would you celebrate the occasion?
The quintessential act is to embark on a journey with no timetable. After all, no one is expecting you at the office, ever again!
One man that we met was embarking on his journey. As we pedaled past his campsite, we observed the notice across his car’s rear window that announced that today was the first day of his retirement.
His travels had already begun as he burned up his vacation time. That being completed, this day was his first officially as a retiree. His only schedule was an appointment to meet up with a companion and continue their travels.
I hope that he had the good fortune to meet his retired self and the time to ponder the opportunities that freedom offers him.
Of course, I don’t know how long this guy could sustain his trip, or what his budget was. I do know that many never make the decision to wander at all.
As this is the fourth installment in the series, Just In Time Retirement, we’re going to use Lean thinking to create the life we value. Maybe for you, that journey of discovery is actually possible.
In the last installment, This is What Retirement Could Look Like If You’re Ready, we practiced eliminating waste in a virtual workspace. Today we graduate to real-world scenarios and real-world solutions.
Our project today is creating a Post Retirement Travel Adventure.
Against the advice of their financial planners, many take that lavish, month-long trip to China to celebrate their newfound freedom.
Everyone knows that it is imprudent to withdraw money early in retirement from their woefully inadequate portfolio. But, what are you, a man or a mouse?
As Lean thinkers and perhaps Rebel Retirees, we should be able to find a way to pay for our adventure without sacrificing our future.
Remember that we live in a sea of waste and by eliminating some, we can pay for all sorts of things. ( If you don’t remember, maybe you missed the earlier installments )
The Cost of Ownership
In this workspace, we’ll focus on the cost of ownership.
An example of this from my pre-Lean days continues to remind me to look for waste. There was a year that I continued to rent commercial space that it turns out that I didn’t need.
I needed the space to house a machine that was no longer used. The machine was kept because it had a good engine worth $4,000.
So in my wisdom, I paid $1,000 per month to house a machine that would go to the dump. I’m not the only one that has paid $12,000 to keep a worthless item.
Prior to this incident, I would cite as an example of waste, the case of my Dad continuing to pay for commercial insurance on a fleet of trucks that did not, nor would ever run again.
We could have bought new trucks for the cost of years of insurance. I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
We all fall into the trap of collecting things and neglect the mounting cost of ownership.
A good example is a boat. The boat holds many wonderful memories but you no longer use it and the kids have moved on and rarely show interest in using it. You continue to insure, maintain and store this family treasure. This is waste.
Get rid of it and spend the expense money on something you enjoy, just as you did when you bought the boat. If the kids need boats, let them do as you did.
The same applies to RV’s, fishing camps, vacation homes, club memberships, or hunting leases. The list may be long.
These things are still available, but you would save money by renting or chartering. The cost of ownership has constraints that take away your choices.
As a Lean thinker, you always let value pull your value stream. If anything lacks value, get rid of it. Pay only for what you value.
Remember this: when at the airport, don’t always buy a car. Just rent one, use it and then give it back.
By now, you may be getting a feel for how you can eliminate some waste and purchase that retirement adventure with the savings.
Next, we’ll confront the subject that nightmares are made of. What about the house?
Assume that you have already acknowledged the value of a post-retirement travel adventure.
As a Lean thinker, you struggle to prioritize the value of the trip and the value of paying the cost of owning a house.
For many, it comes down to either the house or the trip. Some find a solution easy and some find no solution at all.
I’ve pondered this scenario and my version goes like this. You have the money to take a three-month trip.
If you eliminate the cost of owning a house (insurance, property tax, utilities, maintenance, etc.), the trip could now be twelve months.
How much do you love your house that you would sacrifice that year-long adventure? People choose different things.
If you chose the trip. Find a buyer and let’s say that you both agree that the house is worth 500K.
The buyer pays the money and you put it in the bank to buy another house of equal value whenever you get back.
Now I know that people are going to say that the real estate ladies took 30K. It is the twenty-first century.
I can’t think of many more worthless bottom-feeders than real estate agents. Sell your house on Craigslist et al. and save your money.
After a year of travel, who knows how your perspective will have changed? Find a new home in the place of your new dreams. Or not.
Some, including myself, find the thought of selling your home to go on vacation pretty extreme.
But, many, including me, can attest to the incredible sense of freedom that homelessness (not like street people) provides.
There is another way to travel for those with the right attitude and disposition.
The Lady at the Pier
The lady at the pier turned out to be an expert house swapper. This was totally new to me but is easy to picture as an advanced form of Airbnb.
This retired woman from Washington, DC was staying in a stranger’s house and driving their cars.
She had just driven back from Yellowstone and was visiting Glacier. Back in DC, someone else was living in her house and was also taking her car on a trip to Ohio.
It seems that she travels the world, swapping homes, except for Thailand which is so economical that she doesn’t bother.
Curious, I looked up “house-swapping”.
The practice has been around a long time and takes many forms. I must admit that the concept is so incredibly Lean!
To participate, one must be comfortable with someone they’ve never seen living in their house.
Even though they communicate extensively beforehand, this is not for me.
Recently, I saw someone on Facebook looking for someone to pet sit in their home while they went on a trip.
This was a retired couple on a good pension. They live near a world-class tourist destination.
For the cost of airfare, they could travel the world essentially for free. M&E, the world could be your oyster!
If you’d like to learn more about House Swapping or Home Exchange, I invite you to read our article Affordable Travel for Retirees or buy this book through our Amazon affiliate link. You’ll get Amazon’s great prices without paying a penny more and we’ll get a few cents commission for which we are grateful.
Book Description from Amazon: If you like to travel and you have more time than money, you definitely need to know about home exchange and how to do it. Let this book be your guide.
Sam and Judy Robbins have been avid home exchangers for over 20 years and have completed over 70 exchanges in many different parts of the world.
Keep thinking Lean and you will start seeing others that have eliminated waste and are pursuing the retirement of their dreams.