Post by Sharon
These are strange times. The disruption, the uncertainty, the lingering doubts....
It would seem during times of great unknown the instinct would be to look for security. But that landmark has shifted.
Perhaps instead of seeking the lighthouse beacon, we need to set course for the open ocean.
Having been a baby boomer all my life, the message was clear - mom and dad were pleased that we had a mortgage, good schools, college, a car, and meals that involved meat every evening.
We also were admonished to prepare for retirement, invest, stay married to the same person no matter what, and our kids would likely care for us as we age.
But much of that doesn't come true in our lifetimes.
We beat ourselves up because we milked our 401K prematurely, or married a few times, perhaps kept changing jobs and never built up a retirement or paid off a home. Our kids moved to other states and have busy lives. We make decisions on what medications we can afford to pay for. We have nightmares about living on the streets.
What is the new message?
It seems from youngsters these days that hitting the road, living in an RV or tiny home, working as digital nomads, trying to create zero waste, minimalizing, owning almost nothing, and heading out into quiet retreats, farmlands, and forests is the dream.
They have found a sustainable way to live early on where they can squirrel away money instead of having a huge rent/mortgage and Visa bills.
There is something to be said for having what you need and not everything that you want.
In the past 10 years of being single, I have looked around me, reduced what I own down to 1/5 of what I had, lived in one bedroom in a house, and struggled to hold onto dreams of using what God gave me and living my dreams rather than succumb to 9-to-5 work world that nearly crippled me after 25 years of nonstop typing for others.
Here is am, looking back at 10 years in which I did not make my top salary of my lifetime, but I did make deep connections with good people, published 29 books, ran two popular blogs, experimented as an artist, a writer, a researcher, a stock trader, an oil and gas industry associate, and more.
When I drastically downsized, I looked at a pile of donations and realized that every jam knife and wall decoration, every color of nail polish and every doo-dad I never used were a giant waste of my cash, putting me into a debt position for items that were totally expendible when downsizing time came.
It is not sustainable to buy everything you want.
When you are no long having to schlep your belongings with you to new abodes, dust them off, make space for them, you become free of debt, clutter, distraction, and obligation.
These minimalized, digital nomadic youths can retire early. They can maintain the minimal lifestyle, live in scenic places, and generally have a life when most of us gave up our own dreams for the beast that is debt and the demanding taskmaster that is a boss.
And, in our retiring years as baby boomers, this sounds more and more appealing. We are tired of keeping up with the bills - rent/mortgage, car, insurances, cell phone, water, trash, car registration, electric, gas, credit card....
As we look around us at the burden of all we own, all that history, we know that our children are going to have to sort through piles of "junk" (to them) to find a couple sentimental items to remember us from. Go ahead and give them the sentimental items now. Everything else you rid yourself of becomes less angst for them and for you.
Deciding on a launch toward your time/your way, is a liberating and also terrifying moment.
Some call it bohemian.
When a person asks, what do you do? You have to answer "what don't I do?" You move around, you find opportunities, you create possibilities.
What are some possibilities for frugal living?
Finding other divorcees who want to share a home
Live-in home care workers
On-site residence for a business
Live-in caretaker of a property
RV living, moving from free campsite to free campsite, sometimes offering to be a caretaker for a campsite or working seasonally at festivals and holidays.
Residence on an eco-vacation site or permaculture educational farm
Tiny house construction - lots of videos on YouTube can help and many friends/relatives/and dump sites have materials. Finding someone with a property who wouldn't mind you parking there is ideal.
Live on a boat
Live-in AirBNB manager
Rent a guest house or in-law suite on someone's property
Roommate with someone who will let you live rent-free for cooking and cleaning
Don't be afraid to put word out among friends and relatives
Manage apartments or duplexes
Buy an auction/foreclosure fixer upper in a place that already has low house costs
Buy or rent a manufactured home/trailer
These are just some suggestions.
Try out nextdoor.com as that site has fantastic ways to find jobs, living situations, nanny positions, and even free building materials if you want to construct a home.
You might begin to join in on Facebook groups that are for older adults, widowed folks, divorcees, eco-communities, RV living, tiny house communities, artists, and more.
If you already have other friends who are in your situation of wanting to pare down and try something new, you might co-rent or co-own a property that you live on, a bit like an artist commune or musicians crash house.
I like to look at it this way - when we were young, we had to step into responsibilities, new situations, managing our own lives, making decisions and setting priorities and it was really scary and overwhelming at times.
If we play life right, we don't get too comfy. We start the process over and over again and again. That is what keeps us young - adapting and being challenged.
Remember, in these uncertain times, it's the best time to find an alternative as folks get very creative.