Posted by: johnhourihan | April 17, 2013

Yes, you can retire


Is it time to retire?
I didn’t ask if you had enough money to retire. I asked if it was time to retire.
Don’t let TV talking heads fool you with their insanity of reporting that you need at least $250,000 in the bank.
You don’t.
If you are like most other Americans who own a home, you are house poor.
Think about it. On the average  a house has three bedrooms, a family room, a kitchen, a dining room tow bathrooms and in many cases a finished basement with an office and a play room.
This is why most of the world hate Americans.
When I was a young father living in Holliston, Massachusetts in a seven-room house with a pool and a huge back yard, my neighbor who had lived most of her life in Japan, pointed out that  her house and yard, which was pretty much the same as mine, had more space “than the emperor.”
When it came time to retire because I got sick from a good unhealthy spraying of Agent Orange in the central highlands of Vietnam decades earlier and lin got disabled from a fall, we took stock.
Lin  and I lived for the most part in a bedroom, a TV room a kitchen and one bath in a home that had seven rooms, two baths a cellar and an attic.
I went on line and found a house that cost less than a new Chevrolet and took a loan on my 401k and Lin’s IRA and we bought it cash.
There was some work to do on it, so we hired a young man who had all the credentials and told him we could only pay him a little a month to fix the water pump, the center beam and  a few other things that needed fixing. Our house kept his crew busy when he had little work.
We put a propane gas log in the for heat and cooking, learned how to sleep on a pullout couch and threw ourselves headlong into retirement.
The best idea we had about living within our means was, a small house means small bills, and no one needs a credit card.
Our home is a total of 300 square feet. It is plenty, as long as you like each other, and the size of our property-tax bill, because of the size of the house, is less in a year than my daughter and her husband pay in a month.
Our situation is this: No mortgage, no water bill, the sewer bill is $150 to empty the tank every year or two, and our first electric bill was $8.80 for a month.
One window air conditioner is enough for the entire house, and a gas log heats us fine through the winter. Our cost for last year, including heat and cooking was about $400. We tossed the cell phones and got a landline, which cut about 80% of our telephone bill. We splurged on basic cable TV. Entertainment is nice to have.
We learned to shop better, more on that later, but suffice it to say we have a smaller refrigerator than the one you had in college, and we shop almost daily, like most of the rest of the world does.
Lin and I are retired, we have no money in the bank, we live on social security and a small VA disability compensation check, we eat , we ay our bills, we visit our children and grandchildren, we even go on vacation from time to time.
Don’t let people scare you. It is possible. We just had to stop being so greedy. People used to say, “The one with the most toys at the end wins,” but we have found out that the one with the most toys can never retire and with the preponderance of stress, the end comes a lot sooner.

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Responses

  1. This was like reading “A Miracle On whatever Street”. Yes Neil there is a Santa Claus! I just told my boss yesterday, “the dream of retirement is what keeps me working”.Ironic in a very sad way don’t you think?

    • You’re right Neil. It is sad that it s so difficult, but it is possible.

  2. I am sure this piece of writing has touched all the internet users, its really really good post on building up
    new website.

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