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I’m fortunate. Where I work, I meet interesting people all the time. They walk in the door, happy to see me, and hail from every facet of the US.
Some may have to search for interesting people, I show up to work, and they find me.
I spend 40 hours per week in a building saturated with history which tends to attract a specific type of audience. I’d say 90% of our patrons are retired. Perhaps it’s no surprise that I have a retire admire when I spend a majority of my week with the retired!
Of the many people who read our displays, some are a bit chatty, some are chatty Kathy’s, and some I question like they are suspects in a missing cake case.
One couple, who I’ll name the Jones, turned curiosity into a five-alarm-retire-admire prying.
The Jones were different.
They came in bantering as only a seasoned couple can and looked younger than the typical shoulder season patrons. (Shoulder season is Park Ranger speak for the quiet time from Labor Day to Memorial Day.)
As I listened to their chatter, it lead to interesting insight including that they were retired. Not the standard deduction age of 62 but decades earlier.
The cookies on my computer will make it seem like early retirement is common, but if that is the case I haven’t met many that stumble into small-town Montana. So finding an early retirement couple awoke my inner espionage. I began gradually unleashing my powers of inquisition. (A Park Ranger promise: I only use them for good.)
As I starting unpacking their story, I was surprised that it began with death.
A Deadly Beginning
Their parents had passed away, and it was up to them to clean out their parent’s house and sell it. At first, they thought it would take a month from top to toe.
It took a month to clear out the house and even more time was needed to clean and sell it. While they were moving stuff from the basement to upstairs, all four feet of it, they had plenty of time to ponder their reality.
For the Jones, going through someone else’s houseful of clutter and chaos was the icy dunk they needed to move their life from the standard 9 to 5 until 65 to an early retire acquire.
It can be done. Just not by everyone. But if you want to achieve something and you never try, how can you know you have the potential?Darius Foroux
After clearing their parent’s estate, they started decluttering their own.
They began getting rid of belongings, to the point that the little that reminded fit in a storage unit. They scaled down even further and sold their house. Selling their home released equity and allowed them the money they needed to do what they wanted – become homeless!
Per the Jones, there are three states you can have residence without a home: Florida, Texas, and South Dakota.
They didn’t like Texas because they would have to return to the state every year to update their vehicle emissions. Florida had extra expensive car insurance. So, the settled on South Dakota.
There is a place in the Black Hills which caters to permanent homelessness. For a fee, they put their permanent address to this business who would scan and forward any wayward mail by email.
With their mail figured out, they traveled the US in an RV. After a few years of the US, they went big and started traveling the world with repositioning cruises for $400.
Repositioning cruises are one-way cruises, with paying passengers, that are used to move of cruise ship from one region to another. When the seasons change, the cruise lines have a need to move their fleet of cruise ships based upon the seasonal changes in demand. So cruise lines reposition their ships from one area to another, hence the etymology of repositioning cruise. It’s also sometimes shorted to “repo cruise.”Roaming Around the World
They would spend the next few months relaxing in various European countries while occasionally getting an email from South Dakota.
With my curiosity slightly sated, I tucked away the espionage ranger and started doing my job and telling them what to see while they were at our facility. As they walked away from the desk, my mind starting to wrestle with their story.
There were shiny gems of information that were new and intriguing. But, I didn’t have time to ponder long. The next patrons marched in, and the orientation schpeel was spewed again and again.
Closing But Not Closure
As facility marched closer to closing, I went outside to take down the flag. As I bundled up the flag and was tying off the rigging, the Jones left the building.
I wanted to ask more questions, but I didn’t know what else to ask. I stumbled over a dilemma, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Instead, I thanked them for participating in the inquisition and asked if they had any advice for someone interested in their stunning lifestyle.
They did. Mr. Jones recommended a book, Millionaire Next Door.
Of the billions of personal finance books, MND is my favorite. The survey information, and book, is about the average millionaire, who isn’t born into money or a lottery winner or earning six figures from selling a UFO detector on Amazon. Instead, the average millionaire is a neighbor who lives in middle class but has mastered the art of saving, investing, and diversifying.
It’s the first book that made me feel like financial independence is possible, if not probable. It’s the first book I read that gave me hope for early retirement and more than a little retire admire.
And here were the Jones, living proof of everything I hoped to achieve, and they were inspired by the same paperbound guide.
It gave me hope and still does.