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Two years ago I made a decision that continues to challenge and push me in directions that I had always dreamed about, but never knew if I could actually achieve. I sold my house, invested the proceeds, and I’ve been trying to live off the interest and a small stipend ever since. Occasionally, I do some part-time work to help supplement my self-funded retirement, but for the most part, I manage to live on less than AU$1800 a month. In fact, right now I’m getting by on AU$1500 a month.
I do this by trying to be as disciplined as possible with purchases that are not absolutely essential. Therefore, I rarely buy CDs, DVDs, or other home entertainment treats that I used to purchase on a weekly basis. I make do with a 30 year old television that regularly flickers and distorts, but not quite to the point where it is unwatchable. I go to the movies less than I used to, but still manage to eat out once or twice a week. I could have made further savings by giving up my car and using public transport. Come to think of it, I have given up my car. I got rid of my 18 year old Toyota Camry wagon just before I left Australia at the end of June. I could save even more if I cut cappuccino’s and cake from my diet!
My one weakness (apart from coffee and cake), is books. As much as I try to not buy books, I always seem to collect more. At least 80 percent of my book buying purchases are for secondhand books which I guess helps, but still, I just can’t seem to stop myself from accumulating more.
Thankfully, I’ve never been a smoker, regular drinker, or gambler – three things guaranteed to drain your wallet faster than a Wall Street banker! The trade off for all this austerity is that I am able to travel on extended journeys that most people – even those who are retired – are unable to.
For example, as I write this I am five months into a round the world trip that included three months in the United States, two of which I spent in New York City. I am currently into my second month stay on the Greek island of Ikaria, and about to head off to Paris, France for a ten day visit, before returning to Greece.
In March I will return to Australia, but not before I make a stop in Cambodia where I will visit the temples of Angkor Wat and other sites. If I can manage it, I will also make a quick side trip to Turkey to visit the ancient ruins at Ephesus.
Of course, having places to stay at little expense helps my limited funds go a lot further than they would if I was staying at even the cheapest hotels. My New York stay involved me apartment sitting for a friend of the family. In return for a rent free, two month stay in the Big Apple, I cared for two cats, some house plants, collected the mail, and let would be burglars and other ne’er-do-wells know by my presence that the apartment was occupied and being watched over. I also stayed with relatives while travelling through the southern states of America as far as Tucson, Arizona, and I am staying with family here in Greece.
Since I’ve been on the road, I’ve taken to signing my emails, and occasional Facebook and Twitter updates with the phrase: Love the Life you Live.
And why not? I am living the life I’ve wanted to live for many years, and needless to say, I’m loving it. I have little or nothing to complain about. I am in reasonably good health, and at 62 I’m young enough and fit enough to spend hours on my feet walking the streets of New York and other cities, and old enough to not be offended by pretty much anything that comes my way. In addition, I am tolerant of other people’s opinions, broadminded, easy going, and easy to get along with.
You only get one shot at life, folks (resurrectionist and Buddhist theories aside), and there is no time like the present to start planning for the day when you too will have time to travel, or put into train your long held dreams and desires – whatever they may be.
I’ll leave you with the chorus of a new song I’m in the process of writing with the above title, in hopes it will encourage you to pursue your goals with joy and love.
You’ve got to find joy in everything you do,
Follow love and let love follow you.
Let go and remember to forgive,
Give thanks, and Love the Life you Live.
© 2010, Jim Lesses. All Rights Reserved.