Thursday, September 12, 2013

Retirement on purpose

So, are you retired? People ask when they find out you lived in Alaska and now live in Florida. It's hard to imagine how you wound up here. Well, it's hard to imagine how one winds up in Alaska in the first place! Not many people do. It's a big state with a small population. I cannot bring myself to say, yes, I am retired. I was reading a book by Mark Scandrette entitled Free. Something he said makes it a bit easier. We work at jobs because we need to make money for living expenses. The Scandrettes live in San Francisco which is one of the most expensive places to live in the country. They have lived in the city on one modest income for a number of years. They choose to live frugally (some would say cheaply) so they can save and give a large portion of their money away. His book is kind of a Dave Ramsey for those seeking a more simple lifestyle. With no income for the past several months and then living on a much reduced one in the future, this was the book for us! What I noticed in reading this book is that I had the idea that getting paid = meaningful work. I did not want to think of myself as retired because I did not want to think of myself as not doing anything meaningful. Scandrette has some stories in his book about people who retired and then were free to do what they wanted. Not in the sense of living self indulgently which is usually what we think about when we envision the retirement years. But, living on purpose in ways you are freer to choose when no one is paying you to work for them. It is a freeing idea. With a little creativity and a willingness to swim against the current of the modern western lifestyle, you can live on much less than you might think. And live better at the same time. For instance, the Scandrettes, don't eat out at restaurants, or pay for cable tv, or go to movies, or buy new cars, etc. You get the point. They buy what they can afford to pay cash for. They save for emergencies and regular maintenance of such things as vehicles and appliances. As I said, they save so they can give generously to missions and other charities. They meticulously track their spending. What they show is it can be done. When it is done the bills get paid, money gets used wisely, and you have a sense of being a good steward of what God has given you. Which equals meaningful living.