The Plan

Perhaps one of the most profound statements to impact my life recently came from Cindy when she said, “we are both sitting on the dock with our toes in the water. One of us needs to jump in and pull the other with them”. To what was she referring? The age clock ticking and our dream to go full-time sailing is dangling like the proverbial carrot. I need to go back quite a few years and explain.

Back in late 80’s, I read a small brochure promoting a seminar teaching The Magic of Compound Interest. I did not go to the seminar but got the gist of the teachings from the promotional publication. At an early age, start to save 10-20% of all household income. Pay yourself first. The idea was to set up for a secure retirement.  We took this to an extreme. We both were working and committed to always put aside half of our income and live a debt free lifestyle. The best contributor to financial well-being is time.  If you are reading this and are young, get some advice to take advantage of time. If you are reading this and are over 50, set up a fund for your kids and grand kids. Twenty five thousand dollars invested into a tax deferred mutual fund at birth with a growth rate average of 7% will equate to about $1.5 million at age 60. Most parents see the value of investing in college but very few facilitate the set up of their child’s retirement. Do the math. I did. I am going to age myself here. I sat with calculator and pencil, no personal computers at that time, and worked out a multi-scenario plan to be financially independent by age 50. We stayed true to the plan. Our plan was driven by our dreams of traveling the world. Being young and naive, we figured we could sail around the globe on a 40’ boat and live off the earth. Ha! As we got older and wiser, the boat in the plan got bigger and so did the budget.  However, the dream to travel and explore has never gone away. Life is short and the planet is big. We both wonder what is out there tucked away in the nooks and crannies.

Today is September 5th, 2012 my last day of work. I have worked since I was thirteen – often more than one job. I have to tell you, this is a little bit scary. Actually, it’s a lot scary. All of our lives we have saved our money, lived a debt free lifestyle and planned for this moment. I always thought it would be a big party and lots of fanfare, perhaps a ticker-tape parade, or two. Now it is here. Well, it’s not how I thought it would be. It is more like, oh shit, we’re really going to do this thing, aren’t we! Oh shit! I constantly have to keep telling myself, “it’s okay, you can do this”. My new jobs are to fix up our house and get it ready for the spring market, help Cindy market and sell her small business, and prepare our boat. We are beginning a new chapter. Yep. I can do this.

Last year we purchased Cream Puff. This was not a big deal. Exciting? Yes. Was it life changing? Not really. We have owned a boat during most of our marriage and have always been avid weekend sailors. We spent so much time in our jobs being “busy” we became robotic to fully living life. Yes, we had great vacations, fun with friends and good times. But, always on a schedule and never enough time. When we bought Cream Puff, it was just another robotic step in the plan. Work hard, save money, buy boat, go sailing, explore, retire somewhere, sit in a rocking chair, and tell stories etc. The reality of this purchase has finally sunk in. Wow! We’re going sailing.  Oh shit! I have jumped into the water and I’m pulling Cindy in too.

So, what is the plan? It’s now quite simple. There are two plans. Plan A: We are going to ready ourselves and learn to sail our new boat. If we succeed at this and are both comfortable on the ocean, we will go where the wind takes us. We will start out slowly and try not to sink the boat. We will sail until we become tired of it. Based on what we have read, it seems most people become tired of the “yachties” lifestyle about 5-7 years into it. I hope we last longer. Afterward, we shall settle down somewhere. Who knows where. I bet we will have some great memories and a couple of stories to tell. Plan B: if the boat thing does not work out, we’ll sell Cream Puff and do something else. We are both hoping for Plan A.

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