Sprawled out on a lawn chair by the pool yesterday, I made the comment to Clyde that our friends back the U.S. are working today and we're not. Some of them are even older than us, buried under a mountain of bills, they just can't imagine how they can ever afford to stop working. Clyde and I were in the same boat a few years ago. A high mortgage, two car payments, electric bill, taxes, cable and phone, gym membership, credit cards and so much more. Clyde had always dreamed about being able to retire when he turned 57 but just didn't now how.
One day I came home from work and noticed a box sitting on the desk, apparently Clyde had ordered something off the internet and it arrived in the mail. He explained rather sheepishly that he'd ordered a get out of debt program by John Cummuta. This is one of the many programs out there and I was skeptical to say the least, but also couldn't complain since he was trying to better our situation.
Since Clyde always handled the money in our household, I had no idea how much debt we had until one day he sat me down and explained. Then once Clyde read through the program he explained his plan of attack to get us out of debt so he could retire by the time he reached 57. Briefly explained this is how it worked.
First of all we would stop borrowing more money which meant no more credit card use. Next we would agree on a certain amount of money to set aside every month. And we all know that if we just change a few little things, we CAN come up with a few extra dollars a week. Not as many dinners out, bring lunches to work, no more impulse buys etc. Then by putting aside an extra amount of money every month, we would pay off the smallest bill we owed. Let's say we agreed to set aside an extra $200 a month. I think the program suggested more but we still wanted to live life while getting out of debt. Let's say our smallest bill was $1000 and we made monthly payments of $300, but now we would add an extra $200 to those payments to pay if off quicker. Once that bill was paid off we would tackle the next one. So now we not only have an extra $200 a month, but we also have the $300 that we're no longer paying to that bill. So now we would have an extra $500 a month to pay toward the next bill. This snowball effect is how we managed to pay off all of our bills in 2 years. I have to say that my darling husband did well and I'm proud of him. Today we have NO debt and everything that we own, or will own will be bought outright. If we can't afford it, we don't need it since we're not willing to go into debt again.
We are living proof that debt issues can be cleared up without living like paupers. Those of you that knew us in Texas would have to agree that we were out there having fun, and living life to it's fullest even while we were getting out of debt. On September 3rd, 2011 the exact day that Clyde turned 57 we retired to Panamá. We found a country to move to with a cheaper cost of living, and cheaper health care to make the dream of retiring early a reality.
So when you're sitting in work on Monday grumbling, just think of us, laying by the pool or sitting on the beach with a rum drink in hand. But don't be envious of us, instead realize that you can become like us. Take action and don't be afraid to make some changes and perhaps one day soon, you too will be living the dream of early retirement. We packed up our cowboy boots, put on some flip flops and jumped into the sea of the unknown here in Panamá....along the gringo trail.