"Why didn't you stay in a hotel when you went on vacation? You house swapped? Why? Because you couldn't afford it. You also had to go to all the freebie stuff in the city. You call that living? You're doing things broke people are forced to do. Why? Because you're broke yourself but you just haven't noticed."
I don't call it living, I call it Living Well, as Jacob explained it recently:
"Now, a bigger question is . . . is it worth being different . . . although I never feel lonely or that I'm missing out for not, say, blowing $100 on a single restaurant meal or paying $25 for a haircut. I'd rather spend $2 on a homemade meal and cut my own hair and use the $123 difference not to work for 7 hours at the average wage and instead read a book, practice sword drills, or go sailing. I value reading a book higher than having some dude mess with my hair. In contrast 42% of U.S. college graduates never read a book again in their life. This shows that living well can mean something very different to different people. For me it is doing whatever I want whenever I want within reason. For others, it is the weekly $100 restaurant meal and the ATV in the garage."
While I do enjoy blowing $100 on a single restaurant meal from time to time, I get what he's saying.
Like Jacob, I don't get paid in money anymore. I get paid in time.
In exchange for working 40 hours a week, I used to get paid money. Since I was busy working 40 hours a week, I used that money to pay for things I didn't have the time or energy to do myself, such as cleaning my house, taking care of my yard, painting my walls, and on ordering take-out instead of cooking.
During the three weeks a year that I didn't have to go to work, I took the money I earned while working the other 49 to go read on a beach, and sleep in a luxury hotel room with a view, to try and get myself relaxed in a hurry before I had to go back to working 40 hours a week.
Now, instead of getting money, I get time. I used to get "paid" three weeks of luxurious travel for working the other 49 weeks. Now I get paid three months of not-as-luxurious travel in exchange for working no weeks. A loss of three weeks of luxury or a gain of 49 weeks of freedom? Living well does mean different things to different people.
My vacations are no longer a rush to hurry up and relax. Most of the time I'm already relaxed. And hurry isn't really in my vocabulary anymore.
I've stumbled upon some other "retirees" that are creatively squeezing more juice out of their travel dollars. One is a new addition to my blog roll, Our Take on Freedom. Amy and Jay are a young couple experimenting with a mini-retirement. They've left their jobs to travel for at least two years. Their first adventure is a tropical resort where they are living for free in exchange for leading other guests in such activities as yoga and evening astronomy walks on the beach.
Some more traditional retirees in this New York Times article are stretching their travel budgets by volunteering at our national parks. Not quite as luxurious as a work/live stint on an exotic island, but certainly a win for the parks suffering from budget cutbacks, and a win for the retirees that enjoy exploring the U.S. from their RV's.
To living well, whatever that means to you.