Last year, when our youngest baby bird graduated high school and flew off to college, we put our businesses on hold and took a long-anticipated career break. It was 18 months ago, when we loaded our best-friend Lizzie, a 12-year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, into our trusty Subaru, and happily backed out of our driveway in Reno, Nevada. During the spring and fall of 2016, we migrated through central and southern California and southern Arizona, staying a full month in six different places.
When we pulled back into our garage, we knew that we wanted to extend our career break, and continue staying for a month-at-a-time in as many more places as we possibly could. Unfortunately, our lives were too cluttered and complicated. Ironically, in order to continue our travels, we needed to stay home for a while to unfeather our empty nest. Since we have been home, we have closed and liquidated our businesses, consolidated our bank and investment accounts, established a detailed budget, cut our monthly expenses, down-sized our home, and paid off our mortgage.
Closing my environmental engineering business after nearly twenty years was not as easy as simply shutting the door. I felt more like the captain of a Boeing 747 flipping a long series of switches to shut down an intricate airliner. When I thought I had finally killed the engines, the phone would ring and the business would keep clunking along like an old jalopy.
Eventually, the old rust bucket stopped rattling, and I was able to dissolve my corporation. During our career break, we traveled with eight checking accounts. By consolidating and simplifying, we are now down to just three. By streamlining our finances, it became much easier to generate a realistic spending budget and find ways to reduce our expenses.
We learned that when it came to cutting costs, every little bit helped. We cut the cord to our television satellite dish, dropped our telephone land line, and obtained a health insurance subsidy. By exercising at home, we could cancel our gym memberships, and by cooking for ourselves, we could stop going out so much.
Our biggest financial effort was to sell our family-sized home, and right-size into a smaller home nearby. Besides reducing our energy bills, property taxes, and insurance costs, we were able to discharge our onerous monthly mortgage payment. Now that we have restructured our lives and significantly cut our expenses, we plan to resume our month-at-a-time travels, and hope to better nurture and preserve our nest egg, resting at the bottom of our unfeathered empty nest.
Blogger’s Note: In our next blog post, we will be announcing our next month-at-a-time adventure. It will be a three-month international trip. Hint: Our destination is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world.
Photo Credit: Julie Brophy