A book authored by Joe Dominguez, published 1992. Read by me late in life, and recommended to all who shared thoughts of early retirement since. My input here trails from a comment made by Lynn one day that she hated doing laundry by hand as cruisers are sometimes relegated to doing.
Joe’s approach was all encompassing in earning, spending, and saving for the good life. His concept was that all things earned were done so by trading “life units”, not an hourly wage or salary. His position for calculating earnings is that we must also include all the intangible costs or life units invested, like the time and frustration of the commute, the social events, the special clothes required for success and stature, the right neighborhood, car, social clubs, missed ball games, where we had to be while trading our units, etc. He emphasized that if we truly want to succeed and be happy we must decide first what is most important to us, then how many life units we are willing to trade for it, where we want to be and what we’d prefer to be doing while trading away (forever) those units. As I retired from the USAF out of the Pentagon, there were many opportunities in the Virginia and Washington DC area. Many would have been challenging positions and a continuation of the path, education, and experience I’d received during 24+ Air Force years. We thought hard, but not for long. We chose to go sailing instead. Yes, retiring early means we will have less “stuff”.
We sat at an anchorage at Still Pond on the northern Chesapeake last weekend waiting for Tropical Storm/Hurricane Danny to choose a path. We knew we’d see some wind so found a protected place we like, buried a couple large anchors with lots of chain, and waited. The storm fizzled, the weekend rolled into Monday and the anchorage cleared out as people returned to their investment of “life units”. The water at Still Pond is clean and fresh…so fresh the watermaker turns a mere 210 psi before clean fresh water is filling the tank. We swam every day. As I crouched on the back deck agitating a tub of laundry by hand I contemplated the life units I was trading and the return on that investment. Last laundry we did was around $11 and not without some of our time involved, so roughly my return would be around $5/hr. Yup, I‘d earn a lot more than that in DC, or on some consulting circuit. On the other hand this was a workday Monday and we were the only boat in the anchorage. Probably would be tomorrow too…and we’d still be here. In the end, I’d be earning a lot more pretty much so we could come out here and enjoy this on a few weekends a year. I looked at the large tree 300 meters to my side and watched Bald Eagles spread their wings while leaving then returning to their perch. I thought about the dozen plus deer we watched grazing on the slope to our other side the evening prior. I considered the last time we purchased fuel, two months ago, and the hours of run time still in the tank. Cool weather, sun shining, wind generator gently whirring overhead, I went back to agitating the tub. The return might just be a lot more than the $5/hr. Joe had it right, still does.