Eleven Point Plan to Bust the Myth of Retirement

Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
Eleven Point Plan to Bust the Myth of Retirement

Four years ago I was both a newbie blogger and a newbie prepper.  To be honest, I had a lot of angst about a lot of things.  Unemployment was rampant, the housing market was in shambles, and people around me were suffering.  As a woman of a certain age, I was upset and wanted to do something, anything really, to relieve some of the stress while sharing my new found journey down the path of preparedness.

At the time, my long time friend, George Ure, suggested that I start a website that would complement his own Urban Survival website.  Little did I realize that this small suggestion, made in passing, would become a life-changer.

11 point plan to bust the myth

This is not the article I intended to write today but for a number of reasons, my focus changed this afternoon and after my daily hike, I decided to shift gears and take a walk down memory lane and share a newly updated muse having to do with the promise of retirement.

My goal is twofold.

First, for those of you that are baby boomers like me, it is important to know that you are not alone in your thoughts and much-altered retirement dreams.  And second, perhaps more important, I want to encourage the all-important younger generation to remain laser-focused on self-sufficiency and self-reliance.  Life has a way of tossing curve balls and everything you believe about your future may change.

The Promise of Retirement…Someday

Years ago, when George posted an article titled “You’ll Never Be Able to Retire”, buzzers and bells went off as I ticked off his salient points.  Yes, I said to myself, I am part of the group that will never be able to retire even though I had done everything right.  Or so I thought.

Does these money management and pre-retirement tactics sound familiar?

  • Save for a down payment on a home
  • Purchase a modest starter home
  • Budget wisely for food, shelter and the other necessities of life
  • Save Save Save
  • Work 50 to 60 hour work weeks to get ahead.  Ignore friends and family in the process
  • Purchase a larger, more permanent home once I could afford the monthly mortgage payment with a healthy sum left over
  • Drive automobiles for 8 to 10 years before getting a new one
  • Save Save Save
  • Invest in a “balanced” stock portfolio
  • Sock dough in to a 401k
  • Pay off the mortgage
  • Save Save Save

And the promised reward?

  • Retirement at 62 or even earlier if you are both smart and lucky
  • 20+ years of travel, the pursuit of hobbies, and plain old relaxation
  • Interest and dividends on savings equal to 80% of pre-retirement income
  • A bit of social security income
  • Generous healthcare benefits through the federal Medicare system

The reality, not only for many in my generation, but for for those that follow is this:

  • Retirement is pushed out indefinitely and possibly never
  • Interest and dividends of less than 1% result in less than 5% of pre-retirement income regardless of the size of your nest egg
  • Social security is stalled out with nominal annual increases in spite of the increased costs of food, shelter, and healthcare.  In the meantime, financial company executives and corporate bigwigs have received record bonuses many of which were funded by taxpayers
  • Healthcare premiums, co-pays and drug costs at an all time high. This includes Medicare.

So where does this leave those of us who did everything by the rules?  Other than move to Costa Rica (which presents another set of problems), I have come up with an 11-point survival plan.

Eleven Point Survival Plan to Bust the Myth of Retirement

1.    Find someplace to live that is a destination in and of itself.  This may be a city condo, it may be a rural farm,or it may be your in-laws place.  Heck, it really does not matter since this is where you will homestead in place.  What you want is someplace where you can hang your hat knowing that if you never left, you would be just fine.

2     Eliminate all debt.  This may mean a smaller house, an older vehicle, fewer new clothes.  Whatever.  If you want to retire, you must eliminate debt of all types.  Relief from debt means you can do what you want, when you want to do it.

3.    Buy in bulk, shop the internet for deals (don’t forget about free shipping), and eliminate shopping  as a source of entertainment.

4.    Exercise.  I am not talking about a fancy gym.  Walk then walk some more.  Did you know that people who walk 10,000 or more steps a day live longer and suffer fewer heart attacks and other ailments of old age?

5.    Read and continually educate yourself.  In addition  those free-at-the-moment eBooks, use your public library.  The library is your friend.  Books, movies, magazines, and even the latest eBooks and audiobooks are all available for free.  You tax dollars are paying for this great service; it is silly not to use it.  By the way, remember that eight year old vehicle sitting in the garage?  Library databases typically include access to repair manuals and service guides for all makes and manner of vehicles.

6.    Start a garden and learn to cook.  Food and flowers – one for stomach and one for the soul.  For a small investment in time and a few seeds, you can have a basket of fresh tomatoes and bounteous bouquets.  What is not to like?  Plus, if you can boil water, you can certainly cook.  Food tastes so much better when it comes from your own kitchen sans preservatives and mystery ingredients.  Save restaurant meals for special occasions and vacations.

7.    Get a job.  Part time, that is.  Big bucks or little bucks, a part time job will feed your sense of self-worth and afford you the opportunity to spend a little on yourself guilt free.  You pick your poison – free lance work in your chosen career or a barista at the local coffee kiosk.  Do something fun and enjoyable and it won’t be a chore.

8.    Prepare for the worst of times.  Stock you pantry with a minimum of one month’s worth of food and preferably more.  Prepare a bug-out-bag or bug-in-kit with necessary food, sundries and medications for at least a week – preferably 30 days.  Don’t forget the water.

9.    Give someone a hug every day.  No one to hug?  Get a puppy.

10.   Have fun.  If you are not having fun, go back to number one and find someplace new to live.  Don’t like the heat?  Move to Montana.  Too cold?  Arizona beckons.  Take up dancing (cheap), start a cooking club, do something that you can look forward to each day of the week.

11.   Plan an annual vacation.  You need it.  You deserve it; this is retirement after all. Just don’t go crazy with exotic locations and expensive hotels.  The best deal?  Go camping and practice some survival skills while having a ton of fun.  Your are never too old to camp!

The Final Word

The bones of this article first appeared in November 2010 when I was angry and stressed.

A lot has changed since then.  You rarely hear the term TEOTWAWKI that was so popular back then.  Instead, you are more likely to hear the saying with “when the Stuff hits the fan” or SHTF for short.  In addition, my one year old puppy is now five and my 30 days of stored food and supplies is now a lot more than that.

Life goes on and no, I am not retired.  On the other hand, I am living life to the fullest and hope that you, regardless of your age and life-stage, are doing so too.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for me daily at Top Prepper Websites!  In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates  and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Bargain Bin: The article I wrote on DIY cleaning turned out to be hugely popular all around the web. In cased you missed it, here is a link to the article Prepper Checklist: DIY Cleaning Supplies and to some of the products that I use to make my own cleaners.

Microfiber Cleaning Cloth, (Pack of 36): No list of DIY cleaning supplies would be complete without these wonderful microfiber cloths. They will last you for years and will allow you to replace paper towels forever. Truly. I color code using blue for glass and windows and the other colors for everything else. I love these.

Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Liquid Cleanser: I know that Dr. Bronner’s Magic Castile soaps have a cult-like following but I prefer the Sal Suds. I call my DIY cleaner “Sudsy Sal”.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps Pure-Castile Soap: Of all of the Dr. Bronner’s castile soaps, peppermint is my favorite.   I use it to make “Peppermint Magic”, an all purposed cleaner.

Soft ‘n Style 8 oz. Spray Bottles: I happen to like these smaller bottles. Likewise for these Pump Dispensers.

NOW Solutions Vegetable Glycerin: You will need this for your Dirt Cheap Soft Soap. I paid almost as much for only 4 ounces locally. This is a great product and 16 ounces will last forever.

Peppermint Essential Oil: I favor peppermint and tea tree (Melaleuca) essential oil in my cleaning supplies. But there are many types of essential oils to choose from. Take your pick. One thing you will find is that a little goes a long way.  The nice thing about essential oils from Spark Naturals  is that they are also excellent for therapeutic and healing use and well as for use in DIY cleaning supplies.  Just remember to use the code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout to get 10% off your order.

Budget Essential Oils:  For the budget minded – and especially for use in cleaning supplies – consider NOW Foods Essential Oils.

Mobile Washer

Mobile Washer: This is hand operated washing machine. Like a plunger, it uses a technique of pushing and pulling the water through clothes to clean them well without wearing them out. It uses a minimum of water and less soap due to the agitation motion. Use in a bucket (5-gallon suggested), sink or tub.

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37 Responses to “Eleven Point Plan to Bust the Myth of Retirement”

  1. Thanks for this Gaye. Could not agree more.
    A few years ago, I realized that my own personal Apocalypse would BE Retirement without the parachute of Social Security or my nicely padded IRA.

    I simply don’t believe there will be anyone handing me money when I hit a certain age, so I better do what I can to make a good life without that cushion.

    If I am wrong and the monthly checks DO come in the mail? I’ll still have my health, an abundant self-sufficent farmstead and a reason to get up in the morning, but with more money to take care of the incidentals. I’m not going to waste time bemoaning the injustice of a broken system, I’m going to make my own, NEW system that works for me.

  2. 🙂
    Don’t to forget to smile! It makes you feel better and makes those around you feel better too!
    My 401k went when my wife was diagnosed with brain cancer, so my income is social security. I feel that I was forced to pay it all my life, now it’s time to collect it. But, I’m not worried if it stops – I know that I can make it without that income. My house and property are paid off. My vehicles are older models and are paid off. I can live without electricity (it just makes things easier) or telephone/internet. Water would be the only “luxury” I would feel the need to keep, and it currently runs less than $25 per month. Food I can get. Eggs from chickens I have, chickens themselves if I can’t find food for them. Wild rabbits I see daily. Squirrels that aggravate my dogs. Polk salad in season. Etc.

  3. I began prepping two years ago. Yours was one of the first blogs I came across. Your common sense approach has been one of my favorites ever since. I tuned into prepping 20 years too late. At 74 (overweight) (hubby-76 w/ diabetes & 2 heart attacks) our health prevents anything more than preparing to bug-in w/ 30 days food/water, which I have in place. Hubby has not seen the light regarding preparedness and my children just laugh at Mama and shake their heads. I’ve done what I can.

    Please continue to preach the importance of preparing at an early age.

  4. 10 yrs ago, we were both working and just going along with out much to worry about – then the layoff noticed arrived. After 23 yrs working for a world wide computer company – your services are no longer needed. Even in 2014 if you are 57 yrs old – your serves in the tec world were no longer needed. Forced retirement – With no real plan, the Universe stepped in and we were lead to the mountains. A friend had bought a house up here and wasn’t moving for a yr and needed a house sitter – so we took the opportunity. Within 6 months we knew this was home and bought a house and have never looked back. Luck for us my SO had been doing video work for many yrs on the side – we were able to increase the work. We took up dancing, hiking and loving life to the fullest. We have discovered so many things to do that cost very little or are free. Oh the retirement pay from this very large company – amazing how they can wiggle out of what you were promised!! Because we are savvy shoppers, we know that this time of year at the grocery store is back to school types of food, the end of Oct starts the baking goods. We buy a yrs supply of what ever is on sale – and for us it works well. A number of yrs ago the winter was very very bad and we had to have front loaders dig us out 4 times – but because we ‘plan ahead’ we can stay in the house if need be for the whole winter. In addition to your advise I would also add to prospective retirees — learn to go with the flow. Life is easy if you allow it to be. Keep up the great work Gaye

    • install a rooftop escape hatch for the snow. my parents used to shovel out the sidewalk and other paths until we realized that the simplest option was to just shovel out the front of the door and use a snowthrower for the driveway. we left the rest alone until it finally melted and saved our backs. on the plus side I now have a nice pair of snowshoes.

    • Thanks for the idea Tim – There are folks that live north of us that use to have a second story outhouse!! There are times when we’ve left our car at the bottom of the hill and walked in and out – yes snowshoes come in handy. We also have our own plow – but that one winter was to much even for our plow. The issue with the front loaders is $$$$$$$$$$$. There are 4 families that live up here and we all help each other out as much as we can. Thanks for the idea though about the rooftop escape hatch!!

  5. Gaye, What a great article of validation to start the week for me! See, today is my first day of no “day job”. I simply have too much to do to prepare hubby and I for our next phase. !1 we just secured for the long term, #2 will be completed by Feb, #3 doing even more, #4 well, #5 why I am here, #6 got the cooking covered, #7 Internet affords the opportunity to spread my wings, #8 again why I am here, #9 got puppies, #10 what has been for the last couple years while we worked hard and got nowhere fast and #11 is planned for March.

    Red – I agree with making MY Own System as well. I also still have faith and hope that there will be some of us still standing to see ourselves through the times ahead

    Jim – Great point on the Smiling. Hubby told me he had not seen me laugh in a long time and it was beginning to look nice on me.

    Dee – you are not alone in the kids department – mine think we have lost our minds and roll their eyes when I remind them to buy a little extra food and supplies just in case. They are grown and a state or two over so I can only keep my door open for now.

    Rita – a years worth at a time sounds like a good idea for a hedge against the rising prices as well as just stocking. Will be putting that on my list.

    Tina – Cash is King… thanks for reminding us to put away cash.

    Everyday have a good week…

    • The laugh and smile part is the most difficult for me. I always talk about the burden of truth and knowledge but even so, I need to practice what I preach and lighten up.

      Bella, congrats on no “day job”. I still have a few clients that are hanging on and can not quite tell them to take a hike. Yet.

  6. “eliminate shopping as a source of entertainment”.!!!!!!! Gaye, are you crazy? Are you expecting me to give up all entertainment? When I go to “check out now” on the internet sites, and then hit send, then I have my big smile. What else am I supposed to do with all this Social Security money? Washington gives me the money, I disperse it to Amazon, Emergency Essentials, Midway, Slick Guns, and Wally World. If I go a few days without hitting “send”, I have a hard time sleeping.

    • lol. but i have a great time “window” shopping; then i save my shopping baskets on my desktop (don’t know what that’s called in the non-mac world). i let them sit there for at least a week, and usually by then i’ve lost interest, so i get rid of the shopping carts. boils down to free entertainment!

  7. Retirement? What’s that … although I have a long way to go before I can “officially” retire, I am already planning that SS will not be there. My wife always tells me though, she can’t possibly see me retiring … I always have to be working. I would simply be too bored just going fishing everyday.

  8. Gaye, if I may, I would like to offer a little more to consider. My wife and I have been working in the field of Property Caretaking. I’m almost 63 and she 62. We have been doing this for years and it is a great life. Many jobs offer great pay and perks, some only offer free housing and utilities for minimal hours of work. Right now, we make a very nice salary, we are provided with a nice house, utilities, internet, satellite TV, and more. We plan to do this level of work for as long as we can. Then actual retirement for us, is going to be a nice big camper parked in a nice RV camp where you pay a set fee for all your needs other than food and meds. We will travel around part of the time taking housesitting and Property Caretaking jobs that are not too demanding, just to be busy and seeing new sites. This is our plan. Like any other plan, it is open to adjustments as needed. But it is a good plan. Something perhaps others would want to look into.

    • You might want to look into becoming workcampers, travelling around operating campgrounds like the ones you’d pay rent to. I know several people who do this in the north in summer and the south in winter. If you aren’t stuck in a location, there are lots of options and flexibility.

  9. Yeah… I constantly read about “getting out of debt”…
    6 years ago I had a good running business in graphic design, I employed 4 people and everything was great.
    Suddenly my bank called me, I was broke… My accountant cleared my accounts and ran off…
    Bankrupt the same month and I wanted to do the honorable thing and downpay all my debts.
    6 years later and I’ve been working my ass off and I’m still nowhere.

    I don’t need pitty from anybody but what I can tell you is that once your deep into the shit called debt, you’re a slave. I don’t know if I’ll ever get out of debt…
    I’ve got a senior manager job for a big company but I just don’t make enough to dent my debt anymore.
    I never walk away from it because if i’d ever do that I would feel like I’ve failled completly but damn, life and the world gets smaller when you’re in a debt trap…

    • If you had filed bankruptcy, you’d likely be out of debt. I assume that you meant illiquid rather than bankrupt. What happened to the thieving accountant? Maybe he went to work for the Fed:-)

    • Jhon, it’s nice to know that there are still honorable people in this world. I could never just walk away from debt, either- just because our master- the state- says that we are allowed to cheat our creditors. I’m just lucky that I was raised to always avoid debt…so have never incurred any… The borrower is truly servant to the lender; and in today’s world of taxes and inflation, one truly never gets out from under. What really kills me is when I see young people miring themselves in debt to pay for college- mortgaging 20 or 30 years of their future for a mere credential, and increasingly no real education.

  10. Thanks! Your columns always have the feel of ruminations from a supportive friend, not to mention containing oodles of pieces of practical advice.

    I noticed one typo: “Arizona beacons” probably should be “Arizona beckons”.

    • I know that they are bound to happen but I hate those typos. Shelly usually catches them when he reads my articles the morning they post but he must have missed this one.

      Someone once told me that my articles were like a chatty letter from a favorite aunt. Like your mention of a “supportive friend”, I consider that a compliment of the highest order. You made my day!

  11. I am surprised that becoming a full-time “RVer” is an option that is not mentioned. The only destination that matters is where to park for the night. Travel is the lifestyle. Some utilities are free. In the age of the bail-in, money is safer hidden than banked.
    I spent a dozen winters in west central Arizona with a diverse mixture of rubber tramps, as some call themselves. Some are there all year, living in the desert in anything from cardboard boxes to custom Prevost motor coaches.
    I have been living in a van since the mid 80’s, aside from the 50 months I spent in a truck sleeper while I was longhaul trucking. I have evolved a very low cost lifestyle that I can enjoy anywhere a 1/2 ton cargo van can go. I don’t have running water, mooching a couple of gallons of wash water every day, wherever. I don’t have a furnace, aside from the van’s, but I used a 30,000 BTU/hr burner from a turkey deep fryer to make a stove that I use to heat water in a 3.5 quart teakettle to bathe and wash with. The stove has kept me comfortably warm through two Wyoming winters. I have a two foot square hatch that I use to let summer heat and winter stove fumes out. A five gallon pickle bucket with a Gamma Seal contains #2, inside nested kitchen garbage bags until disposal in a dumpster. Number 1 goes in a Gatorade bottle. Washing is done in a Sterilite container cum washbasin. Waste water gets recycled on appreciative lawns. If anybody wants to ask questions, my email address is vanvonu@yahoo.com. Put vandwelling in the subject line or risk being lost in spam.

    • Bill, your lifestyle sounds VERY cool! I’ve always seen RVs as an encumberance- so much to maintain; such expense; etc. Your “minimalist” way is very appealing- much like those who sail around the world in a 20′ boat or those who live in a converted shipping container. I think the only thing that would deter me from your lifestyle, is that one would probably get hassled by the fuzz a lot in this day and age. But….wow! I truly envy you, and much more than I’d envy someone in some $250K 40′ RV!

    • Avoiding encounters with law enforcement officers is a very important part of my lifestyle. Since Wyoming has more peace officers than law enforcement officers, it is relatively easy to avoid LEOs, unless I have to deal with administrators. I have found that the remote parts of large shopping center parking lots are good refuges, as long as one avoids being a reason for them to want you off their lot. One of the major ways of accomplishing that is to be seen inside spending money as often as necessary.

    • Man, if we still lived in a day when this was relatively free country, and we could just park on the side of the road somewhere or in a small parking lot, and not be hassled so long as we were not bothering anything, I’d be out there doing it! (I already have the van…). I’m originally from NY- which was a police-state long before the rest of the country turned into one- where fuzz of one variety or another out-number the humans (Regular pigs; park pigs; transit pigs; village pigs; traffic enforcement pigs; code-enforement pigs; housing authority pigs…..the list goes on and on…. And not a one of ’em wants to deal with real criminals, so they spend their time looking for harmless law-abiding citizens to shake-down and intimidate)

    • It depends on where your molehill is. I don’t have any trouble finding places to spend the night unmolested in the west. I’ve spent most of the nights in the last 3 years in the parking lot of the same Walmart. The only result was the manager asking me, one time, if I was an employee in the store. He couldn’t tell because I was there as much as an employee might be:-) When I asked if that was a problem, he said no, he was just curious:-) I worked in that store for the last three months of last year and there are still employees there that think I still work there, even though I was laid off the day after Xmas.

  12. I have never planned on retiring. The notion that we can stop working at 62 (or at some other government-specified age)and spend the next 20 or 30 years idle, has always been foreign to me. Most people whom I’ve known died shortly after they stopped working; they spent the best years of their lives preparing for a future that never came; and basically threw away all the good years they had.

    I pretty much have always lived the way the author here illustrates. Maintain a sustainable life; enjoy the present, but think long-term so that you can sustain yopurself for as long as need be. The only point I’d disagree with, is “get a job”. Jobs are a sublime waste of time and energy. You pay half of what you earn to your master, the state; You are only paid a fraction of what you actually produce, because your employer has to make a profit on your labor; and you’re often doing menial tasks or things you otherwise do not enjoy, while in the company of people whom you would not otherwise be aroun. Work for YOURSELF- even if it’s a tiny one-man micro-business or trade, o using multiple streams of income/providing various services or crafting a handmade produc! Do things that you LOVE, as life is too short to fool with menial things you don’t love; and you will have passion and success if you love what you do!

    Don’t retire until you die; you’ll likely die when you do retire; don’t save for retirement, because the gov’t will steal your money (happening already) before you ever get to see it!

  13. Aren’t we all so brave!
    Raped every day during our 30+ years of slaving for a paycheck and forceably “taxed” via “Social Security” with little or no return at the end of the trail.
    Watching our parents of the “Greatest Generation” disintegrate and die a slow death.
    Watching the golfer in the white house wile away the hours on the golf course.
    Watching the world go to hell in a hand basket because (fill in the blank).
    Find a new way to live? Why bother?

  14. T think the purpose of retirement is to have the freedom to do what you want to do, not to sit around twiddling one’s thumbs. I’ve got a list as long as my arm of things I’ll be able to do once free to do so. It’s been said when we’re young and unemployed we have time but no money; when you’re older and working we’ve got money but no time. Retirement gives you that time. I know many retired people who are happily busier now than they’ve ever been.

  15. Well I am only 24, but I am definitely trying to get do everything that is on this list, hopefully I will be ready, but I don’t plan on retiring completely. I am trying to work on getting us out of debt and prevent any further debt (so far getting out of it is the hardest part). I exercise daily and walk as much as possible,also recently decided to take up hiking; I read constantly (thanks to someone for showing us all of the free ebooks :D), I’m working on gardening and learning to make my own stuff (yogurt, juice, bread, canned goods…etc). I give and receive plenty of great hugs from my daughter and wife every day. The only thing that is a little out of our reach right now is getting our own house, but hopefully we can get out of debt and work towards that goal. Thanks for these great tips! Can always use a reminder.

    • Daniel – I always love it when I hear from younger people that are focused on building a life of self-sufficiency. You are doing good! Getting out of debt is a tough nut but once you get there, you will feel like the door to the jailhouse has been left open. Keep up the good work and send a hug from me back to your wife and daughter for being so supportive (although my guess is that your daughter is quite young!)

  16. I mentioned in my previous post about buying items when on sale and using coupons. Here is a good example of what we do. Last week our local stores had breakfast cereal on sale – If you bought 4 you got them for $1.49 per box. We get coupons on line, so coupons in hand and a sale – we scored 4 boxes for less than $1 each. Actually we bought 8 boxes – which will last us 9 months to a yr. We NEVER buy items just because they are on sale or we have a coupon, but we do what is on sale with coupons. Saves us a LOT of $$. This week fresh string beans are on sale for $.99 – We’ll buy about 10 pounds and can them in pint cans – just the right size for 2 people. Savings are out there to be had, it takes a bit of effort, but you can do it.

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