It wasn’t one event that caused me to drop out of society. It was a combination of many, many things. The first one being the sexual harassment/age discrimination lawsuit I brought against my long time employer in 1994. After ten years of employment, ten years of tolerating constant sexual undertones (I needed my job as I had two young daughters to raise and where I lived, good paying jobs were extremely hard to come by) I was pushed out of this job by a jealous supervisor (I was placed in charge when she took her maternity leave, only to surpass her in performance and substance).
The lawsuit took a toll on my health, despite my winning my case. I had to undergo a hysterectomy and I didn’t take to kindly to losing an aspect of my femininity. I got another job almost immediately but the hysterectomy didn’t sit too well with both my mental and physical health. Eventually, after 1.5 years, I quit and went out on my own and started my own computer business.
The computer business was successful for the first three years. The fourth and last year got hit with the Dot Com Disaster of 2000-2001. I went from making $2million a year to barely $500 a month. No one was buying computers and I was stuck with inventory, a mountain of debt and no customers. I went broke.
And this is where I decided to drop out of society and live on what frugal money I had left. I had placed a deposit on six acres far away and up in the mountains. I was going to build a home up there and be so far removed from human contact that it would be weeks or even months before I would see another human soul. Fortunately, the land seller refused the deal and it gave me some time to come to my senses. I really didn’t want to be 100% separated from society. 50% would do just fine. So, I settled on 3.5 acres a bit closer to civilization.
I was determined to start a new life, completely debt free (I had had enough of bankers, bills and credit). It meant I had to seriously downsize my life and learn to live on a much smaller annual income than I was used to. It meant I had to live in a smaller house (I went from 9 rooms to 4 rooms). It meant a sharp decline in living standards (I went from $5400 a month to $2400 a month in 2001 standards). It’s since been raised to $3100 a month but only through cutting expenses to match rising costs. I did take on a few jobs since 2001 but I would only last 4 to 6 months on the job. It was apparent I couldn’t hold down a job anymore. I couldn’t have a boss. I would rather stick needles in my eyes than work for anyone ever again. I was done! I was 50 years old. I had enough.
Thankfully my husband could still function and hold down a job. But jobs for him, in his chosen craft, were few and far between. So, we gradually learned how to live on less. It’s a drastic lifestyle change to go from approximately $90,000 a year to barely $27,000 but we held on and we did it. Kicking and screaming all the way, I might add. Our biggest accomplishment was buying land and building a home on it without a mortgage or incurring any debt. The thought of dealing with any more creditors was enough of an impetus for me to never incur another past due bill.
It would be 12 years before I would qualify for Social Security at age 62. I knew that by taking my retirement money early would mean a remaining life of lower income. However, my husband needed financial relief since he was the only breadwinner of the family. Hubby qualified for a pension at age 55 and he took it! Again, it would seal the deal of a continued low income life but sometimes having a little bit of money and enjoying life is better than waiting, suffering and then receiving a higher income (but not enjoying it).
Once I mastered the art of low income living, I really have no regrets. I don’t want from anything. I have every single thing I need to live a good, high quality life! The freedom that I feel from not having the pressure of holding down a job is greater than any income I could have earned. Ditto for hubby. He took his Social Security at age 63 also knowing that we both would be living a lower income lifestyle than if he had waited till full retirement age at 66.5 years old.
When we first moved here in 2001-2002, I made several attempts to socially connect with the outside world. I had friends. I went to functions. I joined clubs. I went to church. Eventually, however, people disappointed me just as they had in the ‘before time’. Slowly I dropped out of society and immersed myself into my 3.5 acres and all the natural beauty and local habitat the land afforded me. I created my own personal bubble long before it became the current fashionable thing to do. I am at peace with my land and nature.
The only connection I have to the outside world is this blog.
People pursue jobs and put up with obnoxious bosses because they want to buy themselves things. They want bigger houses, bigger cars, expensive vacations, private schools for their children, nicer clothes, expensive evenings out at restaurants and all the latest games, computer stuff and electronic gadgets they can cram in to their boring lives. I used to want all of the above and more. I wanted to be a multi-millionairess. But at what cost? Whatever it was, it wasn’t worth it. I live a so much more better life now than I could have ever imagined. I actually have the time now to stop and smell the roses (that I planted myself!)
We have our family. We have our grandchildren. We have a paid-for home, paid-for cars and some savings socked away for a rainy day. We have our two dogs that have been a comfort to both of us. We have a wonderful life together. We have something that all the money in the world just can not buy. And that is peace of mind and happiness.