From time to time, along my retirement travels, I meet up with other retirees who like to share their life stories with me. Being the journalist that I am, I’m intrigued with other people’s lives. I find most people to be fascinating and always interesting. I enjoy getting to know other people. That’s personally how I learn. From other people. From their successes and from their failures.
I met Scott back in Florida, right before the pandemic hit. He was a snowbird just like me. Scott’s homebase is Maryland and if you listen to him very closely, you can almost make out his southern drawl. I liked Scott as soon as I met him. He reminded me of a throw back era of an aging surfer dude. You know the type. Slightly tan. Ruffled hair. Open shirt and silver jewelry strung around his neck. His right hand bore a matching ring with a blue stone, snugly encased, that dutifully highlighted his long blonde hair. I looked around for a surf board but found diving equipment instead. Scott makes his money giving diving lessons. And by making silver jewelry on the side.
Fully retired, Scott spent twenty years in the navy. His retirement income is barely $1100 a month. Thankfully, he’s still young and able enough to work whatever hours he wants to, on the side.
When I met Scott he was telling me he was hoping his aging father, who lived down the road, would leave him his manufactured home in a Florida 55+ community. Scott was living in an RV, as all we fellow snowbirds do when we winter in Florida.
Back at Scott’s homebase in Maryland, right off of Sullivan Island, he rents a boat to live on in the summer months. Scott’s dad never did leave him the house. I could tell this bothered Scott. He wanted a home but did not have the money to buy one.
So, Scott bought the next best thing: land. Once the pandemic hit, owning a home with land became very important to a lot of people. Me included. The pandemic made me appreciate and be thankful for my own home that sits on 3.5 acres in rural farmland.
Scott bought himself a five acre lot in his hometown and has set up his RV as his home base. For now. So far, he has $71,000 invested in both the raw land, a driveway and electrical service. He spent almost all of his money but is not discouraged. “I’ve still got $11,000 in the bank” he boasted. “Eventually I’ll be able to afford a septic system ($35,000) and drill my own well ($15,000).”
That’s a lot of scuba lessons and a lot of jewelry sales, for sure. For now, he’s got it all figured out and apparently has been managing quite well. He brought in a 350 gallon water buffalo and has ample water. He purchased an oversized, movable plastic container to handle his septic system requirements. “I have everything I need,” he boasts. Scott’s greatest pastime now is sitting on his RV front entrance, listening to the birds and looking over the vastness of his property.
“If I didn’t buy this land,” Scott said, “I’d be living in the back of a boat. At least now, I have something to leave to my kids. I never thought I would wind up like this.” Scott went on to tell me about all the money he is saving by cooking his own meals. In the before time (before buying the land) Scott ate out most meals. Now, Scott plans out his meals, coordinates his grocery shopping…….in other words, he has become a full time frugalista, just like me. Sharing recipes with Scott was like hearing music to me. Frugal is the only way to be. I expect to hear about his new septic system anytime soon.
You’ve done good, Scott. You’ve done good.
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