Last week I had the good fortune of reuniting with a few of my childhood friends. We’ve known each other for 52 years and it was a blessing to meet and spend some time together. We all grew up on the same Brooklyn block in a very wealthy neighborhood. We all are first generation of immigrant parents living in America. Our parents became wealthy and all of us lived a very good life because of it. We went to special schools. We took fabulous vacations. We wore designer clothes. We always drove flashy new cars.

The only difference between all of them and myself is that I retired over twenty-one years ago. They are all still working and several of them will be retiring for the first time come this January 2022. One of the common worry throughout all the upcoming retirees was that they were concerned about their new, diminished retirement spending. They told me they loved to spend money and once that work paycheck stopped coming in, they knew their spending days would be over. None of them neither wanted to think about that fact nor has any of them done anything about it.

I totally understood what they all were fretting about. When I first retired in 2001 I had the most difficult time going from a monthly spend of $7840 per month (adjusted for inflation) down to $2400 (in 2001 dollars) to my current $3160 (in current dollars). I had a severe financial challenge on my hands. How do I continue to enjoy my wealthy lifestyle on less income? I have always stated that “I don’t want to be a millionaire. I just want to live like one.” So, how did I accomplish this goal?

I’ve come to realize that it wasn’t by being frugal. It wasn’t by being thrifty. I still wanted to live in a great house on a great block in a wealthy neighborhood. I still wanted to drive new cars. I still wanted to dress well and have nice things. I still wanted to have a finely decorated home. I still wanted to travel to exotic places. You can’t do these things on a limited budget. I found out, however, through trial and error, that if you played your cards right and found great discounts, I could accomplish all of the above buy becoming an expert shopper.

I could live in a fancy house in a fancy neighborhood if I built what I wanted myself. Rather than erect a stick built home, hubby generally contracted a pre-fab modular home, for thousands and thousands of dollars less than a conventional home. No one can tell the difference. No one. Next, if I wanted to drive a fancy car then I had to buy a 2 to 3 year old car, still under warranty but already fully depreciated. No one can tell the difference. No one. If I wanted to dress well I had to shop at severe discounted outlets. Again, no one can tell the difference. If I wanted my home to look as if an interior decorator had their way, I had to study designer mags and shop warehouses accordingly. If I wanted to lounge by a resort or sip vino on the Italian Riviera, I had to carouse vacations on the off-peak season price list.

In other words, over these last twenty-one years I have been retired, I still somehow managed to hold on to my beloved lifestyle through grace and sacrifice. None of my long-time friends have come to the same conclusion that I did. I suppose they don’t want it as strongly as I do. I wasn’t going to go frugal and go without. I wasn’t going to become thrifty and live a life on less. And I as sure as hell, I wasn’t going to eat crappy food and subsist on mac n cheese boxes or frozen chicken pot pies!

I have no idea what category of spendthrift I fit in to. I don’t think there is a title for someone like me. I just know I wanted to continue to live my millionaire lifestyle without a millionaire’s income. I wasn’t going to continue to work just so I could continue to spend money. That’s what my friends did. But now at 66 to 70 years old, they have to face their own unprepared reality. They are going to see a huge drop in their income and they are going to have to learn now how to make it all balance out and come true.

They all rented a house in the Outerbanks this past week, for several thousand dollars. There were five couples sharing the expenses in the house rental so that all of them could afford the week there. Meanwhile, my husband and I RVed at the tip of the Outerbanks, in Cape Hatteras for the same week and we didn’t have to share an expense with anyone. To be honest, their weekly rental fee was $2800 and if hubby and I had to, we could have paid the $2800 and spent the week at this fab house alone! We wouldn’t have had to have 8 more people living in the rental house with us for the week, sharing expenses because we would have been able to pay the rental fee ourselves. Over these last twenty-one years hubby and I have purchased a phase of RVs because I calculated a long, long time ago, that vacationing in an RV saves you a whole bunch of money. Our 7 nights/8 days in a RV resort-styled playground, right on the beach (with every amenity you can think of!!) cost us $835. Not once were we forced to eat out in a restaurant because I packed enough food to get us through all the meals. Not once did we have to rent a boat or pay for a tour because everything we wanted and needed to enjoy ourselves fully was right there, all included. We didn’t have to rent a car (like they did) to drive to North Carolina because we couldn’t tack on any additional mileage to our leased vehicles. That’s because we own our own cars outright and answer to no one.

My soon-to-be-retired, life-time friends have a long financial-learning journey ahead of them. Some may falter and take on part time work. Some may just spend every single dollar till there’s no more left. I dunno. I just know that on one of those 8 vacation days they were in the Outerbanks, they spent it shopping at the malls. One of my girlfriends bought $300 worth of clothes and bought souvenirs for every single family member back at her home. I don’t do stuff like that. Not now. Not ever. If you want to categorize me then put me down as a minimalist. I only buy what I need. I only have what I use. And every single thing that I purchase must be on sale and available at its lowest price possible.

I don’t want to be a millionaire. I just want to live like one.

BTW (By The Way) we prefer the mountains any day!!

My blog is going to take on a new focus. I’m done with the over-saturated frugal and thrift crap. Seems like everyone is jumping on this particular bandwagon either because they think that’s what people are interested in OR they’ve gone broke and are trying to save face. I’m going to continue to live my millionaire lifestyle and share with you how I get ‘er done! It’s time I own up to who I really am and not feel guilty over it anymore. (yes, I felt a certain cringe when I felt I was living better than everyone else) I felt as if I didn’t deserve my good fortune. Well, I do! I’ve worked hard at it. Welcome aboard.

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