Recently, an old high school friend of mine posted on Facebook a link to an article by MSN Money expressing just why Generation X is hosed. Gen X. My generation. Apparently, I’m hosed. I figured I might as well find out just how said hosing is going to occur.
To make a long story short Gen X is suffering from outrageous debt, their savings have dwindled away, jobs are tough to find, the jobs they do have are hated, and if they’re lucky they can afford to retire at age 90. Depressing? Absolutely. That is until I remembered that I opted out of all this crap a few years ago.
In 2011, David and I sold nearly everything we owned, quit our jobs, and started over in Ecuador with our two sons and eight pieces of luggage, plus carry-ons. We had a few supporters, but for every one of them we faced three cynics. You know, the ones who tell you what a colossal mistake you’re making by moving to a third-world country. What will you do for work? How will your children receive a good education? You’re throwing everything away!
Well here’s the thing. We were doing all of the things everyone else was doing. We owned a home. We had 8-5 jobs. We had retirement funds. And it didn’t make us happy. David worked for a large internationally renowned corporation for ten years and made good money. BUT, the threat of layoffs (which happened often) was an ever-present black cloud hanging over his head. The stress of watching our hard-earned 401k money bounce up and down in wild fits of market madness was nauseating. We desperately wanted to start our own business, but red-tape and start-up costs made it near impossible.
So, we finally made the break from being under the thumb of “The American Dream” and began to follow our own dreams. Within a few months of arriving in South America, we opened a small restaurant, Trebol Cotacachi. Within six months we needed to find a larger location to accommodate all of our customers. Were we rolling in money? No, but we were making enough to cover our living expenses and we were having fun while doing it. One year into our new venture, we sold the restaurant and moved on to new interests.
Meanwhile, Justin and Jesse have not been lacking for an education. The details are something I’ll save for another blog post, but suffice it to say they are now bi-lingual and have opportunities to learn first-hand about places their peers can only read about.
We are again homeowners, but this time our house cost less than half of what it would in the United States. Utilities cost less than $30(U.S.) per month. And we live in an excellent jumping off point for travel to other Latin American countries or simply exploring our new country more in depth.
So, do I feel hosed as a Gen Xer? Not so much. Yes, occasionally I think ‘Damn! We really have no money set aside specifically for retirement’, but then I remember all the folks who slaved away at mundane jobs while their dreams became dimmer by the day and then witnessed their retirement savings plunge into oblivion in 2008. Am I screwing myself with this lifestyle of semi-retirement in a foreign country while focusing on travel and discovery? Perhaps. But I know the likelihood of screwing myself by following the same tired formula of work, save, retire is much higher. And for now, I really am happy.