Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The King of Kodgers Tells His Story

Since many of you have asked, here’s the short version:

Forty or so years ago, I was in a miserable job in New Orleans, LA, yearning for freedom, with pictures from Arizona Highways magazine taped all over my office. Then I read Walden by Thoreau and saw how I could be free. Simplicity, frugality and savings could liberate me. I managed to save $5,000, quit my job, and enjoyed splendid leisure for 2 years, wandering the
country on a motorcycle.

I was hooked! The joy of rising each morning, doing only what charmed me, became a benevolent obsession. So I determined to win my permanent freedom.

I bought a large, burned, abandoned house with borrowed money, moved in, and slowly renovated it by renting out rooms as I completed them. In five years, I sold it with a profit of $50,000. I did a similar thing for the next five years, and called it quits. Most people vastly overestimate how much money they need to retire. Becoming a mobile codger cuts your expected amount at least in half. Here’s my financial story expressed poetically.

A Bucketful of Freedom

Wealth is like a leaky bucket
Beneath a water spout.
Running water is our income;
Expense is leakage out.

And the measure of our wealth
Is how long we could hold out
If some sad misfortune
Turned off the water spout.

Most folks focus on the spigot,
Seeking increase of the flow.
I’ve focused my attention
On the leakage down below.

I’ve sought to plug my bucket
By reducing my expenses,
Holding in my savings
Like a cowboy mending fences.

With patience I waited for bargains,
Didn’t count on Lady Luck,
Lived well below my means,
Getting bang for every buck.

When water rising in my bucket
Reached that calculated mark,
I left behind my drudgery
And flew off like a lark.

So I think my wealth is great
Because my needs are small,
And I won’t have to work again
With any luck at all.

Money can purchase freedom
If you have the guts to buy it.
I know folks with beaucoup bucks
Too afraid to try it.

I am buying freedom
With the savings in my pail,
‘Cross highway seas of adventure
In my land yacht I will sail.

I guard my nest egg with the care of a mother crocodile. It produces enough to live well if I live simply. Indeed, I find that a slight surplus builds up over time, so that when a new vehicle is needed, no damage is done to the nest egg.

Most Americans, I think, at some point in their lives will receive a chunk of money, perhaps an inheritance, a settlement, or a windfall of some sort. Most will fritter it away because they cannot quantify life (calibrate cost/benefit), and therefore, pay the terrible price of enslavement and drudgery. Over the years, I’ve heard many sad tales of windfalls squandered.

I have my system down to a fine science, and will share all my techniques with anyone. Almost everything I know, I absorbed from others. Indeed, I have found that anyone I engage even moderately has something to teach me. I willingly learn. It is one of my finest qualities.


squire said...

We should all live by "a penny saved is a penny earned".
Sadly I frittered away a little money over 20 years ago. Not much by todays standards but had I invested it wisely it could be bringing in a little income today.

Anonymous said...

I hope to also be free and travel once my children exit college. I plan to fund my dream with businesses that run from the internet.