Loosening the Purse Strings

For those of us who have been lifetime savers, loosening our purse strings can be a radical act. We’ve spent our lifetime saving for retirement and now that we’re retired, we forget that we saved that money so we could spend it and live the lifestyle we wanted and earned through being frugal during our working years.

As I posted in late December 2019, my wife and I sold one of our two vehicles in hopes that having just one vehicle would work for us. For the most part it did. Scheduling the use of the vehicle between us actually worked well. However, there was one aspect of only having one car that we didn’t plan for … emergencies.

Just after the COVID-19 lockdown ended here in Ecuador, a friend of ours was in dire need of our immediate help. Of course this happened when I had the vehicle for the morning doing chores around the city and my wife didn’t have a car to attend to our friend.

In October, one of our ‘special needs’ dogs became quite ill when I was out-of-town with the car. Pets are not allowed in taxis or the public buses in our city. Fortunately, our vet was able to make a house call within an hour and a half.

We came to the realization that having just one car in the family wasn’t working as well as we had hoped … especially since we have two ‘special needs’ dogs.

So, we started looking for another car. We looked at a few used vehicles and none of them had been taken care of the way we always took care of our cars over the years. Finally, in early December this year, we started looking at new cars as it became apparent that we wouldn’t be happy buying a used vehicle.

This was a major decision for us.

Two weeks ago, we purchased a new car. Last week we traded in the old car for another new car. So, we went from have a 15-year-old car to having two brand-new cars.

A year ago we would never have considered such radical and expensive purchases. Not because we couldn’t afford it, but because it totally went against the way we have lived for decades.

But here is the point, we purchased one small SUV and another medium-sized SUV in cash. We didn’t finance them. We didn’t withdraw from our savings to pay for them — we paid for them in cash that we had accumulated over the last two years.

To put it simply, we spent some money generated from the money we accumulated over decades of saving and investing. We allowed ourselves to loosen the purse strings.

Isn’t this the way retirement should be? Isn’t this the reason we lived frugally for decades. I think so — even though it feels so strange.

Published by W. M. Brown

I am a retired U.S. expat living in Ecuador. I was a business owner for 32 years before retiring in 2012.

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