impermanence and freedom

we bought our 25-year-old home about four years ago, and while it’s nowhere near a true money pit, it does seem like we’ve incurred nonstop expenses since moving in.

the original fridge died.

the dishwasher wouldn’t run.

the washer and dryer smelled moldy and cost a fortune to run.

the water heater was 20+ years old, and was in danger of leaking.

the furnace fan stopped blowing and needed servicing.

this was all in the first year. since then, the replacement fridge also died and needed servicing three times. the house needed restaining. and now our chest freezer — which is where we store the things we stock up on when the price gets super low or that we make at home in bulk — has stopped working.

it’s frustrating, of course. especially since everything that needs fixing or replacing means fewer dollars into our retirement savings and is, in other words, a direct assault on our escape plan, our freedom. but now, staring down the expense of fixing or replacing the freezer when we already owe a sizable income tax bill thanks to our higher earnings last year, we’re trying to think of this as a lesson in impermanence.

making for yourself the bold goal of retiring early requires more than a little planning. mapping out assumed expenses in the future, assumed spending, assuming rates of saving before retirement. thinking about where you’ll live, and how much that will cost. about how much you’ll travel, and what you’ll eat. it’s easy to start thinking about your plan as written in stone. in fact, in order to work at all, an early retirement plan requires you to stick very closely to your budget, which means sticking to the plan as much as possible.

but we all know that old line — life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans — and it doesn’t become less true just because you’re planning for or living in early retirement.

so this episode of yet another dead appliance is our wake-up call for that: life is impermanence. plans are great, but adaptability is better. and all that stuff in your house: it won’t last forever. it’s not made to last forever. it will probably need replacing, or better yet, you can learn to live without it. maybe we’ll figure out how to live without a chest freezer, even though it saves us tons of money when it’s working properly. if our dishwasher dies, maybe we can live without that. after all, as sam at frugaling.org recently reminded us all, we rent this life. no thing is ours forever, and the sooner we can accept that, the more free we become.

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