Friday, October 7, 2016

The Beginning of the End

It’s been six years since we made the journey to Cuenca and we’re beginning to see the end in sight. No, we’re not leaving Cuenca, but in May of 2017 we’ll be receiving our Social Security and we’re going to be traveling more (lots more!). We have three trips planned and one of them is going to be Italy, where we lived for six years and where we started our family.

Let me back up a little bit and say that retiring at age 55 is one of the greatest gifts we could have ever received and we’re grateful that my husband’s pension allowed us to do that. But now that we’re approaching 62 years of age, we think it might be time to take our Social Security pension!  Mark will receive his first check in May 2017, followed by mine in August.

Yes, we still live on $1,317 a month and we’re only able to do that because we own our condo and don’t have to pay rent (and our property taxes are on $67 a year). The beginning of the end part is Mark won’t be teaching six hours a day five days a week and I’ll be cutting down on my freelance writing. We have used both those incomes to finance our traveling back to the States and I’ll be honest with you; it’s not cheap!

If you don’t own your home and in our case—a condo—you need to tack on about $500-$600 a month for rent. Prices are going up on just about everything. If you stick to fruits and vegetables, you can live very economically. Yesterday in Supermaxi (our big grocery store chain), I saw Nature Valley Granola Bars for $10 a box. Imported items are ridiculously expensive. I saw the same thing in the States at Dollar General for $1.50. Imported food items, clothes, shoes, and electronics are definitely more expensive in Ecuador. Restaurant dining is still really cheap for us because we always split a meal; we just can’t eat big portions anymore, so dining out is still very economical for us.

The Blue Domes from Our Apartment 

As far as “retiring,” we don’t want to completely give up on the things that we love to do: teaching and writing, but we just want to do less of it so we can travel more and visit a “few” more places on our bucket list. And, of course, make more trips back to the U.S. to see our boys, their wives, and granddaughter in Pennsylvania and visit our family in California.

Our Precious Granddaughter -- Clara Joy! (Photo: Courtesy of  Kim Pombo)

We feel grateful that we were able to retire early and do the things we love. Recently, I wrote a story that was accepted into Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Gratitude, which I share about “The Beauty of Age Spots.” The book has received a lot of attention lately because I think most of us forget what a difference having a grateful spirit can have in our lives. I didn’t expect to live to see age spots, so they truly are a gift.

Recently, Deborah Norville, the co-author of the book highlighted some of the stories on Inside Edition and it made me think again how all of us can turn something not so pleasant into something we’re truly grateful for and in doing so we break the cycle and we’re able to bless others.  Here’s a clip from Inside Edition
My Story "The Beauty of Age Spots
Mark and I are both grateful for early retirement that allowed us to begin a new life in Cuenca, learn another language, buy a home here, and pursue the things we love without financial restraints. There’s absolutely no way we could have the quality of life we have here back in the States and believe me; we don’t take any of it for granted.

We’re both looking forward to the “beginning of the end” and this new stage of our retired life. Mark will probably still teach one class or intensive per cycle and I’m excited to write about our travels and do more e-books.
Cuenca is the best decision we’ve made in our lives and we have absolutely no regrets; we just wish we could have done it sooner!

Until next time...

Connie & Mark


1 comment:

jimintheozone said...

What do you guys do about healthcare?

Thanks, Jim

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