Beige Honda with a blue door

You Are Doing What?

I strolled through the house, picking up various items, and reminiscing about the memories attached to them. Some were gifts with sentimental value, others were souvenirs. As I contemplated, questions nagged at me: “Can I truly abandon all of this? Is it possible to sell or give away everything?”

Taking a seat on the couch, I ran my hand over the leather. This couch, one of the few expensive possessions we owned, was a celebratory purchase from a few years back when we paid off our Pennsylvania house. Since then, we’ve sold that house and relocated to North Carolina. As I reclined on the couch I gazed out the expansive window into the wooded backyard. A herd of deer nibbled on the grass and their peace enveloped me.

deer in backyard

Click here to see why are we called 43BlueDoors

Contemplating Early Retirement

Trin and I had long deliberated escaping the corporate rat race, discussing options like early retirement in Ecuador or embarking on a journey across America in a VW van. Finally, this year was the moment to take action. We made the decision to sell our house and all its contents, keeping only our backpacks for a liberating, unencumbered journey across the world one continent at a time. The journey would start in Central and South America.

In January 2016, we began listing items on Craigslist, OfferUp, and eBay—possessions that should have been let go years ago. At that point, we hadn’t given notice at work, leaving room for second thoughts.

Committing to Retirement

While Trin was ready, a part of me clung to my career despite the toxic work environment. I hoped it would improve, but one particularly awful day at work shattered that hope. Coming home disheartened, Trin’s words, “We need to do this,” brought immediate relief. I was finally prepared. Frustration with the corporate world and relentless overtime had fueled our desire for change.

We wanted to travel before age rendered it less enjoyable. If we didn’t, it would be our biggest regret.

Tina, Gina, Bonnie, and Jeff sitting behind the MetLife building
We had a lot of fun working together.

Informing Friends and Saying Goodbye

With a work trip to India already planned, we chose to give our notices upon my return. Informing friends and family was a gradual process. Some conversations were fun, but others were difficult.

One of my first calls was to my sister in Phoenix. She was not at all surprised by our decision and enthusiastically suggested that we write a book about our upcoming adventure. I then reached out to my mom, who expressed a bit more apprehension, inquiring if we would still maintain a phone during our travels. My dad, on the other hand, voiced concerns about the Zika virus.

One by one, we shared our plans, including meetings with friends like Mike and Kristina, who were excited and supportive. They offered to help in any way they could to make this possible for us. Little did we know we would have to call in a few favors from them before finally taking off.

Difficult Conversations

Saying goodbye during my work trip to India trip was emotionally challenging, especially to colleagues who felt like family.

“I’m leaving the company this year.  When I get back after this trip I will be giving my notice,” I told Abhinav and Vinny as we sat quietly near the cafe at my hotel. They grew silent. Abhinav teared up. I teared up. We knew that our time was short. We had worked very hard together and learned a lot from each other. I would miss the frequent calls with them and their brilliant minds working through ideas on process improvements together.

The farewells included meaningful gifts. I gave Abhinav a sentimental small wooden car that I had made out of black walnut in my father’s garage. Vinny and I both share a fascination with the beauty of nature so I gave him a framed photo of the Grand Canyon, a photo taken by my sister Tina Stephens. Tears and joy mingled as we anticipated the challenges of staying connected across continents.

Vineet, Bonnie, Trinity, and Abhinav in NC
Vineet, Bonnie, Trinity, and Abhinav in NC

Transition to Retirement – Giving Notice

Upon my return, Trin and I arranged meetings with our respective bosses to formally submit our resignations. Since we were employed by the same company and our bosses were acquainted, we synchronized our notice periods. My boss, genuinely thrilled for me, maintained confidentiality until I had the opportunity to inform my team and friends at work.

Each meeting met with various reactions, ranging from surprise to skepticism. The most common response was, “You are doing what?”

“I am retiring this year. Selling everything and headed to South America to travel,” I announced during my next team meeting. One woman simply stared with her mouth open, then asked me to repeat what I just said. Jamal immediately sent me a meeting invitation titled, “How?”

You are Doing What?

Blue Door
Our Blue Door inspiration


“How are you retiring at 43?” Jamal wanted to know.

Trin’s response to this frequent question is, “I drive a beige car with a blue door.” It encapsulated the essence of our frugal lifestyle that paved the way for a life of travel and liberation.

This is why we named our blog 43 Blue Doors. That car is the icon for choices to spend only on what we love most. It enabled us to save extensively and reach financial independence.

As our possessions found new homes, a growing sense of freedom embraced us.

Find your blue door
Click this door to find out more about finding your blue door.

5 thoughts on “You Are Doing What?”

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I also sold everything and left the corporate world 3 years ago at the age of 39. Its great to know I’m not alone in choosing freedom over belongings.

  2. Pingback: Inspiring Money Stories: Skip Fear And Win With Money | WomenWhoMoney

    1. It’s been a fun journey. It has been great to see your updates too. Do you have a post or a video on how it all started for you? I’d love a link to it if you do

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