Retirement Plan: Live Like Jack Reacher in Lee Child’s Books
Jack Reacher Retirement Plan: A Simple Life on the Road
Jack Reacher is a fictional character in Lee Child’s action novels about a former military policeman who wanders the country traveling with only the clothes on his back and his folding toothbrush. He checks into hotels with a fictitious name and becomes involved in adventures involving fighting crime and rescuing people. How much would it cost to have a lifestyle like this? Would this be a good retirement plan?
The Jack Reacher Retirement Plan
Jack Reacher is thrifty. He doesn’t own a home. He travels by Greyhound bus, hitchhiking, or simply walking. He buys cheap clothes and then throws them away after a few days. No utilities, no mortgage, no car payments. After years of being tied down in military life, Jack Reacher wants to wake up free to do what he wants every day. He stays in hotels as he drifts around the country. Jack Reacher likes to eat in diners and enjoys coffee. This sounds like a great retirement plan to me. How much would it cost to live like this?
Jack Reacher does have some sources of income. He has a retirement or severance package of some sort from the U.S. Army when he left the service at the rank of Major after 13 years of service. He once earned money digging pools in Florida—this helped him stay in shape as well. How much money would you need to earn to be able to stay in a hotel every night and wander the country on a Greyhound bus?
Would This Be a Good Retirement Plan?
- Sell all of your stuff except the clothes on your back. No house, no car, no furniture, no pets.
- Buy a folding toothbrush.
- Buy a bus ticket and be on your way.
- Stay at cheap hotels.
- Eat at cheap diners and get free food at the hotel.
- Throw away your dirty clothes and buy cheap new clothes to replace them.
How much would it cost to live like this?
There are some good options for extended stay hotels—these offer suites with a kitchen as well as a bedroom and bathroom.
- Extended Stay America: $45 to $75 per night. Basic accommodations available nationwide.
- Homewood Suites: about $95 per night. This would be like a mini-vacation during your life on the road. Homewood Suites offer a basketball court and buffet dinner every night. You can get Hilton points for staying here as well.
This works out to a range of $1350 to $3000 per month for hotel. This cost includes utilities as well since heat and electricity and water is covered in your hotel bill. Jack usually picks pretty cheap hotels and sometimes stays with friends or sleeps on-site while working on one of his missions, so I would put his budget at the low end, let’s say $1500 per month.
Diner Food: $300
Assume one free meal from your hotel—breakfast. At Homewood Suites, you get a buffet dinner as well, which is worth about $10. Otherwise you are on your own for food. The long stay hotels provide kitchens with cooking utensils as well as a refrigerator, oven, microwave, and toaster. Making your own meals should be no problem.
But Jack is not much of a chef. He gravitates to diners and cheap restaurants. And he’s a big guy and needs to eat a lot to keep up his strength. Better plan for at least one big diner meal per day at $10 to supplement the free food from the hotel. That’s $300 per month for food.
Cheap Transportation: $200
Assume you don’t own a car. You won't have to pay for insurance, maintenance costs, registration fees, car payments, or gas expenses. If you want to go somewhere, you can walk—as Jack Reacher often does. You can take the hotel shuttle, take public transportation, or take a Greyhound bus. Some of these transportation options cost a bit of money. Let’s assume you’ll move to a new city every couple weeks. Budget $200 per month for transportation expenses for bus tickets, etc.
Disposable Clothes: $300
Jack Reacher shops at thrift stores, military surplus stores, and the like for clothes. He wears the clothes for a few days and then throws them away. Jack believes in travelling light, only taking the clothes on his back and his folding toothbrush.
The good news is that you don’t need to pay for laundromat or spend time washing, drying, and folding clothes. The bad news is that you need to buy clothes quite often. Let’s say you wear an outfit for three days and then throw it away and replace it. That’s 10 outfits per month. Let’s assume you can find cheap pants for $15, a cheap shirt for $8, socks for $2, underwear for $2: that’s $27 per outfit or $270 per month for clothes. Occasionally, Jack buys special clothes for his missions, such as a watch cap, gloves, etc.
I would plan on using the laundry facility at the hotel and re-wearing the outfits at least a few times to reduce this expense. If I was planning to be in town for awhile, I might get a few outfits. I might even take a suitcase—this would expand my wardrobe capability substantially without reducing my mobility much. If you’re willing to carry a suitcase and do laundry, you could cut the clothes budget to $27 per month—or one new outfit per month. But Jack is not the laundry-doing type. So budget $300 per month for his cheap clothes plus a few extra items he may need.
How Much Would the Jack Reacher Retirement Plan Cost?
It would cost about $2300 per month to live on the road like Jack Reacher—carrying only the clothes on your back and your folding toothbrush, staying in cheap hotels, wearing cheap clothes a few times and throwing them away instead of dealing hauling clothes around.
If you plan to pay your way by picking up minimum wage work at $10 per hour as you go, it would take 230 hours of work per month, or about 55 hours per week to live the thrifty Jack Reacher lifestyle. Yikes!
You’ll need at least some savings or a better source of income than minimum wage work to make this work as a retirement plan. If you sold all of your belongings (house, car, furniture, etc.) and made $27,600, you could live on the road like Jack Reacher for one year without working at all. Savings of $276,000 would get you 10 years of the Jack Reacher lifestyle. Better save up before you buy that Greyhound ticket and hit the road…
What's Your Retirement Plan?
Other alternate retirement plans:
© 2013 Dr Penny Pincher