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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

The Answers Are the Easy Part, the Questions Raise the Doubt

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Those of you who subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on our website or other social media know that we retired over two decades ago and that our latest book is, Your Retirement Dream IS Possible. We have been proud and pleased that Dream has been very well received both by the media and by the public.

Recently interviewed by Robert Brokhamp of the The Motley Fool and reposted on Time Magazine’s #1 blog GetRichSlowly we received a barrage of personal opinions from readers. These views ranged from honest questions from those who would like to learn how we managed to save, retire so young and then continue our fulfilling retirement through bull and bear markets – to those who threw up reasons and reprimands as to why we could retire early and they couldn’t, such as we don’t have pets or children, we were lucky in the markets, we don’t have long term friendships, we live in rural areas in third world countries just so we can afford our lifestyle, or that we sell books to hapless schmucks to fund our retirement. A few took offense that Akaisha was asked about family and Billy was asked about his career, as if those questions alone defined who we are as people.

If your curiosity has been piqued, read our commentary on these topics below.

Just a reminder: Don’t let anyone steal your dreams.

Akaisha and Billy

Our responses to the comments below give you insight into our decision making when it came to retiring. We do not claim that our approach is the only way to fashion a fulfilling retirement, it’s simply the path we took. It is our hope that you can use our lifestyle and Guides as templates and create the future of your choice!

Blog Response: I think their story is great, but it is important to note the tailwinds that propelled the two forward.

When you look at the S&P500 index from 1991 to today, you can see that this important barometer for stock market gains rose nearly 300% over the period, with the 90s being one of the biggest booms in American wealth in history. The market took them for a nice ride.

Whether or not the trend will live on is anyone’s best guess. But this extreme retirement story may have more to do with extremely good markets than extremely good budgeting.

REL:  No doubt the 1990’s were good market years. But we didn't know that would happen when we retired in 1991 with the S&P 500 at 312.49. Actually the bull market started in August 1982 with the DJIA at 776 and that bull market carried through to 11,723  in the year 2000. The tech bubble then burst taking the Dow down 30% - then back up again to its 2007 highs - and dropping precipitously again, another 54% with the real estate implosion that followed.

If this was luck, it was bad luck. We may have benefited from the market winds at our back, but we have also survived the bear markets and crashes as well - very notably, the one in 2008.

Even with all that the world and the markets have been through, the S&P 500 has averaged 7.80% since we retired in 1991. The 100% run from March 2009 to May 2011 wasn’t bad either, and I am sure many of you caught that particular “wind at your back” opportunity.

Our question is: Is there ever the right time to retire?

One never knows what the markets will return in the future; therefore you need to have personal confidence and the financial tools to help you through the rough spots. We share our personal financial tools and lifestyle choices in the books we have written.

 

 BR: I’d like to know more about your expected budget. Does that $2000 per month include upkeep (on house, car, appliances, etc.), clothing, gifts, property taxes, or any insurance?

REL: The amount of less than $30,000 dollars per year that we spend includes all of our expenses: Travel, air tickets, transportation, housing, hotels, food, clothing, entertainment, and medical. In a nutshell, this amount pays for everything. We have no mortgage, no car and no payments of any kind. These were our personal lifestyle choices which we made over time.  What if you could spend $30K a year just on yourselves with no mortgage or car payments, no car insurance, maintenance or gasoline costs?

Our guess is that most of you are spending less than that today.

 BR: Of course, the issue of “reproduction” is a highly personal one, but I can’t imagine this scenario playing out as you hope it will, if you have kids one day… The Kaderlis chose a self-indulgent lifestyle. There is this little thing called “responsibility” that also comes into play when people make *choices* to stay in traditional jobs vs. travel the world.

REL: The choice of not having children was a personal decision which we made long before we decided to retire at an early age. As many of you must know, there are a variety of factors that come into play when one chooses to have or not have children.

On our journeys we have met families traveling the world with their children. Some were retired and others were on sabbatical or holiday. Our observation has been that these young adults are very well behaved and with an excellent grasp of the countries they have visited. Science, mathematics, music, geography, history, art and language all come alive for them by experiencing it first hand in the world at large. What could be better?

These kids can hold a conversation with us “old folks” without playing a video game for distraction or having a cell phone stuck in their ear, and it has been a pleasure to talk with them. They were engaged with their environment and the people in them.

You can read more about families who travel together by clicking on our interviews with Jeremy and Winnie, Kalli and Jacob, The Denning Family,  Rick and Darlene, Mark and Stephanie, Millionaire Mommy Jen Smith and from our Travel Sites Page, you will find a variety of families who travel around the world with their children. They write about their challenges, how they educate their children while on the road, how they afford this lifestyle and what it is that they fear. Not everyone chooses to live a conventional life.

BR: This is not to say theirs isn’t a great story, just the idea that this particular lifestyle is for everyone is kind of ludicrous.

REL:  It would be ludicrous if that were our actual claim.

There is no one way to live a life or plan a retirement. Once you become financially independent and you no longer need to rely on a paycheck, your options open up a world of opportunities. Some people like living in their home towns exploring hobbies, contributing to their communities, and making a difference in an environment that is familiar. Others prefer traveling to see new people, places and gaining different perspectives. And there are those who like a mix. There isn’t a one size fits all retirement scenario.

We encourage you to find your own perfect fit. We like to think that we are offering you tools and options to help you get where you want to go. Take advantage of what we know and build your own future!

BR: Personally, living out of a hotel for 20 years has zero appeal for me. I can imagine a lot of people try it and realize it’s not for them either.

REL:  Put this way it sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it?

We do not live out of dark, stuffy, cramped hotel rooms for years at a time. While on the road we generally look for large, airy rooms, with great service, wonderful views, a pool, tennis courts, with Wifi included in the price, and cable TV. Sometimes they will have a kitchen and a living room area like a studio apartment. If we have a reason to stay in a particular location we look for a house or apartment to rent. We love being right in town, similar to those who live in New York City or San Francisco with their co-op apartments or flats. We currently have bases in Mexico, Guatemala, the USA and Thailand where we “park” ourselves while meandering the surrounding cities or countries for months at a time.

BR: I would love to know more about how they saved $500,000 before age 38? That’s not average and those are some skills that would be useful to all of us, for sure. They were lucky; lucky enough to have a decent education foundation, lucky enough to be encouraged at an early age to achieve large goals and think big. Lucky enough to chosen the right field and lucky enough to be healthy enough to “work your butt off.” I’m just saying that not everyone can do it and it should not be assumed that everyone can and should.

REL: It’s true, we never aspired to be average and we wanted to excel in all that we did whether it was school, sports, our jobs, relationships or hobbies. We are motivated by quality, and by doing the best we can in any situation.

We explain how we saved our money and prepared for our retirement in further detail in our first book, The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement. The short version is that while we were employed we worked hard, saved until it hurt, spent little and invested wisely. It was self-discipline and self-reliance that brought us to where we are today. This is a very simple plan, but not always easy. And yes, we believe that anyone who applies themselves can do the same if they so desire.

Our lives have had very little to do with being lucky, unless you consider that finding opportunity at the intersection of hard work and preparation is being lucky. Neither of us finished college, we did not inherit wealth, and both of us had our share of personal challenges growing up – probably like many of you. We did not have counselors to tell us what our individual talents were, nor were we encouraged to consider out-of-the-box scenarios. In fact, in our conventional upbringing, alternative thinking was discouraged and considered to be ”non-compliant.” In many ways, our desires to want something different for our lives was perceived as a threat to the status quo of those around us.

We are sharing this information with you so you know that everything in life does not have to stack up in your favor for you to bring about your own personal successes. Sometimes one can benefit from adversity.

Don't be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against, not with the wind. -- Hamilton Wright Mabie

We pride ourselves as being self-reliant, independent thinkers, with a thirst for knowledge from unique and unusual people, places and experiences. We have taken the cards we were dealt in life and tried to make the most of them.

We encourage you to do the same!

Today these same opportunities are available to you if you are willing to do what it takes, are open-minded enough to look for them and have the desire to learn.

BR: And why is only the man asked if he misses the boardroom and “being somebody” in the business world? I thought earlier in the article it said they were both used to living on commission which would at least imply that she worked too.

I was SHOCKED by those questions. They were the only 2 that were directed specifically at 1 of the interviewees. Husband, don’t you miss the corporate world? Wife, don’t you miss your family?

Even though I believe they said BOTH of them were consultants. What the hell?????

If there is an explanation for those questions being directed in that way, PLEASE provide it. Otherwise, apologize.

REL: We took no offense regarding the questions about Billy missing being the “big cheese” and Akaisha missing her family. We have too many facets to our personalities to be locked in to a description simply by someone posing a question to us. And that single question does not define who we are as people.

In our profile you will see that Akaisha was the CEO of our restaurant and Billy was the Chef. He was then recruited into the brokerage business. Finance and cooking are still his passions and Akaisha’s are textiles, surface design and indigenous peoples. Among many others! 

BR: My wife and I have a good amount in savings, too, but most of our “wealth” is tied up in retirement accounts we can’t touch. Although, if we wait 30 years to touch the accounts, we’ll likely be paying 65%+ in taxes, so it might be worth it to take the money now and pay current taxes and penalties.

Not that I would actually do that, just saying…

REL: In our book, Your Retirement Dream IS Possible, we write about taking early withdrawals from our IRA’s. It is possible do it, but you need to think this through and carefully dot every “I” and cross each “T.”

BR: Can anybody give me the link to the expense spreadsheet template that’s available for download on the Kaderli blog?
Thanks…

 

REL: This expense spreadsheet is available in our newest book, Your Retirement Dream IS Possible, not through our website.

BR:  The story is great but it’s not fear that holds many people back from living in 3rd world countries or following their dreams. For many people, it’s about family ties and obligations.

It’s merely a difference in priorities, values and preferences.

1 – They lose out on relationships that develop over time. I value my long-term friendships – it’s hard to keep those up when you’re in a different part of the world all the time. Skype and email can only do so much.

2 – They lose out on being contributors to their local community. One of the things I enjoy about home ownership is that I’ve gradually felt more a part of the community than a visitor, and I am starting to try to give back to the community.

REL: This is a very common perspective and misconception - that being on the road prevents stability in personal relationships. While it’s true that we are not always in the same location for the 4th of July picnics in the States, Loi Kratong in Thailand, Day of the Dead in Mexico, Christmas, Chinese New Year or other traditional celebrations, we do have friendships that are decades old. And those friendships span the globe.

When we visit our family or friends in the States we often stay for months at a time and are not confined to a holiday weekend or to a 3 hour meal. We get “recruited” for household projects, and become involved with their daily lives and friendships. We find this long term visiting to be very fulfilling. We provide a taste of the exotic to them and they provide the steadfastness of routine for us. Both sides benefit.

In our books we write about the volunteer work we have done in communities around the world involving thousands of man hours. And we also share how we were able to do End of Life Care for our parents when they needed us. This would not have been possible if we had still been working full time.

Our sense is that we have more of a community now than we ever had waving hello and good bye to our neighbors while pulling into the driveway during our working years.

Again, there is no “one way” to live a life. We say make the most of the one you have!

BR: Yeah, they’re kinda of saying other people’s “fears” aren’t legitimate. I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to be fearful that you might lose a big chunk of your money in the stock market these days, or that you might get some extremely expensive illness that your insurance company (if you even have it) decides you’re not covered for.

Maybe I’m just sour grapes, but I find these stories incredibly annoying in the best of times, and now, with over 2 years of double digit unemployment and real wages declining, I think it’s a little offensive.

REL: Many readers of our website and books write to us and let us know where they are on their personal retirement path. We have discussed with them the reasons they chose to go back to work or to “un-retire.”

In these specific examples, it was fear of what the future might bring (illness, lack of money, markets crashing), they wanted to try their hand at a new career without the pressure of “having to work” and some wanted a lifestyle where they didn’t have to monitor their spending.

Fear is very real to those who are experiencing it, and all of us have dealt with areas in our lives that bring up our darkest worries and concerns. In no way are we making light of them. Our point has always been not to let Fear rule your life. The Road of Fear is a very difficult one on which to journey. When one looks through the eyes of Fear, it’s harder to see your options, and it’s easier to say no to the ones that do come your way.

After years or a lifetime of saying no to gifts, fresh starts, possibilities and openings to improve your situation, one can find themselves embittered, hardened and jealous of those who had courage to do something different. Or of those who chose to look Fear in the face.

There are no guarantees and there is always the chance that one might fall flat. So what? Why not try? There is a tremendous amount of learning involved in taking that chance.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Courage is a muscle that must be used in order to be strengthened. And without developing courage you may never allow yourself to follow your dreams.

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. — from Walden by Henry David Thoreau

BR: What never gets mentioned in these stories is that these early retirement travelers always stay third world countries in very rural areas. I am waiting to read about the person who can retire and live on $24,000 and spend extended amounts of time in foreign cities or first world countries.

REL: Living affordably in foreign cities and first world countries for extended periods of time is entirely possible. In fact we have done so ourselves when we lived in Australia and New Zealand. If you modify your housing, transportation, food and entertainment costs you can virtually live anywhere in the world.

There are many creative ways to do this such as house sitting, exchanging a few work hours a week for lodging, getting a month’s rate on a hotel room or a room in a pension for instance. Walking, riding a bicycle, living right in town where the action is, taking public transport or utilizing a rideshare option like sharing a taxi, becoming car free are all ways of paring down transport costs. Cooking for yourself, not eating every meal out, staying away from packaged foods and not choosing high priced tourist options will definitely lower your food expenses. Often times in cities there are free concerts, low priced museum entries, factory visits, city parks, art fairs and historical and architectural walks that you can enjoy. Not to mention hiking trails and bike paths that are available, cheap movies, book exchanges, coffee houses to meet others, and joining in on a group that specializes in one of your interests.

We don’t choose to live in rural areas of the third world as compared to cities we find fascinating. We have a base in Chapala, Mexico, a 25 minute ride to the international airport and 45 minutes to the Jalisco State Capital of Guadalajara. This location is the largest expat community in the world with many first world amenities including tennis courts at both private clubs and the Public Park. All the same TV stations which you have in the US and Canada are available here as well as the same foods you buy at home. Wal-Mart, Costco, movie theaters and even casinos are all available. The climate is one of the best in the world, so we are not exactly suffering here.  

While living in Thailand, most of our time is spent in Chiang Mai, which is the second largest city in the nation. We go into the pluses and minuses of Thailand and Mexico as well as the U.S. in our Destinations Guide. Our yearly financial output of under $30K includes the time we spend at our base in the States as well.

We'd like to say thanks for all of the great comments and congratulations to those folks who are taking control of their financial lives. The person who wrote that there are no guarantees in life nailed it. Through our twenty plus years of retirement we have lost friends and family members to illness or accidents. Those events really brought home to us that we must make the most of Life as we are living it each day.

Mark Twain said it eloquently... "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

We did.

Editor’s Note: Many of the questions posed in the blog comments can be found on our website starting with our profile.  

About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

For more information about financial independence and travel, visit our book store

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