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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.

Early Retirement as a Lifestyle

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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You can retire early to spend free time as you want; travel, study and learn, play sports, pursue a hobby…

We did!

In 1991, at the age of 38, we left our fast track lives, packed it up, sold everything, and moved to Nevis, a 36 sq. mile island in the Caribbean. From there we started traveling and haven’t looked back.

Are we living the life YOU want right now? Is this idea appealing?

Where to start

In order to tackle the notion of early retirement, there are several key questions that need to be answered. There are the tangible issues of money, the matters of personal time management while retired, and the very crucial but intangible subjects of fear and risk management.

On a walkabout in Manly, Australia

Many people put off the intention of retirement into the “someday” category, like it will just happen on its own. Meanwhile, the thinking, planning and saving components are neglected all together until that illusive day arrives. For some it never does appear, and for others its attainment comes with a mixed bag of things never quite sorted out.

Our retiring early challenged the belief system of everyone we knew. We heard all sorts of comments such as:

“Retirement is for old folks.” “I could never sit around and do nothing all day.” “I couldn’t retire unless I had a gazillion dollars.” “You’re too young to retire.”

What does it take?

What does it take to retire early?

It takes a mixture of desire, a plan of action and self-knowledge. Ask yourself: “Do I have any of the three ingredients mentioned here?”

Believe it or not, some people never want to retire. To have a blank calendar in front of them is scary. They like routine and knowing what is expected of them day to day. This provides a certain security and knowingness in their lives, and this is what they want. Questioning this whole set up would fracture their foundations. These people would not be a candidate for early retirement.

Biking on beaches in Belize

If having large blocks of free time to fill as you choose sounds exciting, if pulling out maps of the world stirs a wanderlust in you, or if pursuing a hobby or sports activity more fully makes you breathe easier and brings a smile to your face, then you could put a checkmark next to the first qualification.

“That’s great,” you say. “I want to do it, I just don’t know how.”

Financial questions

Well ask yourself. Are you a spender or a saver? Can you put off immediate gratification for a more long range goal? Do you have any idea of the amount of money you spend in a month? In a year? Or in any particular category, like groceries, gasoline, clothing?

When we decided to analyze the notion of not working for money any longer, we had to get a firm answer to the question of how much money we spent on ourselves in a year. When we excluded the expenses of working (stylish work clothing, restaurant lunches, travel expenses, car parking, dry cleaning, etc.), the expenses of maintaining a large house (gardener, house repairs, cleaning service, insurance), and the cost of stress releasers like high priced vacations, shopping sprees for the fun of it, the expenses for large parties, and so on, we found out the exact amount of money we spent just on us. It amazed us how small this amount was.

 

This is where you start. We decided we needed $20,000 a year to live (1990 dollars. Today, 26 years later, we consistently spend less than $30,000 annually for all our travel, housing, transport, taxes and medical expenses.) It is from here that you need to look at the investments you've made, and figure out how you could pull out your annual expenses, including inflation.

We chose to be heavily invested in equities, and still are. In the very tough market crash, (2008) we did reduce exposure, but not enough to escape it entirely. However, our net worth today is higher than when we started, after expenses and inflation. Our plan is simply, reverse dollar cost averaging, selling shares as needed and we try to prevent losses due to market downturns whenever possible. Of course we use low cost tax advantaged ETFs to facilitate this. The withdrawals could be set up automatically, but we choose to direct it, and with today’s internet available worldwide, it is easy. The money is then transferred to a money market account with check writing, debit card and bill paying capabilities.

Taking a break in Ecuador

The lifestyle

Ok, we’ve got the bills paid, but how do we travel to exotic locations on less than 30K? Remember, retirement is a lifestyle, not a two week vacation. You are going to spend “X” Dollars per day staying at home. But, why not fly or bus to some place interesting, get local, and rent a furnished apartment or stay in an inexpensive hotel?

Getting local means having fun shopping at local food stores, trying their products, and meeting folks who live there and learning where and what the “bargains” are. Make a game of it, have fun and don’t take things so seriously. Remember, it’s a lifestyle and you don't have anything to prove to anyone.

Popular guide books are excellent sources of information ranging from hotels to interesting things to do, most with prices quoted. The longer you stay in these locations, the more your expenses will be amortized and soon you will find you’re spending the same or less than at home.

Examples

For example, we have been to Australia and New Zealand for a 3 month period where our daily average is easily a whopping $80-$100 per day. We then balance that amount by staying in Thailand for 3-4 months where our daily spending is about $35 a day. This averages out to be $63 a day, or $23,000 per year. (And these figures include airfare, all transportation, healthcare, great Australian wines, lamb, brie, apartment rentals, Thai massages etc.) Are you getting our drift?

Spending numbers

Because we track our spending daily, a habit we formed from running our business, we know that some days the average goes through the roof (travel tickets etc. can spike these days), while on other days we spend little or nothing. But when we add it up and divide by the number of days we’ve been retired, our daily average is well within the range of $30,000 per year.

OK, enough with the numbers…it’s time to take the leap of faith.

Boarding a bus with a machete in Ecuador

Tricky third ingredient

The third ingredient is a little trickier: self-knowledge. There are many ways to do this and there is no one-size-fits-all. You’re in charge of your life so make it what you want.

What kind of person are you? Can you stand apart from the crowd? Do you need constant excitement? What are your housing requirements? Do you want to keep up with the Show-off-skis? Can you entertain yourself? Do you like nature? The city? High priced toys? Is your spouse on the same page as you regarding this goal? What do you like to do with your time, and do those things require high financial maintenance? Do you enjoy variety? Volunteering? People? Routine? Travel? What would you do if you had a blank calendar? Or if your phone didn’t ring? Or if you didn’t receive a paycheck? Can you adapt to change?  

 

Making the list

Part of our Pre-retirement program was to list all the things we wanted to do and learn, places we wanted to visit, books we wanted to read, and anything we were excited about.

This list is very important.

If you cannot come up with a list, or if watching re-runs of TV shows is on it, you are in trouble. The purpose of this list is if and when there is ever a bored moment after retirement, or if you ever wonder why you took this leap, then take that list out, look at it, and remember why it is that you wanted to retire in the first place.

This gives you the impetus to move forward, off any block of inertia.

Sailing in Florida, USA

The more you know yourself, and your “requirements” for fulfillment, the rest just falls into place. Once you are comfortable in your new lifestyle of financial independence, and are self-assured in this placement, all sorts of opportunities present themselves. The possibilities are limitless, and it is only you who hold yourself back.

Two decades of adventure

Since we have left the conventional working world, we have visited dozens of countries, played tennis worldwide, took foreign cooking courses, volunteered teaching English as a second language, built tennis courts  in a small city in Mexico, taught Thai massage to the locals in Mexico, imported a basketball scoreboard for the gymnasium, taken thousands of photos, written ten books and stories for magazines and newspapers, hiked, biked, bussed, trekked, scuba’d and made many lifetime friends along the way. No paycheck could have ever bought these experiences for us nor given us the gratification we have received.

Because of our lifestyle, and the freedom to design how we spend our time, we have also been fortunate enough to do End of Life Care for our parents. These occasions to do so were priceless for the both of us.

Risk, safety and guarantees

Some have said that they admire what we are doing, but they think it is too risky for them. Life itself is a risk. There are no guarantees for anything; health, marriage, bear markets, the unexpected, weather, tragedy. Since we have been retired, we have “survived” all sorts of things including SARS, the Asian Bird Flu, the bear market of 2000, the first Gulf War, the market crash of 2008, and some funny traveling debacles just to name a few. If you want a guarantee, we say: buy a Sears battery.

Risk has a price, and so does security.

Why not live the life of your dreams? Do the mental and physical examination, take the leap of faith, and perhaps we will meet on this Road Less Traveled.

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 award winning 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 available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.

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Billy and Akaisha continue to journal and photograph their world travels.

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