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.
Jeremy and Winnie
Several years ago Jeremy
purchased our book and then we met him in Chiangmai, Thailand. Since then, he
and his wife, Winnie have retired from the work force and are now traveling the
world. Take a moment and read this fun and informative interview!
Early Lifestyle: Jeremy and Winnie, for those who do not know who you are and
what you do, could you tell us a little about yourselves?
and Winnie: Thank
you Akaisha and Billy for giving us this chance to share our story. We became
financially independent and retired in our 30’s and now we travel the world
full-time, getting in adventures, meeting interesting people, and sharing our
stories, photos, and detailed expenses with others.
Everything we are doing is repeatable. We didn’t win the lottery, inherit a
windfall, or even do that well in the stock market. We just saved a high
percentage of our income. You might say that we are living based on your
Jeremy and Winnie hiking along the Oregon
Great for you guys! When did you know you were ready to retire and what motivated you?
J&W: The main
motivation to retire early was the ability to choose what we do with our time. Work and commuting take up so much of our lives, and leave us exhausted during
our “free time.” It is difficult to even get away for more than a week or two
at a time. Now we have the ultimate luxury item: Time.
Since I was a child, I always wanted to explore the world. But in Taiwan, we
had even less vacation days than Americans. One or two weeks a year is
completely inadequate to truly experience a new place or culture. Plus I guess
you could say I’m lazy ;-)
I’ve had a tenuous relationship with the working world for as long as I can
remember. I’m still a little upset with the guy that decided I should no longer
get summer vacation, long breaks at Christmas and Easter, and numerous long
weekends once I graduated from college and started working. I guess you could
say that I am lazy too!
you share with us anything about how your portfolio is structured? Did the
market declines of 2008 affect your retirement nest egg or make you question
your retirement plans?
roughly have a 70/15/15 split of a Total Stock Market Index, Bonds, and REITs. We own a few individual dividend stocks that help smooth out cash flow. We also
have a private bond from selling a small rental property with owner financing. We are working our portfolio towards 100% stock.
portfolio took a major hit in 2008, a decline of about 40%. We had a large cash
position in early 2008, and when the market dropped we put in half of our cash. When the market fell further, we put in the rest. Then when it dropped
substantially in the fall of 2008, we said, “Damn, I wish we had more cash!”
probably accelerated our retirement plans, because we had the opportunity from
2009 to 2012 to buy shares at lower prices, a period when we were saving 80%+ of
A boat ride through Sumidero Canyon,
do you manage your finances while on the road?
money management, whether in the US or abroad, happens on the Internet. We have
a credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees and pays 1.5% cash back,
and we use that whenever possible. Often cash is the only option, and we just
get that from an ATM since our bank reimburses for ATM fees and offers
competitive exchange rates.
All of our books lead
to adventure. Don't miss out on yours!
What do you budget annually for your retirement?
J&W: We use
the “4% Rule” as a guideline, but we don’t really have a budget. To date, we
have been spending a little less than $3k a month with no effort whatsoever to
limit or control expenses. We will probably spend twice that when we tour
Western Europe, Japan, and Australia and could spend half that while still
living large in parts of Central America.
share every penny of our spending in great detail on our website,
gocurrycracker.com to help others plan their own travel, and perhaps even help
people retire sooner.
Hanging out in San Jose, California
Share with us your best money-saving secrets.
I recently answered a similar question by half-jokingly saying, “Find a frugal
wife.” Having a spouse or partner with similar money values and an intrinsic
sense of self-worth rather than one that comes from what you own is
invaluable. Beyond finding a good partner, developing skills that reduce or
eliminate recurring expenses has a great return. I love to cook, and it is a
skill I’ve developed in the last 5 years or so with a focus on reducing our food
expenses. We eat very well for a lot less than the cost of dining out, and it
is always more healthful. Friends love to join us for dinner parties too, so it
is great for socializing.
The best way to save money is to design a lifestyle in which television is
completely absent and where you can walk or bike everywhere.
Advertisers hire the best psychologists money can buy, and they will part
you with your money, for things you don’t really want or need. They accomplish
this either by bombarding you with negative messages about your looks or your
value to the opposite sex, or by setting up unrealistic role models. The
characters of Seinfeld, Friends, or Sex and the City can’t
afford the lifestyles portrayed in their shows, but they make you think you
should be able to. The greatest weapon we have in this battle is to opt out of
all advertising, TV, magazines, etc... Throw the TV out the window of a tall
building if you have to, but get rid of it.
Guide to Early Retirement, 3rd Edition
A Common Sense Approach
best money saving secret is to find a home or apartment in a walk-able
neighborhood with bicycle and bus access to where you work. Ideally you would
live near a grocery store, a park, and a library, allowing you to eliminate or
significantly reduce transportation expenses. This is exactly how we lived
before we hit the road.
Releasing baby turtles in Puerto
you have a home base or own a home?
J&W: No, we
are homeless vagabonds. By not having a home base, we are able to eliminate the
costs of owning and maintaining a home, as well as the mental energy required to
My mother always told me that if I didn’t study I would end up homeless. It
turns out the opposite was true :-)
What has been your greatest challenge on your road to Early Retirement? Your
biggest lesson? What were your fears and obstacles before making the leap?
concept of early retirement is simple enough: spend little, save a lot, invest,
and retire. Learning how to invest was a minor roadblock. There is so much
misinformation out there and the financial advisor community tends to make it
more complex than it needs to be. As in most things, simple is better, so we
went with a portfolio of low cost index funds.
the unknown was something we both had to overcome. What about health care? What about safety? Did we save enough? Should we work one more year? (This
was a big one for us.) You can never have all the answers, and there is no such
thing as 100% security.
Guide to Early Retirement was very
helpful, since you (Billy and Akaisha) make a great example.
REL: We are very happy that you found our book to be useful! Did
you receive resistance from family members and friends, or did they encourage
you in your creative lifestyle choice?
Sunrise over Lake Atitlan,
I quit working 3 years before Jeremy, when we got married. All of my friends
thought we were crazy. It is just so different from what they consider normal. But they were also encouraging about travel, and love to see our photos. My
mother thinks we should still be working. It is hard for her to understand the
concept of early retirement, but she is happy that we are happy. She does
occasionally ask when she is going to have some grandkids though.
When I quit, a lot of coworkers wanted to go out for beer and ask questions
about how they could do it too. There is no way we could drink that much beer.
family side, the strongest resistance was from my Mom. I called her and told
her that I was now unemployed and we were going to go travel, and she said,
“Will you be OK? Do you have an emergency fund?” “Yes”, I told her. “We will
be OK. We have a 60 year emergency fund.” “OK, you kids have fun!”
Have you left much of your possessions in storage? Or did you chuck it all?
stored all of our stuff on Craigslist. Nice people came to our house and took
everything away, and they are going to use it while we don’t need it. They
agreed to take over responsibility for care and maintenance and will even deal
with depreciation for us. Shockingly, in return for allowing them to watch our
stuff, they even gave us a bunch of money. Someday if we need one of those
things again, we will look on Craigslist, and equivalent or better items will be
waiting for us.
like tax documents, medical records, and old photos, we scanned all of them and
have them stored online, so we have access to them anywhere in the world. Between Craigslist and the Internet, there is really no reason to store anything.
What do you do about transportation? Do you own a car?
J&W: We use
planes, trains, automobiles, tuk-tuks, boats, bicycles, and our feet, whatever
is the most efficient at the time, but we don’t own a car. Sometimes we got
“free” flights from credit card promotions.
I grew up in Taipei, Taiwan, with great public transit. I never needed a
driver’s license, and have never even learned how to drive. One time Jeremy
tried to teach me in an icy parking lot in a rental car. I felt like I was a
Formula One driver, but I think Jeremy almost had a heart attack.
I think cars are dirty, nasty, inefficient things. Why does it take a 4,000 lb
machine to move a person? Driving from place to place is usually a miserable
experience too. You have to deal with traffic, incompetent drivers (which may
be yourself), getting gas, finding parking, as well as the cost and time
required for insurance, fuel, licensing, and maintenance.
was working, I either took a bus to work or rode my bike. I remember fondly one
day taking the long way home around the lake, 23 miles in total, and making it
home before a driving coworker. There were few places we couldn’t get to faster
and easier on our bicycles. It also provides great health benefits
Swimming at Semuc Champey, Guatemala
What do you do about healthcare? Are you open to medical tourism?
J&W: Up until
a month ago, we had a high deductible health insurance policy for only one
purpose, in case we developed an expensive disease. I thought of it as paying
protection money, like how you might pay the mafia to not bust up your home. But now that the Affordable Care Act has eliminated exclusion practices for
pre-existing conditions, we have decided to self-insure. If we ever return to
the United States for an extended period, we will purchase health insurance on
our state’s health insurance exchange.
The Adventurer's Guide to
recently visited a dentist in Mexico for our annual cleaning, and Jeremy went to
the doctor when he needed some antibiotics. Both experiences were better than
the equivalent in the United States. No wait, friendly and polite staff, and we
knew the cost of service before starting any procedure. The whole process is
more transparent. If we have a choice in the matter, we will only pursue
medical care outside the U.S. going forward. You could say we are big fans of
Winnie making a human sacrifice at pyramid
top, Teotihuacan, Mexico
What are your greatest passions in life?
Travel, definitely, although I think my true love in life is food, creating it
and sharing it. I also love photography, reading, and making jewelry. Now that
I have so much more time, I keep finding new things that attract my creative
More than anything I enjoy learning, developing new skills, and sharing the
things I’ve learned. Currently we are both actively studying and practicing
Spanish, and I’ve been able to play more guitar in the last year than in the
last 5 working years. I’ve also recently discovered that I truly enjoy writing.
Tell us about your greatest personal success, not necessarily finance related.
Jeremy: Once upon a time, I convinced my best friend to quit her job and travel
around the world with me.
Winnie: Hey! You stole my line!
REL: How do you contribute to the world?
J&W: On a daily
basis, we treat people with respect and kindness. A genuine smile is always
welcome and brightens people’s days. For anybody that has read YouTube comments
or tried shopping on Black Friday, it is clear that the world could use more
We also share how we
have been able to retire fairly young and experience life in a different way. A
lot of people feel trapped, and by showing that there is another way perhaps a
few more people will be able to find their freedom and pursue their dreams. We’ve received a lot of emails from people saying that our blog has helped them
get closer to their own early retirement or rethink their lifestyle choices.
When we ultimately kick
the bucket, we plan to create an endowment to fund charitable hospitals.
Monarch migration, Morelia, Mexico
REL: What is your
most treasured possession?
Jeremy: There is
nothing that we own that I would be upset about if it was lost. I do enjoy
having a computer and Internet access, and my guitar is always nearby.
Winnie: I love my
high-end kitchen knives. Having the right tool for the job makes cooking so
much more enjoyable. And if a relationship can be considered a possession, I am
also very happy to have a strong loving relationship. (But really the kitchen
REL: Have you had
a brush with fame, the proverbial '15 minutes'? Tell us about it.
times while walking down the street in Guatemala, guys jumped in front of me and
sang, “Heeyyyyy, Sexy Lady” and started dancing Gangnam Style, the popular song
by Psy. Of course I danced along. Being mistaken for a Korean idol might be
the closest I’ve come to fame. I guess I’m really famous in Guatemala.
rubbed shoulders with several titans of the technology industry, and been in
meetings with the richest guy in the world. The mainstream press at a charity
event at the Playboy Mansion also interviewed me, when they thought I was the
lead singer of a famous punk band. They were a little disappointed when I clued
them into their mistake.
Jeremy swimming with whale sharks in Isla
What’s the worst thing you deal with in your chosen lifestyle? Your biggest
We meet a lot of great people with interesting stories and plans, but because we
are all on the move it is difficult to develop deep and long lasting
friendships. A lot of people we have met, we see each other’s photos on Facebook, but odds are we will never see each other again. It would be nice if
friends or family could meet up with us from time to time, but they are so
caught up in their own lives that it is difficult to get together.
I tried thinking of a negative aspect of our lifestyle, and I honestly can’t
think of one. I feel that we are living the dream.
What is exhilarating beyond words? Something you would never trade about your
lifestyle to obtain “security?”
Most of my life, I did what I was supposed to, even studying things I wasn’t
interested in and working in a field because it paid well even though it wasn’t
my dream. Now I am able to pursue all of my creative interests that I didn’t
have time to explore while working, like photography and jewelry making.
My relationship with time has been completely transformed. I never truly
grasped the whole Eastern philosophy concept of living in the present until I no
longer had time pressure. While working, there is always a past event that
continues to consume mental energy, and of course we focus on future work items
and deadlines. Seldom are we able to truly be in the now.
wake up when our body has finished resting, we eat when we are hungry, and we
create when we feel inspired. I often have no idea what time it is or what day
of the week it is. Energy levels and creativity have exploded, and I imagine
the health benefits have as well.
What would you say to someone who is considering tossing the conventional
lifestyle and living one of travel? What advice would you give?
J&W: You can
never have all the answers, and if you feel called to travel and explore then
what you are currently doing isn’t where you should be. A favorite Paulo Coelho
quote comes to mind, “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is
lethal.” Take the leap. The landing is beautiful.
REL: What is a secret fact about you?
J&W: We met when we were both on business trips in Beijing, China. We spent an
afternoon together walking through the markets, and neither one of us wanted to
buy anything except food. That was when we learned we were soul mates.
like to thank Winnie and Jeremy for taking the time to answer our questions
about their retirement and for sharing their lives with us!
About the Authors
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person – the person who prizes their
independence, values their time, and who doesn’t
want to mindlessly follow the crowd.