A Family with a Focus
Mark & Stephanie
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
Mark Greenhalgh read our book,
The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement.
After they successfully retired, they caught
up with us while visiting Thailand. During our conversations together, they
discussed how they had raised a fiscally responsible child while maintaining
their retirement dream. We knew their story would pique the interest of our
Focused as a
Briar and Mark
receive letters from parents
who say they cannot retire because they have children to
raise, and the high costs of their education puts a heavy financial
burden on them. What makes you different as a family? Or do you see
yourselves as being different at all?
drive new and expensive SUVís and we are happy with our 10 year old
Civics, we are perceived as being different by ourselves and by
those who know us. It was hard, sometimes, seeing those around us
flourish with glorious purchased items. But there is a great
enjoyment also knowing that we can afford a new vehicle, but we opt not to buy one. We choose freedom
How did you
manage finances with your child as you planned to retire? Did you involve your child? Did you discuss this
retirement dream with her?
What did you do?
One summer in the
early 1990ís as we were hiking in the Canadian Rockies, I had a meltdown. I came to the realization that after 1
year of producing a wonderful income, we had nothing saved and nothing
substantial to show for it. I realized that my family had a comfortable
lifestyle, but it was costing me my life as a full-time wage slave. I knew I
wanted out of the rat race and to get off this treadmill.
We had a family
Adventurer's Guide to Destination Choices
Budgets were created
for everything. Stephanie took on employment and became a financial
contributor to our family's income. Briar contributed by reducing her
dependence on expensive out of school activities and we became vegetarians.
It was tough, but after one year, we saw savings.
The internet provided
a means to learn about investing those savings. By the late 90ís I knew that
early retirement was a solid goal. I spent many months spread sheeting
plans, budgets and doing forecasts. As a family, we found ways to maintain
and increase our enjoyment together through inexpensive activities, for
instance, ice skating and skiing, instead of an amusement park. Backpacking
and biking, instead of mall shopping. Finances were not the only benefits of
these changes, and our family strengthened.
and Briar hiking in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada
child independent now? How do you manage her financial requests and
Briar, at age
20, is very independent now. She balances life goals very well and
she requires no financial support from her parents. Independence is
strongly encouraged in our home. Briar started learning to drive at
age 12. By age 16, she had her license and was knowledgeable in
vehicle maintenance and light repair. She took a year off before
college where she self financed travel in China and parts of Europe.
As a full-time student now, most of her time is spent studying but
she works part-time when a desire for cash is required.
raising your child did you give her an allowance? Encourage her
to become employed? Direct
her with her savings and investments? How
did you encourage her fiscal responsibility?
Our first goal as a
family is happiness. Since everyone has a different approach to reach that
goal, it is important that all family members are supported. Our goal of
independence from work was not my daughter's immediate priority. With that
understanding, we work together and tolerate individual thought patterns.
For example, Stephanie was a strong believer in giving an allowance to a
child, where I was not. A balance was obtained where a small allowance was
given monthly that could be enhanced through negotiation when extra chores
were undertaken by Briar. It was her choice if and when she desired to trade
some freedom for money.
In regards to
investments and savings, like my daughter, I too was not interested in
saving and investing at an early age. What she does have however, is the
knowledge that those avenues do exist and can be accessed in the future. She
applies some of those financial teachings today when saving for smaller
goals like travel. I think it will take a few years of her experience as a
wage slave before she accesses those doors for herself. She may even find a
new or better path of freedom from which I may learn!
time in British Columbia, Canada
give us an example of your child's view on getting value for the
money she spends?
We all put
different values on things. I personally do not think a $60 American
Eagle T-shirt is good value, but then, she may not think a $350 GPS
is either. When one is confronted with the idea that a $10 per hour
wage earner needs to work more than 6 hours plus taxes, to purchase
this AE shirt, then a value is placed on the item. At a very early
age, we enforced a 20% jar saving policy, where Briar must
contribute with each dollar earned. She did not like the policy. The
lesson learned much later was not in the saving, but in the absence
of the money, once spent. Once the jar was empty, the loss felt was
equal to a lost stuffed animal. The jar of change was worth more in
financial security, than the item that was eventually purchased with
that change. The jar has now become a bank account, and with her balance, includes free transactions.
Adventurer's Guide to the Possible Dream
Can you explain
your approach to paying for higher education for your child?
Paying for your
childís education is debated on many forums on the internet. Each camp has
its pros and cons. For myself, my own post secondary education was self
financed with loans, but I still felt responsible to get Briar a good
foothold. Since our goal was to retire immediately after Briarís high
school graduation, I felt I could not relax and enjoy my retirement knowing
that Briar did not have a good shot out of the starting gate. Having further
education could provide that extra shot. When she was just starting high
school, I put her on the payroll of my small consulting business. The next
four years, I had her work performing light office duties in exchange
that her entire wage was to finance college. This worked quite well and
after that period she had enough to continue her studies.
Briar enjoying the beauty of Mount Rainier National Park,
have you been retired? And at what age? How long did it take you to
plan your retirement?
We have been
retired now since the summer of 2006. I was 44 years old, and
fortunately always had a frugal attitude. It took about 1 year to
create the plan to early retirement, and about 8 years to implement. Throughout that time, we
kicked around many early retirement
options, such as traveling with our daughter and home schooling as
we go; or semi-retire, where I work only the summers and travel the
winter. I did not like those ideas as I did not want to give up my
home or car, but more importantly, it always lead us back to work,
traveling, how do you keep in communication with your daughter? Does
she come to visit you in far away locations?
Since we are
newly retired, we are still learning exciting ways to keep in touch.
When we road-trip in North America,
we use a 1-800 number that we obtained through VISA. Of course the internet is a
serious tool and our daughter is strongly versed with its
communication capabilities also. Up until our recent retirement,
Briar would travel with us to adventurous locations, but since she
is now in college, our travels have now become more separate. We
plan to travel together once again after she graduates.
What was the
longest time you have been away from your daughter, and where did you go?
Our first serious trip
without Briar was when we backpacked South East Asia for the winter of
2006/07. It must be said that at our time in life, our responsibilities
become less with our children, but more with our aging parents. Our
separation was equally hard on them.
do you handle being away from your daughter? How does she deal with it?
We are a very tight
family. Since Steph and I were an Ďitemí long before our daughter came
along, we view are time together as an extension of our dating years. We do
miss our family, but negative emotions do not provide positive results, so
we enjoy the personal time we are having, knowing we will be together soon.
Though Briar is extremely independent and self sufficient, she does not take
our separation very well. She is a friend more than a child, and as such,
she feels quite alone when we are gone. As time passes, the loneliness
fades, but her spirits pick up when we are just past our Ĺ way point of
heart. The entire
would you say your biggest challenge has been in maintaining your
retirement goals while raising a family?
Our family has
always been used to change, so maybe thatís why we have not had too
many challenges. We have been very goal oriented and provide support
to each other for all goals. Thatís not to say that the river of
life has not been choppy, but we know that it is we who
plot the path around or through
the white water, and we must
ultimately paddle our own canoe.
All of our books lead
to adventure. Don't miss out on yours!
your #1 tip for others who are raising a family and want to retire
You may have
heard of the Four Pillars of Investing.
I have also
created the Four Pillars of Life.
Health Ė Without it, the remaining pillars are unsupported.
2. Financial Health - Funds for the pillars.
3. Emotional Health Ė Feed your soul. Maintain a healthy outlook.
4. Relationship Health Ė Spend time nurturing those around you.
Where are you
planning to go next?
We'd like to wrap up sites that we missed in South East Asia, then I will be adventure riding the Great-Divide from Canada to
Mexico by dirt bike. Stephanie is traveling with her dad to his homeland of
Germany to visit family. We'll end the year
backpacking and hopping the islands of Hawaii.
In one sentence,
what is your philosophy on life, or your motto?
limitations, and they are yours!
We would like to
thank Stephanie and Mark who have been generous with their time to answer
some of our questions about raising a family while keeping
the retirement dream alive.
To read more
interviews with Expats, Early Retirees and Interesting Characters,
About the Authors
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person Ė the person who prizes their
independence, values their time, and who doesnít
want to mindlessly follow the crowd.
Retire Early Lifestyle Blog
About Billy & Akaisha