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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.

A Family with a Focus
Mark & Stephanie Greenhalgh Interview

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Stephanie and 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 readers.

Focused as a family; Stephanie, Briar and Mark

We 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?

When neighbors 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 over goods.

 

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 meeting.

The 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.

Stephanie and Briar hiking in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Is your child independent now? How do you manage her financial requests and needs?

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.

In 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!

Family Ski time in British Columbia, Canada

Can you 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.

The 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.

Mark and Briar enjoying the beauty of Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, USA

How long 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, eventually.

 

While 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.

Emotionally, how 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 being separated.

Connected by heart. The entire family!

What 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!

What is your #1 tip for others who are raising a family and want to retire early?

You may have heard of the Four Pillars of Investing.

I have also created the Four Pillars of Life.

1. Physical 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?

Argue your 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, click here

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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 Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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