Retirement; like your parents, but way cooler
In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age
of 38. Now, into their 4th decade of this
financially independent lifestyle, they invite you
to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.
with All Options Considered
Ali and Alison Walker
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
We at Retire Early Lifestyle like to share
with you the stories of
Characters. Below you will find another success story of a journey to
financial independence and personal satisfaction. Enjoy our interview with World
Travelers, Ali and Alison Walker.
Allison and Ali in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
REL: Could you tell us a little about yourselves? What type of
work you did, what your life consisted of before FIRE?
Ali and Allison of All Options Considered: We’re both originally from California, Ali
from Northern California and Alison from Southern California. We each migrated
to Seattle during our careers which is where we met in 2004. Ali spent her
career in marketing and business development for firms that specialized in
architecture, engineering, and environmental science. Alison spent her career in
the print industry managing image retouching of high-end catalogs for numerous
well-known retail companies. We retired in 2018 when Ali was 44 and Alison was
54 years old.
REL: When did you start your journey to
What was your motivation? Were you both always on the same page with this goal?
AOC: During our careers we were very focused on saving
money and learning about passive income generation. We have always been on the
same page, though we often see things from different angles and make decisions
differently. We started managing our own investments in 2005 and we really
enjoyed soaking up as much money related content as possible from books and
podcasts, investing classes, and the women’s investment club we joined together.
Ultimately we both just needed time to build our confidence and stop worrying
having enough money. Our motivation for reaching financial independence
was to spend more time with each other and more time traveling, reading,
walking, cooking, watching movies, and enjoying life.
REL: Did you ever think it was possible to live a different
lifestyle other than the conventional one? What turned the light on for you to
think outside of box?
AOC: Alison’s aunt was a great source of inspiration for
us in terms of
financial independence. She retired early when she was 42 years
old and designed a lifestyle that was perfect for her. She taught us that
financial independence was possible, and she also taught us that everyone’s
can and should be unique. Designing our own perfect
lifestyle took a long time because our jobs were a huge distraction.
During our careers the idea of leaving work for more than a few
days seemed like a challenge so we didn’t take very much time off for ourselves.
We finally took our first big vacation in 2014 and went to Europe, and that’s
when we fell in love with the idea of travel and really started to get serious
financial independence. Travel helped us see past our career focused lives
and imagine life after retirement, which is why we spent our first two years
after FIRE traveling internationally full time as nomads.
of Wight, England
REL: Would you consider yourselves to be Financially Independent?
Do you consider passion projects or side jobs to supplement your lifestyle?
AOC: Yes, we are financially independent. At this point we
don’t have paychecks or other forms of new income to save or invest, and it’s
amazing to see
how much our portfolio continues to grow even without new income
and with market downturns. Now that we’re retired and
annual income is
covered by our investments we spend a lot of our time on financial coaching and blogging. At this point we have not monetized our blog though we have been
encouraged to do so and we might consider monetizing at some point. But we don’t
accept payment for our time and we have no intention of changing that in the
future. We love to
support other people and projects that we believe in so we
offer our time and ideas to other people for free as part of our own personal
cost of housing is one of the highest cash outlay in any
household budget. In your retirement lifestyle, did you choose to keep a home?
Relocate? Travel? Do you have a home base now? Where do you keep all your
AOC: We spent our first two years after reaching FIRE
traveling full time, and learned that nomadic travel is a lifestyle that we
love. We gave ourselves a $50 per night housing budget as an average for our
travels and in some locations like
Ho Chi Minh
City or San
Cristobal de las Casas we spent much less than that, while in other locations like Paris and
London we spent more than that. We also do some
sitting when we travel to
help control costs and to meet new people in other locations. We’ve had some
fabulous house sitting experiences in the
Since we weren’t sure how long our nomad life would last when we
sold our condo in Seattle in 2018, we decided to put some of our favorite things
in storage. That turned out to be the right decision for us since the type of
traveling we wanted to do came to a stop less than two years later during the
Covid-19 pandemic. We’ll spend most of 2021 in our own home that we bought in
September 2020 in
Arizona, partly because
Covid made our international nomad
life impossible but also because we want to spend as much time as possible with
family right now. We plan to keep house sitting when we can, and in fact we’re
sitting right now as we work on this interview for you!
REL: How long have you been Financially Independent?
AOC: We were slow to test our numbers and declare that we
were financially independent, but we finally verified that we had surpassed the
number we wanted to reach for financial independence in 2017. We know we could
have retired a few years earlier than we did and acknowledge that we were
nervous about pulling the plug on work and trusting in our investments. Now that
we’re retired we’ve been able to
unravel the emotional side of financial
independence, which is why we enjoy doing some financial coaching for others who
are going through the process of
planning for FIRE themselves.
REL: In your retirement life, what do you do about access to
health care? Are you open to
AOC: For 2021 we have a subsidized ACA health plan to
cover us in the USA. While we were international nomads we had a
insurance plan, which we barely used since health care costs are so affordable
in other countries. We had some fantastic experiences with medical tourism
including seeing a variety of doctors in Panama and dentists in Thailand,
Panama, and Mexico. We look forward to more medical tourism experiences in the
REL: What do you
average in spending annually? Does this include
health insurance? Do you track your spending?
every penny we spend and enjoy following a
detailed budget. We averaged $60k in spending for our first two years of
retirement while traveling full time including health insurance, giving, taxes
and everything else we spent money on. For those two years of travel we spent
around 46% of our budget on things like health insurance, family and charitable
giving, our storage unit, quarterly income taxes, and audiobook and tv/movie
streaming subscriptions. Then we spent about 21% on food and beverages, about
24% on housing, about 6% on transportation, and about 4% on admissions and other
fun activities. Our budget will be very different this year in 2021 since we’ll
be living in one place in the USA.
REL: Can you share with us anything about how your portfolio is
structured? Did your retirement affect your asset allocation at all?
AOC: Now that we’re retired we want a low risk / low
retirement portfolio. We keep all of our accounts with Schwab, and
all of our investments are in market index ETFs with an allocation of 75%
equities and 25% bonds. We also keep a three year emergency fund in cash. We
still make a couple of proactive moves in our portfolio every year including
withdrawal of our annual living expenses in January, portfolio rebalancing in
May, and Roth conversions in December.
REL: What was your biggest challenge to obtaining Financial
AOC: In a sense we took our earliest steps towards FIRE in
2005 by starting to manage all of our own investments but we didn’t yet have the
vocabulary or financial support structure we needed at that
time. We were drawing from a blend of different financial lessons we learned
from our family members at that time including both successes and failures.
Finally in 2014 we found the FIRE movement and a few good examples to learn from
in other bloggers, podcasters, and authors including you guys at
RetireEarlyLifestyle. But making a plan that was perfect for us and building the
confidence we needed to put our plan into action took a couple more years. In
2017 we finally tested our numbers with a CFP and took the time to build a plan
and put it in writing which we called our Personal Money Statement. Having a
plan gave us the structure and personal accountability we needed to retire and
change our lives in 2018.
REL: What did your family and friends think of your choice to
leave your jobs and previous life behind?
AOC: A few of our family members were really worried that
we were putting ourselves in jeopardy when we told them about our FIRE plans.
most of our friends were pretty shocked by our decision to retire, sell our
home, and leave our career focused lives behind. But a few of our friends
thought our plans were inspiring and we have been thrilled to see them making
changes in their lives and finding their own versions of financial independence
REL: What has surprised you the most about your journey to FIRE?
AOC: Most of the time we felt like we weren’t really doing
anything that unusual in terms of saving for retirement, we were just trying to
grow our investments over time and making incremental adjustments along the way.
The biggest surprise was how easy it was emotionally to really walk away from
our careers once we finally resigned.
Deciding it was ok to quit was hard, but
walking away was easy.
REL: What inspires you about your new life?
AOC: The freedom to spend our time, energy, and money on
what we care about and enjoy most is incredibly inspiring.
REL: What is exhilarating beyond words? Something you would never
trade about your lifestyle to obtain “security?”
AOC: Our time as nomads was exhilarating beyond words and
it changed us forever. During our first two years of retirement we visited
countries (not including the USA) and stayed in 31 different cities in
those countries. We met a lot of amazing people during our travels and built
some really important friendships along the way. We love spending time in other
countries, learning the history of other places, meeting new people,
different foods, and learning about other cultures.
REL: So far, what has been your biggest challenge with your new
Covid-19 has been the biggest challenge we’ve faced
since retirement, but we have been really lucky ourselves since
virus hasn't hurt us personally it just temporarily stopped our travels.
independence has been our safety bubble, shielding us from the majority of
things people have worried about during the pandemic. Covid motivated us to
redirect ourselves, create a new home base to pause and be safe in, and focus
more on being supportive of other people.
REL: What would you say to someone who is considering tossing the
conventional lifestyle and retiring early? What advice would you give?
AOC: Build a community with people who have reached FIRE
themselves as well as other people who are also working towards financial
independence. Being able to talk openly with people about all of your financial
independence related plans, dreams, and questions makes a huge difference!
REL: What would you say are your most unique talents?
AOC: We are emotional, open minded,
adaptable, which helps us cope with whatever is happening in our own lives. And
we care about other people and want to get involved and help where we can. We
each bring our own unique experiences from life along with experiences as women
and LGBTQ people, and try to reach a broad group of people who are hungry for
conversations about financial independence.
REL: What are your greatest passions in life?
AOC: Our greatest passion in life is each other, followed
by our family, friends, and other people. We’re very fortunate to have loving
family members who care about us and support us. We’re the proud aunties of six
nieces and nephews who we love spending time with, and watching them build their
own lives makes us very happy. We’ve also really enjoyed building our chosen
family and we’re thrilled that our chosen family is still growing.
REL: Tell us about your greatest personal success, not
necessarily finance related.
AOC: Our greatest personal success is definitely our
marriage. We’ve been together for more than 16 years and we feel incredibly
lucky to have found each other when we did.
REL: How do you
contribute to the world?
AOC: We love to support other people and projects that we
believe in with our time and our money. As part of our own personal giving plan
we offer our time and ideas to other people for free. We make charitable and
political donations every year and we also offer gifts of money in the form of
donations and scholarships for people to use in support of their financial
independence related projects.
REL: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
AOC: Back to traveling much more frequently! Our lives
have changed dramatically every year since we reached financial independence so
we try not to make assumptions for the future. But travel is our religion so we
certainly hope we’ll be traveling a lot 5 years from now.
REL: What is your biggest splurge?
AOC: The house we bought in September of 2020 feels like
the biggest splurge of our lives even though our new house cost half as much as
the condo we used to own in Seattle. Buying a house after retirement and after
living as nomads for two years was a totally different experience for us.
REL: Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you've found to be
AOC: YES! All Options Considered! We first came up with
All Options Considered in 2007 and made it our personal family motto. At the
time we were working on making a change from individual stock investing to
owning rental properties and we wanted to give ourselves permission to try
anything. We’ve used the idea of All Options Considered for every big financial
decision we’ve made together, and it has been a great mindset for us in terms of
about personal finance and exploring our hopes and dreams so it’s an
idea we want to share with other people.
REL: What do you do for fun or entertainment?
AOC: We both love reading, writing, cooking,
watching movies, taking long walks, birdwatching, photography, and spending time
with friends and family. We also love building complex spreadsheets and talking
about money with other people.
REL: I understand that you keep a blog with your stories about
financial independence and travel. Where can people find your blog?
AOC: We share our stories on our blog, Facebook,
We at Retire Early Lifestyle would like
to thank Ali and Alison for sharing their lives and financial independence
story with our Readers. We hope they have inspired you to follow your dreams
and to live your best life.
For more stories and
interviews of Captivating Characters and Early Retirees,
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.
Retire Early Lifestyle Blog
About Billy & Akaisha