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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.

Interview with Early Retirees Jim and Sue

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to FIRE.

We met up with Jim and Sue in Chapala, Mexico by accident. Billy was at a local coffee shop with some friends, and as Sue passed by, she took a double take.

"Billy, is that you?!" she asked, beaming.

"We've been following you for years! I can't believe it's you!"

Well, one thing led to another and we are happy to present Jim and Sue's retirement story below.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

Retire Early Lifestyle: Could you tell our Readers a little about yourselves?

Jim and Sue: We retired early at 52 and 53 after working for 29-30 years in our respective Megacorps after grad school. We met in college and married a few weeks after we graduated together from undergrad. We have been traveling the world perpetually since January 2016.

REL: When did you decide to FIRE, and how did you know you were ready to interact with the world differently?

Jim and Sue: We had been planning to retire early and travel perpetually ever since DW (Darling Wife) heard you two on a radio show on a miserable commute home one day. She immediately ordered an early version of The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement, and the rest is history! Travel has always been our passion, and you two were our inspiration. We wanted to really see the world, not skim over it on 1 or 2 week vacations.

We are Retire Lifestyle Mentors. Our goal is to help you achieve your retirement dreams.

REL: Could you tell us how your lives have changed since you left your jobs and began to live the Early Retirement Lifestyle?

Jim and Sue: It has been the best thing we have ever done. We have the luxury of taking our time in seeing places, doing things and meeting interesting new friends, all without feeling rushed. We have so much less stress than when working our high stress jobs. Any stress we have now is of our own choosing. It often feels like we are kids again during summer, carefree with all the time in the world in front of us to play and explore.

REL: How many years have you been retired now?

Jim and Sue: 4 ˝ years.

Temple Gate in Kyoto, Japan

Temple Gate in Kyoto, Japan

REL: We know your love for travel. Can you mention a few of your favorite places where you traveled in the years since your FIRE?

Jim and Sue: We really loved the country of Vietnam, diving in Indonesia and the Red Sea, and we thought the southern island of New Zealand was beautiful. We will never forget seeing Machu Picchu in all its splendor, or the creatures in the Galapagos Islands. Also, we were pleasantly surprised by Eastern Europe and Japan, each in their own unique way. So many beautiful places in this world, and still so many left for us to see!

 

 

 

 

REL: How do you balance the mix of travel with family time?

Jim and Sue: We go back to the states for around a month during the holidays to see our families and some friends.

REL: Since housing is a big expense, how do you manage lodging on the road? Do you house sit? Rent apartments? Stay in hotels?

Jim and Sue: For longer stays, we use Airbnb to rent private apartments, and just love it. There are often 30-50% monthly discounts for great city-center apartments. We also stay in smaller hotels, especially for shorter stays. We have used reasonably priced repositioning cruises as transportation and lodging.

Mirror Lake in South Island of New Zealand

Mirror Lake in South Island of New Zealand

REL: Do you own a home or have a home base?

Jim and Sue: We sold our home after we retired, but we do have a few boxes stored at parents, and visit their homes for the holidays once a year.

Rel: Since you are still too young for Medicare, what do you do about health care?

Jim and Sue: We have an ACA plan and have a travel insurance policy as well. World Nomads and Allianz are two popular choices for travel insurance for nomads. That said, we have had excellent health and dental care overseas for a fraction of the cost in the U.S. and usually just pay out of pocket. We know that you understand how superior some of the medical and dental care is overseas!

REL: What do you average in spending annually? Does this include health insurance?

Jim and Sue: We keep a monthly running average, so we are answering monthly.

Our average monthly spend is $7,000 (this includes absolutely everything else we spend on our life, in addition to all of our food, all lodging and all transportation, including a few cruises a year, and all medical and travel insurance, all clothing and shoes, cell phone bill, traveling mailbox, electronics, all medical and dental expenses and the medicine we pay out of pocket, lots of scuba diving, personal care products and services including haircuts and occasional mani/pedis, gifts, etc.). It is every penny we spend in total annually divided by 12, except for federal taxes we pay on Roth conversions and some life insurance policies, which average about $1,000/month total.

Moorea in French Polynesia

Moorea in French Polynesia

Jim and Sue: Those are two personal choices that have nothing to do with our lifestyle expenses as perpetual travelers and we could drop them anytime we choose. We spend more than many budget perpetual travelers, but we could also cut back and spend less anytime by staying longer in lower cost countries.

Jim and Sue: We have hit many of our bucket list places the past few years, and it has been amazing. We have also occasionally spent a lot on some expensive activities and hobbies while we are still able to physically, and we have visited some expensive countries. But, it all averages out. The main point for us is that, like you two, we have a higher net worth than we started with 5 years ago (thanks, market!).

Jim and Sue: We don’t track expenses daily or anything like that, we just do a monthly calculation from all accounts to see where we are overall and get our monthly average spend and net worth. Takes just a few minutes monthly with our custom spreadsheet. Our months vary widely based on where we are and what we are doing, but our monthly average over time ends up staying on track and is within a safe withdrawal rate. We want to take advantage of exciting experiences, but we are also happy settling in somewhere and taking it slow, too. So far, so good!

Locals living on Lake Titicaca in Peru

Locals living on Lake Titicaca in Peru

REL: Can you share with us anything about how your portfolio is structured? Did your retirement affect your allocation at all?

Jim and Sue: It did. We thought a lot about it before retiring and decided we did not want to actively manage or rebalance investments on the road, and were concerned about panicking if we hit another 2008. We read a lot of early retiree advice about what they changed after the Great Recession and what helped those who made it through with less stress. So, we keep two years expenses not invested in the market, and keep the rest in a balanced low cost fund that is about 60/40 (Vanguard Wellington). Overall, we are about 50/50 with our 2 year living expenses in high interest online savings and I-bonds. No financial advisors, and just one low-cost fund. Everyone has to find their own level of comfort, and this is ours.

REL: How do you manage your finances while on the road?

Jim and Sue: All online. Personal Capital is a real gem so far.

Machu Picchu in Peru

Machu Picchu in Peru

REL: Do you own a vehicle?

Jim and Sue: No.

REL: What’s the worst thing you deal with in this new chosen lifestyle? Your biggest challenge?

Jim and Sue: Taking care of chronic ailments is not always easy on the road. Also, it is tough being so far from family and some dear friends. We do try to take care to reach out and call when we have good wifi, and keep in contact as best we can and keep up with their lives.

REL: What has surprised you the most about your Early Retirement Lifestyle?

Jim and Sue: How little we need! We do not miss our house or all of our stuff that we gave away. We enjoy the smaller apartments where we now stay. We hope to never again accumulate so much stuff, and whenever we do settle down again, it will be to a much smaller home. Right now we travel the world with a carry-on sized roller bag and a backpack each, and it is liberating!

Abu Simbel, Egypt

Abu Simbel, Egypt

REL: What is exhilarating beyond words? Something you would never trade about your lifestyle to obtain “security?”

Jim and Sue: I think it is just seeing so many fabulous places, things and people. Sometimes we are both just sitting there with our mouths open amazed by something we have seen or something amazing we have learned. Pretty hard to think about not exploring anymore, as we have learned that around the next corner, there may be another mind-blowing experience.

REL: What would you say to someone who is considering tossing the conventional lifestyle and living one of travel? What advice would you give?

Jim and Sue: Give it a try; test drive it. We have met many people who have rented their house back home to make sure they really like this lifestyle. We kept some things in storage for a year, but at the end of the first year we went back and gave it all away. We knew six months in that this life was for us. It is not for everyone, and that is perfectly OK, too. We also know of people who went all-in and were divorcing before the end of their first year.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand

REL: What are your greatest passions in life?

Jim and Sue: Seeing more of this marvelous world!

 

 

 

 

REL: How do you contribute to the world?

Jim and Sue: Not sure we do. Need to work on that. We do try to encourage younger people about the benefits of saving, FI and FIRE. We try to be good citizens and try to be kind and have empathy for people, but this lifestyle can feel selfish. If we settle down later, we have ideas of how we could contribute.

REL: What is a secret fact about you?

Jim and Sue: If we told you, it wouldn’t be secret!

Koala in Australia

Koala in Australia

REL: Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

Jim and Sue: Probably still traveling, but maybe staying longer in each place.

REL: What is your biggest splurge?

Jim and Sue: Travel!

REL: Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you've found to be very helpful?

Jim and Sue: Yes, one of yours! When we travel to new places we try to eat local and often have to point or guess at the menu. So when food comes that surprises or perplexes us, we always say “Order what you want; Eat what you get!”. Also, “Don’t worry about things until you have something to worry about!”

REL: What do you do for fun or entertainment?

Jim and Sue: Plan travel (but not too much, and not too far ahead), read, watch movies, wander around new places, try new-to-us local food, meet new friends, and talk to friends/family.

REL: Where are you going next?

Jim and Sue: Back to states on a transatlantic cruise with 2020 still to be determined!

We would like to thank Jim and Sue for sharing their FIRE lifestyle with us, and to provide yet another approach of living life without a paycheck.

What would YOU like to do if you didn't need to work any longer? 

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About the Authors

 
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism 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.

contact Billy and Akaisha at theguide@retireearlylifestyle.com

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