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 Early Retiree, Chris
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
We at RetireEarlyLifestyle enjoy offering our Readers inspirational stories
of people who choose a lifestyle of their own making. We have often said
that becoming Financially Independent is the best thing you can do for
yourself, and for the world.
You will enjoy Chris Mamula's uplifting
and practical story of Financial Independence below.
Kim and Chris hiking
Retire Early Lifestyle: Could you tell us a little about yourself, and how
old you are?
Chris Mamula - Iím 41 years old. I was a physical therapist and retired this past December.
My wife Kim is my best friend and partner in all of my lifeís adventures
(traveling, outdoor hobbies, etc). Our biggest adventure at this point is
raising our 5 year old daughter.
REL: What got you started investing?
My mom was always great at saving. She was frugal by necessity because my
parents didnít have a lot of disposable income. She invested in mutual funds
and also encouraged my grandparents to buy me savings bonds when I was a kid rather than more
toys for occasions like Christmas and birthdays. She then involved
me in figuring out a plan to pay for college using these assets she
accumulated for me.
I was familiar with
investing while in high school and college. My momís
efforts paid off and I witnessed the importance of good money management
when I graduated with bachelorís and masterís degrees with no debt, while my
friends were coming out of school $50k-100k in the hole. This motivated me
to start investing as soon as I was able once I started my career.
REL: What does it mean to you to be
CM: I donít think there is one answer to this question. Instead I view financial
independence as something that happens in stages. I think this is hard for
people to see in the early stages, but something as simple as getting free
of debt can give a degree of financial independence.
Then as you can save high amounts of your income you can benefit greatly
from smart tax planning which allows you to save even more money. As you
accumulate money, you can start to witness
your money can work for you,
even while you still are working for money. Having some level of wealth also
gives you leverage to negotiate better working conditions,
even while you are still dependent on a paycheck.
We are currently at a level of financial independence where we do not need
to earn any income for a long time, possibly ever, to maintain our current
lifestyle. I think there is still another level of FI, where you can live
with abundance and never worry about money. I currently struggle with how
much effort to apply to gaining more wealth vs. focusing on learning to be
content with what I already have.
Chris and Kim on
the summit of Chimborazo,
REL: When did you know you were ready to retire and what motivated you?
CM: I started to ponder early retirement a few years after starting my career as
a physical therapist. After investing 7 years of my life and thousands of
dollars to get a degree, I quickly started to burn out on that career.
Simultaneously I got interested in outdoor activities (hiking, skiing, rock
climbing, and mountaineering) and realized the things that I like to do
donít cost a lot of money. This got the wheels spinning, and I came up with
the concept of being a "dirtbag millionaire."
While I had the idea to retire early for a while, I didnít hate my job and
wasnít dissatisfied enough to get serious about planning my early
retirement. That didnít happen until 5 years ago when my daughter was born.
Then, I knew that I needed to make changes to create more time and space in
my life for the things most important to me; relationships with the ones I
love and getting out in nature.
REL: What do you do for income generation?
CM: We have multiple streams of income. We both plan to continue doing some
work. My wife continues to work in a work from home, location independent
job and makes enough to support us. I am working on the blog
Can I Retire Yet?.
I am also writing a book which I hope will generate some future income.
We have a traditional paper income portfolio that is designed for a total
return approach that was approximately
our annual spending at the time I
retired in December.
In addition, we bought our retirement house in Ogden, Utah with a
mother-in-law suite. We chose that house primarily to be able to host our
family and friends. However, living close to two major ski resorts, we also
will likely use the extra space as an Airbnb rental to generate some
additional income, particularly in ski season when demand is high and we can
charge a premium.
Kim riding her bike
toward Uluru in the Australian outback
REL: What do you plan to budget annually for your retirement?
CM: Our current expenses are around $50k/year. However, we do not really budget
and never have. We tried to design a non-traditional retirement with the
option to make additional income doing things we love, are passionate about,
and fit into our lifestyle. This will allow us to avoid living within the
constraints of a budget as expenses
go up and
down in different seasons of
REL: Can you share with us anything about how your portfolio is structured?
CM: Sure. We have a portfolio of diversified index funds. Our asset allocation
is 80% stocks (split 50% domestic / 30% international), 15% bonds, 5% cash.
We feel comfortable with this allocation because we have a good bit of
flexibility with both earning and spending. If we planned to live solely off
our portfolio and had no margin in our spending, we would have saved more
and likely chosen a less volatile allocation. Also,
we do not consider our residence as part of our investments, though we
may use it to produce some income.
We also have saved separately for our daughterís education and consider that
separate from our portfolio.
REL: You are one of the new generation of Early Retirees who are well versed
in a digital lifestyle. How have you used this technology to enhance your
CM: Just having the internet to connect with others like you is invaluable to
see that this lifestyle is a real possibility. Iíve also learned from a
variety of other
forums to develop my own early retirement plan
We are DIY investors. This was always possible, but it is so much easier and
cheaper than before
information and manage investments with the
internet and technology.
Technology also allows us to enter early retirement with confidence because
we can design
some work as part of our retirement (my blogging, my wifeís
location independent job). It also allows us to do creative things like
buying a house where we can host friends and family part of the time and use
it for income as an Airbnb at others.
Chris with his
daughter on the eastern shore of the US
REL: What has been your greatest challenge on your road to Early Retirement?
Your biggest lesson?
CM: My biggest challenge has been in overcoming limiting beliefs and
in conventional ways of thinking. When you learn to think for yourself and
see the world differently, possibilities become apparent everywhere.
REL: What advice would you give to someone considering
CM: Start by getting clarity about what you really want. I donít think
retirement is the ultimate goal. If you are just getting started and hate
your job, donít slave away just to retire in the future. Look for a new job
or entire new career path if it makes sense so you can enjoy the journey. If
you are stuck in the "one more year"
syndrome, then figure out what is holding you back and address those issues
so you can use the wealth youíve built to start living better now. Money is
only valuable if you use it as a tool to improve your life.
REL: What would you say to someone who is considering tossing the
conventional lifestyle and living one outside the accepted norm? What advice
would you give?
CM: This is something that Iíve had to work to overcome. It is very
scary to do something different than the norm.
Iíve found that connecting with others on a similar path is invaluable. For
me, this has included following blogs and
podcasts and reading books of
others on a similar journey. More recently, Iíve made personal connections
by finding mentors and joining small mastermind groups.
I also have chosen to redefine retirement,
rather than being
trapped by the ideas of what traditional retirement should
REL: What do you do about healthcare? Are you open to
CM: We buy our
insurance through my wifeís employer. It is a high
deductible health plan that we use with a Health Savings Account. I have
outlined on the blog, Can I Retire Yet?
I think health care is by far the biggest challenge that an American
planning early retirement faces and I continue to research all options
including health share ministries
and medical tourism.
The Mamulas on a Family Ski Day
REL: How do you contribute to the world?
CM: Honestly, not as much as I would like to this point. This was a driving
factor for me to pursue FIRE. When working, we regularly donated money and
occasionally time, but I constantly felt too busy to do the things that were
Now that Iíve left my job, I am using my blogging/writing platforms to
educate and help others to become more financially literate and help them to
see the world differently. Since we donít need more income due to our
investments and my wifeís ongoing income, weíve decided to give away half of
anything I make in these endeavors.
I also want to get more involved in my local community. While I did not like
being a physical therapist in the traditional medical system, there were
certain aspects of the job that I loved. I would like to apply my physical
therapy skills and knowledge combined with my love of the outdoors working
with adaptive sports or
youth programs once we are settled into our new
REL: Do you speak other languages?
CM: Not well! We are currently learning Spanish with Duolingo alongside our 5
year old daughter. They say weíre 50% fluent. It feels more like 10%.
REL: Share with us your best money-saving secret.
CM: I have two that have been equally key.
clear on what you value, then spend accordingly. I personally could not have
saved if I viewed it as a constant struggle. We saved on average 50% of our
incomes over our careers because we eliminated things that we did not value
(biggest house we could afford,
new cars, cable TV, newest technology, fancy
clothes/shoes/jewelry, etc,). At the same time, we spent freely on things
that we did value (traveling
the world, outdoor activities and gear,
experiences, good food and drink, giving to important causes).
your spending. It is difficult to improve your spending if you donít know
where your money is actually going.
REL: What is your biggest splurge?
CM: Traditionally, travel. Weíve been all around the states, and to 5 of the 7
continents (no Asia or Antarctica). Most of that was at retail prices before
discovering "travel hacking"
in the past couple of years.
Currently, our biggest splurge is getting our daughter involved in our
outdoor activities. We buy her the warmest gear for skiing to make sure she
is comfortable in the cold. Her gear is better and more expensive than my
own. We bought her climbing shoes and her own chalk bag for Christmas this
year (totally unnecessary for a 5 year old) just to get her excited about going
to the climbing gym with us. We view this as an investment to have things we
can do as a family for the next 10 -15 years at least, so itís totally worth
it in our minds.
REL: What are your greatest passions in life?
CM: Family, faith, health, helping others, and getting into the outdoors.
REL: Do you have a home base or own a home?
CM: We currently live in Pennsylvania. We bought our retirement house in Utah this past
summer. We have long term renters there until June. We will be selling our
current residence and moving to Utah this summer.
REL: Tell us about your greatest personal success, not necessarily finance
CM: See most proud question below.
REL: What is a secret fact about you?
CM: I think people reading my story of retiring at 41 and loving skiing, rock
climbing, and mountaineering means that I am a fearless guy or that I am
comfortable taking big risks. I am actually very conservative, risk averse,
and often fearful. It takes a lot of effort for me to overcome my fears and
I work hard at risk mitigation strategies.
REL: What are you most proud of so far in life?
CM: Over the past 5 years I got serious about retirement planning. In the
process, I realized that our society, and particularly those of us that
pursue FIRE, places tremendous importance on retirement. There is an
underlying assumption that it is normal to hate work and retirement is the
time you can enjoy life. It took me a while, but I now totally reject this
idea. Instead, I started focusing on building a life I never want to retire
This process has made me look at many other things that I have always
believed, without questioning. It sent me on a soul-searching journey. In
the process Iíve changed my perspectives on the importance of faith, my
approach to different aspects of health (diet, exercise, and sleep), and
Iíve directly addressed other limiting beliefs. This has not been an easy
process, but I am very proud that I have chosen to take a path that few are
willing to travel.
REL: What do you do for fun or entertainment?
CM: Anything I can with my wife and daughter (ski, hike, climb, swim, board/card
games, puzzles, art projects, dance parties, playgrounds, etc).
Reading good books. Writing. Cooking and eating good food.
REL: Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
CM: I would love to be spending a couple of days each week in the mountains with
my family and friends. My daughter would be ten years old then and learning
to become an independent thinker, prepared to enter her challenging teenage
years. My wife and I would have reconnected on a deeper level than we were
able in the years where our life revolved around work and constant busyness.
I would have managed to build a strong social network in our new home in
Utah while still maintaining a close bond and spending considerable time
with my family. Finally, my writing and educational efforts will be having
massive impact on others to show that there are better ways of living than
following the conventional narrative.
Wow, retirement sounds like a busy time. I better get after it. Thanks for
Retire Early Lifestyle would like to thank Chris for his time and the effort
it took to formulate these thoughtful answers to our questions. We believe
his story is inspirational to those who are also younger, and who want to
live a life of their own making. He proves it can be done! Benefit from
Chris' wisdom through his articles on the website,
Can I Retire Yet?
Thank you, Chris and the best to you and your
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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