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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.

An Updated Interview with Steve and Lynn Miller

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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It’s been several years since we have interviewed Steve and Lynn Miller, and it was time for an update! Steve and Lynn both retired in their 50’s and have chosen a combination lifestyle of keeping a home base and traveling around the world. They also have two boys who were going to college at the time of our last interview. Let’s check in on the Millers now.

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

Steve and Lynn Miller: We’ve visited 25 new countries and just spent time on our 7th continent (Antarctica). Our kids graduated college and are gainfully employed (and off our payroll) and our oldest son has married. We’ve also experienced caring for our parents (I lost my Mom about a year ago) and now have a much better appreciation for elder care.

REL: How many years have you been retired now?

Steve and Lynn Miller: We retired in 2012 so this is our 7th year of financial freedom. I say financial freedom because for the past 3 years, I have been consulting part time. The consulting gig was a surprise - a former colleague asked me to do it as a favor and I agreed to do it if I could work part time (about 4 hours a day) and travel as much as I like (normally 2-3 months a year). It’s been a great arrangement and we haven’t drawn down any retirement funds since then.

Steve and Lynn Milller

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?

Steve and Lynn Miller: Antarctica tops our list, but we’ve had some really special trips including game drives in Africa, riding in 50’s model automobiles in Cuba, visiting indigenous cultures of New Zealand and Australia, and lots of European travel – we especially loved Ireland and Scotland because we traveled with our oldest son.

REL: You have two boys. How do you balance the mix of travel with family time? Do the boys come and visit you on your travels?

Steve and Lynn Miller: Our youngest spent 2 months with us traveling Italy, Spain, France and Portugal. Our oldest traveled to Ireland and Scotland with us. We live in a resort beach town, so they always love to visit. When our oldest son moved up north to start his career, I road-tripped across country to get him settled in. Our youngest son bought a house last year and we visited for several weeks to help him build a deck. And we visit them throughout the year.

Kayaking amongst penguins in Antarctica

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

Steve and Lynn Miller: If we are staying put in a town for a week or so, we rent an AirBnB but if it is something quick, we stay in hotels or hostels. We have rented apartments when we were staying in a place for several months – we did this a few years ago when we spent the summer in Colorado close to our boys.

 

 

 

 

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

Steve and Lynn Miller: Before the (non) Affordable Care Act, we purchased a high deductible ($10,000) insurance plan from Blue Cross. Luckily, we’ve been able to keep that plan and it costs us about $550 a month. We are healthy and normally just use it for checkups, but we simply see it as a catastrophic plan.

Game drives in Africa

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

Steve and Lynn Miller: Your FIRE readers are going to leap out of their seats on this one, but we spend about $125,000 a year which includes all expenses (health care, charity, etc.). Due to my consulting gig, we haven’t taken any money out of our retirement funds in over 3 years but even if we did, the $125,000 is well below the 4% rule for us.

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

Steve and Lynn Miller: We continue to be invested in low cost index funds. When we first retired, we had a more aggressive mix of 80% stock funds and 20% bond funds. After receiving our equity earnouts (from the sale of our business), we had the luxury of reducing our risk by rebalancing to a 60% stock and 40% bond ratio. About 2 years ago, we moved about half of our bond index funds into annuities because the bond index funds were averaging around 1% yield and the annuities are getting 2.5% yield.

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

Steve and Lynn Miller: Our finances are simple, hassle free and quite frankly – boring. The payment for most expenses is automated and we use a credit card for the rest – and we pay it off monthly. We normally make small changes (and rebalance) our portfolio yearly.

REL: Do you still keep your home base in Florida?

Steve and Lynn Miller: Yes. Everyone’s travel style is different, but we figured out that we enjoy traveling for 3 to 4 weeks at a time then coming back to our nest. We’ve made great friends here and I love to golf and spend time on the beach.

Traveling with 4 of our closest friends in New Zealand and Australia

REL: Do you own a vehicle?  

Steve and Lynn Miller: Yes, we both own paid-off cars. I love to visit my Dad often (a few hours drive from here) so having two cars works well for us.

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

Steve and Lynn Miller: It’s a bit hard to complain about anything. There have been times when my consulting gig has required more time and effort, but I have been good at establishing boundaries and the company has been good about respecting them. They’ve become accustomed to me leaving for a month of travel on short notice.

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

Steve and Lynn Miller: Our travel style is different than I originally imagined. I figured we would travel 3 to 4 months at a time but found that we missed home too much when we did that. We also did not think we would own a home (we owned a condo when we first retired) but we sold the condo and built a home. Our travel style now is to take international trips about 2 to 3 times a year, staying 2 to 4 weeks each time and spend time nesting when we are not traveling. We also travel domestically several times a year – many times to escape the hot summers in Florida!

Visiting Ireland with our oldest son

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

Steve and Lynn Miller: The ability to travel while still young is exhilarating. Some couples push travel out until their 70’s and may struggle with the fitness needed to really maximize their experience. We stay fit and enjoy adventurous travel like polar plunging into 33-degree Antarctic water, zip lining in New Zealand, participating in the bridge climb in Sydney Australia, cycling down mountains in Maui, and hiking volcanoes in Ecuador.

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

Steve and Lynn Miller: Just do it! But give yourself the freedom and permission to do it your way. Your travell style may not be the same as ours or other travel buffs - that’s OK. Find your style and enjoy it.

REL: What are your greatest passions in life?

Steve and Lynn Miller: Spending time as a couple, watching our kids succeed, spending quality time with my Dad, hanging out with friends, traveling, skiing, golf and finding the perfect beach spot.

Enjoying Cuba

REL: How do you contribute to the world?

Steve and Lynn Miller: We reserve a certain portion of our yearly income for our favorite charities, but we also like to volunteer. We have volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchens and other local events but we also try to help during disasters. Hurricane Michael devastated Florida (towns close to us) and Georgia last year. My father’s town was hit hard, and I’ve spent countless days helping them recover.

REL: What is a secret fact about you?

Steve and Lynn Miller: I made my first hole-in-one last year playing golf!

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

Steve and Lynn Miller: In 5 years, I hope to be a grandfather, better traveled in Asia, witnessed the Northern Lights in person, financially and physically fit as we are today and have a golf handicap of 10 or lower!

REL: What is your biggest splurge?

Steve and Lynn Miller: Travel. We don’t get hung up on acquiring a lot of “stuff”, we much prefer experiences. People often ask why we don’t bring back a lot of souvenirs from our travels but that just is not our style. Our photos and memories are our souvenirs. Another splurge is fitness. We own a Peleton bike and are absolutely addicted!

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

Steve and Lynn Miller: Just be nice. Most people return what is presented.

 

 

 

 

REL: Are you still chronicling your travels on your blog?

Steve and Lynn Miller: Yes, our travel blog, We Be Tripping is alive and well. We have just over 23,000 subscribers and I am diligent about updating it as soon as we return from a trip. When friends ask about our travels to a specific location, it’s so easy to point them to a link that helps them plan out their trip and it serves to keep our kids, friends and family informed of our crazy goings on.

REL: What do you do for fun or entertainment?

Steve and Lynn Miller: Golf, boating of any type (jet skiing, fishing, boating), and skiing. Friends and I do a yearly ski trip – this year it is in Colorado (Breckenridge, Keystone and Vail).

REL: Where are you going next?

Steve and Lynn Miller: We are currently planning a trip to Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece and possibly Turkey.

We'd like to thank Steve and Lynn for taking the time to answer all of our questions and for sharing their lives with us. Financial Independence and Early Retirement is not a one-size-fits-all. thanks, Steve and Lynn, for sharing your style of FIRE!

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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.

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