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.
Interview with Tony Beck
Inspirational and Pragmatic
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
We at Retire Early Lifestyle like to
share with you the stories of Captivating Characters. Below you will find a
very down-to-earth success story of a journey to financial independence and
personal satisfaction. Enjoy our interview with Tony Beck!
On the equator in
Retire Early Lifestyle: Could you tell us a little about yourself? Age? What
got you started investing? We hear that your Uncle was very instrumental in
that part of your life.
Tony Beck: I’m 43 years old, from Plano, TX and I’m a Texas Aggie! I was in
construction management/estimating for about fifteen years before becoming a
teacher four years ago. I recently moved to
Panajachel, Guatemala to teach at the
Robert Muller LIFE School.
my uncle played a very big part in my financial education. When I was in
high school, my uncle met with my parents to help them get on track
financially. I was a junior in high school and they invited me to join them
when they started talking about
investing. I was
fascinated….mutual funds, budgets, indexing and this thing called “compound
interest.” Shortly after, once my uncle realized how interested I was, he
gave me a couple of books to read, “The Wealthy Barber” and “The
Richest Man in Babylon.” And that was the beginning of my
journey to financial freedom.
Do you consider yourself retired?
TBeck: No, I do not consider myself retired. I don’t think I will ever “retire,”
but, I am in a place in my life where I can make life changing decisions and
not have money dictate what I can and cannot do. I’m not even to a place in
my life where I can live off my savings yet, but I have a very strong
financial foundation, so that money is not a major factor in my decision
making. I call that, “financial
freedom.” No debt (NO
car/house/student/credit card), 12 month emergency fund, and a very hefty
Tony and a Special Ed
student/athlete after Special Olympics Basketball Game
REL: What do you
do for income generation?
TBeck: Currently, I teach! I was teaching in the States, but now I find myself
teaching on one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. My school is a
non-profit, so my pay is very low, but I’m able to earn extra money by
English online to students in China through VIPKids. Between these
two streams of income, I’m able to live very comfortably here in
REL: Where do you
see yourself 5 years from now?
TBeck: In 5 years, I see myself either still here in
Pana, maybe still teaching at
the school here, or maybe just teaching online, or, in another
country teaching in a school/online. I like the thought of living and
teaching in different countries.
Ecuador is a strong possibility for
me in the next few years. That’s what is so great about not
being tied down with debt and have your
finances in order, you have options
to move, explore and live life on your terms!
REL: Can you
share with us anything about how your portfolio is structured?
TBeck: My portfolio is broken up into taxable investments, my Roth IRA and TRS
(Texas Teachers Retirement System). About 70% of my investments are
with the Vanguard Group in index funds (35%-S&P 500,
30%-Mid-Cap, 20%-Small-Cap and 15%-International Index Funds) and the
other 30% of my investments are in individual stocks (13 different
I’ve only had stocks for about four years now, before that I was in
100% mutual funds. Personally, if one is going to invest in stocks, I
would recommend people put no more than 20% of their portfolio into
individual stocks; I’m in the process of beefing up my mutual funds as we
speak. And for my emergency fund, well, that’s parked in a DiscoverBank.com
money market account…a nice, boring, and safe place for emergency funds.
Editors note: REL recommends no more than 4-5% in each individual issue.
Mara and Tony at Angkor
REL: Do you plan
to work park time or get community involved once you are retired?
TBeck: I’m pretty sure I will always be working for money off and on in some form
or fashion, and I’d also like to
with the community wherever I
live (international or in the US). By being a teacher, one inherently gets involved
with the community, which is an aspect of teaching that I love:
connecting with the community.
work, but it's also a passion of mine, and in a way, it’s part of who I am, so it doesn’t feel
like work, but rather, like breathing.
REL: What has
been your greatest challenge on your road to Early Retirement? Your biggest
TBeck: My biggest challenge has been to not try and keep up with the Joneses. Living
in America, it seems like stuff is king and we often buy stuff as a way of
saying, “Hey, look at me, look what I have.” Don’t get me wrong, I
like stuff, I have to work at buying stuff that I need or can be put to good
use, and not to turn into a status symbol.
I was driving my 13 year-old used Camry, paid for outright in cash, with a
rusty dent in the hood and the interior upholstery hanging off the ceiling of the car, all while I was
working in the construction industry, it was tough. I wanted a truck! I was
working with these kids right out of college that were all driving a brand
new Chevy or Ford pickup truck. I stuck out like a sore thumb, and many
co-workers gave me a hard time, but that Camry is part of what allowed me to
switch careers and move to
Pana and helped bolster my retirement savings.
Biggest lesson, when you screw up financially, don’t be so hard on yourself.
Pay your stupid tax and move on down the road.
Summit of Mount Crested
Butte, Crested Butte, Colorado
REL: What advice
would you give to someone considering Early Retirement?
for early retirement: #1 – Get a budget together. Stick
with it. You have to learn to live within your means. #2 - Get rid
of any and all consumer debt (credit cards, student debts, auto loans,
payday loans, etc.) You’ll need to minimize or stop your outflow of
dollars. #3 -Find some ways to stay active and generate some income
(passive and/or active income). #4 – SAVE, SAVE, SAVE Before you
retire early, contribute enough to get all your company-matching dollars
with your 401k, then max out your IRA, and then, if you have more to invest,
put that towards your 401k... and if you have even more to invest after that,
invest in a taxable account (Vanguard index funds). #5 – Get an
emergency fund. I’m a fan of 1 year of expenses. Put in a money market that
is not connected to your checking account.
REL: What would
you say to someone who is considering tossing the conventional lifestyle and
living one of travel? What advice would you give?
TBeck: My advice…If you want to live the traveling lifestyle, then learn to embrace
fear and the unknown. There is a very thin line between fear and excitement,
and that thin line is often where we find and experience what it means to be
alive. My life in the States was comfortable, predictable and
convenient... living internationally, one can still live a comfortable,
predictable and convenient life, it’s just that these things look different
in different parts of the world. Things that are “different” than what we
are used to, are often scary to people. Embrace the difference, you might be
surprised how much you like it.
REL: Do you speak other languages?
TBeck: I’m currently learning Spanish. I’ve been studying for about 1 ½ years. If
you want to learn a language, living in a country where they speak the
language you want to learn is the way to go!
Solo back packing trip,
Santa Fe, New Mexico
REL: What do you
do about healthcare? Are you open to medical tourism?
TBeck: I have a policy that I bought through an insurance agency called
Lifeboat Medical Insurance, they specialize in finding policies for Americans
living out of the country.
They found a plan that I like with
Azimuth Risk Solutions. The coverage is great, works in the US 6 months out
of the year and the annual premium was $720 for the entire year.
REL: Share with
us your best money-saving secret.
Don’t know if it’s my “best” secret, but it’s something I always encourage
people to do when they ask. Let’s say you get paid on the 15th
and 30th of each month. Now most people on the 15th
and the 30th cash that check and start paying bills and buying
stuff that very day. What I have always done, is when I get paid on the 15th
and 30th, that money stays in the bank and funds the following
month’s budget. I don’t touch it until the 1st of the
following month. This does TWO things. 1) You no longer have to
live paycheck-to-paycheck. You know exactly how much you have to spend that
month. This is where a budget comes into play. 2) You
automatically have a built-in one month emergency fund.
REL: What are
your greatest passions in life?
My passions, in no particular order of importance: 1) Traveling
2) Teaching kids 3) Teaching/coaching people to get on track
financially 4) Outdoor Adventures: hiking, camping, ziplining,
paragliding, whitewater rafting 5) Leaving the Joneses behind... but
keeping my financial house in order.
Tony and Mara at the
Taos Pueblo in Taos, New Mexico
REL: Do you have
a home base or own a home?
No, I currently do not own a home.
I sold my home in 2012 to free up money
and to free myself for an international leap. I have some furniture and
items decorating my parent’s condo in Dallas and my car is at my parent’s
house, and I sold a lot stuff before moving to
Guatemala. At some point
soon, my parents will
sell my car for me. So I guess you could say that
currently, my home base is Panajachel, Guatemala.
REL: Tell us
about your greatest personal success, not necessarily finance related.
My greatest personal success was leaving the construction industry and
becoming a teacher. Commercial construction estimating/management was all I
knew for over 15 years, and leaving something that was familiar to me and
that paid VERY well, to go do something unfamiliar and at ½ the pay was
scary, but this was the greatest decision I have ever made in my life.
Teaching has opened so many doors to adventure for me… adventures with
teaching kids, time off in the summers to explore and travel the world, and
the opportunity to teach internationally.
REL: What is a
secret fact about you?
I love The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars, Shawshank Redemption,
X-Men and action/super-hero movies in general... But a secret fact about
me, is that since about the 7th grade, one of my favorite movies
has been the 1952 classic “Singin’ in the Rain” with Debbie Reynolds,
Donald O’Conner and Gene Kelly. I love it so much, that in 2012 I bought the
60th anniversary DVD set for the movie, which came with replica
1950’s movie posters and an actual Singin’ in the Rain umbrella.
Sunset 11,800 FT on
Volcán Acatenango, Guatemala
REL: What are you
most proud of so far in life?
There are a lot of different directions I could go with this question.
Becoming a teacher is one, but I’ll make this about finances. In college, my
Uncle Roger gave me a financial challenge when I graduated college. He
challenged to do the following until I hit age 40 (18 years): 1) Max
out your Roth IRA every year 2) Never have a car payment, buy used
with cash and drive for 7-10 years 3) Never have any consumer debt
what-so-ever (car, credit card, payday loan, etc..) 4) Create
a monthly financial budget and stick with it 5) Contribute enough to
your 401k and get all your company matching dollars 6) Save for all your
vacations and don’t go until you have the money in the bank 7) If or
when you buy a house, put 20% down.
I turned 40, I called my Uncle and told him that I had met his challenge. I
had completed everything on his list for 18 years and I’m still doing it….and
it’s made all the difference.
Enjoying Happy Hour
with friends at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
REL: What do you
do for fun or entertainment?
For fun….I travel, travel, travel… explore, watch movies, camp/hike,
play guitar/percussions, listen to music, and I play this game where I try
to stay under budget each month, because with my surplus, I get to invest
it, or use it to travel, or to help others... help out a
friend or a person in need. That’s one of the greatest things about being
financially healthy, you're able to afford to help people or wonderful
Retire Early Lifestyle
would like to thank Tony for taking the time to answer these questions and
to share his life with us, and with you, Our Readers.
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
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