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.
Steve & Lynn
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
Recently on our newsletter,
we asked if any of our Readers were planning to retire at the age of 50. Steve
and Lynn Miller answered our request and we decided to interview them so they
could share their perspectives on how they made their retirement plans work.
Retire Early Lifestyle: Could you tell
us a little about yourselves?
Steve and Lynn Miller: Our names
are Steve and Lynn Miller and for years we have been following advice from many
early retirees including
Billy and Akaisha.
We sold our software business in 2009 and both are fully retired in 2012 at ages
50 and 52. Our kids are going off to college in the fall of 2012 so we plan to
feed our wanderlust by traveling most of the year.
REL: When do you plan to retire?
Millers: Lynn retired at age 50 in
2009 when we sold our business. As part of the purchase agreement, I (Steve)
stayed on with the acquiring company until June 2012 when I began consulting a
few hours a week for the final transition. On August 1, 2012, I fully retire at
REL: When did you know you were ready
to retire and what motivated you?
Millers: We began planning our
retirement the day we started our business in 1998. Part of our business plan
was to build a business that could fuel our retirement when our kids were ready
to go off to college. We were motivated to retire early because we love to
travel and wanted to experience more travel while we were young and agile.
Lynn, Steve, Ryan and Cameron in Tahiti with
their Tahitian Guide
REL: We understand that you have
children. How did that affect your pursuit of retirement?
Millers: We have 2 wonderful boys
that are 17 and 18 years old. Both are going off to college at the same time, as
our younger son graduated high school in 3 years. It certainly raises the bar of
costs because kids are not cheap! When considering retirement, we did not want
them to be saddled with debt when exiting college so we invested in a tax
savings Colorado 529 plan as well as a Fidelity college account that covers
their first 4 years of school. Our youngest son wants to be a doctor, so he
elected to go to an in-state school to reduce his costs, so he can probably
stretch the amount we invested into about 6 to 8 years of school. They have been
working all summer saving up for daily college expenses not covered by our
REL: Do you have a home base? Will you
stay put in the same location or move?
Millers: Yes, we have been
vacationing in the Florida emerald coast for over 20 years and although we lived
in Denver during most of our kidís childhood, we could see ourselves living in
Florida. When the housing bubble burst, we took advantage of that and purchased
a short-sale condo in Florida in 2011 for a great price. We permanently moved
from Denver to our Florida condo in June 2012 and we love it. We plan to stay
here for a few years but have always had wandering feet, so the juryís out on
how long we will stay put in this home base.
What has been your greatest challenge on
your road to Early Retirement? Your biggest lesson? What were your fears and
obstacles before making the leap? Did the fears and obstacles pan out or were
they replaced with others?
Millers: Neither Lynn nor I came
from wealthy families and we did not think we could retire early while working
for someone else, so we decided our best shot at achieving it would be to build
a business that we could sell. We started our software business in 1998 with a
$10,000 investment, without any outside capital and maintained 100% ownership of
the company. This allowed us to sell when the opportunity presented itself. Our
biggest fear was that we had all of our eggs in one basket Ė if our business
failed, so did our dream of early retirement. In hindsight, that pressure was
what we needed to keep our costs low and our eye on the ball.
In Saint Lucia with a new friend named "Small
J" and his girlfriend
REL: Do you have any advice for someone
looking to retire in this current economic environment?
Millers: I would offer the same
advice you guys have been offering for years. Live simply, eliminate your debts,
donít try to keep up with the Jonesí (the Jonesí are probably broke), and have a
written plan that outlines the nuts and bolts of how you will achieve your dream
of retirement. This is not the first time the economy has been in flux. We grew
our business even thru 911 in 2001 when most businesses were going under. We
sold our business in 2009 after the market began to crumble in 2008. So donít
allow yourself to blame the economy or anything else, stay positive, follow your
plan and enjoy life along the way.
REL: Being 50 you have much of your
life in front of you. What style of retirement are you looking to create? Do you
have goals? A 3-5 year plan? Or are you looking for a care-free lifestyle?
Millers: I personally think 50 is
the ideal age to retire because you are still young and can take on the
challenges of travel. We have committed to staying fit so that we can enjoy this
lifestyle for a long time. Our goal for the next 3-5 years is to travel in 3
month stints and return to our home base when the kids return from college
breaks and summer vacations. I love to write, so I will chronicle our travels on
our travel blog. We are looking
for a care-free lifestyle; that is why we purchased a condo that we can lock up
and leave in a momentís notice. We do have an 8 year old black lab that we are
using home sitters to take care of while we are on the road, but we are looking
for a good home for her in order for us to become more nimble. Do you know of
any couples that want a sweet lab?
REL: Where have you traveled to longer
than 2 weeks? Are you looking to scratch below the surface in your retirement
travels? Will your sons join you on your travel adventures?
Millers: We have always traveled a
lot; we have visited over 19 countries thus far. Our boys also enjoy traveling;
actively since they were a couple of years old. As business owners, we were
able to travel more than 2 weeks at a time, we spent a month here in Florida a
few years ago with the kids. The boys will continue to travel with us on college
breaks and vacations but most likely these will be shorter trips.
REL: What will you do about
transportation? Do you own a car? Will you continue to keep your own transport?
Millers: Both Lynn and I each have
a car but we are finding that we really need only one car now that I am
retired. We plan to sell her car later this year. We are not sure we are ready
to fully let go of a car but I can certainly see the financial allure of doing
so. I guess time will tell.
Where we stayed in Bora, Bora. We shot this
photo from our helicopter ride.
REL: What will you do about healthcare?
Are you open to medical tourism?
Millers: We purchased a
catastrophic plan from Florida Blue that covers all routine visits, dental,
vision and other preventative care. However, if either of us go into the
hospital, there is a $10,000 deductible for that. We are healthy and have not
been hospitalized in many years, so I think this is a good option for us. The
cost for Lynn and I came out to about $300 per month. When we were considering
college costs, we found that college health care plans for the boys ran about
$4000 to cover both of them. Once I found that out, we elected to add them to
our Florida Blue account which raised our premiums to just under $500 per month,
so this was a much better deal than electing to get the on-campus health care.
We are certainly open to medical tourism, especially after
articles about the cost differences.
Our boys and Lynn in Antigua, Caribbean
REL: How do you plan to manage your
finances while on the road?
Miller: We use Quicken to pull in
all transactions from our bank accounts, Fidelity Investments, college accounts,
and credit cards. I download this information every few days, categorize our
spending, and inspect our net worth. We use
of daily cost averaging, so I update our daily spending to net worth
spreadsheet every 7 to 10 days. Our bank has online banking and bill pay, so we
will use that to pay bills without the need for checks. We plan to use our
Capital One rewards card because it is easy to redeem the rewards online. Based
on your suggestion, we will try to keep on hand about $200 in small
denominations of US dollars for times when we need quick cash.
REL: Can you share with us anything
about your portfolio? Did the market declines affect your retirement nest egg?
Millers: We manage our portfolio
using Fidelity and we have a well balanced portfolio consisting of mutual funds
and bond funds that include domestic bonds, large and small cap stocks,
international stocks and cash. We review our portfolio for re-allocation yearly
to ensure we are consistent with our desired asset allocation. Since we are
retired, we wanted to protect ourselves from short term market losses so we keep
1 year of expenses in cash, 1 year in bonds, and 3 years in low risk money
funds. This provides about 5 years of protection so that we are not inclined to
sell securities for living expenses when the market is down. We replenish these
funds when the market is doing well. As far as the 2008 market collapse, we
actually received most of our nest egg in 2009/2010/2011 when stocks were on
sale, so it actually worked out well for us.
Swimming with the sting rays in Antigua
REL: What do you plan to budget
annually for your retirement?
Millers: We plan to withdraw
between 4% - 5% of our net worth annually for our retirement budget. This
equates to a little less than our take home pay prior to retirement.
REL: Share with us your best
Millers: I really like the Capital
One rewards card. You get 1% back on travel related spending and half that on
other spending. Redeeming the money is quick and easy, redeeming from the
website takes seconds. We use that card for almost everything we buy and I pay
that card off weekly. That is a little obsession of mine; I hate debt and paying
it off weekly suits me fine. We also do not carry debt of any kind. Our condo
and cars are fully paid off and we carry no consumer debt. As they say, they
have never foreclosed on a house that was fully paid off!
REL: What are your greatest passions in
Millers: I love traveling, hanging
with my wife and kids, golfing, boating, photography, blogging, spending time
with friends and making new ones. I love anything adventurous.
REL: Tell us about your greatest
personal success, not necessarily finance related.
Millers: Raising our sons has been
our greatest accomplishment. Our boys are bright, respectful, and adventurous
and they still like to hang out with mom and dad. I am also fortunate to be one
of the first people in our family lineage to complete college and we have a lot
of pride in building a business that allowed us to realize our dream of early
retirement without any outside financial backing.
REL: If you had just 5 years to live,
what would you accomplish or do with your time?
Millers: I would do exactly what we
are planning to do. Travel extensively, spend time with our boys, make new
friends and just enjoy life. I can also see volunteering our time as the
REL: Where are you going next?
Millers: After we get our boys
checked into college in August, we will spend a week in Maine and Nova Scotia.
Then we are planning a 3 month excursion that takes us to Ecuador, the Galapagos
Islands, Peru, Machu Picchu, and Belize. Look out world, here we come!
Steve and Lynn Miller
retired at age 50 and now spend their time traveling, making new friends and
enjoying the adventures of life. Their travels are chronicled at
WeBeTripping, so feel free to sign up
for their travel blog.
We would like to
thank Steve and Lynn for their time and personal generosity in answering our
questions about their retirement approach.
Life is an Adventure.
Follow your dreams!
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.