20 Questions We Are Frequently Asked
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
January, 1991: At the age of 38, Billy and Akaisha packed it up, sold everything, left the conventional working world, and moved to Nevis, a 36 sq. mile island in the Caribbean. From there they started traveling and haven't looked back.
"Life is an adventure, follow your dreams."
Why did you retire early?
We were on a fast track, hamster wheel of life, and made the decision to leave our jobs to pursue traveling and other interests. Many older retired folks told us "do it now, while you're young." We heard them and took their advice. Life isn't a game where whoever has the most money or stuff, biggest house, or newest car wins. We assessed ourselves, created this opportunity, and went for it.
Aren't you too young to leave jobs and a secure paycheck?
In 1991 when we were 38, no one told us there was an age qualification on obtaining financial independence. We think it is a worthy goal at any age. Now, decades later we feel it was one of the best decisions we have ever made.
Aren't you wasting your lives?
Chances for volunteering, continuing education, and activities present themselves constantly, now that we are not tied to a job. We have taken full advantage of these opportunities, including teaching English to children, coaching basketball teams, building tennis courts, teaching massage to indigenous people and writing books and articles. Possibilities are everywhere, and now we have the energy and time to explore them.
What did your friends and family think of your unconventional plans?
Our leaving the working world challenged the belief system of Everyone. We. Knew.
I can't sit around and do nothing, aren't you bored?
We have interests that span a broad spectrum, and traveling always keeps things new. "We wake-up in the morning with nothing to do, but by the end of the day, we only have half of it done." Boredom has never been a problem for either one of us, as we are both very self-directed people.
How do you manage your finances and mail while traveling so much?
We have very little "snail mail" coming to us now, and 99% of our communication and bill paying is done electronically. It wasn't this way when we started 23 years ago, but the internet has made dealing with these obligations much easier. Also, at that time we spoke with full-time RV'ers, who told us how they handled their mail, and they were a great source of information. We explain this topic in more detail in our very popular books, The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement, A Common Sense Approach and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.
How do you figure the dollar amount to spend each year?
We don't. We track our spending using a spreadsheet we developed and is available in Your Retirement Dream IS Possible. This gives us plenty of data to know what percentage of our net worth we are spending, so if we need to make adjustments we can do so in real time. We recently did an annual spending update and our average annual spending is around $22,000.
Do you own a house?
We have a low maintenance, high amenity humble abode. This comfortable place in an active adult resort community satisfies our needs completely when we are in the States. Otherwise, we are traveling.
Guys Versus Gals - How did you give up the idea of having a traditional home "with the white picket fence?"
This is a very good question. I'd be lying if I said it came easily. However, just as Billy realized he's not his job, I realized I am not my house. These nesting desires must be taken into consideration to find your own balance. It became clear to me that my personal craving for travel and adventure overcame my requirement for a traditional home. Again, we discuss this topic in further depth in our book (Table of Contents).
How much capital is enough? How/when did you know you were ready to retire?
When our days filled up with more "have to's" than "want to's," we realized we were going in the wrong direction. The amount of capital is a personal decision, and one that needs to be thought about carefully. The better you know yourself and your lifestyle needs, the easier it is to decide that amount. Do not let Fear make that decision for you. Risk has a price, and so does security.
With your investments in the stock market, were you hurt in the recent bear markets and did it affect your lifestyle?
Did we get hurt? Sure we got hurt, but did it alter our lifestyle? Not much if any. We continue to travel and expand our lives through what we learn and share. We survived the second worst bear market in history and this current Great Recession, lived well to tell about it, and have a higher net worth now, after expenses, than when we began in '91.
Healthcare - What do you do about health insurance?
This is a very common question. We used to have health insurance, or as Akaisha likes to call it "asset insurance." It was a high deductible, catastrophic coverage plan and it worked well for us for a very long time. However, a few years ago, we decided to Go Naked. We take care of health issues while on the road in our own version of medical tourism. When we visit the States, we purchase traveler's insurance.
What do you do about transportation?
Transportation is easy in foreign countries. Mass transit, tuk tuks, taxis, boats and a variety of other sorts are plentiful and can be hired for a low expense.
Do you own a car?
We used to own a vehicle, but decided years ago to become car free. The adjustment to this lifestyle was easier than we ever expected. We hire a driver to take us places if we cannot walk to them and share rides with friends. Generally, we prefer walking to and from stores if at all possible.
Do you have children?
We do not have children. However, that does not mean that those who do cannot become financially independent. We know people who have adult children, and plenty of money, but feel they cannot afford to retire or step away from a paycheck. It's not the kids. It's the mental fear surrounding this issue. We have interviewed several couples with children who have successfully broken away from conventional lifestyles. And of course, this way of living isn't for everyone.
Do you have any regrets? Would you do it differently?
We have no regrets, and are not sure how we could be doing it differently. However, you have to modify your plan to fit your needs. Oh, we suppose we could have worked another ten years, and "really" had a pile of cash, but then, we would not have had the experiences that we've had in the last ten. And neither one of us would have traded the time for the money. We believe that with some of the devastating market crashes, we might have become timid, pushing back our "Freedom Date" even further.
What have you learned by being retired for 25 years?
1.) It’s a lifestyle, not a vacation.
2.) The stress doesn’t stop, it just changes form.
3.) We utilize the K.I.S.S. system; Keeping it simple pays dividends in time and enjoyment.
4.) Retirement is a work in progress, and we're in charge.
5.) Don't take life so seriously, have fun with it! It's later than you think!
I admire what you are doing, but it sounds risky. Aren't you being naive?
When we were in our late 30's preparing to leave the conventional workplace, people certainly did think we were being naive and expected us to fail at this endeavor. After all these years we have walked the talk and have proven that early retirement can not only work out, but bring major life benefits as well.
We say that Life is a risk. There are no guarantees for anything; health, marriage, bear markets, the unexpected, weather, tragedy. Since we have been retired, we have "survived" SARS, the Asian Bird Flu, H1N1, the Ebola breakouts, the bear market of 2000, The Great Recession, the first Gulf War, coups in foreign countries, the deaths of close friends and some funny traveling debacles just to name a few. If you want a guarantee, buy a Sears battery.
What would you say to someone considering leaving the conventional working world and becoming financially independent?
Be flexible, there is no one way to do this, have your plan and be willing to adapt to changes. Adaptability is an asset. There are many ways to live a life, so find out what works for you. Never give up your dreams.
Where are you going next?
We continue to watch for airfare deals, countries that interest us and where the currency exchange rate is favorable and visa stays are friendly. The world is a big place!