Extreme early retirement in practice: How two people did it

I regularly recommend that people spend time with a good retirement calculator to make sure they're saving enough to retire when and how they want, or — for people who are already retired — to make sure their money will last as long as they do.

However, one consequence of using these calculators is that the result may indicate you need to have, like, an octillion dollars saved before you can retire. (Technical note: Octillion comes after septillion, which comes after sextillion, which comes after dinner and a movie, if you're lucky.) One reason for the high numbers: High assumptions for the income needed in retirement. I won't say “too-high” assumptions, because the amount you think you'll need in retirement is up to you, depending on your own plans for what you'll do in your golden years. But the less you need, the sooner you can retire.

The Kaderlis in HanoiYet reducing your retirement income doesn't mean your retirement has to be boring. That's the message of Akaisha and Billy Kaderli, who retired 20 years ago when they were both 38. They've travelled the world on less than $30,000 a year. Just about every page of their recently published e-book, Your Retirement Dream IS Possible, is graced with a beautiful photograph from their travels in Guatemala, Vietnam, Australia, China, Ecuador, Belize, Mexico, New Zealand, Bali, Thailand, and the Philippines. If some of those locales don't strike you as particularly exciting or picturesque, visit the Kaderli's website and peruse their many galleries.

How have they been able to do it? It starts with strong control over cash flow. As they write, “It is imperative to know how much you're spending, not only per year but also per day.” They're also able to live on much less than what many people would consider necessary, thanks to eliminating all debt, cutting expenses that don't provide meaningful and lasting value (including many work-related expenses), and living in areas of the world where cost of living is low (but the adventure and beauty factors are high).

I recently interviewed Akaisha and Billy to find out they were able to retire so early — and so well.

Robert Brokamp
Approximately how much in investable assets did you have when you first retired? When people hear you retired at age 38, I bet many expect that you were deca-millionaires or something like that.

Akaisha and Billy Kaderli
In 1991 we had close to $500,000 when we took this leap, and we can assure your readers that we were not deca-millionaires, nor did we inherit our wealth. We both are hard-working, normal people who wanted a different path than the one we were on.

Robert Brokamp
In an article published in 2004, you wrote that “our net worth today is higher than when we retired, after expenses and inflation.” Is that still the case, or did the recent crash set you back?

Don't let fear rule your lifeAkaisha and Billy Kaderli
Our net worth is higher today than when we retired 20 years ago, and even after 20 years of spending, our net-worth has out-paced inflation. In our book, we placed a graph showing the performance of the S&P 500 since our retirement date in 1991. Remarkably, after all that the markets have gone through, it has averaged 7.2% per year [not including dividends] since our retirement date while inflation has averaged 2.6%.

Here's a dirty little secret: Many people could do what we do, but they let fear rule their lives.

Robert Brokamp
In the book, you discuss how you've tracked your expenses with a spreadsheet, and even offer a template that can be downloaded. Many people might find that intimidating, or just plain boring. Any tips for inspiring and motivating people?

Akaisha and Billy Kaderli
Our track-spending spreadsheet takes less than two minutes once a day to enter the data. I [Billy] have a habit of doing this the first thing in the morning, most of the time while I am half asleep waiting for the coffee to be ready. It is a really easy and an effective tool for getting a handle on your financial outlays, and doesn't have to be boring or a burden. If you do this for 30 days it can change your life. Also, that feeling of being in complete control of your finances is a real boost to your self-confidence. That fact alone is motivational.

Robert Brokamp
You provide some suggestions on how someone could retire in 10 years. The scenarios presume a person can live on what some people would consider to be very low annual expenses ($18,000 to $36,000). How realistic is that? How were you able to do it?

Akaisha and Billy Kaderli
These examples are assuming that you would be starting at zero, with no retirement savings. If you already have investments, then you are that much closer to the goal and can adjust accordingly. We think these figures are very realistic, as many current retirees live on these amounts. Remember, we are referring to net dollar amounts, not a gross paycheck.

Our hope is that these illustrations will cause our readers to think about what is possible and they can plug in their own numbers.

No doubt the emphasis on consumerism in the U.S. is a major distraction. All you have to do is go to a low-cost country — Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, Guatemala, the Philippines, or many others — to realize just how rich you really are as compared to the local population. And these people are happy, healthy, connected, and vibrant.

As we have mentioned in both of our books on retirement, the highest financial outlays in any household are what you pay for housing, transportation, taxes, and food. Make adjustments in these categories and your total for expenses will be measurably influenced.

We recently spent three months in Guatemala nestled between three volcanoes, on the shores of beautiful Lake Atitlan, and our average spending was $40 per day for the two of us, which equates to $14,600 per year. Our hotel price included daily cleaning, wi-fi, room service, cable TV, and a view. This $40-per-day average covered our memberships to the local upscale spa, eating out at restaurants, minor medical issues, and day trips to other unique villages scattered around the lake.

Robert Brokamp
Have you come across people who have tried to do what you're doing but their plan failed? Any common mistakes you've seen made by “fellow travelers”?

Akaisha and Billy Kaderli
Yes, we have known couples who have returned to work after a few years of trying to live without a dependable paycheck coming in. What comes to mind is that these couples shared a fear of the future and/or lacked the discipline to monitor their spending. They might have felt financially “cramped” instead of feeling the freedom inherent in this lifestyle. Perhaps it was more important to keep up with the spending of their peers and maybe they felt that pressure. It would be safe to say that some continued living in vacation mode instead of adopting a new lifestyle approach. Remember, it's a lifestyle — not a vacation!

We had been self-employed or on a commission basis for so many years that for us the transition to not receiving a paycheck in retirement was not an issue.

In our opinion, these couples are sacrificing their life currency in order to make sure they have enough money in the future, when the fact of the matter is they have had enough all along. All of that being said, no doubt these are personal decisions that everyone must make for themselves.

Robert Brokamp
For many Americans, the mortgage is the biggest bill. How have you managed this expense?

Akaisha and Billy Kaderli
We do not have a mortgage, and eliminated all debt before retiring in 1991. We constantly recommend going into retirement with zero debt: no mortgage, no car loan, and no credit card debt, period. Then your monthly pension check, Social Security, or your net worth is yours to spend on yourself and not already promised to pay off past purchases. Why take on the burden of monthly payments which keep you trapped? Get rid of the debt and free yourself before retirement.

Robert Brokamp
How do you manage health-care expenses? What has been your experience with accessing health care outside of the U.S.?

Akaisha and Billy Kaderli
We have had excellent medical care outside the U.S., mostly in Mexico and in Thailand. There are no long waits or required referrals from other doctors, you are not refused service or charged more if you have a “health condition,” and you can receive an estimate for procedures before you obtain them. Besides executive physicals, blood tests, colonoscopies, and other normal procedures, we have received dental care and eye care as well. We have visited small town clinics and JCI (Joint Commission International) accredited hospitals. You walk in, ask how much it costs, and are taken care of. It really is that uncomplicated.

In our experience, all of these facilities focus on the person, and they put the word “care” back into healthcare. It is quite refreshing as compared to the States.

We also have a high deductible health-care plan for when we are in the States, which keeps our monthly health expenses low.

Robert Brokamp
Is there a way to “ease” or “toe-dip” into living the life that you two have?

Akaisha and Billy Kaderli
We would recommend tracking your expenses and then live for two years on the annual amount you are expecting to fund your retirement. Work out the kinks before you actually let go. Then try a home exchange, or renting your place out for an extended period, which will cover your costs, and then travel to different unique and unusual places. You may not come back!

Robert Brokamp
Do you miss having a “normal” life?

Akaisha and Billy Kaderli
To us, movement and change is normal, and we enjoy having a light footprint. Having everything scheduled out for weeks or months in advance with a series of monthly payments due freezes our creativity, and mentally weighs us down.

We have always lived life in an unconventional manner. We purchased our restaurant in 1979 with no money down before that idea became popular. Retiring at age 38 was not a mainstream idea. Putting our first book on a CD in 2005 was also not an orthodox choice. We feel grateful that we have been able to live out our dreams and share those options with others.

Robert Brokamp
Billy, don't you miss being in the business world and “being somebody”?

Billy
I am happy with who I am today, and no, I do not miss sitting in endless meetings dealing with corporate politics. I control my destiny and that is the way I prefer it.

Robert Brokamp
Akaisha, how do you deal with being away from family?

Akaisha
This has been difficult from time to time, especially when there have been serious illnesses. Fortunately, since we are able to choose how we spend our time, I was able to do end-of-life care for my parents when they needed it.

These days, Skype and email give us the ability to communicate regularly with family, and I visit for lengths of time each year.

Robert Brokamp
Isn't there a place where you just want to stop and quit this itinerant life?

Akaisha and Billy Kaderli
We are still looking for that one particular place, and we have found many paradises in our search. Someday we may settle down somewhere — or not — but right now we couldn't tell you where that might be.

Robert Brokamp
Life isn't a continuous vacation. There's got to be a downside. What is it?

Akaisha and Billy Kaderli
We don't live our lives in a vacation manner. This is a lifestyle where we shop for food in indigenous markets, don't always speak the language of the people standing right next to us, and the scenery changes around us as we move through cities and countries. We find this invigorating. If there was a downside, we'd have to say it is the visa requirements. One must always be conscious of when visas expire and how to fit that in with where we are on our journey.

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JT
JT
9 years ago

I think their story is great, but it is important to note the tailwinds that propelled the two forward.

When you look at the S&P500 index from 1991 to today, you can see that this important barometer for stock market gains rose nearly 300% over the period, with the 90s being one of the biggest booms in American wealth in history.

Whether or not the trend will live on is anyone’s best guess. But this extreme retirement story may have more to do with extremely good markets than extremely good budgeting.

GE Miller
GE Miller
9 years ago
Reply to  JT

I agree. A whole lot of luck on timing plays into their success story. They did the right things to set themselves up. But then the market took them for a nice ride. I’d be curious to see what their net average annual returns have been over the last 10 years after subtracting inflation.

sb
sb
9 years ago
Reply to  JT

I have to agree too. To expect to always get the kinds of returns they got on their retirement money is not realistic. While their frugality certainly helps, there was also a lot of luck in play here too.

We have no mortgage and no debt, have not had those burdens for decades, and we have substantial savings.

But, we also think that the world can turn upside down overnight.

Christopher Holland
Christopher Holland
8 years ago
Reply to  JT

My problem with the early retirement crowd is that most of the guys who are representing themselves to the public as early retirement people are not, in fact, retired. They are writing travel articles for magazines, publishing books, writing for their own blog and newsletter, speaking at travel conferences, etc. They are working considerably harder than the average guy with a 40 hour a week job.

Gary Huynh
Gary Huynh
7 years ago

It’s true that they still do things that provide them income but when you do something that you love, it’s not considered work imo. Besides, you would get bored to death doing nothing all day but traveling, hanging out and eating. A little mental stimulation keeps the brain healthy.

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 years ago

The typical “early retirement” person is still working hard, quite true. But they are working at jobs that to them seem like recreation.

Yes, but
Yes, but
5 years ago
Reply to  JT

The stock market has suffered two major declines since 2000 and the worst sell off since 1929. If they survived that they’ll likely survive future sell-offs…unless the markets melt down and never come back.

LifeAndMyFinances
LifeAndMyFinances
9 years ago

These examples of early retirement are excellent! Thankfully, my wife and I are on the same path. We’ll both be completely debt-free (house included) before we turn 30. There’s really no complicated equation or high-income secrets. Just plain old budgeting and agressive payments toward our loans. Once we pay off our house, we could really live on less than $2,000 a month, making retirement very easy. I’ll continue to make money online (while no longer working at my job) and my wife will earn cash with her photography skills. It’s going to be a great life traveling the world with… Read more »

Debbie M
Debbie M
9 years ago

I’d like to know more about your expected budget. Does that $2000 include upkeep (on house, car, appliances, etc.), clothing, gifts, property taxes, or any insurance?

Frugal+Texas+Gal
Frugal+Texas+Gal
9 years ago
Reply to  Debbie M

Debbie, I’m not them. That said, I have a pension and widows survifor benefits of 2500 dollars, and bring in about 500 dollars per month in income streams. I manage, and I travel, and i DO have a mortage. it can be done. That includes a paid of car and insurance, upkeep expenses to the house, and two long road trips a year in terms of travel. What needs to be expressed here is that when I retired I had most of what I needed. at fifty something, I have clothes, pots, pans, furniture and all thestuff that you spend… Read more »

Debbie M
Debbie M
9 years ago

$3000 for one person is easy for me (I live on $2500 take-home and did so when I still had a mortgage). $2000 for two people seems not so easy!

LifeAndMyFinances
LifeAndMyFinances
9 years ago
Reply to  Debbie M

Debbie,

Everything is included in the $2,000. Fully pad-for house, home insurance ($50/mo.), fully paid-for car (we only need one), car insurance ($100/mo.), medical insurance ($200/mo.), gas ($200/mo.) (we’re not using that much gas since we don’t have jobs), food ($300/mo.), and clothing ($150/mo.).

And, that still leaves $1,000 per month for random things – gifts, car repair/maintenance, charity, and medical incidents. I’d say that I could live just fine on this!

Rosa+Rugosa
Rosa+Rugosa
9 years ago

I would like to hear more about the $200/mo health insurance. That’s about what I pay, but that is through my large corporate employer. Without my employer, I would be spending more like $1200/mo for comparable coverage.

AnneE
AnneE
9 years ago

I am self employed and have health insurance for $242 a month for my family of 4. Two adults, two children. It is a high deductible, wellness plan where some things are covered such as well baby visits and vaccines to $500/year/child, physicals, 1 dental exam and cleaning/person/year, a few other things. The deductible is $5,000 single, $10k family.

The previous plan I had through an employer was a low deductible plan that was costing us $450 per month. The COBRA offering for that same plan was over $1k a month.

Frugal+Texas+Gal
Frugal+Texas+Gal
9 years ago
Reply to  Debbie M

And we could live on the same amount as a couple as well if we had to. I still partially support a college student on that amount (meaning things like I still have a family insurance policy so he can be on it and so forth)

CincyCat
CincyCat
9 years ago

Of course, the issue of “reproduction” is a highly personal one, but I can’t imagine this scenario playing out as you hope it will if you have kids one day…

Katie
Katie
9 years ago

Yes, we have known couples who have returned to work after a few years of trying to live without a dependable paycheck coming in. What comes to mind is that these couples shared a fear of the future and/or lacked the discipline to monitor their spending. They might have felt financially “cramped” instead of feeling the freedom inherent in this lifestyle. Perhaps it was more important to keep up with the spending of their peers and maybe they felt that pressure. Or maybe they found out they liked this kind of lifestyle for a vacation but not permanently. Maybe they… Read more »

sarah
sarah
9 years ago
Reply to  Katie

This is EXACTLY what I logged in to say… I even copy/pasted the same paragraph. It comes across as small-minded and judgmental. They assume that people who don’t live like them are failing to do so rather than choosing another path.

Personally, living out of a hotel for 20 years has zero appeal for me. I can imagine a lot of people try it and realize it’s not for them either.

I would love to know more about how they saved $500,000 before age 38? Those are some skills that would be useful to all of us, for sure.

Vanessa
Vanessa
9 years ago
Reply to  sarah

I would like to know how they saved $500k as well, that is the most impressive part of their story for me.

Kim@MoneyandRisk
[email protected]oneyandRisk
9 years ago
Reply to  sarah

Sarah, It is quite possible to save up $500K by 38 with 2 people making average income of $50K each. I have situations of this but it involves self control/discipline and no extraneous costs such as children or house. This would be my guess on the couple cited above: 1) No children 2) High income (Note that they were in sales and on commissions) 3) Invested in stock market not bonds 4) May not have invested in a house. Especially if they retired in 1991. Housing crash during that period. 5) Live in rural areas of third world country. US… Read more »

maggie
maggie
9 years ago
Reply to  Katie

yeah, they’re kinda of saying other people’s “fears” aren’t legitimate. I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to be fearfull that you might lose a big chunk of your money in the stock market these days, or that you might get some extremely expensive illness that your insurance company (if you even have it) decides your not covered for. And saving $500K by the time you’re 38? I don’t care how frugal they were, they were NOT earning average incomes. Maybe I’m just sour grapes, but I find these stories incredibly annoying in the best of times, and now, with… Read more »

Tom
Tom
9 years ago
Reply to  maggie

My guess is they probably weren’t average income earners, but if they both had reasonable paying jobs from age 24 to 38, it would not be inconceivable that they earned combined GROSS income of 1.12 million dollars over 14 years. This assumes no raises, no inflation, and no interest returned. It probably wasn’t easy, but not out of the realm of possibility that two-income earners without a mortgage and kids could save that much money in that amount of time. It’s obvious they’re willing to give up things the average American wouldn’t, so really their lesson is, you can do… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago
Reply to  maggie

They may not have been earning average incomes, but they weren’t necessarily earning outsized incomes either. My wife and I, at 27, earn around $130k combined and save at least $50k annually after taxes (despite living in a very high-cost area). Even without earning a dime on that money, we could easily save $500k by age 38, much sooner given expected increases in salary before that time. Also, presumably this couple didn’t have kids.

Kate
Kate
9 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan

But you have to realize that even that’s not average, especially for your age.

maggie
maggie
9 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I believe average household income is around $50,000. So, yes, your household is a high-earner household.

bon
bon
9 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Maggie & Kate – are you implying that early retirement at 38 with 500K of assets SHOULD be achievable by being “average”? In other words, do you only want to hear stories of what average people achieve? If you can save 500K by the time you are 38, no, you probably do not earn an average income. You probably have worked your butt off, switched fields or moved even when uncomfortable, and EARNED a higher than average salary. All of this in addition to being frugal, tracking spending, and avoiding lifestyle inflation Many comments on this site hold saving what… Read more »

Carla
Carla
9 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan

@bon – No one is saying that you should apologize for being lucky: lucky enough to have a decent education foundation, lucky enough to be encouraged at an early age to achieve large goals and think big. Lucky enough to chose the right field and lucky enough to be healthy enough to “work your butt off.” I’m just saying that not everyone can do it and it should not be assumed that everyone can and should.

bon
bon
9 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan

@Carla – I actually thought about editing my post after I had posted it to include the fact that yes – luck is definitely a component in being able to achieve a higher than average salary. So I do agree with you there. However, I think it is one of many components, and certainly not the most important.

If you live life waiting for luck to make you successful, you will surely find yourself unlucky.

Carla
Carla
9 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan

@bon – For me, “luck” is not about sitting around waiting for something to fall in your lap, its being able to know where to put the energy and effort in which direction. If you never been laid off (happened to me several times in 12 years), not very smart academically, or had a chronic illness that have taken you out of work, you should count yourself “lucky”. I can go on, but these are just a few examples.

TC
TC
9 years ago

Why is only the woman asked if it is difficult to be away from family?

Danielle
Danielle
9 years ago
Reply to  TC

And why is only the man asked if he misses the boardroom and “being somebody” in the business world? I thought earlier in the article it said they were both used to living on commission which would at least imply that she worked too.

imelda
imelda
9 years ago
Reply to  TC

I, too was SHOCKED by those questions. They were the only 2 that were directed specifically at 1 of the interviewees. Husband, don’t you miss the corporate world? Wife, don’t you miss your family?

Even though i believe they said BOTH of them were consultants. What the hell?????

If there is an explanation for those questions being directed in that way, PLEASE provide it. Otherwise, apologize.

Curtis
Curtis
8 years ago
Reply to  imelda

SHOCKED?!?!? Why shocked? The things people choose to take issue with here never cease to amaze me. Women (as a significant % of our culture) do tend to be nesters. Sorry if that bothers you modern, liberated women. Men (as a significant % of our culture) tend to highly value their place in the workforce and the pressure to “make a mark” in society. That’s obvious to most people and no doubt the basis to the questions posed. That’s not to say that men don’t miss family or that women don’t value their place in the workforce. But generally speaking,… Read more »

Jasmine
Jasmine
9 years ago

In a nutshell: don’t have kids!

Holly
Holly
9 years ago
Reply to  Jasmine

Absolutely.

My husband and I chose to bring our kids into this world, and feel obligated to give them a start in the adult world. Thus, we have chosen to work so we can fund college for them. If it weren’t for the college fund, I would’ve sold our house and hit the road by now.

I also assume they don’t have pets. Not sure of the impact pets would have on international travel. Do any countries other than the UK have quarantine period?

James
James
9 years ago
Reply to  Holly

Yes, many countries do. Especially countries like Australia and New Zealand that have very sensitive ecologies and have already felt the burden of introduced species.

My father works for an international company and my parents have worked all over the world. They do not have pets but they know many people who do. Some of my father’s colleagues have to spend USD 10 000 to USD 20 000 on pet-related fees every time they move country. They routinely do this every two or three years. They must love those pets!

KS
KS
9 years ago
Reply to  Holly

UK does not have quarantine, actually, if you come from a low-rabies incidence country like the U.S. You have to prove a 6 month chain of rabies-free titre and a bunch of other steps. Much better than quarantine, though!

I would like to know more about how they saved the money and the kind of salaries they’re making…really, being told that their way or the highway (which lately is pervading GRS with tiresome regularity) is getting old. Theirs isn’t the life I want and that doesn’t make me some overspending/appearance obsessed/shortsighted bundle of cluelessness.

Jynet
Jynet
9 years ago
Reply to  Jasmine

I agree, children are one of life’s most expensive “luxuries”.

But really, as a society do we want to advocate NOT having children as a way to make our own lives “better”? Children are not luxuries, but a necessary part of a funcitioning society.

And really, aren’t they glad thier parents didn’t make that same choice? Or do they think that their children would be a burden, instead of a benefit, to society as a whole?

Jaime
Jaime
9 years ago
Reply to  Jynet

I still can’t believe that we’re having the children debate in the 21st century. It’s perfectly fine to not have kids for whatever reason. It’s NOT selfish or mean to choose to NOT have kids. There are 7 billion people in the world, many of them are orphans in orphanages or in the foster care system. Did you know that in medieval times there were many parents who gave their kids up to convents and monasteries because they didn’t want to raise them? If people don’t want kids then they don’t need to have them. There are trade offs to… Read more »

Kate
Kate
9 years ago
Reply to  Jaime

No, you’re right the selfish answer is to have kids. The really selfish answer is to say that God told you to have 20 of them.

My fear is that a great number of really smart people aren’t having kids. Over half of my friends are child free. It’s frustrating that their leaving the future in the hands of people that are probably not the best stewards.

It’s for this very reason I had two kids and plan on adopting a third. Budget and retirement plan have been set up accordingly.

Jaime
Jaime
9 years ago
Reply to  Jaime

Have your kids but that doesn’t mean everyone wants to have their own. Thank you very much.

almost+there
almost+there
9 years ago
Reply to  Jaime

Modern days too people gave up their children to the church. My MIL and her sister were two of the children in their family that were given to the nuns to raise during the depression. This was in WV and it was simply an economic decision for their parents. Stay and we all starve, give up two and the rest live. It didn’t go over well when my MIL asked when we were going to have another child and though I married catholic repllied that we were only having the one. She of all people should realize that you don’t… Read more »

Brian Carr
Brian Carr
9 years ago

Great post, although, I have a question:

I’m 30 years old and have about $100,000 in 401k accounts (I was one of the few people who wasn’t slaughtered during the market crash – I went out of stocks into money market funds when the DOW hit 14,000). In order to actually touch these funds without pentaly, I can’t really retire in 10 years.

What are your suggestions for this? Stop contributing to a 401k and put money in an account that I can touch instead?

Thanks!

GE Miller
GE Miller
9 years ago
Reply to  Brian Carr

If you want to retire early, you generally have to have enough income to do both at very healthy levels.

Brian Carr
Brian Carr
9 years ago
Reply to  GE Miller

My wife and I have a good amount in savings, too, but most of our “wealth” is tied up in retirement accounts we can’t touch.

Although, if we wait 30 years to touch the accounts, we’ll likely be paying 65%+ in taxes, so it might be worth it to take the money now and pay current taxes and penalties.

Not that I would actually do that, just saying…

Kim
Kim
7 years ago
Reply to  Brian Carr

Brian, look at the 72T rule. You can draw out of your 401K penalty free before 59 1/2 years of age. You have to take the same amount out annually for 5 years or till you are 60, whichever is the longest.

Des
Des
9 years ago
Reply to  Brian Carr

Google “substantially equal periodic payments”. That is the loophole that lets you access your retirement funds if you retire early.

Brian Carr
Brian Carr
9 years ago
Reply to  Des

Thanks, Des. If we can do that I’ll be super pumped!

Marsha
Marsha
9 years ago

Congratulations to this couple for living out their dream. It’s always refreshing to read about people who have accomplished their goals. Early retirement is not my goal, however. I think that would be extremely difficult to do if you have children, especially if you waited until your mid-30s or later to have kids. My husband and I will not be retiring early because our goal is to get our children through college with as little debt as possible. This is not a burden, however, but a joy. The lifestyle they describe doesn’t appeal to me either. I wouldn’t enjoy living… Read more »

SB(One Cent At A Time)
SB(One Cent At A Time)
9 years ago

Thanks Robert that’s very informative interview. I know many continue work because of the passion for power they enjoy.

It depends on your priorities, you want to enjoy other aspect of your life or your work life.

I have no plan to retire early as I love my job and the power it gives.

Crystal+@+BFS
9 years ago

Wow, that has to be a heck of a life! I get stressed during trips, but I can see how this lifestyle could call to people. Congrats to them for finding something that works and for budgeting for it to boot!

ArandomPerson
ArandomPerson
9 years ago

Very nice to read this sort of thing. I am (still) on track to retire in 3 years (at 49.5years). That is the whole reason I do the thrifty frugal thing.

So I love these case examples as it demonstrates that some (normal) people actually manage to escape.

Mark
Mark
9 years ago

It’s great that they get to live their life on the own terms, but a common thread in every single one of these “Dont let fear rule your life” articles is a total lack of mention of children. For the vast majority of people not “living their dream”, it’s a sacrifice they choose to make to provide for and maintain stability in their children’s and family’s life. Where’s the cheerleading for working a job you don’t have passion for because its the best way to put food in your family’s mouth? Is a fear of not being able to feed… Read more »

getagrip
getagrip
9 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Well, from my perspective having kids was included in living the kind of life I envisioned for myself. Has it turned out exactly as planned? No, but why should any plan do so. Does it mean I don’t follow some “dream”? Not really, but it does seriously come into consideration in how I choose to live because first and foremost my children are part of my life and hence need to be considered in any dream, just like I doubt the people interviewed wouldn’t consider including each other in their dreams. For example it has affected my career decisions because… Read more »

AR
AR
9 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

I thought I would do something similar to these people(at a somewhat later age). I have no debt and a secure retirement but also a young adult child with a disability. I cannot leave home for any length of time yet and am not sure when I will be able to or if my own health will allow it by the time I can. Is this fear- yes- but society is not ready to be there for my son and there is nothing more important to me than my children. I hope that in the next few years my son… Read more »

Sunny
Sunny
7 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Thank you, Mark. I’m in a job that I don’t like but pays the bills. And I do feel stuck. I would rather feel stuck, I guess, than walk out on my spouse with cancer and severely disabled daughter. But I DO enjoy reading about others who have gone after and achieved a dream.
Have suggestions on how to achieve a lifestyle with “margins” even when expenses are high?

aussiemoneygirl
aussiemoneygirl
9 years ago

This was a really inspiring story! While this lifestyle wouldn’t suit everyone, it’s fantastic to read about what other people are doing, and maybe apply elements to my own life. Thanks for sharing!

margot
margot
9 years ago

What an interesting and fabulous couple! They are in inspiration to others to think outside the box, live your dreams, and don’t mindless follow society’s paths regarding lifestyle or consumerism. I appreciate these examples of people who choose to live very rich, happy lives on not a lot of money. It’s very liberating to not need a lot to get by, both in the US and overseas. Living frugally in the US or abroad frees up so much time, opens up so many more choices, and can allow for a much great sense of control over one’s life. Amazing how… Read more »

Catherine
Catherine
9 years ago
Reply to  margot

What never gets mentioned in these stories is that these early retirement travelers always stay third world countries in very rural areas. I am waiting to read about the person who can retire and live on $24,000 and spend extended amounts of time in foreign cities or first world countries.

Julie+@+The+Family+CEO
[email protected]+The+Family+CEO
9 years ago
Reply to  Catherine

I agree. I’m not the adventure travel type and these kinds of destinations with low cost of living don’t appeal to me. I also agree with the commenter above who expressed satisfaction in putting down roots and being part of a community.

I love these ‘out of the box’ lifestyle stories, but they do seem to often have these types of destinations in common.

Erin
Erin
9 years ago

I love this post! I’m in my late twenties and am planning to do the same as these folks – become a nomad. I won’t have nearly as much saved, but living in Central or South America or Southeast Asia on the cheap sounds splendid!

This type of lifestyle is not for everyone. I, on the other hand, have nomad blood pulsing through my veins and can’t wait for the day I break free from corporate life!

margot
margot
9 years ago

Also, the whining that some commenters are doing about children is highly annoying. Part of being pro-active in creating a life and not mindless following society’s path might include not having children for some people. And if someone chooses not to have children, then more power to them for seizing the benefits of that life path. Furthermore, having children should not be your excuse for not living out your dreams or for doing a job you hate. Plenty of parents have their “dream job.” Plenty of families live very frugally so that they are freed up to save money, have… Read more »

D
D
9 years ago
Reply to  margot

I wish I could Like this repeatedly.

Samantha
Samantha
9 years ago
Reply to  margot

I’ve actually found that comments regarding children so far have been very responsible – they all refer to “choosing” to have children and “choosing” to work at certain jobs to support those children, and having “goals” of supporting them in childhood or college. I haven’t seen any ‘poor me, I’ve got to make money to raise these kids,’ just people saying that when you’ve made the choice to (A) bring children into the world and (B) work at a job that supports them to the level you find necessary, then it is LESS likely that you would be able to… Read more »

Pamela
Pamela
9 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

Thank you Samantha. As a childless woman (by choice), I totally agree with you.

CincyCat
CincyCat
9 years ago
Reply to  margot

I don’t see any of the kid-related posts as being “whining” at all… The “kid” comments are more in reaction to the attitude of the couple who were interviewed who make the assumption that the only reason people stay in “jobs” (held between two fingers at arms-length) is because of fear or excessive materialism (holding the nose with the other hand). The kid posts are rightly pointing out that there is also this little thing called “responsibility” that also comes into play when people make *choices* to stay in traditional jobs vs. travel the world. All we are saying is… Read more »

Mom of five
Mom of five
9 years ago

Good for this couple! That said, their lifestyle sounds hellish to me. By their measure, we could retire tomorrow and take our kids with us, but we’d be miserable.

We like having roots. We like the predictable. We like living like middle class Americans.

Mark
Mark
9 years ago

My mistake on the duplicates, comment form was erroring and didn’t realize the comment went through. :p

Pamela
Pamela
9 years ago

I agree, Mark. I think it’s great they’re able to live the life they want in retirement, but it comes off badly when they make assumptions about everyone else who aren’t. It’s not encouraging, certainly.

Mark
Mark
9 years ago
Reply to  Pamela

And that’s really all I mean to say. My post might come off as a bit grumpy, but I really am bothered by the tone of the article. We’d all love to live a self indulgent lifestyle. Most of us get a taste of it in our early years, and it’s hard to let go. I hope I’m fortunate enough to one day to live my own style of a self indulgent retirement. I’m working towards that goal. But the assumption that the only thing stopping people is fear is just gross. I won’t lie, I have a very boring… Read more »

KS
KS
9 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Very many likes. Wish YOU would write your reader story!

Mark
Mark
9 years ago
Reply to  KS

If you’re referring to me (the threading on these comments frankly confuses me), it’s honestly not that interesting a story. It’s a fairly benign take on your average American dream. Poor immigrant parents, lots of education, and lots of choices along the way that led me through my particular path. Had I made more risky decisions, I might have a more interesting story. For instance: at one point in my education I had a pretty huge choice to make: uproot my entire life, leave my girlfriend of 5 years and pursue a phD in the sciences. After 6+ years of… Read more »

KS
KS
9 years ago
Reply to  Mark

I was speaking of you, because I do want to read about people who took the “normal” road and don’t have any regrets about it! As an academic who “failed” (denied tenure), I had the opportunity to start over as an academic with more job security in another country. My husband and I moved one month ago to Europe from the US. Financially, it has sucked. We sold our house (barely; we closed 4 days before the move and made what we sold it for though we had to sink a lot of money into it to get it fixed… Read more »

Mark
Mark
9 years ago
Reply to  KS

I’m sorry to hear that. I dont think most people realize how tough making it academia can be. I think most people are under the impression that a cushy job is waiting for everyone on the other side of that PhD when its just not the case for so many, probably the majority. Hopefully the grass really is greener on the other side of the pond. In either case, it’s probably not fair to say I don’t have regrets. I’ll always wonder what could have been. Who doesn’t? But on balance, I know I’ve got little to complain about. I… Read more »

CincyCat
CincyCat
9 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Exactly!

It’s a CHOICE, and it’s not for everyone.

My two kids are just starting to build friendships that they might have for a lifetime.

How would it be fair to them if my husband and I decided one day to abruptly uproot them in order to travel around the world because *the parents* wanted to give up a traditional lifestyle?

For those of us with kids, there are other little members of the family whose dreams must also be taken into consideration.

Vanessa
Vanessa
9 years ago
Reply to  Mark

I’d love to know what job is stress free, pays well and saves lives.

Unemployed and considering a career change.

Mark
Mark
9 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

I’m a cytotechnologist. Almost no one outside of the field knows what that is, but I’m the guy who screens your pap smear. :p In a nutshell, we look at cells under a microscope from various body sites, and determine whether or not cancer or an infection is present. Sounds great, but what it basically boils down to is sitting in a rigid position and staring at flowered wallpaper all day, and trying to determine if any of the flowers look out of ordinary, in very specific and subtle ways. My pay is about $75k. 4.5 weeks of vacation, 2… Read more »

Vanessa
Vanessa
9 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Mark, thanks for replying. I’ve been researching fields in healthcare, so I’ve heard of cytotechnologists. I was even considering it, but there aren’t any programs near me so I’m looking into radiologic technology instead. It’s a limited enrollment, so I hope I’m chosen otherwise it’s accounting. There are so many jobs in healthcare that get very little attention and they pay well to boot. In my research I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s out there. None of them sound stress free to me though. I’m glad you feel your job is–I suspect that’s because you’re very… Read more »

Mark
Mark
9 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

Vanessa, Radio tech is an excellent choice. I spend a fair bit of my time at the CT scanner, and the radio techs are easily my favorite guys out of all the departments I visit. Its like a party behind that glass every day, everyone is very relaxed. Its not a terribly difficult job once you know what you’re doing – you’re being paid for your skill more than your hard work. So much of why I say my job is stress free is due to way I’m treated by my institution. Benefits and pay are just the foundation of… Read more »

Jaime
Jaime
9 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

Vanessa, no job is stress free.

There are interesting and boring parts to every job. Your best bet is to find out what you’re interested in, what you’re good at and what is available in your city.

I recommend the Occupational Outlook Handbook. It is updated by the U.S. government yearly. I’ve been using it to research careers. I assume that you live in the U.S. but if you don’t then I apologize 😉

http://www.bls.gov/oco/

Jaime
Jaime
9 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Why can’t you just be happy for other people? I don’t see them gloating, I see them as showing us what is possible. There is nothing wrong with that. Why are people jealous of those that did things right? The people who did things right are enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Jaime
Jaime
9 years ago
Reply to  Pamela

Let’s face it, finance advisers make money from making people afraid to retire. I think that’s what the couple is trying to address, that in life there are no guarantees and you can’t let fear rule your life. There are people who have great portfolios, I’m talking in the millions and they’re still afraid to retire because people who make money off retirement portfolios have told them that it might not be enough. A few years ago the NY Times said in an article that people were saving too much for retirement. In fact many people are over-saving for retirement,… Read more »

Matt
Matt
9 years ago

It’s certainly possible to do this – but not necessarily desirable for everyone, and not necessarily in line with priorities. Here’s what hit me: 1 – They lose out on relationships that develop over time. I value my long-term friendships – it’s hard to keep those up when you’re in a different part of the world all the time. Skype and email can only do so much. 2 – They lose out on being contributors to their local community. One of the things I enjoy about home ownership is that I’ve gradually felt more a part of the community than… Read more »

almost+there
almost+there
9 years ago
Reply to  Matt

IRT kids. There are two sides to the coin with childless couples. Yes, they don’t have the expense and have more freedom. Now. But wait until they are old and start lamenting that they have no one to look after them in their old age. My aunt is 92 YO and she just lost her last brother, my dad. She calls and goes on about not having any family to look after her. I’m sorry but she made her bed years ago and cut herself off from her relatives by her choice. All things come at a price when one… Read more »

Dan Walton
Dan Walton
9 years ago

This is by far the most inspiring early retirement story I’ve read. Does it matter that there was no mention of raising children in the story? Yes and no.

YES: It would’ve been entirely different if this couple sends kids to school.

NO: Their frugal mindset is independent of having/not having kids.

Raghu+Bilhana
Raghu+Bilhana
9 years ago


Wow, look how happy they look and how fresh their faces are.

Peace of mind and living content is the greatest cosmetic that god gave us.

Bill
Bill
9 years ago

Have they ever been robbed or threatened in some of these countries?

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  Bill

my neighbor was robbed at gunpoint a couple of nights ago, right on his doorstep. should he leave the country?

Laura+in+Cancun
Laura+in+Cancun
9 years ago
Reply to  Bill

People get robbed and threatened in every country.

Daniel
Daniel
9 years ago

Any info on what their asset allocation looks like? There is talk of their returns, but nothing that states their AA. Saying you get returns of 7.2%/year, were you something like 80/20 or 90/10 equities/bonds?

Raghu+Bilhana
Raghu+Bilhana
9 years ago

http://www.earlyretirementextreme.com

This has some excellent insight into how to do it.

Kevin+M
Kevin+M
9 years ago

Good for them for living life on their terms! I really hope this thread doesn’t turn into a “yeah but that won’t work for me for x reason”, but it seems to be going down that path already. The details are there for each of us to work out, no 2 people or couples are the same. The point is it is POSSIBLE.

Maria
Maria
9 years ago

I would like to know how much INCOME they’ve had since retiring – not interest or pension or social security, but how much from the two books they published? It seems like a lot of advice for retiring early actually requires some freelancing or alternative income. Not everyone can write a book, though . . .

A.J.
A.J.
9 years ago
Reply to  Maria

Sure they can! It’s just a matter of whether or not they can actually make any money by doing so…

Cassie
Cassie
9 years ago

I love the line “cutting expenses that don’t provide meaningful and lasting value”.

If you are trying to reach a financial goal what an excellent question to ask yourself about every expenditure.

Will this provide meaningful and lasting value?

Clinton
Clinton
9 years ago
Reply to  Cassie

I couldn’t get past the rest of that statement
“(including many work-related expenses)”. Work-related expenses!? Did I miss something? I thought they retired.

Max From Liquid
Max From Liquid
9 years ago

There are many lessons to be learned from this great post even if you’re not contemplating retirement. In order to retire, you must have investments to live on; in order to invest, you must pay down your debt because your investments won’t pay you the interest your debt is charging you. In order to pay down your debt you must track what you spend so you will spend less than you make and save the rest. However, as you pay down your debt you must simultaneously create an adequate emergency fund. Start with $1,500; then build it to equal the… Read more »

Sam
Sam
9 years ago

I was wondering about health insurance and health care, I’m glad that was covered in the article. But I still wonder how they will care for themselves in there much later years, I’m sure they have a plan.

Kids are expensive and I was wondering that as well, did they have kids and kid expenses.

Vin Wealth Management
Vin Wealth Management
9 years ago

Living as an ex-pat seems like the perfect lifestyle for me. Especially after reading 4HWW and Vagabonding, the lifestyle is my ultimate goal.

As a financial manager, it’s hard to explain to clients that the key to their retirement success is frugality. Many people feel entitled to certain things which are bringing them down slowly and surely.

If everyone had a frugal mindset, then our country would be much better off financially.

Courtney
Courtney
9 years ago

“If everyone had a frugal mindset, then our country would be much better off financially.”

Actually, that would be terrible for our economy. Another reason why microeconomic principles do not apply to macroeconomics and vice versa.

Kevin+M
Kevin+M
9 years ago
Reply to  Courtney

Why exactly would it be terrible? Less stuff to buy = less income required = earlier retirement age = a job opening for someone else. That works on a micro and macro level with the side benefit of not as much cheap crap being thrown away.

Courtney
Courtney
9 years ago
Reply to  Kevin+M

Less stuff to buy = less jobs for the people who make/service/sell the stuff. Higher unemployment, lower tax revenue, yadda yadda yadda. You don’t think that if everyone in the country cut their spending by say, 25%, the job market wouldn’t respond accordingly? Businesses don’t pay people to make and do stuff because it makes them feel good. They pay people to make and do stuff because other people (consumers and clients) BUY that stuff. Also there’s the situations like, conventional PF says “buy used instead of new” (cars, clothes, baby items, etc). But if everyone adopts the frugal mindset… Read more »

A.J.
A.J.
9 years ago
Reply to  Kevin+M

Obviously, if everyone buys used, that’s true. But what would actually happen is that price of new goods would fall (as demand would be zero), and the price of used goods would sharply rise as supply decreases, until eventually people realize that buying new is a better deal than buying used after all.

Eventually, some new equilibrium will be reached.

Samantha
Samantha
9 years ago
Reply to  Kevin+M

That happened with the car industry recently. So many people were buying used that the price of used cars went up to the point that they almost matched new cars.

https://www.getrichslowly.org/ask-the-readers-is-a-used-car-still-a-good-deal/

almost+there
almost+there
9 years ago
Reply to  Kevin+M

Courtney, I agree. I thought of this years ago when I read Your Money or Your Life. If over a small percentage of the population embraced frugal living the economy would suffer for all.
A.J. new prices may or may not come down. In plenty of instances in my town the business just closes when demand falls. Like the Sabb dealership that just closed. The dealer owns plenty of other car dealerships so it was no great loss to him, but not so for the Sabb dealership employees.

CincyCat
CincyCat
9 years ago
Reply to  Courtney

Actually, it would be great for the economy. People assume that “frugal” = “hoarder”. Not true. Being frugal means you are selective about what you spend your money on, and you don’t go into extreme debt. Which is better? Paying $1,500 a month to credit cards, or having $1,500 a month to spend on *quality* goods and services that provide revenue for your local community? Which is better? Paying $100 on junk over & over, or paying $500 one time on a good quality item (saving potentially $100s more that can also be spent on quality items)? Which is better?… Read more »

Courtney
Courtney
9 years ago
Reply to  CincyCat

I’m not anti-frugality. I think it’s great for the individual and the household (heck, we personally save 40% of our income). But you simply cannot translate that to “the economy.” If EVERYONE saved 40% of their income, the results to the economy would be disastrous because our economy relies on people spending their money. Saving money doesn’t create/sustain jobs. Buying one well-made item that lasts for a decade doesn’t create/sustain as many jobs as replacing a cheaper version every two years.

Early+Retirement+Extreme
Early+Retirement+Extreme
9 years ago
Reply to  CincyCat

The real problem is not in the amount of work that needs to be done but in the distribution of jobs. Some people work crazy much while others can’t find jobs. So in order for the later to eat—seeing the working is the only way they can feed themselves, we make up jobs for silly things that most people could do for themselves anyway (like many service jobs). If people were frugal they could dial it back to 30-40 hours a week for 48 weeks a year instead of 40-60 hours for 50 weeks, THIS would distribute the work to… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago

Interesting. Even if you don’t retire, Tim Ferris does something similar with geographic arbitrage while continuing to work (granted, as a celebrity of sorts). On the other end of the spectrum, Jacob at ERE is retired and stays put in the bay area while living in a very low budget. I believe neither of them has children, but if you look at their websites/case studies, there are people who do or have done the same while raising children. So there is a range of options out there. Obviously this is not for everyone, and no need to go off on… Read more »

Susan
Susan
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Wow – your last paragraph may be the best thing I’ve ever read on the internet. 🙂 Thanks for that.

M
M
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Siempre me gustan tus comentarios– Una perspectiva racional con un sentido de humor.

Daria
Daria
9 years ago

Amy Dacyzyn and her husband did the same thing in the 1990’s while having 6 small children. Her husband was in the military and stayed long enough to earn a pension. She started her own newsletter business about living frugally. When they accumulated enough assets that they felt they could continue their lifestyle she closed down the newsletter and joined her husband in retirement. They don’t travel overseas but they bought a farmhouse with a lot of acreage in Maine and stay involved in their community. To my knowledge, they have not come out of retirement. It is possible with… Read more »

almost+there
almost+there
9 years ago
Reply to  Daria

The Tightwad Gazette was published into books which generate plenty of income for Amy and her family. Success in a published book usually brings in lifetime income. As it should for any success that stands the test of time.

Jeff
Jeff
9 years ago

My take-away from the comments: the occasional example of other types of families (couples with kids or single parent with kids) achieving their version of “success” would be welcomed.

Michelle
Michelle
9 years ago

Good article! I would love to retire at the age of 38.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
9 years ago

Yesterday a friend of mine died from an unforeseeable brain aneurysm. She was 30. I am glad she didn’t spend the last 10 years living a life of deprivation in the hopes it would allow her do do something interesting in her 40s, 50s, or 60s.

Now is important. Make it worth living in the present. You may not have a retirement.

Kevin+M
Kevin+M
9 years ago

Sorry for your loss.

Why is it you see low spending as deprivation?

Kate
Kate
9 years ago
Reply to  Kevin+M

Becasue that’s what we’re taught if we want to get ahead financially: give up XYZ. Not everything feels living on an extreme budget or well below your means is fulfilling.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago

Damn. That is terrible. So very sorry.

I have to say though, I lived the first part of my life as if I was going to die the next day and… I didn’t. So I’ve had to deal with the consequences. Yes, nobody can rob me of the memory of my adventures, but I can’t eat them either.

KS
KS
9 years ago

So sorry to hear this, Tyler. Wish you and those who knew her peace and healing.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
9 years ago

I see low spending as deprivation because it *is* deprivation. I mean, look up the word in the dictionary. If you spend 10 years saving $500,000, well, that’s $500,000 you didn’t use over the last 10 years to do things you really might have spent that time enjoying. And no, I don’t mean to imply you should “live every say as if it were your last”, but there is balance to be found somewhere in the middle. Tomorrow might not be your last, but maybe one of the next 3652 days will be? That’s 10 years. Or 7304 days? That’s… Read more »

Carla
Carla
9 years ago

Best comment on the subject, Tyler. It really needed to be said.

+1000

Kevin M
Kevin M
9 years ago

I guess it depends on the definition of “low” spending. If our mortgage was paid off, our family of 4 could live the same lifestyle on $25k per year (we live in the Midwest). I’m not sure how that compares to the rest of America, but judging solely by our neighbors I’d say it is on the low end.

It’s perfectly fine if you value a new car every 3 years or the latest whatever or spending thousands on clothes, that’s your choice. I just get frustrated when people assume it isn’t possible without poverty-level living conditions.

Kate
Kate
9 years ago
Reply to  Kevin M

I so hate the assumption that everyone who wants to live somewhat above the poverty level only value new cars ever few years, gadgets and (gasp) a big screen flat panel TV. Some people do have financial and lifestyle requirement that doesn’t always involve STUFF.

Kristen
Kristen
9 years ago

I always enjoy your comments – they’re well thought out and frequently add a lot to the conversation.

I just wanted to say I’m very sorry to hear of your friend’s untimely death.

Laura+in+Cancun
Laura+in+Cancun
9 years ago

Loved this post! My husband and I live in Cancun, Mexico. We live so much more cheaply here than we would in the USA, and there is SO MUCH TO DO! We’re always going on day trips, long weekends, etc to fascinating places. That being said, it’s definitely not for everyone, as previous commenters mentioned. I have given up a lot of everyday comforts to live here, and the culture shock was so bad at first that I almost left after the first year. For me it’s worth it now and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere but Mexico, but others… Read more »

Des
Des
9 years ago

This is a great example of how early retirement is possible – but it does require sacrifice. I think that is the point the “I can’t do this because X” commenters are really trying to make. It is all math, and math doesn’t budge for anybody. You either need a high paying (and, thus, typically more stressful and/or hard to obtain) job, or very low expenses (a la no kids, or geoarbitrige), or save for a long time. You can have whatever you want, you just can’t have everything. Most people don’t have an above average salary (by definition), and… Read more »

krantcents
krantcents
9 years ago

I love to travel, but not continuously. We also had children who were growing up in my thirties and forties. I was able to achieve financial independence at 38 years old, but could not travel extensively.

Jan
Jan
9 years ago

I am 53. My husband and I retired for good two years ago. We really have been just doing side jobs for about 10 years. My take away is that if you have a goal- you CAN save for it and live it. The point is- most everyone who is smart enough to read this blog is smart enough to retire. You could choose to retire in the extreme (trailer, biking, no children, one pot meals), traveling like the article ( marriedwithluggage.com is a good example as is a family who is traveling with their daughter throughout Europe on a… Read more »

Tom
Tom
9 years ago

” Technical note: Octillion comes after septillion, which comes after sextillion, which comes after dinner and a movie, if you’re lucky.) ”

ZING!

Dr. Jason Cabler (@DrCabler)
Dr. Jason Cabler (@DrCabler)
9 years ago

This is a great illustration of what can be done when you get yourself out of debt and watch what you spend in a conscientious way. Life can be lived so much better when there are no monthly payments breathing down your neck

This is what I teach in my “Celebrating Financial Freedom” home study course and on my blog. It works, and it CAN be done!

Debbie M
Debbie M
9 years ago

Just because you’re out of debt doesn’t mean there are no monthly payments. I’m out of debt, but I have loads of monthly payments: property taxes, insurance, gas for the car, gas and electricity and water and garbage removal for the house, repairs, contributions to my IRA, not to mention dance lessons and subscriptions and groceries (I do still like to eat every month).

Mark
Mark
9 years ago

Barring my misgivings about the tone, it’s still quite interesting to see what life is like for some who seemingly have all the skills, priviledge, luck and fortune, and made decisions that free them to live their version of the self indulgent retirement. And I don’t necessarily mean self indulgent in a disparaging way – if you’ve earned it, you deserve it. Still, I’d like to see some balance. IMO a personal finance site deals in the business of careful decision making and managing risk. And it wouldn’t be risk if it couldn’t go wrong. A series of articles about… Read more »

imelda
imelda
9 years ago
Reply to  Mark

This is an excellent idea!

I think that a while back, on this blog, there was a guest post from someone who had ventured into real estate and pretty much crashed and burned, before pulling out an moving on with his life.

For someone (like me) considering real estate investing, that was as helpful – probably more so – than many of the other successful real estate tales.

If people are *willing* to share their failures like that, such a series would be a great addition to this blog!

JL
JL
9 years ago

Great interview! I love to read about people living their dreams in an unconventional manner. It’s an inspiration.

CincyCat
CincyCat
9 years ago

I would love to read a story about an “extreme early retirement” family who also had young children.

I would be very interested to know if there are any case studies out there of couples/singles who (in less than 10 years earning “regular “wages) managed to pay off a mortgage in full, build $500,000 in savings earning 7% or better in stocks (today) and travel the world … with kids under 10 years old in the picture.

Kevin+M
Kevin+M
9 years ago
Reply to  CincyCat

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/

He is married with a young son under 5, lives in a normal house in CO and only works occasionally. Not sure exactly what his assets are, but probably close to that if you include his rental property.

Des
Des
9 years ago
Reply to  Kevin+M

I *love* MMM – but he did all his scrimping/saving and overtime before he had his kid. I think that is an AWESOME plan, if you have the foresight to start young and are willing to risk waiting till your 30s to have kids.

Also, I believe he still has a mortgage, and works part time on the side.

Even still, that blog is one of my favorite – maybe even tied with GRS.

CincyCat
CincyCat
9 years ago
Reply to  CincyCat

Thank you for the link! I will go look at it now. This seems more along the lines of what would be more realistic for my family… “Early retirement” for us would probably look more like “more time at home” and not traveling overseas, living in hostels.

imelda
imelda
9 years ago
Reply to  CincyCat

Well, I don’t think you’ll find it, because I’m not sure that’s possible. I tried to do a projected calculation for the whole thing, based on average household income for a dual-income family in this country, which is $67,348. Trying to imagine what a family of 5 might spend in a low COL area, I figured that a very frugal family could, at best, save as much as 35% of their after-tax income each month for an early retirement. (while still saving a little for their kids’ college funds)* That’s about $18k saved per year, invested at 7% for 10… Read more »

imelda
imelda
9 years ago
Reply to  imelda

Oh, and I totally forgot the “pay off your mortgage” part of your statement, too. Either way, it doesn’t work.

So no, as long as you’re clinging to the “average wages” and “10 years” and “7%” stipulations, it’s not going to happens. One of those conditions has got to change.

Retireby35
Retireby35
9 years ago
Reply to  imelda

True, but I don’t think a family of five (assuming the couple has 3 kids) should be attempting early retirement. Like you said, something has to give. Why not four or five kids then? Of course the more mouths you have to feed, the lower the probability of early retirement because the money can only stretch so far. However, I do think it is plausible to have this type of extreme early retirement if you have one kid and both couples are working full-time(which would differ than the second spouse working only part-time in your scenario). There’s numerous stories on… Read more »

Dave M
Dave M
9 years ago

I’d like to learn more about how/where they had their retirement funds invested. My retirement portfolio has taken a $20K hit in the last 10-15 days thanks to the markets.

Mark
Mark
9 years ago

Last post directed at Vanessa, who specifically asked. :p

Honestly, the threading on the comments on this site completely baffle me. I clicked reply on her post…if that’s not it, how do you respond directly and not just add to the pile out of context?

Vanessa
Vanessa
9 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Someone call the technical elves!

stellamarina
stellamarina
9 years ago

Hi. I have been on here formerly as fetu but I figured there may be a few out there who are interested in tropical food gardening so am signing in with my blog name now. Loved this article. This is the kind of retirement I want. My problem….it is not the type of retirement my husband wants. So instead I go off and travel on my own for a few months. Budget travel….eg backpacking, hostels or cheap guest houses, street food etc can give a one or two month foreign trip for a total of $3000. Do not wait until… Read more »

Lynn
Lynn
9 years ago
Reply to  stellamarina

No offense but that’s why so many people have student loan debt. Parents decided not to save. How can kids expect to excel in college if they have to spend all their time working just to pay their tuition?

Dave
Dave
9 years ago
Reply to  Lynn

I paid for mine, and I had a good GPA. It wasn’t easy, but it can be done. At what point is a kid supposed to make it on their own if not when they move out of mom and dad’s house?

Kim@MoneyandRisk
9 years ago
Reply to  Lynn

Lynn, I worked 4 jobs in college while going to school full time. My parents could have paid or help with college but I chose to do it on my own. I graduated with student loans because the college cost was $100K (25 yrs) ago. I paid off the loans within 8 yrs. It gave me a greater appreciation and training for money and finance. In looking at my brothers who got carried through college, they’re all a mess financially. They have no clue as to the value of money. Until we struggle, we won’t learn the hard lessons. Frankly,… Read more »

Lynn
Lynn
9 years ago

I graduated from college with no loans. And I am very thankful because I know so many people who graduated with loans can’t afford to save and have to live at home for longer because of those loans.

I think working your way through school may help you appreciate it more but I just feel it holds you back from saving, being on your own, etc. JMO.

Congrats on paying off your loans.

Lynn
Lynn
9 years ago

Can anybody give me the link to the expense spreadsheet template that’s available for download on the Kaderli blog?
Thanks…

Elysia
Elysia
9 years ago
Reply to  Lynn

Lynn – did you get a link? I’d really like a look at the spreadsheet as well! Searching doesn’t seem to be helping me & their site was not easy to navigate for me. Thanks!

Jaime
Jaime
9 years ago

These people are my financial heroes. They are savvy and living their dreams. Personally I think people need to do what is right for them. I don’t think the couple in the article is coming across snobbish. Just because something worked for them doesn’t mean it will work for the next person. So what? They are showing you what is possible if you want that for yourself. Of course they didn’t retire in a horrible market. I’m happy for them. Why do we have to criticize other people? Why can’t we just be happy for them? Why do we have… Read more »

margot
margot
9 years ago

Why after EVERY posting about anyone who does anything unique or interesting with their life do dozens of people need to leave DEFENSIVE comments detailing how “THIS WON’T WORK FOR ME!” or “THIS WON’T WORK FOR EVERYONE!” Really? Isn’t that obvious and assumed? Can’t people just write posts about their life choices and experiences and advice without everyone getting defensive (because too many of you make everything about yourselves or because you’re subconsciously unhappy with your lives yet unwilling to change them). EVERY post on this blog only applies to a subset of people. JD repeats a million times that… Read more »

Jaime
Jaime
9 years ago
Reply to  margot

Like my mom says, “take what works for you and leave what doesn’t.”

Michelle
Michelle
9 years ago
Reply to  margot

Margot,

That’s all very well for you but I’m already 38 and I’m not an American so I can’t do this because … nah just kidding!!! 🙂
I am 38, and I’m a Kiwi but man I’m taking their story as my inspiration. It’s a look at what CAN be done. I’m going about it a little differently but I believe the whole point is that THEY decided what they wanted to do and then THEY made it happen.
I’m doing the same. 🙂

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