we have the privilege of meeting those who have purchased our book and rewarding
friendships begin. This is the case with Dennis and Martha McIntire who
The Guide years ago. In the process of
answering early retirement questions via email, Dennis and Martha eventually
came to visit us in Chapala, Mexico. The following is an interview with two very
happy and enthusiastic Early Retirees.
Martha and Dennis, for the benefit of our readers, could you briefly tell us a
little about yourselves? Where you are from, and what lines of work did you do? How long have you been
I worked as a fire fighter for
29 years in Oklahoma and Martha is from Chihuahua, Mexico, where she practiced dentistry for
14 years. We were determined to save and retire early.
After two years as a
firefighter there was a Captain’s test and I was fortunate enough to come out on
top and was promoted. After a few years at Captain, there was an Assistant Chief
opening. Well, I applied and after going through the testing once more, I came
out on top. It was a happy moment, but part of me was ready to hit the road.
a few years as Assistant Chief, I read your e-book about early retirement and
once again was very motivated to live a life of adventure. Then guess what? Our
chief retired and the union wanted me to apply for the chief’s position. It was
with mixed emotions, however that I threw my name in the running. After the
entire procedure, I was selected as Fire Chief and there I was—still working
when my wife and I wanted to travel!
this, we kept up with your travels and dreamed of our own. After 3 ½ years we
decided that if we didn’t quit working now and start traveling, we would be
sitting here until we were 65. Off we went! Free at last,
we retired at the end of
You couldn’t have retired at a worse time in 2008. Did the nasty market meltdown
earlier this year change your mind about your decision to retire? Any regrets?
regret we have is not retiring sooner. The meltdown hasn’t changed
our minds about retiring even the slightest. In fact, the last year
we have twice lived in Chapala, Mexico, traveled throughout the
mainland of Mexico,
and visited both Thailand and Malaysia. These are some of the
cheapest and most alluring places in the world. By the time we
returned, the market recovered much of its losses and we lived well
within our budget while spending time in these exotic places. While lounging in shade-covered
hammocks beside beautiful beaches, it is hard to imagine a stock
Dennis at a market on the Thai/Burma border
How do you figure the dollar
amount to spend each year? Do you feel you must watch your expenses closely or
do you live luxuriously?
We figured $30,000 would allow
us to do the things that we wanted. Living frugally has been part of our
lifestyle and we would rather travel worldwide than to live luxuriously. Having
traveled in Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia, back to Mexico again, and traveling to
see friends and family in the United States, we have lived under $65 per day.
This includes $600 per month of US health insurance.
Share with us
your best money-saving secret.
Drive old cars
or choosing not to own a car is even better. We have been car-less since
retirement and it is liberating to not have car payments, repairs,
insurance costs, and liability worries. The main thing is not to
have any debt and pile money into your retirement accounts as early
as possible. The upside is all the pretty girls you ride beside on
the busses in Mexico and on the sky train in Bangkok Thailand. This
will keep a smile on your face!
sharing a seat in a water taxi with a Thai Lovely
your retirement you have chosen not to own a car. What do you do about
your transportation needs?
we do not own a car and all the expense that goes with it. We always
hear people complain about the
traffic, but it doesn’t bother us at all. We always use public
transportation. We love taking the sky trains, trains,
buses, taxis, and all the odd forms of transportation in Southeast
Do you own a house or rent?
Plusses and minuses?
We are homeless, without a
car, and unemployed!!!!! But no one feels sorry for us. We rent wherever we
travel and what a blessing not to be shackled with house payments, repairs,
taxes, upkeep, liability, foundation problems etc., etc. When we get the urge,
off we go at a moment’s notice. If it gets too cold, we head for the beaches in
the "Land of “Mananas" or the "Land of Smiles." What a life!!!!!!!
If you had
twice your net worth, would it change your life?
I would get twice as many massages in Thailand. Now that I think
about it, I think I will do that anyway. (Smile) We are accustomed
to living below our means and that will probably not change.
McIntire handing out a promotion
In making the leap to early retirement, what
was your biggest motivating factor, and what has been your greatest
planned on retiring early since 1988. That is when I read a book by
Paul Terhorst about his retiring at age 35. After that, every time
we were ready, I would get a promotion at work. Finally, I ordered
your book, The
Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement. With fresh
motivation and inspiration,
we decided to take the plunge and go for it. Besides, after back and
knee injuries, lying in a shade-covered beach hammock is much
easier than 8 hours at a desk. Our greatest challenge is getting to
all the places we desire to see before running out of time.
describe your investment strategy? How do you fund your retirement?
How do you manage your finances while on the road?
little and invest mainly in mutual funds.
With no house or vehicle debt for many years, we piled our money
into the stock market. I also have a fire pension from Oklahoma. We
keep most of our money with Fidelity Investments and access our
account using ATM machines available everywhere.
What do you like most about
Everything!!! I often think
about this question while getting a two hour Thai massage in Chaing Mai,
Thailand and the only thing that comes to my mind is, “Esto es Vida.” “This is
the Life!!!!” Martha says it is wonderful to not think about having to return to
work on Monday. Yahoo. No stress!
having a great time at a Thai cooking class
What advice would you give to
someone considering early retirement today? Do you have any tips for our
Do it now!!! Get out of
debt—and absolutely no credit card debt, live way below your means,
and invest your money like crazy. Remember: get out of debt and stay
What lessons have you learned so far from traveling?
Life takes on a different
quality when you are not pressured by work and always in competition
with someone. It is enlightening to see people all over the world
working for a living, going to school, and just trying to enjoy
family, friends, and life. We do not realize how we are all tied so
closely together. Retirement gives you the ability to relate to
others in a non-competitive nature, smile with them, and appreciate
their culture. There is no amount
of money that can replace the friendships forged through mutual
acceptance. After all, we are all travelers in this world - from one
eternity to the next. Family, friends, and how we treat people will
define our being.
Where do you call home these
We have been traveling so
much; we have been calling home wherever we land. Our official residence is in
Texas, but we love spending time in Chapala, Mexico, Thailand, and with family in
various places. However, there are so many lands where we wish to travel, we
will have many homes.
How do you work out visits with family and how do you keep in touch? Do you have
We have grown children in
Texas and Oklahoma. We visit with family and friends at least once
per year on our way to another location. We celebrate birthdays and
holidays at that time. It keeps us from the commercialism of
Christmas and allows quality time to spend together. We are having
Christmas, Thanksgiving, and celebrating a son-in-law's birthday all
on a visit before Thanksgiving. We keep in touch through e-mail, Skype, and utilizing Magic Jack. You can always get online
somewhere and this keeps you feeling close.
taxi system in Bangkok is efficient and available
How do you contribute to the
We contribute by consuming
little, volunteering, spreading good cheer, being kind to everyone,
and being a good ambassador for our country. There are also all those little things
that mean so much, the special hug, the understanding ear, accepting
attitude, the eye contact with a fun loving smile. Really, the
people we have met in our travels are one of the great rewards of
What will you not compromise
Compassion for others.
If you could be anywhere in the world, doing anything you wanted to
do, what would you be doing?
We are so fortunate to be
living our dreams right now. We go where we want and do what we
desire to do. That “wander lust” has been in us for many years and
we are not forgetting to enjoy wherever we happen to place our feet.
Getting a comforting Thai foot massage does sound good about right
now! What a life!
Dennis as a
volunteer English teacher in Bangkok
What are you most proud of so
far in your life?
We are most
proud of having two wonderful children that
have graduated from college and have been great kids. No parent
could be more proud. Preparing ourselves so well for a successful
retirement is another accomplishment of which we are proud.
Who are your heroes?
This has changed over
time. It used to be Lincoln, Washington, and other pillars of our American
history. But now, it is all of the disadvantaged, handicapped, widows, etc. who
keep plugging along, who keep going no matter the cost and when you look them in the
eye, they can still manage a heart melting smile.
Martha inside the Petronas Towers in Malaysia
In one sentence, what is your philosophy on life, or your motto?
We always thank God for what
we have and believe in helping others where possible and also understand that
“chance favors the prepared mind.”
What do you do about health
We have health insurance only
in the area where we retired. Everywhere else, we just pay cash.
Most countries are cheaper than in the United States. I went to the
doctor in Thailand and the office visit was three dollars and five
dollars for the medicine. We choose not to limit our adventures due
to medical fears. There are good doctors in many places.
In the States we read about
gang shootings, kidnappings and general violence in foreign countries. How do
you manage personal safety when you travel?
We try to always stay aware
of surroundings and avoid any problem areas where possible. The US media
exaggerated an uprising in Thailand last March. There were some activist on the
streets, but we were at the beach and most people were not aware of what was
happening. One street away everything was normal. Never get involved in Politics
and protests, and just be nice wherever you are. Common sense of protection
applies everywhere the same as at home.
Day at fabulous Hotel Camino Real in Oaxaca, Mexico
Where do you get
your news? How do you stay abreast of current issues?
We mostly stay
informed via the internet and sometimes we have English channels
like the BBC. At times there are foreign newspapers available. The
internet is amazing in that we stay in contact with family and
friends, read newspapers, and listen to streaming live radio.
Do you have a
valuable travel tip you could share?
Travel light! You
can buy or replace items you need wherever you go.
Where are you
traveling through Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize this
winter, we will go to Europe for quite a while. Madrid will probably
be our first stay and then Rome. Who knows after that? “Esto es Vida!”
Dennis and Martha
We would like
to thank both Dennis and Martha for taking the time to answer our many
questions and for allowing our readers a glimpse into their lives as
To read more interviews with Expats, Early
Retirees and Interesting Characters,