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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.

Having the Fire to Retire

Interview with Dennis and Martha McIntire

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Often 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 purchased 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 retired?

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.

After 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!

After 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 June, 2008.

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?

The only 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 market catastrophe.

What meltdown?

Martha and 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!

Dennis sharing a seat in a water taxi with a Thai Lovely

So in your retirement you have chosen not to own a car. What do you do about your transportation needs? 

Yes, thankfully 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 Asia.

 

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?

Absolutely!!!! 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.

Chief McIntire handing out a promotion

In making the leap to early retirement, what was your biggest motivating factor, and what has been your greatest challenge?

We have 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.

Could you describe your investment strategy? How do you fund your retirement? How do you manage your finances while on the road?

We consume 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 early retirement?

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!

Martha 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 readers?

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 out!

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 days?

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 children?

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.

The water taxi system in Bangkok is efficient and available

How do you contribute to the world?

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 adventure.

 

What will you not compromise on?

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.

Dennis and 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 care?

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.

Thanksgiving 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 going next?

After 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!”

Safe travels,
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 Early Retirees.

To read more interviews with Expats, Early Retirees and Interesting Characters, click here

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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