20 Questions We Are
Billy and Akaisha
January, 1991: At the age of 38, Billy and Akaisha packed it up, sold
everything, left the conventional working world, and moved to
Nevis, a 36 sq. mile
island in the Caribbean. From
there they started traveling and haven't looked back.
"Life is an adventure, follow your dreams."
People have always asked us
why we left our beautiful home and our successful careers for a lifestyle of
travel. But the questions over the almost 30 years of our Financial independence
In the early years people
wanted to know if they could retire if they had children, and barely believed us
when we said “YES!” But, of course, with today’s emphasis on FIRE, there are
many stories of
young retirees with children leaving the conventional work
force. So that path has been blown wide open.
Today, the questions to us
Take a look below.
Updated December, 2019
Billy and Akaisha at Mar de
Chacala, Nayarit, Mexico
Why did you retire early?
Actually, we never
wanted “to retire." We were on a fast track,
hamster wheel of life, and made the
decision to leave our jobs to pursue traveling and other interests. We
didn’t take the perspective that we would never do another productive thing in
We were lead by our
dreams of a different life, one that didn’t fit the traditional description. The
acronym FIRE didn’t exist then, nor did the words “financial independence” in
general. So… we simply said “we retired early.”
Weren't you too young to leave
jobs and a secure paycheck?
In 1991 when we were
38, no one told us there was an age qualification on obtaining
financial independence. We think it is a worthy goal at any age. Now, decades later we feel
one of the best decisions
we have ever made.
In fact, we think
becoming financially independent is one of the best things you can do for
yourself and for the world. When you are
held hostage to debt, to a
paycheck, to a job you dislike, to a commute that takes too many productive
hours out of your day, or to a relationship that you no longer want to be in but
are stuck due to financial pressure – you now have the freedom and ability
to give back to your personal or global community. When you are not cemented into a
situation where you are simply paying off bills, your life opens up.
This is good for
Today, with the active
FIRE community, many people in their 30s and 40s are re-describing their
approach to their working lives. There is no one-size-fits-all, and FIRE is not
you wasting your lives?
Chances for volunteering,
continuing education, and
grow in a myriad of ways present themselves constantly, now that we are not tied to a job. We have taken full advantage of these
circumstances, including teaching English
to children, coaching basketball teams,
to indigenous people and
writing books and articles. Possibilities are everywhere, and now we have the
energy and time to
Our personal lives are
Billy and Akaisha on the beach!
did your friends and family think of your unconventional plans?
In 1991, our leaving the working
world challenged the belief system of Everyone. We. Knew.
Remember, this was
before personal computers were commonplace, before financial forums, Skype,
Facebook, email, and the internet as we know it today.
We were walking on a
"high wire" with no net, but we had a lot of confidence in ourselves.
you manage your finances and mail while traveling so much?
We have very little "snail mail" coming
to us now, and 99% of our communication and bill paying is done
electronically. It wasn't this way when we started almost three decades ago,
but the internet has made dealing with these obligations much easier. Today we utilize
Traveling Mailbox where we can view our mail online from anywhere in the
world. They will deposit a check for us or forward our mail to any address
where we might be traveling.
utilize a personal assistant who handles private matters and various things that
need to be done if we are on the road.
We explain this topic in
more detail in our very popular books,
Guide to Early Retirement, 4th Edition, Your Simple Path to FIRE and
Retirement Dream IS Possible.
Akaisha in a coffee shop,
Why did you begin the Retire
Lifestyle Mentors Subscription Service?
Throughout our retired
life and our world travels, we have met up with hundreds of people
who wish they could live a life with less stress and more options. Many didn’t
know where to start.
inexperienced in money matters or how to get to that “magic number” of critical
mass. Still others couldn’t see themselves living in their home country on the
money they had in savings.
Retirement covers a
wide variety of topics, and we have nearly 3 decades of living this lifestyle
Offering a personal
Skype phone call and direction as their personal mentors can be a real benefit
to someone. We smooth out the road to their retirement dreams and untangle the
obstacles on the way.
So far, this
mentorship subscription has been a great success and we look forward to
helping more people achieve their dreams.
you figure the dollar amount to spend each year?
a spreadsheet we developed and is available in
our 4th Edition,
Your Simple Path to FIRE and our book,
Retirement Dream IS Possible. This gives us plenty of data to know what percentage of our net worth we are
on a daily basis, so if we need to make adjustments we can do so in real time. We
and our average annual
spending is still under $30,000.
own a house?
We have a low maintenance, high amenity humble abode. This comfortable place in an
resort community satisfies our needs completely
when we are in the States. Otherwise, we are traveling.
How did you give up the idea of having a traditional home "with
the white picket fence?"
This is a very good
I'd be lying if I said it came easily. However, just as
Billy realized he's not his job, I realized I am not my house. These
nesting desires must be taken into consideration to find your own balance. It became clear to me that my personal craving for travel and adventure overcame
my requirement for
a traditional home. Again, we discuss this topic in further
depth in our book (Table
Also, we have added
sitting to the mix, so we stay in some very nice homes around the world.
much capital is enough? How/when did you know you were ready to retire?
When our days filled up with more "have to's" than "want to's,"
we realized we were going in the wrong direction with our lives. The amount of capital is
a personal decision, and one that needs to be thought about carefully. Financial
experts say one needs 25 times your annual spending invested in liquid assets
and apply a Safe Withdrawal Rate of 4%
or less and you should not run out of
As far as when to
retire, do not let Fear make that decision for you. Risk has a
price, and so
your investments in the stock market, were you hurt in any of the bear markets
over your retirement time period? Did it affect your lifestyle?
Did we get hurt? Sure we got hurt, but did it alter our
lifestyle? Not much if any.
We continue to travel and expand our lives
through what we learn and share. We survived the second worst bear market in history
and the Great Recession, lived
well to tell about it, and have a higher net worth now, after expenses, than
when we began in '91.
Why don’t you run out of
money? How can you have more money now than when you left your careers in 1991?
Today we have a higher
net worth after spending and inflation due to the fact that we created a
machine. What this means is that our investments create enough cash flow to
cover living expenses and higher costs of living and as long as we keep our
spending in a safe withdrawal range our assets should continue to grow. After 29
years of using this system we can say that it works.
Healthcare - What do you
do about health insurance?
This is a very common
question. We used to have
health insurance, or as Akaisha likes to call it "asset
insurance." It was a high deductible, catastrophic coverage plan and
it worked well for
us for a very long time. However, a few years ago, we decided to
During our years of retirement, we have taken care of health issues while on the road in our own
version of medical
tourism. When we visited the States, we purchased traveler's
These days, we qualify
for Medicare, so visiting the States has become easier in terms of health care
for us there.
Do you own a car? What do
you do about transportation?
car free years
The adjustment to this carless
lifestyle was easier than we ever expected. Now we don't worry about maintenance, licensing, parking fees, fuel costs
or insurance for a vehicle. In the States we hire a driver
to take us places if we cannot walk to them and share rides with friends.
Generally, we prefer walking to and from stores if at all possible.
These days there are Uber, Lyft and other transport services besides taxis, and there is always the
idea of ride sharing or sharing a vehicle.
Transportation is easy in foreign countries. Mass
transit, tuk tuks, taxis, boats and a variety of other sorts are plentiful and
is available for
a low expense. We often hire a private driver to take us places, including to
major cities for doctor's appointments. They drive us there, wait for us, and
then drive us back. Easy peasy!
Billy in a Chicken bus in
We do not have children. However, that does not mean
that those who do cannot become financially independent. We know people who have adult
children and plenty of money, but feel they cannot afford to retire or step
away from a paycheck. It's
not the kids. It's the mental fear surrounding this issue.
couples with children who have successfully broken away from conventional
lifestyles. And of course, this way of living isn't for everyone.
Will you ever settle down,
buy a house and quit traveling?
We'll probably continue to
travel until we are no longer able to do so. While we never want to say never,
at our ages, purchasing a home with all that it requires in attention,
maintenance, taxes and insurance, might not be the best use of our assets.
have any regrets? Would you do it differently?
We have no regrets, and are not sure how we could be doing it
However, you have to modify your plan to fit your needs. Oh, we
suppose we could have worked another ten years, and "really" had a pile of cash,
but then, we would not have had the experiences that we've had in the last few
decades. And neither one of us would have traded the time for the money.
believe that with some of the devastating market crashes and the loss of family
members to illness, we might have
become timid, pushing back our "Freedom Date" even further.
What have you learned by being retired for
a lifestyle, not a vacation.
The stress doesn’t stop, it just changes form.
3.) We utilize the K.I.S.S. system
(Keep It Simple, Stupid); Keeping it simple pays dividends in time and
Retirement is a work in progress, and we're in charge.
Don't take life so seriously, have fun with it!
It's later than you think!
admire what you are doing, but it sounds risky. Aren't you being naive?
When we were in our
late 30's preparing to leave the conventional workplace, people certainly did
think we were being naive and expected us to fail at this endeavor.
After all these
years we have
walked the talk
have proven that
early retirement can
not only work out, but bring major life benefits as well.
We say that Life is a risk.
There are no guarantees for anything;
health, marriage, bear markets, the unexpected, weather, tragedy. Since we
have been retired,
"survived" SARS, the Asian Bird Flu, H1N1, the Ebola breakouts,
the bear market of 2000, The Great Recession, the first Gulf War, coups in
foreign countries, the deaths of close friends and some funny traveling debacles
just to name a few.
We like what Helen
Keller says: "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature,
nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer
in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or
would you say to someone considering leaving the conventional working world and
becoming financially independent?
Know your motivation. Are
you wanting to quit a job you “hate”? Or are you pulled by your dreams to do
something different? What will you do with your time after you no longer have a
job? Do you know what your annual spending is?
Be flexible, there is no one way to do this, have your plan
and be willing to adapt to changes. Adaptability is an asset. There are many ways to live a life,
so find out what works for you. Never give up your dreams.
are you going next?
We continue to watch
for airfare deals, countries that interest us and where the currency exchange
rate is favorable and visa stays are friendly. The world is a big place!
What's Your Number? - How much money do you need to retire?
About the Authors