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."
Updated October, 2017
Guatemala with Lake Atitlan in the background
Why did you retire early?
We were on a fast track, hamster wheel of life, and made the
decision to leave our jobs to pursue traveling and other interests. Many
older retired folks told us "do it now, while you're young." We heard them
and took their advice. Life isn't a game where whoever has the most money
or stuff, biggest house, or newest car wins. We assessed ourselves, created this
opportunity, and went for it.
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 no longer 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
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
wealthy beyond belief.
San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico
did your friends and family think of your unconventional plans?
Our leaving the working
world challenged the belief system of Everyone. We. Knew.
Remember, this was
before personal computers were common place, before financial forums, Skype,
blogs, Amazon, Facebook, email, and the internet as we know it today.
sit around and do nothing, aren't you bored?
interests that span a broad spectrum, and traveling always keeps things new. "We wake-up in the
morning with nothing to do, but by the end of the day, we only have half of it
done." Boredom has never been a problem for either one of us, as we
are both very self-directed people.
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.
We explain this topic in
more detail in our very popular books,
Guide to Early Retirement, A Common Sense Approach and
Retirement Dream IS Possible.
Akaisha, Casa Escobar Steak House,
you figure the dollar amount to spend each year?
We don't. We track our spending using
a spreadsheet we developed and is available in
Retirement Dream IS Possible. This gives us plenty of data to know what percentage of our net worth we are
spending, so if we need to make adjustments we can do so in real time. We
annual spending updates
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.
Versus Gals - How did you give up the idea of having a traditional home "with
the white picket fence?"
This is a very good
question. I'd be lying if I said it came easily. However, just as
Billy realized he's not his job, I realized I am not my house. These
nesting desires must be taken into consideration to find your own balance. It became clear to me that my personal craving for travel and adventure overcame
my requirement for a traditional home. Again, we discuss this topic in further
depth in our book (Table
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. 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.
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.
you do about transportation?
car free years
ago. Now we don't worry about maintenance, licensing, parking fees, fuel costs
or insurance for 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!
own a car?
As we mentioned above,
we used to own a
vehicle, but decided years ago to become
car free. The
adjustment to this lifestyle was easier than we ever expected. 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.
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. We have
couples with children who have successfully broken away from conventional
lifestyles. And of course, this way of living isn't for everyone.
have any regrets? Would you do it differently?
We have no regrets, and are not sure how we could be doing it
differently. However, you have to modify your plan to fit your needs. Oh, we
suppose we could have worked another ten years,and "really" had a pile of cash,
but then, we would not have had the experiences that we've had in the last few
decades. And neither one of us would have traded the time for the money. We
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
1.) It’s a lifestyle, not a vacation.
The stress doesn’t stop, it just changes form.
3.) We utilize the K.I.S.S. system; Keeping it simple pays dividends in time and
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 and have proven that early retirement can
not only work out, but bring major life benefits as well.
We say that Life is a risk.
There are no guarantees for anything;
health, marriage, bear markets, the unexpected, weather, tragedy. Since we
have been retired,
"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 used to say that if you want a guarantee, buy
a Sears battery. But I think Sears is having trouble these days...
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?
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!
About the Authors