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.
Dare to retire before 50
Martel • Bankrate.com
retirement before you're even eligible to join AARP be the quintessential
impossible dream? Not if you're consistently disciplined, focused, driven and
don't give a hoot about what the Joneses think of that beat-up Chevy in the
driveway, say experts.
to work is a philosophy increasingly questioned by those approaching retirement
age. Many are finding out they favor living instead of working, opting out of
the daily grind even before traditional early retirement at 50-something. To
tout their views, these extreme retirees are encouraging others to follow suit,
telling their stories on Web sites and in interviews.
found two couples eager to share their tales of extreme early retirement: Billy
and Akaisha Kaderli, who split their time between Chiang Mai, Thailand,
Panajachel, Guatemala, Chapala, Mexico and
Mesa, Ariz., and Sandy Aldridge and Dale Lugenbehl, of Cottage Grove, Ore.
Though their lifestyles are vastly different, they share many traits.
to roam the world
Kaderlis can count themselves as members of a small group of founders of the
extreme early retirement trend among baby boomers. Now in their 28th year of
retirement, the couple ditched their 9-to-5 jobs when they were 38 years old.
they say they would have made the same choice again, only investing sooner and
with more confidence. The Kaderlis' initial $500,000 nest egg has grown
steadily, partly because they hung in the stock market through the '90s boom and
the historic bust that followed, and partly because they've lived on an average
of just $24,000 a year. Initially, they put all their savings in a low-cost
Kaderlis say that 38 was an excellent age to retire at, because they had
accumulated life experiences through their careers: He was a former restaurant
chef and owner, and at one time, the youngest branch manager at brokerage Dean
Witter, while she continued to run the restaurant.
retired with youth, vigor and plenty of enthusiasm to venture out into traveling
the globe. Retiring earlier, we would not have acquired enough skill or
self-knowledge about how we are able to interact with the world," the couple
Kaderlis sold their home when they retired and remained homeless while they
explored the world, spending time in the Caribbean island of Nevis, as well as
in Venezuela, Mexico, Guatemala and Thailand. Some time ago they purchased a
small home in an Arizona retirement community, and split their time between
these countries and Mesa, Ariz., when not traveling.
Web site, www.retireearlylifestyle.com gives them the opportunity to
communicate with other extreme early retirees, as well as educate the younger
generation. Their advice to 20-somethings who want to follow the same path is
simple: Save everything and stay out of debt.
early retirement strikes a chord with people now more than in the past, says MSN
personal finance columnist and author Liz Pulliam Weston. While going against
the fearsome icon of the "company man" used to be part of the '60s
counterculture, Weston says she's seeing a resurgence of the attitude among
20-somethings who are rejecting the consumerism that began in the 1980s.
want more than to be chained to their desks," she says, and they have more
desire to redesign their career to have more personal meaning. Sometimes that
means working until 65, but often shifting to careers that suit their changing
today's employees are enchanted with the idea of dropping out early or not, it's
still a small group of people who can make it happen, says Weston.
have to be out of the mainstream to do this," she says, adding that in her
experience, the successful extreme early retirees are "laser-like, and don't
seem to care what people think."
from an unwavering focus on their goal and an indifferent attitude toward
amassing all the latest stuff, extreme early retirees can't be lumped into the
same category. They run the gamut from young parents to singles and dual-income
couples without children. Weston has talked to couples with as many as four
children who are living in expensive areas of the country, as well as those who
have no family ties and a cabin in the woods.
share an excitement about their lives, a desire to spend time in pursuits that
are meaningful to them, and often, an environmental conscience.
three traits apply to Aldridge and Lugenbehl, who retired more than a dozen
years ago to an eight-acre parcel in Cottage Grove, Ore., with a starting nest
egg of $135,000 each. They each contributed $50,000 to buy the land where they
built their home, and the remainder is in CDs. They live on $400 a month and
have a health insurance policy with a deductible of $7,500.
money has remained conservatively invested in CDs.
to sleep at night, so it's more important to us to know what's coming in, rather
than to maximize the possible income," says Aldridge. "We've seen too many folks
lose money rather than make money from their so-called investments."
and Lugenbehl, who retired at ages 48 and 47, don't have a television and rarely
eat out. Yet they don't feel like their life is lacking, says Aldridge.
fortunate to have found what is enough for us. I feel so totally blessed with
how much we have that I can't imagine wanting more. At this point, I'd have to
say it's more than enough to meet our needs and our wants."
extreme early retirement 'wannabes'
and Akaisha Kaderli, the "grandparents" of the extreme early retirement movement
for baby boomers, share their mantra for those seeking to follow the same path:
Work hard, spend little, save a lot and spend wisely. Their additional tips
spending and investment priorities now for the future.
100 percent out of debt, except for a mortgage.
in stocks through index and mutual funds.
the compounding effect of time by investing early.
• Seek a
partner with the same financial values.
acknowledges that the cost of living is lower where they are, but says they make
an art form out of living well on less. They grow most of their own food, shop
for clothes at yard sales, which Aldridge says is a form of entertainment for
her, and find joy in small construction and gardening projects on their
cook their own meals from scratch and volunteer to give presentations on the
environmental impact of food choices, as well as what Aldridge calls "voluntary
and I would both rather have our time," she says, "even if we end up choosing to
work hard at gardening or building. At least we're the ones determining what
we're going to do with our precious life energy."
passion outside of a career that had become a chore is a theme among most
extreme early retirees. For the Kaderlis, that meant world travel and a chance
to experience diverse cultures.
our youth and spirit of adventure," the Kaderlis say. "The opportunity to travel
to exotic locations and meet people from foreign lands has given us a global
view that no amount of money could buy."
and Lugenbehl enjoy their day-to-day life so much that the thought of
vacationing elsewhere rarely occurs to them.
exercise faithfully three days a week, and usually take a long walk on the other
four," says Aldridge. "My mother lives up here now and we take care of her. We
do all the regular garden and orchard work."
abundance of time and the freedom to choose how to spend it are the most
satisfying aspects of retirement for Aldridge. "It's being able to get up each
morning and decide for myself what I'm going to be doing that day. Honestly, I
can't think of any downside; at least there hasn't been one for me."
it's the green tinge of envy or an aversion to anyone who steps off life's
predictable treadmill, extreme early retirees often face unexpected opposition
from those around them.
when we left our jobs, we got mostly shock," says Aldridge. "Dale's mother was a
classic. She was sure we were going to go hungry and be out in the cold. That
was about 13 years ago, and it's never been a problem."
people have expressed envy, but we don't think we did anything they couldn't do
if it really was a priority for them," she adds. "Most of our work history was
part-time, and not all that highly paid."
says Lugenbehl's mother couldn't imagine how they would fill their time in
as if she thought we wouldn't be able to find things to do," Aldridge says. "My
response was to ask her what she did with her time. Not another word was said
because she realized that she'd never had any trouble in that regard."
Kaderlis said that when they first retired, people treated them like they were
on an extended vacation and would soon return to work.
thought we were committing social and financial suicide, and others projected
that we were selfish or lazy since we opted out of the mandatory working world,"
the Kaderlis say. "This included family members, friends and even strangers. Our
choice of early retirement was too far out of the box for them."
like an entrepreneur
Kaderlis and Aldridge say they have always been debt-free, except for the time
when they had mortgages, and they avoid debt now like the plague. They also live
below their means, even when their investments throw off more income.
two actions are key to the ability to retire early, says Herb Hopwood, president
of Hopwood Financial Services in Great Falls, Va.
really comes down to the fact that you can't control what the markets are going
to do, but one thing you can control is your expenses, and that's probably the
biggest thing," he says.
likens extreme early retirement to extreme sports.
sports are risky and you must be in great physical shape. Early retirement is
risky, because what you're planning is going to be for a long period of time
without income ... and you have to be in great financial shape."
initial financial plan is developed, whether informally penciled on the back of
an envelope, like the Kaderlis, or more formally with a financial planner, it
has to be monitored and changed. Setting yourself up to receive the same income
no matter how the markets perform can result in financial disaster, says
Hopwood. "The objective is not to tap the principal."
begin doing that, he says, it's alarming how fast principal erodes, leaving you
with a smaller pot from which to draw income. A portfolio should remain fairly
aggressive in equities, up to 70 percent of the total. But Hopwood cautions
against a blanket approach when it comes to what's considered aggressive.
be aggressive in allocation, and stupid in investments," he says. For instance,
he wouldn't recommend that all the equity allocation be in biotech, or growth
stocks, but in a balanced blend that will return an average of 8 percent over
recommends that clients seeking a long retirement train themselves to think like
entrepreneurs. The portfolio, rather than a job, is providing income, and like
an entrepreneur, a retiree should be constantly watching and adjusting the rate
many people adjust their lifestyle to their income," Hopwood says. "That's a
very dangerous thing to do."
About the Authors
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person – the person who prizes their
independence, values their
time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly
follow the crowd.
Retire Early Lifestyle Blog
About Billy & Akaisha