Can You Afford To Retire 25 Years Early? One Couple Says Yes

Akaisha and Billy Kaderli
Akaisha and Billy Kaderli

If you're tired of the grind and ready for the change of your life, you might want to follow in the footsteps of Akaisha and Billy Kaderli.

Twenty years ago, the Kaderlis retired at the age of 38 and started traveling the world. Now, they're helping others find their early retirement paths via their website and the numerous books they've written.

Retiring 30 years before their peers was simply a matter of working hard, saving a lot, spending little and investing wisely, they say: "While still working, we took a look at our spending and realized that after we took all our work-related items and fixed monthly expenses into consideration, we really didn't spend that much on ourselves."

Retiring Early Requires an Attitude Adjustment

Once the Kaderlis realized that with some changes they could finance a comfortable lifestyle, they felt like they were no longer captive to their jobs, so they set out on the path toward early retirement: "We could choose whether to keep working 80-hour weeks. That's a very powerful feeling. We chose to find a more fulfilling lifestyle."

In their new book, Your Retirement Dream IS Possible, the Kaderlis provide the tools to help ordinary people achieve their retirement dreams, even in today's dire economic climate. Drawing upon their 20 years of retirement and extensive travel, they reveal how they've been able to live a gratifying, debt-free lifestyle on less money than one would think.

Here they share four things that helped them leave the 9-to-5 working world and live a more satisfying life:

1. Don't feel chained to the traditional concepts of retirement

"You don't need a guaranteed pension or health care to retire; you can create what you need and want for yourself. You just have to know how to prioritize, know what you value, and know that you are in charge of your life. Once you know that, the rest is easy."

2. Stop letting "stuff" dictate your future

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"Don't let material things take away your freedom. We see people ruled by fear and a sense of having no control over their lives, when simple decisions about how they spend their money could change everything.

People need to take a look at what is important to them and then prioritize their expenses. If they look hard, they will realize that the unpaid car in the driveway, their credit card debt, and their mortgages are not sources of happiness. In many ways, these debts keep them trapped in an unsatisfying lifestyle and narrow their opportunities and choices. Modifying their costs of housing, transportation, tax liabilities, and food is where they need to start."

Akaisha and Billy Kaderli
Akaisha and Billy Kaderli

3. Attitudes about money are not universal

"The locals are very receptive to us wherever we have traveled. We learned a long time ago to respect people everywhere, and they return that respect. In the countries we have visited, everyone is trying to improve their lives as best they can, even when they don't always have good ways to build wealth. Some cultures are very interdependent, focusing on family businesses as a manner of upgrading their standard of living.

By contrast, Europeans we've spoken with on the road have a hard time understanding that we've financed our own retirement. In our experience, they just don't have the same entrepreneurial spirit."

4. Retirement isn't an endpoint, it's a beginning

"In our 20 years of financial independence, we've spent time volunteering, traveled through many countries, and learned new languages and valuable skills. It's been more than we could have ever imagined. This lifestyle keeps us mentally and physically flexible, and our financial tracking system keeps us secure for when unexpected events happen."

The First Step Toward Retiring Early – Start Today

When I asked the Kaderlis to give me the most important piece of advice for someone considering early retirement, they pointed to understanding and controlling your spending: "Track your spending to understand what financial outlays you have. Manage your cost-per-day figure in the way we illustrate in our book. These two tools will give you great personal and financial freedom and will change your life. Then, if you are serious, rent out the house and go travel for an extended period of time. You just might never come back!"

Motley Fool contributor Dan Caplinger expects to follow the Kaderlis down their path when he's ready. You can follow him on Twitter here.