Retiring 20 years ago at age 38, – Was it worth it?
It’s the Holidays, a time when it’s customary to reminisce over our lives. As we fast approach the beginning of our 21st. year of retirement, we look to the New Year and wonder what the future might bring.
During one of our private two-hour lunches, Akaisha brought up the topic: “Was retiring early at the age of 38 worth it?” Wow! What a question. We each have had our share of personal ups and downs in life – before and after we retired. It was a subject worthy of discussion.
If we had stayed in our careers until the “normal” twenty years of service in the corporate world, that would have us retiring in 2006 at the age of 54, a mere four years ago. Still this would have qualified us for “early retirement” by most definitions. Assuming things would have been the same, financially we would be much better off had we continued working. With a house and our cars paid for, living near a beautiful beach with great weather in California, a corporate pension, plenty of stock market assets and cash, it would seem that we would be wanting for nothing.
Health wise, who knows? The stress of working high pressure jobs most likely would have taken a toll on our physical health. And two decades later with the aches, pains and caution that ageing brings, would we still be as adventurous and willing to try new things in retirement? And then, there is the question of whether or not we would still be together. Many of our friends are on their second marriages, and this could possibly have happened to us as well.
Of course these are all hypothetical notions as this is not the way it happened.
However, had we retired from the workplace in 2006 with a greater portfolio “traveling in style, having the good life and livin’ large” we would have been sitting pretty until the markets took one heck of a fall in 2008. With the S&P (SPY) Dow (DIA) and NASDAQ (QQQQ) all dropping over 38%, the shingles of our financial house would have been heartily shaken, making us ponder if we did the right thing by leaving work early. Is there ever the perfect time to retire? And how do you know?
Experiences vs. assets
Traveling the world for the past twenty years, we have garnered a wide range of experiences and have tested our mettle. How do you put a price on first-hand education and twenty years of living around the globe?
Since we stepped out of the corporate box in 1991, we have sailed the Caribbean, lived on exotic islands, RV’ed the Western United States, learned skills like Thai massage, scuba diving in the West Indies, and built tennis courts in the heart of Mexico. For years at a time we have lived in Asia and Mexico and traveled through both extensively. And this is not on a tour or a two week vacation but getting down and dirty with the locals, many times being invited into their homes for meals or to spend the night.
When the call came to do End of Life Care for our parents, we had the time, the energy and the patience to do so full-time, something we could never have done while holding down stressful jobs.
We consider ourselves to be global ambassadors, living everywhere and nowhere. Our style is to dive into local cultures like a roaming, self-generated Peace Corps, putting in thousands of volunteer hours teaching English, business skills and sporting activities, leaving the place better than we found it. And the learning is not just for them. Our maid is teaching me authentic Mexican cuisine and Akaisha and I continue to explore digital gadgetry as well as improve our foreign language abilities, and travel techniques. Much of this we photograph, and journal on our website, RetireEarlyLifestyle.com . Opportunities to help or mentor others are everywhere and the reward is much more gratifying than a paycheck.
After two decades of retirement, suffice it to say that no amount of money can replace the accumulation of knowledge, skills and personal confidence that our adventures have given us.
So here we are getting ready to launch into our third decade of living this lifestyle to the fullest, tasting flavors from exotic locations and ready to meet life’s challenges. While our finances might not reflect the substance of those who continued to work, no one can take away the dance we’ve danced.
The future is always filled with surprises whether one is working or retired. Life with its challenges never stops. However we can rest assured that at age 58, we have had one heck of a ride over the last twenty years and we eagerly look forward to our next decade of upcoming journeys and adventures.
So, was retiring at the age of 38 worth it? We can only say a resounding YES!
About the authors: Billy and Akaisha Kaderli left their fast-track lives at the age of 38 and started traveling the world. After two decades of on-the-road-experience, they share how you, too, can enjoy exotic travel for less than you think. To learn more about world travel and how to become financially independent, visit their website, www.RetireEarlyLifestyle.com