HOW TO RETIRE BEFORE 40 WITHOUT $ 1M

Cameron Huddleston

More than half of adults surveyed by GO Banking Rates said they don’t expect to retire until they’re 65 or older.

But there are people who have managed to leave the 9-to-5 at a much younger age — people like Billy and Akaisha Kaderli, who retired at the age of 38 in 1991. Over the last 26 years, they have traveled the world and lived life on their terms.

The Kaderlis didn’t win the lottery or inherit a windfall that allowed them to quit their jobs. In fact, they didn’t even have $1 million saved. The Kaderlis retired before 40 with about $500,000. If you want to grow your savings and retire early, keep reading to learn more about how they did it — and you can, too.

Find Your Motivation

If you think you want to stop working full-time, one of the important questions to ask yourself before deciding to retire is, “Why?” Billy and Akaisha found their motivation a couple years before they made the leap to early retirement.

After working as a chef for a restaurant that he and Akaisha owned in Santa Cruz, Calif., Billy made a career change. He landed a job with financial firm Dean Witter Reynolds and became a branch manager and vice president of investments. He worked weekdays, while Akaisha worked nights, weekends and holidays running their restaurant. As a result, the couple hardly saw each other. “It was not working,” Akaisha said. “Our relationship went through a real crunch.”

While trying to deal with the stress in their relationship, Billy was hearing stories from clients about how they had taken monthlong European vacations or other exotic trips. “It was a tease for me, but it let me know there were people out there who could do it,” he said.

That’s when the seed was planted. “Billy had this idea,” Akaisha said. “‘Why not see if we can live off the money we have invested and travel the world?’”

Calculate How Much You Need to Save

Once the Kaderlis got the idea to retire early, Billy started crunching the numbers to see how much money they needed to invest to make it happen. “If you want to know how much money you need to maintain your lifestyle today, you need to figure out how much you’re spending and multiply it by 25,” he said.

They figured they could live on $20,000 a year. Multiplied by 25, that meant they would need to have $500,000 saved. Billy figured that amount would allow them to withdraw 4 percent annually — $20,000 — while the rest remained invested, continuing to grow and provide enough income for several decades.

Cut Spending to Boost Savings

The Kaderlis were 36 years old when they set their savings goal of $500,000. That’s when they began eliminating unnecessary expensesto set aside more money in savings. “We started investing every penny we could,” Billy said.

Akaisha said that it wasn’t that difficult for them to cut their spending because neither one of them was a big consumer. Plus, they had a strong motivation not to spend. “We were being pulled forward by the dream of being able to travel for long periods of time,” she said. “We were thinking, ‘I’d rather be doing that than what I’m doing now.’”

Over two years, they managed to build up $500,000 in savings through investing and the sale of their home and restaurant, and in January 1991, at the age of 38, they quit their jobs.

Create a Money Machine

The Kaderlis have taken advantage of the power of compound interest to grow their retirement nest egg. While building their savings, they invested their money into index funds that tracked the performance of the S&P 500. “Since we retired in January 1991, the S&P 500 has averaged a 10 percent [return] per year,” Billy said.

So their initial $500,000 investment earned interest, and interest has continued to accrue at about a 10 percent annual rate on both the principal and the interest that has accumulated. “When you’re spending 2 or 3 percent, that leaves 7 or 8 percent that continues to grow,” Billy said. As a result, their net worth is actually higher now than when they retired.

“We created a money machine,” Billy said. “That’s why I was confident this was going to work out.”