Do you have a case of the “What If’s”?

An Interview with Brian Watkins by Billy and Akaisha Kaderli,

Special to Financial Independence Hub

We at RetireEarlyLifestyle love to bring you retirement stories of people we have met. There’s no one right way to get to Financial Independence, and we are happy to bring Brian’s adventure to financial freedom to you.

Thank you, Brian, for taking the time to answer all our questions!

Brian Watkins enjoying his last year of teaching

Retire Early Lifestyle: Could you tell us a little about yourself, and how old you are?

Brian Watkins: Hi, as of 14 months ago I quit my job as a teacher, a position I held for 22 years, and at 48 decided to travel and enjoy a different lifestyle. I wanted a life with more freedom and less obligation to debt. I had spent a lifetime accepting that debt was part of the American lifestyle and just wanted something different.

REL: What got you started investing and when?

BW: In my very first year of teaching, I was broke and struggling from month to month. At work I saw sign that read “Free Pizza….. in the Library.” Not sure what the rest of the sign said but I was down with free pizza, so I headed to the library. Little did I know that with a slice came some financial advice. By the time I left I was investing $100 a month in a 403B and only going to see a $70 difference in my check. The lesson: live on less and invest!

REL: When did you know you were ready to retire and what motivated you?

BW: At 46 both my mother and father passed within six months of each other. I really didn’t want to risk working till death. So at that point I started working on my exit plan.

REL: What do you do for income generation?

BW: When I turn 55 I will be eligible to withdraw from my pension. I have a 403B in place that will be eligible at 591/2 and I currently live off the sale of my condo. My overall goal has been to live off 4% of my total investments.

REL: What do you plan to budget annually for your retirement?

BW: I had an educated idea of what my expenses might be but purchasing your book and tracking my expenses helped me more than you’ll ever know. In my first 12 months I spent $16,542. Eight months of that was for two people. My annual budget broke down as follows:

REL: Can you share with us anything about how your portfolio is structured?

BW: My current portfolio is 75% equities, 25% bonds.  

Puerto Galera, Philippines

REL: You are one of the new generation of Early Retirees who are well versed in a digital lifestyle. How have you used this technology to enhance your retirement?

BW: I have actually learned so much from the retirees who are digitally inclined. I use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for those countries IP address that my bank blocks. I have a Google voice number so that I can call (or text) a U.S. number from Google Hangouts using wifi only.

The most important people to me have the Cash App and I can send or receive money on it and have it deposited for free (3 day waiting period) or for a fee same day.

When it comes to technology I believe in spending up and going small. However that doesn’t mean that you always need the latest and most expensive. For instance, my current iPhone 6 I bought used, then had it refurbished in the Philippines at a fraction of the cost of the U.S. and gave my old phone to my girlfriend.

REL: What has been your greatest challenge on your road to Early Retirement? Your biggest lesson?

BW: My biggest challenge was overcoming fear. Each month that passed the fear and doubt mounted and I continually got a case of the “what if’s”. Ultimately it helped me to understand that what happened after is a part of the journey. I also asked the most important question “What if I die at my desk?”

REL: What advice would you give to someone considering Early Retirement?

BW: I would highly recommend they buy your books. After I made my decision and made my plans to retire early I researched and purchased your book, Your Retirement Dream IS Possible. The book confirmed many of my thoughts on early retirement and was an extremely useful guide in the process.

REL: Do you speak other languages?

BW: I lived in Mexico for one year as a kid and picked up some functional Spanish.

REL: You are too young to qualify for Medicare, what do you do about healthcare? Are you open to medical tourism?

BW: As I’m an enrolled member of the Yurok Tribe I’m eligible for basic medical and dental through my tribe. However, during travel I pay out of pocket.

REL: Share with us your best money-saving secret.

BW: Honestly one of the best tips is from your book which is to track your spending. Knowing where the money goes helps me adjust and project future spending.

REL: What are your greatest passions in life?

BW: For 25 years I coached high school football and 8 of those I was the Head football coach. I enjoyed coaching immensely and will probably return to it in the future.

REL: Do you have a home base or own a home?

BW: Currently my home base is southern California near Victorville, where my sister and aunt live.

REL: Tell us about your greatest personal success, not necessarily finance related.

BW: I would have to say that while living on my own since I was 16, I managed to graduate from college on my own.

REL: What is a secret fact about you?

BW: At age 10 my mother moved our family to Mexico and at age 11, I made the journey back with people I hand known for a week.

REL: What are you most proud of so far in life?

BW: Coaching kids for 25 years and teaching for 22 years.

REL: What do you do for fun or entertainment?

BW: I most enjoy spending time with friends on the beach or near the lake.

REL: Where are you going next?

BW: I currently have been spending time between the Philippines, USA and Guatemala. However, I’m most interested in seeing Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.

REL: What has been the biggest early retirement lifestyle surprise?

BW: Probably the biggest has been becoming an accidental minimalist. I reduced all of my life’s possessions down to a few boxes at my sister’s house and two travel bags. My travels have caused me to accumulate experiences with great people rather than buying “things.”

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on This blog first appeared on their site

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