Finding FI Interview #42: Learn from 30+ Years of FIRE with Billy and Akaisha

Michael QuanBeliefs, Education, FI / FIRE, How to, Interviews, MiscLeave a Comment

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Welcome to the Finding FI interview series where we they are using.  Everyone is at different stages of their FI / FIRE (financial independence, retire early) journey, so let’s learn from their personal stories and be inspired.

Finding FI Interview #42

Today I have a special guests Billy and Akaisha who have been FIRE’d now for decades! Let’s learn how they bucked the trend long before “FIRE” had a name and what they’ve learned over the course of many fulfilling years together on this journey 

Finding FI Question #1

What’s your story?

Finding FI

We are Billy and Akaisha Kaderli.

When we first met, Billy was a trained French Chef. We traveled Europe and came back to a coastal town, Santa Cruz, California to open up our own restaurant. We were 27 years old and had no money so we purchased it with our own “no money down” strategy, before this term was invented. We paid those loans off in 2 years.

Then, after 5 years running the restaurant 365 days a year, breakfast, lunch and dinner, Billy was recruited to be a stock broker with Dean Witter Reynolds, today Morgan Stanley DW, and shortly thereafter was promoted to office manager.

Meanwhile, Akaisha ran the restaurant.

At the age of 38, in 1991, we left the conventional working world to travel the globe, before the 4% rule was created and before there was a FIRE movement.

We are now in our 32nd year of Financial Independence. In January of 2023 we begin our 33rd year.

We have lived in dozens of countries around the world, and we have utilized both Medical Tourism for our medical needs, and geo-arbitrage to make it easier on our finances. After all these years, we have more money now – after inflation and spending – than we had when we began.

Currently, we are living in a lakeside community in Mexico called Chapala, on the shores of Lake Chapala.

We still follow our passions of world travel, fine cuisine, local culture and volunteer work. In fact, looking back we have no idea how we ever found the time to work.

Freedom was the reason we left the traditional workforce and we have chosen travel as our approach to life. You can find out more about us on our website,

Michael here – Wow! 30+ years of financial independence is nothing short of amazing. I love that you found your passion for living and doing this together as partners.    

Finding FI Question #2

What types of routines and/or life hacks do you use?
A life hack would be that we created this lifestyle well before the 4% rule and the FIRE movement. We retired in 1991 and didn’t have a laptop until 1998. The iPhone wasn’t invented until 2007, seventeen years after we retired. How did we ever manage?

Finding FI Question #3

What 3 things that you are you most proud of?

We are very proud of our successful marriage that has lasted over 40 years.

We are thrilled that we have seen much of the world with a “boots on the ground” approach.

And that not only did we run successful businesses in California, but now operate an award-winning international website where we help others become financially independent also.   

Finding FI Question #4

Describe your past relationship with money. How has it evolved into your present views today? How do you want it to change in the future?

Money is an exchange that is made between our time and dedication to something – and the income that we receive. Over the years we learned to work smarter, not harder, which was to our benefit.

We also see money as a way to purchase freedom – to come and go as we like or to aid and benefit another or a cause we support. When we owned our restaurant, we learned that we needed another source of income, therefore started buying dividend-paying stocks. This smoothed out the ups and downs of our restaurant’s cash flow, and little did we know that this started us on our road to FI.

Michael here – Fascinating. I don’t usually read stories about restauranteurs and stock investing intermixed. Glad it worked out for you guys.  

Finding FI Question #5

Who taught or influenced you about money when you were growing up? What was the impact?

When we grew up, both of us had hard-working fathers who supported the traditional family. Neither of our fathers understood investing, nor was the concept of “wealth” or “working smart” ever discussed. It was the philosophy of work hard, save for the future, find value in what you purchase, buy Certificates of Deposit, have a savings account, buy life insurance.

Billy thought a little more outside the box and began as a teenager to read the Wall Street Journal stock tables. He intuitively understood having his money work for him, and initially wanted to purchase enough of a local utility dividend stock to pay his monthly utility bill.

We didn’t begin serious investing until we hit a business snag with our restaurant when we were in our thirties. This changed our lives.

Michael here – It’s funny how life can move us in different directions in unpredictable ways, although it’s not always a conscious choice.   

Finding FI Question #6

Do you discuss money or financial matters with friends and family? Why, or why not?

We have conversations with some of our family members and some of our friends, but mostly not. One would think that, since we hit Financial Independence 30+ years ago, that our family and friends would be flocking to us for advice and guidance, but such is not the case.

Everyone in our family and all of our previous friends (not the new ones we have met through our website and travel) worked until retirement age, collect a pension or inherited family money through the death of their parent. Maybe FIRE just isn’t for everyone!

We don’t understand the “secret” everyone wants to keep about money, or the fear many hold surrounding it. There is nothing mysterious about money and the numbers work the same for everyone.

Michael here – money is certainly a personal component for a lot of people. While I do my best to help those around me, if people don’t want help, that’s their choice. Like you, I blog about my journey to share with those who are interested enough to read about it if they are.   

Finding FI Question #7

What is something about yourself that only your closest family and friends know about?

We are introverts.

When we need to put ourselves out there we can, but actually, we are quite private and enjoy our personal peaceful lives together.  


Finding FI Question #8

How far along are you with your FI or FIRE (financial independence, retire early) journey?
We FIRE’d in 1991 at the age of 38 and have been living off our investments ever since.   

Finding FI Question #9

What is your household net worth? Income?
Our net worth is in the 7-figure range and our income is derived from Social Security and dividends at this point. Before Social Security we were selling shares to finance our lifestyle. Since then we just let the accounts grow.

Michael here – What a beautiful place to be! You’re leading the pack when it comes to a successful FIRE life.

Finding FI Question #10

When did you first hear about FI/RE?

We first heard about FIRE several years after we had written our first book, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement, A Common Sense Approach in 2005. (We are now in our 4th Edition, which you can find here.) We were living in Thailand at the time.

We didn’t know what the big deal was, as we had FIRE’d approaching 15 years before this term was common place. Reading about it online, we got the impression that “someone just now invented it.”

Michael here – It’s funny, when I started out blogging I had no idea “FIRE” was a term either! But, what I did know was I was after FI at an early age AND loved the idea of “retiring early” to do anything of my choosing.   

Finding FI Question #11

Why does FI or FIRE appeal to you?
We enjoy the Freedom of FIRE. It’s the best way for us to be living our lives, a self-directed bohemian style of life which suits our personalities.

Michael here – Seems like you’re got it pretty figured out. 🙂  

Finding FI Question #12

What type of FIRE are you pursuing (i.e. leanFIRE, FIRE, fatFIRE)?

Because we have used geo-arbitrage for years now, spending around $30,000 USD per year, most people in the States or Canada would say this is “lean FIRE” and they couldn’t live on that. But they do not understand.

Our current lifestyle here in Mexico would be the equivalent in the States of spending $70,000, maybe more. Perhaps they have never lived in a low-cost country. We do not go without, currently traveling about once every six weeks to other Mexican towns and Latin American countries. We also drink the finest Tequila in Mexico, El Pandilo G4, and 1579, that few could afford in the US. So, we are doing fine.

We have been supporting our traveling lifestyle since 1991, and we have more money now – after spending and inflation – than we did when we first started

Michael here – I wish more people would use geo-arbitrage to their advantage. But, I can also understand that some people find themselves locked into a specific area for one reason or another.  

Finding FI Question #13

How has life changed since reaching FI? Or, if you haven’t reached FI yet, how will it change?

There is nothing that can replace that sweet taste of personal freedom.

We come, go, do or don’t do – all according to what we want. We volunteer our time and talents for others, we write books, tell stories and run a popular website. We learn new skills, visit with family and friends, and learn about local indigenous populations around the world. It’s a National Geographic Lifestyle, one that we love.

One thing we wanted to mention is that over the years we have family members and friends who have died and never got the chance to retire. We feel Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed today as much as possible. Life is not guaranteed and we don’t know the future. What are you waiting for?

Michael here – Well said. Life is to be lived, not “worked”. With freedom comes the ability to work on our hearts desires regardless if it makes money or not. And, I find that this type of work in most impactful for the world, so we need more of it.   

Finding FI Question #14

Do you believe sacrifice is necessary in order to achieve FI? Why, or Why not?

We would prefer to call it discipline, and yes, discipline is needed to achieve FIRE.

It will not be given to you, unless you inherit tons of money. And then… because you might not know the value of what you just received, you could squander away that money and no longer be FIRE’d. We’ve seen this happen.

Tracking one’s spending, learning the language of Finance, preparing for the future of your own best life transforms you. We don’t think you can get there without that transformation. Being uncomfortable is a good thing. It causes one to grow.

Michael here – Discipline is a great way to describe the FIRE journey. And, have you noticed, once you discipline yourself, the easy it becomes?   

Finding FI Question #15

Do you actively speak with others about FI / FIRE?

Yes, we do. All the time. Mostly through our website, as we answer any questions that people ask. But also simply traveling around we meet up with those who are curious about the idea and those who have already FIRE’d. We love helping others to live their best lives.

In Summary;

Throughout the last 32 years we have seen more, experienced more, and learned more that could never have been possible had we stayed working through a traditional life. We know that this style of living isn’t for everyone, but for us, life is an adventure to be lived to the fullest. There is no rewind or replay of the days and years past.

So today is the day to make that commitment to yourself and family that you are going to create the life you want.

If you have any questions about how to live your own best life, feel free to write us at

Michael here – Wonderful! Thank you both so much for sharing your amazing story. I love that your experience extends confidence to the rest of us on this path that it’s a path well traveled and worthwhile. Come join the FIRE family!   

Readers, what is your favorite takeaway from Billy & Akaisha’s story?

Michael Quan
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