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Thinking Outside the Cubicle

A regular feature of theMotley Fool Rule Your Retirementnewsletter service is our success stories -- profiles of people who have become financially independent. One of the most remarkable stories is about Billy and Akaisha Kaderli, who, at age 38, left their fast-track lives, moved to Nevis, West Indies, and started traveling the world. We caught up with the Kaderlis, currently in Thailand, and in this article, Billy talks about the opportunities of financial independence.

Once you're retired and financially independent, you'll find opportunities to make a little spending money everywhere. Since you no longer have to work to pay your bills, you can pursue anything that interests you.

Recently, I was walking home from an artist's shop in Thailand where I had one of my photographs reproduced as a hand-drawn sepia portrait. Now my small photo is 10 by 15 inches and stunning! I'm confident it will be well received when it arrives in the mail as a gift to a friend back in the States. I've done this many times, each time with excellent results.

With my new painting under my arm, an idea comes to mind. Others might enjoy this service as well. My business sense takes over, and brainstorming begins. I could put an ad on our website with an attractive layout of the artist's work, showing him in various stages of production. If people were interested, they could send me their favorite picture electronically, specifying the size they want it drawn to. I'd then take it to the artist, and he'd proceed to create a tailor-made, one-of-a-kind treasure. I quickly figure out the prices I'd charge to reflect my time and shipping costs, and bingo! I'm in business.

This is just one example of how I could supplement my retirement with spending money earned in interesting ways.

We've met many people who come to Asia and discover they enjoy it so much they begin teaching English as a second language, thus financing their time there a little while longer. We know numerous folks, both young and old, who are doing this. In fact, Akaisha taught English years ago while we were living in Mexico. It's an easy way to pick up some spare cash, but more importantly, it's an opportunity to get immersed in a foreign culture.

This is why we say that early retirement is a lifestyle, not a vacation.

When we first retired, Akaisha created unique note cards in Mexico. People started noticing her work when she used them for thank-you notes and birthday cards. Soon, people were asking her to make them available for sale. One thing led to another, and in no time, she had a small business making art note cards. With the increasing workload, she found it necessary to hire local seamstresses and a photography shop to help her meet purchasers' demands. Slowly, she taught these local women how to produce the cards step by step until they were able to completely handle the orders and supply the retail outlets themselves.

Sure, we made a few pesos in the process, but the biggest payoff was this business, still functioning today, that provides these women and their families with income and its customers with handmade cards that are works of art.

Import your thing?
Many times, we've met travelers who tell us they make annual trips to Ecuador, Thailand, Vietnam, or Bali to purchase items for resale back in the U.S., Australia, or the U.K. It's important to understand your local market, of course (you don't want to be stuck with 100 muumuus that don't sell in Kansas), but from what I've heard and seen, it's entirely possible to cover the cost of airfare plus expenses by reselling imported items like this.

Once I bought 10 silk shirts for myself in Thailand. After showing them to friends back home in the States, they immediately offered to buy them from me. My business sense once again took over, so I kept one and sold the rest. On a later trip, I was able to replace the ones I sold and get my own. Once your mind is no longer occupied with working demands, you'll find the possibilities are plentiful.

A good friend of ours has more than enough money to be considered financially independent. He has had very successful careers and finally decided it was time to buy an RV, hit the road, relax, and enjoy his new life of freedom. One of his passions is Harley-Davidson motorcycles, of which he has a few.

He found that while traveling, it was a hassle to load and unload these huge and heavy bikes from the back of his RV, especially with his tow car attached. So after thinking about it for awhile, he came up with the design for a simple, easy-to-use lift that fits onto the back of an RV, combined with a hitch for a tow vehicle. Once he was back on the road, others took notice, and now he owns another successful business.

What could you offer society if you had free time without the pressure of going to a regular job every day to pay your bills? Perhaps your hobby or hidden talent could generate some income or be used in exchange for other services, increasing the quality of your own retirement?

Once you start thinking outside the cubicle, you can see how many opportunities there are all around you. The possibilities are endless!

Do you want to retire early, or just avoid working for the rest of your life? Be sure you're on target toward reaching your retirement goals by taking a 30-day free trial subscription of ourRule Your Retirementnewsletter service. Or renew your subscription and get a copy ofStocks 2006free.

In 1991, Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired from the brokerage and restaurant businesses to a life of international travel. Visit their website at retireearlylifestyle.com, and check out their new CD book,The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement.


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