A regular feature of the Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter service is our cache of success stories -- profiles of people who have become financially independent. One of the most remarkable stories is about Billy and Akaisha Kaderli, who, at the age of 38, left their fast-track lives, moved to Nevis, West Indies, in the Caribbean, and started traveling the world. In this article the Kaderlis, currently in Thailand, talk about how important your attitude about money is to reaching your retirement goals.

The most important factor you bring into retirement is you. How you interface with the world, handle stress, and deal with new situations will most likely be the same when you retire as they are now. If you are friends with yourself, you have a strong ally. If you fight yourself at every turn, you have a formidable opponent. Are you an asset or a liability to your dream of retirement?

The amount a person needs in order to retire will vary from person to person, couple to couple. However, if you have a self-sabotaging dependence on money, it's possible that no amount could ever be enough.

In almost every study, money and how it is spent ranks as the first or second most-argued-about topic for couples and partners. If you and your spouse can improve this shared relationship with money, you will be able to reach financial goals more readily and with less conflict. Regardless of whether early retirement is your goal, becoming clear about money -- why you want it, where you spend it, and the reasons you do so -- will change your life. Do you have power over your finances, or is your money in control of you?

The right retirement attitude
There are several components to early retirement. The building blocks of the foundation are self-trust, self-confidence, and self-management. Early retirement is an inside job. If your vision of the future involves fear or deficiency, no amount of money will dissolve those feelings. Trusting yourself and your judgments of how to control your spending, and feeling good about those choices, cannot be purchased with money. If you aren't able to live within your means while you are employed, you won't be able to do it once you have retired.

The following points are worth considering:

  • Do you know your spending style? Your partner's? Are you compatible? It seems that the most common combination is the spender/saver couple. However, there are those who don't want to deal with money at all or those who think money is a never-ending faucet.

  • Having a spouse with similar financial goals helps you both to achieve them. In a perfect world, you would be looking out the same window at the same view. But that doesn't always happen. Leaving these things to chance or covering the concept in romantic notions simply confuses the issue and wastes time. It's much better to discuss these things, and on a regular basis. Chances are, one of you might be stronger in wage earning, finding bargains, or management of investments. Can you find ways in which you can take advantage of one person's strengths and minimize the weaknesses of the other? In the best possible scenario, you will both acknowledge your differences, maximize your strengths, and find a workable plan.

  • Do you know why you spend? What values are you trying to fulfill? If creativity, a sense of freedom, building friendships, feeling loved, or financial security are what you treasure, how can you get those feelings satisfied utilizing less cash or redistributing what you have?

Once you agree on what is significant to you or where you want to go, it's important to take action toward that outcome, one step at a time. At some point in early retirement, being who you are, and doing what you love to do, will replace having things.

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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.