having children will affect my fire goals

One of the things that I needed to consider when deciding whether or not I really wanted to have children is how having them would affect my path to financial independence. Kids are crazy expensive, and take a lot of time. How could I reconcile that with what I wanted to do in life? Obviously, having children will affect my fire goals, but to what extent?

FIRE Timeline

My original plan was to quit my job in 2021. I was going to retire at 38! And by retire, I mean quit my high stress high paying job and go barista fire. In three more years, I will be fully vested in my pension and I will have earned enough to collect $1000 a month at full retirement age via pension payments. Three more working years will also ensure that I have a healthy very well-funded 401k. In fact, I’m already at coast fire for a lean fire in my 401K! Meaning that if I stop contributing now, by the time I’m 65 I’ll have enough money to withdraw about 40K per year throughout retirement. Not too shabby!

 

 

Three more years would also give me time to shore up my non-retirement savings. This would help me fill any gaps between my living expenses and my new, variable income for the next 30 years. I knew my barista fire lifestyle would come with financial concerns, and that I’d have to work to fill the gaps. But I was ok with that. I’d love to do work camping, or work part time at a nature center, stuff like that. Sounds like fun!

New Timeline

I know I will have to work at my current job longer if I choose to have kids. There’s absolutely no way around it. I have amazing health insurance, which they will need, and a solid income which will definitely cover some of the outrageous costs. However, I will not stop working towards independence. My new plan is to work until they are about school aged. This will ensure that they have amazing health insurance during the most terrifying stages when they are basically helpless, and it will also ensure that we can afford all the expensive baby stuff. I’ll also start college savings plans when they are born, and continue to fully invest in those until I retire.

My new early retirement age is about 45. I can live with that if it means I get to experience the joy of parenthood. It will also benefit me financially in numerous ways. Eight more years of pension contributions and eight more years of 401K contributions are going to add up in a big way. I won’t have to be lean FI in my old age!

Things I wanted to Do

There are some things that I wanted to do with my life after achieving financial independence that probably aren’t going to be feasible with children. The biggest one that comes to mind is my goal of traveling from Chicago to Santa Monica on historic route 66 via bicycle. That was a rather ambitious goal, and let’s be honest it probably wasn’t going to happen anyway. It’s definitely not going to happen when I’m in my 60s and the kids are finally in college!

There are tons of other things I want to do. I have a lots of reasons for pursing financial independence, and I always thought that having children would hinder these goals. I want to slow travel through Southeast Asia, spend a summer reading tarot cards at a Renaissance Faire, spend months work camping at national parks, live in a cabin while writing the Next Great American Novel. My boyfriend and I have so many hobbies, side interests, and life goals. Working a day job really interferes with a lot of them. I thought that having children would interfere with those things as well, but now I’m not so sure.

Who says we can’t bring our children with us to Asia?  Is there a rule that kids can’t live in an RV for a few months?  Can’t I home-school the kids for a few years while we, as a family, engage in these adventures?  And what an amazing childhood that could be! We would be providing our kids with a lifetime of experiences at a young age, teaching them about the world, and teaching them that life is for living. I’m sure they will teach us valuable life lessons as well.

 

Viator 

Partner’s Goals

Being married and having children also means that I have to take my partners goals into consideration. He’s totally on board with most of mine (though the bike thing and the Renaissance Faire thing both kind of freak him out) and is more than happy to do them with me. But he has goals too, and we will need to work together to balance our life goals with the main goal of raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted children.

Fortunately for us, neither of shy away from having adult conversations about our plans for the future and where things are heading. We talk at least once a week about our future goals, and we are both super supportive of the other. That’s one of the reasons why I feel comfortable having kids with him in the first place!

Having Children will affect my Fire Goals

There’s no doubt about it. Having kids will change the plan. Even considering having kids changes the plan. But I’m ok with that. Being financially independent is about living my life on my terms. My terms have changed, and that’s ok.

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Child free

As most of you know, I do not have any children. What you might not know is that I’ve never really been inclined to have kids. For most of my adult life, it just wasn’t something that I gave any thought to. However, as I’ve gotten older, I became more and more against the idea of having children. By the time I reached my early thirties, I was adamantly in the child free camp. I even told people how much I disliked kids!

Changing My Mind

But then one day, something peculiar happened. I met my boyfriend’s daughter, and I fell in love. She’s an awesome little girl with a lot of personality and a lot of heart. I also saw how amazing he was with her, and got a taste of what it would be like to be a mother. She even called me mommy! And I’m not going to lie, I liked it. I liked it a lot. I started imagining what it would be like to have my own family, and to raise kids with this awesome dad. It’s something that I couldn’t stop thinking about.

Examining My Feelings

I’m not foolish though, having a kid isn’t something I’d just rush into!  Especially after having been adamant about not wanting kids for so long. I definitely wanted to take some time to examine these new feelings before broaching the subject with my boyfriend. Do I really want my own child or could I be happy having his daughter part time? What about being around her made me want to have kids of my own? Why have I been so opposed to the idea of children?

Also, I had just started a new hormonal birth control, so I wanted to make sure that these new feelings weren’t a weird hormonal thing. I’ve had weird bad reactions to birth control pills in the past, so this definitely wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.  I thought about these questions at length (and had many girl talk sessions with my besties) to be sure that my change of heart was real and for the right reasons.

 

                                               

 

The Talk about having children

After a long examination of my feelings and waiting out changes in my hormones, I broached the topic with my boyfriend. He was shocked to say the least. I had always made it clear to him that I did not want children. However, after the initial shock wore off, he said that he was completely awed at the way I interacted with his daughter. He also thought that I would make a wonderful mother!

His only stipulation is that we get married first, to give our future child(ren) a sense of stability. He hates that his daughter lives so far away, and that he doesn’t get to see her very often. He didn’t want to have more children because he didn’t want to put another child through that separation.

 I totally understand his hesitation on that, and I agree that getting married prior to having children is definitely the way to go (I never said I wanted to have a kid right this second anyway!). I am so glad that I wasn’t afraid to have this adult conversation with him, and that we have an awesome plan for the future now.

Plan for the Future

My boyfriend and I do plan on getting married and having children in the future, but nothing is set in stone. One of us may change our minds again or it may turn out that one of us is infertile. However, right now we are both totally into the idea of having a family. So, in order to celebrate that and to think about all the variables, I am dedicating the rest of this month to blog posts about having children. It’s pretty apt too, since it’s my ninth month blogging (I couldn’t have planned it better if I tried!). This month I’ll be discussing the possibility of not being able to have kids, how kids will change my FIRE goals, why I was so child free in the first place, and any other topics on having children that comes to mind. I hope you enjoy it!

Disclaimer

One of the most common complaints I hear from the child free community is that people don’t respect their decision. People constantly belittle them by saying “oh, you will change your mind”. Yes, I was child free and yes I changed my mind. However, the vast majority of child free people do not change their minds, and I don’t want my one anecdotal experience to be used to belittle the life choices of others. So please don’t use my story to tell your child free friends that they will change their minds. They are not me, and they probably won’t. Thanks!

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