"kids and fire"

 

When I first started thinking about having kids, there was one thing that I couldn’t wrap my head around. How do kids and fire go together?  I thought about how having kids would affect my own fire goals, but that wasn’t enough. I wanted to know how everyone else was planning on achieving financial independence with kids!

Bloggers speak out: Kids and Fire

First, I reached out to the blogging world. I knew my blogging friends would have awesome advice, and they didn’t disappoint!

 

Tread Lightly, Retire Early

For some people, having kids is the catalyst for pursing financial independence.  Tread Lightly, Retire Early discusses how having her first child and trying to “do it all” (as women are told we should) was exhausting, so something had to give. She was able to cut down to part time work and “live like she was financially independent”. Find out how she did it!

 

Retiring To the Road

Katie from Retiring to the Road wrote an amazing guest post about how she is able to reach fire with kids at Millennial Money Man. Her and her husband have “learned to enjoy the simple pleasures, instead of just the material BS that screams at us all day long” which I think is just fantastic. They are also raising their kids to value quality time over material items. I’m loving her plan and her advice. Read the full story here.

 

Median Millionaire

Sam from Median Millionaire also has some wise words when it comes to having children. According to Sam, “Children add to our riches, though it may take us a bit longer to retire”.  He also outlines ways to save money while raising children, which is super helpful for someone wondering how it can be done. Find out his full thoughts on kids and fire here.

 

Financial Samurai

I also found an amazing podcast on the subject. The Fire Drill Podcast interviewed Sam from Financial Samurai about the timing of kids and Fire, and he brought up some very interesting points. He admitted that kids can mess up your financial plans, but he also said that you can always readjust your finances, but you can’t always have kids. That kind of makes me worry that maybe I waited too long to figure out that want kids!  Listen to the full interview here.

 

Kids and Fire: Non-Bloggers

But I wanted to hear from non-bloggers too!  So of course, like any good journalist, I went to Reddit. I went to the FireyFemmes sub-Reddit, which is dedicated to women in pursuit of financial independence. This is the best place to get advice on all topics surrounding financial freedom from real women who are pursuing it. I got some amazing honest responses to my question there (and if anyone from there is reading this, thank you!)

Redditors Speak out

First, pretty much everyone agreed that kids can be expensive (especially childcare!). One Redditor said she was paying nearly three thousand dollars a month in childcare expenses alone!  That can really slow down a FIRE plan. Most parents had already included the cost of children into their plans though, and many chose the stay at home route to reduce costs. It was a relief to see that there were so many different ideas and options available for childcare and to mitigate the other expenses associated with raising children. 

Some parents did admit that I might not be able to achieve some of my other goals if I decide to have kids. Some children just don’t travel well. Redditor ParcelBobo explained that her child screams during car rides, and nothing she does will calm her down. I do have to accept that fact that my children’s personalities will play a role in how my future unfolds, and I’m extremely grateful to ParcelBobo for the honesty.

Many parents timed their early retirements with having kids. A lot of the answers in the thread discussed leaving work or dropping to part time when the kids reached a certain age. This gave parents the opportunity to spend more quality time with their kids. It also meant saving and paying off debt prior to having kids.

My Biggest Inspiration 

The thing that stuck out with me the most was the way most people thought about having kids. Nobody in the thread said they avoided having kids to achieve financial independence. In fact, for most people, the entire reason for pursing financial independence was their children!  But what struck me most of all is the fact that most people’s life plans included children!  I know, this is probably normal for most people, but it was strange to me!

My favorite answer was from Redditor Sugoi2, who said that one of her life goals was to have a kid. The entire point of pursuing financial independence is to live the life you want, and having kids is part of living the life I want. Sugoi2 made it so easy to understand:  I don’t need to see it as a negative, like if I have kids my goals will be pushed back. Having kids is the goal!  Thank you Sugoi2 if you are reading this, your answer was truly an inspiration to me.

Financial Independence and Kids can go together!

As you can see, there are tons of paths to financial independence that include having children. Most of them revolve around having children!  I’m really glad that I asked this question and did this research. Hearing other people’s stories, struggles, and triumphs really re-affirmed my decision to have kids. Knowing that kids and Fire really can co-exist makes it so much easier!!  And if you have a story about how having kids fit into your goals of financial independence, I’d love to read about it in the comments!

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As you know from my post about having adult conversations before moving in together, I’m all about getting difficult conversations out of the way before they are 100% necessary. So of course we would have plenty of conversations before having kids! We already had quite a few talks about what our lives would look like with children and how we would raise them.

Childcare Vs Stay at Home Parent

Given that childcare is one of the biggest contributors to the outrageous cost of having children, our first conversation was about whether one of us should be a stay at home parent.

The first thing to consider is whether it would make financial sense for one of us to stay home. With daycare costs averaging over $900 per month in the United States (and being higher in cities!) one of us could end up working just to pay for the daycare!

But there are more things to consider than just the financial. First, we would have to think about what’s best for the baby. I would assume that a parent would be more attentive to the baby than a day care worker, but maybe we could find a super awesome daycare. And, the child might miss out on some early socialization with children its own age if one of us stays home.

Another consideration is whether whoever stays home with the baby will be fulfilled in doing that. I wouldn’t want either of us to be miserable. I make more money than my boyfriend does and my job provides much better benefits. It would make more financial sense for him to stay home than for me to stay home.

But would he be happy staying home? This is something that we have discussed at length. He does love streaming video games, and being a stay at home dad would give him an opportunity to grow his audience even more. He’s more than willing to give it a try, and we are both understand that it’s something we will have to continuously readdress to make sure we are both happy. If it turns out that he hates it, we can make other arrangements.

Priorities

Many relationships suffer after having kids. There’s suddenly this brand-new person who basically requires all of your time and energy. We understand that the first year will be hard, because obviously the baby won’t be able to take care of itself. But we also understand that we have to prioritize our relationship.

I think a lot of parents get their priorities wrong. A lot of parents prioritize the kid’s needs, kid’s wants, parent’s needs, then parent’s wants. I don’t think it’s intentional.  It’s just as easy to get the child’s needs and wants confused as it is to get our own needs and wants confused.

We are going to make a concentrated effort to adjust our priorities. Our goal is to have our priority order more like this: child’s needs, parent’s needs, parent’s wants, child’s wants. We know it will be difficult, but I think it will ensure that we continue to have a healthy and happy relationship. And I think that is important for the kid’s sense of stability. A child needs to see a healthy relationship between his parents more than he needs to be coddled. At least that’s my opinion, and that is what we are going to strive for.

Discipline and Parenting Styles

It’s important that you and your partner are on the same page in regards to parenting styles. Is one of you going to be a helicopter parent while the other is more hands off? What will the rules be as the children age? How much independence are you comfortable giving them? These are things that should be discussed before having kids.

One of the reasons I didn’t want to have children is because lots of parents treat their kids like best friends, and don’t want to be the bad guy. This is not going to fly with me! I will not raise my kids to be entitled spoiled little brats who think the world revolves around them. I will also not raise my kids to be helpless. You hear horror stories of mothers going to job interviews for their kids, or still doing their laundry when they are in their twenties; and that just isn’t going to happen. I am going to be more of a free-range parent, and teach my kids independence from an early age. Luckily, my boyfriend feels the same way. We know we are going to have to adjust as the kids grow up, but I think having a game plan beforehand will make things go smoother.

Religion, Values, and Morals

I am not a religious person, and neither is my boyfriend. So, we already know that we won’t be raising our children with any religious affiliation. But what if you and your partner come from different religious backgrounds? Will you expose the children to both or will you choose one? This is an important thing to talk about before having kids.

We both want to raise our children to be good, kind people. You don’t need religion for that. We will show them by example that being compassionate and caring is the way to go, even if you don’t get anything in return.

We do differ on our political affiliations, he is a conservative country boy while I’m a liberal city girl (It’s funny to label ourselves that way, but we both lean more towards center). We both want our children to grow up thinking for themselves though. We want to provide them with the relevant information and show them how to look critically at both sides. We don’t want them to be sheep, voting for a party just because we do.

What Else should we discuss before having kids?

Obviously thinking about what we need to talk about before having kids is brand new to me. Outside of these things, I don’t have a clue! Help me out!  What am I missing? Am I way off base? What do we need to talk about before getting pregnant? Are there any disagreements that you and your partner have had that you wish you would have resolved before having kids?  Did anything pop up that you didn’t expect at all? Let me know in the comments, so we can have that adult conversation before trying for a baby!

 

 

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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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