Author Topic: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?  (Read 6482 times)

mulescent

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How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« on: August 09, 2017, 06:47:43 PM »
Hi,

I'm a long-time MM'er, having gotten my financial house in order about four years ago.  Right now my savings rate is ~70% and everything is on automatic.  So far, so good.  But, I have a kid on the way. We're being as mustachian as we can, basking in the firehose of free kid stuff from our friends, sticking with our current 2BR/1BA digs and planning to continue our cycling lifestyle.  But, daycare in my city is 2k/mo and we can't avoid it (our incomes are each far past the stay-at-home break even point, nannies are even pricier and further-out options would require a car commute).  Saving for college is another non-negotiable expense at $500/mo.

I've been fighting pretty hard to stay motivated.  Part of me feels like the kid is a huge setback (at least on the 'staching front).  Watching my FI time horizon lengthen from a few years to a decade or more has got me down. So, I want to know: what are your best strategies for staying motivated?  How can avoid whiny-pants-ness in the face of this change?

lbmustache

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2017, 07:14:59 PM »
I think you need to look at children more as a "joy" rather than a "burden" - which may not be what you intend, but your post gives a hint of. An experience not necessarily measured in dollars.

Not exactly apples to apples, but pets are kinda similar. Do pets cost money? Sure. Could people retire 1-3-5 years earlier if they didn't have pets? Sure. Is the joy pets provide worth the extra time working? You see where I'm going here...

Personal opinion, if your path to FIRE is that important, I think the $500/mo towards the college fund can be put off (or reduced) for a little while. In 18 years, am I correct in calculating that this is over $100k, before any gains/returns? I think I got both a B.A. and M.A. at a state school for half that, LOL.

GizmoTX

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2017, 07:39:03 PM »
We finally had DS when we'd been married 24 years. Every year with him has been better than the last. Enjoy the journey every day -- you only have 18 years before s/he moves out. We love the amazing man our child has become, but I treasure the memory of every one of his years with us. Your child is a blessing, not a burden. Concentrate on making him/her the best you can, meaning teaching well & passing along your insights.

okits

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2017, 09:02:38 PM »
I scanned through some of your posting history and saw your comment about being "on the fence" about having children (and observing that desire/certainty around having kids doesn't seem related to parental happiness level once the kids are here).

I suggest you put your finances on autopilot for now, and focus on your impending new arrival.  Hopefully luck is with you, and once your sprog is here the thing you are most excited about in life is not your progress to FIRE (and not even close).  If, persistently through the first few years of parenthood, you remain focused on and down about how the kid is delaying your FIRE, have just that one child. 

To directly answer your question about motivation, I see how much happier our lives are with kids and I think about how much more fun ER will be because we have them, even if it's delayed.  I'm also more eager to get to FI because that means more time both DH and I can spend with each other AND with the kids.

Hargrove

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2017, 09:21:22 PM »
If you save some money every month, and eat out every day, and have two jobs, do you have the second job to eat out every day, or to save money every month?

The answer is your perspective.

How do you find the motivation? Well, to do what? Are you working a few extra years to save your FIRE, or are you working a few extra years to safeguard a new life you intend to be responsible for?

WSUCoug1994

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2017, 10:06:41 PM »
As the father of a 16 month old daughter (I am 45 years old).....I will tell you that whatever kind of time that it adds to your "plan" you will receive 1000% in return from this experience.  I guess I don't know you well enough to know that but for me it has been the best investment I have ever made.


MommyCake

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2017, 04:23:05 AM »
My daughter is also 16 months (and funny enough her father is 45!) and we have another on the way.  WSU is right.... the joy of having a child is worth the financial setback, more than you can imagine. Daycare is expensive and yes, I do agree that $500 a month college/whatever savings is right on point.  I say "whatever" because we have agreed that if college is free by then (like in NY state) or if she gets scholarships, we will still use this money for her in some way.  House and wedding/whatever. 

I have found that I am hustling harder with the motivation to provide more for my daughter/children.  Early retirement is still my goal, but more important is the desire to provide well.  Knowing my children will be able to attend any school they choose and will never go without anything is more satisfying than early retirement.  I actually don't NEED to be working, we would still be fine without my salary... I continue to work because I am working on saving and investing for my children.  You will see (though maybe not in that first month when you are so sleep deprived you can't think straight) that your baby is going to trump everything.

2Cent

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2017, 06:00:06 AM »
Day care can be cheaper if you can find a good au-pair. And you get some help in the house to boot. 

TheGadfly

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2017, 07:14:04 AM »
I don't have kids and may not have any for awhile but I have a friend who found a nice work-around for day care.

He and three of his close friends (all of whom have children) each pay $750 per month to hire an experienced nanny (or two? I'm not sure) to take are of their children at home. From what I understand they rotate houses each week. It's still pricey but you end up with a well-qualified (not to mention well-paid) caregiver at a fraction of the usual cost of daycare. I might be getting the details wrong but its a cooperative approach to daycare.

I imagine this wouldn't work for everyone's situation but if you have a few close friends with children, it's an option worth looking into.
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NeonPegasus

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2017, 07:31:48 AM »
1. Childcare is expensive, for sure. That price seems really high though you may be in a high COL area. Most care around here is $1-1.5k/mo. Anyway, investigate alternatives such as a nanny share or in home childcare.

2. You don't HAVE to save for your child's college. And there is no law that says you can't wait until your kid is out of daycare to do so. Maybe you don't save now and then save whatever you were paying in childcare later. Also, you also can just keep saving that $500/mo for you guys and then choose to use it for your child's college if necessary. If you are hoping to FIRE before the kid reaches college, then your income may be low enough that your kid can attend one of the ivies who give free tuition to kids if their parents have incomes below ~$100-125k. There are plenty of ways to pay for a kids' education, including using your Roth. So, if you are saving 70% of income, I'm betting you've exhausted your tax advantaged options. If so, having a kid will actually enable you to use an additional tax advantaged avenue.

To address the bigger picture, though, you knew a child would be an additional cost, right? You obviously agreed to have one because of the non-monetary benefits. Perhaps taking a step back and reevaluating your priorities is in order. Money is not everything, nor is early retirement. And as a mom of 3 who is on track to FIRE pretty soon, I can tell you that early retirement with kids will not be the same as early retirement as a childless couple. Our lives will be constrained by the children and their school schedules and needs until they're out of the house. In fact, the biggest reason we will continue working in our business after FI is because we will need something to do while they're at school. Any earnings will be gravy to fund travel during their breaks as well as bump up college savings.

yachi

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2017, 07:39:49 AM »
I understand prioritizing a college education.  I think viewing the $500 per month as something separate from the rest of your stach is limiting.  If your savings rate is 70% though, you should be reaching FIRE before your kid reaches college age.  At that point you will be more flexible than today and could:
1) work a job at a college for tuition assistance
2) Control your income for maximum student aid
3) Move to another country for cheaper education options
4) Move to a town close to your kid's college to save room and board costs


jjandjab

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2017, 07:58:03 AM »
I'm a mid-40s parent with three kids from 14-17 and facing three college tuitions shortly, assuming the all go. As others have said, just enjoy them. Time passes very quickly. I can tell that changing your mustachian ways might be hard given you are so successful at it - 70% is amazing.

But don't overlook that enjoying time with your kids and spending money on them/with them can be awesome. We actually had a discussion at dinner not long ago, and all five of us had so much fun telling stories about travel and activities (some very expensive - such as 2 weeks in Hawaii from the East Coast), but we couldn't remember much about the "stuff". They all still have maybe a stuffed animal or blanket that they love and are falling apart from early childhood, but most everything else material has come and gone. So nice that you are using stuff from other people

I guess I am getting at that it would be good to continue to be frugal, but not too frugal. Life should be enjoyed at all times, not just at some point in the future when you hope that being FIRE'd will bring you joy. Your kid(s) will bring you lots of emotions, (not just joy as evidenced by my 17 year old son...), but it is overall an amazing experience.

As far as college savings, given your are already disciplined, I agree with the sentiment that you may not have to earmark $500 month for that yet. While some find it useful to categorize, others just look at the overall financial picture. The only caveat is whether you state gives a tax break for 529 contributions as that can be very worthwhile. And college will likely still cost something (the "free" in NY state is for "tuition", which is often a surprisingly small part of the bill as the fees, housing, food are way more expensive). But there is always the chance your child will choose something non-college related - plumber/tradesperson or something else entirely. So save yes, but if it causes angst, then just continue saving as you have and it sounds like you will be in great shape 18 years from now

englishteacheralex

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2017, 08:37:23 AM »
Couple of thoughts, acknowledging the fact that not everybody feels this way:

1. You have to get away from the mentality that life is about building up a pile of money. The pile of money does not exist for its own sake. It exists to serve your life. I think it's easy to get sucked into the daily habit of excitedly watching your numbers tick ever upwards on the net worth trackers, and forget what those numbers are actually for.

2. Most people, myself most definitely included, find that having a child is an incredibly rich experience that deepens meaning and purpose in their life. It takes a while for this feeling to kick in. At least it did, for me. When I was pregnant with my first, it just seemed like a huge drag. The baby was planned because on a rational level I knew that having children was something I wanted to do, but it was one of those things that was like going to the dentist--"this is the right thing to do but I sure don't feel like doing it." I didn't feel like putting my body through pregnancy, didn't feel like putting our mega savings on hold, and definitely didn't feel like dealing with the huge curtailment of freedom and fun with my husband that having a child would entail.

That feeling didn't wear off with my son's birth. If anything, it actually got worse. Newborns are not very charming when you have a dentist mentality about them.

Fortunately, my underlying belief that having a child would be something that would be worthwhile in the long term turned out to be correct beyond my wildest imagination. The kid grew. He started getting cute. I started getting used to sleep-deprivation. My husband started stepping up. We had some tough conversations and learned to love each other better through the relatively small hardship that having a kid represents. And our friends and family came through for us. $1500/month daycare kinda got absorbed into the budget and we found we were still able to save quite a bit.

Had another kid, a girl this time. Fun right from the start. Even pregnancy wasn't so bad. Didn't feel like the dentist. Just felt like an incredible adventure. More money for daycare? Cool, take my whole wallet. I don't care anymore. I have these two little kids to love. Worth much more than a pile of money growing larger by the month.

3. Saving for college is a small priority for us. We got a gift of $25k from my uncle right before our first was born, and we threw $10k of it into a 529. Since then we've been putting $50/month in, and my mom gives the 529 a couple hundred for birthdays and christmas. That's going to be the extent of our college savings for both kids--about $1000/year on top of the $10k at the very beginning. Not enough to cover everything, for sure. Our strategy is to pay off our mortgage by the time the first is a freshman in high school, and when the kids are in college we'll have enough savings for about 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of college. Without rent/mortgage, and considering the fact that our projected net worth should be around 1.5 million by then, we figure we can cash-flow the rest.

4. Daycare is horrible from an expenses standpoint. It's also very time-consuming to find a good option that is reputable AND an acceptable commute. We've had great luck with care.com and also tapping into an extensive social network to find good caregivers. Right now I lucked into a wonderful situation with a work friend of mine who gave birth to her first about four months after I had my second. She didn't want to go back to work, so she's babysitting my second for $250/week (I'm a teacher and get a lot of time off, and it's hard to find childcare arrangements that are ok with you taking the kid out during school breaks and not paying them. She's ok with it: huge savings for us). She happens to live right at my job, so I just park and walk the baby over to her house. Mamas who want to make extra money by taking in an extra kid can be a great, affordable option. Yeah, a little sketchy, potentially. You have to really put the word out and work your social contacts. We've had three such mamas over the years and they've been amazing, though. So it can be done.

5. Our life goals don't include early retirement. We save a ton of money, but we also give about 18% of our gross income away because that's one of our core values. I mention that because our paradigm is a little different--we see our jobs and our children as integral to a rich, meaningful life. We don't see our jobs as a distraction from what we really want to be doing with life, so it's not a priority for us to get away from our jobs. So seeing the ~$2k/month fly out the door for childcare isn't quite the gut-punch it would be if our paradigm were early retirement.

That being said, I've found that it doesn't pay to get into a scarcity mindset when it comes to worthwhile things in life. Mustachians are used to having a scarcity mindset--hey, don't buy that shiny new gewgaw, it's not worth the money when you compound that price over years. If you buy that shiny thing, you won't be able to afford the things that really matter. Scarcity. There are only so many resources to go around. Helpful for silly nonsense purchases that don't add real value.

Not helpful for things that are truly meaningful. When you put money into things that are about more than yourself, somehow the money just adjusts. Daycare gets absorbed. You make more money. Your expenses go down to make room. It works itself out. Having a scarcity mindset about everything just leads to...scarcity.

That's kind of woo, but I'm sticking to it.

TL;DR: When you have a kid, motivation grows and changes. It works out. Most people find it to be worth it, at least in the long run.
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NeonPegasus

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2017, 09:07:40 AM »
Just felt like an incredible adventure. More money for daycare? Cool, take my whole wallet. I don't care anymore. I have these two little kids to love. Worth much more than a pile of money growing larger by the month.

I love this. I can identify with the "take my whole wallet" feeling. You're right. Priorities just change. My number one expense is $30k/yr for private school/childcare. We are very open about finances with my kids and I've told them that we could take vacations in HI (a big deal for us Georgians) twice a year if we weren't paying for their school. But we choose to pay for their school because their education is that important to us. At first, they thought that they'd prefer HI but are now pretty grateful they get to do all these cool things at school.

When I started this journey 10 years ago, I was choking at paying $900/mo for childcare. I couldn't wait for the day she qualified for GA's free pre-k. Then I realized that I wanted better for her and I could do better for her. And I wanted that for my other two kids who followed. What good is having that money and having two awesome vacations each year if they are miserable at their school all the other days? Or retiring a few years earlier?

* At this point, I feel I should point out that I am not anti-public school but the GA free pre-k program would have held my oldest daughter's academic progress back. We tried public school again in 1st and in spite of being in the gifted program, she was incredibly bored and started acting up. We had the option to send her to a private school that was much more academically engaging so we did. And also, they will all be going to public again starting next year because we'll be moving into an amazing district.

CNM

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2017, 09:08:15 AM »
Childcare is a large expense, but it is temporary. 

That was my mantra when our child had a nanny ($$$$), day care ($$$), and preschool ($$).  Now he is entering public school ($).


cats

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2017, 09:11:58 AM »
We were basically you two years ago.  Kid on the way, high savings rate, daycare was going to be $1500-2000/month, and our incomes were such that a SAHP made no financial sense.  Ultimately, we wound up in a $2k/month daycare (don't know where you are, but in our area, spots for <2 years old are tight so there may really only be one or two options available at the time you need it).  We briefly tried a nannyshare, but hiring a nanny to look after 3 kids (grouping together with 2 other families) was also around $2k month since we wanted to do it legally...paying payroll tax and all that.  Paying under the table will save you $$ but personally I felt I couldn't handle the stress of knowing I was dodging that much tax money over an extended period, and potentially also of employing an undocumented immigrant.

Anyway....flash forwards to the present, we have an 18-month old and are still paying out the nose for daycare, but our savings rate is still quite high and we are on track to FIRE ~2020 (when we will be 38/39).  What happened:

1) Aside from daycare, our other living expenses have mostly stayed the same or declined slightly.  We actually spend less money on food now because we cook more simply and do less frequent shopping trips.  Our non-baby household expenses went down $4k the year we had the baby (2016), and seem on track to stay lower this year (2017).

2) Income increased: I have gotten a couple of small raises and my husband got a pretty substantial raise...the increase in take-home pay post-baby is more than the cost of daycare, so we're coming out ahead there. 

3) Tax situation is somewhat improved.  If your employer offers a dependent care FSA, the first $5k of childcare expenses are tax free.  And you have a dependent to lower your tax burden somewhat also.  No, it doesn't cancel the cost of daycare, but it helps to soften the blow.

We are not explicitly saving money for college, but as our kids will still be quite young when we FIRE, our "number" has some annual costs built in for them.  So when they get to be college age we could potentially use the lump sum funding their 0-18 years annual costs to pay for college...from what I have seen of cost projections the lump sum would cover a majority of the cost of an average state university for four years.  I am expecting also that we won't 100% pull the plug on earning money once we FIRE, so we can always use "extra" post-FIRE money for funding things like college.  Our FIRE date also assumes we aren't going to have any big jumps in income between now and 2020, but in reality, I would say we are each likely to get at least one more large-ish raise, so that may also take care of the college fund issue.

mulescent

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2017, 10:18:40 AM »
Hi,

I just want to say thanks for all the thoughtful and helpful replies!  It's particularly helpful to hear positive stories about how your goals/values shifted around kids, once they arrived.  In that sense, I can't wait for mine to be here.

lbmustache

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #17 on: August 10, 2017, 10:24:23 AM »
Couple of thoughts, acknowledging the fact that not everybody feels this way:


I really loved your post!

Laura33

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2017, 11:08:01 AM »
Watching my FI time horizon lengthen from a few years to a decade or more has got me down. So, I want to know: what are your best strategies for staying motivated?  How can avoid whiny-pants-ness in the face of this change?

For me, it's really, really simple:  once my kids were born, my primary goal in life became "what's best for them?"  I work for them.

But that just happened organically.  I don't think you can force it.
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Pigeon

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2017, 11:30:04 AM »
Watching my FI time horizon lengthen from a few years to a decade or more has got me down. So, I want to know: what are your best strategies for staying motivated?  How can avoid whiny-pants-ness in the face of this change?

For me, it's really, really simple:  once my kids were born, my primary goal in life became "what's best for them?"  I work for them.

But that just happened organically.  I don't think you can force it.

This.  We made lots of decisions about the kids that put off FIRE a few years.  I don't regret any of them.  If the absolute shortest route to FIRE was the most important thing to us, we wouldn't have had kids.  Having kids made me lighten up about a lot of things and taught me much about what's really important in life.

mm1970

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2017, 12:44:08 PM »
Day care can be cheaper if you can find a good au-pair. And you get some help in the house to boot.
not with a 2BR/1BA

caracarn

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #21 on: August 10, 2017, 12:58:58 PM »
To the OP, as others have said, kids are certainly expensive but if you look at it that way only you will be down.  See the thread I started about my wake up call into the realities of the college financing situation and how ticked the whole system makes me.  I'd never trade the kids, but yes, the FIRE situation goes away or takes a back seat, especially if you have several. 

It sounds like you need to take some time and adjust your perspective.  You have a kid on the way, so deciding that having kids is a bad idea is now not a choice you can make without being really crappy to at least once person in this world (your kid and maybe your spouse).  It would suck to grow up hearing a parent grumble about how they missed early retirement because I was born.  Not saying you'll do that, but focusing on how the accumulation will get slower may drive you closer to that extreme than you want to be.  You can look forward to being told how your 30% savings rate is terrible, as has happened to me on this board.  :)  But in the meantime, you'll have extra people who love you in this world, and isn't that worth some decrease in savings?

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2017, 05:39:09 PM »
When you have kids, you priorities change.   I was motivated to worked really hard before kids to have have the finances to do what makes me happy in life.  Now that  have kids, my motivation to provide them a happy life which makes me even happier.

Don't look at kids as the cost but rather the enjoyment.  Without kids, we could have retired by now in our early 40.   Now, I worry about if they hpwill have enough for their university, and enough to make it out on their own, and have planned retirement for when the youngest finishes her post grad.   So about 16 years later than when we may have retired.   Totally worth it.   I am even more motivated now to save in order to fire so I can travel to see my kids when they go away for school. 

damyst

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #23 on: August 12, 2017, 01:13:34 AM »
My wife and I were always appalled by the idea (expressed or implied) that, once you have kids, you are supposed to live vicariously through them, and forfeit your other pleasures and dreams.
We are now raising our own son (and we are fond of him in the extreme), but we only made the decision to have him after finding some good role models who disproved that idea.
We also set some ground rules ahead of time:
1. Neither of us would give up his/her career.
2. Parents have rights too.
3. Just because other families around us are doing things a certain way, doesn't mean we have to follow suit.

Our situation, two years down the road, is pretty similar to what the OP describes: small apartment, cycling as primary means of transportation, expensive daycare.
We buy kids stuff used whenever possible (better for the planet as well as the budget).
We cook more at home (yet the kiddo still eats out a lot more often than we did growing up).
Our savings rate hovers around 50%. FIRE is still very much in the plans. However, like NeonPegasus noted, the presence of a child will likely have a profound effect on the retirement experience, not just on the start date.

Some previous commenters here have essentially dedicated all their past and future wealth to their kids. That doesn't work for me. Our child, growing up in a financially secure family in a first-world country, is already starting his journey with a good dose of privilege. Postponing our retirement by several years so that he can go to a private school is not a reasonable trade-off in my book.

As for saving for college: Mustachians don't normally need to "save for" something. The idea of "saving for X" is premised on the assumption that any dollar not "saved" will be spent in short order. In OP's case, if the money didn't go to the college fund, it would just go into your stash instead (right?). So do make use of any tax-advantaged education savings plans you have access to, but otherwise don't worry about it until you're closer to FIRE.

There is literally no limit to the amount of money one can spend on their children. But money doesn't buy happiness for kids, any more than it does for adults. I'd rather use the money to buy control of our time, so that we can all grow up together.

Little Aussie Battler

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #24 on: August 12, 2017, 02:58:51 AM »
I have 2 very young kids. I love them, and there have been some amazing moments with both, but on balance my life was better before they arrived.

I hope that this assessment changes as they grow older.  I've been pretty open about my experience and feelings, and have discovered plenty of other parents who feel the same way.

They are also relatively expensive, but that part hasn't bothered me. If anything, I'm even more motivated because whatever free time I previously had has now been lost, and the thought of finishing work is even more appealing now.

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2017, 03:32:20 AM »
I've learned that you need to loosen up a bit regarding money after having a child.

Life is objectively more difficult for me and my wife now that we have a kid.  Time is in shorter supply, opportunities for closeness are reduced, tempers run higher, demands from relatives are greater.  It's possible to save a lot of money by doing the things you're already doing . . . but you have to come to grips with the fact that you'll be spending more.  Sometimes this spending will simply be to make your life easier for sanity's sake.

(I do love my son, and there are some great times in the mix as well as the bad.  That said, it's very hard raising a kid.  Anybody telling you different is blowing sunshine up your ass.)

Hargrove

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2017, 07:20:50 AM »
My wife and I were always appalled by the idea (expressed or implied) that, once you have kids, you are supposed to live vicariously through them, and forfeit your other pleasures and dreams.
We are now raising our own son (and we are fond of him in the extreme), but we only made the decision to have him after finding some good role models who disproved that idea.

Thank you. The most common camps seem to be "you wanted to retire and then you have a kid and life changes," or else "you know, I didn't really spend much more having a kid except on the dreaded daycare and college."

On the one hand, I think you absolutely have to loosen up more. On bigger-ticket items, though, I find myself scratching my head. My thinking is that I'm not sure I want to send the kid to private school or assume his college bill before he's even born. I want to teach my kids credit young, and, yes, even trust them with credit responsibility in high school (one of those $250 secured cards). They can take out their own loans to go to college and switch majors 6 times if they feel like it. After they're done, I will probably give them a gift to help with the probable debt or as a prize for beating it, but they're not going to go in partying and ignoring scholarship opportunities because dad has the bill.

When I was in college, I watched a scholarship director basically beg kids to apply for scholarships the department couldn't give away. The kids actually answered that their parents paid the bill already, and were blown away when the director asked if they didn't think Mom would be excited to get a refund. That's not just about the money - that's about character, too. I disagree with the sentiment that "parents work for their children." Ideally, parents, and parent-parent bonds, shouldn't be competing in a zero-sum game against children and the parent-children bonds, or assumed to be irrelevant if the kid wants something. One of the best things a child can have growing up is a united, strong parenting team.

I also know a guy whose daughter went to college, switched majors, dropped out, went back, new major, dropped out. He cosigned, she stopped paying. At what point is it ok to question the race to consume, without reflection, for our children, the same way we do for so many other things?

Laura33

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2017, 12:54:35 PM »
I disagree with the sentiment that "parents work for their children." . . .  At what point is it ok to question the race to consume, without reflection, for our children, the same way we do for so many other things?

OK, so I am one who said I work for my kids, and I think that has been misinterpreted.  What I meant was that once I had kids, every decision got filtered through the prism of "what is best for them" -- with "best" meaning "in their long-term best interest."  Sometimes that involves spending (e.g., saving for college). Sometimes that involves intentionally choosing not to spend (e.g., when DD always wants to eat out as entertainment - no, that is not how we live).  Sometimes that involves outsourcing (e.g., I have cleaners both for my own sanity and because it frees up more time to spend with my family doing things we enjoy).  Sometimes that involves intentionally choosing not to outsource (e.g., cooking meals at home and teaching kids how to cook).

It's not about working 60 hours a week to make lots of money to buy my kids the best consumer childhood ever.  It's about evaluating every decision through the lens of which option is going to best help me raise healthy, reasonably happy kids who are capable of supporting themselves and moving out of my damn house and being productive, non-entitled members of society.
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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2017, 01:20:07 PM »
I find myself on both sides of the developing dispute here :-)

On the one hand, I think French parents are right to be kind of appalled at how American kids are the monarchs of their families. No. The parents are the bosses, the kids do what they're told, and life doesn't suddenly become all about them. Having kids shouldn't mean that for sixteen years you can't hold an adult conversation in your own house.

On the other hand, I found parenthood totally transformative and wonderful, and a big part of that was finding that I just didn't belong to myself anymore, and I didn't own my own time. Having been one of those monarch kids myself, that was a strangely liberating experience. It doesn't matter what I want: if the baby needs a new diaper you change 'em, if they're hungry you feed 'em, and that's all there is to it. It doesn't *matter* what I want.

So I don't know. Dive into parenthood and see what you find :-)

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2017, 01:45:20 PM »
I find myself on both sides of the developing dispute here :-)

On the one hand, I think French parents are right to be kind of appalled at how American kids are the monarchs of their families. No. The parents are the bosses, the kids do what they're told, and life doesn't suddenly become all about them. Having kids shouldn't mean that for sixteen years you can't hold an adult conversation in your own house.

On the other hand, I found parenthood totally transformative and wonderful, and a big part of that was finding that I just didn't belong to myself anymore, and I didn't own my own time. Having been one of those monarch kids myself, that was a strangely liberating experience. It doesn't matter what I want: if the baby needs a new diaper you change 'em, if they're hungry you feed 'em, and that's all there is to it. It doesn't *matter* what I want.

So I don't know. Dive into parenthood and see what you find :-)

I think its a balance.  I share the exact sentiments as Laura33.  I work and make decisions on what is best for the kids, and my family.   They are not mutually exclusive decisions, but can contradict.   I had to make a. Erg tough choice of stepping back at my career I. Order to spend more time with my kids.  It meant taking a pay cut, at a lower position that I don't enjoy as much.   In exchange, I don't have to put on 60 to 80 weeks, I can see my kid after a normal 40 week, and have flebiloty to leave when I need to.  I sacrificed a great job, that was pretty much the only thing I could to have more balance.  If I didn't have kids I would have gone for the job. I ad to look at it that my kids are only young once and there will be many jobs I want in the future.

In our house, the parents are the bosses, but it doesn't mean it's a totally dictatorships.   We take on account their needs, desires, and they can provide input in th decision making but we have final say.   Out kids are privileged, even more than just winning the birth lottery of being a fist world country.   However, it's also been out job to teach them not to be entitled, and that they need to make decisions based on what is best as the family unit.   Just as we look out for them, they look out for us. 

Everything we had done is a choice.   We know we could still retire earlier and spend less on the kids now, but we don't want to.  So knowing that we made that choice, makes me happy. 

Hargrove

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #30 on: August 13, 2017, 10:45:27 PM »
I disagree with the sentiment that "parents work for their children." . . .  At what point is it ok to question the race to consume, without reflection, for our children, the same way we do for so many other things?

OK, so I am one who said I work for my kids, and I think that has been misinterpreted.

When I say "consume," in this context, I mean also many of the sacrifices parents can make for the children. I do feel that some parents can get carried away with sacrifices (like the assumption of a college fund), which are also consuming resources. I mean consumption in terms of more than just "stuff" bought. I mean the total sum of education, healthcare, time, the house by the great school, the college fund, and so on. Sometimes parents are affected by too much sacrificing; sometimes the race to "sacrifice enough to..." can do more harm than good. It's the kind of sentiment that leads many to buy houses they can't afford to get into districts they want to send kids to colleges they also can't afford and so on, creating a desperate cycle well before the kids have realized how much responsibility it's creating for them. Putting any brake at all on that causes some parents tremendous guilt. For some, it's an identity crisis.

I am sensitive to language that suggests a kind of subordinate position of parents to children, and in that respect, my referenced post says something about me if not necessarily about you. I am adamant about the parental team being united, which is probably good, since I just got engaged this weekend. :)

I am not trying to judge how you personally see "doing the best" for your kids, I am just looking to share that I think a lot of parenting language has shifted to minimize the role of parents (which can threaten them and therefore, indirectly, their children). I do not mean to suggest you agree or disagree, but that I find language like "I work for my kids" potentially harmful. At best, it can surely be an indication that major priority shifts have put the long-term needs of children first. That, I'm definitely on board with! At worst, though, it can minimize the identity of the parents in a way that can threaten parental relationships and children growing into their own. I don't think you are necessarily saying "sacrifice anything at any cost immediately," but I do think some are closer to that on the spectrum.

I think most of the disagreement is on the speed-to-sacrifice and the language different posters use to describe it. On the general point of doing the best you can for your kids, I think we're all on the same page. The nuts and bolts of that are what separate, say, American and French parenting culture.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2017, 10:50:20 PM by Hargrove »

Laura33

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #31 on: August 14, 2017, 10:28:47 AM »
I disagree with the sentiment that "parents work for their children." . . .  At what point is it ok to question the race to consume, without reflection, for our children, the same way we do for so many other things?

OK, so I am one who said I work for my kids, and I think that has been misinterpreted.

When I say "consume," in this context, I mean also many of the sacrifices parents can make for the children. I do feel that some parents can get carried away with sacrifices (like the assumption of a college fund), which are also consuming resources. I mean consumption in terms of more than just "stuff" bought. I mean the total sum of education, healthcare, time, the house by the great school, the college fund, and so on. Sometimes parents are affected by too much sacrificing; sometimes the race to "sacrifice enough to..." can do more harm than good. It's the kind of sentiment that leads many to buy houses they can't afford to get into districts they want to send kids to colleges they also can't afford and so on, creating a desperate cycle well before the kids have realized how much responsibility it's creating for them. Putting any brake at all on that causes some parents tremendous guilt. For some, it's an identity crisis.

I am sensitive to language that suggests a kind of subordinate position of parents to children, and in that respect, my referenced post says something about me if not necessarily about you. I am adamant about the parental team being united, which is probably good, since I just got engaged this weekend. :)

I am not trying to judge how you personally see "doing the best" for your kids, I am just looking to share that I think a lot of parenting language has shifted to minimize the role of parents (which can threaten them and therefore, indirectly, their children). I do not mean to suggest you agree or disagree, but that I find language like "I work for my kids" potentially harmful. At best, it can surely be an indication that major priority shifts have put the long-term needs of children first. That, I'm definitely on board with! At worst, though, it can minimize the identity of the parents in a way that can threaten parental relationships and children growing into their own. I don't think you are necessarily saying "sacrifice anything at any cost immediately," but I do think some are closer to that on the spectrum.

I think most of the disagreement is on the speed-to-sacrifice and the language different posters use to describe it. On the general point of doing the best you can for your kids, I think we're all on the same page. The nuts and bolts of that are what separate, say, American and French parenting culture.

Thanks for the explanation.  I do tend more toward the free-range parenting style, which means my version of "what is best for the kids" includes opting out of the parenting/overscheduling arms' race; I generally set guard rails as wide as I think the kid's personality/maturity can manage, and then let them go.  And I personally don't feel like I have sacrificed very much, other than the standard stress of periodically having too much happening at once.  :-)  So I think in the end, you and I are largely in agreement, even on much of the nuts and bolts.

I guess what I was trying to express -- and failing because there are no adequate words -- is how quickly and automatically my perspective shifted as soon as my first kid arrived.  Keeping her safe and helping her grow into an independent, good adult became THE most important thing in my life.  Not the only thing in my life, mind you; I am far too selfish and need plenty of sleep and downtime and become a royal raving bitch if I don't get it, not to mention that I enjoy working out of the house and had no intention of giving that up.  So there was not going to be any martyr mom act here.  But when push comes to shove -- when I am on a client call and the school nurse calls that DS needs to go to the ER -- I don't even think twice.  I tell the client I have an emergency, and head to urgent care (broken foot, thanks playground ice!).  When we all had the flu, I got the kids to the bathroom floor before I collapsed alongside them.  If there's a fire, I get them out first.  Etc. etc. etc. [And it's not "kids vs. DH" either -- we are totally aligned in that and are a team; he's the one who finally managed to get out of bed and clean us all up once we were done hurling]

And at the same time, "work" was no longer just something I did so I could afford to ski or scuba dive, or prove to everyone how smart I was -- it was Putting Food On The Table for my family, and keeping a roof over their head, and putting clothes on their back, and paying for their college!  It was worthy:  I wasn't working for more trappings and frills and geegaws, or my own ego, or any of that extraneous stuff; no, I was working to support a little critter who needed me to bring home money for food and clothes and such -- and to come home with big hugs and joy to see her.  And that seemed far more important, more real, than any of the other stuff that I had been caught up in before.  Becoming a parent basically changed how I viewed many things; it forced me to focus less on ego and bright shiny things, and more on what really counts.

Now, many mature, well-rounded people will realize all of these things without having kids; for a smart woman, I can be kinda slow sometimes.  So as always, YMMV.  But "I work for my kids" is the only way I can think of to try to encapsulate that huge change in mindset, at least in less than a dissertation-length treatise -- it's not about the "work" or the "kids," it's about the "for," if that makes any sense. 
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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #32 on: August 14, 2017, 11:43:27 AM »
Seeing other families with FI in mind is what motivates me!  It can be done, even if your savings rate slows a bit, it is temporary.  Kids don't have to cost a ton, and if you are making enough that day care makes sense, good for you, that means you both have relatively high salaries.  DH does not earn much, so we always planned on having a SAHP.  But when we had DD1 in 2008, I happened to despise my job at the time, and I quit to stay home for a year.  We went from roughly an 80% savings rate to a 0% savings rate when we dropped my salary completely.  (I earned 80K and DH earned 20K the year before baby, I earned zero and DH earned 25K the year of baby.)  I went back to work at a new company after a year at home, DH became the SAHP.  We added DD2 to our family in 2011.  DH stayed home most of the time, picking up hours at a local coffee shop and building a side gig in spare time.  We did 3 years of preschool and private K for each kid, so that sucked up some $$, and DH did have a stint of full time seasonal work for 6 months during which we paid for daycare.  So there are some additional expenses.  But fast forward to today, and we are about 2.5 years away from FI, it'll be before I'm 40.  It's possible, it just takes discipline. 

John123

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #33 on: August 14, 2017, 01:32:31 PM »
My wife and I were always appalled by the idea (expressed or implied) that, once you have kids, you are supposed to live vicariously through them, and forfeit your other pleasures and dreams.
We are now raising our own son (and we are fond of him in the extreme), but we only made the decision to have him after finding some good role models who disproved that idea.
We also set some ground rules ahead of time:
1. Neither of us would give up his/her career.
2. Parents have rights too.
3. Just because other families around us are doing things a certain way, doesn't mean we have to follow suit.

Our situation, two years down the road, is pretty similar to what the OP describes: small apartment, cycling as primary means of transportation, expensive daycare.
We buy kids stuff used whenever possible (better for the planet as well as the budget).
We cook more at home (yet the kiddo still eats out a lot more often than we did growing up).
Our savings rate hovers around 50%. FIRE is still very much in the plans. However, like NeonPegasus noted, the presence of a child will likely have a profound effect on the retirement experience, not just on the start date.

Some previous commenters here have essentially dedicated all their past and future wealth to their kids. That doesn't work for me. Our child, growing up in a financially secure family in a first-world country, is already starting his journey with a good dose of privilege. Postponing our retirement by several years so that he can go to a private school is not a reasonable trade-off in my book.

As for saving for college: Mustachians don't normally need to "save for" something. The idea of "saving for X" is premised on the assumption that any dollar not "saved" will be spent in short order. In OP's case, if the money didn't go to the college fund, it would just go into your stash instead (right?). So do make use of any tax-advantaged education savings plans you have access to, but otherwise don't worry about it until you're closer to FIRE.

There is literally no limit to the amount of money one can spend on their children. But money doesn't buy happiness for kids, any more than it does for adults. I'd rather use the money to buy control of our time, so that we can all grow up together.

Appalled, seriously?  I cringed as I read your post.  Sorry, but kids were probably a mistake for someone with your attitude. 

Laura33

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #34 on: August 14, 2017, 01:45:30 PM »
My wife and I were always appalled by the idea (expressed or implied) that, once you have kids, you are supposed to live vicariously through them, and forfeit your other pleasures and dreams.

Appalled, seriously?  I cringed as I read your post.  Sorry, but kids were probably a mistake for someone with your attitude.

Seriously?  I adore my kids more than anything, but I too am appalled by the idea that I'm supposed to live vicariously through them (way too much pressure on the poor kids) and give up on any other hopes and dreams I might have had.  That's just bullshit.

I will repeat:  my kids are far and away the most important thing in my life.  But they are not the only important thing in my life.  Nor do I think it would be healthy -- for them, for me, or for my relationship with DH -- if they were.
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John123

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #35 on: August 14, 2017, 02:02:37 PM »
My wife and I were always appalled by the idea (expressed or implied) that, once you have kids, you are supposed to live vicariously through them, and forfeit your other pleasures and dreams.

Appalled, seriously?  I cringed as I read your post.  Sorry, but kids were probably a mistake for someone with your attitude.

Seriously?  I adore my kids more than anything, but I too am appalled by the idea that I'm supposed to live vicariously through them (way too much pressure on the poor kids) and give up on any other hopes and dreams I might have had.  That's just bullshit.

I will repeat:  my kids are far and away the most important thing in my life.  But they are not the only important thing in my life.  Nor do I think it would be healthy -- for them, for me, or for my relationship with DH -- if they were.

Yes, seriously.  That post just oozes selfishness.  Feel free not to agree.  It's just my take.

GuitarStv

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #36 on: August 14, 2017, 02:42:43 PM »
Can you specifically point out the selfish parts?  None jumped out at me as being particularly over the line.

John123

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #37 on: August 14, 2017, 03:43:31 PM »
Can you specifically point out the selfish parts?  None jumped out at me as being particularly over the line.

In hindsight, you are right, there is nothing too bad there. I think was in a foul mode when I replied and misinterpreted it. I apologize.

Spondulix

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #38 on: August 14, 2017, 04:00:13 PM »
I've got a 9 month old. This is maybe my third time posting since he's been born and before that I was on the site daily. My biggest advice: Put things on automatic; make sure you've calculated out so everything running on automatic will be financially ok for a year; then take things day by day and plan to re-evaluate every couple months. Don't overthink it cause you really have no idea what it'll look like til you're there.

Before having him I had the exact same thoughts and worries. Our plan was to have my husband work from home part-time and simultaneously do childcare... which any parent who reads that will probably roll on the floor laughing because it is utterly impossible. We thought a baby would be like a cat who just sleeps most of the day, needs attention when they're awake, and can entertain themselves alone when needed. Ummm... nope. We pictured having a nanny from like 6-10am so we both could sleep in and I could go back to working full-time night shift. Instead we're both working part time - I'm getting up at 6 or 7 am after working til 1 am and just nap in the morning. We've stopped making retirement payments and put $50 in his college fund - and we are absolutely loving it. Next year will probably look very different, though.

It's really tough to think straight - especially when it comes to numbers - til they're about 7 or 8 months old. That's why I suggested making sure your auto payments won't get you in trouble for the first year. It's been awesome to not even have to think about what is going out and to who.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 04:20:00 PM by Spondulix »

scottish

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #39 on: August 14, 2017, 04:06:34 PM »
The years will start going by really quickly.    Reduce your savings rate as necessary to raise the little one & enjoy your time with her/him.

When you wake up in 5, 10 or 15 years you'll be pleasantly surprised how well your finances are doing.

marion10

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #40 on: August 14, 2017, 04:50:36 PM »
Good advice here- in some of these threads, I see some resentment towards having children. Mine are grown and they are the best thing I ever did (well maybe aside from marrying DH). I did work part time for many years- the key was we bought a house we could afford on one income and never upgraded. I am 57- so not FIRE for me (though will within the next two years)- we put both kids through college with no loans and still have a nice chunk set aside for retirement. For us a cheap house in a good neighborhood was also important- we did not have to pay for private schools.

Letj

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #41 on: August 14, 2017, 07:04:46 PM »
I see most people posting about how wonderful it is to him children and I concur wholeheartedly. My children have brought me the greatest joy and definitely added so much purpose to my life. I could stop work tomorrow and live comfortably but I work to ensure my children get their college totally paid for and to give them experiences I wasn't fortunate enough to have. However, I am afraid that people are only looking at one side of the coin. How about parents whose children took the wrong path and brought them such pain?

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #42 on: August 15, 2017, 12:47:13 AM »
Can you specifically point out the selfish parts?  None jumped out at me as being particularly over the line.

In hindsight, you are right, there is nothing too bad there. I think was in a foul mode when I replied and misinterpreted it. I apologize.

Apology accepted.

I do actually consider myself to be selfish, but (plot twist!), so is everyone else on this thread.
The sociological research indicates that the underlying reasons why people have children in modern societies are all selfish.
Furthermore, the #1 thing people can do to reduce their environmental impact is to have fewer children. One less child does more for the environment than e.g. going car-free, or going vegan.
I'm not telling anyone to avoid having kids, or to not love their kids. But don't pretend that you're having them for anyone's sake other than your own.

Back to the original topic of how OP should deal with the impact of the new arrival on their finances and FIRE goals. It was important to me not to leave the field entirely to those who say that as soon as their child(ren) arrived, their goals in life changed completely, and escaping the rat race no longer seemed relevant.
It's a fine way to cope, but it can't be the only acceptable way.
- MMM and his wife were motivated to FIRE before their son was born, precisely so that they could focus on raising him without simultaneously holding "normal" jobs.
- My tactic was to switch jobs, increasing my income (which helps mitigate the financial impact) and reducing stress (making the postponed FI date more palatable).

Some more advice to OP:
1. Don't worry about spending and FIRE at all for the first few months. Focus on the physical and (especially) mental well-being of everyone involved.
2. Resist lifestyle inflation, but don't torture yourself about every new expense. Babies cease to be babies shockingly fast. Anything that isn't a multi-year recurring expense isn't worth worrying about.
3. Once the dust has settled, sit down with your partner and calibrate your long-term financial goals. How many children do you want? What kind of lifestyle do you want to provide for them? How does this affect retirement and other future plans? I'm sure you're discussing this already, but I think you'll be in better shape to make decisions once the child is here and the initial turmoil has died down.

caracarn

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #43 on: August 15, 2017, 08:39:29 AM »
I've got a 9 month old. This is maybe my third time posting since he's been born and before that I was on the site daily. My biggest advice: Put things on automatic; make sure you've calculated out so everything running on automatic will be financially ok for a year; then take things day by day and plan to re-evaluate every couple months. Don't overthink it cause you really have no idea what it'll look like til you're there.

Before having him I had the exact same thoughts and worries. Our plan was to have my husband work from home part-time and simultaneously do childcare... which any parent who reads that will probably roll on the floor laughing because it is utterly impossible. We thought a baby would be like a cat who just sleeps most of the day, needs attention when they're awake, and can entertain themselves alone when needed. Ummm... nope. We pictured having a nanny from like 6-10am so we both could sleep in and I could go back to working full-time night shift. Instead we're both working part time - I'm getting up at 6 or 7 am after working til 1 am and just nap in the morning. We've stopped making retirement payments and put $50 in his college fund - and we are absolutely loving it. Next year will probably look very different, though.

It's really tough to think straight - especially when it comes to numbers - til they're about 7 or 8 months old. That's why I suggested making sure your auto payments won't get you in trouble for the first year. It's been awesome to not even have to think about what is going out and to who.
This post made me think of a question that keeps floating around in my head once in a while as I visit the site, and really comes up when I get lambasted once in a while for not being able to save as Mustachian levels of 70% because I have kids.

So the questions is, has there been a discussion focused or a poll taken of people on this site with several kids (read more than one) and what is really the situation on a savings level with that group?  I've come to realize that a lot of the posters are folks with are like MMM who have one or no kids.  Not everyone in that boat would not "get it", but as I get called out for making excuses about not saving (and I did not mention anything like your example of no retirement payments and $50 for college) enough I wonder what is the rate of folks here in the kids boat.  I assume since we are on the site we are really trying, but things do shift when you have a kid and/or when you get gut punched by life.

NeonPegasus

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #44 on: August 15, 2017, 09:31:17 AM »
I've got a 9 month old. This is maybe my third time posting since he's been born and before that I was on the site daily. My biggest advice: Put things on automatic; make sure you've calculated out so everything running on automatic will be financially ok for a year; then take things day by day and plan to re-evaluate every couple months. Don't overthink it cause you really have no idea what it'll look like til you're there.

Before having him I had the exact same thoughts and worries. Our plan was to have my husband work from home part-time and simultaneously do childcare... which any parent who reads that will probably roll on the floor laughing because it is utterly impossible. We thought a baby would be like a cat who just sleeps most of the day, needs attention when they're awake, and can entertain themselves alone when needed. Ummm... nope. We pictured having a nanny from like 6-10am so we both could sleep in and I could go back to working full-time night shift. Instead we're both working part time - I'm getting up at 6 or 7 am after working til 1 am and just nap in the morning. We've stopped making retirement payments and put $50 in his college fund - and we are absolutely loving it. Next year will probably look very different, though.

It's really tough to think straight - especially when it comes to numbers - til they're about 7 or 8 months old. That's why I suggested making sure your auto payments won't get you in trouble for the first year. It's been awesome to not even have to think about what is going out and to who.
This post made me think of a question that keeps floating around in my head once in a while as I visit the site, and really comes up when I get lambasted once in a while for not being able to save as Mustachian levels of 70% because I have kids.

So the questions is, has there been a discussion focused or a poll taken of people on this site with several kids (read more than one) and what is really the situation on a savings level with that group?  I've come to realize that a lot of the posters are folks with are like MMM who have one or no kids.  Not everyone in that boat would not "get it", but as I get called out for making excuses about not saving (and I did not mention anything like your example of no retirement payments and $50 for college) enough I wonder what is the rate of folks here in the kids boat.  I assume since we are on the site we are really trying, but things do shift when you have a kid and/or when you get gut punched by life.

I see what you see. There are two sides to it. On the face of it, yes, kids can cost a lot of money, change your priorities and make it difficult to achieve super high savings rates. On the flip side, no, having kids is not an excuse to not appropriately save and plan for the future.

I have been able to save at different levels at different times in my life. My income and expenses never moved in a linear fashion. Sometimes my income went up and expenses went down. Sometimes income went down and expenses went up. You take life as it comes, do the best you can and focus on the long game.

I do think it would behoove people (everywhere, really) to accept that their perspective is not the only one and they don't necessarily know about a topic if they're not living it. With regards to kids, a non-parent won't understand the costs and pressures of raising children the same way a parent does. A parent of a 9 mo old won't fully understand the costs associated with older kids. A parent of one will not understand the costs involved with 2, 3 or more. But on the flip side, being challenged by someone not immersed in the details can bring clarity.

So, listen to the challenges and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Ultimately, it's up to you to judge the value of the opinions you receive and whether they apply in your situation.

Hargrove

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #45 on: August 15, 2017, 03:48:11 PM »
Thanks for the explanation.  I do tend more toward the free-range parenting style, which means my version of "what is best for the kids" includes opting out of the parenting/overscheduling arms' race; I generally set guard rails as wide as I think the kid's personality/maturity can manage, and then let them go.  And I personally don't feel like I have sacrificed very much, other than the standard stress of periodically having too much happening at once.  :-)  So I think in the end, you and I are largely in agreement, even on much of the nuts and bolts.

I guess so! As for the perspective change, I'm with you there, too. My interest in FIRE came from trying to figure out family finances instead of "just winging them" as so many of my friends seem to. Even my fiance's father told me "you never have enough money" as if it means you should shrug at figuring out your expenses early. Many parents talk about it as either much easier than advertised or so much more difficult than advertised as to be essentially impossible.

It's in anticipation of that perspective effect that I do in fact work the 60+/wk and stay on call basically all the time and get the loudspeaker treatment from customers - I doubt I am going to be remotely interested in that after I'm married and may have children on the way, and I decided the ability to say "no thanks" is best bought before my finances get that much more complicated.

caracarn - I think this board authorizes all valid, polite criticism (though I guess for some that doesn't make sense), but it tends towards a gusto against virtually any argument about limits to one's ability. You're right that this sentiment can develop into a somewhat fantasized view of the possible, but on the flip side, if a thing is possible, it often takes that attitude to figure out how it's possible. If you think of the board motto as "How?" it may not bug you so much. Your answer may be that you don't want to do quite as much as some people do (cloth diapers, etc).

I do think it would behoove people (everywhere, really) to accept that their perspective is not the only one and they don't necessarily know about a topic if they're not living it. With regards to kids, a non-parent won't understand the costs and pressures of raising children the same way a parent does. A parent of a 9 mo old won't fully understand the costs associated with older kids. A parent of one will not understand the costs involved with 2, 3 or more. But on the flip side, being challenged by someone not immersed in the details can bring clarity.

Sorry, I'm with you on the first point on broader perspectives, but I don't think your argument about experience holds water. Experience doesn't guarantee understanding, it only offers an opportunity for understanding, and not everyone takes it. Further, if we could only understand what we experience ourselves, there would be no point to writing.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 03:54:01 PM by Hargrove »

caracarn

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #46 on: August 16, 2017, 01:18:46 PM »
caracarn - I think this board authorizes all valid, polite criticism (though I guess for some that doesn't make sense), but it tends towards a gusto against virtually any argument about limits to one's ability. You're right that this sentiment can develop into a somewhat fantasized view of the possible, but on the flip side, if a thing is possible, it often takes that attitude to figure out how it's possible. If you think of the board motto as "How?" it may not bug you so much. Your answer may be that you don't want to do quite as much as some people do (cloth diapers, etc).

I am in agreement and I do not mind criticism.  In the case I was talking about it was one individual, that even other people in the thread began to push back on being overly harsh.  It did become a  bit of a pissing contest because I just thought if I could explain it a tiny bit better than what they were pushing back against that eventually they'd get to understand, but it never happened.   Certainly all our choices as individuals that can be further optimized are the result of not wanting to do as much as some people do.  It just seems to be hard to find a multi-child perspective from a lot of the forum members that I've seen, so that was why I asked my question.

NeonPegasus

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #47 on: August 16, 2017, 01:35:14 PM »
I do think it would behoove people (everywhere, really) to accept that their perspective is not the only one and they don't necessarily know about a topic if they're not living it. With regards to kids, a non-parent won't understand the costs and pressures of raising children the same way a parent does. A parent of a 9 mo old won't fully understand the costs associated with older kids. A parent of one will not understand the costs involved with 2, 3 or more. But on the flip side, being challenged by someone not immersed in the details can bring clarity.

Sorry, I'm with you on the first point on broader perspectives, but I don't think your argument about experience holds water. Experience doesn't guarantee understanding, it only offers an opportunity for understanding, and not everyone takes it. Further, if we could only understand what we experience ourselves, there would be no point to writing.

I am not talking about "understanding" in a philosophical manner where one may or may not process information. I am talking about being immersed in the day-to-day experience and seeing first-hand the costs (and I was referring to actual financial costs).

When I was childless, I had a lot of thoughts about what life would be like with kids and I can tell you that most of them were misguided at best. Same thing goes for what the financial costs are at each stage of life. And from this vantage point, I can say that rather than listen to people who have one 8 month old baby explain to me what it costs to raise a teenager, I will listen to people who actually have teenagers. I wasn't saying we can only understand what we experience ourselves but rather, we should seek information about an experience from others who have experienced it and take advice from those who haven't with a grain of salt.

Hargrove

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #48 on: August 16, 2017, 04:26:16 PM »
caracarn - I think this board authorizes all valid, polite criticism (though I guess for some that doesn't make sense), but it tends towards a gusto against virtually any argument about limits to one's ability. You're right that this sentiment can develop into a somewhat fantasized view of the possible, but on the flip side, if a thing is possible, it often takes that attitude to figure out how it's possible. If you think of the board motto as "How?" it may not bug you so much. Your answer may be that you don't want to do quite as much as some people do (cloth diapers, etc).

I am in agreement and I do not mind criticism.  In the case I was talking about it was one individual, that even other people in the thread began to push back on being overly harsh.

That's kind of why I come back. This board usually has great disagreements.

Quote from: NeonPegasus
I am not talking about "understanding" in a philosophical manner where one may or may not process information. I am talking about being immersed in the day-to-day experience and seeing first-hand the costs (and I was referring to actual financial costs).

I was really responding to "they don't necessarily know about a topic if they're not living it." But we don't need to run around that because I completely agree with "we should seek information about an experience from others who have experienced it and take advice from those who haven't with a grain of salt."

I mean, I take advice from anyone with a grain of salt. :p

Bee21

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Re: How do you maintain motivation in the face of having a kid?
« Reply #49 on: August 16, 2017, 05:24:52 PM »
The thing is, you change, your priorities shift once you have a child. It is a different stage of life. You can't expect everything to be the same as before with the addition of a baby.

You sound like you are in a good financial pisition to welcome a child. Celebrate this, instead of worrying about a setback in achieving your financial goals.

Why do you want to retire early? If you you do because you want more free time or spend more time with your hobbies, than it is bad news: having a kid is like having a job 24/7, so you won't have much time for yourself. It is not easy. But kids are cute, are smart, are funny....they are great. Yes, they can be expensive, but they add so much value to our lives.

As for the costs, the biggest expense is childcare and education. It also adds to the travelling budget, bc it is obviously easier and cheaper to find deals for 2 than for 4. We spend the same on food, clothes, cars and housing for a fam of 4 than for just the 2 of us, because having kids taught me to plan better and be more efficient with my time and resources.

Obviously we won't retire at 30, but as i work part time, I consider myself semi retired 😁.  See, it is all about the attitude.

So, plan ahead but be flexible. Don't be afraid to rejig your plan to suit the stage of life you are in.