Author Topic: Starting a family later on in life & impact on FIRE?  (Read 765 times)

Garrett B.

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Starting a family later on in life & impact on FIRE?
« on: January 27, 2020, 05:53:41 AM »
Im currently 40 years old and up until now had planned on returning round the age of 50, give or take a few years.  I am now considering starting a family and having a child with my partner.  This would mean that the child would be graduating high school around the time I turn 60, thus throwing off my early retirement plans.  I suppose I could still retire at the same age as I had planned, but doing the things I had planned like travelling and spending winters in warm climates would no longer be possible. 

Id like to hear from others who may have started a family later on in life and how it is now impacting your life at a later age.  Do you regret starting the family at a later age?  Have you been able to adapt or get creative so that you can still enjoy the things you wanted to?  Im curious what impact having a child later on in life has on FIRE plans? 

reeshau

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Re: Starting a family later on in life & impact on FIRE?
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2020, 10:12:35 AM »
I am 48, and my son is 4.  My wife and I definitely went through thoughts / discussions / planning for these considerations.  I joke that DS will graduate college when I turn 65, so we have timed everything perfectly!  (by traditional standards--old tradition, even)  We *might* be RE now--I am working through that.  I just got a redundancy package, so I'm not working, and got a fat Europe-level payout to deploy.  But for our schedule, it's as if we are FIRE now; the only things scheduled are appointments we make, or DS's schedule.

The first thing to think through, retired or not, is that as an older parent you have more resources, but likely less energy than typical.  That meant we didn't blink at having a (part-time) nanny for DS's first 2 years--we could use the help!  And we could handle the cost.  It also meant that we stuffed his 529 plan to the max tax deduction, and were done with it as of last year.  (funded $50k, starting at year 0, with an expectation of growth to $100-$150k)

So, financially it added complications, but I can't really say it delayed our plans specifically.  Who knows what we would have planned by now, otherwise?  We did what we wanted to, which is the real core thing about FI.

You do bring up a great point about time, though.  We are about to be anchored to some kind of school calendar for 12 years.  Bummer.  Can't even sleep in, in the mornings.  At least for a few years.  He is already in kindergarten, so I get up at 6:15, along with him, to get ready and commute to school.  (school bus service is rare, and through private providers if offered, in Dublin; we take the train)

When we return to the US, we'll be headed to Houston for family reasons.  (I've never lived there before; DW moved away after high school)  And we are likely to move there in the summer.  As a lifetime "northerner," I've tried to wrap my head around the fact that in Houston, summer is winter: that is, summer is the season that impacts what you can do, and whether you want to spend time outdoors.

So, it leads me to my first suggestion:  you mention heading to warm climates in winter.  How about *living* in a warm climate, and visiting your current location for the summer, when the weather is good and all of you are free from schedules?  For us, I imagine a fairly regular migration through MI and MN to visit family, slow traveling to stay connected to places we know, but with the freedom to go somewhere new each year, too.  And it can be 3 months long!

The other option you would have is some kind of home schooling.  This doesn't need to be a permanent commitment:  you could do it for a year or two.  My FIL's parents pulled him out of school for a term to tour the national parks in the West.  In the 50's.  The school was quite cooperative for the opportunity.  Who knows if your school would cooperate as much as they did, but they also probably couldn't stop you.

Our idea of travelling regularly addresses the only real regret I have for being an older parent:  it limits the time DS has with his grandparents.  Who knows if they will see him graduate HS or College, or get married.  But I can make sure he remembers them, and we build memories as long as they are along.  They are spread out quite a bit, so the travel is necessary to connect with all of them.  (more than two, due to divorce / remarriage)

mm1970

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Re: Starting a family later on in life & impact on FIRE?
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2020, 12:39:21 PM »
^^
Many good points there. I'd echo the grandparent thing - both my parents are dead, and they died before my second child was born (I was 42, husband almost 44). OTOH, my father was 44 when I was born, and his parents died 10 and 30 years before I was born, so I never met them either.

I don't stress too much about being in my mid-60s when kid #2 finishes college.  Being older: yes, less energy but for us also: more money.  It's nice to know that I can quit if I want to.  (Work, not parenting, ha!)

I don't regret it at all, not a tiny bit. Some folks don't have the opportunity to have children younger, some of us take a bit of time to warm up to the idea (we'd been married 10 and 16 years when our two kids were born).

Early retirement not in the cards for us for many reasons (including desire).  We could retire right now if we wanted to move to flyover country and sell the California house, but ... it's cold there.

ROF Expat

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Re: Starting a family later on in life & impact on FIRE?
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2020, 01:39:36 PM »
I got married at 42, had a kid at 47, and retired at 52. 

I have absolutely no regrets about having a child relatively late in life.  In fact, becoming a SAHD was one of the attractions of retiring early.  I suppose a younger dad might have more energy, but I have a lot more time (and money, too).  If you are in good health and can reasonably expect to see your child through to adulthood, I wouldn't consider age to be much of an issue.  I still travel and do the things I want to do, but I have a pretty fat FIRE.  The changes in my life have come from the responsibilities of parenthood, not the financial requirements. 

Garrett B.

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Re: Starting a family later on in life & impact on FIRE?
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2020, 02:04:57 PM »
I got married at 42, had a kid at 47, and retired at 52. 

I have absolutely no regrets about having a child relatively late in life.  In fact, becoming a SAHD was one of the attractions of retiring early.  I suppose a younger dad might have more energy, but I have a lot more time (and money, too).  If you are in good health and can reasonably expect to see your child through to adulthood, I wouldn't consider age to be much of an issue.  I still travel and do the things I want to do, but I have a pretty fat FIRE.  The changes in my life have come from the responsibilities of parenthood, not the financial requirements.
How does your travelling work?  Do you travel as a family?  Do you travel alone and your wife takes care of the kids?  That's the big thing for me. 

WSUCoug1994

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Re: Starting a family later on in life & impact on FIRE?
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2020, 02:05:20 PM »
I am 48 with a 4 year old and a 1 year old.  I would give us 9/10 on frugality and a 10/10 on income generation to set the stage.  I am planning to retire when I am 51 and my wife currently stays at home with the kiddos but she will likely move into a part time role when both kids are in school. 

I thought I would have kids in my 20's - (man plans and god laughs) - life is funny.  I always thought I would but I didn't know it would take this long.  This is a young man's game from an energy standpoint as pointed out above but having the finances to help out along the way has been great.  We are lucky that we haven't identified any health/behavior issues with out kids yet but that is something I am always anxious about.  I don't think kids are expensive - we get most of their clothes and toys second hand and the food at this age is hardly noticeable but I know that is going to change.  We haven't really entered the sports dynamic yet which can also get spendy if you let it.  I am sure as they get older their needs/wants are going to become more expensive lol.  I am most excited about being able to pick-up/drop-off/volunteer at the school/coach their sports (if they choose to play)/etc.

We are a family that values experiences over things and travel as a family is something we are looking forward to.  We have taken quite a few long road trips but the furthest we have flown is Hawaii.  That wasn't fun (lol) and the expense of four versus two is now noticeable.  We are doing our first real trip to Spain for a wedding this fall so we shall see how that goes. 

I put $6K a year into each 529 - that is clearly our biggest expense so far.  I don't really see the school travel thing as an issue - between the summers off and the couple of week long breaks at school - we plan to travel during those times.  It is more expensive and more busy but it feels like we can still achieve our retirement goals.  We also have the amazing benefit of having literally hundreds of family members that live within a 10 mile radius.  I suspect we will be taking a number of trips during the year sans kids because of the flexibility our family gives us.  To be fair we are not the take four months to tour Asia kind of family.  At two weeks away - my wife and I get a little homesick. 

I have zero regrets - they both seem to have their pro's and con's.  Most of our friends are empty nesters or close to it and are starting that phase of their life - even if most of them have planned poorly for it.  I have more flexibility and more financial freedom to spend more time with my kids and do educational things all around the world.  I laughed at them in their 20's and they are laughing at my in 40's - feels like a good balance.

YMMV - but raising kids is 100x harder than I thought it would be and is a 1000x more rewarding.  I am not saying this just because I have kids but I can't imagine living this life without them.   
« Last Edit: January 27, 2020, 02:09:01 PM by WSUCoug1994 »

Laura33

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Re: Starting a family later on in life & impact on FIRE?
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2020, 06:46:19 AM »
Well, you're already 40, so the option to have them at 20 or 30 is out the door.  The only remaining question is: do you want to have kids with your partner? 

I also had kids later (35 and 40), and it wasn't by choice.  I was all twisted up inside about trying for a second, because I did the math, knew I'd be 40 in the best-case scenario, and I was sad that my kid would have fewer years with grandparents and even with me.  But then I realized how stupid that was, because it's not like I had the option to turn back the clock.  The sole question before me was did I want a second child or not?  The rest was just noise.

FWIW, we got lucky, I did have my son, and I have never regretted that decision for a moment.  Would I have preferred something different in my perfect world?  Oh hell yes.  But of the actual options before me, having him was a no-brainer. 

Yes, the school system does affect our slow travel plans.  But that was our choice.  I wanted my kids to grow up in a neighborhood and go to school surrounded by their friends, and DH and I both had happy, settled jobs when they were younger.  And now that my DS is about to go off to HS, I don't want to yank him out of the routine and away from his friends.  If we had valued travel more, we could have lived a very different lifestyle -- traveling all summer, or homeschooling and going wherever we wanted whenever we wanted.  But we decided that the settled childhood felt better for us.

IDK, maybe we (I) would be FIRE'd if we'd stopped at one; our oldest is now out of the house, so the daily "home" obligations would be much lower if we didn't have #2.  Or maybe I'd just be working 60 hrs/week because DH has no interest in leaving his current job (geeky advanced tech stuff), and I'd be bored sitting at home by myself -- honestly, knowing me, that's the more likely scenario.  But none of that actually matters, because that's not reality (and really, it's not even the "reality" that I'd have ever guessed 15 years ago when we were making that decision).  In the real world, we had a second kid, and we chose the life we wanted to have from the options available to us.  That choice still feels like it suits us, and if at some point it doesn't, then we'll make a different one.  And even if I could turn back the clock, I wouldn't trade DS for that additional freedom to travel for, well, anything. 

Captain FIRE

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Re: Starting a family later on in life & impact on FIRE?
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2020, 08:02:26 AM »
We didn't meet until later and for various reasons, did not have kids immediately.  You can't turn back the clock, you can only make decisions from the point you're at, so wasting time regretting not having kids earlier is useless.  As you learn from the daycare/preschool adage: You get what you get and you don't get upset!  It's hard to regret waiting for the right person or rushing in too early, even if YES DEAR GOD I'D LOVE MORE ENERGY like I had when I was younger.  (At this point I'd settle for the consolation prize of my mom appreciating that it's much harder physically to have at age 37/40 and DH 4 years older) and she should stop expecting it'd be like when she had us at 26/29/33.)

Pros: We have money stashed, so the insane daycare costs in my area aren't overwhelming and I am ok with losing pay for the lengthy maternity leave I'm allowed.  I like to think we're more patient as we're older.  Got a lot of used items from friends just finishing up with kids.

Cons: No energy.  Being pregnant at age 40 is a bear.  We'll be the last of our friends to have kids out of the nest, which could be a bit painful down the road.  We probably notice more kid-related vacation adaptations (e.g. trading Europe for beach trips while kids are young) than if we had kids younger, but it's not a big deal. 

By my projections we could retire in about 2-3 years, but likely wouldn't until 4-5 to ensure lower 3% withdrawal rate, buffer for additional kid/health expenses changing (e.g. costs of travel/activities/more health issues), maybe add in some travel fluff, which would about time with entering school.  I might try to go part-time in a few years though.  Without kids, yes of course it would have been sooner but I've never calculated by how much.  So early retirement is still absolutely possible with kids.  For some, it's even helpful for stopping mindless restaurant/entertainment spending.  And you can even argue having kids later is *better* for FIRE than earlier, because if you slow down the savings for daycare/529/kid costs, when you're older more of the bulk of the saving is done and compounding is a larger factor towards FI.

Note: Kids generally cost more money than no kids and thus delay retirement, so you'd have that impact you whether you had them early or late.  I know a lot of people say "kids are not expensive" but I think that's a simplistic view that may miss describing the whole picture.  To a certain degree yes, it's what you make of it.  We've chosen to prioritize early swim lessons for example.  We could have tried waiting for later and teaching them ourselves, but we didn't (we think it's a critical life skill and live on the water so felt there was a safety issue in starting sooner).  We're also dumping a lot of money early on into a 529, which is optional - but the benefit of being older is that we do have the cash flow to do so and maximize the tax benefits.

That said, they are not cheaper than no kids.  It frustrates me when people say you don't need *anything* for the first year and kids are just about free - just get cloth diapers from friends and nurse, as if nursing was that easy for everyone as it was for that particular poster.  I had a huge challenge in breastfeeding and did triple feeding for months (try to nurse, feed bottle, pump).  I had low production not helped by my son getting bottles in the NICU early on.  (He had an immediate unexpected surgery so I didn't even get to *hold* him for 24 hrs, much less try to nurse.)  None of our friends cloth diapered so we would have had to buy a stash - and daycare required disposables.  We had to upgrade to family health insurance rather than getting individual policies through our workplaces.  Daycare in my area is wildly expensive, and we were not ok going with an unlicensed provider to save money.  (Nor were our jobs the type where we could go second shift to trade off watching him, nor could we shamelessly rope relatives into doing it for unpaid labor, as folks often propose when this comes up.)  Yes, we've gotten a lot of used stuff, but there's still some stuff we've needed to buy to fill out what we didn't have, and we've been told the clothing train drops off precipitously at age 4-5 because the kids are harder on the clothes.  Food and travel costs will go up.  You don't know if you'll have lots of medical costs ex ante.  etc.

ROF Expat

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Re: Starting a family later on in life & impact on FIRE?
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2020, 11:25:05 AM »
I got married at 42, had a kid at 47, and retired at 52. 

I have absolutely no regrets about having a child relatively late in life.  In fact, becoming a SAHD was one of the attractions of retiring early.  I suppose a younger dad might have more energy, but I have a lot more time (and money, too).  If you are in good health and can reasonably expect to see your child through to adulthood, I wouldn't consider age to be much of an issue.  I still travel and do the things I want to do, but I have a pretty fat FIRE.  The changes in my life have come from the responsibilities of parenthood, not the financial requirements.
How does your travelling work?  Do you travel as a family?  Do you travel alone and your wife takes care of the kids?  That's the big thing for me.

Travel works out very well for us, but YMMV. 

I FIRED about three years ago.  My spouse continues to work for a number of reasons, but mostly because she loves her work.  We both had international careers even before we were married and we knew that we both wanted to continue that life. 

We travel a lot as a family.  My daughter took her first international flight at 2 months old.  We also travel a lot separately.  My spouse travels fairly frequently for work, and I am happy to be a single dad while she's gone.  I travel a lot for my own interests (vacation time is not the issue for me that it is for my spouse), and my wife is happy to handle the extra child care duties while I'm away. 

As I said, your mileage may vary.  This works for us for several reasons: 

--Our daughter is at an age where she's fairly independent.  Leaving one parent with an infant can be asking a lot. 

--We usually have household help, including a nanny. 

--Neither of us resents the other's travel. 

But I think this would work for us even without the household help.  Plenty of people are single parents by choice or necessity.  We would certainly make it work for reasonable periods of time if one of us had to travel for work purposes, and there's no reason you couldn't do the same to have personal travel.  I think the key is that both of you have to agree to the concept.  I also think it helps to make a very serious effort to be fair about evenly sharing both childcare responsibilities and travel time.  For example, my wife and I alternated nights getting up when our daughter was an infant (we were both working), and I make sure I never complain when she wants time for work or personal travel.