Author Topic: Parents: Should I go part time now to spend more time at home or wait for FI?  (Read 2274 times)

cincystache

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Hi Mustachians,

Life Situation: Married filing jointly 31 and 32 years old, 1 kid age 2 (hopefully 1 or 2 more in future)

Gross Salary/Wages:
Day Job: 80,000/yr
Wife PT job: 3,000/yr
TOTAL: 83,000

Current expenses:
About 3,300 per month based on personal capital last 12 months average. Call it 40,000 per year

Assets:
Retirement accounts(mix of roth and trad IRA/401k): 205,000 (70/30 VTSAX/VBTLX)
HSA: 12,000 (100% VTSAX: using the MadFientist strategy with this...)
Cash: 5,000
Condo: 120,000 (primary residence)

Liabilities:
Mortgage: 95,000 28 years left @ 3.75% fixed
Student Loan: 9,250 @ 4.875% fixed paying about 250 per month


Specific Question(s):

Should I temporarily go down to 60% at my day job to spend more time at home while my kid is young and then ramp back up in 5-10 years after kid(s) school starts? This would bring our savings rate down to less than 300 per month but I would have every monday and friday off and I would keep my health insurance and other benefits I currently have through my employer. I don't love my job but I also don't hate it, I have no aspirations of climbing the corporate ladder. I just want to maximize my time at home while my kid(s) are young knowing I'll never be able to go back in time when they are grown up. I am probably about 10 years away from FI if I continue at 100%.

What are your thoughts? Have any other parents faced a similar question or gone a similar route? Do you have any regrets either staying full time or going part time?

For additional context, I don't see myself ever wanting to "retire" and not make any money until much later in life (60's or later), assuming no major health issues. I would probably continue part time or seasonal work doing something enjoyable once I eventually reach FI.

Thanks for your help

boarder42

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I work 4 day weeks now after the birth of our daughter. I planned on this and it's been great. I only cut my pay to 90%. But I fully expect to retire on the same time table as before. We're the same age but we both work and we've amassed a sizeable stache it will compound us to fire even if we quit working except to cover living costs.

It's awesome. I love it so far.

ysette9

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It comes down to what your priorities are, spending time working now or doing it later. Personally I have chosen to continue pedal-to-the-medal until we are close to our FI number and then to let up. It is tough when the kids are little, but I suspect it will be even harder to juggle home and work once they start school and you have a bazillion random days off and half days and homework and activities. At least now they just have daycare that is full-day and doesn’t have a bunch of random closures for no reason than to annoy working parents. My current self is very grateful to my last self that we went full bore in our careers earlier and did a lot of good saving/investing. That means that our investments are doing the heavy work for us, making it that much faster to reach the magical FI number.

So, I can’t say what you should do, but in your position I would stick it out and try to invest as much as humanly possible now to allow tastier options to go part-time in a few years. Anecdotally, we were fine with working at age 30 and now in our late 30s we ask each other on a weekly basis how close we are to the finish line and when we can be done.

Moomintroll

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I second that school kids are way more full on! I spent years thinking our FT work big city existence would improve once my kids hit school. I was SO wrong!

We ended up downsizing & moving back to a lower COL country to be near family when they were 3 & 7. We now have no mortgage and I work PT from home. I'm super lucky to have the kind of work that I can do this way. I earn a LOT less but we also pay zero childcare and the kids are much happier, so it's worked 100% for us. Financially we're no worse off.

In 2017 we also had the random thing happen of one our kids being diagnosed with cancer. Obviously that's very rare but we realised we could not have managed this if it had happened when we still had two FT jobs, as caring takes up all of one parent's time and a lot of the second one's time as well (eg looking after the other child, driving us to appointments etc). I guess having lives that have some kind of 'downsize option' if something happened were a child were to need more care than usual for a short or long time is good if at all possible.

There's also nothing like a major health disaster to concentrate the mind on what really matters. Although we do try to be frugal, family time is now our number one driver in life. We both like our work and don't work at great intensity any more and that works very well for us.

Best of luck with your decision, I know those choices are hard.

elliha

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I would go part time now if you think you are going to be able to make some savings when it comes to other areas like food costs etc. Kids are only small once and I have one school child and one in daycare and the school child so far is much less work and she also wants to do things on her own without me so I wouldn't really get to spend that much time with her if I went part time now, it would be for the younger's sake in that case.

Nick_Miller

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Hey cincystache,

I have a few years of parenting under my belt, so take this for what it's worth, but IMO kids are MUCH more interesting when they get a little older. Once they hit elementary school age, there's so much more you can actually do with them and talk with them about. Options for sports, writing, drawing, playing games, etc., really open up. If I were in your situation, I'd be really tempted to kill it for like 3 more years and then maybe go into "downshift" mode.

You've done a great job accruing $200K in investments at age 31. If you could crank out it out for 3 more years, each year investing about $20K (my guess after you take taxes and expenses from gross), and assuming modest (7%) market gains, you'd have a Stache around $300k at age 34.

That extra hundred thousand makes a LOT of difference. Let's say at age 34 you decide to shift down into part-time or something, earning enough to where you can pay your bills but maybe not be able to put much into savings. Again, assuming market returns of 7%, your $300K doubles to $600K by the time you're age 44. And it doubles again to $1.2M by the time you're age 54. And that assumes you didn't put a dime of your own money into investments from age 34-54.

Being so young, the more you can plow into investments now, you can see how time and the market can do most of the heaving lifting through your mid-30s and beyond. I am jealous!!

Dianalou

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I have a three year old and two year old and normally work 50% (but currently 80% while covering for a maternity leave). I went down to 50% when my youngest was about one. It's been awesome, but I totally agree with this:

Quote
but I suspect it will be even harder to juggle home and work once they start school and you have a bazillion random days off and half days and homework and activities. At least now they just have daycare that is full-day and doesn’t have a bunch of random closures for no reason than to annoy working parents.

School schedules are INSANE! My goal is to either work more days for less hours so I can work around all the weird early/late days, or transition to only my side gig once school starts. Before kids I always thought the same, stay home when they are babies, work when in school. In reality I think it's the opposite. Just the logistics alone make me cringe.

ysette9

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I have one more year before the oldest starts school. My plan is for us to invest as much as we possibly can in the next year, cross our fingers, and bury our heads in the sand about what comes next. ;-)

boarder42

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its good to hear everyone talking about better to do it after they are in school.  we're in a unique situation with our level of savings - almost 800k invested. so we can FIRE at the time the enter school and cut our schedules back now while they are young. 

mxt0133

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I'm assuming that your wife is a SAHP takes care of your child full-time based on her PT income.  So you wanting to spend more time with your children is not based on having the child being taken care of a stranger vs a parent.  Based on the plan to have more children and your current financial situation, I personally would not be comfortable leaving full-time work just yet.  I too wanted to spend more time with my kids when they were born, not just while they are young either.  I believe that if I build a healthy relationship with them the wouldn't want to just stop spending time with me when they reach adolescence.  Since we were not in a position FIRE and wanted to save high rate 40-50%, me dropping to part-time was not an option.  I valued flexibility more than maximizing my income when selecting job opportunities, so that I could be more present with the kids during the day and not just off business hours.

I am now able to travel more with the kids, allowed to work remotely, and take them to appointments and attend classes during the day because I can shift my work to off business hours.  Net I do spend more time with them but not by much.  What I am working on is spending higher quality time with them vs just quantity.  For me that means being really present when with them and not  taking them to a park so that they play by themselves while i'm on my smartphone.  I actually play, read, build, explore, and talk to them even if it is for an hour here or there. 

Since my wife is a SAHP, we try to get errands done mostly on weekdays so that we have the weekends to do activities and not just shuttling the kids on errands when I am off work.  For now it is a good balance for me, we are still adding to the stash and I don't feel like I'm missing out on their childhood.  I am now considering taking a month or two off per year to go on some adventures with the family, that would lower our savings rate, but like you I don't really have plans to ever stop earning income.




Dianalou

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Re: Parents: Should I go part time now to spend more time at home or wait for FI?
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2018, 02:18:44 PM »
Quote
Since my wife is a SAHP, we try to get errands done mostly on weekdays so that we have the weekends to do activities and not just shuttling the kids on errands when I am off work

This is really our philosophy too. Trying to get quality time together on the weekend (or what my toddler calls adventures, even if it's not something terribly exciting), and get the mundane stuff like shopping and cleaning done during the week, nap times, after bed etc. Then come the weekend we can all just relax and have fun together without having to run around just getting ready for the week again.

cincystache

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Re: Parents: Should I go part time now to spend more time at home or wait for FI?
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2018, 05:09:24 PM »
Thanks for all of the great replies. I am still undecided but I am leaning towards sticking it out until we have our second child (hopefully sometime next year). At that point I'll get 1 month of paternity leave and I will try starting back at 60% after that for a few months to see how it goes. If we can't swing it financially I can always go back to 100% but I like the idea of having a little more buffer. That being said, I don't want to get stuck in the "one more year" idea where I always tell myself I'll go down to part time in just one more year without ever actually doing it.. Thanks again everyone, very helpful input.

boarder42

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Re: Parents: Should I go part time now to spend more time at home or wait for FI?
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2018, 07:35:21 PM »
Thanks for all of the great replies. I am still undecided but I am leaning towards sticking it out until we have our second child (hopefully sometime next year). At that point I'll get 1 month of paternity leave and I will try starting back at 60% after that for a few months to see how it goes. If we can't swing it financially I can always go back to 100% but I like the idea of having a little more buffer. That being said, I don't want to get stuck in the "one more year" idea where I always tell myself I'll go down to part time in just one more year without ever actually doing it.. Thanks again everyone, very helpful input.

Why is it 100 or 60 there are lots of numbers in between these 2

Maccountant

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Re: Parents: Should I go part time now to spend more time at home or wait for FI?
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2018, 08:12:04 PM »

I have been faced with the same dilemma. I guess my justification for choosing to slow down now is that everyone who reaches FI gets there and then thinks "Now what?". One of the top pieces of advice given by those who have reached FI is: Don't rush it, Enjoy the journey.

It feels really weird to work less, but everyone I talk to says you will not get these days back. I figure that as the kids get older they will get busier and most of that busyness will involve activities without you. At this point you are still their hero, soak it up while it lasts.

my $0.02

boarder42

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Re: Parents: Should I go part time now to spend more time at home or wait for FI?
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2018, 08:16:01 PM »

I have been faced with the same dilemma. I guess my justification for choosing to slow down now is that everyone who reaches FI gets there and then thinks "Now what?". One of the top pieces of advice given by those who have reached FI is: Don't rush it, Enjoy the journey.

It feels really weird to work less, but everyone I talk to says you will not get these days back. I figure that as the kids get older they will get busier and most of that busyness will involve activities without you. At this point you are still their hero, soak it up while it lasts.

my $0.02

The number one piece of advice I've seen in every thread started here was should have done it sooner. So not sure where you're getting don't rush it from.

Tuskalusa

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Re: Parents: Should I go part time now to spend more time at home or wait for FI?
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2018, 03:58:15 PM »
Could you go to 30 hours (70% time)?  While it’s great to have more time at home, the financial hit takes most “wiggle room” out of your budget. If you could go to about 4 days per week, you’d have a little more financial flexibility.

mytwocents

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Re: Parents: Should I go part time now to spend more time at home or wait for FI?
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2018, 04:44:49 PM »
From the reading I’ve done on child development, one of the most important (if not most important) times for the father/child relationship is during the adolescent years (early teens). It’s actually really important for dads to be involved during the middle school years. Possibly more important than mothers. Of course you need a solid relationship with your kids prior to that time. Are there other ways to flex your time and keep your full time wage?  Come in early, leave earlier?  Work four 10 hour days?  Work from home (hard to do with littles)?

Dicey

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Re: Parents: Should I go part time now to spend more time at home or wait for FI?
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2018, 04:56:02 PM »
Uh, you seem awfully young for a 70/30 allocation, especially as you own a home and want to FIRE.

Edited for wonky weirdness.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2018, 07:20:31 PM by Dicey »

Freedomin5

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Re: Parents: Should I go part time now to spend more time at home or wait for FI?
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2018, 05:14:23 PM »
DH and I both worked three days per week for the first two years of DD’s life. We alternated work days so that we didn’t have to pay for childcare. It was brutal. DH ended up taking a one year sabbatical in Year 3, since that made the most sense economically, and I went up to full time. That was better but also brutal because DH felt bored and isn’t as naturally empathetic so he often didn’t understand or couldn’t figure out why DD was crying or he would inadvertently annoy/frustrate DD. DH would then get frustrated and stressed and frazzled because DD just wouldn’t stop crying or claim that the diapers were defective because they kept leaking poo and be exhausted from having to wipe up poo leaks from the floor all day. I’d come home, assess the situation, and then be like, “Uh, why is her diaper on backwards? That can’t be comfortable.” Sure enough, after flipping her diaper around, DS was happy as a clam and there were no more diaper leaks.

DD finally went to preschool at age three, DH took a full time job, and I cut down to three days per week and also became DD’s primary caregiver, and life finally feels balanced, like we are both now in roles that fit us best.

Knowing nothing of your personality and your wife’s personality, this is something that only you can figure out. It’s important to consider personality and work preferences when making this decision. Sometimes mom is just more attuned to baby’s needs and is the better carer (not more loving, just more adept at the task). Sometimes the better carer may be dad. Playing to your and your wife’s strengths will work out better than simply demanding “I want time with my child dammit!”

cincystache

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@boarder42 you bring up a good point. I could go to 80% (4 days per week) and test the waters a bit while still making progress to FI. I don't have a good answer to that.

@mytwocents 4 ten hour days is an option but my daughter sleeps from 7pm to 8am so 10 hour days would keep me in the office until 6ish and I would barely see her for 4 days in a row. I like the go in earlier route which I might explore more. Thanks for your perspective on adolescent years as well.

@Maccountant  that has been my thought exactly. I hear many people in the FIRE community talk about how anticlimactic it is to reach your number and then the feeling of "what next?" sets in. I appreciate the honesty they provide and find that it motivates me to rethink how aggressively we want to reach FI. I don't see myself wanting to retire early anymore, I just want to do work that I enjoy with a huge safety net (10-20X expenses).

@Dicey A little off topic but we're happy with 70/30. I realize it might not be mathematically optimal but we sleep better. Having never been through a market crash, I'm a little nervous to put it all in stocks even though intellectually I know it is the better play long term. If 100% stocks works for you though, more power to ya! Thanks for the comment.


Dicey

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@Dicey A little off topic but we're happy with 70/30. I realize it might not be mathematically optimal but we sleep better. Having never been through a market crash, I'm a little nervous to put it all in stocks even though intellectually I know it is the better play long term. If 100% stocks works for you though, more power to ya! Thanks for the comment.
First,  my comment was mangled by autofill and gremlins, but it's fixed now, with my apologies. Perhaps since it was garbled, it somehow read differently to you...

It's times like these that I really, really miss @boarder42. I'll do my best to be as succinct as he might have been:

1. My answer is not off topic. Besides, we do off topic as it relates to the subject matter all the time around here. It's all part of the learning process.

2. We don't have a whole lot of respect for doing something mathematically sub-optimal just to improve one's sleep.

3. We view market "crashes" as the perfect time to stock up while everything's on sale. You might even say some of us look forward to market dips and corrections. We call them opportunities.

4. I did not ask for your advice, you asked for ours when you started this thread. I am significantly older than you, so my allocation choices might be wholly inappropriate for you, especially because I am FIRE. Further, I only said you seem young for such a conservative allocation, I offered you no specific advice. You gave a snarky answer. Snarking people who are willing to help you achieve your FIRE goals isn't good form.

Pretty sure b24 would have used a lot fewer words.

cincystache

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@Dicey My apologies. Not trying to snark anybody. I appreciate your perspective

DoNorth

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I dropped down to PT work when I was 37 and my kids were 3 and 6 and did that for 3 years until they were 6 and 9.  We moved overseas (I just turned 40) and I do shift work now so I still work full time, but only 7 out of every 14 days so the quality of time we get is still really good.  In about 2 years when they are almost 9 and 12, I'll transition to complete FIRE with occasional volunteer projects, but nothing that consumes too much of my time.

marion10

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I found you are really needed once school starts- afterschool activities, homework- very hard to do if you are working full time. There are still a lot of hours where they are not in school- once you  count holidays, early dismissal, etc.

Tuskalusa

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I agree with marion10. I didn’t really feel stretched super thin until our son was in school. With the short days, the days off, the teacher conferences, and the after school activities, that’s when I wound up taking a couple years off to stay home. That d3cision definitely eased our family stress, and it was fun to hang out with our boy and his friends.

I now work about 75% tome, and that works nicely for the middle school years.