Author Topic: Anyone FIRE in conjunction with having a child, first or later born?  (Read 1060 times)

LadyMaWhiskers

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I’d love to hear about your experience!

This is almost one of those “should I” posts, but let’s be real: it’s not up to the Internet strangers.

Still would love to hear about your experience. Any regrets? Workforce re-entry? Pro tips?

nereo

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Re: Anyone FIRE in conjunction with having a child, first or later born?
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2019, 08:32:15 AM »
I don't know if I qualify since we are on path to FIRE, but haven't reached that milestone yet (will likely be a 4-5 years before we hit FI, and will likely keep working on more retracted basis afterwards).

So far parenthood has had a fairly negligible effect on our FIRE path, while having a much bigger impact on our social lives than expected. I attribute this to two things;
i) kids don't HAVE to cost a ton of money
ii) we already had a sizable 'stache of investments, an E-fund and health insurance before we had our first child.

Despite all the marketing and scary articles about kids costing '$210,000 each before college!' this doesn't have to be the case. Between family gifts (some), hand-me-downs from friends (a ton) and a few consignment purchases we spend maybe $50/month on our baby (outside saving for college and health insurance, covered below).  There's such an enormous surplus of kid stuff in this world, and kids grow out of it so fast. We also started contributing $100/week to a 529 college fund before she was born, which will be more than enough by the time she's college aged - in fact my calculations show that we'll be able to stop contributing entirely before she enters elementary school and compounding will do the rest.

Having employer-sponsored health insurance has been key in keeping all costs down; interestingly it cost less to add DD to our plan than it did my spouse, but at an additional ~$28/mo we've recouped over $7k in medical expenses the first year alone due to some medical issues and lots and lots of doctors visits. We anticipate similar bills in year 2 but again, this is covered by insurance so the net cost to us will be under $400/year.

Daycare could be a considerably cost (~$1,100/mo in our area) but so far we've been able to avoid it entirely. My spouse works at home (which has proven immensely challenging with a young child) but I have a flexible schedule where I can also work from home 2 to 3 days a week.  Our strategy has been to basically alternate which parent is working and which is watching the child and/or doing housework.  THe downside is that this means one of us starts at 6am and the other stops around 9pm, and at least one of us has to work at least one day over the weekend, but it's our approach to not putting her into daycare just yet.    When she gets older we'll do limited daycare, but that will have as much to do with social interaction as it does with freeing us up to do other things (both will be important!). Personally, we wanted specifically NOT to put her in daycare for the first 12 months for a variety of reasons (including breastfeeding, disease, personal interaction, cost). But it's a decision each parent(s) will have to make on their own.

Finally - having a strong social network has made all of this possible. We've been unable to have much support from our families (too far away), but our workplaces have parent-friendly policies, a number of our friends have recently had children (hand-me-downs!, advice!, emotional support!), and our community has a lot of groups for new parents.  Without them I don't know how we would ahve survived without spending a crap-ton more money.  If you are expecting, or even considering becoming a parent I'd put some effort into shoring up these networks now.  That will pay you dividends, while reading those articles about baby-development and potential childhood diseases will be relatively useless and scary.

hope that gives you some good input...
~n~

...also, hopefully @arebelspy and @sol will chime in, since they FIREd with children while still in their 30s and 40s.

sol

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Re: Anyone FIRE in conjunction with having a child, first or later born?
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2019, 09:18:23 AM »
...also, hopefully @arebelspy and @sol will chime in, since they FIREd with children while still in their 30s and 40s.

I retired last year with two teenager and a five year old in the house.  It's only been a few months, but life is definitely easier now.

Everyone is busy.  The older kids have stuff going on, sports and clubs and music and such, that we support with insane amounts of driving them around town.  I am thankful every day for the central location of our home relative to their social lives.  People who live way out in the suburbs must spend hours per day driving around, instead of making five minute trips six times per day. 

My youngest was in daycare while we were working, first an in-home place and then a Montessori preschool.  They were expensive, and I always felt like someone else was raising my child, but in retrospect it worked out really well.  Montessori was not only a loving environment, she loved the challenge of learning new things in a structured environment and then started Kindergarten with a huge head start.

The biggest change in our lives is that the extra few hours in the middle of the school day can now get used for household maintenance stuff that often got neglected or postponed when we were both working.  I no longer have to do grocery shopping at 9pm after the kids go to bed, for example, which was a common occurrence when we didn't get home until 5:15 and then had to stuff dinner in them and then take them to the pool and a scout meeting before getting home at 8:30 to squeeze in a little homework help before bed.  There was never time to cook a complicated meal, or sit and read or play music.  Television was basically non-existent in our household.  So was vacuuming.

Things are much more relaxed now.  By the time the kids get home we already have a plan worked out for the evening, including dinner in the works and a schedule of which parent is doing what driving to what places.  Before, we were usually just winging it in the evenings because we had stressful jobs that monopolized our time and attention all day.  Now I can shop and clean and prep and plan before the kids get home, help with homework and be done before dinner, and then we already know who's going where with which parent so the kid driving goes more smoothly.

I am definitely a better parent now that I'm retired.  I am less stressed, and the kids get more of my time.  We're fortunate that our kids are all relatively normal and well-adjusted, but we have several friends who have kids with disabilities of various sorts and I am terrified of having to live like they do, navigating those challenges while losing 40 hours plus commute time to an office each week.  We have enough drama in our house just dealing with normal teenage angst, and I can't imagine having to also deal with a kid who is paralyzed, suicidal, psychotic, terminally ill, or developmentally atypical in some way.  The biggest gamble in having kids, in my mind, isn't the time or the money aspect but the very real possibility that you're going to be one of those lucky parents whose gets handed extra challenges.  Doing that AND sitting in a cubicle from 9-5 each workday?  I think I'd crack.

I used to work an entire office of successful and educated professionals, scientists and engineers with PhDs and long resumes of professional accolades, and the stories of their family lives were just terrifying.  How does someone so thoughtful and put-together end up raising a murderer or a drug dealer?  How do you manage a hundred million dollar project and 30 professional staff all day long and then go home and watch your baby suffocate in the evenings, unable to do anything?  Parenthood is humbling, and scary, and not nearly as much in your control as you think it will be.  Whether you're retired or not.

wordnerd

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Re: Anyone FIRE in conjunction with having a child, first or later born?
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2019, 09:23:19 AM »
My husband and I FIREd with the birth of our second child. It's been less than a year, but so far, it's definitely been the right choice for our family. Not having to get up to go to work, not having to pump or commute, not getting daycare germs twice over have been huge in making the transition to two kids joyful rather than onerous (though it's still been really tiring at times). If it's something you want to do and can swing financially, I'd say go for it.

If both parents will be FIREing at the same time, I would have some upfront conversations about how workload will be split and then be ready to adjust. Also make sure you and your spouse both get enough alone time and social time for each of you. It's requires more intentionality after kids and FIREing.

ETA: Obviously, workforce reentry hasn't been an issue for us yet, but here's how I think about it. Given our numbers, it's unlikely either of us will need to work for money again. But if we hit a bad sequence of returns or some other unforeseen circumstance, it's possible we may need to bring down our WR. I made a list of (22, I think?) things I could do to greatly reduce our WR, working part-time, or cover our expenses, working full-time. These are things with low bars to entry or that I have experience in. If I think of something new, I add it to my list. It's a kind of security blanket. I've stopped looking at it now that I'm more comfortable with the idea that we're OK as unemployed parents. :)
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 10:01:29 AM by wordnerd »

nereo

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Re: Anyone FIRE in conjunction with having a child, first or later born?
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2019, 12:24:33 PM »

ETA: Obviously, workforce reentry hasn't been an issue for us yet, but here's how I think about it. Given our numbers, it's unlikely either of us will need to work for money again. But if we hit a bad sequence of returns or some other unforeseen circumstance, it's possible we may need to bring down our WR. I made a list of (22, I think?) things I could do to greatly reduce our WR, working part-time, or cover our expenses, working full-time. These are things with low bars to entry or that I have experience in. If I think of something new, I add it to my list. It's a kind of security blanket. I've stopped looking at it now that I'm more comfortable with the idea that we're OK as unemployed parents. :)

I'd love to see that list, wordnerd - if you care to share.  I've kept my own mental list but I've never written it down (perhaps it's time that I do).

There was never time to cook a complicated meal, or sit and read or play music.  Television was basically non-existent in our household. So was vacuuming.

Things are much more relaxed now. 
Good to know regular vacuuming suffered during your working years as well, Sol. I'm embarassed how infrequently that's gotten done lately, though we've started vacuuming the one room where she crawls around on the floor regularly.

LadyMaWhiskers

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Re: Anyone FIRE in conjunction with having a child, first or later born?
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2019, 06:04:09 AM »
Thanks for chiming in.

A bit about me...I'm single (divorced), female, almost 40. I have a four year old son. I would like to have a second child.

I live in a very HCOL area, because my whole family is here, and no one is leaving. 300+ days of sunshine doesn't hurt either. I work as a product manager, remotely from the main office, so my current job is WFH. It is also extremely demanding, and I have a travel schedule that is incompatible with a second child, and frankly isn't working with the first either. I have strong, ambivalent feelings about the job. I am a driven person, and totally unsure how I would fare mentally without a demanding job to consume my energy.

I have income from rental property that is sufficient for mustachian level expenses + HCOL. I have not really kept my expenses mustachian though. I've had an additional $140k salary coming in, so not been motivated enough to focus on budget, especially when the job itself is extraordinarily demanding. I set a goal at the beginning of 2018 to pay off my mortgage, and did it!

Random thoughts and considerations:


-- Post-FIRE budget...it should go down, right? I associate not working with spending money, because I do all my discretionary spending on the weekends. Damn, I may have to grow an actual mustache.

--Childcare...I half-joked (no more than half joking) when I spent 60% of my take home in 2017 on a nanny that it was worth it to work for the nanny. How much of that sentiment is/was due to work stress (12 hr days, albeit from home) and how much due to temperament? I was also totally at ease during maternity leave. Do I have it in me to be a SAHM?

--Life balance...currently, there is none. Even with a decent ability to discipline myself and problem-solve, I do not exercise; I do not nuture a strong social network; I do not engage in my hobbies; I have done very, very little dating even after feeling "ready" post-divorce. All my time goes to my two jobs: 1) product manager and 2) after school gym teacher (#2 is really the mom job, but my son wants to play sports pretty much 90% of the time, so I spin this sometimes. Gym teacher is a lesbian dream job after all, and that's my persuasion.)

--Peer socialization...the worst thing about my current job is the WFH/travel combo. I need the opposite for my family/personal situation, i.e., leave the house during the day to interface with colleagues, sleep at home almost every day of the year. Do I need a new job instead of FIRE?

-----------

Thanks for talking me through it, mustachians!



nereo

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Re: Anyone FIRE in conjunction with having a child, first or later born?
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2019, 09:00:49 AM »
Reading over your last post, it sounds to me like your current situation is not making you particularly happy, and is likely unsustainable.   You are working insane hours, paying a king's ransom for others to outsource tasks (e.g. Nanny), letting your body deteriorate (which will have long-term consequences on both your health and happiness) and missing out on necessary social interactions.

I think it's time to take a good hard look at what you are doing and where you want to go from here. Despite your very high salary it sounds like you could possibly retire now, or at a minimum take a less stressful job, improve your life and still meet expenses.

To answer a few questions:
Generally your post-FIRE budget will go down, though not always.  Depends on the individual.  A lot of analyses have shown spending to decrease on average 1-2% per year for several decades post retirement.

You need a life/work balance, even if you decide to keep working for a number of years.  What you are doing sounds unsustainable, unhealthy, and not particularly great for your son.

Getting rid of your current job in favor of something with less travel and less demanding hours will help solve your peer-socialization.

Just my thoughts...

Blue82

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Re: Anyone FIRE in conjunction with having a child, first or later born?
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2019, 06:28:06 PM »
For another perspective, what about keeping a toe in and not leaving the workforce completely, or not committing to it? 

Personally, we're FI and DH left work in 2018.  I've kept working so far because I like it and because I got pregnant and wanted platinum insurance for a while.  When the kid gets here in a couple months, I will go on maternity, and if I love staying at home will likely stay at home.  If I hate it, I can flee back to the office and we can get help if DH doesn't want to SAHP 100% of the time. 

More than likely, though, I can see us ending up somewhere in the middle.  Where I tell my boss I'm willing to put in very PT flexible hours or arrange a consulting agreement or something where I keep some mental stimulation with ongoing projects, but pass off the annoying/more tedious parts of my job onto others in prep for maternity leave.  And then I get to spend more time with the kid!

So I don't think it has to be all or nothing...

LadyMaWhiskers

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Re: Anyone FIRE in conjunction with having a child, first or later born?
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2019, 04:29:31 PM »
Indeed. I guess I'll do that unless and until I have a second child. I have in mind to FIRE with the birth of a second child. That will be an insurance drag in all likelihood, and will have to be planned accordingly.

waltworks

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Re: Anyone FIRE in conjunction with having a child, first or later born?
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2019, 10:42:45 PM »
This sounds more like a question about what to do with your life than about having another kid to me. I mean, if you're just going to be working all the time and a nanny is going to raise them, why have kids at all?

If you're spending lots of money on, say, a nice new car every few years - then what you're really doing is choosing a car over your kid. Full stop. If you start thinking about it that way, then your decision will be pretty easy (hopefully).

We are FIRE'd (though I still work 20 hours or so a week) and have 2 kids with another on the way, plus an elderly dependent. We have a crappy old car and no possessions worth enough to even bother locking our house (in fact we recently realized we don't actually have the keys anymore). We go rock climbing, skiing, and mountain biking as much as we want and when we're tired we sit down and read some good books with a glass of wine. Life is good.

That could be your life too. Or instead you can work a ton and have the BMW and drink $8 lattes every morning. Your call.

-W

LadyMaWhiskers

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Re: Anyone FIRE in conjunction with having a child, first or later born?
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2019, 07:45:59 PM »
...or you can work a ton and have the BMW and drink $8 lattes every morning. Your call.

-W

:0   :0   :0

I guess that's what is meant by face punching!? My money goes not to a car, but to property taxes and prepared food and stacking paper, but your point is taken.

waltworks

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Re: Anyone FIRE in conjunction with having a child, first or later born?
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2019, 12:26:50 PM »
To be clear, the BMW was only a rhetorical facepunch. You've said you have enough to be at least minimally FIRE but choose to continue working and spending more than you need to, though. So you are making that decision in one way or another.

If you're a driven person, I think you can find that doing a really awesome job raising kids can easily be enough. Or you can consult and do some part time stuff AND have plenty of family time.

Either way, time for a serious think about your life goals.

-W

LadyMaWhiskers

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Re: Anyone FIRE in conjunction with having a child, first or later born?
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2019, 07:50:02 AM »
To be clear, the BMW was only a rhetorical facepunch. You've said you have enough to be at least minimally FIRE but choose to continue working and spending more than you need to, though. So you are making that decision in one way or another.

If you're a driven person, I think you can find that doing a really awesome job raising kids can easily be enough. Or you can consult and do some part time stuff AND have plenty of family time.

Either way, time for a serious think about your life goals.

-W

Are you my tough love angel? I'm trying to sort this all out at this very moment. I focused on paying off my mortgage last year, and was not FI until a few weeks ago. I kept a careful budget tracker 2014-17, but blew it off 2018 and just focused on getting that mortgge to zero by December.

Now I'm testing the waters...trying to home in on what a FIRE budget would look like, while extricating myself from responsibilities at work while pursuing assisted reproduction options. I will choose to continue working while these three elements play out over the course of this year. I don't have a strong EF at this time. If I simulate the FIRE budget effectively this year, I will have a year's take-home pay as EF. And I think I'll feel better about the job tenure if I can see it through to AT LEAST fall '19, up to summer '20. Software is never finished, but I want to get my product up on it's own legs before leaving it to others to manage.

waltworks

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Re: Anyone FIRE in conjunction with having a child, first or later born?
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2019, 07:03:58 PM »
If anyone should post a case study, it's probably you. There are some VERY creative and financially savvy people here who can help you slice and dice the budget to give up negligible life satisfaction and save a ton of money.

Good luck with kid 2!

-W