Author Topic: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?  (Read 3534 times)

Valvore

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Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« on: November 08, 2019, 03:23:27 PM »
My husband and I have been kicking around the idea of a gap year and the time clock for kids has accelerated those plans. I think I finally have a game plan. Let me know your thoughts. I want to solidify this and actually shoot for it!

We want to get as much traveling and have some trial FIRE experiences before we "settle down" with children. My husbands contract would end and I would leave my government job in February 2021. I could return to my job or similar job within the same department fairly easily (even after a 1 year sabbatical). I could return with all benefits and time served in tact. And I'm confident my husband could get a job pretty easily too.

We would also sell our house at this time eliminating the maintenance and stress of a house or renters. We should (market willing) pocket ~140K on that house. We would then take 30K of the home funds to travel the world for ~4-6 months. This would be done by flying to places cheaply, utilizing credit card and hotel points and generally going with the flow. Next we would return to the states and stay with my mom short term. We would either buy a shell tiny house and finish it (FIRE side hustle idea) or buy a completed tiny home or trailer with remaining home sale moneies. Then we would travel the U.S. for the next 4-5 months using 20K of saved cash. After our almost 1 year of travel, we would return to our home base and find jobs. After we find jobs we buy a house with the remaining 100K (or use a fraction of that a invest the rest) and sell the tiny home/trailer and reinvest funds. After health insurance kicks in, we would get preggers (around April/May 2022.)

This sabbatical would set us back ~1.5 year and could be the chance of a life time, especially since kids will change everything. I want to get the remaining travel bucket lists out of the way without kids (I do not like the idea of traveling with young children)

FIRE number = 425K
Current Savings = 150K (35%)
Start Gap Year ~Feb 2021 estimated savings = 250K (55.5%)
FIRE date w/o Gap Year = Dec 2023
FIRE date w/ Gap Year = April 2025

My problem is that I am so not a risk taker. I like safe options and leaving my cozy job, even with very good chance of getting a similar position when I return, freaks me out. And not saving for one whole year scares me. Has anyone done a whole year off? What are your thoughts?
« Last Edit: November 12, 2019, 08:44:23 AM by Valvore »

mozar

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2019, 08:21:15 PM »
Since you said you don't like taking risks how about save up the 425k first then travel? You could also start trying for kids now. It is very unlikely you will be able to get pregnant the exact month you plan to. It could take years. 
Then you can travel with your kids once they are a little older.

LightStache

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2019, 07:11:14 AM »
Your plan sounds completely reasonable, except for your $425K NW FIRE target. It's inconsistent for you to be freaked out about leaving a job for a year, but not about planning to retire on such a small nest egg, which is a very high risk plan.

Fortune favors the bold -- go do your adventure. Set a plan and stick to your timelines. The only potential challenge I see is if you have trouble selling your home at your target price, you may have to change tactics.

If you don't do this you'll be 40 y/o with all the typical adult responsibilities, looking back and saying to yourself "I can't believe I had that opportunity and I let fear stop me." Instead be that 40 y/o who can tell stories to their friends about "that one time in Malaysia..."

I just walked away from a great job for a mini-sabbatical. It's the second time I've done it. The more you do it, the less scary it becomes.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2019, 07:12:50 AM by FatFI2025 »

Linea_Norway

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2019, 08:03:32 AM »
Selling your home for your wanted price can be a challenge and take longer than expected, as I am currently experiencing.

I also know people who traveled in a child friendly way for a year the first year after their child was born. They sailed the coast in the own sailboat. For you that could also be an option, traveling by car or RV. But if you intend to føy around the world, I would not do so with small children.

Would a new job easily give you time off for pregnancy/birth if you worked there shortly? Or do you need to work there a minimum of time? Can you ask for a year sabbatical from your current job?

Hirondelle

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2019, 11:09:48 AM »
I always vote pro-sabbatical ideas as I think they're great.

Also, your setback may be less than expected. I personally would consider your travel budget quite high. You're just planning on 4-6 months. For such a 'short' time I would recommend you to not fly from continent to continent trying to hit them all, but pick 1-2 and see a handful of countries (depending on their size obviously, you don't need a full month for an Andorra or Singapore).

Many people, me included when I did it the first time, think of long term traveling as if they're giving it the intensity of a 2 week trip for the whole period of time. Trust me, you don't want that. Basically think of a 'normal' itinerary and add one extra day in every town/city you want to visit. That'll be a more realistic schedule. In the end you probably still wished you'd stayed longer though :)

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2019, 01:30:25 PM »
Ahhh, go for it. You’re 27, you’ve got plenty of time to work and save. You could possibly do that teach English online thing while you travel for some extra cash. I’m always pro seeing the world and yes, it would be much easier to do without kids, although you might also want to think about is as scouting places that you could return to later with kids, and you’d have some familiarity.

Now, I think your bigger issue is FIRE at $425k for a family of 3 or more. Not sure how you arrive at that but it feels very low.

blingwrx

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2019, 11:05:06 PM »
I say go for it, you’re both still very young and have plenty of time before your child bearing years come to an end. Not being able to finish up our world travels was something we always regretted. We did a lot of traveling for two years within the confines of our vacation days before we had kids but there’s still a lot of countries we didn’t get to see.

Now a days there’s no way we see ourselves dragging along young kids to the other side of the world on up to a 24 hr flight. Even with short domestic trips these days it’s a pain, basically a full car of stuff just to go anywhere. You need to bring car seats, strollers, travel cribs ect and if you have kids older than 2 you’ll need to buy them a ticket too which increase your vacation budget quite a bit. There’s a lot of cool stuff like hiking, snorkeling or fine dining experiences which are difficult to do with younger kids in tow. You’re stuck on their nap and feeding schedules. Then when they’re older and school aged your confined to booking trips when school is out and that’s usually double the cost. So it’s now or never m, go for it, enjoy the travels with just you two. Trust me there will be very little time with just you two of you once the kids are born, probably at least 18 years or longer before you guys can really have your own time to travel again and by then you’ll be a lot older and may not be up for the activities younger people do.

Otherwise as others have said your $425k FIRE plan is a crazy low number even for lean FIRE for a single person, let alone a family of 3 with ambitions to travel. You guys are also very young you’d need this to last a potential 60+ years. I’d reevaluate your plan and calculate all possible future expenses post FIRE. Realistically I’d guess you’d need at least twice this number even if you have low expenses.

chasesfish

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2019, 05:13:00 AM »
I'm pro-sabbatical.  That's a heck of a lot of money to have saved at your age.

I don't think you'll find your FIRE number realistic, but you'll probably find ways to earn more money or adjust that over time.

Finally, I would encourage you not to wait on having kids.  There's no perfect time and sometimes you have a plan then life punches you in the face.  We're FIREy types that waited until we were almost 34 to start.  Nearly four years later and we have still not accomplished that goal.

tomorrowsomewherenew

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2019, 07:11:45 AM »
I would work a little while longer. Firing on 425k WITH KIDS is completely unrealistic in this country.

SAVE, SAVE, SAVE, and THEN have kids. You're only 27!

Valvore

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2019, 08:05:53 AM »
Thanks everyone for all the advice and positivity! DH and I discussed it and we are locking in this plan. Instead of a specific date, we are panning to hit 250K in investments and sell the house.

To clarify the 425K FIRE number, that is the number we need in investments. My DH is a 100% disabled vet and receives VA disability of 36K/year (untaxed). Therefore the 425K would give us an added 17K (taxed in the lowest tax bracket) to add to our annual income. When we take the sabbatical, we would try to actually only live off the VA income.

As for selling the house- I am 99% confident we will sell the home for more than what we paid for it. We don't need the house money to do the travel, it is just a super nice safety net that will help me sleep better at night. Whether we sell it for 60K profit or 150K profit, its all gravy baby. Plus we don't want the added cost of a house while we are away and we are ready to leave our first fixer upper home. Housing markets in our area are rising and don't look to slow down (who knows though). And if we're REALLY lucky, when we come back home to get jobs and buy another house the market will be lower than what it is now. Fingers crossed.

side note: DH served his time, has permanent disabilities and has been awarded this money. His conditions will not improve and will likely shorten his life so we do not let them prevent us from travel.

Jon Bon

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2019, 08:16:46 AM »
Ok, since your still a child (I kid) and you have your husbands substantial pension/disability to augment any fire savings I say that your plan is fine for now.

However kids are likely going to change you in ways you cannot even predict. Which is fine and perfectly normal. Heck do you have the same life now that you expected to have when you were 22 years old? I expect not. So you don't need to carve any of your plans in granite. Yes taking a year off to travel is really not a huge deal at your age. You have lots of premium earning years ahead of you in case you want to increase your fire savings. Even if you travel for a year you have 36k in cash coming in that year, so even if you spend another $36k you are not that bad off.

I think your plan is fine and the great things about plans is you can change them if you need/want to.

 

Valvore

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2019, 08:49:28 AM »
Selling your home for your wanted price can be a challenge and take longer than expected, as I am currently experiencing.

I also know people who traveled in a child friendly way for a year the first year after their child was born. They sailed the coast in the own sailboat. For you that could also be an option, traveling by car or RV. But if you intend to føy around the world, I would not do so with small children.

Would a new job easily give you time off for pregnancy/birth if you worked there shortly? Or do you need to work there a minimum of time? Can you ask for a year sabbatical from your current job?

I just don't want to travel to foreign countries with small children. It gives me anxiety just thinking about it. I really do want to settle down and be a mom, just not right now. Current FMLA laws means that any job would have to give me 12 weeks leave if I have a baby. The difference will be whether that time is paid or unpaid. I cannot realistically ask for a sabbatical from my job, BUT they do really favor rehiring former employees. Which is why I think I will be able to rejoin fairly easily.

Car Jack

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2019, 09:11:05 AM »
Be careful.  To take 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA, which enables you to come back to the same, or similar job, you need to have worked in the job for a year and the company needs to have over some number of employees.  From memory, 50.  Some companies are great with this and some are not.  My wife took all the vacations and leaves from the HMO she worked at and they were great.  She finished up with FMLA.  She then went back to work and I took 12 weeks which my boss' boss did everything he could to prevent it.  Fortunate for me, HIS boss told him to knock it off (with the head of HR) and I took it.  All unpaid, of course.  This was early on...in 96 and was very sudden as we adopted, so one day, we were dinks and the next day (literally) we were parents.

Valvore

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2019, 01:04:50 PM »
Be careful.  To take 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA, which enables you to come back to the same, or similar job, you need to have worked in the job for a year and the company needs to have over some number of employees.  From memory, 50.  Some companies are great with this and some are not.  My wife took all the vacations and leaves from the HMO she worked at and they were great.  She finished up with FMLA.  She then went back to work and I took 12 weeks which my boss' boss did everything he could to prevent it.  Fortunate for me, HIS boss told him to knock it off (with the head of HR) and I took it.  All unpaid, of course.  This was early on...in 96 and was very sudden as we adopted, so one day, we were dinks and the next day (literally) we were parents.

Not to be ticky-tacy but just to show I've thought through this plan - You only to work somewhere for 1,250 hours in the last 12 months in order to use FMLA. This equates to just under 8 months. I wouldn't want to use FMLA until after the baby is born. So even if I get pregnant on day 1 and stick with it through the pregnancy, I would meet the time requirement. I also would get my time served back from my current job if I returned.

ormaybemidgets

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2019, 04:37:07 PM »
Be careful.  To take 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA, which enables you to come back to the same, or similar job, you need to have worked in the job for a year and the company needs to have over some number of employees.  From memory, 50.  Some companies are great with this and some are not.  My wife took all the vacations and leaves from the HMO she worked at and they were great.  She finished up with FMLA.  She then went back to work and I took 12 weeks which my boss' boss did everything he could to prevent it.  Fortunate for me, HIS boss told him to knock it off (with the head of HR) and I took it.  All unpaid, of course.  This was early on...in 96 and was very sudden as we adopted, so one day, we were dinks and the next day (literally) we were parents.

Not to be ticky-tacy but just to show I've thought through this plan - You only to work somewhere for 1,250 hours in the last 12 months in order to use FMLA. This equates to just under 8 months. I wouldn't want to use FMLA until after the baby is born. So even if I get pregnant on day 1 and stick with it through the pregnancy, I would meet the time requirement. I also would get my time served back from my current job if I returned.

IF you return to your former employer. But you cannot work for less than a year at a new employer and be entitled to FMLA. And the new employer might not meet other requirements for eligibility.

Quote
(Q)   Who can take FMLA leave?
In order to be eligible to take leave under the FMLA, an employee must:
- work for a covered employer;
- have worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave; (special hours of service rules apply to airline flight crew members)
- work at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles; and
- have worked for the employer for 12 months. The 12 months of employment are not required to be consecutive in order for the employee to qualify for FMLA leave. In general, only employment within seven years is counted unless the break in service is (1) due to an employee’s fulfillment of military obligations, or (2) governed by a collective bargaining agreement or other written agreement.
https://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/fmla-faqs.htm

Valvore

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2019, 10:50:06 AM »
~UPDATE~

We are definitely doing the sabbatical but we are so excited for it that we just can't wait until 250K. I am also worried about the housing market losing steam. We need to sell when it's easy to sell which is sooner rather than later. We are going to take our sabbatical once we hit 200K.

First posted this thread on November 8, 2019 when we just hit 150K in stache.
Currently have 165.4K in the stache. Thank you 4th quarter run up and 5 Friday November.
Upped 457B contributions to front load, I will max that account with the last paycheck in June.


Goal:Min 200K & Min home sale proceeds of 120K (likely to be closer to 140K or 150K)

New timeline
Current - 165.4K
May 2020 - 200K, 25K cash
June 2020 - 206K, 30K cash 457B maxed, put house on market
July 2020 - 210K, 30k cash, sell house, quit jobs(!), sell furniture, store the rest
August 2020 - Start Sabbatcial with 210K stache, 30K cash, ~120K home proceeds
August 2020 to December 2020 - International travel using credit card points and cash savings
December 2020 - Buy camper and truck with home proceeds ~40K.
December 2020 to August 2021 - Domestic travel and visiting family across the U.S.
August 2021 - return "home" in camper and apply for jobs
October 2021 - Sell Camper and purchase house with remaining home proceeds cash

Note: if market tanks while we are on our sabbatical, we are willing to put up to half of it in the market.

That's our plan. I can't stop thinking about it. I hope we can make it a reality.

GoCubsGo

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #16 on: December 26, 2019, 12:32:45 PM »
Sounds fun!  Assuming it's easy to get a job when you return you should be golden.  I assume you have insurance through your husband?  Not sure how insurance works when you are travelling internationally but I assume you've looked into that as well. Keep us updated, a post mortem on what went to plan and what didn't would be fun to read.

Valvore

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2019, 12:48:23 PM »
Sounds fun!  Assuming it's easy to get a job when you return you should be golden.  I assume you have insurance through your husband?  Not sure how insurance works when you are travelling internationally but I assume you've looked into that as well. Keep us updated, a post mortem on what went to plan and what didn't would be fun to read.

We will be getting an ACA plan for myself the entire year. My husband has insurance through the VA. Any international issues we will pay out of pocket. I have 15K saved up in an HSA to use if I need to, but I'm an optimist.

I am 100% positive there will be so many things that wont go to plan but I'm excited to face them.

Hirondelle

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2019, 03:40:15 AM »
Great to hear about your plans Valvore! Exciting times ahead for you :)

JoJo

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2019, 11:06:43 AM »
Congrats!  I traveled from age 31-33 and have no regrets... it was my first mini retirement.

I'd recommend you look into backpacker insurance that will cover you for accidents, unless your ACA plan will cover you for that (check into it, some don't cover outside the US).


mozar

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #20 on: December 28, 2019, 07:48:13 PM »
I highly recommend you put the house on the market in late April as prime selling season is May.

Luz

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2019, 08:35:49 PM »
Love your plan!
Kids do change everything! But I was surprised to find (as a not-very-adventurous person) that I've needed to balance all the settling down that takes place after kids, with healthy doses of adventure. I'm planning to take a 1 and 3 year-old to a foreign country in the near future. It's absolutely anxiety-provoking and sounds crazy when I think it through practically, but I couldn't be more pleased with the idea that I'm still doing what I've dreamed of, even with a few young kids in tow.
You may be happy staying put after becoming a mother. Or you and your partner may find yourselves schlepping that kid along on many more cross-continent/country treks. You never know!

Valvore

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #22 on: December 30, 2019, 03:17:31 PM »
I highly recommend you put the house on the market in late April as prime selling season is May.

Thanks for the tip! Trust me, I'll take any advice that gets me on this sabbatical sooner ;)

Are you in real estate? I live right next to a school so I was thinking put the house on the market over the summer before school starts so that families are willing to buy. It is a HOT neighborhood for young families.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #23 on: December 31, 2019, 09:59:43 AM »
Quote
Any international issues we will pay out of pocket.

Buy travel insurance, that includes evacuation back home if needed. One bad accident could ruin your finances, and especially if you’re doing any third world travel, you’ll want the option to be evacuated back to the states. (Thinking of someone I knew whose healthy 40 year old husband suffered a complicated femur fracture water-skiing in a foreign country. ) Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.


Linea_Norway

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Re: Gap Year/Sabbatical before kids?
« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2020, 01:48:11 AM »
I highly recommend you put the house on the market in late April as prime selling season is May.

Thanks for the tip! Trust me, I'll take any advice that gets me on this sabbatical sooner ;)

Are you in real estate? I live right next to a school so I was thinking put the house on the market over the summer before school starts so that families are willing to buy. It is a HOT neighborhood for young families.

I think families would rather buy a house in May and be well installed by the time the schools start.