Author Topic: 18 Year Plan starts now - Planning for First Kiddo this year  (Read 1290 times)

ridebikeseveryday

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18 Year Plan starts now - Planning for First Kiddo this year
« on: January 28, 2023, 01:33:01 PM »
Hey all, hope you're well. Looking to the hive mind for what I might be missing for family finance steps as well as kiddo-related steps, as free time for fun mustachian research is shrinking fast...

BLUF: We're expecting in April, and I'm transitioning from a mindset of Dual-(or Single)-Income-No-Kids to Head-of-Household and I'm behind on what brilliant things I ought to do on the personal finance side of life, and would please like some suggestions.

Current Income, Savings, Spendings, Cash:
  • In 2022 we were lucky (and worked a lot of extra shifts) and had a MAGI that excludes us from funding a Roth, so combined income just over the 214k limit.
  • Savings is partly equity in a house with a cheap mortgage and about $1m in savings spread across Roths, 401ks, safety nets, and brokerage accounts.
  • Our cash position is probably too 'good' (easily 18 months of cash, partially because we saved for a car but ended up financing it as the loan rate is less than savings interest right now) but I'm okay with that - I'll hold on to it until we have a healthy kid (fingers crossed) and then put it somewhere smart.
  • Besides the new car loan that we could pay off today, our expenses are pretty low... not true mustachian but good for two working individuals taking nice vacations and feeling like we can spend as much as we want in the categories that make us happiest. We have short commutes, prefer to cook at home, no gambling habits, use the library, bike commute when weather permits, and a 'fun day out' is taking sandwiches on a mountainous hike in glorious public parks.
  • We also typically max out 401ks, used to max out Roths, max HSA, and keep saving above that.

Near Term Plans:
  • We're both on one employer health plan that we'll be on all year, HDHP with HSA that's well funded from prior years.
  • Mom will be taking 4 months or so off, mostly unpaid.
  • Dad will be taking 6 weeks off over the first year, all paid.
  • Kiddo will start daycare at 4-5 months, up to 5 days a week at $2k a month.
  • As a result, our income is going to be the lowest it has been for a while due to the time off but still 160-200k ish depending on how many shifts and some other wildcards.
  • We plan to start a Trust - simply on the basis that my old tax professor told us they cost $500 but will save your beneficiary 10x that amount or more, but not set in stone because clearly I'm spouting 10 year old advice.

Goals:
  • We are not on the near term FIRE plan, we like our jobs and with lots of unknowns in kid raising, we plan to stay employed for another ~18 years give or take... we hope to make career path choices that let us have some income security, personal growth, more adult friends, but also appropriate time to spend with kids.
  • We want to have a comfortable amount of money set aside for kid things - ideally our financial planning can help getting them started in life, such as with education costs if they spike as US college costs have in the last decade but maybe more flexible than just college - house down payment, 'loan' to help them with a startup, who knows...
Beyond that, we don't have any solid plans - I've thought maybe we'd start some Roth Conversion ladder work since our income dips, but I don't think it makes sense since the dip isn't that large. Do we... start a trust? 529? yearly gifts to a kiddo brokerage account? Pay them for chores with the money going into a Roth? Buy a rental with the plan to leave it to them with a stepped up basis benefit? The list of options seems endless!

Basically, I'm looking for time phased options for smart things to do in year zero, 0-5, 5-12, 12-18 - either very broadly stated (like a link to a relevant blog) or stuff that is specific to our case.

Thanks in advance!
« Last Edit: January 28, 2023, 01:36:54 PM by ridebikeseveryday »

Laura33

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Re: 18 Year Plan starts now - Planning for First Kiddo this year
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2023, 10:51:13 AM »
First:  congratulations!!

Second:  Do you have a will?  Have you identified a guardian?  Do you have life insurance?  If not, do those before anything else. 

Do not take advice from the peanut gallery about setting up trusts and the like; things have changed dramatically with estate tax and such over the past number of years, and you need serious advice from an actual expert.  Do not fuck that up, because it can cost your heirs thousands of dollars and a lot of unnecessary hassle.  If there's one thing I can convince you of, it's that this is not a DIY project.  I'm a lawyer, and I still hire an expert for my own will (and yes, I have a trust, but it was written carefully to provide flexibility for changes in estate tax exemptions).  The rules are complex, and to make it worse, state laws are very different from each other, federal laws are different from state laws, and they all tend to change with the political winds. 

Beyond that, my advice is to give it a year before you even think about major changes to your financial plan.  You don't yet know what is going to happen, how both of you are going to feel about going back to work, or what your day-to-day financial life is going to look like post-kid.  So give yourselves time to figure out life with an infant, then figure out how to structure your finances around it.

When you do think about that, really, I'd stick with the Investment Order.  Your first priority is to keep your family protected and your future on track.  Once you have all that covered, you can focus more on saving for college, optimizing savings vehicles, etc.  In the interim, just keep shoveling money away in your tax-protected accounts as you've been doing.  (And yes, keeping that cash cushion for now is awesome, because it gives you immediate flexibility to handle whatever happens over the next year). 

EverythingisNew

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Re: 18 Year Plan starts now - Planning for First Kiddo this year
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2023, 05:21:15 PM »
Yes congratulations as well! Kids bring a lot of purpose and enjoy into life!

Whatever path you chose, kids are not that expensive.

My year recommendations:
0-4:  focus on 529 so you donít have to later. Plus benefits most from compounding! Pay for professional photos. Save by living in low cost housing and cheap cars. We lived in really cheap housing during this time. Consider living close to grandparents during this time (huge cost savings). Buy ďTeach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy LessonsĒ and try to get through it before kindergartenÖ this setup all 3 of my kids for success! Great time to have one stay at home parent or live close to family.

5-9: focus on vacations and finding your kids interests/talents though extra curricular. These are my favorite years. Kids are going to bed at 8 and sleeping through the night. They are fun! Good time to work because itís smooth sailing and better sleep at night.

10-14: focus on buying a house in a good school district that you can live in long term (this was very expensive for us). Before 10 I think most public schools are fine, but after 10 you may need to spend more to get into a good district.

15-18: havenít gotten here, but I imagine food and clothes would be more expensive. I also donít want to be cheap with my kids in these years because I remember how my parents let me do extravagant things like they bought me a car and paid for me to go to on mission trips and vacations with friends. I want to spend the most these years.

College years: When the house is empty and the kids are gone, I personally want to work for a few years. I want to pay off their student loans and anything the 529 from years 0-5 doesnít cover. I want to give them a Roth IRA gift every year.

Grandma years: I definitely donít want to be working once I have grandkids! But there is a lot of time between these years. Grandma years arenít guaranteed, so againÖ MAKE the most out of the precious time with your kids! There is always more time to work in life.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2023, 06:03:00 PM by KateFIRE »

EverythingisNew

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Re: 18 Year Plan starts now - Planning for First Kiddo this year
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2023, 05:46:42 PM »
First:  congratulations!!

Second:  Do you have a will?  Have you identified a guardian?  Do you have life insurance?  If not, do those before anything else. 

I agree that itís very important to select guardians if your child becomes an orphan. Think carefully about this.

I disagree about life insurance. First, insurance companies calculate that statistically people will pay far more than the company will pay out. Second, orphans and widows can collect the deceasedís social security until age 18. We had these payments in our family because of a death. Third, workplaces usually automatically give you life insurance equal to one year of pay.

The best insurance is to save money yourself. Be self insured on life insurance. We had an orphan in our family and they got SSI and inherited all the assets. Money wasnít a problem.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2023, 05:49:03 PM by KateFIRE »

Steeze

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Re: 18 Year Plan starts now - Planning for First Kiddo this year
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2023, 06:35:09 PM »
Our little guy is turning 2 soon so I'll leave my advice to the 0-2 years.

Setup a 529, small tax benefit depending on where you live. When DW got pregnant I opened one up with myself as beneficiary and put in the max amount I could get a tax break on, $10k. Then another $10k when he was born. Another $10k last year, and another $10k this year. I'll drop another $10k in on his 2nd birthday for $50k total, $40k of which I got a tax break on. Should compound to around $100k when he is 18 (inflation adjusted). I figure his education will be between $100k-$200k in 2021 dollars, so this should be a nice start. If we can do more we will, but we can use other non-529 money for that. Or if he doesn't use it we can pass it on to grand kids or use it ourselves in retirement.

I did get a life insurance policy, 20 years, 1 million. it is pretty cheap to pay for and would let DW FIRE if I was gone. I gave DW all of the account user names, passwords, and balance in every account so she knows where the cash is. I made sure she was beneficiary on everything and DS is the 2nd beneficiary. I consolidated everything into 1 brokerage and simplified my holdings as much as possible so it was easier to understand.

Take time off. As much as you can. Enjoy it. The time flies by. Its hard to believe he is already 2. I look at the old pictures and it makes me sad those days are already over. If you can afford to stay home or have your wife stay home you won't regret it. Screw the money, the world is full of money and it is easy to get. This life experience is very temporary.

The first months (year?) are brutal. Get all the help you can get. Cleaning, take out, laundry, parents help, whatever you can get.

Things go wrong, or at least differently than you expect. You can plan and read and research all you want, things go wrong. Be understanding, be respectful, be helpful, be kind. Try not to have unrealistic expectations. Little man broke his collar bone after a fall off the bed. Was hard not to be mad, but DW was already very upset feeling like a bad mom. No need to pile on. Don't pile on.

Be prepared for things to go differently than expected. Daycare at 5 months? maybe, maybe not. Wife returns to work? maybe maybe not. Parents are there to help? -- you get the point. DW wanted to exclusively breast feed but we had to intervene with formula after a couple weeks to get his weight up. Again, DW felt like a failure, it was a difficult thing for her to accept. My parents are VERY involved in my niece's life, but surprisingly have only visited us twice in two years even though we are about the same distance away. I thought they would be around to help a lot more. DW's parents were supposed to spend a few months here helping us out, but due to COVID could not travel as expected. Her mom just met our son for the first time recently.

I had a pretty solid plan to retire by 40 quite comfortably. Live here for X years. Work here for X years, make X dollars, DW works for x years, makes x dollars. We save x%, compounding, etc. etc. All that is out the window. Now we are looking at building a multi-generational home in a good school district near quality hospitals. My high earning years are likely coming to a premature end and DW wants to go back to work earlier than originally planned. I though we would do daycare at 1 year old, had the spread sheet with different scenarios of who took off when, what parent was coming in to cover the gaps, etc. None of that happened. After he was here we knew we didn't want to send him away to daycare. Things change. We changed.

charis

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Re: 18 Year Plan starts now - Planning for First Kiddo this year
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2023, 07:03:43 PM »
10-14: focus on buying a house in a good school district that you can live in long term (this was very expensive for us). Before 10 I think most public schools are fine, but after 10 you may need to spend more to get into a good district.

Yeah, maybe dig a little deeper before accepting this kind of advice.  I don't want to put this poster in the hot seat without context, but I can't let it go without pushing back.  Underperforming public schools are frequently located in formerly redlined areas and the practice of moving to good (wealthy) districts is perpetuating profound inequality in education.  There's a wealth of research on this issue.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2023, 07:05:46 PM by charis »

Laura33

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Re: 18 Year Plan starts now - Planning for First Kiddo this year
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2023, 07:51:21 PM »
First:  congratulations!!

Second:  Do you have a will?  Have you identified a guardian?  Do you have life insurance?  If not, do those before anything else. 

I agree that itís very important to select guardians if your child becomes an orphan. Think carefully about this.

I disagree about life insurance. First, insurance companies calculate that statistically people will pay far more than the company will pay out. Second, orphans and widows can collect the deceasedís social security until age 18. We had these payments in our family because of a death. Third, workplaces usually automatically give you life insurance equal to one year of pay.

The best insurance is to save money yourself. Be self insured on life insurance. We had an orphan in our family and they got SSI and inherited all the assets. Money wasnít a problem.

OK, so I think the advice is do your homework.  SS payments are definitely a great source of support and should be evaluated.  In our area, though, we were at one point paying $2400/mo. for daycare for two kids, and our financial plans were based on the assumption that we'd both be able to maintain our high-paid jobs until the kids went to college.  So our goal was to have enough insurance that the survivor wasn't forced to make any major life changes while figuring things out, to cover the cost of a nanny until college, and to cover the college contributions that would be cut back without the second income. 

In short, SS wouldn't have come close to offsetting either of our salaries. Could we have gotten by with SS and a year's salary as insurance?  Of course.  But we also figured that if one of us died, the survivor and kids would be dealing with enough emotional stuff; we didn't want to add forced changes because of changed financial circumstances on top of that.

Finally, I don't think the bolded part is a reason to avoid insurance.  The very nature of insurance is to spread costs around.  Yes, on average, you're not going to make money from it.  But when you have a loss, you don't deal with an average -- you personally bear the entire cost of the loss yourself.  What's the present value of all future salaries for a 35-yr-old middle manager making $120K/yr?  That's what you lose if he dies.  So do you want run the risk of bearing the entire loss yourself?  Or do you want to pay a little to have someone else step in and share the load if such a horrible thing did happen?

We're on the other side of this right now.  We've paid maybe $1800/yr for home insurance for the past however many years.  Last year, we had a house fire, and the insurance company is going to pay us probably around $2M all told for repairs, contents, code upgrade, an apartment for 18 months, you name it.  Could we have managed without insurance?  Sure; we've saved a lot.  But that comes at a cost -- not being able to afford to restore the house's historic character, going back to full-time work to pay the bills, probably having to work for a while vs. currently knowing both of us can walk any time we want, and just a lot more day-to-day financial stress on top of the other stress of moving and rebuilding. 

IOW, I didn't buy insurance because I really really hoped I'd get $2M out of it.  I bought it to avoid having a chance event that's completely out of my control fuck up all my plans.  And it's been totally worth it -- both the home insurance that I filed a claim on, and the life insurance that I didn't.  They both served exactly the purpose for which they were intended. 

EverythingisNew

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Re: 18 Year Plan starts now - Planning for First Kiddo this year
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2023, 10:42:47 PM »
@Laura33 I am sorry about your house loss. That is very hard and an emotional loss as well. 

I agree that with insurance you have to do your homework and think about if you would personally need it. For example we always decline medical payments for ourselves on our auto policy because we have medical insurance so this is a duplicate insurance. When I think of our familyís situation, we donít need life insuranceÖ mostly because of FIRE principles and because I donít think money would benefit us in the sadness of death. Thinking of what we would do, if one died, we would be fine. Financially it would be much better than divorce and we donít have divorce insurance (pre-nup?). I think my husband would remarry (savings of 3 adults now split between 2) and I would move closer to my parents and possibly remarry (a LCOL area). If both died, my kids would have WAY more money than if we lived. The guardians we picked are not people who would take more than the SS to raise them and they would have our savings when they are 18. If we had life insurance in addition to our saving and assets, it would be too much for an 18 year olds good. Thatís why we donít buy life insurance.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2023, 10:55:27 PM by KateFIRE »

reeshau

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Re: 18 Year Plan starts now - Planning for First Kiddo this year
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2023, 03:28:20 PM »
+1 to getting started on a 529 early.  In addition to starting early, you can make 5 years' contribution at once, to give it even more time to compound.

If you think your or your spouse's parents may want to or be able to help with college, have that discussion with them now.  They will likely be estate planning, so this may bring new ideas to them, or get them to think about it.  At least, you can be transparent with them what your plans are.

Malossi792

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Re: 18 Year Plan starts now - Planning for First Kiddo this year
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2023, 04:12:40 AM »
Our little guy is turning 2 soon so I'll leave my advice to the 0-2 years.

Setup a 529, small tax benefit depending on where you live. When DW got pregnant I opened one up with myself as beneficiary and put in the max amount I could get a tax break on, $10k. Then another $10k when he was born. Another $10k last year, and another $10k this year. I'll drop another $10k in on his 2nd birthday for $50k total, $40k of which I got a tax break on. Should compound to around $100k when he is 18 (inflation adjusted). I figure his education will be between $100k-$200k in 2021 dollars, so this should be a nice start. If we can do more we will, but we can use other non-529 money for that. Or if he doesn't use it we can pass it on to grand kids or use it ourselves in retirement.

I did get a life insurance policy, 20 years, 1 million. it is pretty cheap to pay for and would let DW FIRE if I was gone. I gave DW all of the account user names, passwords, and balance in every account so she knows where the cash is. I made sure she was beneficiary on everything and DS is the 2nd beneficiary. I consolidated everything into 1 brokerage and simplified my holdings as much as possible so it was easier to understand.

Take time off. As much as you can. Enjoy it. The time flies by. Its hard to believe he is already 2. I look at the old pictures and it makes me sad those days are already over. If you can afford to stay home or have your wife stay home you won't regret it. Screw the money, the world is full of money and it is easy to get. This life experience is very temporary.

The first months (year?) are brutal. Get all the help you can get. Cleaning, take out, laundry, parents help, whatever you can get.

Things go wrong, or at least differently than you expect. You can plan and read and research all you want, things go wrong. Be understanding, be respectful, be helpful, be kind. Try not to have unrealistic expectations. Little man broke his collar bone after a fall off the bed. Was hard not to be mad, but DW was already very upset feeling like a bad mom. No need to pile on. Don't pile on.

Be prepared for things to go differently than expected. Daycare at 5 months? maybe, maybe not. Wife returns to work? maybe maybe not. Parents are there to help? -- you get the point. DW wanted to exclusively breast feed but we had to intervene with formula after a couple weeks to get his weight up. Again, DW felt like a failure, it was a difficult thing for her to accept. My parents are VERY involved in my niece's life, but surprisingly have only visited us twice in two years even though we are about the same distance away. I thought they would be around to help a lot more. DW's parents were supposed to spend a few months here helping us out, but due to COVID could not travel as expected. Her mom just met our son for the first time recently.

I had a pretty solid plan to retire by 40 quite comfortably. Live here for X years. Work here for X years, make X dollars, DW works for x years, makes x dollars. We save x%, compounding, etc. etc. All that is out the window. Now we are looking at building a multi-generational home in a good school district near quality hospitals. My high earning years are likely coming to a premature end and DW wants to go back to work earlier than originally planned. I though we would do daycare at 1 year old, had the spread sheet with different scenarios of who took off when, what parent was coming in to cover the gaps, etc. None of that happened. After he was here we knew we didn't want to send him away to daycare. Things change. We changed.
+1
Print Steeze's response and put it on the fridge, it's so accurate and well articulated.
Only one thing left to add, it's definitely not an 18 year plan, it's a till-the-day-you-die plan.
Congrats!

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: 18 Year Plan starts now - Planning for First Kiddo this year
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2023, 02:16:23 PM »
I'm late to the party, but I wholeheartedly second everything @Laura33 and @Steeze have said. 

Plan, but hold the plans lightly.  (We're at kid #3 and already eager for #4 of our 2.2-kid plan.  Though we may well stop there.  It seems like we just sneeze and a new one pops up - funny thing how that happens.) 

Like @Steeze , we had a pretty solid plan to hit FI relatively soon with our modest home and growing investments. 

Instead, we're now similarly considering a multi-generational compound, basically, or some other arrangement, now that we have outgrown our mustachian-and-modest house by any measure yet continue adding bodies. 

On the upside, our finances have done very well too, across the board.  And I suspect/hope that we'll still land the plane far earlier than I could reasonably guess, only because so many things go so well when you invest, plan, and keep it frugal.  It's just that we have wildly more variables and unknowns in our lives now, despite an overall positive outlook. 

So now, my plan is to work while the kids are in school and then downshift to my original CoastFI plan of working part-time on my own.  Even then, I can't fully or reasonably plan it out due to too many unknowns with expenses and future income.  Will DW continue working with more kids, and for how long?  Will the new place cost more than I anticipate (and I anticipate it'll be spendy, yay, HCOL areas)?  Will our career trajectory continue with similar income boosts?  Who knows. 

Kids put everything up in the air for a while, until you're past the 'having them' phase and into the 'just raising them now' phase. 

Plus, you miss that thing called sleep.  (At your stage especially.  By #3, it's more of a well-organized speed bump, at least in our house.  But a month of NICU, colic, and months of no sleep made for an infinitely long first nine months or so with our firstborn.) 

Give yourself grace and patience for when life is totally upside down over periods.  This, too, shall pass.
 
Tips for you - including some freebies:
1.  #1 Freebie: ask for discounts on hospital bills!  I learned to just call and ask: how much would you discount this if I pay today?  I scored $1,300 off for one ten-minute phone call the first time I tried it.  I now do that for every bill over $300 or so.  Hospitals/facilities are the most likely to discount.  You won't receive a bill for months afterwards probably, but remember this tip.  Hospitals/docs want to get paid, now, and not wait or pay a chunk to bill collectors, so they'll negotiate, even after insurance. 
2.  Plan out whatever you'll need for kid #1.  You won't fully know until later - it may turn out you value that fancy poop can more than you ever expected with nauseau issues later on and keeping the smells away keeps you from vomiting (yay kids).  But you can shop early now for stuff, including cribs, dressers, strollers, and the like.  We were all-in for like $50 or less for our first kid via craigslist, yard sales, a small shower, and the like.  We spent the same or even less on #2.  And we'd be at almost $0 for #3 had we not just indulged DW's long-term desire to have a fancy double-stroller that's backwards-compatible with our various other carseat/strollers.  I figure she (and her back) have earned it at this point. 
3.  Kid toys are essentially free.  Hit a thrift store.  Or yard sales.  People almost give the stuff away - and sometimes they literally do, especially if the kid is cute (no joke).  I'm now trying to get rid of or preventing getting more toys more than obtaining any.  DO NOT BUY TOYS.  (Kidding...sort of.)  Kids are different, too, and will likely wildly different things.  #1 loved her little lamb because she's social and she was #1.  #2 has #1 with him always, so all he wants are trucks, cars, and noisemakers.  You can't know until you get there, so why bother until you test some things out. 
4.  Insurance - I second @Laura33 .  Insurance is for catastrophes that you can't self-insure for.
5.  Think about schools/daycares and where you want to live in relationship to that and your employers, but you have years still to think on the schools, and a while to think about the daycare picture. 

I'll just add that those small differences -- erasing 20-40m/day of commute time -- have a much larger impact on quality of life than one would think if just looking at finances.  Especially when you're not sleeping a lot.  You might find that moving makes day-to-day life more sustainable with little kids. 

Best of luck to you!  Kids are a wonderful gift and an adventure!!! 

Chris Pascale

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Re: 18 Year Plan starts now - Planning for First Kiddo this year
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2023, 09:09:01 PM »
Really not much I can add in the money topics.

Do not forget about music lessons and fighting.

MUSIC:
Private lessons for an instrument outside of the school band or orchestra. It's ok to try and quit stuff; I mean, quitting has to happen at some point, and the kid shouldn't be punished for recognizing that they don't like something they didn't know if they'd like before trying. My oldest was taking violin lessons at age 6. She played until 9th grade, and enjoyed it. Daughter 2 tried cello first year of elementary school orchestra, then bass, then took private lessons for guitar. Daughter 3 takes privates lessons for 3 instruments, currently, and plays in a private orchestra, and Daughter 4 tried drums for about a minute and just didn't like it, mostly because of the extra homework.

FIGHTING:
You're pretty much never going to need to know how to fight. And then, maybe for a moment, it's the only thing you'll need to know. As such, best to at least learn something. The older two and I used to closed-fist fight with no rules - 2 against 1. Not to brag, but I won most of the time. The younger two weren't as into it. Older 2 wrestled in HS to the NYS girls varsity tournament. Daughters 3 and 4 tried BJJ. No. 3 likes it and is doing JH wrestling (current record is 0-2). No. 4 didn't like it, so is trying boxing at the moment.

Just like with instruments, it's ok to try a martial art and quit.