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Children and FIRE
Old 03-13-2007, 10:35 AM   #1
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Children and FIRE

I'm 32, and my wife and I just had our first child two months ago. FIRE is still a few years away for me, but by 40 I plan to be out of the game and FIRE'd ... if I'm doing any work at that point it will be purely for personal satisfaction and definitely not full time.

But one nagging thought in the back of my mind is how to instill a good work ethic in my child(ren) down the road, when I've stopped working full time. I know it sounds sort of old-fashioned, but I grew up in a household where I saw my father go to work every morning and come home by dinnertime every weekday. I think I was influenced by my dad's work ethic; I was also influenced by the fact that he did not let work run his life and was always home by dinnertime, and kept a good work-life balance.

I know that I want to teach my children the important reasons for working hard and being responsible, not least of which is that it gives you freedom to FIRE or do other things with your live besides work-for-money. But what troubles me is that no matter how much I talk about it, actions speak louder than words, and I worry they won't comprehend the work and sacrifices that went into reaching FIRE.

I guess there's no real answer and no single solution, other than to really teach your kids the value of money and hard work. I'm just curious what other FIREd parents have done if they reached FIRE while their kids were still fairly young.

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Re: Children and FIRE
Old 03-13-2007, 11:58 AM   #2
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Re: Children and FIRE


I am in a very similar situation to you in both age and new family status. I don't have any advice, but I, too, understand what you are saying and have beat those concerns around in my head, trying to figure out how it will all play out.

My pop was almost 50 when I arrived on the seen, and as he closed in on age 62, his job went bye-bye when the factory he worked at shut its doors. A good portion of my teen years were spent with a "retired" father (only in the sense of paid employment). Thinking back on it now, I often wonder if he was the reason why I came around to the idea of being able to carry on with your life, outside of working for the man. That being said, I also vividly remember him frequently reminding me to work hard in school and get good grades, because it's a tough world out there and it's only getting tougher. Who knows, maybe that constant reminder was another reason I am where am I today. I wish I could sort through those musings with him now that I am on this path, but cannot, since he has been gone awhile now.

I see myself and my/DW goals following a somewhat similar pattern as I witnessed as a kid. Parent(s) who do not necessarily work in the traditional sense. It makes me apprehensive that we'll be setting a poor example for our youngin'. But at the same time, I see the other side of the coin - the ability to teach our child that there's more to life than chasing the brass ring.... his world is full of choices and different paths. I feel that lesson would prove very valuable.

It's definitely a double edged sword, but it most certainly will not make me continue working, just so I'm out of the house like all the other wage-slaves.

Diggin' my way to financial freedom, one buck-at-a-time
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Re: Children and FIRE
Old 03-13-2007, 11:58 AM   #3
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Re: Children and FIRE

Lusitan, you hit the nail on the head when you said that actions speak louder than words. For the most part, however you act, that will rub off on your kids. I had a friend in your situation. His wife made him join the volunteer police squad in his rural town which took up about 30 hours a week. Another option would be to start your own business that was flexible, low stress, and incorporated a hobby or two.
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Re: Children and FIRE
Old 03-13-2007, 01:47 PM   #4
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Re: Children and FIRE

Originally Posted by bow-tie
But at the same time, I see the other side of the coin - the ability to teach our child that there's more to life than chasing the brass ring.... his world is full of choices and different paths. I feel that lesson would prove very valuable.
Well said. I'completely agree. And I hope that by having more time to spend with my kids when they are young I will be able to get the point across to them that I have such time because their mother and I worked hard, lived simply, and saved when we were young.

Macdaddy - that's a good thought about volunteer work. I haven't yet identified a particular area of interest for me, but I think volunteering would be a good way to demonstrate a solid work ethic and giving back to the community. Maybe volunteer tutoring or something like that. And it would give my kids something to say when the inevitable "What does your dad do?" question comes up.

I also like the idea of running a little business that I enjoy ... maybe even give the kids a chance to help out and build their work skills.

In the end, as bow-tie says, it's not gonna stop me from FIREing when ready! But it's nice to hear how others are approaching this questions.
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Re: Children and FIRE
Old 03-13-2007, 02:07 PM   #5
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Re: Children and FIRE

Originally Posted by Lusitan
But one nagging thought in the back of my mind is how to instill a good work ethic in my child(ren) down the road, when I've stopped working full time.
EASY! Just like parents who slept with every moving object, drank anything they could get their hands on and never met a drug they didn't like raise virginal teetotaling drug-abstaining children.

Just tell them-"Do as we say, not as we do!"

"As a general rule, the more dangerous or inappropriate a conversation, the more interesting it is."-Scott Adams
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Re: Children and FIRE
Old 03-13-2007, 02:16 PM   #6
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Re: Children and FIRE

I'm in a similar position as you, Lusitan. 26 years old with two kids under age 2. Plan to FIRE (FI at least) around 35. DW and I have recently been considering full-time work for ~6 more years, then cutting back to part time for another 6 or so years.

My oldest kid figured it out pretty quick that Mommy and Daddy go to work every day. She has no clue what "work" is, just that Mommy and Daddy leave her most days. So our kids will know that we go to work for many years before FIRE. I don't know how they will answer the question "what do your parents do for a living?".

How to instill a work ethic? Show them every day that if you work hard, save your money, and live below your means, you can have an easy life as well. Maybe that is instilling a work/life balance ethic? Having a "life" is just as important as working hard, IMHO. I didn't really figure out the whole work/life balance thing until my 3rd year of law school (guess I'm a slow learner ).

I also have travel plans, volunteer plans and professional plans (sitting on city/state commissions/committees/appointments). Hopefully the kids can learn something from that.

In reality, by the time DW and I are FIRE, the kids will be rather independent people with their own friends, social lives, interests, and desires. They will be at school most of the day, and probably won't really think about what Mommy and Daddy do all day. As long as we clean up the beer bottles, put the hammocks away, and turn down the music before the kids get home from school, the kids will never know what we were up to all day!

I'm sure after school, evenings, and weekends will be full of homework, school events, social engagements, community events, sports events, etc. Up to a certain point, kids will probably like having access to you all the time (up till age 12-13 or so?).

Treat your FIRE status as a learning point. When your kid says "well, Johnny's parents just bought him the new Playstation 3 and a bunch of games. Why won't you buy me that, too?", you'll have a good response. "Johnny's parents are probably in debt up to their eyeballs, would lose their house if either one of them lost their job, and they will be working until they are way way way old."
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Re: Children and FIRE
Old 03-13-2007, 02:30 PM   #7
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Re: Children and FIRE

my parents were work-a-holics for their entire lives and never retired never mind fired. thank god none of that wore off on me.
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Re: Children and FIRE
Old 03-13-2007, 02:30 PM   #8
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Re: Children and FIRE

Our kid is 4, and neither parent has worked in the last 5 years. So far, so good.

Our kid understands that "work" means undertaking a project, usually with satisfying results. She's encouraged to explore her interests in depth. She has a vague idea that some people work for money, but she hasn't been poisoned with the idea that money is the ultimate objective.

I think she'll do fine. I also plan to teach her that working for a single payer doesn't make much sense. Take a lesson from Suze Orman, and find thousands of people to pay your salary.
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Re: Children and FIRE
Old 03-13-2007, 02:48 PM   #9
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Re: Children and FIRE

Ahh the "what will the kids think syndrome".....

When I am sitting with my 8 yo daughter on top of a mountain in Glacier National Park this summer and watching the Milky Way and talking about "Cool Stuff"...I'll remind myself of why I'm ER'd.

While I am 50 and she saw me "work" for 7 years of her life - one thing that I now know is she "loves it that dad doesn't have to go on the road anymore."

I am there for every school play, I coach her girl's soccer team, take her to horse back riding, help her sell Girl Scout Cookies - you name it.....we do it.

Frankly, I'd rather have it that I am involved in her life and there for her when she needs me than to be trudging off to work everyday and being relegated to "occasional father" status. Girls with dads in absentia don't always do too well.

There will be so many negative influences coming her way in the next couple of years that, with her mother and myself to fall back on and be there to guide her - the odds are much more in her favor.

Is it a slam dunk? of course not but - I like the odds better in this equation.

I will also say that, she sees me in my office doing my "day job thing" of financial management. She also understands that both her mom and dad were very successful in their careers and that we choose this time of our life to be together as a family. In addition, our worthwhile outreach pursuits show her commitment and discipline.

Either way - if you can do it - you won't regret it and neither will your child that has her/his dad(mom).

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Re: Children and FIRE
Old 03-14-2007, 11:13 AM   #10
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Re: Children and FIRE


I have 3 kid's - two teenage girls and a son who is about to become one. I am 44 and can financially leave the workplace. I am currently working - being a long term employee at a large company I can volunteer for a layoff package. Which is the way to go in my opinion. You get the payout and un-employment insurance.

My kids are really happy for me and now are looking to me as to how they can retire early. Or at least have the flexibility to. I have found the book 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert T. Kiyosaki had an excellent way of explaining it - pictorially. I have always told my kids to take 50% of $ that the get for what ever reason and invest it in an asset(something that puts $ in your pocket later). The other 50% they can spend anyway they want. 2/3 understand this and really do it. My eldist spends and owes us $ but pays us back. This has forced her to budget her $ and in a way learn another live lesson - nothings for free and that you have to work within your budget.

I will say that having the ability to retire and the kids knowing that has made them aware, early, of the importance of being in control of your own life. Which is why when they ask about the cost of college I say - instead of asking about the cost figure out how your going to pay for it.

One final observation is that I make an effort to leave work early every day, tha blackberry stay's in the car! To re-discover my kids and spend time with them. Having both parents around and willing to do activites with them has paid off for them in school and myself in personal satisfaction.

Take care

Just Trekking thru!
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