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RE with Children
Old 02-22-2004, 07:25 AM   #1
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RE with Children

If I manage to retire in 10 years then I will have four children 13 and younger. I know that several of the posters here have children, and I was wondering what sort of issues you face. My wife has said that she doesn't want me to retire while my kids are still at home because that will send the wrong message to our kids. I also worry about health care costs for a family of six, and if my kids school schedule will put too big a damper on my travel plans. Are these things problematic for you? Any other issues you have found?
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Re: RE with Children
Old 02-22-2004, 08:52 AM   #2
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Re: RE with Children

I'm assuming that she meant your ER will send the wrong message only if you don't have the financial means and yet you still want to retire and live off your wife's and children's income. Yes, I can see that as a problem, but not if you have the money to support everyone in your family. If you're financially secure, then what's the problem? The message to your children shouldn't be that addiction to work is a heroic thing. There's more to life than work.

Suggested reading: The Joy of NOT Working.
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Got retiree health care through your company? What if the company goes bankrupt? Retire and go RVing full time? RVs are not structurally sound. You'll die in a fiery crash. Retire and live overseas? What if you die? Aren't you worried about your body? No, I don't think I will be able to seeing how I am dead.
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Re: RE with Children
Old 02-22-2004, 11:13 AM   #3
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Re: RE with Children

ER with children can be great for ALL of you. Wouldn't you rather spend time with your children rather than co-workers? When I was working fulltime, I left the house at 7AM and came home at 7PM. My poor wife cooked, cleaned, fed, dressed, ferried and bathed the kids all by herself. At least now I can lend a hand. And by that previous sentence I don't mean to say she cooked the children.

Travel plans are even more dappened when you only have 2 weeks a year holidays and you have to pack the children off to camp because no one is at home to look after them in the summer. If you feel that you can reasonably look after your children given the amount you feel you can safely withdraw every year (I assume you have done this calc already) and pay for all reasonable surprises and if working every day for someone else or yourself really doesn't make you happy (and therefore, by extension, your family), you should stop doing what you are doing. You may find that you want to contribute something else to society (that's for you, Ted ), and help out on school trips or after-school social clubs. Or you may not.

If my father had been able to spend more time with me rather than shackled to his desk downtown which nearly killed him, I would have loved it. Maybe children are one of the BEST reasons to ER.

Then again, 10 years is a long time and your plans may change along the way. Good luck to you and yours.
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Re: RE with Children
Old 02-22-2004, 12:44 PM   #4
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Re: RE with Children

As far as sending the wrong message to your kids, which message is wrong? Start saving early, live below your means, be successful enough that you can live life on your own terms, or that families should spend time together?

If you want, just tell the kids you're terminally unemployed. It might lower their expectations about an allowance and an inheritance.

As for me, I've had a blast interacting daily with our young daughter. I'd hate to be missing this, especially if I had to trade it for the daily grind.
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Re: RE with Children
Old 02-22-2004, 03:09 PM   #5
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Re: RE with Children

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As for me, I've had a blast interacting daily with our young daughter. * I'd hate to be missing this, especially if I had to trade it for the daily grind.
One of the biggest reasons I look forward to ER next year is because my children are still at home. I can relate to what Webmaster has to say. As I look back over the years, my biggest regret is all the time I have spent away from home due to work travel. I have missed a very big part of my kids lives and I would like to make up for it to whatever extent I can for the remaining years they are at home.
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Re:  Teach your kids how to ER while they're young
Old 02-22-2004, 03:31 PM   #6
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Re:  Teach your kids how to ER while they're young

Bongo2,

I think kids are a lot less worried about careers & saving for retirement if they can see you succeeding at it. Our daughter is proud to have retired parents. Maybe she thinks she'll have an inside track someday.

She also knows that when she's on school break, we can do all sorts of things together instead of having to live her life around the parents' work schedule. Her brief phase of "Entertain me!" ended when we set limits, and she's happy to know that we're around when she wants us. (I think that she believes that we go into suspended animation when she leaves for school, and we re-animate a second before she comes home.) Since we're not rushing out the door on school mornings, she's learned that she has to be responsible enough to get her own butt out of bed. She's also noticed that we're a lot more fun to be around in the late afternoon/evening than we were in our working days when we had to stay late, slog home through rush hour, "enjoy" mandatory social events, etc. She's learned that we don't go out during rush hour, don't go to stores on weekends, don't go out to dinner on Friday nights, and don't shop for groceries on Saturday morning. She's learning that the beach is free, movie matinees are better without lots of snacks, and that she gets an allowance to fill in all the gaps in her quality of life. She's also learning to plan ahead and to not react on impulse. (Well, she's familiar with the theory, anyway.)

I tell her that she can ER just like me if she makes the same choices. Then I tell her about military academies & my sea stories, so she's still trying to decide if it's worth it. But she also knows that I'll be happy to help with budgeting, with investing, with living a frugal lifestyle, with consumer awareness, and with good money sense. We're doing those things now and then she can choose her own path. Hopefully it's a better one...

We did go through a troublesome phase of "Whoopie, we're rich!! Let's share the wealth!!" I pointed out that what may seem to be a lot of money at her age has to last us six or seven DECADES. She knows how to use an Excel spreadsheet so now she's learning about compound interest (and safe withdrawal rates). It's a thrill to watch reality hit her between the eyeballs, and she's deciding that half of her teenage income is going to fund her Roth. I think we'll have to encourage that initiative with a parental funds match.

She knows that I retired because I resented the conflict between the military & family life, and that I hadn't found anything else that I liked. We had a long talk when I got a post-retirement job offer at $75K, and she decided that it probably wasn't right for me either. (Teaching nuclear engineering. I gotta cut the cord sometime.)

I'd be a little concerned about your spouse's comment. Does she not want you around the kids all day? Doesn't she understand that this is her chance to cut loose and ditch you with the kids for a while? Is she afraid that she won't want to come back?!?
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Re: RE with Children
Old 02-22-2004, 09:37 PM   #7
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Re: RE with Children

BunsOfVeal, you may be sort of right. My wife doesn't work, but she probably thinks that my zeal to save money will cut into her ability to feed the children (or at least to send them to private swim lessons). She also simply has the reaction that most people have -- that someone who wants to retire at 40 must be some sort of deviant, and that's going to set a bad example for the kids. She probably is predicting that I will become a full-time TV junkie or something even less savory. Even without that, I think that the strongest memories that my children will have will be after I've retired, and the working hard and saving up part might be lost on them when all they remember is the payoff.
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Re: RE with Children
Old 02-22-2004, 10:03 PM   #8
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Re: RE with Children

Bongo2, all I can suggest is that you review the memories of your own father. Do you look back fondly on his days at the office?
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Re: RE with Children
Old 02-23-2004, 03:27 PM   #9
 
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Re: RE with Children

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*My wife doesn't work, but she probably thinks that my zeal to save money will cut into her ability to feed the children (or at least to send them to private swim lessons). *She also simply has the reaction that most people have -- that someone who wants to retire at 40 must be some sort of deviant, and that's going to set a bad example for the kids. *She probably is predicting that I will become a full-time TV junkie or something even less savory.
Interestingly my wife had the same opinion. I was on the ER kick several years before my wife understood my desire to FI/RE. Only difference is she worked after the kids got into school.

What finally changed her opinion on FI/RE was that during a discussion I asked her to take 6 months and come up with a list of all the things she wanted to do with her life. About 4 months later she had a list ready and to my pleasant surprise - ER finally made sense to her - she understood my desires to FI/RE and is now onboard the FI/RE bandwagon .
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Re: RE with Children
Old 02-24-2004, 08:31 AM   #10
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Re: RE with Children

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My wife has said that she doesn't want me to retire while my kids are still at home because that will send the wrong message to our kids.
One data point - My 18yr old step-daughter who is a senior in high school, was recently looking, with significant interest, at a chart in one of the financial magazines showing how early savings can add up more than later savings. I'd say having a role model of someone who earned and saved enough to retire early would be a good thing.

My wife was also a little worried about our standard of living, having to move to a lower cost area, and it's impact on the kids. When I showed her the worst case amount she would have to make in a part time job to make up the difference and/or add to college savings she felt better. She really doesn't want to work either, and I do tell her it's her turn if we need more money, although it's half joking. I do manage the rental property we have.

Wayne
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Re: RE with Children
Old 02-24-2004, 08:34 AM   #11
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Re: RE with Children

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... if my kids school schedule will put too big a damper on my travel plans.
High school age kids do add quite a few constraints to travel plans, but we sit down and plan together.

Wayne
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