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retiring early with younger children
Old 04-24-2016, 03:48 PM   #1
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retiring early with younger children

Hello,

We will potentially be FI when I turn 45 (in 3 years). I would need to work about 1/4 time to meet current expenses and the rest of our portfolio would grow til true/total retirement 20 years later. The work I do can be done in spurts of a week or a month at a time (I'm a doctor, I can do locums work in my area, through telemedicine, or I can travel away from home).

My question is about retiring with kids. Ours will be about 13 and 10 at the time. Therefore they will be very busy in school and extensive travel will not be possible. Also, I worry that just bumming around the house would set a bad example for them. But I don't really want to retire just to sit around the house - I basically want to travel. Driving around in an RV for a month; hiking across Europe for a month; bicycling in Asia for a month. The kinds of things which are not possible working full time.

Thoughts?

Thank you
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Old 04-24-2016, 04:10 PM   #2
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This is probably not a good answer to your question, but it is the situation you describe that drove me to decide that (for me) the right time to retire is when my last kid goes off to college. I did not want to retire and just sit around the house in a boring suburb. And I did not think my wife would be amused if I were to retire, travel for a month at a time, while leaving her to watch the kids and deal with all the house responsibilities. So I am timing my retirement to occur soon after the nest is empty.

Of course, that is not a good answer for someone who wants to retire (or cut way back on work) before their kids are gone...
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Old 04-24-2016, 05:18 PM   #3
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We both retired with young kids at home. Partly to spend more time with said young kids before they become (or to avoid them becoming) surly teenagers.

So far, so good. Our oldest two are in 4th and 5th grade, so having breakfast or lunch with them at school is still cool for them. Frequently accompanying them on field trips likewise (2x last week!).

The youngest is almost 4 and loves having human trampolines to jump and bounce on all day.

As for travel, we manage to sneak away for a nice long extended vacation each summer (1-2 months for past 2 years) plus the occasional winter jaunt south for warm weather in the Caribbean (they skip school for a week). So far I haven't felt cooped up yet. Spring and fall are really nice, the edges of summer and winter are almost as nice, and I guess I'm a homebody. Give me a computer and a tablet/phone/e-reader and/or some books and I can entertain myself pretty well if it's burning up hot or freezing outside. During nice weather, we're frequently outside going to the park, hiking while the oldest 2 are in school, visiting museums, hanging out with friends, or otherwise passing the time.

I still do a couple hours of work per week so my kids know I'm not a total slacker (that's a lie; I'm pretty sure they know I'm a total slacker in spite of my minimal productive work efforts). But they get the whole "work so you can make money and do whatever you want" thing. What better way for a kid to learn that than watching their old man play video games all day, volunteer in the community, or by hiking to the top of a mountain or pyramid in Mexico after spending a month eating your way across the country?

I guess I could have maintained the workman's facade and continued going to my cubicle every day. Then I could regale my kids with tales from the cube - how Johnny dislikes Sarah and wants to take her job; how my boss sucks but there's nothing I can do; how they added an extra page to our weekly expense reports and now it takes an extra five minutes to fill them out (which distracts me from my time allocated to surfing the ER forums...).
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:05 PM   #4
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I retired almost 2 years ago... My kids were 13 and 11 at the time. (now 15 and 13) Here are my thoughts.

1) I have more time to deal with the drama that seems to be growing, exponentially, in their teen years. I can't imagine dealing with this AND working full time. I have the emotional/stress level bandwidth to cope now.

2) I don't sit around the house. I have activities that keep my brain and body engaged. My house is (slightly) cleaner than when I retired. I guess I "sit around" some - since I've rediscovered my love of reading... I am a regular user of the local library.

3) Rather than getting a negative message that parents are slackers - my kids are getting the message that I wanted to be involved in their lives when they need it the most... They also saw how hard we worked to get to the point we could retire.
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:52 PM   #5
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I retired 3 years ago (age 47) when my daughters were 7 and 9 (now 10 and 12).

Spending more time with them was one of the reasons why I opted for ER.

It was pretty easy to conclude that I would regret not spending time with them while they were young far more than I would ever regret spending more time in the office.

The possibility of being bored did worry me (it still does) so I made sure that there were other things to keep me engaged in the early years - I still do some part time consulting (we don't need the money but I enjoy it) and sit on some local Law Society committees, I completed a part time MFA, I have written a novel (currently with the world's slowest professional editor), became the secretary for a local writers' collective and do some other volunteer work, go hiking once a week with a former colleague who retired at about the same time I did. I'll be starting a PhD in June, have delusions about nursing my knees through another 100K endurance event and have a long list of other things to fall back on if I ever find myself sitting around the house all day watching crappy TV and playing computer games.

DW was already working part time so she could spend more time with them (Tiger Mummy) - seeing that she kept herself busy and enjoyed the balance gave me a lot of confidence.

So far, it has all worked out better than I expected - I certainly feel like I have gotten a lot closer to both my daughters and that alone makes it worthwhile.
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:54 PM   #6
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Retired at age 50 with a one and three year old. That is, retired from my career job. But I've always been involved in various activities and "work" three months of the year at a CPA firm.
Mine is an atypical retirement.....but I have been in contact and involved throughout my children's lives.....priceless. I don't know if/when they realized that the Scout leader and soccer coach Dad once had a real career.
There are some things I could not do as being a participant in the boys' lives was a priority for me. Just cancelled out of a backpack trip once I realized one son has a soccer tournament that weekend in early June.
And I waited late enough in life to have children that I had already done many things such as live in Europe for five years, train and finish multiple marathons and for fun do some century bike rides. And ski the Alps and western US.
Good luck, but I could not leave my boys and mundane family life to pursue other pleasures. Hope they remember all the camping trips around the US in the pop-up, first backpack sleeping in the woods, or that I've been to every soccer game they played in the last ten years!
Ah, but now that they are starting college, time to start planning for life with just me and my dear wife.
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Old 04-25-2016, 04:25 AM   #7
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I fired at 45 a year ago. 2 boys are 19 and 16, one at home and one in college. We lived all over the world for my job as they grew up, which gave us all a unique family experience of life and travel and culture combined. Being back in middle America after nearly a decade in Asia is ok but we all do miss the action of life abroad.

I keep busy with part time teaching in exchange for free university tuition. That in effect has become my "job" and important to me that the kids see dad continue his education and how important education is. I'm busy most days. Too busy infact.

Why not pull the kids from school and home school them for a year while traveling the world. They are good ages to learn to really travel properly in a long term manner. Also good ages to learn culture and language become less naive to the world.

Growing up globally my boys are 3rd culture kids and somewhat struggling back in middle America with the narrow mindset and the lack of cultural awareness of most Americans.

They just can not understand why so few people around them speak more than "american" which apparently IS a language (per my younger son) when English is spoken improperly and with a hillbilly twang.

I'm glad I gave them a world culture experience growing up but they remind me too that "ignorance can be bliss". There are up and down sides to everything ...
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Old 04-25-2016, 06:34 AM   #8
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I am 56, retired one year and have 3 boys - one a soph in college and twin Juniors in HS. I too want to travel but am putting off most of it until the kids are launched. We do a couple of family trips a year but not the longer travel because their summers are busy now (would have been easier a few years ago).

We did just do some college tours last week which would have been really hard when still working so that flexibility is wonderful.

If I were you with kids your age, I would do some big travel during the summer. We did a 3 week trip to Turkey when our boys were around 10 and it was the best trip ever.


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Old 04-25-2016, 06:44 AM   #9
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I will be retiring in 2-4 years and my boys are currently 9 and 12. I don't think your kids will think you are a slacker if you explain how it is that you managed to retire early. No one ever talked to me much about finances, but I can guarantee my kids will not be able to say the same.

At this point they understand about the importance of living beneath your means, what a retirement plan is, the rule of 72 and how fast you can get yourself into trouble with credit card debt. I read an interesting book called "The Opposite of Spoiled" that convinced me to be a little more open about our finances.

I have not been completely open- my 12 year old asked what our net worth is the other day, and I declined to tell him, but we will tell him eventually. They DO know that the reason I will be retiring in a few years is that we saved more than 30% of our income last year, and more than that, usually.
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Old 04-25-2016, 07:26 AM   #10
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We will be retiring at 48/41, and our child will be 4 then, and we expect to have one or two more. We plan on homeschooling and doing some hobby farming, so we will not be completely lazy, and we want to be involved in their life. However, I am nearing the end of what will be an almost 30-yr career, so I'll be able to talk to them about that and what I had to do to get to where I can spend all day with them, and teach them to do the same. It's a wonderful position to be in, and I think kids will benefit greatly from the parent time more than any negative effect of the "parent doesn't work" issue. I think it can be successfully argued that being a full-time parent is one of the most important and hardest jobs there is.
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Old 04-27-2016, 02:32 PM   #11
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I've evolved over the years.

Early 40s... on extended sabbatical... probably ER in next few years. 2 kids... 2 and 4.

Caveat: I really enjoy spending time with kids and family.

DW and I have decided to integrate it together. That means we will most likely homeschool. The main reason is flexibility.

I want to be able to spend a week going to Yellowstone and teach my kids about geysers, forests, animals. Let them camp and see stars, etc while incorporating math, vocabulary and reading. I don't want to do that at peak tourist season or on some preset schedule and I want to do a lot of that kind of stuff. I also don't want to "ask for permission" to do that stuff... it just seems like transferring who owns my time from one place to another .

At home I enjoy doing projects... I am a software dev so stuff like making games is super fun and even at an early age my daughter will show some interest.

Yesterday we made popcorn and I got to explain (and had to look up ) why popcorn pops... how heat effects oil, why the sugar coats it, why it burns, etc. Oh yeah... then we ate the popcorn .

I'm shocked at the number of great and often free events around. For example about 10 miles away is a monthly astronomy meet-up where PhD astro physics candidates talk about stuff and then look at stars with powerful telescopes. Free. There's a similar thing for flowers/botany, marine biology, zoology, etc. Turns out you don't need to know everything yourself ... thank god. There's also lots of group activities like ballet, soccer, drama and so on although that can get expensive.

I feel that these integrated experiences are just super powerful and that's what I want most of my life to be.

That said DW and I both set aside alone time for doing stuff solo and it's clear we also need regular date nights (soon there will be many nieces and nephews around to help in this area).

Taking off rose colored glasses a second.

It takes a crazy amount of effort (more than I thought) to create these projects and often the kids don't care or lose interest after 15 minutes or less and a fair amount of mind changing and flip flopping... but they ARE 2 and 4 . I've had to adjust to that as well... what helps is I'm amazed at how much our 4 yo retains even though it doesn't seem like it at first... so that helps create the energy. I expect as the kids get older this will all develop and often in unexpected ways.

If our kids would rather be in school... then that's fine as well . I can do projects alone no problem and incorporate them on nights and weekends.

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Old 04-29-2016, 01:00 PM   #12
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I can see the appeal of homeschooling for some but it is not for us. We have a good school program here (foreign language immersion). That said I am not averse to pulling the kids out for a week and missing school.

The bigger problem is activities. Soccer, baseball, and other team sports are very demanding of time and the schedules are nearly year round. I actually fear them missing a week of practices, games, and camps more than a week of school.

So maybe that is the mindset. Partial retirement at 45 probably still looks like working to the kids. And I will take my max vacation and pull kids out when necessary. Partial retirement would be 2 or 3 days per week plus 1 weekend per month, and max vacation for me is 8 weeks per year. I can probably swing it to be more like a 5 day work week every 3rd week and a few days here and there.

thanks for the additional ideas!
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Old 04-29-2016, 02:03 PM   #13
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I can see the appeal of homeschooling for some but it is not for us. We have a good school program here (foreign language immersion). That said I am not averse to pulling the kids out for a week and missing school.

The bigger problem is activities. Soccer, baseball, and other team sports are very demanding of time and the schedules are nearly year round. I actually fear them missing a week of practices, games, and camps more than a week of school.

So maybe that is the mindset. Partial retirement at 45 probably still looks like working to the kids. And I will take my max vacation and pull kids out when necessary. Partial retirement would be 2 or 3 days per week plus 1 weekend per month, and max vacation for me is 8 weeks per year. I can probably swing it to be more like a 5 day work week every 3rd week and a few days here and there.

thanks for the additional ideas!
That makes total sense and I think that there as many ways to live as there are families... and I think that (despite what many blogs say) there is no "right way" to do pretty much anything.

Despite what I write above, I may find that my daughter wants to go to school every day and that what daddy's image of a great life for her is works out to be quite boring and silly . As long as she's learning and growing and kind and respectful... it's fine by me.

I was responding more specifically to your desire to travel a lot. I have a similar desire and I *think* the kids will enjoy and benefit from it, but it tends to be made complicated by "normal" life... primarily work schedules but then to a lesser degree school schedules (which have been kind of built around work schedules).

So one of my pending frustrations was that even if I own 100% of my time, having young children sort of ties me to the "work schedule" because the school schedule is kind of built on it. It's a personal gripe more than anything else.

There's a couple of examples of people with kids who travel a lot:
Go Curry Cracker! - Spend Little, Save More, Travel the World. Go Curry Cracker!Go Curry Cracker! | Spend Little, Save More, Travel the World. Go Curry Cracker! - but child is VERY young... school isn't issue yet
A Family Travels Around The World With Kids For 3 Years - Here Is How They Did It! - Travel Blog @Just1WayTicket - kind of a one off story

I think in the end it comes down to priorities and what fuels you and your kids' passion. For some people it might be living on a farm, for others life in the city. For some it's constantly travelling from place, for others it's setting deeper roots. In all those things I try to be mindful of what I and the family enjoy and benefit from and try to adjust. And, of course, that passion will also change.

Nice to have the options, right!?
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Old 04-29-2016, 05:38 PM   #14
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I agree that with kids under roof you're still tied to a schedule. (I have to get up and get them out to school... good thing I'm a morning person). And travel is limited to school vacations. (At the high school level the work is pretty intense and missing a week is a BIG deal. My kids attend IB schools - so extra rigor.)

That said - summer breaks offer lots of time to travel. We spent 9 weeks last summer traipsing around Europe - 11 cities, 7 countries... all travel by train. If I had a job I wouldn't have been able to take that long off.
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Old 04-29-2016, 05:55 PM   #15
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Chances are, we'll be going this route as well. (You all may recall a thread "Child free" from a couple years ago... well, not a question any longer... DW and I are expecting Thing 1 in September.)

My thought as this has come around is that if I/we am/are retired, we'll explain to the child(ren) why we did it and how we were able to do it. Rather than letting them think, "My parents are lazy because everyone else works", I'd much rather explain to them (when they're old enough to grasp it) so they think, "My parents are smart, I want to be like them!"

I know my 14-year-old niece would understand limiting debt, saving money, and retiring early while still well-off. I suspect my child(ren) will as well at the appropriate age (say, 13 or so).

What to do all day? Well, hobbies can help (running/triathlon for me, tennis for both, golf, reading). But I envy my sister and my parents who were able to attend all sporting events and just generally be present (without the temptation of being a "crazy helicopter parent"). I think it's important to be there, and that just seems so much easier without work holding you down.

Even though school schedules and vacations will limit your personal schedule, it's easier to up and out when that's the only thing doing so... in other words, no worries about sick/vacation time, etc. No worries about "Thing 1 is sick, can I take a day off?!?". Etc.

Then, when they're gone. Game on for vacations. :-)

If anything, this news has driven me MORE towards wanting to ER, even though it may delay it a few years to ensure we can pay for college within reason and still live the life we want.
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Old 04-29-2016, 05:57 PM   #16
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Wow Rodi that sounds awesome!

My son wakes at 6-630 anyway =. Which is fine since I'm an AM person anyway.

I did IB in high school and it was great but definitely time consuming.

Thanks for sharing!

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Old 04-29-2016, 06:23 PM   #17
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Hello,

We will potentially be FI when I turn 45 (in 3 years). I would need to work about 1/4 time to meet current expenses and the rest of our portfolio would grow til true/total retirement 20 years later. The work I do can be done in spurts of a week or a month at a time (I'm a doctor, I can do locums work in my area, through telemedicine, or I can travel away from home).

My question is about retiring with kids. Ours will be about 13 and 10 at the time. Therefore they will be very busy in school and extensive travel will not be possible. Also, I worry that just bumming around the house would set a bad example for them. But I don't really want to retire just to sit around the house - I basically want to travel. Driving around in an RV for a month; hiking across Europe for a month; bicycling in Asia for a month. The kinds of things which are not possible working full time.

Thoughts?

Thank you
I'm in a very similar situation. Not quite full FIRE but lots of freedom, including the ability to just take a year of garden time while I sort out the next step. The "Dad sure plays a lot of golf..." factor is on my mind. Of course, I'm also unwilling to relo while my kids are in high school, so I'm sort of trapped here for a handful of years yet.

All of which bends me back to the FIRE when the last one goes to college plan.
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Old 04-29-2016, 06:31 PM   #18
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Chances are, we'll be going this route as well. (You all may recall a thread "Child free" from a couple years ago... well, not a question any longer... DW and I are expecting Thing 1 in September.)
That is awesome Nash!!! Congratulations to you and Mrs. Nash.
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Old 04-29-2016, 10:32 PM   #19
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Retired at 52 with one in grade 9 and another in grade 11. Two others at college. Didn't seem to be a big issue. It was nice to have extra time for everyone.
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Old 04-30-2016, 11:14 AM   #20
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....
The bigger problem is activities. Soccer, baseball, and other team sports are very demanding of time and the schedules are nearly year round. I actually fear them missing a week of practices, games, and camps more than a week of school.

So maybe that is the mindset. Partial retirement at 45 probably still looks like working to the kids. And I will take my max vacation and pull kids out when necessary. Partial retirement would be 2 or 3 days per week plus 1 weekend per month, and max vacation for me is 8 weeks per year. I can probably swing it to be more like a 5 day work week every 3rd week and a few days here and there.
thanks for the additional ideas!
Gee tough choice, Soccer practices in summer or trip to Europe for 4 weeks.
I had this issue come up and it wasn't even Europe.
Kids talked so much about soccer I felt sure that was their life dream, but when I suggested a holiday to see x,y,z they totally dropped the soccer games for those weeks.
I also told the coach I'm taking the kids for vacation, so they won't be around.
Honestly, its not like professional sports, and they were not training to be in the pro leagues, missing some sports practice was fine.
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