How many of you can RE now, but working because of children at home?


Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Jul 24, 2003
Pasadena CA
There was a great topic "How many of you can RE now, but are saving to raise your std of living?" which had some posters with the issue of planning retirement or jumping into retirement with children still at home. We have one son still at home a junior in high school. Technically I could retire but I want to get a bettr sense of his college prospects and costs. My wife is retiring in a few weeks so it will be interesting to see how that goes.
I just wondered if anyone who is retirement elligible has put it off because of children at home and what criteria you would use to retire before your kids are out of school?
It could also depend on your kids. Our older boy went to a junior college and then left home and worked part time for a *long* time before getting his BA and MA. But our contribution was not more than state school tutition, which we were happy to contribute. Younger son is not as certain. He is doing well grade wise in a good high school and will be taking the SAT next month but he generally doesn't test well. Fortunately he is very dilligent and that will probably prove more important in life. But we are in a different place, it seems strange to send a kid off to college and then pack up and travel around the world. Oh well, at least we're waiting until he goes off to school.
I don't have any kids at home but I do have two in college. I am helping on some college expenses for the younger one and we are paying off some old debt before we retire. Also, DW has until age 55 before she can get her free medical insuance and small pension. 15 months is worth the extra security and in the meantime we are saving the max. in our 401ks and paying off everything we can and funding various other projects that need to be done before we pull the plug next year.
my 52-year-old brother is working his three kids through college, currently ages 10, 13 & 16.

even with all that he should be able to retire in a few years, though my sil says "how can he give up the business if it's still making money?" yeah, it's making money, magic money, like my brother isn't killing himself for this. actually she's finally figuring it out. working is hard work ya know.

i'm just not spending a lot and being satisfied with fun in the vertible until i have more for the boat. the sacrifices we have to make in life.
Daughter 2nd year in college, out-of-state. Average, but has a goal and knows how to work hard for it. Not worried about her, even if her BF is a real meat-head.

Boy last year in high school. Very smart but very lazy. Just like I was. (Not a good sign, believe me.) Going to the local U next year.

No scholarships for either.

Wife works. I work.

I am really divided on this. In spite of good advice to let them do it themselves, I am in the position of working to help them through college. The work I am doing now is very interesting and it is a comfortable situation, so it isn't so bad. I will be free of certain other debts in about a year. So, worst case, four years; best case, 1 year.

However, I recently learned that three friends my age more or less have been battling cancer. This is the most troubling thing so far. My wife has lost a few friends in the past five years, too. We may bail in a year.

I would say that my "other debt" is keeping me working, more than the kids.

I ...umm... "developed" one after retiring. If we had him before I walked, I might have reconsidered. Frankly, I was able to make a lot of decisions in the absence of worrying about a wife and children that led to my early retirement.
I am still working while my wife is looking for a job. We have two daughters, 16 & 14. My plan is to wait until both are college and then decide when to bail.
I will be ER-eligible in the next 7-10 years. However, I have a 1 year old and another one due in August. There may be #3, #4, #5, etc. on the way too... Uncertain at this point (thank god they pop out one at a time in general).

The ER-eligible date may get pushed back, depending on expenses for the kids, quantity of kids, health insurance, whether/how much I choose to set aside for college money.

Knowing that I will be tied down to a certain extent, me and or wife may end up semi-retiring sooner rather than later, and make enough to pay all expenses, and let the portfolio do its thing.

We live rather inexpensively right now, but there are a ton of "unknowns" in the equation for us in the future.

I would like to travel the world a bit with my family for a year or two at some point. I think it could really enrich the kids' lives and give them a different perspective on the world that grade school social studies classes can't.

Most likely semi-retirement and a variable withdrawal rate will be how I begin my journey into ER. I've played with FIREcalc and had 95+% success rates for 2% fixed plus 4.x% variable withdrawals. This could allow a higher standard of living in good market years, and I would have to work a bit more during poor market years. Kids are definitely a huge factor though. I will want a bigger safety margin with the kids still young and at home. I wouldn't mind downsizing my lifestyle if times got rough, but I don't think it would be fair to impose that on my kids.
I've got three kids, each 4 years apart in school from the next. So starting this past year I will have a kid in college for the next 12 years. Since I plan to pay for 4 years each, that makes college payments more-or-less part of the budget rather than a short term exception to the budget. I'm just figuring on an additional $20K per year for a state university. In 2017 when that is over then the DW and I can figure what to do with the suddenly-freed chunk of the budget. We've also saved about $15-20K for each kid in UTMA's. The plan is to turn it over to the kids when they reach 21. If they want to spend it on a fifth year of college, fine. But that's where the fifth year money (if necesary) will come from...not from my checking account.
I had 2 kids and 8 straight years of college tuitions.  After they finished, the saving I was doing for their college went straight to the retirement fund.  5 years later I am about 1 1/2 years away from RE.   Early on, I promised them I would pay for their undergrad tuition.  Fortunately, they both got merit scholarships and paid for their books and on campus expenses so the hit wasn't too bad.

While they were in school, RE was something I had thought about but never seriously.  However, as soon as they were done, RE rose to the top of my priorities.  I don't have any regrets about delaying RE.  And my kids, who have no undergrad loans, thank me as well.  Grad school, on the other hand, was a different story and they both have sizable loans to pay off. :( 
My kids were way too young (4 and 6) to let it factor into the decision ... had I let it drive the FIRE decision I'ld be working another 15 years. Simply not an option.
We semi-retired with a three year old at the time. It was just part of the equation and we factored it into our plans. Since he was one year old we've saved for his college education with a goal of providing 50% of his expenses. He will be responsible for the other 50% through scholarships, grants, etc.
Arif said:
t Since he was one year old we've saved for his college education with a goal of providing 50% of his expenses. He will be responsible for the other 50% through scholarships, grants, etc.

I'm doing something like that. I have been saving a little each month since my younger son was 5. The older son went to a junior college, I was happy to pay for that :D and then went part time to a state school so thsoe costs were quite manageable. Younger so I would pay for all of his costs at a cheap school. I would pay half his costs at a Stanford if he could get into such a place. He wants to work and as long as he is doing his best I probably would crack the piggy bank. One of the better use of my money if things are going in the right direction.
I don't know if this is what your question is asking, but I could probably retire today (or at the very least in a couple of years when a chunk of equity vests), if I only had myself and my wife to support. My four kids like to eat, though, and, more importantly, I plan to put them through college. This puts me out almost ten years.
Not to totally high jack this thread BUT I wonder how many people are extending working because they didn't start saving for college costs early enough? Not a jab, just wondering if it is more a matter of the parents not having an opportunity to save for college costs until the kids were 10-15 before they started saving.
I suppose a fair number of folks, not on this board, have not saved for college costs. I started saving $100 a month since my younger boy turned 5. In various places; Education Roths, UGTMA and in my own credit union. I now have something like $22K. I have one more year of high school to save. My son will also have scholarships, work & loans to help raise funds. And I am still working or can pay something from my pension income.
The big question, which I cannot answer for about another year, is whether I will have to cover the cost of the local junior college or Stanford. I think it is hard to plan for college costs so I have just switched to saving money in my name which can be used for any purpose. If you have enough money you don't have to worry if it is set aside for college.
We saved for college from the time our 2 sons were born.  In addition, gifts and savings bonds from grandparents were added to the mix.  Our sons have more than enough to attend 4 years of in-state public college, including all expenses.  If they are frugal, there will be some extra for future needs.  If there are scholarships, they can keep the money in their accounts to be also used for future downpayments, etc.

We could RE now, but with one child still home for 4 more years we can't travel during the school year,  but happily DH left the fast lane of corporate life a few years ago  for the slow lane and a job he really enjoys that allows him to work at home and is relatively low-stress. I left the corporate world a few years ago and just do some freelance work on occasion.  This allows us to let the nest egg grow a bit before we start withdrawls and the job allows us a nice lifestyle and a lot of time together.  Our dream is to travel at least 4 months a year, but that will have to wait...
Interesting to see how many are in similar situations. DW and I are taking this approach, we will pay for tuition and board, children pay for books and meal ticket (figure if they pay, they will be more apt to use it). DD is in first year of college at a junior college and while it is out of state, tuition is only about $2K/semeter. She wants to be an early elementary teacher and will transfer to a four year college after next year. She has worked part time since the summer prior to her junior year and is saving money. DS is a junior in HS and has aspirations of being an airline pilot. He also has a job and pays for cell phone, gas (this is a good thing as he drives a 4X4 and gets about 8 MPG!!) and car insurance. I guess the question is, why start them off in debt if we don't have to.
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