What the FI Journey with Kids has Given Me

I recently read a post about how the FIRE journey is easier without kids on the Escape Artist. And while I agree with the author's points that it is easier, I'd argue that children often increase the motivation for the freedom while perhaps changing the trajectory a bit.

As mentioned in my last post, when I first heard about FIRE a light bulb went off, realizing that if we just buckled down for a few years we could hit it. The reality of having kids meant I needed to adjust my goals compared to if we'd started this journey pre-kids. As much as I'd love to hit our number and both of us retire, I realized quickly on the sacrifice required of time with our kids was too great. Fortunately, the knowledge that the FIRE community has provided me with has given so much more freedom than simply reaching our FI number would.  It has taught me that we simply need 25-30 x our annual spending to retire and about the rule of 72. This gave me  an immense sense of freedom realizing that we have enough saved already that our money can continue to grow and reach FI by the time we hit traditional retirement age. That means we don't techincally need to save any more (don't worry we will continue to save as much as we can) and we could survive on jobs that earned much less.



Having kids rather than being kid free means, as much as I aspire for FI, my timeline and commitment to it is changing. Having kids while on this journey has given me the permission I needed to focus on finding my best life, rather than hitting a number as would have been my tendency pre-kids. Pre-kids I think I would have sacrificed too much of my present happiness for this singular goal as I've done that in the past for other smaller savings goals.

Staying on this path of frugal living and saving aggressively gives us the latitude to change our plans should life require it. It has opened me up to the possibility of straying from the steady income with secure jobs and taking a year off should family obligations warrant it. We can deviate from the aggressive savings required for FI and take a year or two to travel (if I could convince PapaBird). It allows me the freedom to slow down and work part-time or if at some point I choose to, stay home with the kids permanently while PapaBird continues to work because he wants to. Prior to discovering FIRE I would never have dreamed that this would have been possible as it goes against what I imagined to be the traditional life path.

So while having kids has definitely slowed the progress to FI, it has provided me with the motivations I needed to figure out what is my best life and I'm grateful for that. I'm in no way saying if you choose not to or are unable to have kids that you won't be able to figure this out. Just that for me personally, I wouldn't have until I possibly sacrificed too much of my present for the allure of future happiness. I will always be a little jealous by the FI pioneer bloggers who hit FI pre-kids or while deciding to reamin kid-free (The frugalwoodsMr. Money Mustache, Go Curry CrackerMillennial Revolution, FI180) but I'm so thankful for the lessons they've taught me.


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