Sometimes, I envy the FIRE bloggers who don’t have kids. Kids complicate your life and make it harder to retire early. We have to consider what’s best for them. One of the questions I frequently get is this – Is early retirement a good example for my kids? Will I still be a good role model? This is a tough topic for me because our son is still young. I retired to become a SAHD/blogger when he was just 1 year old. Now, he’s 8. It’s going well so far, but we still have a long way to go. Will he be a good man when he’s 18? I really hope so.
Anyway, I think spending more time with your kids can only be a good thing. This is one of the main reasons why I became a stay-at-home dad. We didn’t want our son to spend 50 hours/week at the daycare. We used to drop him off at 7 am and pick him up at 6 pm when he was a baby. After we got home, we’d feed him and then it’s time for bed. That’s A LOT of time with strangers and not much time with his parents. Sure, the daycare workers were very nice, but I wanted to be more involved with my son’s life. Luckily, we’ve been saving and investing for a long time. I was able to retire from my engineering career to spend more time at home. Financial independence let me choose. If we weren’t doing well financially, I’d never quit working full-time.
*This post was originally written in 2013 when our son was 3 years old. Now, he’s almost 9. We’re just about halfway there. I’ll update this post occasionally to let you know how it’s going.
First, let me share a bit about my childhood. I was born in Thailand and my parents both worked when I was little. My dad was an entrepreneur and my mom was a professor. They were always busy and relied on babysitters to help raise me and my 2 younger brothers. My dad, in particular, didn’t spend much time at home. He was always out working, socializing, and coming home late. I guess it’s partly cultural for businessmen. In those days (the 70s), it was normal for guys to stay out late and hang out with friends. My mom worked too, but she was the primary caretaker and came straight home after work. My dad was not a big part of my life when I was little.
Maybe I wanted to become a SAHD because my dad didn’t spend much time with us. I want a better relationship with my son.
*This part is working out very well so far. I spent a lot of time with my son when he was little. We have a good bond. Now that he’s in school, we don’t spend as much time together. However, I’m still involved in various activities. This year, I’m an assistant coach on his soccer team. It is a lot of fun to work with the kids and I get to exercise too. I have a great relationship with my son and I hope we strengthen this bond as he grows up.
Being a role model
As for being a role model, I think I’m doing a pretty good job. I don’t work full-time anymore, but I’m teaching him about personal finance. He knows I worked hard for 16 years and started investing when I was 22. I didn’t just quit my job on a whim. We saved and invested until our net worth exceeded 30x our annual expense. Now, I can relax a bit and focus on improving our family life instead of increasing corporate profit. Hard work paid off for me.
This is an alternative lifestyle that everyone should learn about. To me, the FIRE lifestyle is way better than working for a corporation for 40+ years. I don’t want my son to become a corporate slave forever. It’s stressful and unfulfilling. It’s way better to get in, work hard, and get out. Our son will have a big head start on financially independent just by seeing my example and knowing that there is an alternative. Most people don’t even know about FIRE so they can’t make it a goal.
I think work will become quite difficult in the future. The corporations are totally profit-driven now. To them, employees are just numbers. You can be optimized out at any time. I want my kid to be entrepreneurial and make his own path through life. He may choose to work traditional jobs, but at least he’ll know there are alternatives. Life isn’t about collecting as much crap as you can. It’s about finding your own happiness.
I’m still working
Early retirement doesn’t mean you have to stop working. Mrs. RB40 said she didn’t realize how much time and effort a blog would take. It was like learning a completely new language. I plan to keep blogging until it’s not fun anymore. Then I would move on to do something else. I’m keeping busy and I’m not sitting around the house watching TV all day. I might even go back to work for other people someday if I really believe in the cause (i.e., Peace Corps) or if it is a really fun job.
My son sees me working at my computer ever since he was small. I also have various side hustles. This year, I started charging scooters to make some beer money. He goes along with me and gets 50% of the pay. Now, his UTMA account has over $1,200 invested in an index fund. He’s learning the benefit of work and investing already. That’s light years ahead of when I was 9 years old.
Influence your children by being around
Anyway, being a good role model is about how you conduct yourself when you’re around the kids. Kids will mimic adults. If they spend the majority of their time around strangers, then they will pick up their character and habits. I’m not perfect, but I’m a good influence on my kid for the most part. Also, I didn’t believe my dad was hardworking when I was young. He always came home late and reeked of alcohol. He said he was working, but who knows. Later on, when I was a teenager, my parents had a small Thai restaurant. Then I saw they worked very hard. Kids believe what they can see. IMO, it’s better to be around than to come home late and tell them you worked long hours.
Do you think retiring early is a good example for your kids?
Starting a blog is a great way to build your brand and generate some extra income. You can see my tutorial – How to Start A Blog and Why You Should. Check it out if you’re thinking about blogging.
Image by Derek Owens