FIRE. Financial Independence Retire Early. It’s a wonderful concept isn’t it? What hard worker doesn’t want to achieve FIRE earlier rather than later?
The majority of blogs dedicated to this concept are centered around millennial’s who aren’t married and don’t have children. Please note, I am not discrediting their achievements in ANY way. I wish I had their moxey when I was their age and aggressively focused on FIRE before other aspects of life (ahem, children) got in the way.
Where I tend to get hung up on the FIRE concept is the word Independence. Can parents truly be independent when they have kids? I feel like the answer is no…given the fact I can’t use the bathroom without at least one child bursting in to show me a toy.
But maybe I’m wrong? I set out to Google to find out.
First search: FIRE with kids.
I found only one site and it was a physician who discusses the cost of having children. Spoiler alert! It’s EXPENSIVE! Around $5,000 to $20,000 a year depending on age. I’m sinking into a pit of despair here!
Second search: Is FIRE possible with kids?
There are a lot of Reddit posts where people ask this questions. Responses are positive but it seems like your dream of retiring early is pushed back a few years and you’re looking at late 40’s/early 50’s.
Ok, I can handle that.
But what about saving for college? It seems like a lot of posters are more focused on their own retirement dreams than their children’s education. NOT ALL! But many came out of school with student loan debt and are OK with their children sharing the same path.
Personally, I want to be able to help my children with their tuition. I want to help them pay for their car (not all of it!), insurance, cell phone, etc. I also want to travel the world with them. I think that kicks me out of the FIRE movement.
But before the above expenses befall us, I use these tips to save more when it comes to the kids:
- Don’t buy new. Young kids have no idea if what they’re wearing or playing with is new or used. So, head to consignment stores and yard sales to pick up items they actually need.
- Cut down on holiday spending – don’t make every Christmas, Easter, birthday, etc an excuse to shower your children with expensive gifts. They will expect it every year. Instead, give them experiences with you at a museum, vacation, outing.
- Enough with the toys – if there’s one item my children don’t need, it’s a toy. I am constantly thinning out their junk to save me from cleaning it up. Oftentimes, my son enjoys playing with the box more than the toy itself. This helps expand their creativity too.
- Teach them to love the outdoors instead of indoor entertainment (ipads, video games, tv, etc). I love that my son enjoys riding his bike, going for walks, exploring the woods nearby and playing outside with this friends. It doesn’t matter if it’s 30 degrees outside. He will want to play outdoors more than being inside any day.
- As they get older, have them contribute to the household chores and choose an allowance that’s suitable for their age. Have them learn early that hard work pays off and that nothing in life is free. This helps them save up for items they really want.
- If they want a car, tell them to get a job! I have been working since I was 15 years old. You can be damn sure my kids will too.
- Move to an area with a strong school district. Nothing can eat away at a budget faster than private school!
So long story short, it seems like FIRE is possible but with the conclusion that it may happen later than you want it to given the added costs children bring to your bottom line. Factor them into your budget.
If I can retire by the time my children go off to college then I will consider that a win.
How do you handle FIRE and kids? What are your saving tips? Comment below.