I grew up in an old farmhouse out in the country. There were 3 bedrooms in a 2,000 square foot house, and I was the oldest of 7 children.
7 kids in 2 bedrooms. It was tight.
There were times growing up where I felt like Kevin in Home Alone. Like I just wanted a little space for myself, and maybe some peace and quiet. You might think that I would not desire to have kids of my own after growing up in an environment like that, but you’d be absolutely wrong. Because there were many more times where we had a room full of imaginations contributing to our play time, and people to throw baseballs with, and people to play video games against.
And even now, we’ve got family gatherings a couple of times a month where we play basketball, or board games, or talk about life.
I’ve wanted to be a dad ever since I was a kid.
Fatherhood vs Early Retirement or FI
Most of the people I’ve encountered who have retired early or achieved Financial Independence have done so largely without children around. Having children is not cheap, but it’s not as expensive as the news would have you believe, either. But the fact is that children don’t exactly help when it comes to working towards FI.
So what should we do, delay having kids until we’ve reached independence? Or not have them at all so that they don’t slow us down? Faugh! May it never be! At least not for me.
Financial Independence is definitely a priority for me, but it’s not at the top of the list. Here’s how my fatherhood priorities fall, when it comes to working towards FI:
Provide security for my wife
Most of you know how we moved into a smaller house years ago, in order to save more of our income and attain financial independence more quickly. But we didn’t do it in total disregard for safety. We moved into a nice, quiet neighborhood away from the city where there is no through traffic and not many rental homes. We knew people who lived in that neighborhood when we were kids, and many of the same people still live there. Security is something that every wife needs, and it’s my responsibility to provide that. Brian at Luke1428 has a great article about that.
Spend substantial time with my kids
I have a desire to pour a lot of time into my children as they grow and develop. I want to be in and around our home as much as possible so that they can see what a father looks like, what a hard working man looks like, and what a loving husband looks like. I want to instill discipline in them through love, and not have to simply be the “heavy hand” when I come home late from work.
I also want to help them learn. I love to teach, and I look forward to being able to open their eyes to new wonders and to see their knowledge grow.
Make sure I’m being a good steward with our money
I’ve been blessed with talents and a skill set that allows me to earn a comfortable living, as well as pursue other priorities in life. The worst thing I can think of would be to waste those talents and income by spending it frivolously. There are many people who deserve my time, attention, and assistance, and I need to be able to provide those when it’s appropriate.
I also don’t want to be wasteful. This involves having a well-planned and monitored budget, and sticking to it!
Put our savings to good use
This is the step where Financial Independence really takes center stage. The money we decide to save should be invested wisely, and put to work so that it can earn even more. I want to get rid of our mortgage so that we have the freedom to make aggressive decisions, and the ability to save money more easily in the future. That should happen by the end of this year!
With Those Priorities In Mind
I estimate that it will take another 13 years for us to achieve Financial Independence. That would put my kids at ages 20 and 18, and 15. Does it make sense to strive for Financial Independence when I might do so during some of the prime years of my children’s development?
I would say YES, as long as my other priorities have come first. I know that life will change. My job will likely change, my family will likely change. That 13 years might become 20 years (or it might become 8 years), but as long as I’m sure that the priorities in front are being taken care of, I think that the pursuit of FI is a worthwhile goal.
If I get the opportunity to spend more time at home with my kids, I’ll take it in a heartbeat, even if I have to slow down the goal of achieving FI. It’s hard to predict the future, but with my priorities in order I’ve got a game plan for whatever happens next.
What do you think of my priorities? Do you think there are other priorities that should come ahead of the pursuit of FI? Or maybe fewer?