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Author: John3haha Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 5068  
Subject: FIRE with kids Date: 10/6/2003 11:19 AM
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First, I apologize for rambling in this post. I have not fully recovered from a late night trying to get my Braves past the Cubs.

I wanted to start a new thread as it seems distinct from the "Hello my name is..." thread earlier. A significant number of us seem to trying to juggle FIRE, parenthood and possibly some SAHM time. I fit right into this group, with three kids moving into late Grade School. My wife has been a SAHM for eight years now, though she has added 8-10 hours of work a week at pitiful rates helping out at a good local preschool. She does this primarily because she enjoys it.

Anyway, I would love to hear how people are working to manage this. An even heavier emphasis on LBYM seems to be one theme. We drive an old beater station wagon when hauling kids around locally and shoehorn the five of us into a Jetta when on longer trips. Renting a van for 7+ hour drives may be in our future. We always buy used cars and have been able to get some great deals, like that old station wagon purchased from family friends years ago.

It can get old driving older cars than other families and taking fewer big vacations. However, the peace of mind we have earned by setting aside quite a chunk in the bank comes up at interesting times. We had a bunch of families over for an Octoberfest this weekend, and several folks remarked about uneasiness about holding on to jobs and not enjoying work but being afraid of change. We have the same concerns, but a huge benefit of working toward FIRE is when you have "up yours" money during a terrible job market like we have today.

As an aside, we do not throw a lot of parties but want to start doing this more often. We run into a number of families all the time because our kids go to the same school/pool/scout troop/sports team/sunday school/whatever. There is a nice sense of going through the same kinds of things together. One of the things I would do more often if FIRE is to visit with friends. If we don't do this more often now, it will be far more difficult later. This is worth loosening up the purse strings for now, to us, to build quality of life later. It really didn't cost much to get a keg and some food anyway.

Today's TMF article on saving for college is part of the equation. My wife and I are working to ensure we can cover at least 50% of each child's college expenses. In an ideal world, we would bump that percentage up but make sure each child was paying something out of pocket. When I built my personal retirement spreadsheet, my figures assume retirement savings gets slashed during years my kids are in college even though we already have a fair bit set aside already.

My greatest struggle between parenthood and FIRE revolves around the time and energy invested in my career. The cliché about kids only being kids once is a core truth. We have been extremely happy about the decision by my wife to be a SAHM. I now struggle with keeping my life happily balanced with my own personal hobbies, good time with the kids and putting "enough" into work.

On financial stuff, we were pretty good about saving early and often during our first five years out of college. Some friends of ours splurged on the "last big trip before we have kids". I don't know if that will work well for them. We have tried to stay the course and keep ratcheting up the percentages saved without getting miserly or silly about things. In a way, it was easier at times to save when our kids were very young. It seemed like everyone expected you to be broke if you had kids under the age of five. This seems less true of our current generation of parents, though, who were a bit more prone to have the newest SUV and take young kids out to fancy restaurants, etc.

Anyone have thoughts or experiences on trying to balance FIRE goals with parenthood?

Cheers,

JohnH
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