Our family is on the slow route to early retirement. Our story will never be shared on big news outlets because it just isn’t that interesting: “Couple saved money for 15 years to retire in their late 40s!” – 12 years? late 40s? But this is a conscience choice for us.
Why we’re heading to early retirement
The “Why” is always the most important question about a journey to early retirement. In our case, it’s not because we hate our lives now. It’s because we would rather take money out of the equation. Mr. T doesn’t love his job, but he also doesn’t hate it. He’s not the one stuck at work with tight deadlines, no sleep, panic attacks googling: “How do I retire early?”
In fact, the only reason we happened upon the FIRE movement is because Mr. T was threatened with a lay-off. After spending a solid ten months of his life applying for jobs he wasn’t really excited about, but still not getting, Mr. T expressed that he never wanted to apply for a job again.
This trigger got my research-geek side out of me and I discovered a whole world of people that were trying to do the same thing: never apply for another job again! It turns out this group was retiring early! Also, after spending ten months helping Mr. T apply for jobs while also co-parenting and writing my masters thesis, I also didn’t want to return to that stress. And I had previously expressed my thoughts that it is so unfair that the most important working years coincide with the most important years for our children. Why did parents have to spend so much time trying to build careers at the same time their children were trying to figure out how to walk and talk and learn?
Those concerns and my research led us to make a very tentative plan of me saying: “If we had half a million dollars in the bank, would you feel comfortable leaving work?” Though he didn’t commit to a solid “yes,” I started building toward that. The worst that could happen is Mr. T kept working and we have a large savings. No downside.
What we’re not willing to give up
Now that our plans have changed a bit since that initial plan, we are working toward an actual retirement with over a million dollars in savings, but we just aren’t willing to give up a lot of things to get there quickly.
This goes back to the fact that the most important time in my childrens’ lives is now. They’re so curious and inquisitive. They don’t yet think we’re lame. They love hanging out as a family.
Most people have to wait until they are retired to be able to take their family on a 27-day trip to Europe. Mr. T, however, gets 6.5 weeks of vacation time and is actually allowed to take it whenever he wants. We’re not willing to give up our family trips to retire early.
Mr. T also has a really flexible job. He works a little bit longer for 9 days so he can take every other Monday off. He is also able to work from home some days if I have appointments and he can make up work later if the kids have important events at school. In short, Mr. T is there for our children. A lot of jobs don’t have that capability. If we’re trying to retire early to be there for our children, we would be sacrificing time now to get there by the time they are teenagers. Not worth it for us.
I’m a stay at home mom. If I worked full time, we could get there much quicker. But we’re not willing to give that up. In 2 years, when Lui is in kindergarten, I’m sure I’ll be working more than I currently do, but I don’t plan to ever work full time while the kids are home.
What trade-offs are worth it for you?
For now, we’re sacrificing a bigger house and some savings in order to be able to retire early. Everything is about trade-offs. Sacrificing now so you can set yourself up for the future is the name of the game. For us, we’re making a conscious choice to sacrifice less now and take the slow route to FIRE.