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Will my kid be a bum if I retire early?


A few weeks ago, I was talking to Don, a successful young business owner and he really dislikes the idea of early retirement. He wants to provide a good example for his kids and he thinks early retirement is not the right way to do it. This was just a passing conversation, but he clearly thinks that I’m a bum and he’s afraid my kid will turn out to be one too. To him early retirement is the anti-thesis of hard work. Is this really true? I’m sure he’s working long hours to provide a good life for his family, but is that much better than me being a stay at home dad/blogger?

Actually, I wrote a bit about this last year, but I’m going to take another look today. Is Early Retirement a Good Example for Your Kids?

Time is limited

early retirement bad exampleFirst of all, a business owner like Don can easily work 60 to 80 hours per week. I’m just blogging part time and I’m already spending way over 20 hours per week on this. A business has a way of sucking all your time. I’m making some assumptions here, but let’s say Don works 80 hours per week to build a successful business. How much time would he really have to spend with the kids?

Don’s family may have a nice house, luxury cars, and international vacations, but they won’t have much time to spend with him. Sure, this shows them that hard work can provide a good standard of living, but the truth is most kids would rather have more time with their parents. I watched our kid being raised by daycare workers for a year and I didn’t like it one bit. I’d rather spend more time with him and teach him about life myself. I’ll tell him that I used to work hard and that’s why I can reap the benefits now. We saved and invested for many years before I could quit my corporate job. Now, we can spend a lot of time together and it’s a happy time for us.

Studies have shown that kids with involved fathers do better in school and in life. RB40 Junior will be a genius with the amount of time and energy we’re spend on him. (joking…) I’m sure Don is a nurturing dad too, but working 80 hours/week does tend to limit your time. He’s depending on other people to raise his kids. That’s one way to do it, but I don’t think it’s very effective. My dad didn’t spend much time with us when I was a kid and I didn’t like it at all. I was resentful that he worked so much and spent a lot of time socializing. As an adult, I can see that work was necessary, but we still don’t have a very close relationship. I’m sure I’ll have a better relationship with Junior, but I guess we’ll see how it turns out in 20 years.

I don’t mean to alienate everyone with a full time job, of course. I’m sure most of you work 40-50 hours/week and still have time to spend with your loved ones. It’s a luxury to spend so much time with my kid and I really appreciate this opportunity. He’ll start regular school soon and he’ll be much more independent then. I’ll most likely work a little bit more then.

I guess my message to RB40 Jr. is to prioritize happiness over wealth. We are doing fine financially and we have a happy family life. Our kid is happy because he gets to spend a lot of time with his parents. We can’t buy every toy he wants, but I think that’s fine, too. We are teaching him that there are limits in life.

Enjoy life

I feel Don passed judgment a bit too quickly. He likes being the traditional provider and isn’t open to a different view point. I love my life so I’m not going to let Don cramp my style. I’d rather be happy than be rich and I want my kid to feel the same way.

What about you? Do you think early retirement sends the wrong message to the kids?

*See my guide – How to Start a Blog and Why You Should. Starting a blog changed my life. It provides some income after retirement and it’s a great way to build a community. Those are the two biggest problems after retirement. It’s a great way to use some of your free time.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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{ 60 comments… add one }
  • Sam Dogen November 12, 2014, 1:27 am

    Who is Don, Joe? Does he have a website?

    I’m pretty sure your son will have a proclivity to want to retire earlier too once he understands your story. It’s only natural to follow in a parent’s footsteps.


    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 11:02 am

      He doesn’t have a website. His business is in international finance. I guess most finance people are more driven.

  • Ernie Zelinski November 12, 2014, 1:58 am

    Of course, I agree with you. I don’t think that early retirement sends the wrong message to kids On the contrary, it sends a message of prosperity and freedom.

    These quotations apply, which you should send to Don, compliments of me.

    “The really efficient laborer will be found not to crowd his day with work, but will saunter to his task surrounded by a wide halo of ease and leisure.”
    — Henry David Thoreau

    “Never mistake hard work for success about to happen. Trying to achieve success solely through hard work is like trying to reach the North Pole by heading south. You may eventually get there, but it will take a hundred times the energy, time, and sacrifice
    that it should take.”
    — from “The Lazy Person’s Guide to Success”

    “It’s more satisfying to dig a ditch with friends than to design a skyscraper with a team of sociopaths.’
    — Jessica Hagy

    “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
    — Jiddu Krishnamurti

    “The work ethic is a terrible mistake — a cute term gone haywire.”
    — from The Lazy Person’s Guide to Success

    “The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”
    — Fred Wilson

    “It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.”
    — Voltaire

    “There is a gigantic difference between earning a great deal of money and being rich.”
    — Marlene Dietrich

    “Know the moment when to work diligently. Even more important, know the moment
    when not to work, but to relax and play instead. This will not only benefit you immensely, but also will astonish your friends and competitors.”
    — from “Life’s Secret Handbook”

    “Leisure consists in all those virtuous activities by which a man grows morally, intellectually, and spiritually. It is that which makes a life worth living.”
    — Cicero

    “Men of lofty genius are most active when they are doing the least work.”
    — Leonardo da Vinci

    And not to forget the essay “In Praise of Idleness” by Bertrand Russell written over 70 years ago. “The morality of work is the morality of slaves,” stated Russell in the essay, “and the modern world has no need of slavery.” You don’t want your kids to grow up being slaves, do you?

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    The Prosperity Guy
    “Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free”
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 225,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working”
    (Over 275,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 11:03 am

      Thanks for the quotes Ernie. Some people just don’t understand our viewpoint. Money is good, but time to do what you want is even better. As long as the bills are paid, of course.

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods November 12, 2014, 4:01 am

    I absolutely agree with you. The ability to spend time with our future kids is a huge motivator behind our goal to reach FI at age 33. I also think that, as you expressed, it’s possible to teach kids about work ethic and responsibility without having a traditional “job.” The landscape of work has evolved incredibly in the past decade (with the increase in remote working, freelancing, etc) and so who knows exactly what type of workforce our kids will enter. Having an ingrained sense of the FI spirit of self-reliance, creativity, and passion will surely serve kids well.

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 11:04 am

      That’s right. The number of traditional careers are dwindling. The next generation needs to be flexible and nimble. You can’t just go to work for a company anymore. Thanks.

  • Pennypincher November 12, 2014, 4:44 am

    Great post, Joe! You are doing the right thing w/RB40Jr. Spending quality time before he’s grown up and out on his own. You’re working, raising your son, and both you and Mrs. RB40 are great role models for him. I too saw quickly that the daycare scenario was not for us-no way!
    One way I taught my kid work ethic was to pick strawberries at a farm each summer. We’d fill the car and freezer. She also mowed the lawn, other chores, then found a good job during high school, which continued through college.
    These years raising kids are fleeting. Life will change for all of you. You have a good life, Joe!

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 11:05 am

      Great job with the kid. I’ll assign him some regular chores once he’s a bit older too. I’m sure he’ll want nothing to do with me when he’s a teenager so we’d better enjoy our time together now. 🙂

  • Justin Williams November 12, 2014, 5:44 am

    Sucks to be Don. I am retired at 41 and get to go to the park with my daughter every day. or the beach, zoo, or anything else that I want. Being a slave in this society is a waste. We are all only here for a short time. I worked my ass off to get where I am and now that I have a kid, house, wife, dog, and financial independence I don’t need to accomplish anything else. In college I used to sit on the beach watching the sunset and watch all the lemmings coming home in LA traffic, thinking to myself, they missed it. The day. They missed it.

    Joe, we are on the right path. Don’t worry. Your son will realize the gifts that you have given him one day. One of parental involvement and the other of not being brainwashed into being a slave in the US workforce

    • Justin @ Root of Good November 12, 2014, 7:40 am

      Excellent point, Justin (from another Justin)!

      Once you have “enough”, don’t worry about working if there are other more fulfilling things to do in your life. I would put “raise your own kids” pretty high up there on the list of fulfilling things in most people’s lives. You only get 18 years of youth out of any given child, after all.

      • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 11:49 am

        18 year? That’s pretty good. I’m thinking a good 10 years and then after that it will be a big headache to deal with a rebellious kid. 🙂

        • Justin @ Root of Good November 12, 2014, 6:26 pm

          I thought I would be optimistic. My oldest is almost 10 and she still seems okay having us around. The teen years are coming quickly though.

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 11:47 am

      Wow, congratulation! Life is short so we should enjoy it. It’s too bad Don isn’t willing to open his mind a bit. He’s successful as society defines it and he loves it.

  • KO November 12, 2014, 6:50 am

    Hey Joe,

    I am totally with you. Some people can’t understand and therefore belittles 🙂 Its normal.

  • Wilson November 12, 2014, 7:26 am

    My dad would agree with Don. Sometimes I think he thinks I should have made partner at a fancy-pants law firm, but I put in all that grunt work and saved so I wouldn’t have to make partner, but to have time and less stress to spend with my family.

    I do, however, think it is important for children to see their parents engaged in meaningful and rewarding work. I’ll leave that for everyone to define for themselves. I’m still working on that end myself.

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 11:49 am

      I agree about the meaningful and rewarding work. It doesn’t have to be a job. Volunteering and helping other people is another way to enjoy meaningful work.

  • JP November 12, 2014, 7:52 am

    Work to live OR live to work. Tom Magliazzi, the recently deceased co-host of Car Talk, was a chemical engineer from MIT. One day on the way to work he had a close call with a semi-truck. Made him think really hard about the life he was living; by the time he got to the office, he quit; and literally bummed around for months.

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 11:51 am

      I’m a big fan of Tom. He enjoyed his life and he’s a happy guy. I should read up on him a bit.

  • Vawt @ Early Retirement Ahead November 12, 2014, 7:54 am

    Well said. This is one of my primary motivations to retire early. I want to spend more time with my two young sons. I am fine with outsiders not agreeing because I know my boys will be better off for it!

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 11:52 am

      I guess we don’t want everyone to retire early. It will have a big impact on productivity and where would our investments be? 🙂

  • so November 12, 2014, 7:56 am

    It is important for children to see their parents, as stated above, engaged in work and to understand work=money.

    I think there’s a benefit to seeing Dad get up and go to work every day. I don’t think it’s so for a 3-4 yo, but definitely for school-aged children.

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 11:55 am

      Sure. Working regular hours is good. I like working part time, though. It gives me more time to spend with the kid. He understands that I have to work sometime so we’ll have money to pay the rent.

  • so November 12, 2014, 7:57 am

    Also, lot of assumptions and sensitivity in this post. You assume Don works 80 hours a week just like you think he assumed you were a bum.

  • kammi November 12, 2014, 8:15 am

    Sorry to be ‘douchy’ but I’d agree with Don. Plus, he’s building his business, which can be passed on to his sons/daughters, etc ie a legacy to be proud of. To quote Wolf of Wall Street “I’ve been a poor man, and I’ve been a rich man. And I choose rich every…time.” I don’t like the argument of wealth over happiness; it’s too simplistic. You CAN have both. You can help more people with more wealth if you have solid RELATIONSHIPS (which has nothing to do with being rich or poor). Being poor doesn’t equate with happiness. Having wealth can’t be a bad thing, right? We can save great works of art through Trusts, create parks and better educational systems, give children access to other programmes they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. I saw a documentary the other day about space travel, and one of the things they were saying is that that was possible also because of wealth that was circulated (and today look at what Musk and Branson are doing with space travel companies), along with the priorities of sending people into space. A country with little wealth can’t do those kinds of things, rebuild bridges, etc.

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 11:57 am

      I think it’s fine that you agree with Don. We need all kind of people. I just didn’t like it that he thinks his way is the only way.
      I’m comfortable with our finance. We’re not rich and we’re not poor. I just don’t want to work long hours anymore.
      Sure, you can have both, but it’s really not easy.

  • Broke Millennial November 12, 2014, 8:54 am

    Perhaps Don also doesn’t have a full grasp of what early retirement means. In my mind, it means leaving a traditional job and having enough money to do what you love and be financially secure with passive income streams. It doesn’t mean you’re sitting around all day watching TV and eating Oreos (obviously you’re not paying for bonbons).

    However, to side a bit with Don: my father worked a traditional, very demanding, job for his career until he retired to start his own consulting business (my sister and I were both already in/out of college). However, he made our family a top priority in his life. He positioned himself to be in a job with a lot of autonomy so he could take days off for special events, or book business trips around school plays, soccer games, debates, birthdays, you name it. So while I understand the rationale behind the early retirement being good for kids mantra, I do think it’s possible to be a good, present parent and have a demanding career. It just depends on priorities and how high/quickly you can climb the ladder (assuming you’re in the corporate world). It probably also helps that my parents waited until their 30s to have children, so my Dad was more established in his career before he became a father.

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 11:59 am

      That’s what I eventually told Don. I’m not sitting around watching TV all day. I’m ridiculously busy everyday.

      Your dad did a great job. He was able to balance life and work. That’s not easy for successful driven people.

  • Clancy November 12, 2014, 9:26 am

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog the past few months. I find your style to be refreshing and the transparency you display when it comes to your life and your choices is courageous (and appreciated).

    I have worked in high tech sales for over 15 years now and have seen many people chose to spend long hours working or traveling at the expense of spending any time with their family. Sure, this affords their family nice things and luxurious vacations, but at the end of the day, they never see their father/mother. The older I’ve gotten the more I appreciate that the time your kids spend as, well, kids, is precious and fleeting. There will always be time to work and always time to “make more money”, but they won’t always be kids. I applaud the decisions that your family has made and I believe that your son is better for them. We all need less “stuff” and more “experiences” with those that we love.

    • Pennypincher November 12, 2014, 11:57 am

      I totally agree w/this post. A young “go-go” couple down the street have been everywhere, done everything, have it all. But one of their latchkey daughters said to me sadly, I wish my parents were home more. Very sad.
      How does that saying go…..on one’s deathbed no one ever says, I wish I had spent more time at the office.
      In many jobs/companies today, no one ever questions why you quit. Just sayin’.

      • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 10:34 pm

        That is a bit sad. I understand if they need to work hard to provide the basic. Many families have no choice but to work extra hours. However, if you’re aiming for more luxury, then it’s not a good idea while the kids are young.

  • Dividend Mantra November 12, 2014, 11:54 am


    I think Ernie above already laid the smack down on this close-minded individual. All the stuff in the world won’t make you happy and can’t bring back the time you spent earning the money required to acquire those same things.

    Best regards!

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 10:18 pm

      Thanks Jason. Our kid is only going to be young once. When he’s older, he won’t have much fun around us so we need to enjoy our time together now.

  • Jason November 12, 2014, 2:02 pm

    Just a guess, but is Don still pretty young? Maybe he just hasn’t heard the call yet. I’ve noticed that for a lot of people, career malaise and heightened time awareness don’t manifest until in the 40s to 50s. Unfortunately, as an ironic twist, that’s also when many people just START to think about retirement planning.

    As for the kids, I’m sure they will be a bit more aggressive in this area, especially with all of the examples that our generation is setting. (IMHO, GenX seems to be the pioneer in popularizing FIRE.) And, the withering of most traditional career paths will drive many younger people toward financial independence even sooner than we did. So, really, early retirees are just doing what parents have always done – showing their little ones ways to survive.

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 10:36 pm

      I think he’s in his early 40s. Some people are just more driven and I think we need those people too. Jobs and careers are changing very quickly now. You can live a comfortable life without having to follow the traditional career path. Everyone will have to find their own way.

  • davidmichael November 12, 2014, 3:00 pm

    Our kids will find their own path in life. We, as parents, may provide a beacon and touchstone, but they will make their own journey just as you have made your own, so different from your parents and/or grandparents. Being a loving, supportive parent making sure that he can be “all he can be” seems to be on track to me. Whether you retire at 40 or 60 doesn’t make his or her life.

    Retirement for me is,”Freedom of Choice.” Some of us have the maturity and wherewithal to do it at 40. Most do it in their 60’s. We all have to figure out our own way. Personally Joe, I think it’s great what you accomplished. Bravo!

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 10:37 pm

      Thanks for the words of wisdom. Freedom of choice is the right concept. Most people in their 40s won’t understand that.

  • Josh November 12, 2014, 5:10 pm

    Unfortunately most people will agree with Don believing you’re leading a life of a bum not just because you’re a stay at home dad, but because your wife works while you’re the one staying at home. Right or wrong, most people will assume you’re not helping much financially and is dependent on your wife’s income. It’s great that you were able to find a supporting spouse, and I would personally love that arrangement myself. However, I don’t know of any woman including my own wife, who are willing to be the breadwinner while their boyfriend or husband stays home with a kid permanently.

    If your family feels fine with your arrangement, then don’t let other people’s opinions sway you though. Personally once your kid is a bit older, finding a second career that you enjoy more would be a better example for your kid as well as utilizing your potential more.

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 10:41 pm

      Thanks for sharing. I’ll probably work a bit more once my kid goes off to school full time. It will probably be self employment, though. I have had enough of working for other people.

  • FYI November 12, 2014, 5:16 pm

    I’m not sure why so many frown upon the concept of retirement as if it represents the decline of one’s life. If anything, your child will learn that there is more to this world than the cookie-cutter 9-5 job that most of his friends will eventually take. At the end of the day, it comes down to the value that you place on your time. If an hour with your child is worth more $50 an hour, then your job better pay a lot more than that. Only you (or Don) can make that decision for yourself.

    • retirebyforty November 12, 2014, 10:43 pm

      I also think the cookie-cutter 9 to 5 is going to be obsolete very soon. The corporations are squeezing every little bit of productivity from their employees and many people are resentful. I’m sure the next generation will work much differently than I did.

  • papadad November 12, 2014, 11:37 pm

    my dad recently passed away. I wished he had spent more time with me when I was a kid. He was always trying his best…working…earning a living.

    I learned to work hard like him, true, and maybe some other things too. But…in retrospect, I adopted his same “never there” approach to fatherhood and I’m not sure I’ve been as good a father to my kids as I could have been.

    Ask any kid what they want… it’s time with you… not stuff from you. period.

    Joe, I wish I had spent more time with my kids when they were younger. They are teen agers now and have their own lives.

    The cat’s in the cradle….

    • retirebyforty November 13, 2014, 11:26 am

      Sorry to hear about your dad. I know our kid will be very independent soon enough. That’s why I want to maximize our time together now. We’ll have great memories for years to come. I’m not looking forward to the teenage years at all.

  • B November 13, 2014, 1:38 am

    Hi RB40

    I think you show him whos the champion 20 years from now 😉

    On a serious note, I think that’s the problem sometimes with early retirement. Kids tend to view early retirement and contentment in a wrong way of being just enough. I still think they should stretch themselves to put in their best effort and aim high while at the same time contented with happiness and money. To find the balance is key and so far its not too easy to do that.


    • retirebyforty November 13, 2014, 11:27 am

      It is difficult to find a balance. It’s based so much on personality as well. Everyone just have to find their own ways and don’t listen to the critic/society too much. Good luck!

  • Steve November 13, 2014, 9:49 am

    I certainly don’t begrudge anyone from living their dream—but I think like most things there is always a “cost”. As you point out, working 80 hours per week to build a successful business may allow for financial success, the opportunity to provide material rewards to one’s family, and yes, setting an example of what one can achieve through hard work. The down side—missing a lot of family time. On the flip side, I think retiring early allows one to genuinely experience sharing time with family—spouses and kids. Life is short, and to be able to devote yourself to those you love is a remarkable gift. The cost–perhaps less income than what one could have earned, and maybe having a somewhat reduced (or perhaps significantly reduced) standard of living. And, yes, I think it reasonable to wonder if such behavior will impact a child’s perception of work. I am not suggesting that retiring early is a bad choice, nor am I suggesting that children will certainly become “lazy” without a traditional breadwinner role model. I am suggesting, however, that it is a reasonable question to ask, and I would think someone who retires early would want to somehow instill or reinforce the value of work, thrift, etc. in their children’s minds.

    • retirebyforty November 13, 2014, 11:30 am

      Thanks for the thought provoking comment. I’m not sure if we can instill hard work and value in our child or not. We’ll try our best. We’ll see in 20 years…

    • FYI November 13, 2014, 8:09 pm

      The other aspect to take into account is quality vs. quantity with regard to family time. There are some days that I work a 10-hour shift and come home and spend a solid two hours engaged with my kids and there are some days when I’m not working that I don’t manage to find that unique connection for whatever reason. Sometimes being away from your family helps you to maximize the time you do spend with them. It’s a delicate balance, for sure.

  • duggy November 13, 2014, 4:38 pm

    Hi Joe,

    I’m all for early retirement and freedom to do whatever you want. To be able to get up without alarm clocks, walk on the beach all day, watch tv all day, or spend time with loved ones. I mean, I don’t think anybody would argue against that.

    But the only thing that does worry me is the example it sets for kids. I just think it would set a tone where the kid sees his dad home all day and thinks that’s the norm. Then has no drive to go out and work. For example, I have a rich friend who retired from finanace at 36yo in 2008. His greatest concern for his 2 kids is just that. His 10yo son claims he wants a job just like daddy when he grows up. To stay home and watch msnbc!

    So I would have to agree with Don on that point. I think it is a legitimate concern.

  • Laura November 13, 2014, 5:44 pm

    A lot of Type A personalities I know just enjoy their jobs. Sure, they sometimes want to work less but that’s just not possible in the jobs they’re in. As a mom to two young children, I work PT for my own sanity. I tried stay-at-home for a year and it’s not for me. I am thankful that we’ve made financial decisions that allow me to work a job I enjoy and with the flexibility I need as an involved parent.

    • retirebyforty November 14, 2014, 10:12 am

      I think part time work is the ideal situation. It’s working really well for us and we’re very thankful to be able to have that choice.

  • Joseph Hogue November 14, 2014, 6:34 pm

    I guess it depends on your idea of work, as you point out in the post. You are still working 20 hours a week so your still doing something. If you were sitting in your boxers drinking all day or filling your time with shopping sprees, I think it would be different.

    The fact that you started your own business and are able to enjoy the benefit of a little more leisure time has got to be worth something. You’re a role model for you kid and that you don’t need to work the rat race to be successful.

    Good discussion of both sides.

  • Tawcan November 14, 2014, 6:44 pm

    I think your son will appreciate spending more time with you. He may not feel that way growing up but he will be when he looks back once he’s older. This is certainly how I felt about my dad.

  • Adam and Jane November 14, 2014, 6:54 pm


    This post hit a nerve.  Don’t let Don get under you skin!  It sounds like Don is defined by his job. Who give a hoot what he said. Live is short so you need to do what is right for you and for your family.  

    My parents had their own business and they worked hard.  They worked 10-12 hours a day and many times 7 days a week.  At one point, they had 2 houses, 2 vacation homes and 1.5 buildings.  Since our parents were always working, my sibling and I fended for ourselves.  When I was about 12, we started cooking, doing house work and laundry. Cats in the cradle.  

    So, many may think that they achieved the american dream.  They made it, right?  Well, what they had was 5 mortages at one point.  That is the reason why they could not stop working. 

    Timing is everything but not when you are strapped for cash.  When business was not so good,  my parents had to sell the 2 vacation homes. Since the housing market was down, they lost over 100k.

    My father was thrilled to collect SS at 62.  Then he got 2 different types of cancer one after another and passed away before 70. It was painful seeing him suffer for so many years.  He DID NOT get to enjoy his forced retirement.   My mom was still running the business while my father was ill.  They had so much emotional and financial stress. As of today, my mom still have one mortage on the rental.

    Lessons I learned thru my parents that works for me.
    – I will not want to have my own business. Too much work and too much stress.
    – One of my parent’s tentant paid the entire mortage of one house but it is not still for me. I am on 24×7 support for my IT job and don’t want any more calls.
    – Don’t buy a vacation home unless you have time to use it or to take care of it. We rather rent a place for a couple of months when we retire and travel to different places.
    – Don’t have more than one mortage. We had one mortage for our only home and we paid it off in 11 years.
    – My father loves stocks and he surely lost money.  I rather sleep at nights so we only get individual muni bonds.
    – Work hard!  We worked hard for a company and we exceeded our expectation in life.
    – Simplify your life. I don’t  want to clutter my life with multiple homes. Too much work for me just to maintain one home.
    – Without health, money is useless.  So, get regular checkups.  My father could have avoided his first cancer if he had done so.
    – Save and save more to enjoy life before it is too late. We live a little, buy whatever we want within reason, saved a  lot, maxed out our 401Ks, will have small pensions, have munis that generate income to cover expenses.  In my mind, we reached FI at this point.  My parents did OK but they are not wealthy. We are fortunate to have twice their NW.  We plan to retire at 55 in 5 years but there are layoffs starting next year.

    Joe, just because you did it your way, it does not mean your son will be a bum. You can teach you son to be financially independent by making wise investments choices. Everyone is different and your son will choose his own path.  Parents who are successful may not guarantee that their child will be successful.  My sibling is not doing well and still needs mom’s help.  Same parents but totally different outcomes.  I would be concerned if any child is not focused in college. This may be a sign that he/she will need financial help (Economic Outpatient Care).

    I did not follow my parent’s foot steps and we did OK.  I mostly did the opposite  because I do not want to endure so much hardship.


    • retirebyforty November 14, 2014, 11:31 pm

      Adam, thank you for sharing. Everyone has to find their own path through life. It sounds like you’re doing quite well and that’s great. Being a business owner can be quite stressful. It takes so much time and effort. My parents had a restaurants and they worked all the time as well. They never had time to take vacation. Good luck with your early retirement journey.

  • Jason November 14, 2014, 9:09 pm

    I think if you still have a clear purpose, which you certainly do with raising your son among other things, then retiring early is hard to argue with. I’m lucky to have a job that gives me a fair bit of flexibility, so I can be at home some mornings and leave early some days, but I always struggle with this tradeoff of earning more now vs spending more time away from work. If I knew I could retire in 5 years I’d be more inclined to go hard with my career, but it’s just not a reality for the path we’ve chosen, so I try to lean much more towards spending time outside of the office where I can, even if it means postponing early retirement.

    • retirebyforty November 16, 2014, 3:38 pm

      I know some people with the flexibility to work from home. That’s really great if you can pull it off. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sally November 15, 2014, 4:07 am

    I totally support your position. I myself just retired recently at 46. Love spending time with my seven year old son and husband without stress of working.

    • retirebyforty November 16, 2014, 3:37 pm

      Congratulation! Enjoy your time with your son. He’ll be a teenager very soon. 🙂

  • Dave October 27, 2015, 2:24 pm

    I know I’m late to the comversation but I’m busier than I thought I’d be in my state of retirement/unemployment/self-employment. After being laid off in 2013 at the age of 41 I realized I didn’t have to continue to work. I do part time consulting and real estate investing which keeps me busy for most of my kids’ school day. My wife continues her W-2 job and I had a tech/consulting career. Our situations share many similarities, Joe.

    I have a 6 and 7 year old. The biggest reasons for working for me are that I don’t know how much these kids are going to cost me (What if one or both decide to go Ivy League?) and I want to set a good example. The latter is the bigger concern.

    Although I feel blessed to be able to spend so much time with them and I worked hard to earn my financial independence, they are too young to appreciate that hard work. I maintain an appearance of working a full-time job because I fear that if they saw me lounge around too much they would consider that normal.

    My goal is for them to achieve the same level of self-made financial success that I had. They will have distinct advantages that I didn’t have in terms of better education, extensive travel experience, more engaged non-immigrant parents, wealthier friends, and possibly even greater natural intelligence. What I can’t provide them is the will to persevere. If they model themselves on Dad 2015, they will never achieve my level of success. They will never meet Dad pre-2013. What would they think or do if they learned that Dad 2015 only really works 20 hours per week or even less if I really wanted to let things go?

    My kids aren’t lazy but they live a privileged life without knowing it (as most kids do and most Americans). Whatever life they have is “normal” just as my lower middle class upbringing was normal to me. Therefore, I want to instill hard work as a norm.

    The Chinese have a saying of “eating bitterness” which conveys having experienced great hardship and struggle. When I tried to explain the phrase to my kids, they asked me what does “bitter” taste like. It turns out they have never tasted bitter because unlike my childhood, their bitter medicines have been replaced by sugary syrups. (By the way traditional Chinese medicine can be super bitter and way worse than any western medicine even from 40 years ago). They have never eaten bitterness literally and figuratively.

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