The Best Reason For Financial Independence
One of the more common criticisms I hear about Financial Independence is, “It’s not for everybody” and “Some people like to work”.
In a world dominated by the average Joe (or Jane) working a 9-to-5 job, the prospect of living a financially free life sounds like some kind of crazy fantasy world. They ask questions like, “What would I do with all that extra time? Don’t you get bored? I would be lost without anything to do!”
To me, it sounds like those people don’t have a life outside of work. Sadly, I think they’re missing out on some of the best of what life has to offer.
If endless vacation days aren’t your thing, and a life devoid of staff meetings and performance reviews doesn’t tickle your tentacles… Then today I’m going to share with you the very best reason for achieving financial independence — Time with family.
Life Before FI
Before Mrs. Tako and I reached our current multi-millionaire status we lived the life of DINKs (Dual Income No Kids). We made decent money, traveled the world, and saved as much as we could. Life was pretty good.
At the time, financial independence seemed a long ways off. Our net worth was less than one million dollars, and our annual dividend income amounted to a mere $15,000. (Note: A chart of our dividend growth over the last 10 years can be found here)
Then, the Great Recession happened and our life changed. I lost a once stable job, and we ended up purchasing our first home in 2009 (at very near the bottom of the real estate collapse).
While some people suffered greatly during the Great Recession, Mrs. Tako and I actually managed the opposite — we prospered. We didn’t sell stocks when they were down — We invested significant sums when the markets were at their worst, and rode them up. Our net worth grew as a result.
By 2012, our dividend income hit $40,000 and we reached our first “million dollars”, mostly held in stocks and preferred shares I picked up for dirt cheap during the recession.
Our lives changed rapidly thereafter…
Our First Child
The same year we made our first million (2012), was the same year we learned baby #1 was on the way. It was 2013 when Tako Jr. #1 finally hatched into this world.
At the time, I was just starting a new job. It was only a month after I started that new job when I got the “baby is on the way” call. Needless to say, my new employers were not pleased with this arrangement. After only a month on the job, I only had half a vacation day saved-up.
Company policy allowed male employees two weeks of paternity leave, but didn’t stipulate how long the employee must have worked at the company to receive this benefit (a “one year minimum” clause in the HR handbook would later be added because of me).
At first they resisted giving me any leave, but I eventually negotiated one week of paid paternity leave.
As a new father, this wasn’t a lot of time to get to know my child… but that’s what I was allowed. When you’re dependant on a employer to support your life and your family, they hold all the cards.
(OK who am I kidding — Only one week sucks! I know some guys who get months off!)
Thankfully, Mrs. Tako’s employer was quite generous and offered 3 months of maternity leave and allowed 2 additional months of unpaid leave.
By the time the octopus-stork delivered our second son in 2015 we had just reached a $2 million dollar net worth. That year our dividend income broke $107,000. While that large dividend year was a special event, I knew financial independence wouldn’t be far off.
For Tako Jr. #2, I received a whole two weeks of paid paternity leave from my employer … which was better, but not nearly enough time. Work was also getting extremely stressful. I was working long hours, and I was frequently required to work on weekends. I barely saw my kids as a result.
At this point the realization dawned on me — If I ever wanted to spend time with my family, it was only going to happen during my annual two week vacation. Clearly that wasn’t going to cut it.
The Terrible Math Of A Working Parent
Most parents know how quickly the years pass. One moment they’re tiny little babes wrapped in blankets, and the next they’re teens in high school.
At best, parents only get 18 years to build a relationship with their kids. If you consider how difficult the teen years are, it’s probably even less than that. After age 18, there’s college and then they begin their own careers. After 18, life with your kids is basically done.
For working parents, the mathematics of the situation are a difficult proposition — If you work 5 days a week, there are only 104 weekend days in a year. That means only 1,872 weekend days until your kids turn 18.
Think about that for a moment — If you work full time, you only get 1,872 days to spend with the little people you love the most. After that, they’ll be adults and have their own busy lives.
If you work 6 days a week, (like I frequently did) this is a mere 52 days per year, and 936 until they leave home. That’s not a lot of time.
The tragic reality is, the people who watch your kids while you work might actually spend more time with your kids than you do.
My neighbors live this way — They have two kids and work in high-stress IT jobs at Amazon (and another local company). They work a ton of hours, and spend two hours per day commuting to and from the city. To handle the kids, they hired a nanny.
The nanny picks up the kids from school, takes them home, watches them, and even feeds them a meal in the evening. Eventually the parents come home from work, and tuck them into bed.
Now that school’s out for the summer, the nanny watches those kids full-time and drives them to various summer camps. A complete stranger is basically raising their kids. I actually see the nanny more often than my neighbors.
Is this really how people raise children now?
FI Is For Families
Thankfully Financial Independence offers another way to live — Imagine for a moment you’re financially independent. You could spend 5 days a week (or more) with your kids. Suddenly those precious days together rocket up to 261 days per year, and 4,698 until they reach adulthood.
That’s a whole lot more life to spend with your kids.
For me, the proposition of Financial Independence seemed like a very good deal — I gave up all that extra income, but I actually get to spend time with my family now.
While we do send our kids to a language immersive daycare a few days a week (to learn a second language and to socialize with other kids), I get tons more time with them. We go to parks together, we play games, we take walks and make things together. I feel like I actually know my kids now… all thanks to Financial Independence.
Growing Up With FI Parents
Financially independent parents sometimes get criticized as “setting a bad example” by not working. But I actually think we’re setting a great example — Mrs. Tako and I made the extra effort to save and invest our dollars (and not waste them on consumption). It took commitment, perseverance, and sacrifice… all so we could build a close family.
Those sound like pretty good “examples” to me.
My boys are just now getting to the age where they like to travel, and I’m super excited about all the adventures we’re going to have together. This year alone we have several domestic road trips planned, and a month long trip to Japan.
Honestly, I’m excited about all the extra time we’re going to have together. My boys are going to have so many unique opportunities in life — maybe we’ll live in Thailand or Panama for a few months. Perhaps we’ll visit all the U.S. National Parks, travel the country by train, or hike the Pacific Crest Trail together. The possibilities have me giddy!
Once the boys start school, I expect we’ll do most of our traveling during the summer months like my favorite blogger RootOfGood (and his 3 kids). He’s not blogging a lot right now, mainly because his family is summering in Europe this year. Yes, I did say ‘summering in Europe’.
That sort of adventure becomes a reality once you’re not locked into an office job with only two weeks of annual vacation — There’s a whole world of things for kids to learn, try, and places to explore that can’t be found inside a classroom.
During the months when the kids are in school, I suspect I’ll spend a lot more time blogging and starting micro-businesses for fun. I might even end-up making a little money, but nothing like when I worked full-time. These kinds of endeavors might resemble a job, but it’s mainly for fun.
I look forward to these next 4,000 days together with my boys… to show them how wonderful life can be when you’re not trapped in an office all day. This “example” shows off the benefits of hard work, a lot of reading, saving, and some careful investing.
Now tell me — How is this setting a bad example? If you’re a parent, I think it sounds like one of the best damn reasons FOR Financial Independence.
47 thoughts on “The Best Reason For Financial Independence”
This is a beautiful example of retiring to something and that is noble, impactful and fulfilling … not from something dreary or boring. Thank you for sharing!
You nailed it, Mr. Tako. If I didn’t have kids, my time wouldn’t seem nearly as valuable. But, as it is, I’m spending most of the summer in one state (where I work), while the rest of my family is 500 miles away where our cabin and her family is. We make that choice, but when I retire, we won’t have to make that choice. We can all choose to be wherever we want to be.
I love your ideas for future family adventures; ours are quite similar.
Your description of the nanny is what I see from many folks here too. They are the first to be posting on FB what “great adventures” they have with their kids but it is a couple of hours on the weekend. But someone else is with their kids the majority of the time. I wonder if all those social media posts are just to make them feel better or show that they are still great parents… (not saying that they aren’t good parents. I’m just not into the social media and flaunting the kids thing.) I was a teacher, so I had summers with my kids – in addition to vacations. Our schedules aligned well. But I’ve found being home this summer (since I FIRE’d) great with my son before he heads off to college too. It doesn’t matter what age they are, it’s nice to be around them – because they grow up and leave before you know it!
I so agree with what you are saying..I have an acquaintance this is 1/2 half of dual income earners (high income) completely focused climbing the corporate ladder but everything, I mean EVERYTHING they do with their kids on the weekend is documented. I only wonder why they had kids other than to check a box..the kids deserve better than that.
For me the main reason to strive for FI is freedom and security. Freedom to do what I want with my time, and security to deal with a lot of the bad things that can come your way.
Money can’t fix everything, but it can make a lot of things less stressful, whether traffic accidents or unexpected home maintenance.
Yeah, those things are good too!! Typically people want to spend their newfound freedom with the people they love, so I think we’re saying similar things. 😉
Love it. You definitely nailed it. FIRE might not be for everyone, but Being FI is. Most people lack the required discipline to postpone gradation for a few decades to reach FI. As you stated, life happens. Jobs come and go. Babies are born. In my experience, life is better when you have many years of living expenses stashed in savings. It provides options and protection.
Wow it’s great to have such an insight into financial independence. Your job sounded stressful for sure. At my job, we used to have 2 weeks of paid maternal leave just 6 months ago. Now it’s one month, and we’re already ecstatic. I haven’t used it yet since I had Baby FAF before I started my current job. But I sure wish it were 3 months of paid maternal leave instead.
Your post is really inspiring. Now I’m starting to wonder what it’s like for both Mr. FAF and I to be FI. 😀
This is wonderful. My goal with FI is to allow me to spend more time doing the things I love. Whether that’s working on personal projects, taking vacations or spending time with family. I really liked your analysis on number of TRUE days you have with your kids. It’s a great way of looking at the time between a child’s birth and when they go off to college. Time sure does fly by fast!
Indeed it does. Time stops for no one!
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I have a lot of high-income friends who are going to be rolling in dough just about the time their kids finish college. They think I’m crazy for taking my foot off the gas to be with the kids when they’re young. They may well be proven right if time machine technology advances, but otherwise I think they’ll have regrets over the time they missed.
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All the dollars in the world can’t stop your kids from growing up! Either enjoy it, or you’ll miss it.
Good presentation of your point of view. In my case my wife volunteered to be the stay at home mom and with an eight minute commute and a five day a week 40-45 hour job I did not miss much of their lives. Being FI for many years prior to finally early retiring I chose to work because it was great fun and actually was among my favorite hobbies. Far from not having a life outside of work I had a half dozen strong hobbies a great marriage and also did a lot of volunteer work after the kids hit college age. Now retired I keep the same hobbies going strong plus 11 side gigs ranging from highly paid consulting to no pay volunteering. I respect your values and the premium you put on family time and you make a lot of sense. I never see much value in second guessing things I did in my past since it is not possible to change them but I think you were much more advanced in the way you’ve planned than I was at your age. The FIRE concept wasn’t really a thing then like it is now.
I’m sorry, Mr. Tako, but the image of the “octopus-stork” has reignited the cthulu nightmares of my youth. I must now flee in terror!
Great article as always 🙂
Terrible example! Being involved and present for your kids…just kidding.
I had yesterdaynif and spent it with my son. It was amazing and makes my days at work that much more painful. I am gonna work on going part time so that weekends last longer than weekdays. At least that way I can be a responsible partner and a present father.
Great outlook as always. There are no better reasons to strive for financial independence/freedom. I’m always amazed about your dividend income, but even more amazed that you need so much for FI. But then I look at the expenses… US sure is super expensive place to live. I guess that is due to the low tax rate, so everything costs so much.
Not envious about the parent’s leave though. In Finland, the paid parent’s leave is 9 months and you can even extend it with reduced pay.
Love it! Once my daughter was born, I wanted to spend all the time I could with her. This was the jolt for me to get on track for FI.
She’s now 7 and watching her learn and grow is truly awesome. Without any changes in our plan, she’ll be in her early teens when I quit my job. Like you mentioned those teen years could be difficult as it is. I’m doing everything in my power to make that sooner just so I don’t miss any more time of her preteen years than I need to.
Cute pics of the kids, btw!! 🙂
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Thanks Jim! I haven’t seen you around these parts in awhile! You must have been visiting Panama! Welcome back! 🙂
The teen years are awesome. If you know your kids and realize the wash of hormones is causing them to act, at times, like an Alien took over their body, the other times are fantastic. The worst was age 13 for some reason. When they are reasonable which is most of the time, it is so fantastic having conversation with your child who has a great mind and their own thoughts to share.
Although, I am not FIRE’D, I am grateful for the time spent.
That’s great to hear, Marisa. I have some friends with teenage kids and it’s like they’re in completely different worlds from each other. I also have friends with teenage kids and the kids seem to have a wonderful relationship with their parents.
I’m definitely hoping for the latter! 🙂 And I can definitely understand the happiness of the time spent together!
Jim @ Route To Retire recently posted…Panama Vacation – Part 2 – Boquete
I don’t have kids. (Who knows if it’s in the cards). I spent a summer unemployed, and met up with a friend for lunch & a hike on her day off (a Thursday ). My sister is off Wednesdays, we mini golfed. I got to spend 2 weeks at my mom’s cabin, instead of just holiday weekends. I got to make a long weekend of Father’s day. My friends and I did the Renaissance Faire on a Sunday and I had off Monday. 🙂 My friend who is a teacher visited during the week and we did yoga and got to museums. I went to a living history farm with a friend and her daughter.
Even without kids I got to spend so much time with friends and family. I cooked lunch most days! I could better plan my meals around yoga, without the commute as a factor. I got to yoga pretty much daily and spent 2-4 hours job searching. I applied to 80+ jobs (no slacking there).
I’m currently saving vacation days for a trip next summer. I’m excited for the trip, but it’s not fun to have to do that. Not doing much this year, so I have 2+ weeks next year. It would be great to have as much time as I need. To get back to the flexibility to see people whenever instead of squeezing it into weekends, and needing weekends to recuperate from a busy week so I’m not even accepting all invites.
Some day! 🙂 But I’m with you 100% family & friends are a big part of my reason for FI.
A great reason, indeed! This is why we’re delaying having kiddos until we pay off our debt. We want the freedom to be a single-income house if we want/need. Life isn’t about slaving away at a cubicle; it’s all about family and passing on a meaningful legacy. Work doesn’t give us the time (or compassion…) to do that! FIRE is so important and I have no idea why it’s still seen as a crazy idea.
I couldn’t have said it better myself Mrs. PP! Bravo!
Well, your wife is working, right? For us, my wife stays home with our daughter, who is also in school, and I see her on mornings, nights and weekends. This long 3 days weekend we went to Sentosa Island in Singapore and just spent 10 days at Universal Studios Singapore hitting every ride in the park. It was satisfying and really fun.
I still need to keep plugging away since the little one is starting international school next year, at age 5 and the tuition is a cool $20K USD a year. It almost makes me think about moving back to the USA, only there is so many opportunities out here.
Wow, $20k USD is a pretty big bill to foot. You better get back to work!
It’s not that bad, overall. When I pull the FIRE cord I’ll be sure to ping you!
No kiddoes for me but I do get to spend a lot more time with Dad in FIRE. That time is important.
Also, I am human or cephalopod and have clicked the appropriate box.
I spent a lot of time talking about kiddoes, but spending time with parents or good friends applies also!
High five Mr.Tako! Love this!!
This is so true. My kids were the primary reason why I resigned a couple weeks ago. I am heading out to my last week of work as we speak!
Hey, at least you got paid paternity leave. My old company didn’t have that and I had to take a vacation when my kid was born. Luckily, I was eligible for my sabbatical so I was able to use that. So Mrs. RB40 took vacation and unpaid maternity first, then I took vacation and sabbatical. That way our baby was able to be home for 5 months. After that he went to daycare. I really hated it because we never spent anytime with him. Family time is much better after FI.
I can’t wait until Mrs. RB40 retires. We’ll travel a lot more then. Summering in PNW is pretty good, though. 🙂
Yes, it is! 🙂 Traveling is for the winter months around here!
Spending time with family is a noble reason. I don’t think anyone looks down on that. If they did, they’re the ones that are weird. That said, I think some people are just wired differently. Like for me personally, even though I love my children, I’m a better person, a better father, and husband, if I’m engaged in what livens me up. If I was depressed because I’m not “creating” and adding value, then I don’t think all the time in the day spending with the kids would be 100% beneficial for all involved. Also, because I inherently lack patience and need constant stimulation, I don’t do very well just hanging out with the kid. It’ll drive me bonkers. Doesn’t mean I love him any less, but I need my time, to do “my thing.” And by doing that, the hours I do get to spend with him, are richer, because I’m a better version of myself.
Great article Mr. Tako.
This one is difficult for me. I’m pursuing FI and could pretty much call it quit now, but decided to go on for a couple of years. The main reason is my 2 kids. They are teenagers now and kids really learn a lot by looking at what their parents do. I would find it difficult to tell them they need to work hard in school, study, be serious and find a part-time job while having fun all day hiking, reading and travelling. This would work with a child, but with a teenager? I know that you can only do this if you have done your homework and hard work before retirement, but in the eyes of your kids, what you have done 5-10 years ago doesn’t compute much-they look at what is happening today. What you say is one thing, but what you do is what sticks more.
You nailed it with FI is for families. Too much of our time is spent away from the important ones that we have others raising them and we don’t get to help formulate their personalities as they grow. I was lucky my mom was able to stay at home, but some many had both parents working and things are even more connected that people can’t leave work at work anymore. Great reason for wanting to be part of the FI club.
I’ve always been firmly in the “I don’t need kids cramping up my lifestyle” camp, but the more I read your blog, and the more I read Financial Independence blogs, the more I think having a kid I could actually spend time with wouldn’t be so bad.
It’s not kids I’m averse to – it’s the stupidity of a society that has you spending more time at the office, than with the tiny human you’ve created.
This is exactly what I’m hoping to achieve. I don’t have kids yet but they will be on the cards soon enough ad I want to be able to take the time to watch them grow without stressing about making ends meet.
P.s. Don’t encourage people not to hire a nanny – that’s one of my fave side hustles 😉
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Awesome post and something that I dream about but I’m not that close to FI, especially living in a high cost of living area like NYC. I have 2 little boys the same age as yours and it’s tough not being able to spend as much time with them. The weekdays are rushed and the weekends…there are always errands to do but we make time to do something with them. Time is the most valuable thing to me. I have hopes of reaching FI in like 8 or 9 years (still not sure about that time frame)…but my kids will be entering preteen ages…not sure they really want to spend as much time with me then!
Wow, your employer only gave you 1 week of pat leave for the birth of your son. That sucks 🙁 Well, good thing you became FI. No need to be their bitch anymore.
While I was working, I saw all sorts of shitty things happen to my co-workers. One actually MISSED the birth of his own child because he was in a meeting. So sad :(. Another almost collapsed and died at his desk.
I think it’s pretty funny when people say “oh I can’t stop working, what would I do with all that time?” C’mon now. Becoming FI doesn’ t mean you have to retire. In fact, for people who continue to work after becoming FI, they enjoy their jobs way more, because they choose to work on the things they like and not be a bitch to the company.
I’m glad you decided to quit and spend more time with your boys. Like you said, that’s time that you can never get back.
I’m a bit curious though, why send them to daycare? It costs money and you end up having someone else take care of them (not judging, just curious). Do you need some balance in terms of spending time with them and me time? I honestly don’t know, because I have no experience in this.
Good questions FIRECracker. The daycare they visit a few days a week is a very special place. Mrs. Tako and I felt it was important that they gain fluency in multiple languages at an early age, and the language immersion daycare we found provides this. My oldest son (even though he’s only 4) already has an impressive language ability.
Yes, it is expensive. No doubt about that. If it was purely about the numbers, I’d have them with me all the time. But, we’re an international family and the ability to communicate in multiple languages is pretty important to us.
It’s also nice to get a break occasionally too. It keeps me sane, and that’s when I do most of my blogging.
Indeed spending time with loved ones is so much more valuable than making career.
I have never met a person who regretted to not have worked more instead of less, but several ones that regretted the amount of time they work(ed)
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Fantastic post, Mr. Tako! This is EXACTLY my reason for pursuing FI, although, sadly, we still have a good amount of distance to cover. It kills me to leave my 3-year-old and 1-year-old to go to work every day. The first thing my 3-year-old asks me every morning is if I am going to work today. If I say yes, he usually says something like “Aww, MAN!” or “No, I can’t let you do that, Dada!” On the weekends, when my answer is “No, Buddy, not today” he jumps up in his bed and does his happy dance.
Even though my boys are young, I can see just how quickly the time passes. I struggle with the regret of not being in a better position financially to spend more time with them while they are young. Thankfully, my job only requires 40 hours a week, but factor in lunch and the commute and the number quickly approaches 50 hours/week of me being away. I am doing my best to land a remote position to help mitigate some of this which will hopefully enhance our quality of life on the way to FI.
Thank you for the motivation and for the example you set not only for your kids, but for your readers as well.
I think you are a great example to your kids. This post is beautiful.
Good article that I tend to re-read once in a while. My dad retired when I was in middle school. As a result, my parents were around a lot when we were growing up. They always had time to hang out, go to the movies, or go to lunch. Really good during our teen years. Now that my son is in middle school, we’re followin* a similar path. I’d say my dad set a good example, and your family is too!
Thanks for sharing your story Sherikr! It’s very encouraging to hear this from someone who’s “lived it” already!