Sometimes the question of children and how it factors into extreme early retirement comes up. Now we don’t have children, so what follows is purely my theoretical thoughts on raising a child and how it would impact on early retirement (and the child).

I believe that having a stay at home parent is a very good idea and I do not think I would do it otherwise. I had a stay at home parent myself. My mom stayed home full time for the first 6 years and after that she took a part time job, so we never came home to an empty house. This naturally plays very well into the idea of early retirement. Not only does financial independence and early retirement automatically provide someone who stays at home. It does not delay the working spouse in the sense that the spouse has to provide for two people.

I would not send my children off to cello lessons, travel soccer, or preschool where they could pretend to be intellectually stimulated at a rate of $1500/month by learning a few words of Mandarin. I suspect children cost exactly as much as you are capable of spending. You can buy their clothes at thrift stores just like you buy your own or you can buy designer outfits for them just as you buy designer outfits for yourself.

Their entertainment can match your own. I do not believe in the necessity of everybody having their own room. I think we could have two children and still stay in the RV.

Essentially, love and caring would be demonstrated through time rather than spending money. I would make sure they did their homework. I would encourage inexpensive and creative hobbies. There would be chores in the form of house work. I would certainly not try to fill their schedule with leadership activities and other brouhaha for their application to Princeton. I would make sure that they did their homework and no, I would never correct their math or their essays.

I do not think I would pay an allowance. Whenever they got a money gift (birthday, xmas) or any income whatsoever, I would make them put 50% into savings and let them spend the other 50% as they wished. I would let them spend the interest of their savings account hoping that they got the point. Success would be them voluntarily contributing to their savings account. In any case it should be very clear that money never comes for free.

Naturally I would give them the education in life skills that they do not get from their school. They would know how to read a balance sheet, double dig a garden, put up a shelf, and fix a flat before turning 18. Speaking of school, I would spend on the early years (primary) rather than the late years (college). The generalized skills such as work discipline and the multiplication table learned early are far more important than a course in Ancient Egyptian Algebra in my opinion. I would strongly encourage (insist) that they learn a trade before heading to college. I would probably not pay for a college education, but they would be free to stay here until they finish. I’d recommend a state university and make them fully aware of the consequences of being in debt to their eyeballs should they insist on a brand name college.

So, I do not believe that adding members to our household would materially change the possibility, form, and implementation of early retirement.

Originally posted 2009-01-28 13:09:05.