Mr. MMM and I have been on the path to early retirement since 2015, and even when we started our journey, we were total DIKs. In case you’re not aware of this acronym, it stands for Dual Income with Kids. Similarly, there are others such as DINKs and SINKs. I’m not sure if SIK is an official acronym in the personal finance space, but I’d like to make it one, since I was one. The inspiration for this post was born yesterday when I was reading a great article over at Think Save Retire about the decision to NOT have kids, and why that’s okay. Check it out here! Before meeting Mr. MMM I was living on a single income with my daughter. Going from being SIK to being a DIK is more wonderful than I can express. Suddenly early retirement doesn’t seem so far out of reach. It seems realistic and we even have a date! However, I must say, being a DINK would make the process go much, much faster. So, before treading into the territory of having kids, you might want to make sure all of your goals, including the financial ones, are aligned.
Before I Was A DIK, I Was SIK
I think the single income with kid(s) category is one that is often overlooked, but is quite REAL, nonetheless. In 2009, I suddenly found myself a single parent to my young daughter. Thankfully, I had a good job with a high salary, but I can tell you, at that moment, my focus was on survival, not early retirement. In fact, I didn’t even know early retirement was a thing before a few years ago.
Fortunately, I sprinkled quite a few good decisions in between all the bad ones I made throughout my past. Those good decisions included getting a college education with very little incurred debt, purchasing a home, and socking away a ton into my retirement accounts as soon as I started my post-college career. These decisions lessened the financial blow of being SIK.
The Decision To Retire Early. With A Family.
We made the decision to start our FIRE journey two years ago, with our daughter in tow. Even though we have had to adjust a few things in our life, we believe we will all benefit by this choice much more than we would benefit by staying the “work-until-you’re-old” course. Our daughter sees how careful we are with allocating our resources and deciding the best course for our dollars in order to reach our goal.
However, when we do reach our goal, we will still have a young daughter in school. That means we won’t be traveling around the world anytime soon. We’ll be doing pretty much the same things we do now. How’s that for anti-climactic. The one thing I am looking forward to is being more involved in my daughter’s school and activities.
For us, we both grew up having lots of family fun with our siblings (we’re still considering that one) and we love recreating that experience for our little girl. We value having our family with its imposed limitations more than having the freedom to roam the earth as soon as we’re financially independent. We love watching her grow and experience the world. We love hearing her little feet run through the house on Christmas morning. And we will never forget our family vacations. We’re cherishing the time we have together now, because we know it, it’ll be gone.
In addition, we’re looking forward to the day we can surprise her with a free education and give her a home. Shhh! I hope she never reads this post. :) We’re working very hard for her to understand how to handle her money and be responsible. If she “gets it right” we’re going to reward her along the way. THAT is one of the benefits we will experience by reaching financial independence. It’s not as flashy as waking up in a new place each day, but we will certainly enjoy it!
Things To Consider When You’re DIKs
Having kids affects every facet of your life, regardless of whether or not you plan to retire early. But when you do decide to retire early, the affects can be staggering, especially if you don’t monitor and control expectations. Here are just a few areas that can derail financial independence by years, if not decades.
A few things you’ll need to consider if you expand your family:
-Childcare: This has the potential to be a VERY big financial burden if you must rely on traditional daycare facilities. It can easily cost just as much or more than a home mortgage. Womp womp.
-Higher Education: When you have kids, you have to consider funding their higher education, especially if you’re living in the US. This can be a massive suck on your finances. The projections are saying that in 18 years, a 4-year degree will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ouch!
-Health and Wellbeing: When you’re taking on the role of mother or father, you will be completely responsible for another human being. You will need to make sure their medical needs are met, they’re clothed, fed, and loved. And don’t forget the braces!
-Family Home: Child(ren) often make people think they need to provide a family home that is usually bigger than homes purchased by non-kid people. On top of a bigger house, you’re going to be staring down higher taxes, utility costs, and necessities like…food.
-Second Car: If you’re not living in a major city and you’re both working, you’re likely going to need a second car. Try as we might, we cannot figure out how to reduce our family of 3 down to one car. And we have a person working mostly from home. Still can’t find a reasonable way to do it.
-Stability: When you have kids, you’re not just making decisions for yourself; you’re making decisions on behalf of someone else. And, you’re morally obligated to make the best decisions for that child. If there is one thing I would love to do, it’s move into a multi-unit house or sell it all and live in a trailer. Again, this does not seem possible for us, at least while we’re still raising our daughter. Unfortunately, I cannot selfishly do that to our family just because I want our expenses to be as low as possible. For now, we keep the family home and all the trimmings. Thank goodness for frugal living!
This is obviously not an extensive list, but you can see that over the course of a lifetime, these costs add up. Way up. If you don’t have children, you can invest that cash and retire that much earlier!
Related: Frugal Hacks To Live An Awesome Life
Responsibilities And More Responsibilities
Having children increases your responsibilities. As mentioned above, purchasing a home instead of renting, taking on the responsibility of funding a college education, buying a “safer” (aka: more expensive) car than you would otherwise consider are just a few ways in which kids can cost money. The list goes on and on and on. But I will say this, even though people choose to do all or more of the above, kids are only as expensive as you allow them to be. Buying a house, funding their college, going on extravagant vacations, and buying MORE car, aren’t requirements for their wellbeing. The only requirements, in my humble opinion, are to provide a safe, stable, and loving environment. If you can cover those bases, the rest takes care of itself.
Why We Chose This Side Of The Moon
In sum, don’t buy into the hype. If you want children AND you want to retire early – You Can. It’s probably going to take a few years longer than the average FIRE couple without kids, but it’s still totally possible. Your journey will definitely look different, as will your post-FIRE life, but you knew that when you signed up for that little bundle of craziness. Have fun. And, enjoy YOUR journey!
What are your thoughts on the topic? Which side of the coin do you reside, and why?
As always, Mad Money Cat encourages you to read Our Story and use the super convenient social media buttons to spread the LOVE!