Fire: The greatest gift to my son

Are you a good role model for your son? Shouldn’t you be working full time in the office to support your family? What do you teach your child about early retirement? These are valid questions. I left my engineering career to become a blogger/SAHD after my son was born. We spent a lot of time together when he was little and enjoyed it very much. However, he is now a teenager and busy with school and various activities. Is it time to go back to work and show him the value of hard work?

Personal finance is just that – personal. What works for me may not work for you. I can provide some guidance and examples, but it is up to each individual to know what is best for their situation. This is what I teach my son. Hard work is great, but it’s not the only way. You have to be flexible and adaptable.

Conventional wisdom

Conventional wisdom says to work harder, make more money, and spend, spend, spend!!! It’s the American way. Fortunately, I’m not a traditionalist. I am an outsider and I accept that. Hard work is the way to go when you are young and poor. However, you don’t have to follow the rule and continue to level up as you get older. In my twenties and thirties, I did my best and prioritized investing over spending. Once I achieved financial independence, I said goodbye to the rat race and moved away. My investments now support a comfortable lifestyle and I am a contented man.

This is not the right formula for most people. They want bigger houses, nicer cars, luxury vacations, champagne wishes, and caviar dreams. If this is you, keep climbing! After all, consumer spending represents 70% of GDP in the United States. As an investor, I am grateful for a thriving consumer-driven economy. It doesn’t burn as much, though. We need good workers to run the economy.

Early retirement is good for only a few of us, the outliers. We are content with our humble lifestyle and do not care what others say.

Two versions of me

I wasn’t always the happy go lucky guy I am today. There are two versions of me.

Version 1 – Before the fire, I was miserable at a drone company. I left home before 7 a.m. and returned after 7 p.m. The work was stressful and my health was deteriorating rapidly. I was moody all the time because I was dissatisfied with work. Hopefully you’re happier with your job than I was, but this is normal life for many workers.

Version 2 – Today, I work a few hours a week and live a very comfortable lifestyle. Of course, there is an opportunity cost. I could become richer if I continued working as an engineer. However, I would be much more miserable. For me, having a larger number in the bank is not worth it.

The first version would be a terrible example for my son. I’d be exhausted and wouldn’t be much fun to be around. My wife didn’t like that version of me at the time. We may have a more luxurious lifestyle, but we will never be happier. I’ve lived through both versions and prefer the current iteration. If my son can achieve a similar result, I will be very happy for him.

Children are smart

Kids are sharp. My son admires my achievements. He often tells me I cracked the code and would love to be in my position one day. I’m happy to show him the path I took. Hard work is crucial in the beginning, but investing is the real hero in the wealth building game.

I helped him start a Roth IRA and we reviewed his account monthly. He started building wealth at a young age, which is a huge advantage. I also take him to the rental to help with repairs and meet the tenants. This gives him an introduction to passive income and practical skills that will benefit him in the future. Investing is as important as hard work.

This semi-retired lifestyle is the result of working hard when I was young. Now, I am showing my surrogate son his stressful daily work routine. He can choose to pursue FIRE or prioritize a more luxurious lifestyle – the decision will be his. At least, he knows there is an alternative.

The post Fire: The Greatest Gift to My Son appeared first on Retiring at 40.

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