Is It Possible to Reach Financial Independence with Kids?

Is It Possible to Reach Financial Independence with Kids?When I set out on this journey toward financial independence, I knew I had some work to do.  I started out with around $30k of credit card debt and didn’t know anything worthwhile on how to make it happen.

I even bought into one of those late night real estate scams on how to get rich.  I wasted some of my hard-earned money late in my college years thinking that was the way to go… it wasn’t.

Eventually, I got on track.  I read as many books as I could get my hands on.  I researched what I didn’t understand.  I even flew halfway across the country to attend a valuable real estate seminar.  It took a while, but I eventually got it.  It all made sense.

Since then, we’re well on our way to financial freedom and early retirement (at least from the current 9-5 jobs).  We have a plan and we’re dutifully following it to make it happen.  But then there are articles that discuss how expensive it is to raise kids.  This one said that a child born in 2013 would run an average of over $245,000 from birth through age 18 – and this doesn’t even include college costs!!!

Wait a second… kids?  I have one of those!

That’s right – I have one of those kid thingies.  And I love her to pieces!  But is she screwing up my chances of financial freedom?

Hmm, many of the friends and relatives I have would probably say yes.  “Kids are expensive” they say.  “Kids will eat you out of house and home!”

Wait just a minute – slow your roll!  My daughter is only 6 right now, but curbing costs is something we’ve done without much effort.  Yes, we paid for daycare/preschool, but up until then, we had both our sets of parents watching her for free as well as a friend of ours for practically nothing.

Then you have the schooling.

School for the KidsYes, there’s going to be the argument of making sure that your kids get a better education by going to private school, but I think that’s a bunch of hooey!  Ok, the important thing is that you’re in an area where the public schools are strong.

We made sure that we moved to an area where that’s the case before we even had our daughter.  We’re not in a big-time expensive area, but we are in a nice township with a good school system.

According to Private School Review, the average cost of elementary school per year is $8,522 and $12,953 for high school… WHAAAAT?!!!!  That’s per year!!  That’s just insane!  Look, I’m not saying that it’s bad to send your kids to private school, I’m just saying the costs are ridiculous.  I consider myself to be an intelligent guy (though Mrs. R2R might have other things to say about that!) and I went to a public high school in a not-so-highly-rated school system.

Then there’s the other things… clothes, food, etc.

Kids Do Like Food!We’ve been pretty lucky on the clothes front – we were late to the party having kids, so we were able to get a lot of hand-me-downs from friends.  And when we do buy new clothes, we generally get them from Walmart or she gets them as gifts from family.  So yes, there’s a cost, but you don’t need to follow the latest fashion trends to keep your kids happy.

Our daughter is definitely someone who cares about fashion (she does NOT get that from me or my wife!), but she’s happy with her choices of clothes she has.  And when she gets to be a teenager and wants the hippest clothes, she’ll be expected to figured out a way to earn money for them… babysitting, mowing lawns, etc.

Food is what it is.  You can’t starve your kids – well, you could, but that’s frowned upon by society.  However, there’s no reason to be making restaurants a regular event.  We do probably hit up restaurants a couple of times a month, but most of the time it’s dinner at home.

And the majority of our shopping comes from Aldi, where we save a serious TON of dough and only buy what we really like from there.

What about fun with your kids??

Bikes ad Kids Go Hand-In-HandHey, the R2R household loves to have fun!!  Do we spend our weekends at Chuck E. Cheese blowing it up?  Negative.  Here are some of the things we enjoy though that are cost-effective:

  • We make the pool in our development a regular event… hard to beat free!  Ok, we pay for that with our small HOA fees, but we’d have that regardless of whether we utilized the pool or not.
  • Bike rides and walks.  We love to head over to a nearby creek and feed the fish.  And now that my daughter learned to ride her bike without training wheels, the ride there is even more fun!
  • Tent camping.  Not as cheap as it used to be when I was younger, but still a good deal for a whole weekend.  And we are usually joined by friends which helps change things up and adds to the fun.  Our daughter’s been camping from the time she turned 1 and loves every minute of it.
  • Who Doesn't Love Sitting Around a Fire?!Bonfires at our house.  A lot of time throughout the summer, we’ll make a fire and sit back, roast marshmallows and hot dogs, and just hang out… it makes for some great evenings.
  • The winter allows for sled riding and building snowmen.  I hate the cold, but my wife and daughter love to make the best of the snow.

We do splurge on things like vacations and cruises, but we still come out far ahead by not doing those all the time.  And we find ways to even make these cheaper through frequent flier miles, finding good deals, and not spending frivolously on the trips.  In a nutshell…

You don’t always have to spend money to have fun.

Are kids expensive?  Well, that’s debatable – they’re certainly not cheap, but it’s up to the parents to determine the cost of spending.

Kids are expensive if you let them be expensive.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

A great example of someone who was able to reach financial independence with a child is Joe at  He quit his job in 2012 and has a son who’s a year younger than my daughter.  And on top of that, his family is doing awesome financially.  But more important than that, he gets to spend solid, quality time with his son every day.  I’m definitely envious – it’s an outstanding accomplishment and proof that it can be done.

Although my daughter adds a little bit of time onto my path to financial independence, it’s not anything too crazy and financial freedom is absolutely possible.  When I reach FI, my daughter will be 15 at the most.  She’ll have a decent size 529 plan ready for college and the knowledge to learn how to make the most of her own future financially.

Do you have kids?  Are they hindering your path to financial independence?

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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33 thoughts on “Is It Possible to Reach Financial Independence with Kids?”

  1. Hi Jim! Well said, kids are expensive but as parents we do have a fair amount of discretion. It sounds like you and the wifey are doing a nice job keeping a balance between frugal living and letting her enjoy childhood to the fullest.

    So when will the stork be droppng off kid #2? 🙂

  2. Thanks for the mention! I think the big problem with more kids is that you probably need to a bigger home. The next big expense is childcare and then college. Our kid has been relatively inexpensive so far. Our childcare cost is going way down because he is going to kindergarten next year. I think we’ll be good until college. We’re one and done too. 🙂

    1. Thanks for visiting, Joe! Good point about the bigger home and childcare – that becomes incrementally bigger the more kids that you have.

      I’m still not 100% convinced on the college costs… by the time my daughter and your son are old enough for it, I think some big transformation will be there. Right now the costs are teetering on if it even makes sense for a lot of people. I think the educational system will find a more scalable way to make it more feasible (online college becoming more the norm?). We’re still putting some money into a 529 plan for our daughter just in case though.

      — Jim

        1. Hmmm, my wife works for a non-profit… which means she doesn’t profit much while working there! 🙂

          But I do need to put my daughter to work – do you think 6 is too young for her to start driving for Uber?

          — Jim

  3. Just got on my road towards financial freedom and I have 4 kids. I’m finding new, cheaper ways to entertain the family while saving more. Kids can be expensive but we know we need to live within our means. I’ve started late and have about 17 years left to retire. Good thing though the kids should be moved out by then.

    1. Hi Charles – welcome to the road of FI! I’m started late as well, but the important thing is that you’re now on the path to making it happen.

      I’m sure 4 kids make it a tougher road, but I’m glad you’re finding cheaper ways to entertain everyone. In the long run, that can pay off dramatically.

      — Jim

  4. We are big advocates of the concept that FIRE is possible with kids. Our two boys will be 11 and 9 when we hit FIRE in two years. And college funds are already high and will continue to grow significantly over next two years and then market forces will drive them onward after that.

    We will be relocating to a mountain town in the North East and already our kids are big into hiking, kayaking, river swimming and skiing. Only the latter has significant associated costs and that can be managed by being smart about it and appropriate budget allocation. Still important to intentionally spend on the things that bring happiness to a family. That does not change in FIRE.

    More time to spend with them as they go through their teenage years and full on help with college planning will be immeasurable in terms of value.

    1. The new location sounds like a ton of fun for raising active boys! I definitely agree that you need to be able to spend on things that make your family happy, as long as it’s in the budget. We like to travel as a family and that won’t change in FIRE, but we’ll continue to be smart about where the money goes on each trip.

      — Jim

    1. That’s a good way to put it – it generally is the parents that drive those costs up.

      Somehow I ended up with the girliest of girls… if she’s playing with dirt, she’s only going to be touching it with a stick!

      You and I are definitely on the same page with our posts. I especially like your “No Energy For Anything Else” section. That’s about as dead-on as you can get!

      — Jim

  5. Hey Jim, it’s definitely possible, particularly if you start investing early in life (which is what we’re trying to do). We’re going even further away from the normal FIRE route by having to do IVF to get our kids, which will cost us thousands MORE in bills before we even get to the normal-expensive-kid stage. It will totally be worth it for us though, I’m sure 🙂


    1. I wish I had gone gangbusters aiming for FIRE when I was your age – I’m sure you guys will be in great shape. And good luck with the IVF – I agree that it’ll be worth the cost!

      — Jim

  6. Oh wow! Tell me more regarding the RE get rich quick seminar scams! I see them everywhere, and they charge so much for them! I’ve always wondered who goes, why it’s so expensive, and what are the secrets! Maybe you can write a guest post on my site if you’re interested about it and bare all! 🙂 You’ll get a lot of traffic back to your site I’m sure.



  7. We have 2 kids, and I am on track to RE by age 37. Single income family too. I have a comfortable salary (enough that my wife can be a SAHM), but nothing out of proportions. Was 5 figures until 2015, then got bumped up to low 6 figures. My wife hasn’t worked since our first kid was born in 2011.

    We apparently have a 3rd kid on the way (to be confirmed with the doctor this week). This could delay my RE date by up to 2 years, but it would not derail the whole plan.

    1. Well here’s an early congratulations for the 3rd kid! Congrats!!

      That’s fantastic that you’re able to pull this off on a single income. And even if you retire at 39, you’ll still be able to tug on your suspenders and brag when you say “yep, that’s right… I retired in my thirties.” Don’t let kid #3 push you back to 40 or the whole thing is blown! 🙂

      — Jim

  8. Absolutely agree. The costs of raising small people is very much in the control of their parents. It’s completely possible to give your kids a great, enriching childhood without spending hundreds of thousands doing it

  9. I think from a broad picture view as you’ve presented, kids are definitely not a big hindrance in the scheme of things.

    As someone who pays her mortgage to keep her one kid in daycare and is considering a second (making daycare double our mortgage–and it was the cheapest decent place we can find!), the momentary bite into our finances (even though that will last maximally two years) sure does feel like kids will slow us down forever!

    1. Hi Ms. Steward – daycare definitely can put a damper on the paycheck! 🙂 The good news is that it doesn’t last too long before they’re in school and you can start to get back on track.

      — Jim

  10. We are blessed to have three kids! Mathematically, they probably slowed down wealth accumulation – obviously they have a financial cost associated with them. But (obviously) they are priceless, so I don’t care about their “cost”.


  11. I absolutely think you can get to FI with children. People do it all the time. Hopefully watching you achieve it will be more valuable to your daughter than taking it as a given. Children will listen.

  12. Stumbled on this post as I was searching for confirmation that my plan to pay off my mortgage (and eventually RE) with a “kid thing” isn’t absolutely crazy. You have given me hope as I start on my journey.

    1. Hi Mrs Small, thanks for stopping by! Not only is it not crazy to retire early with kids, it’s very feasible. Hopefully, you’ll find some motivation from my site and others out there to see that’s the case.

      Good luck on your journey!

      — Jim

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