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.
Yes, 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.
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??
Hey, 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.
- 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 retireby40.org. 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!!