Is Retiring Early Selfish??

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Is Early Retirement Selfish?Financial freedom… I think about it more and more every day.  I wish I had put more focus on this in my younger years so I could be even closer to the goal than I am today.

Part of my desire to retire early is to have more available time to spend with my daughter.  Unfortunately, with my late start, she’s going to be 15 years old when I finally quit my job.  Although that’s still young, it’s going to be a lot different than it is today while she’s 5.  Right now, she wants to play with dad (and mom) 24 hours a day.  I love every minute of it – and I hate those times when I’m not able to play with her (or teach her) because I have something else I need to get done.

I’m not so out-of-it to know that 15 (and most of her teenage years) is going to be a whole different ball game though.  She’s going to have friends that she’s going to spend a good portion of her days with.  She might even go through some of that rebellion stage where she turns her back on us at some point.

Regardless, I want to have time to be there if she does need me.  I want to be able to have the time to teach her things like a good financial education that they don’t teach in the school system.  I want to be supportive in her interests – sports, clubs, job, whatever.

In other words, financial freedom puts me in a position to be able to have more time for my daughter during her teenage years.

Then there’s that big old “but”

But, if I quit my job, I’m no longer socking away money for my daughter for college or even money to leave her when I die at 147 years old (I’m very optimistic!).  I’ve mentioned before that I don’t plan on carrying her financially because I want to ensure she understands the importance of work, but it would be good to be able to leave her something once she is old enough.

It’s vital that she doesn’t just get a lump sum of money to blow without understanding the importance of acquiring assets.  Once she fully understands that, I would like her to have something to get started on this process (assuming she goes down that path).  It’s possible to make money without money, but it sure is easier to get started when you have some money to begin with!

The other big “but” is that there’s the possibility that I could get bored.  I’m sure I won’t be at first, but after twenty or thirty years of not working a full-time job, will I become needier and want to be too much a part of her life?

I really don’t want to become the dad that perpetuates the eye-rolls from his daughter every time she looks at the Caller ID and sees he’s calling.  I want to be the father she’s calling because she needs advice or just wants to talk.  And having too much time on my hands from retiring early could stir the opposite effect.

Those are the concerns that are bringing on my thoughts of “am I being selfish on retiring early?”

However, the good thing is that I don’t think these “buts” are going to be the end of the world if I’m careful.

First of all, the inheritance.  I know that once I am financially free and can retire early the money can stop flowing in.  However, chances are that I’m still going to be working in some capacity.  Whether it’s from doing some side work that I enjoy or from focusing on this blog, there will likely be some additional income coming in.  My wife also plans to work part-time even after I quit my career so that’s a steady stream of income as well.

Additionally, the nest egg that we have when I retire will not just shrivel up and disappear when we die.  In fact, according to Empower (formerly Personal Capital)‘s pretty impressive free Retirement Planner, if things go according to plan, there’s currently a 74% I will actually have more in my retirement plan when I die than I will have when I leave my career.  Now, we all know things never really do according to plan, but it still helps to know that I’ll likely have a pretty good amount of money to pass onto my daughter when she’s older.

Second, there’s the old saying that “money isn’t everything.”  My family was not poor growing up, but we were definitely not a family of money.  My dad died when I was young so it was just my mom raising my brother and I from the time I was in the first grade until she remarried when I was in high school.  The point of this is that I had to make my own way, enjoy my years of the college loans burden, and then start from the ground up on making a career and accumulating a decent net worth for myself.

Although I would like to put my daughter in a position of shaving off some years of this in her life, she can absolutely make it without my money just like I did (and I’m sure many of you did!).  I would hope that in the worst-case scenario of not having any money to pass onto my daughter, the time I can give her while she’s younger would be a better option anyway.  I guess if that does happen, that would be something for her to decide.

Finally, there’s the concern of spending too much time with my daughter.  However, like I mentioned a little bit ago, my choice of retiring early is not necessarily to quit working altogether.  I plan to just focus my energies on something different, of which the exact nature is yet to be determined! 😉

So is retiring early selfish?  Yeah, probably somewhat.

However, I think that it’s the right path to go down for me and for my family.  I think we’ll all be happier when all is said and done, but I guess only time will tell!

What do you think?  Is early retirement selfish… particularly if you have kids?

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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4 thoughts on “Is Retiring Early Selfish??”

  1. I can speak to your exact situation because my dad retired (from disability) when I was 14. My parents were divorced at that point, so it was just him and me at home. And, looking back, we’re both super grateful for that time together. Sure, I wanted to hang out with my friends a lot of the time, but he was able to drive me to school and pick me up, at least until I got my license, and was much more involved at my school and in my life than he could have been if he was still working. We got really close during those high school years, but in a more adult relationship than dads would have with younger daughters. To this day, we’re super close, and he would even tell you that he’s grateful for his disability, because it let him have a lot more time with me. 🙂

    As for an inheritance, that seems like something that’s not worth working longer for. If you can retire a year or two sooner and have enough to support the necessary living expenses, that’s what I’d do. If you’re raising your daughter with a good head on her shoulders, and good sense about money, than she won’t need the inheritance. (Though maybe some term life insurance to provide for the family if your income is lost before you reach FI would be a good idea.)

    1. I’m glad to hear how close you and your dad became after something like this. It also helps to reassure me that my goals are sound.

      As far as my daughter having a good head on her shoulders – smartest, down-to-earth kid you’d ever meet, so I think we’re good there. We do have strong term life insurance policies in place that are good until I’m around 60… that’s one type of insurance policy I’m hoping we don’t get a chance to use!! 🙂

    1. Thanks, ZJ – I’m now hoping that I can pull off both by delving more into real estate rentals which has the potential to provide more to my daughter down the line.

      — Jim

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