Is Retiring Early Really the Best Thing for Our Family?

Is Retiring Early Really the Best Thing for Our Family?Is retiring early really the best thing for our family?  That’s the question Mrs. R2R sought to answer.

Since the Route to Retire blog started in May of 2015, I’ve been hoping to get the other side of the R2R equation (Mrs. R2R) to be a part of the conversation here.

It’s easy to get the opinion of one person on the subject of financial independence and retiring early.  However, it’s a completely different story to hear what that person’s better half has to say about the subject.

Sometimes you have a saver and a spender in the relationship.  Maybe you have someone ready to retire early and someone who really enjoys working with no plans to ever stop.

Getting both people in a relationship on the same page as far as money goes isn’t always going to work.  It took Mrs. R2R and me a while to converge on the same path with our game plan.

It’s about time we get to hear what the other side is thinking.

It’s taken nearly three years of hounding and antagonizing (my specialty!), but I finally convinced Mrs. R2R to write her first post for Route to Retire.

So without further, here’s Mrs. R2R on her thoughts on retiring early…

Is Retiring Early Really the Best Thing for Our Family?

Is Retiring Early Really the Best Thing for Our Family?
Ok, the discussions weren’t this intense, but they could have easily gotten to this point…

“You want to do what?  Retire early?!  You’re crazy!  People don’t retire early unless they hit the lottery or they have worked for the government for 30 years and started when they were 18 years old.  People like us don’t retire early.”

That was my first reaction when Mr. R2R told me he wanted to retire by the time he was 45 years old.  I mean, we have a young daughter whose expenses are only going to grow as she gets older.  Her clothes are going to get more expensive, make-up, school functions, college and Mr. R2R’s worst nightmare – a wedding.  Plus, all of our other expenses.

How are we going to afford a house, food, and living expenses?

And to be perfectly honest, I like our lifestyle as it is NOW.  We do save a big percentage of what we earn but we still have enough for a nice lifestyle.

We have a nice house in a nice neighborhood.  I like the vacations we take and the little weekend trips.  I like being able to go out to eat every once in a while and take our daughter to activities like plays, amusement parks, and the zoo.

How in the world are we going to be able to afford any of this stuff if you retire early?  We WON’T!

So I thought.

I didn’t want to hear about retiring early… especially at the age of 45.  We have hopefully at least another 40 years to live and support ourselves.  I was worried that if Mr. R2R retired early we would blow through our savings and investments.

Even if I kept working part-time and we had the income coming in from our rental properties, it still wouldn’t be enough money coming in to support us.  In the long run, we would end up working in our golden years when we were “supposed” to be retired.  Or we would have to give up the “good life.”


So, the convincing begins

Is Retiring Early Really the Best Thing for Our Family? - So, the convincing begins
Mrs. R2R wishes I was this romantic of a frog when begging!

Growing up and even up to a few years ago, I didn’t really think about retirement.  We were too young to think about it.  Yes, we contributed to our employers’ retirement plans but that was about as far as the retirement planning went.

I just thought we would work until the age of 65 or even older and then quit when we could… if we could.  That’s the way people live their lives and they’re comfortable with it.  That’s the safe way to live.

You keep working and you have enough money to live the life you want.  And nothing was going to convince me otherwise.

Mr. R2R needed me to be on board with this plan for early retirement (and our marriage) to work.  So, we talked, we argued, we repeatedly went over (and are still going over) our finances, our savings, and our yearly spending.  We talked to a financial advisor, but I was worried and even cried.

Even after months of talking and looking at the numbers, I still wasn’t sure that we could do this or that I even wanted to.

It’s hard to convince someone that giving up a very nice salary is a good idea and good for our family.  A salary that makes us able to afford all of the above – a salary that helps us live comfortably without worry, unlike so many we know.

Many people we know live paycheck to paycheck and I don’t want to be one of them.  That’s what I thought early retirement was… but then something happened!


The Epiphany

For Christmas 2016, Mr. R2R and I both had an entire week off with our daughter.  This was our first and only “staycation” we have had.

During this week, we didn’t go on vacation and, other than some family visiting, we didn’t have any plans or other obligations.  Just an entire week off to spend time together.

Over this span of time, I saw how happy and stress-free my husband was – how happy we all were.  There was no stress of having to go to the office for eight hours.  We were able to sleep in, stay in our pajamas, and have breakfast together.

Is Retiring Early Really the Best Thing for Our Family? - The Epiphany
Wait a minute! Maybe this does make sense!

We could go wherever we wanted and whenever we wanted.  We were able to just talk and hang out.  I know it may sound silly to say “we were able to talk.”

There are times when we put our conversations on hold for a day or two (or even more) because we just don’t have time for a discussion.  Maybe Mr. R2R is at the office or working at home or I’m running our daughter to her activities, helping her with her homework, or whatever life throws at us.

During this week off, though, Mr. R2R even had enough time to write his blog post without cutting into “family time.”

These are just some of the things we don’t get to do a lot because of the lack of time we have.  At the end of this wonderful week, I was completely convinced that my husband – no, our family – needed FIRE.

Am I completely convinced that retiring by 45 will work?  No.

Am I still scared?  Terrified.

But, there are two things I am certain of… the first is that whatever Mr. R2R puts his mind to he will accomplish.  And the second is that my husband would only retire early if he was certain it was the best thing for our family.

I am, however, 100% convinced that we have to try to become financially independent as soon as possible.  Mr. R2R is not happy with going to work every day.  And I want my husband to be happy.  I want our family to have as much time as possible to spend together.  I want him to retire by 45!

I am now certain that we can live without the nice salary, but we cannot keep living the life we are now.

So the plan is, in less than two years, we are going to take the plunge and Mr. R2R is going to retire early!  I’m sure there will be ups and downs along the way, but I’m excited to see where this journey is going to take us!


What do you think?  Do Mrs. R2R’s feelings on retiring early sound familiar or completely different than your relationship?


Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

27 thoughts on “Is Retiring Early Really the Best Thing for Our Family?”

  1. We definitely have gone through several iterations of “is it possible?” and “could it ever work?” I think we both thought FIRE was a pie-in-the-sky idea not attainable by us mere mortals, but after we started saving and chipping away at debt, we realized that it is certainly in the realm of possibility 🙂 Great post, Mrs. RTR!

  2. Good to see Mrs. R2R posting too!

    While there are plenty of reasons to be cautious about retiring early, it’s nothing to be terrified of. Plenty of us have done it, including earlier generations (they just didn’t blog about it),

    It’s far more common than you might think!

  3. Very cool to see the other side of R2R. My wife had a similar reaction when I first told her about early retirement. She was 5 months pregnant so it was understandable.
    It took a while to convince her, but she could see I was very miserable at work. I had to make some kind of change. I don’t think she was really convince until I quit my job and started making some money online. 🙂
    Good luck!

    1. Haha, I could only imagine how that would go over with your wife being 5-months pregnant. Worked out for you guys though, so nice job on that.

      I better start making some more money on this blog before my wife goes back to her doubts about this whole plan! 😉

      — Jim

  4. I had a similar reaction when Chris brought this up years ago. He had just read the 4 Hour Work Week and was like – I want this! And I was like NO! I didn’t get it. We had a family, he wasn’t single. I felt safe with his corporate paycheck and healthcare benefits. I didn’t want to change any of that. THEN WE HAD TWINS! God works in mysterious ways, lol. I instantly became overwhelmed and I wanted/needed my husband around more! I opened to the idea of early retirement/financial independence and just plain living differently! Then Chris’s dream finally became our dream!

    I’m excited to follow your journey to Panama!

  5. Great to hear from Mrs. R2R, Jim. I think ALL of us have those anxieties. The spouse who isn’t as close to the investment details is only rational to ask “Can we really do this?”. Kudo’s to Mrs for wanting Mr to be happy. Another benefit of Staycations!

    PS – it’s now official. You’re the 3rd best writer in the family. We want more of Jr. & Mrs. R2R!! 🙂

    1. Haha, that’s right – let’s hear it for staycations! 😉

      Good news for you, Fritz – my daughter told me yesterday that she’s going to write another post. She said this one’s going to be longer so get ready for some good reading!

      — Jim

  6. It’s always good to hear from the other half of the partnership especially when they face the same anxieties and fears that many of our partners have. It’s absolutely essential for my partner and I to be ont he same page financially before I would consider marriage. Changing things mid stream during the partnership and making it work gets my total admiration – I know it can’t be easy and there would be many times of stalemate/tears of frustration. Staycation, “when everyday is a Saturday”, is my favorite thing to do. I’ve not yet had the freedom of early retirement so I dream about an entire month of just staying home. Glad to see two people work together toward a common goal – so much stronger together!

  7. Thanks for sharing Jim. It is not a big decision. It is a HUGE decision. Keep working and planning until the numbers make sense for you and your family. I get it, you want out. In my opinion, it is better to work a few extra years now while your skills are sharp than having to look for a job after being out of the workplace for a decade or longer.

    1. I hear ya, Dave, but I’m burnt out at this job for sure (it’ll be 20 years there when I leave). I’ve worked the numbers and talked to three different financial experts and all feel we’re good to go. But like a lot of folks, I don’t plan on sitting on my butt – I’m sure I’ll find some side income to help keep our draw-down lower than expected anyway.

      — Jim

  8. What’s the plan for staying busy after retiring? Having a week to enjoy stress free is much different than years to spend.

    That said, it is certainly possible and worthwhile! I do agree with Dave above. Take your time, work the extra year or two if you need it, and take a margin of safety with you while your wage-working value is high.

    1. Hi Robert – so true on the difference between a week and years. The good news is that we’re not planning to just sit around when I quit my job (though I’d love to do that for a good couple of weeks!). I have a lot of fun passions I want to pursue and Mrs. R2R is planning to do some volunteer work. After running out numbers past a few financial experts, we’ve been given the green flag, but I would bet that some of my projects will bring in some additional income along the way as well.

      — Jim

  9. Mrs R2R – Thanks for writing this. I’m always interested to hear the other half / side of the story. Two things that you wrote stood out in particular:

    “You keep working and you have enough money to live the life you want. ”
    “I am now certain that we can live without the nice salary, but we cannot keep living the life we are now.”

    So then the question is ultimately what do you want? From your post, it sounds like you’ve made a decision and the next stop for the family is FIRE.

    Good luck.


    1. Hi Hustle Hawk – you guessed right on our decision! I’m quitting my job at the end of 2019 and we’re moving to Panama in the summer of 2020. Mrs. R2R is all aboard on the plans now and excited for our next adventure!

      — Jim

  10. The epiphany is a great one. That is how life should be. I am sure you will find some sort of work to bring in income (potentially through this blog), but without traditional work, which is outdated, you will be able to spend much more quality time with your daughter. I am glad your wife is now supportive. Thanks to Mrs. R2R for the candid post.

  11. Love how you gave a peek into the other side! I think wanting your spouse to be happy or more time with family is often the breakthrough epiphany.

  12. I think my husband still thinks I’m crazy for putting us on the FIRE train. But here we are and he’s joined along happily. Fortunately, he’s all for buying fewer things and saving our money. It’s just the RE part of the equation that is still hanging out there undecided for him 🙂

    1. I think Lisa at Mad Money Monster coined the term FIOR (Financial Independence, Optional Retirement). As long as folks aim for FI, the RE part of the equation doesn’t matter – the option’s then there for whenever he might decide he wants to retire (and plenty of folks never will want to!). 🙂

      — Jim

  13. Thank you for sharing! It is a big uncertain future out there. Many of us on some part of this path are aiming for FI to be prepared to handle it.
    The last time I was unemployed I got to meet friends for lunch on a week day, let my body dictate my sleep schedule, plus I had more time to cook for myself and get to activities. For me FI is about getting some of that back. I don’t know that I’ll go without doing things to earn money, but FI will let me negotiate for what I want. Even a snow day today, I got so much done, working without office distractions! I have the hope that FI let’s me negotiate for this sort of stuff, as a “I get to work remote this often, or I will find someone who is on board with this plan”. We will see what the future holds. I like many parts of my job, but not all of it. Not the commute, not living further from family and friends.
    We’ve only got so much time…I don’t want to spend it all working. As my friends and I try to make plans to meet up for a weekend, someone said “there just aren’t enough weekends in a year”. Here’s to FI giving us more ‘weekends’, as stay-cation feelings.

    1. I love it, Jacq! Not the unemployment of course, but the appreciation of the value of your time. A regular job has a way – a big way – of getting in the way of everything else in life you want to do.

      Cheers to FI!

      — Jim

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