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FIRE: The Greatest Gift for My Son

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Are you setting a good example for your kid? Shouldn’t you work full-time at the office to support your family? What are you teaching your son by retiring early? These are valid questions. I left my engineering career to become a SAHD/blogger after my son was born. We spent a ton of time together when he was young and we enjoyed it tremendously. However, he’s a teenager now and he is busy with school and various activities. Is it time to go back to work to show him the value of hard work?

Personal finance is just that – personal. What works for me might not work for you. I can provide some guidelines and examples, but it’s up to each individual to figure out what’s best for their situation. That’s what I’m teaching my son. Hard work is great, but it isn’t the only way. You have to be flexible and adapt.

Conventional wisdom

Conventional wisdom says to work harder, make more money, and spend, spend, SPEND!!! It’s the American way. Fortunately, I’m not conventional. I’m an outlier and I embrace it. Working hard is the way to go when you’re young and poor. However, you don’t have to follow the norm and keep leveling up as you get older. In my 20s and 30s, I hustled hard and prioritized investing over spending. Once I achieved financial independence, I said goodbye to the rat race and coasted. My investments now support a comfortable lifestyle and I’m a contented man.

This isn’t the right formula for most people. They want bigger houses, nicer cars, luxurious vacations, champagne wishes, and caviar dreams. If that’s you, keep climbing! After all, consumer spending accounts for 70% of the GDP in the U.S. As an investor, I’m thankful for the thriving consumer-driven economy. Don’t get too burned out, though. We need good workers to power the economy.

Retiring early is good for only a few of us, the outliers. We are content with our modest lifestyle and don’t care what other people say.

Two versions of me

I wasn’t always the happy-go-lucky guy I am today. There are 2 versions of me.

Version 1 – Before FIRE, I was a miserable corporate drone. I left home before 7 am and got back after 7 pm. Work was stressful and my health was going downhill fast. I was moody all the time because I was dissatisfied at work. Hopefully, you’re happier with your work than I was, but that’s normal life for many workers.

Version 2 – Today, I work a few hours per week and live a pretty relaxing lifestyle. Sure, there is an opportunity cost. I could be wealthier if I kept working as an engineer. However, I would be a lot more miserable. To me, having a bigger number in the bank isn’t worth it.

The first version would be a terrible example for my son. I’d be burnt out and not much fun to be around. My wife didn’t like that version of me back then. We might have a more luxurious lifestyle, but wouldn’t be happier. I lived through both versions and I prefer the current iteration. If my son can achieve a similar result, I would be very happy for him.

Kids are smart

Kids are sharp. My son admires my achievement. He told me frequently that I cracked the code and would love to be in my position someday. I’m happy to show him the path I took. Hard work was crucial initially, but investing is the true hero in the wealth-building game.

I helped him start a Roth IRA and we reviewed his account monthly. He is gaining a head start on wealth building at a young age, which is a tremendous advantage. I also take him to the rental to help with the 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 just as important as working hard.

This semi-retired lifestyle is the result of hard work when I was young. Now, I’m showing my son the alternative to the typical stressful workaday 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.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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