As we begin a new year, and start an exciting new blog (!!!), it is a time of reflecting on our goals. For us, we are grappling with the timeless question of living for now vs. living for later. We have been saving for years, knowing we wanted to work toward some version of flexibility and increased life choices.
What is Financial Independence for Us?
Financial independence can take on many different forms and definitions. Its broadest definition, in my mind, is the ability to make life choices that are not solely based on money. This can take on many different forms. In the purest sense, it is the freedom to not have to work at all, ever, for income. But for some, it could also mean not having to sit at a desk all day working for someone else. It could mean developing passive income streams, working remotely, developing your own business, and having the ability to set your own schedule and work terms. We would be very happy to achieve any of these degrees of financial independence!
Lately, in trying to determine what version of financial independence is right for our family to aspire to, we have been grappling with a goal of early retirement in a decade or so vs. a goal of a full-time travel break in the near future.
Considering Early Retirement as a Goal
If you would have asked me a couple of years ago, I would have said that our goal was early retirement. Save as much money as possible now until we reach a certain number, use the 4% withdrawal rule, and hope for the best. I have been seriously inspired by many early retirement bloggers. However, in our mid-thirties and with two kids in tow, we are still a long way off from hitting a comfortable number. It would likely be over a decade before we would be able to retire early in the fullest sense of not having to work anymore to generate any income.
By that time, our kids probably won’t be interested in spending a ton of time with Mom and Dad! Also, that’s at least another decade tied to our desks and our inflexible schedules – not sounding great. Maybe if my husband and I would have met as kids or young adults and started saving together as many of the successful early retirees did, we would be in a better spot. We’re happy that we have been able to double our net worth in the few years since we have been married, and plan to keep slugging away at savings and investment opportunities as we are able.
When considering early retirement, another thought keeps bothering me as well. I keep being reminded of my economics coursework – striving for “consumption smoothing” over one’s lifetime as a goal. For us to achieve early retirement while currently living in a high-cost area with high fixed costs for housing and child care, our discretionary spending would have to fall to an incredibly low level for us to make any headway with savings. In other words, our consumption (for all things other than housing and childcare) would have to fall to a level so low that our current quality of life would be impacted and we would certainly not be “smoothing” consumption over time. It would feel a bit like we were living for tomorrow more than for today.
Other Options – A Full-Time Travel Break?
Given our situation, we have been looking at other options that would still allow us to break out of our current routine, spend more time with our kids while they’re young, and as we like to say “move beyond the mundane.” Lately, the idea of a full-time travel break has been very appealing. Like we have been inspired by early retirement bloggers, we are now also inspired by full-time traveling families. In particular, the idea of full-time RVing families is very appealing with young kids.
We’re not sure how long we would want a full-time travel lifestyle, or how long we could financially support it. But we’re using 2018 to look into that idea while we continue to slowly build up our savings. There are so many things that seem appealing about living in an RV, and others that seem intimidating. Primarily, we see this as a way to spend more time with our kids while they’re young and take some time to reevaluate our life journey as a family – where we live now, where we want to raise kids, what type of lifestyle we want to create for ourselves and for them.
However, the challenge would be reentry. It feels risky to sell everything and take off an an RV with two young kids, not knowing what would await us on the other end of our journey. It also seems like it would feel extremely liberating and exhilarating!
Thanks for reading. We welcome your thoughts!