A Letter to our Future Kids

I often think about how to explain financial independence to the children we hope to have in the next couple of years.  We hope to have kids before we reach early retirement, but if all goes according to plan, they’ll still be babies when we leave the working world behind.

What kind of questions will a child who has never known anything but two parents with all the time in the world have? How will we explain our unusual life? Because I love thought experiments like this, I wrote a letter to our future kids trying to express what financial independence means to us in terms a child might understand.

Dear Little One,

 

You may wonder why we don’t seem to have a life like everyone else. How come we’ve lived in so many countries? Why have you gone to school in so many places?

 

Hopefully, we’ve taught you that money doesn’t just appear from nowhere, even though it seems that way at times. If mommy and daddy don’t have to go to work, how come we get to go on trips, eat great food, and have great adventures? It’s sort of a long story that began before you were even born.

 

Back then, even though we didn’t have you yet, we already imagined you. We didn’t know what you would look like or what you would grow up to do. We just knew that whatever it was, it was perfect to us. You might be a boy or a girl. You might be tall or short. You might wear glasses or love collecting bugs. Whatever it was, we wanted to be there to see you become whoever you were born to be.

 

Even though it’s sad sometimes, people are born, grow up, and one day, they die, too. Some people get a lot of time, and some people only get a little. The thing is, nobody knows how much they’ll get, and sometimes it doesn’t seem very fair. That’s why it is so important to spend the time we do have with people we love, doing things that we love.

 

We started to wonder: was there a way for us to spend all of our time together, every single day?

 

We decided that yes, there was a way!  If we worked very hard for a little while, and we didn’t buy any silly things that didn’t really make us happy, we could save and save and save our money until we had enough to stop going to work forever. Every time we saw something we liked in a store or on the computer, we stopped and thought, “Do I really want this more than I want to spend time with everyone I love?”

 

We saved all our money, and things were going great. Sometimes we still bought things, but only the things that would make us really happy, for a really long time.

 

One day, we saw that not only did we not have to go to work any more, we could also visit places that lots of people only see on television or read about in books. We were really happy, because we knew we would be able to show you all the amazing people and places in the world. We knew that getting to see stuff like that would make you really smart, and we hoped that it would make you really happy too, because it meant that one day, you would have friends everywhere you went, all over the world. When people said silly stuff about a place because they didn’t know any better, you would remember the people who were kind to you, and the friends you made there.

 

So, why don’t daddy and mommy go to a job every day? Because of all the things in the world that we could buy, and of all the places we could visit, and of all the things we could do, we loved you (and each other) the most.

 

Love you, always, more than all the things,

 

Daddy

What do you think?  How would (or will) you explain financial independence and early retirement to your kids?  Let me know in the comments!

31 thoughts on “A Letter to our Future Kids

  1. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies

    Oh, the goosebumps! This is fantastic. What a wonderful piece to be able to refer back to over the years. We won’t be in early retirement if/when we have kiddos, at least not at first. But I hope to have the bulk of our mortgage paid off and be well on our way to financial independence. I do look forward to talking about money, experience over things, and other ways that we are different from the norm. And I’m also really hoping that “normal” continues to evolve.

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Penny, thank you! Yeah, I think long and hard about not wanting to raise little ones who take our great fortune for granted. I think we’ll have to start early, because compassion is one of the few things in the world more important than freedom.

  2. Harmony @ CreatingMyKaleidoscope

    This is perfect! I wish that we would have realized that there was a better way to use money long before we had our children. The upside is that the kids are seeing us work really hard. When the time for us to semi-retire finally arrives, they should have a sense of the diligence involved to earn that option.

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Awesome, Harmony- I think your kids will have a really solid understanding of what you sacrificed when that time comes. They will never take your hard work for granted!

  3. Bobby

    Very cool letter to your future child(ren).A wonderful idea and written so eloquently.

    It’s too late for us. Our son is already 19 and a sophomore in college.However, he did grow up in our shop and knows all too well what it’s like to work 70-80 hours a week.He saw it first hand with us.In fact, almost every business in our shopping center has kids that grew up in their parent’s business.This is typical in Asian owned small businesses.

    What I hope is that our son can avoid some of the huge financial mistakes I’ve made in my life.He already has the work ethic and is way more athletic and smarter than I ever was. Hopefully, some of the FI ideas & strategies that I’ve learned from this incredible community over the last four months and passed along to him, will one day lay the foundation for a life of financial freedom.

    Oh to be 25 again……

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Thanks, Bobby! We’re not quite 25, we’re settling down a little later than some– but still a chance to get most of the way there before the kids come along… and hope to instill those same lessons in them!

  4. J.

    Absolutely beautiful…

    Loved this – “Do I really want this more than I want to spend time with everyone I love?”

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Hey, thanks, J. Money! You know, it’s funny how sometimes the stuff we write that we feel best about comes totally unplanned. I just sat down after a conversation with my fiancée about our “why” and this come out. Thanks so much for reading.

  5. Daisy

    I loved this! I think your future kid will be proud of you once they’re at the age where they can compare it with the lives of other people in debt. I sure was proud of my parents when I saw their financial freedom while living their dreams of having their own multinational business. Different dreams but the freedom to do it the way you want: that sounds amazing.

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Sounds like you were set up to appreciate what your parents set out to do, and all of their successes, Daisy. I hope we are as successful at it as your parents clearly were!

  6. Mrs 82 months

    This is perfect. This is exactly what I will tell my 18-month old triplet toddlers one day. My husband and I started saving aggressively so we can spend time watching our babies grow up. We envision retiring when they turn 9 years old. Thanks for this reminder.

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      That’s amazing, congratulations to you all! What a great dream. Retiring at 9 will still leave you so much time to spend with them, and the saving you’re doing even now will give you peace of mind along the way. I’m inspired!

  7. amber tree

    What a nice letter. We already have kids and are still on the journey to FI.

    The content of this letter could also be used to explain to our kids in a few years how we stand in life and we do with our money: not spending on unneeded stuff… Only spend on things we really value.

    Your future kids will like this!

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Thanks so much, Amber! I really hope you are right! More than anything, we just don’t want them to take for granted the amazing future ahead for us… we really want them to have a strong sense of empathy and compassion for others.

  8. Kirst

    Enlightening! Thank you for sharing.

    We have a 16 year old son who frequently asks why we don’t buy ‘things’ for him like his friends’ parents do for them. He says we’re not poor and doesn’t understand why. I read your sentence about spending money on things that really make us happy for a really long time and thought that’s it! That’s how I could explain why we don’t buy ‘things’. That and of course the most beautiful reason of all, to spend time with loved ones. I wonder if he’ll understand? I guess if not now maybe one day he will remember and it will make sense?

    Thank you for providing me with a light bulb moment. Very much appreciated.

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      My pleasure, Kirst! I totally get your son’s perspective, too– society in general has a toxic relationship with money, and teenagers in particular are surrounded by all sorts of pressures. I am sure that eventually (whether it’s sooner or later) the reason you have held on to the values you have will become clear to him. Great job!

  9. Scott W

    I have just started to get into finances a little with my ten year old son and I will obviously get into more details as he gets older but for now I have stressed that being smart with money gives you choices in life.

    We all have different things we want in life but I think most people prefer to have choices and that is what I want for my son.

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Thanks, Scott. I agree with you. We don’t want our kids to see our lucky life as something they’re entitled to, but rather as something we dreamed of and worked towards out of love.

  10. Pingback: Teaching Personal Finance to Newborns - The Frugal Vagabond

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