New Life and the Urgent Quest for Freedom

“We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours.”

 

– Dag Hammarskjold

We humans are vulnerable, fragile things. I’ve written about how death can be a powerful force compelling you to prioritize what really matters– the precious and limited resource of time. Witnessing the end of someone’s journey is a moving, heartbreaking, unforgettable experience. It’s the final punctuation of a sentence that invariably feels too short.

We already know that the end of a life can inspire us all to focus more intently on the things that make life worthwhile. What, then, can we learn from the beginning of a life? What lessons can we derive from witnessing a brand new start– a tiny thread that will be woven into the fabric of every other life on Earth?

Here at the Frugal Vagabond, we’re about to have the privilege to find out in person. This November, our family will expand as we welcome our new baby to the world!

Urgent Quest - And Then There Were Three

And Then There Were Three!

My wife and I had been planning to start our family this year, but because we’re a little older than the average first-time parents, we tried to set reasonable expectations. If it took us a little while to conceive, that would be okay. If we needed to get some help, that would be okay too. Very fortunately for us, we were able to conceive a healthy baby without needing to seek extra help (and in record time!). We just ticked past the end of the first trimester, and received the genetic test results that confirm that the baby is as healthy as they are able to tell at this point. Now, our thoughts are turning to how to take this little life (that has felt very abstract to this point) and produce a decent, kind, well-adjusted person.

From the potential for needing help with conception to the reality of a little person joining us from here on out, one thought keeps occurring to me:

This is what it has all been for.

When you’re head-down and engaged in the everyday drudgery of working, earning, and saving, the end zone can seem a long way off. Sometimes it takes a life-altering event to jar you out of your reverie and remind you that every dollar you save brings you more security, better options, and the luxury of choice.

I’m sure that lots of first-time parents tell themselves a fable about the parents they will be, just as we are right now. It’s likely that all of us imagine being the perfect parents to perfect children when, in reality, neither exist. Despite our imperfections, there are several ways in which seeking financial independence creates a distinct advantage for parents and children alike.

Going from a dual-income, no kids (DINK) household to a dual-income, one kid (DIOK) household means turning two full-time jobs into four. Two “regular” jobs, and two full-time jobs keeping a tiny human (with the coordination and social skills of a severely intoxicated old man) alive. In other words: Stress! That’s pressure that anyone would buckle under, but the prepared FI-seeking couple can at least avoid adding money woes to that toxic brew. In our case, we’ve made enough progress towards FI that we’re able to consider some lifestyle changes that will help to minimize the stress on us, enrich the life of the baby, and validate all of the hard work we’ve done in the past few years.

I can’t help but feel that the emphasis on a frugal lifestyle and contentment will rub off on the little one, and make us better parents. When I imagine the best parts of our lives right now, it’s the free things that I most look forward to. I want to read to the baby from A Light in the Attic. I want to take walks and hikes together as a family. I want the baby to know parents who have the freedom and time to volunteer and help others. Having the luxury to parent in a low-stress environment is a massive privilege afforded by financial stability.

How does the peanut change our plans? It turns out, not too significantly. We still figure we’re about 4-5 years of work from FIRE. The plan seems more important than ever as we are eager to spend as much of the important early-childhood time as possible together. We’ve mapped out the next 5-6 years, and we’ll share those plans with you over the course of this year. If all goes according to plan, we’ll hopefully be FIRE (or close) by the time our child starts first grade. There is a lot more to it, but explaining will have to wait until after the baby arrives. We’ve got some truly exciting plans to spend as much time post-birth as possible together, and to maximize our lifestyle between now and about age 5. Needless to say, we expect to be able to share some pretty amazing, inspiring, and extremely non-traditional adventures with you in the next couple of years.

We plan to hold onto the important aspects of who we have always been, and which make Mrs. Vagabond and I work as a couple. Namely, we intend to go on traveling with baby in tow from the moment he or she is born. We completely reject the idea that our traveling days are done. If anything, the idea of travel is more compelling than ever. Who wouldn’t want to introduce a world of amazing sights, sounds, and places to fresh, impressionable eyes? Who wouldn’t want to see the wonder of seeing a real elephant at home in Africa wash across the face of their child? It can been done. It has been done. We may have to travel hack a teensy bit more diligently, but on the plus side, we won’t have to worry about sharing our row of seats on the plane with a stranger any more!

How has having kids changed your quest for Financial Independence? Did it make it seem more important, or less? If you don’t have kids yet, how do you see it affecting your plans in the future? Let us know! We’re an open book and grateful that you’re with us on this adventure!

11 thoughts on “New Life and the Urgent Quest for Freedom

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Thank you! To say that we are excited is an understatement. It’s hard because for various reasons (mostly work related) I can’t talk as much about our next 18-24 months as I would like… but we are definitely taking the unconventional approach. So much to look forward to, much of it enabled by living the FIRE lifestyle and being just half-FI.

  1. FullTimeFinance

    Congrats. I can tell you kids do change your approach and priorities somewhat. You think twice about that travel because you consider the hours on a flight with a kid (hasn’t stopped me but I still consider it). Keeping expenditures under control are also harder because there is this strong nurturing and marketing pull that you want the best for little peanut… but after a while you settle back to your goals plus one. Parenting doesn’t change who you are, it just magnifies some aspects of you.

  2. J. Money

    Congrats!!!! You’re gonna have such an adventure together!!

    As for how kids have changed stuff, for me – they got me to stop being a workaholic so much 🙂 I’m also now deathly afraid of dying all the time as the thought of leaving those nuggets behind scares the hell out of me, haha… So definitely didn’t see that one coming!

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Thanks, J. Money! I completely understand the “afraid of dying” all of a sudden– I have definitely had a lot of “holy crap, is everything properly organized to take care of everyone if I get hit by a bus” moments so far. I have always said that I am prone to one LESS year syndrome rather than the usual OMY syndrome… doubly so now!

  3. Frugal Momster

    Congratulations! Everything will change, yet stay the same. Having children has made us even more focused on frugal living to teach our children to be resilient and learn to do for themselves. In addition, we have the opposite thought of focusing on debt-freedom from our mortgage first, then traveling with our children then they are above age 5 so they’ll remember those trips and grow from them as we can continue to do them often after we reach that point in a few short years. Best wishes to you and you’re already well ahead of most!

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Thanks! We’re really excited and super happy. In the case of the mortgage, it’s a bit of a moot point as we live in a one-bedroom, so we’re basically outta here in a year. We expect to be lifelong renters, and most likely won’t have a mortgage on a property we actually occupy again. Which sooooort of leads into plans for the future, which we will hopefully be able to share a bit more on later this year 🙂

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Hahah, it totally has! It took all of 30 minutes after publicizing it on Facebook to get the first insane childbirth method suggested to us!

  4. Physician on FIRE

    Great news! Unsolicited advice? I’ve got some. Get out of the house as much as you can while you still can! Go to movies. Go to dinner. Go to the bar — after all, you’ve got a designated driver 😉

    Cheers!
    -PoF

  5. Pingback: The Sunday Best (6/18/2017) - Physician on FIRE

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