“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!
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!