What’s Next: Tipping the Scales Toward Living

Our oldest is now 4 and a half (almost 5!) and the twins are 2 and a half. We are in our late thirties (almost 40 is not as cute as almost 5). We still have a long way to go to reach financial independence, much less retire early. So in some ways, we are late bloomers in the FIRE world. Who knows, we may keep working until a more normal/traditional retirement age.

However.

We are nearing a big turning point, one we have been working towards for the better part of 4 years, which is having a second property fully rented out. It has been rented for shorter periods during the last three years, but A has also made major improvements, adding a second bedroom and bathroom to the upstairs and making the basement livable, and it will be fully rented for the first time in the next month or two.

That additional cash flow will open up a series of new possibilities for us, for A to be able to scale back hours and tip the work-life balance towards living. Our almost 5 year old will be in kindergarten this fall, and A is planning to finish up his working hours in time to pick him up from school (or the bus) by 3-3:15 and spend time together in the afternoons.

Early in our relationship, we had a conversation about a colleague of mine who was a dad. He took time off from work every Wednesday to read a story to his daughter’s elementary school class. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation went down, but A basically said, “I want that. I want to have that life, that kind of flexibility.”

Growing up, A wished he could have had more time together with his own dad, who worked long hours at multiple jobs to provide for the family. He was present and engaged during the lunch hour and on weekends, but other than that he was often exhausted at home. Completely admirable, but not the balance that we are looking for.

A’s mom, on the other hand, worked full time as an independent consultant but was able to take more breaks from her work to spend time with their four boys. In their shared office, they had a space where the boys would stay after school, doing their homework and having tea before heading home together.

So while it’s not FIRE, in the next few months we are going to undertake a major transition. I’ll continue to work full-time, A will still be working at least part-time, and we still have to figure out the details and logistics, but it will open up many more options in our future.

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