I want to be a good dad and I try hard to be one. It’s not easy but I try to be present. I love my kids and my wife very much. Nearly my entire motivation for wanting to retire early is to have time to spend with them, and to just be present.
That’s where this whole retire early idea came from. I mentioned it in the about me. My dad wasn’t around much as a kid, and when he was he was too stressed to be nice. He wasn’t engaged. He wasn’t present. His first and only love was himself and the business he started a year before my sister was born (two years before I was). He was a teenager when he started the business, and it was all that he cared about.
I know how he treated me. It was not healthy. He was rough and he was very tough. He was a slot machine. I never knew what I would get. All I wanted was his attention and engagement. I never got it. He was never present. Still isn’t. He was very engaged and focused on people that worked for him. He didn’t realize they thought he was great because they paid him. My siblings and I thought he was great because he was our dad.
So when I was in my teens planning how quickly I could move away to college I reflected a lot on life. Wouldn’t it be great if I was the opposite of him. What if I could learn from his mistakes and be a good dad. The solution I saw was to not work forever. I wanted time to spend with my wife (who I hadn’t met yet) and kids and have them know they mattered. I wanted to help raise my kids. So I wanted to be present. How can you be present if you are away at work, or focused on work when you are at home? How can you be present if you are a slave to your job? We can only think about so many things at once. Do problems at work really need to be where we put our energy?
We own our jobs, and our jobs do not own us! We own our stuff, and our stuff does not own us. These are things we seem to forget that in our society. We forget or don’t realize that we own our time! Retirement ages are arbitrary and we don’t need to stick with them. We just need to have a high income than we spend. Simple.
I am not a risk taker, so I decided my path would be controlling expenses, investing in real estate over a few decades, and saving/investing whatever I could into 401k. I treated the math problem as multi-phase. First, invest in tax deferred accounts to buy my income needs from age 60 until death, and invest in taxable assets (real estate) to get me able to retire from age 40 something to age 60.
There are so many other approaches but that was mine.
….and the reason and inspiration was pure; I wanted to be a good dad.
Try to be a good dad! (or mom, son, daughter, whatever.) Just try to be a good person.