In interviewing couples for Families of Two, I met couples with a wide array of lifestyles. A few couples had serious goals to change their lifestyle at a certain age, and retire early. One couple –a neonatalogist (doc that works with premature babies) and a yoga instructor, did just that. They made a plan……stuck to the plan and retired early several years ago. They sold most of their possessions and have been cycling around the world.
Not all childfree with this goal have global adventure plans like this, but are living a happy early retired life. Take Deegee (his name for posting purposes). In 2008 he retired at the age of 45. He recalls, “My first step toward early retirement unknowingly began when I was 20 years old. That year, I made the important decision that I did not want to ever have children.”
Deegee says when he made this decision his reasons were less financial, but the financial benefits became more important later when he realized he could amass the huge savings and maintain low expenses needed to be able to retire early.
For many people, their choice does involve serious financial considerations at the outset. Many end up deciding that the benefits they see in having children don’t offset the costs. And you can estimate the costs; check out babycenter.com, which has a cost of raising a child calculator. For example, if I had a child that was born this year, raise it in the city in the West in a two parent household with income above $64,000, and plan for my child to go to a public college, it would cost almost $356,000.
Not having children means not having to make this kind of financial commitment. It can also make it easier to retire early, but it does not mean it will be a slam dunk…one still has to have a long-term plan. Deegee worked in the actuarial field, and his financial savvy helped him plan for his early retirement. He has worked it so his monthly expenses are both affordable and mostly predictable. He has been debt-free since 1998, including having paid off his mortgage in nine years. He has decent and affordable individual health insurance coverage. He drives a 2007 Toyota Corolla he bought new and paid cash for, part of his no-debt policy.
Deegee lives a frugal lifestyle, which is one example of many that debunks a myth lots of people have about the childfree–that we all have lots of disposable income. It is just not true. Early retired or not, childfree come from all walks of the financial spectrum.
Also contrary to the myth that the childfree don’t like kids, they play a role in Deegee’s life. He does volunteer work in local school Scrabble programs, running seminars and tournaments for middle school and junior high school students. So often people think the childfree don’t like kids, when in truth, many, many are involved with children, whether it be through their occupation, volunteer work, church work, or being great godmothers/fathers, and aunts and uncles.
Deegee’s early retired life also includes resurrecting an old dancing hobby and spending time “with his ladyfriend of 5 years.” He’s loving his early retired life.
Do you know of childfree early retirement stories–let’s hear them!