Financial Independence with a family comes with some unique challenges and competing goals. Spending more time as a family becomes a priority for most people after having kids. Many of us look for ways to work less and spend more time with our kids while they are young. In an ideal world, we would all reach Financial Independence before having kids. However, that’s probably not realistic for most people in the FIRE community.
The good news is that you don’t have to be fully financially independent to make the most of the precious years after starting a family. If you’ve been on the path to Financial Independence for a while before you have your first baby, chances are that you have amassed significant investments that you can leverage to maximise the time you get to spend with your kids – without giving up your financial goals.
Today I’d like to introduce you to Mrs B from The FIRE Journey blog. When Mr and Mrs B had their daughter, they took what they call an “18-month mini-retirement parental leave”. After saving and investing for several years they were able to fully embrace their time off as new parents.
I love how Mrs B flipped the common notion that parental leave (and the loss of income that comes with it) is a hindrance on the path to FIRE. I really wanted to share her story to illustrate that there are many creative ways to utilise the financial progress you’ve already made to maximise family time without sacrificing your FIRE goals.
In this interview, we chat about
- Mrs B’s FIRE journey to date
- The details of her “mini-retirement parental leave”
- Transitioning to part-time work
- How becoming a mum has impacted Mrs B’s views on Financial Independence
- Mrs B’s advice for aspiring and new parents on the path to FI
Let’s get started!
Q1: Tell us a little about yourself and your FIRE goals!
We are a 30-year old Canadian family of three from Ontario, Canada, and we are on our financial independence journey with the ultimate goal of achieving FIRE by 40-years old. We share our FIRE journey on our blog and Instagram anonymously and are known as Mr and Mrs B and Baby B. We are currently on an 18-month mini-retirement parental leave together after the birth of our daughter.
Typically, we both work regular full-time day jobs. I am a CPA, and Mr B is a utility worker.
Now that we have had a taste of what the FIRE lifestyle could be like during our mini-retirement, we are more motivated than ever to reach financial independence!
Q2: What has your FIRE journey been like so far?
We were pursuing FIRE before we knew what FIRE was. We started our FIRE journey by investing in real estate at age 24 with the purchase of our 6-plex rental property [a 6-plex is an apartment complex with six units].
When we were about 27 years old we discovered Mr Money Moustache and the FI community. We realised that real estate investing and investing some of our income would allow us to reach retirement much sooner than the traditional age. We have since sold our rental at age 30 and plan to invest the proceeds to reach FI by age 40 – fingers crossed!
We are about halfway to our FI goal of having $2 million in what I call our “FIRE portfolio”. This money will fund our FIRE lifestyle in the future, and we won’t need to work to cover our expenses.
The beginning of our FIRE journey was aggressive. We both worked full-time jobs, I upgraded my schooling for a higher paying job, and we self-managed our rental property.
Since the birth of our daughter and the sale of our rental property, we have reached a point where we are ready to slow down on our FIRE journey. We can now enjoy the hard work that we put in during our 20s and take a slower path to FIRE in our 30s.
This includes our mini-retirement parental leave and possibly transitioning to part-time work in the future.
Q3: How has becoming a parent influenced your views on Financial Independence?
Since becoming a parent my views on financial independence and life priorities have certainly changed.
I feel less motivated to put in the hours to be closer to becoming financially independent. I would rather spend the time with our daughter and enjoy her young years! I am not as focused on seeing the big net worth increases every month. Instead, I am okay with not working and just enjoying our mini-retirement parental leave.
On the flip side, I am more motivated than ever to reach Financial Independence to be able to spend as much time with her as possible as she grows up.
For that reason, I am grateful that we put in the hard work to start on the path to FI before we started our family. We will have options in our future to work less and let our nest egg grow in the background while we enjoy our family time.
Q 4: The special thing about your mini-retirement parental leave is that you and your husband were able to take extended parental leave together. Tell us about your time as a family.
Our time off together on our mini-retirement parental leave has definitely been different from the traditional “one parent stays home with the baby and the other works” strategy.
We have been able to do a lot of camping around Ontario and see many beautiful places! We bought a little trailer and spent 32 nights camping in it last summer. We managed to fit in a road trip to South Carolina and Florida in the United States recently to escape the cold Canadian weather. We have also been able to spend time with our semi-retired parents and do some last-minute YOLO camping trips too.
On a regular day at home, we typically leisurely get up and make breakfast, play most of the day and spend time outside.
We have also spent time on our individual hobbies with both of us being home. Mr B is passionate about learning to play his guitar, and I am digging back into my childhood crafting hobby.
We are able to work together and share parenting and household duties. We are even currently potty training our daughter at 15 months as we have the time and patience to do this together. It is neat to be home together to watch her grow from a baby into this tiny human full of personality learning new things every day!
Q5: You recently decided to extend your mini-retirement. Why did you make that decision?
We originally planned for our parental leave to be 13 months for me and six months for Mr B. We chose 13 months for me so that I would return to work in time for the busy tax season and six months for Mr B as that is what we found was realistic to save for since it would be mostly unpaid time off.
About six months into my time off, I started to question why I was returning to work before I had to. The government permitted leave allowed was 18 months, and I was returning to work earlier than that because I felt I should return to work for my employer’s busy season.
A few life events around this time made me start to question why I wasn’t taking the full leave. My Grandma passed away, which was a harsh reminder that family time is the most important thing. My time at work would still be there, but my family time with my baby was precious and limited. Secondly, this was around the time that our rental property sale closed, and we had more than enough money to be able to fund the full time off.
It took me a few months to commit to the extended leave and tell my work that I was going to be returning to work after the busy season. I knew that if I went back to work before I had to, and we could financially afford to have a longer leave, I would have regretted going back early. That would have been five months of my daughter’s life that I would have missed out on for the benefit of my employer.
Since our financial position changed with the sale of our rental property, Mr B was also able to extend his leave. His original six-month leave is turning into about a year-long leave, and he will be returning to work around the time my 18-month leave ends.
Q6: What are your plans for the next few years?
When I think about our next few years, it will most likely be focused on our little family. I guess this is a good time to announce that we are now expecting our second child! I plan to take another 18-month mini-retirement parental leave after the birth of our second child and will be returning to work sometime in 2024. Mr B will also take a parental leave starting in 2023! After this next parental leave, we will likely reduce our work hours to part-time to enjoy our young family years.
Q7: Will you still be adding to your portfolio when you go part-time, or are you considering a Coast FI or Flamingo FI type approach instead?
Once we move to part-time work we will not be contributing much, if any, to our FIRE investment portfolio. We will have our FIRE portfolio working in the background for us, and our smaller contributions likely won’t make a difference considering the power of the compound growth already happening. We are halfway to our FIRE goal, so we will be taking a Flamingo FI approach in the second half of our FI journey!
Q8: What advice would you give new parents on the path to FI?
To new parents that are on the path to FI, I would say be flexible with your FI plans. For me becoming a parent has brought out a new life perspective that I never had before or never even thought I would ever have before having kids. For instance, I had never desired to work less or wanted to slow down on our FI journey.
Before having kids, we planned to scale up our rental property investing to reach FI. Instead, after the birth of our daughter, we sold our rental property and changed up our path to FI because we felt our time was better spent with family. I also spent the three years before having our daughter back to school to increase my earning potential and develop my career by getting my Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation. I wouldn’t change that I did this as it opened positive career opportunities, and I developed in-demand skills, but I don’t feel as career-motivated after having kids.
Second, kids do cost money, but you don’t have to buy all the stuff that is advertised to us as new parents or parents to be! There are a lot of baby products that you do not need and baby products that you will only use for a few months. Try and be thrifty and practical with your baby gear purchases!
Congratulations on your pregnancy, Mrs B! And thank you for sharing your story with us.
I can relate to so many things Mrs B mentioned in this interview. Having kids has certainly changed my views on Financial Independence and money in general. I would choose to see as much as possible of my kids while they grow up over making more money any day.
I really like how Mrs B and her husband fully embraced the time after their daughter was born. It’s also really great that they were able to take so much leave simultaneously to go travelling as a family.
Canada is quite comparable to Australia when it comes to parental leave – the government funds a certain number of paid leave) and after that, the only option is to take unpaid leave (unless your employer offers paid parental leave). I have many friends who were not ready to go back to work after their paid leave ran out but could not afford to stay home with the baby any longer, which is really sad.
Having a solid financial base before having kids (even if you are nowhere near full FI) is really powerful and gives you choices. Life gets busier and more expensive with kids, and it becomes harder to get ahead financially. I think Mrs B’s story illustrates how you can then leverage the hard work you put in earlier to enjoy more freedom and have more options once you start a family.
Mr. Flamingo and I were fortunate enough to reach Flamingo FI and semi-retire just before we had our second baby. We can now work part-time and don’t have to save for retirement anymore. We get to spend a lot of quality time with our kids and will still reach our FIRE goals over time.
It sounds like Mrs B and her husband might go down a similar path. They are about halfway to their FI goal, so technically, they have hit Flamingo FI and can transition to part-time work whenever they feel like it.
I’m sure Mrs B’s second mini-retirement parental leave will be just as rewarding, and I bet she won’t want to go back to full-time work afterwards.
I hope that this interview inspired the new or aspiring parents among you to think about how you could leverage the progress you’ve already made towards Financial Independence to make the most of your time as a young family. Another interesting concept worth checking out is Baby FIRE (a Barista FI approach).
Thanks again, Mrs B and all the best for your future as a family of four! 🙂
What do you think about this mini-retirement parental leave approach?