Who doesn’t want financial freedom? Getting to the point that your passive income can cover your expenses buys you opportunities and time in a way that most people can’t imagine. Despite the allure, I took an active step away from financial freedom this year, choosing to delay my freedom date by over 2 years. What siren could have pulled me away from my destination? An even better one - mini-retirement.
A Vision for Financial Freedom
Like many others, I discovered the concept of financial freedom from Mr. Money Mustache back in 2012. The concept is simple - you’ve reached the point where you have enough income from passive investments to cover your expenses.
Once you’re at this point, you can choose to be relatively indifferent about money. For some this means early retirement, for others that love their work, it means working without concern for the financial influences.
Since learning about financial freedom, we had been working on diligently saving - maxing out our 401k, prepaying our mortgage, and looking to improve our financial situation to invest even more. As of June of this year, we were on track to reach financial freedom in February 2028.
At that point, I’d be 46 and could have chosen to push for a reduced work schedule (either part-time or lots of vacation) or even retire. Doesn’t that sound awesome?
Why I’m Trading Financial Freedom for a Mini-Retirement
While financial freedom in my mid-40’s would be an amazing accomplishment and would give me a ton more time to pursue whatever my heart desires, there was a big problem with the timing.
Upon reaching financial freedom in February 2028, I’d have a high-school senior and two high-school juniors.
As soon as you become a parent, you start hearing the same phrase from every other parent out there:
“Enjoy these moments. They grow up so fast. Before you know it, they’ll be all grown up and you’ll wonder where the time went”
There’s a reason every parent says this - because it’s true.
We have a 7-year-old and 5-year-old twins and I feel like they were all just babies yesterday. The years have flown by.
So, if I pushed hard over the next 10 years and achieved financial freedom in February 2028, I’d be gaining freedom right at the time that my kids are least available (due to school activities, coursework, and hanging with friends).
I hope my kids still want to make time to hang out with me when they are teenagers, but there’s at least a small chance that being seen with me will be considered “embarrassing”.
My kids are more important to me than just about anything in this world - and they aren’t going to stay little forever.
So I chose to push out my financial freedom date by over two years in order to get more time with my kids now by taking a one-year mini-retirement.
A Vision for a One-Year Mini-Retirement
My last day of work was June 30th and I’m planning on staying mini-retired through the end of next summer - so technically, my current plan is 14 months of being intentionally unemployed.
My plan this year is to make the most of the time I have with my kids. Here’s what my mini-retirement is buying me:
In August, we took our summer road trip without worries about the work that would pile up while I was gone.
During the school year, I walk them to school and home every day. On days off, we have fun adventures; yesterday we went for a two-hour hike at Devil’s Lake State Park.
As the school year progresses, I’ll attend field trips and volunteer in each of our kids’ classrooms.
In addition, when my kids are at school, I’ll be busy working on my passion projects - this blog and my app for the financial freedom community - Thrifty.
It may not sound as exciting as a 40-country tour around the world, but I’m excited to focus on being a really awesome parent.
So, as awesome as my vision of financial freedom is, it can’t beat my vision for the next year - soaking up life with my wife and kids.
My mini-retirement is a choice to prioritize living now
The Exchange Rate of My Mini-Retirement for Financial Freedom
Taking this mini-retirement comes at a cost though. Because we’re drawing from our savings and I won’t be making new contributions to our investment accounts this year, our net worth is going to be going down.
The good news is that we’ve got more than enough savings to make this work and the investments I do have will still earn some interest. As a result, I’m still on the path to financial freedom, I’m just pushing it out a bit. Twenty-seven months to be exact.
Trading twenty-seven months of financial freedom for fourteen months of mini-retirement now seems like a pretty good deal when you put our life situation in context. I’m usually one of the first people in the room to prioritize the long-term over the short, but in this case, it’s pretty clear we’re making the right call.
Factoring in my mini-retirement, my new projected financial freedom date is May of 2030 - just before our twins graduate from high school and we become empty nesters. A small delay for a big payoff now.
And hey - that’s right when the twins will be starting college. How perfect - I’ll have the free time to walk them to and from class every day and volunteer in their classrooms! I’m sure two college freshmen couldn’t hope for anything more - ha!
How’s a Mini-Retirement Sound to You?
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Are you working toward financial freedom? Have you ever considered taking a mini-retirement? What impact would it have on your freedom date? Would it be worth it to you?
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