A big part of the FIRE community is trying to get to retirement as soon as possible. Quicker can’t be quick enough for many people out there. Retire at age 30 and never have to work again! Retire in 10 years, instead of working for 40 years in a cubicle! Well, my path is a different path because I enjoy my work and it gives me lots of time off to pursue my interests and be with my family daily. So, speeding to retirement for me is at a nice leisurely pace, with stopping along the journey to see the world’s largest dollar bill and enjoying a 3 pound cinnamon roll!
My choice of becoming a teacher happened while my wife was pregnant with our first child at age 23. I didn’t want to work 90 hours a week for 10 years to FIRE and miss my child’s baby days. I also knew that my child would only be with me for 18 years in my home and be gone the next 4/5 of her life. Becoming a teacher requires me to work when my child was in school, and be out of work when my child was out of school. I work 187 days a year from 8:00am to 4:00pm, and my kids can go to work with me when they get to the high school (My first kid starts high school in one year). I know that many people who retire early work like crazy in their 20’s and begin their family in their 30’s, but I wanted to also have a second go with my grandkids, and watch them grow up into their adulthood also. So, having kids early was an important part of my life plan and important part of my retirement plan also.
Teaching is about the best family friendly job around. You get a week off for Thanksgiving, two weeks off for Christmas, a week for Spring Break, lots of other minor holidays off, and you get your summers off with your kids also (3 months and 3 weeks off a year total plus weekends!). You also get the great unicorn of retirement plans, a teacher pension for the rest of your life! I could also retire when my age and my years worked equals 80 years together. Since I started young enough I could retire at age 52 with 70% of the average of my top 5 incomes, forever. I also had access to a 403b, 457b, and IRA’s to better my retirement. I started my 403b and my Roth IRA from the beginning and only maxed out my Roth IRA, but contribute monthly to my 403b. I was working and saving the entire time, and I got to be with my baby, have two more kids, and my wife got to stay home with the kids until they are all school age.
Then part two of the plan was to double our income when all the kids are in school. My wife would begin her teaching career. The deal was she had to work until the house was paid off, and for at least 5 years, so she could get the teacher pension at age 65. That would be our hedge against inflation as we age and live on my pension at first. She maxes out a Roth IRA also, but the pensions should be enough since we still live on one pay check and have a paid off house in retirement (Hopefully, paid off soon… it’s going slow. Maybe 6 more years).
So my journey is a slower 28 year journey to FIRE at age 52. I’m 37 years old now and have 15 more years of working. I have 10 more years with my children in my home and when I retire my oldest will be 28 years old and my youngest 23 years old. We get to travel during our breaks together, spend our summers swimming, hiking, camping, eating watermelon, and seeing movies. I get to drive my kids to school, pick them up from school and talk about life along the way. I get to work a job that I love, see changes in students lives and create lasting impressions in our youth. I don’t dread Mondays unless, it’s another pep rally taking up my class time. I’m going to retire early, I get to travel even more, and I get to see my grandkids a lot more and be a big part of their lives.
This was always the plan to be a family man first, and an employee second. I just found a niche career that is overlooked by so many, as a path to a slower early retirement, and most importantly it is a path to being with my family daily, and creating a life where their Dad is with them everyday and can be involved. We all wake up on the same days, get ready together, drive to work together, work together, get home together, and I get to know my kids interests, their friends, and their lives. So, if you are on a slower path to FIRE, that’s fine. Look out the window and enjoy the journey. We all don’t travel at the same speed, but we all have the same idea of where we want to be in the end.