How Does This Actually Work With Kids?

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
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Post by Sven »

@ tjt: I knew the analogy was not 100% fitting, but hey it came close! :-) Well.. i think the ERE lifestyle gives parents much more time/opportunity to be that fellow airplane or at least check the radar. Working 60 hours a week for sure brings more material stuff in the house and indeed might help them in the "my daddy/mother is doing this kind of job" discussion, but.. this won't help them that much in the end (besides how the keeping up with the Joneses lifestyle works.. but this they will learn anyway).. i think what they miss is much more important: quality time with their parents and getting skills that they wouldn't get on the school (f.e. how to fix their stuff themselves, how to get their finances in good order, how to raise children ;-), the real life outside of the school walls, ..).
The reason why i wrote it like using an analogy is because it is hard to tell a caring parent (that you obviously are) that i think it is really hard to paint a child in the corner/have waterproof influence on how your child(ren) will end up like. Sorry for that! :-s But the goods news: Even if it ends up like that, the child (or grown up that the child became) is usually resilient/creative enough to somehow get out of there (even when that means waiting until the paint is dry - like leaving the parents house - :-)). Children will get in touch with other lifestyles whatever you do (except when you shield them off completely from the world, but with tv, internet, phones, people,.. around that it will become really hard, if not impossible). It is in their "blood" or it is not.. Just like you decided that the salary man lifestyle is not yours, they could decide ERE is theirs or not. As long as they are happy (and you are ok with their choice), they shouldn't hate you. In the end they will know the skills will come handy anyway. You teached them to tighten the family budget, they might use it to tighten the budget assigned to the project/people they manage on their way to ultimate corporate success and get a fat bonus for doing so! ;-)
But i am open minded, so we can do some "bad" mind game: try to think of every way you could paint a child in the corner from which it could never escape without heavy costs (being financial or mental; besides inherit a whole pile of debts from their parents who tried to keep up with the Joneses, as ERE shouldn't result in such a situation). If you find something like that, then we can try to solve it.. Or otherwise, just make sure that such a situation doesn't occur. I am sure there would be still plenty of opportunities to have an ERE related lifestyle.

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Post by Piper »

That nerd article made a lot of sense.
I think in regards to children, to live a frugal life where you save for the future doesn't mean you have to deprive your children of opportunities. Everyone must prioritize their spending in life. You simply have to prioritize opportunities that really do offer opportunities for your children. I'm not so sure that giving them a lot of material things so that other kids will like them matters as much as giving them healthy food and educational opportunities that will allow them to flourish. So, nobody is saying you have to live in an RV and say no to music lessons and private school. But you may want to say no to restaurant meals, latest fashions and brand new cars.
I've seen some of those kids from high school, the ones who had everything back then. A lot of them don't look so good now.

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Post by M »

@Jacob - The nerds article makes a lot of sense.
@Piper - I think we're saying essentially the same thing, except you're wording it a lot better.
I bumped into an old classmate the other day. In high school, he was the most popular kid in school. He had everything - hot women, fast cars, rich parents. Now he barely has the shirt on his back, no girls will even look at him, he has no money, no friends, and he can't find a job anywhere. In high school I envied him. Now I feel sorry for him...Strange.

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Post by sshawnn »

This thread has caused an avalanche of self examination and soul searching at our house. It is ironic to me that I can have this conversation among the other writers here for the world to see but would have trouble telling my best friends about what we are talking about. When you sift through these threads and consider the viewpoints that shape each set of comments it is simply amazing to think of the vast array of upbringings and personal experiences that have shaped each of us. Some of the comments make me say "Wow, I wish I could organize my thoughts on paper like this." Most all of the various statements have key components that I can identify with, agree with, or generally see how one came to their consensus. However different, I think each commenter does have a similar basic belief that the nonsense that goes along with todays consumerist lifestyle is of nothing to detriment to aspiring young creativity. Excess does not trump time spent loving and learning with the children. I admit that I have just recently realized this whole heartedly. I hope you appreciate my honesty and seldom exposed openness displayed here because I certainly appreciate reading yours.
I loosely used the descriptive terms popular and mainstream to help identify my situation. I am not sure that was the best choice of words to describe my situation. I am so glad I did though. I thoroughly enjoyed the points and references.
I just got in from coaching my sons baseball team after a long day and am readying for another long one. ERE can not come soon enough. That keeps me from making this post full of individual reflection that I would like to leave. In consensus it seems we all believe that the consumerist lifestyle is of detriment to a real nurturing situation. Real parents assume the role of nurturer and protector. I do not want to have my kids "painted into a corner". I do not want them to have excessive, avoidable emotional pain because of a lifestyle choice that my wife and I make. After review, my wife and I may be doing more things right at this point than we than we credit ourselves for. I think there is some middle ground with the kids and ERE and I appreciate all contributions in this post to help us find it.

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Post by BeyondtheWrap »

Even though I'm fine being frugal by myself, I think that if I had kids I would want them to have what they need to be normal. Growing up, I pretty much never had the money to go out to the movies with my friends and did not have cable TV (except when I was very young). So I usually felt left out in the very frequent conversations about movies and TV shows. I would want my kids to be able to fit in.
I guess I could go back to work if I do decide to have kids, unless the ERE budget is big enough to include things like cable TV and spending money for my kids. They'd probably "need" cell phones as well, since everyone uses them to communicate now; this will be even more true and start at a younger age in the future. And let's not forget mp3 players, since being able to answer the question "What kind of music do you listen to?" makes it a hell of a lot easier to meet people.

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Post by jacob »

@BeyondtheWrap - That makes sense if the kids turn out to be average. You could say that you'd want the kids to have the chance to absorb themselves into pop-culture and consumerism if that turns out to be their thing---even with siblings, you'll never know if it may appeal to one of them and not the other.
With ERE you will fit into some aspect of society. It's hard to fit into an ERE-basket though, even as an adult. To wit, we tend to be better educated (self or institutional) than average, we have financial concerns that match better with wealthy people (high net worth individuals) than with middle class consumers (like having a genuine concern about the capital gains tax rate), however, our spending patterns match the underclass with lots of DIY projects and general resourcefulness and our housing and transportation choices seem to be lower middle class. So what is normal?
All the external signs like toys, gadgets, etc. are cheap. Having the right address, going to the right concerts, vacationing in cool places, etc. is much more expensive.
And as always ... the same thing can have a very different price depending on whether it was bought frugally or on a whim.

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Post by ffj »

For me, I want my kids to be comfortable socially in the world they will have to live in. This doesn't mean that I try to buy them friends or that we try to live under any pretense, but I want them to be exposed to what their classmates are experiencing. When someone quotes a movie line, I want them to get it; I want them to learn the value of teamwork through sports, I want them to learn how to deal with bullshit behavior and not be insulated from the real world. With that said, there is no reason I can't impart the values and lessons I have acquired through my years onto them without going to extremes. That was the point of my earlier post, not to give in to pressure to live like everyone else, but to raise a well-adjusted kid that can take the best from all worlds. I think we as a community are in danger of stereotyping ourselves, and are just as guilty of demonizing the other side as they have of us "nerds".

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Post by Shandi76 »

@Jacob - The nerds article resonated a lot with me. American high schools sound even more brutal than UK ones though. But I've spent as little time as possible thinking about high school since I left 17 years ago, so maybe I have rose tinted glasses.

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Post by Surio »


I am with you through-and-through. We all communicate differently though. Thanks very much for reminding us that there's an Ahab in every one of us that we ought to be aware of.

With that said, there is no reason I can't impart the values and lessons I have acquired through my years onto them without going to extremes. That was the point of my earlier post, not to give in to pressure to live like everyone else, but to raise a well-adjusted kid that can take the best from all worlds.

I quote Venkatesh Rao from his Cats/Dogs yin-yang mack-a-dang style "connect-the-dots" article:
"A particularly perceptive one is this: dog-people think dogs are smarter than cats because they learn to obey commands and do tricks; cat-people think cats are smarter for the exact same reason. Substitute interest in degrees, medals, awards, brands and titles versus interest in snowflakes and Saturn’s rings. I don’t mean to be derisive here: medals and titles are only unreal to cats. Remember, dogs make them real by believing they are real. They lend substance to the ephemeral through belief.
Cat-people, incidentally, can develop a pragmatic understanding of the value of dog-society things even if deep down they are puzzled by them. You can get that degree and title while being ironic about it. Of course, if you never break out and go cat-like at some point, you will be a de facto dog"
The Onion article: why-cant-anyone-tell-im-wearing-this-business-suit-ironically

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Post by HSpencer »

99 percent of what is wrong with younger people today stems from the insane operation of our public school systems. However, I am certainly no advocate of home-schooling. About the best lesson from 12 years of public school attendance is that one can graduate "in spite" of the school administration.

I am not going to grade the teaching done in PS systems, as in most cases the "teaching methodology is not the problem. Kids will learn, or they won't. Kids come to school hungry, abused, and without any warm coat in the dead of winter. That is not the school's fault, but it is their problem. Poor kids are simply not welcome, and they are weights around the school's neck. Unless your daddy is on the school board or the Chief of Police, or bank president, your not going to be the quarterback of the football team, get over it. You may not have the right last name, either. Your kids are not going to survive being schooled at home. The school system is like military basic training, you survive it or you don't. That is why the school has a purpose. It is to insure you make it, against the terrible odds you face in the public school system. Make it there, you will probably make the rest of life.

Your kids as firefighter says, MUST have this basic training.

Do not let your kids know they are any different from anyone else out there--just let them know you think they "get it"!
EDIT: BTW, my wife spent 24 years in public school administration, so if anyone wants real life examples of what I am saying, (and Jacob can spare the bandwidth) let me know.

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Post by DVDend »

@HSpencer: You hid the nerve here as I have considered home schooling my two sons. I see your rational about school being the boot camp for survival but the research on home schooling seems to show that this painful boot camp is not really needed. For example, cites a few studies that show that homeschoolers do well in life and are generally happier than their peers that went the public school.
Taking a step back, I think the approach to ERE and kids really depends on why one had the kids in the beginning. For the average, I think it is just one of the things to do along with the house, job, and getting married. For me, I am selfish and I actually want spend time watching my kids to grow. ERE makes sense here. I believe this can be accomplished without causing permanent harm to kids.
One thing to remember is that kids are only a short term liability. The expensive teen years last perhaps 10 years. Budgeting $500 extra for a month is "only" 10*12*$500 = $60k. So the additional funding needed to support the normal kid activities is not that much.

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Post by George the original one »

@DVDend - Aren't the teen years only 13-19, thus only (7 * $6,000) = $42,000 needed? :-)

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Post by DVDend »

@George TOO: You just saved be $18k! Perhaps my kids can have a college fund after all :-)

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Post by HSpencer »

Under the right circumstances, I see no problem with teaching the kids the three "R's" at home. In fact, the setting for good reception of the academic menu would be much better in the home. I would just be concerned that the kids learned to deal with the inevitable arrogant, back-stabbing, jealous, self-centered, and difficult peers and adults that later in life they will have to encounter. As well, you should have a way to teach kids to deal with the experiences of absolute disappointment, discouragement, loss of vibrancy, and loss of faith in human nature that will stare them directly in the face once they leave your nest. Possibly you could hire a few of these type of people to come in and out of your home now and then while the kids are being schooled? (Kidding, but think about it anyway). I read the Wikipedia article you referenced and I certainly agree that Homeschooling can work. The important thing is to instill in the kids that they are just as "on target" as anyone else, and you, as their parent, have the utmost confidence in them. Whether home schooling or public schooling, a child must know they have the whole confidence of their parents. This is sadly lacking in our society. Best wishes on whatever your choice is.
EDIT: I found out through life that I could actually "do" whatever I needed to, simply because my Dad assured me I could. I can still see him in my mind, his warm self-confidence beaming at me. When I got fed up in my Senior year in High School and wanted to quit (badly), he told me it was my call. I could either "Tell them to go to hell and walk away, or call their bluff and whip their butt".

Those were his very words. I called their bluff, and I did whip their butt(administratively).

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Post by msrich »

I was hoping someone would bring up the topic of homeschooling. I think it lines up well with ERE, however, I also want my children to be prepared to deal with the multiple good and bad personalities that they are sure to encounter throughout life.
I have been noticing lately that a lot of private schools have been offering Homeschool Options with the option for your child to attend 1-3 days a week for a few hours at reduced cost. I think this may offer the best of both worlds-providing them with a good academic foundation as well as an opportunity to hone social skills.

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Post by DVDend »

@HSpencer: I understand your point of being exposed to peers from all backgrounds. And we share the importance of supportive parents. My father taught me more about life, electronics and aviation than school ever could accomplish.
It is sad if "loss of faith in human nature" is the #1 reason to send my kid to school. Perhaps I am naive. I took a fair share of bullying at school and never faced anything like it in my professional career. Perhaps to school is actually worse than the reality it is supposed to prepare kids for?
In the end it will not be my choice: My kids may want to go to school and are free to do so. I do want to take a few years of to travel/sail and I will school my sons during that time with my DW. After that, it is my sons' choice to study at home or go school.

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Post by sshawnn »

@ DVDend your comments about why people have kids in the first place is potent. Most would never admit they had children because "it was just the thing to do." That is probably why most procreate. It is probably why I did. That being said, it was a great decision. As I said earlier in this post, lots of self inventory and evaluation going on at our place of late.
@HSpencer I spend a lot of time in my life making up for not having (a guy like) your dad around. My son has got that guy around, and it is one of the best gifts I could ever give.

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Post by WH »

We’ve got a toddler and an infant, so decisions are still made without attempts to influence. We’ve had precursors of what is to come though, kids coming over for a playdate, wondering why we don’t have ‘a big tv on the wall… everybody has a big tv on the wall’. Well, we don’t so that negates everybody having one… They’re never to young to be exposed to some logic reasoning I find. I see though, that not following the normal level of consumption will make them different. I don’t think this will harm them, who does feels ‘normal’ growing up? Also, as we are designers we seem to have a get-out-of-jail-free card of sorts : we make. Invites are drawn by us not Disney etc. This will change when we get to playstation complexity of course. Older than that… I worked weekend jobs from 12-13. I don’t want that for them, but perhaps from 15-16.
I also see that here the seeds need to be sown early. To make us aware of goals, costs etc. And to use the time now to find our stance as we raise the kids; they develop so quickly. I want to be as prepared as I can, so this thread is providing very useful insights.

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Post by HSpencer »

My best advice on Public Schools is to avoid schools in Smithville. (or Jonesville, Brownsville, etc.)
Mayor is John Smith

Chief of Police is David Smith

Bank President is Roger Smith

Superintendent of Schools is Larry Smith

High School Principal is Benny Smith

Baptist Preacher is Rev Donald Smith

Church Elders are B. Smith, A, Smith, M. Smith

Factory owner is D. O. Smith

Doctor is R. Smith

Dentist is T. Smith
(I think your getting the picture----it will work with Reed, Jones, Brown, Franklin ---insert your choice of name.)

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Post by DVDend »

@WH: Your story on big TV reminds me of conversation this morning while I was securing my son to the bicycle trailer:
son: Our neighbours have two cars.
me: Yes. We have one ... because we have bicycles.
son: Yes! (with the happy sound he uses whet he understands something new)

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