By: Revanche

FIRE vs everything else?

January 24, 2018

FIRE and/or everything else: how do we decide what to pick? I’ve been battling back some seriously expensive impulses lately. It’s been months of being grumpy because my rational side knows it’s right. It’s not the right time or it’s not in the budget for us, given our financial goals.

My irrational sliver of self continues to whisper and it’s frustrating the snickets out of me. It continues to say, “yes, but ….” HUSH, YOU.

I make pragmatic decisions every single day, regardless of what I wished or hoped or wanted. It’s easy because my first priority is to be efficient and effective. So why won’t my whole self settle down?

This is my attempt to work out what the problem is.

It’s relatively easy to say that we will go to Japan for a three week food fest or Australia and New Zealand to hike for a month someday but not this year because I don’t want to leave Seamus that long. I’m still traumatized. Those are my castles in the sky. I know the kind of money we’ll need to have ready to spend, and we are not ready to spend 5 stacks of money on a vacation between dogsitting (3 weeks away would cost at least $1000!), airfare for three, lodgings, food, and so on. Time off isn’t easy to come by right now, either, but that’s neither here nor there without the money piece settled.

I’m fine with giving up some things now so that we can have financial freedom later when it’s going to be critical for my health to have that freedom – we moderate eating out and travel, for example. We don’t stop them, we just don’t do it every week. But some thoughts keep chugging around my brain like they’re stuck on a toy train track, refusing to accept the pragmatic “No.”

I’ve always wanted a three dog pack again, like when I was younger, but oh how quickly the costs of multiple dogs can add up if you aren’t rooted to one spot for years. It worked when I was growing up because we were! We never went on vacation and someone was always home even if someone else was working all day and night or traveling for work.

Now, we both work and also prefer to adopt larger, older dogs. The latter preference increases costs because they invariably have health problems and need a lot of work, I refuse to just ignore my pup’s ailments. The former means that we can’t easily travel with more than one dog. Heck, it’s already expensive to travel with just one dog to bring with us or board. So that’s one huge project I want to take on even though our time and my energy is severely limited with a toddler to chase and parent, and with Seamus’s existing problems. But also, I want this for Seamus! He longs for canine companionship, and was really hoping to find that in Doggle, but we lost him. I feel like a second dog would make both of us very happy! But it would be such a big addition to the family.

PiC is on board with the idea though, so we’re slowly working on taking small steps to make this happen sooner rather than later. We met an absolutely darling medium sized dog in need of a home, fostering with some really good people, and we’re seriously talking about adopting her, whether it’s this pup or another one. We both want Seamus to have the cuddly companionship he clearly craves, but because we don’t compromise on our pets’ quality of life, we have lots of logistics to work out first.

Pivoting to the other big addition, I can’t shake the feeling that I want a second child even though everything rational in my mind and body are screaming NAY, TIS A TERRIBLE IDEA.

My mind says we’d have to come up with another $20,000 a year for daycare, $14,000 a year for college savings, and oh good grief, diapers, and bottles, and pregnancy which was 75% terrible and who is going to watch JB when I go into labor?? It isn’t ONLY about the money but money is always a huge factor. Let’s face it – our income is currently a zero sum pie. If we’re spending something on the order of a full salary on another two dependents in the family, that’s money we’re not investing for our sometime-early retirement to spend quality time with said family before I crash and burn. How do we balance all of these priorities even if we should have all of them? (See: health.) Conclusion: Terrible idea.

My body wants nothing to do with the whole pregnancy thing, risking PUPPs again, labor, risks associated with labor, recovery from labor, struggling to fit into any clothes again, sleep deprivation for at least a year or more. Even if I didn’t clearly remember the horrors of any of those, I blogged about it so I have it in writing. Some women have glowing pregnancies – I was not one of them. I’ve finally got pain meds that work to control the frequency of my flare-ups – I’d likely have to stop them because it might be terrible for a developing fetus.  I definitely stopped using all prescribed opioids when trying for JB because the benefits then were far too low to be worth any risk. But the truth is, for a lot of these medications, they think it’ll be bad but can’t be sure. I did take the current meds when breastfeeding and JB was completely fine but that’s different than when gestating. So, we’re talking about the return of the ovulating which is awful and triggers pain flares, and no significant pain medication, just to try to see if we can conceive. Because, as with the first pregnancy, it’s completely unclear if we’ll even be able to conceive. Conclusion? Terrible idea.

Sibling rivalry – JB still thrills to have a baby about for hugging, and was over the moon when a friend with tiny infant came to visit. It may have just been the novelty but this kid has a consistent desire to nurture young babies and it makes my heart melt. But how different is it when you have to keep the kid and share your parents, though? Looking at my own sibling, though I’m the younger one, the idea of a healthy sibling relationship is hard to imagine. We could never make this decision based on what we think JB wants because ze can barely make up zir mind about breakfast some days, but I can’t ignore that zir life will be impacted as well. For good or ill? I don’t know. The impact of JB on our lives has been a net positive.

Last, what about my career? (Congratulate me for thinking of this priority last for the first time in my life. Clearly, I have reformed from my workaholic ways!) We were very creative in raising JB in the first year, juggling both our jobs and a patchwork of help with part time care since we lost our affordable nanny and daycare didn’t have space for zir yet, but can I really handle working first and third shift again like that with a toddler in the mix? This is the part of me that wants it all – I want to cuddle my kid in their first year, every day, all day, even on the grouchy days and I still want to have my full time salary and status at work. I still want to be the Head Boss of My Division. But where is that energy coming from? Third shift work means getting even less sleep than I do now, performing at less than 100% at work, and I’m not in love with the idea of being a cotton brained zombie for another few years. But I thought it was entirely worth it to be able to hug my child even as ze tried to squeak some opinions on my conference calls, and maybe it would be again.

In the end, these are huge questions for me and us: Do I have it in me to raise a second? Do we? How do I squash these feelings if we don’t? How do I reconcile being ok with choosing, essentially, money and FIRE with my family in its current form, over growing my family?

NOTE: Comments and thoughts on working through your own thought process, and how you did it if you did, are very welcome but it should go without saying that I’m not asking for advice on whether we should have more dogs or kids. My regular readers know this, newer readers may not.

:: How did you make the decisions to add to, or not to, your own (human or furry) families? If you have multiples, was adding the second or third harder than adding the first?

26 Responses to “FIRE vs everything else?”

  1. Tonya@Budget and the Beach says:

    I of course, have a furry friend who is going to be 18 this year. Like you, when I travel I have to pay for a cat sitter now because of all the needs he has each day, so it really adds up. I made the decision not to get a pet after he passes because I have some new goals to travel around and don’t want to know that a pet makes it more challenging to find housing. And also the expense. I want to take some big leaps coming up and it will be easier without the expense of an old cat. It’s a lot of money right now because of his issues. So, that’s how I came to my decision. If you read your post from an outsider’s perspective, you’d perhaps see a tiny bit clearer the answers to some of your questions. 🙂

    • Revanche says:

      “…a pet makes it more challenging to find housing.”

      That is so true! We own instead of rent because I will alwaysx1000 need a dog in our lives.

  2. Well, I don’t have much to say about the kid thing except that the months when you don’t conceive can be pretty frustrating– and we got pregnant pretty easily (it was just the rest I was bad at). So don’t forget to prepare for that part of the equation as well.

    As for a second dog… I feel ya. I’d love to get Pandora a playmate, but a second dog is, well, a second dog. And one dog is a lot, at least when it’s Pandora. Not to mention that we’re not sure if she could handle (for lack of a better term) sibling rivalry. When dog-park dogs hover around Tim for too long, she’ll bump them out of the way so that she’s between them.

    Then again, if the dog is around all the time and plays with Pandora and starts as a puppy… Well, it might be okay. Or it’d be a disaster. Also, did I mention that one dog is a lot of dog? And all that leaves out any vet bills because Tim’s super paranoid and is eager to run any and all tests suggested if Pandora’s not well. (And I’m pretty sure Banfield vets are supposed to up-sell tests. We’re going to switch to a different vet to see if that’s the case.)

    So yeah, we will probably stay a one-dog household and just try to give Pandora companionship through the dog park.
    Abigail @ipickuppennies recently posted…How to dive into personal finance (without drowning)My Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Yeah, the second dog’s personality and ability to get along with the first dog is absolutely key, otherwise it’s chaos. And who needs that??

  3. Cindy in the South says:

    I had four kids (three boys and a girl), who are all in the 20’s, early 30’s. I also full time as an attorney. I also ended up divorced from their dad, who was a lawyer also, and zero help. He was too busy hanging around with his extra girlfriends. Yea, I know I sound bitter. I love all my kids, but I really do not remember that much about their childhood, because I worked all the time, and I was so frickin tired all the time. We also had lots of animals, and except for the yearly trip to the beach that was four hours away, we did not travel much. I am now almost 58. You do not have to do everything. You have to take care of you. I did not. One kid is fine. One dog is fine. You just bought a house. You are really doing well. I understand exceptionally talented people, which you are one of those, wanting everything, but you are human. I did too much, too fast, and it all came tumbling down. You take care of yourself first, so you can take care of everyone and everything else.

  4. Cindy in the South says:

    I also worked…..geez…I am old, tolerate me…lol

    • Revanche says:

      Typos happen to all of us 🙂

      Pretty sure I’d sound bitter too if PiC pulled that nonsense leaving me to hold the bag, especially if it meant that I didn’t get to enjoy any of their early years. That’s important to me. I remember clearly that Mom and Dad didn’t spend any quality time with us because all they did was work and I don’t want to recreate that at all. Thanks for sharing that side of the coin.

  5. SP says:

    We haven’t decided what, if anything, we’ll do for vacation this year. T’s summer conference is in Colorado, and while I super love Colorado, I don’t care to make that into a vacation this year. I’m toying with a N Cal / Oregon road trip with the dog, or… just skipping it and enjoying the summer here and save the $$. Japan sounds amazing and is on my list, but I won’t allocate the money for that or leave the dog. :/

    We talk sometimes about adding another dog to provide our pup with canine companionship. He got to spend a lot of time in December with his BFF pup, since she stayed with us for about a week then he stayed with her for about a week… and I wish he could always have that life! He really does anchor us to home though.

    Mostly, we wouldn’t add a dog right now because we’d like to add a human instead, and I’m not doing both. I remind myself that every month that takes is another month of a higher savings rate and not having to deal with daycare costs and such. 🙂

    These decisions are tough. I generally choose “everything else” above FIRE, because what is the purpose of FIRE if you aren’t pursing the things that are most important to you? Of course, my “everything else” list is highly curated.
    SP recently posted…2018 Goals and PlansMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      I know where we won’t be going for vacation this year but I’m torn on where we WILL go, too.

      Adding a dog feels WAY easier than adding a human, but doing both at the same time is not for me either. One at a time!

      I feel the same about not losing sight of the purpose of FIRE but my viable timeline is so much shorter than most people so there must be some way to manage it all.

  6. Joe says:

    I don’t have much to add except to say good luck. The 2nd kid question is tough. I would like a second kid, but Mrs. RB40 didn’t want to go through the process again. That’s okay. We’re happy with one.
    Joe recently posted…A Landlord’s Second Worst NightmareMy Profile

  7. Kids: We wanted more, and planned to have more, and it didn’t happen. I had two miscarriages before Baguette and two after, and we were still open to trying again, until I really wasn’t. We’re older, and Baguette’s needs are fairly intense, and I want to be the best parent I can be to her–which is also what I would want for any other children we would have. But I don’t know how I’d meet her needs and those of another child.

    Dogs: We had Wicket, who liked other dogs but really seemed fine that there wasn’t another one living here. And we talked about having two, in theory, but decided we could only take on one. Except that Butch and Sundance were so closely bonded that we brought them home from the shelter together. There was nothing else to do.

  8. I found this:

    Re dogs: part of why we don’t have any is they can’t be left alone for long and I would worry if they had to go potty and I was delayed how traumatic that could be. Plus finding a reliable cat sitter to check in during the holidays is hard, and we leave them food and water just in case. That’s so much more important for dogs. Cats are much easier. (Though we didn’t decide on our second cat—she came from our backyard)
    Nicoleandmaggie recently posted…RBOCMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Dogs are a lot more work. Seamus can wait all day to go outside but in general I think he’s a lot more work than a cat. Except I can keep him off the furniture!

      • I have two cats, but every time I see a post from “Oh My Corgi” on Twitter, I dream of adding a dog to the mix. So far I’ve managed to resist because of the knowledge that my cats are waaaay lower maintenance than a dog would be. Currently when I travel, someone can come over every second day to scoop litter and put out food/water, but I’ve heard that doesn’t work as well for a dog.
        Solitary Diner recently posted…Making Weekends Work BetterMy Profile

  9. Mrs. Kiwi says:

    Ah, we’ve been struggling with the torments of chronic pain and deciding about having children while dealing with that. I definitely want to be a mom, but my hubby thinks his daily headaches will mean his experience of being a dad will mean will constantly not living up to his own expectations. Now, we just have us and the two dogs to care for, so if he has a few bad days in a row, it’s not a big deal. The decision has been a major stress point for us over the past year, and it’s helpful to read your story.

  10. bethh says:

    Goodness, those are big thoughts. I thought I was going to be able to relate to your story, because last fall I was struggling with: keep saving/paying down mortgage, or actually spend some cash on a deck and enjoy it now instead of waiting til mythical Someday?

    Obviously your decision points are waaaaay heavier/bigger/of greater lifetime impact. I will say I decided to get the deck and haven’t regretted it – but no rational person would compare a deck to adding a living creature of any sort to a family unit! Good luck with your very personal decisions.

    • Revanche says:

      LOL no to be dismissive but it’s KIND of the same process, I think? Or maybe that’s why I’m failing to figure out what we want! Thanks for the support and FWIW if you don’t have debt other than the mortgage and that’s well in hand, may I suggest doing the deck earlier and enjoying it earlier? 🙂

  11. andee says:

    I can’t figure the kid thing out for myself. So this is more of a solidarity fist. We have one, I want two but our lives have been incredibly difficult and challenging and the more time that goes on the worse the idea seems.

  12. Kris says:

    We currently have one kid and thinking about another one. Some of the things that may hold us back is if my in-laws are able to take care of two babies and if not, are we able to pay for daycare and our mortgage(still looking, hopefully find one this year). Also it’s been fun but at the same time, hectic with one kid around. It can be a challenge with another one around and the question for us is if we’re up for the task. I think we are but we have to discuss about it at some point this year.
    Hope for the best for you and me!!

    • Revanche says:

      Crossing my fingers for you that you find a reasonable mortgage that lets you add daycare if your in laws aren’t able to take care of both babies! Or perhaps they could watch the second while the older kiddo goes to daycare? We find that it gets less expensive as our kid gets older.

  13. I understand the struggle of wanting to add a second dog to the family, and can’t imagine how much more challenging the decision is when it comes to having another baby. When we got our second dog it was something I wanted more than my partner. Not exactly ideal, but I won out and now he’s her biggest fan. It’s expensive though, the amount of food we go through always shocks me, plus the vet bills. We’re lucky to not have to worry about boarding costs which certainly makes travel easier.

    I’m not sure there is a right and wrong answer, I think it’s just about making a choice and then making it work.

    • Revanche says:

      Both decisions are (nearly) irrevocable the way we look at them, though with the dog adoption we have the tiny safety net knowing that their foster would always take them back if it didn’t work out. Not so much with the kid.

      Do you have family or friends looking after the dogs when you travel?

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