There are always going to be things to do. Lot’s of things are important and oftentimes it’s very hard to prioritize them all. Health, happiness, family, money, hobbies and commitments are all things we have to juggle everyday. Like many of you, I have chosen to put financial independence and retirement high on that list as well but I’ve been realizing more and more that I need to take time to enjoy the ride. Life is short and none of us know how much time we have on this earth. Rather than wish it away on a day that may never come it’s best to optimize happiness as much as possible.

I’ve come to the realization, especially after having kids that life isn’t all about saving and delaying gratification. In fact I’ve been guilty of being too extreme in the past and causing distress in my family because of having too tight a grip on spending. I’ve had to step off the gas a bit and realize that raising kids will affect my finances but spending time with them and having fun is so much more valuable than money.

That being said the best case scenario is to already be financially independent before you have kids. Unfortunately my knowledge of finances, investing and retirement weren’t where they needed to be in order to make that happen. In fact I had no idea that early retirement was even a thing until late in my twenties. And while I look back and certainly could have and would have made drastic changes if I was armed with the knowledge I have today, there is no going back. Luckily I still have lot’s of time and I’ve already made great strides. The good thing about seeing lost opportunities is that it has motivated me to help others become financially independent and to avoid making the same mistakes I have made.

The cool thing about financial independence is that you can approach it at whatever speed works for you. I do suggest you find something that balances the potential pain of going without with the things that make you happy while still saving a good chunk of money each month. There are some who choose to live in RV’s and save nearly 90% (this probably would be me without a wife or kids) and there are some who enjoy their lifestyles so much that they are only saving enough to retire at 65. Both scenarios are ok if you’re happy at the end of the day. I think the key is finding the level that works for you and to continually be investing the excess in broad based index funds like VTSAX or the S&P 500.