FIRE = Financially Independent Retire Early
The Haggard and I have been flirting with the idea of FIRE and this community ever since we learned about it through the biggest name out there in this somewhat alternative and “weird” world: Mr. Money Mustache (Triple M). We were mostly easy converts as the ideas– work hard, save lots, and then “retire” ASAP to be able to live however you want–is most appealing, and aligns with our own values. MMM did it at age 30. Many others are following suit, and they are amazing and inspiring. If we were to take a great risk, we could, too. Besides the obvious ($$!), we must consider:
1. Location “Freedom”
As international teachers, we have a pretty “free” life as it is. We work at a world-class school with great students. We travel to exotic places multiple times a year, fly around the world, and have become accustomed to not wanting for anything (besides maybe family/friends/stability). We sign 2-year contracts and if we are not happy, we can literally pack up our stuff and try something else–anywhere in the world. We don’t feel trapped or stuck in a J-O-B that we hate. We feel very lucky.
And then…a biggie:
This month we realized what it truly means to live in the tropics: crazy weird bugs.
At the beginning of March, our daughter was the first to fall. She woke up with a high fever, vomiting, and disorientation. She is never sick, so I actually took her to the hospital. The first try they thought it was appendicitis, but the test was negative. On the second day when she was no better, we tried the international clinic and a second blood test proved my fear: dengue fever, aka, the “bone-breaking” disease.
She was out for a week, and we went to the hospital every day for 8 days to check her platelet count. Thankfully she improved and we thought we were out of the woods just in time because spring break was coming up.
Spring break was our “re-do” Bali trip from the fall. We literally had planned it 6 months ago. And we were so prepared this time–
- Water shoes? Check
- Snorkel gear? Check
- Floaties? Check
- New bathers? Yep
Until…two days before spring break, The Haggard got a headache and fever. The next day, as he went to the clinic to get his blood checked, I got the chills. Just as his results came back, I was on my way to the clinic. Blood tested confirmed the worst: dengue fever for both of us.
So–spring break 2018 = canceled! We were so sick, we did not even care about the potential lost costs. Okay, that’s a lie: I was emailing our Airbnb guy on the way to the clinic. But I didn’t really care what happened–dengue is no joke.
We headed home with the worst headaches and pain of our lives, wondering how we were going to take care of our kids while being this sick. Neighbors came to the rescue, and we made it through our first night, only to wake up with our son who now had a headache and fever! The score was settled: 4/4 Lyon Haggards with dengue.
Our sickness landed us in the hospital: our son stayed 2 nights, The Haggard stayed 4, and I was lucky and got to stay 6 nights! Our daughter bounced around with kind friends and neighbors, but we not only missed one of the most anticipated weeks for a teacher, but we were really ill.
Suffice it to say, we were not happy with our situation, and definitely questioning our move to Indonesia. There was something to be thankful for, though. Our total out-of-pocket cost for all these medical issues:
$ ZERO $
Granted, in the States, we are unlikely to get dengue or a parasite. However, while we think we are pretty healthy people, sickness and accidents can hit anyone. Our son broke his arm at age 3 and had to have surgery. Our daughter most definitely will need braces, which is covered by our current insurance.
With early retirement, there are obviously ways to figure out the insurance thing, but it is not easy. So far we can’t let go of this, with our kids this small.
3. International Schools
As much as The Haggard and I think we are calling the shots in our family, we have to face reality and come to terms that by taking on two children, they are now mostly in charge of our future.
As part of our package, our kids currently attend one of the top private international schools in Asia. It is diverse, has top-notch teachers, and offers individualized learning plans. The kids are really nice, and we will most like never have to deal with the types of problems that are common in public schools in the States (although that is surely an over-generalization).
If we FIRE, we give this up. We have to figure out the school-thing, and it could end up great, or not. We would need to buy a house in the exact right place for the exact right district, and strangely enough, this is scarier to us than moving continents! We could home-school or world-school or un-school, too, which I have totally researched and been ALL-IN for like a few days at a time.
The truth is, we have become very comfortable in the world of international teaching and living, and know what to expect. Giving this all up and heading “home,” is super scary. Would we actually have enough money? Would we get bored? How would our kids adjust?
The Verdict for Now
For now, we have decided that full-on FIRE is not for us. Upon reflection, we know that we have it pretty great! It’s true that we are not completely “free”–we still have a boss, we are tied to our school hours, a commute, and big cities, not to mention being FAR from friends and family.
We will continue to save for tomorrow, but be thankful for what we have today. In the end, we actually have a choice, and there is great freedom in that choice! This is what FI means to us now, and it is a mighty fine place to be.