1. Yay Penny! Congratulations on having the financial capacity to make this decision!! I think having one person take a leave of absence is definitely a FI move. We had serious discussions about one of us quitting this summer because the parenting/working tag team where you never leave the ring is exhausting. Ultimately, we have temporarily decided to keep moving forward with our current status. But knowing one of us could walk away was refreshing. Thanks for sharing your story!?

    • Thank you for elevating my story with your comment. Financial capacity 😀 It really is empowering to know that there’s wiggle room that wasn’t there even just a bit ago.

  2. The word that came to mind as I read this post is “freedom”. Are you FI? No.

    But you are in a position to make a decision from a place of freedom…you have choices that you would not have had just a few years ago.

    So, maybe this is a FF (financially free) situation rather than a FI situation. : )

  3. When my spouse chose to be a stay at home mom instead of a public school teacher we never really noticed the loss of income. Teacher pay was so low then and my annual increases were so high that within a year my pay exceeded our combined pay the previous year. And since my pay just kept on increasing we never had that treading water experience. But had we both been teachers then, yeah, that would have felt uncomfortable at first. Having margin is great, but using it up can’t feel that good. But as other commenters have noted your good money habits have allowed you to make the best decision for your family, as ours did many years ago. That should feel good. How much money you have is relative, someone else will always have more. But having enough to prioritize your family as the top priority. That always feels good. Congrats!

  4. We are pondering a similar situation, Penny. We’re not totally sure we can both keep running at the pace we are and sometimes kick around the idea of one of us leaving work, maybe permanently, maybe just for a sabbatical, and to be the support team for the partner still working.

    I think that’s FI as hell, if only because the independence is the point. It’s exercising the “I”, which gets so little attention. Less than the F, less than the RE.

  5. The point at which my husband really got on the “have lots of savings” train was when having lots of savings let him take a year off from his job unpaid and work at a startup (he made 14K total, but they weren’t even expecting that much) while I was on sabbatical. Why have a cushion if you can’t use it to take breaks from work?

    I would argue this is among the *best* reasons to aim for financial independence– so you can use it for flexibility. I don’t intend to quit my job to retire early, but I LOVE knowing that DH can weather a long unemployment spell or I can take a year at half pay (or even no pay) to chase an opportunity or protect my sanity and we’ll still be ok. That’s worth more than all the Caribbean vacations we’ve never gone on. And to me that’s the true definition of FI (or FF or whatever)– and very much in line with YMoYL, the original FI peeps.

  6. I have always felt like treading water or pausing was quitting but I was almost always wrong.

    *Quitting* is quitting and even then in context some (many?) kinds of quitting are good!

    Treading water is staying alive to fight another day, it’s choosing not to drown. And for those of us who (physically or financially) can’t tread water, being pulled under is definitely the far worse scenario than pushing that pause to get through the worst of things. Having the choice to tread water *and* having the mental capacity to make that choice a conscious one are huge wins in my book. I know it doesn’t move you forward but that’s not the only way to go. Surviving all of this with your mental health intact would be an enormous win.

  7. We don’t make the kind of income (or have the kind of willingness to live a very extreme lifestyle) to reach FIRE super early, but living frugally and being financially prudent has given us OPTIONS, which has been amazing. Because of smart money choices (and the enormous privilege of having an able-bodied husband who has a stable job), I’m able to stay at home with our three kids, which is exactly what I want to be doing right now at this time in my life. Had we made different financial choices earlier in our adult lives or earlier in our married life, we wouldn’t have been able to do this.

    It sounds like you guys made the best decision for YOU, and the most important thing about any money conversation should definitely include prioritizing what is MOST important first (which should definitely include family and health). Sounds like you have your priorities just fine to me! Hope you enjoy what this new season has to offer 🙂

  8. Karen

    Good for you and your family. Having choices is very FI.

    I am contemplating retiring from teaching early (even mid-year) if things get even worse where I am. It doesn’t give me a FATfire future but it is a viable choice. So many teachers I know do not have that option and that is a very very sad thing.

    I’ve been consciously working toward FI For over 10 years and looking back further yes, there were missteps and slowdowns but I have no regrets. Take the highs with the lows. Life is too short.

  9. I have a feeling a lot more families will be making this choice if they can in the next year. We (obviously) love & support the single public educator family salary lifestyle. It’s not easy, but it is glorious. I hope your partner enjoys being the hardest worker now (even if not the breadwinner).

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