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October 01, 2010


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Syd --

We have grown children, and are fortunate that married life and being parents is the absolute right fit for us. Based on some of your prior posts, I'm guessing that you would agree that everyone is unique and what's a good fit for me may or may not be a good fit for you. You sound like married life without children is the right vocation for you and your husband. Wonderful!

Retired Syd

@J295: Thanks for your nice comment. Yes, I would agree. I think it's very simple, really: have 'em if you want 'em, don't if you don't. (Unfortunately, if you're on the don't side you may experience some significant peer pressure. Too bad it's not an acceptable choice to many--although, I think that situation is improving . . .)


This country has lost its collective sense of humor. Everything is taken literally with no thought that maybe, just maybe, the writer is taking an extreme position just to generate wacky responses.

There were some scary and pathetic people in those Yahoo comments castigating you without knowing anything about you and your decision.

Glad you knew it was coming and could laugh about it.


I would just have 2 questions for you that you don't mention in your article.

1) how many times did you "try" getting pregnant and were unsuccessful, in your younger years?

2) how many pets have you had in the last 15 years?



Congrats to you! I retired at 45 and have 3 young kids - all it takes is hard work, dedication and knowing what works for you. Good luck to you and I hope you enjoy life to the fullest.


Interesting article. You and your husband by all means have the right to choose not to have children. But what gets me is the tone your article sets. That basically, well, if you have kids, you're screwed. Not only in the financial sense, but your emotional well being, according to the 2005 study done by Florida State anyways.

Retired Syd

@Bob: At least someone gets my humor! I mean really, who could drink 273,000 lattes! But yes, I was in a waggish mood so was ready for the fallout. And they are entertaining, aren't they?

@Jerry: Wow, I get a lot of email from folks that have retired very young and the vast majority of them don't have kids. You are quite the over-achiever! Congrats on reaching both goals--retirement and kids--at such a young age!

@Mike: We had one dog, for 14 years, Murphy the very bad Beagle. (We loved her dearly, but my friends say she was a good example of why Doug and I should not be parents. We weren't so good at that whole discipline thing.)

As far as pregnancy, I've only tried to NOT get pregnant in my life (and have been quite successful at that.) I have friends that have tried unsuccessfully to have kids and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. It's heartbreaking.

Which reminds me of a dinner party I was at not too long ago where one couple asked us if we had kids. We told them we weren't having them and they launched into the "but you are missing so much!" campaign. Turns out there was another couple there that had been struggling for years trying to conceive. I'm sure that incessant talking about what they were missing wasn't going over so well at their end of the table.

Retired Syd

@Mel: Point taken, I'm often in trouble for my tone--especially here at home! On this issue, though, let me shed a little light. Having kids is socially acceptable and even socially expected. (And there's no shortage of this message in the media.) The tone of most folks toward those that don't want kids is usually very condescending and even antagonistic. In general people give their opinion that you are crazy quite readily.

We are told we will live a lonely, miserable existence. So I find it interesting whenever research comes up saying that's baloney (and there is a fair bit of it if you click on all the links in my article--a lot more than that one study), those that have kids say it's impossible, we are the happy ones, they are the miserable ones.

In my opinion, those that are the happiest are those that make the choice that is right for them. It may be that because society puts so much pressure on folks to have kids, some are doing it without really thinking, and they may be the unhappy ones in studies. I don't know.


Great article, Syd. I admire your courage to post one like that knowing you will get screamed at.

Like you, Syd (as you know), I retired at 45. When asked how I was able to do that, I always answered, "No Kids. No Debts." BTW I am single and male so I don't get bingoed like women, especially married ones, do.

My only twist on your article is that I knew I never wanted to have kids at age 20 but did not realize I could retire at 45 until I was in my late 30s. So for me it wasn't a "I want to retire early so I won't have kids." Instead, I parlayed my earlier life's decision into something I later wanted very badly.

And what do I do with my added free time since I retired in 2008 at age 45 (and was doing for 7 years while working PT)? I do volunteer work at several area schools, getting my "kid fix" often but being able to give them back to their parents afterward and let them deal with it the rest of the time.

fred doe

kids promise them anything but leave em at home. when your old and feeble how do you know your kids will take care of you? at that point it wouldn't matter who brings you your stewed prunes. as far as being remembered most of us don't know much about our own grandparents or great grandparents. that's what ancestry.com is for. and another thing:) if people are doing right by their kids why do the kids leave college with six figure student loans? syd i've been telling other retirees about your site. you are the retirement guru!

Kay Lynn Akers

I don't understand the judgment on such a personal choice.

Frankly, I think if people decide not to have kids then they probably wouldn't have made the best parents. It's a hard job when you do willingly sign up!

Retired Syd

@Kay: Thanks for your comment. If only there really were a direct correlation between wanting kids and being a good parent though . . .

Retired Syd

@fred doe: I wish I thought of that when I was naming my blog. Maybe when I go into hiding after this post and re-launch my blog it will be called the retirement guru!

Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom

Well, I don't know about the not being able to retire early and not having kids correlation... but then I think people in general spend too much on their kids and $1M is a crazy number for 2.3 kids. But what do I know? I think people (esp. women) can retire earlier if they just don't get married.

I wrote a post on this and I know me and if I wouldn't have had kids, I probably would have blown all my cash on something else. But I'm sure I would have had a hell of a time doing it too! ;-)

I have a friend (female) who's 36 yo that just married her 28 yo boyfriend this last summer. She doesn't really want kids and all of our other friends are bugging her about her clock etc. But it's ridiculous. Social pressure to have children?!? Who cares if someone else has kids or not? They're not the ones getting up in the middle of the night. (Having said that, my selfish side wants grandchildren to adore and I hope my boys deliver.) But they both want to be single parents like me, so I'm not sure how that will work out. :-)


"We weren't so good at that whole discipline thing." - That is the truest thing I have read on here. But that is a stupid reason to not have kids.
You believe you must spend a million dollars on kids? Your grandparents had 10 kids in a row, ignored them usually, put them in hand-me-downs and life worked well. 1 was a doctor, 1 a lawyer, 1 an engineer and 3 were accountants, 2 drove the garbage truck and the remaining 2 went to prison. If you only have 2 kids and invest all of your time in making them perfect you are spitting in the wind. But unlike Syd, you are at least trying.


How sad that you, a bitter person who apparently found no satisfaction in your working life, are advising people to live the same sad, barren life she chose for herself. You don't mention anything about a husband - I imagine you are one of those abrasive, unattractive women who never got married and so having children was never really an option for you. It's not hard to decide not to have children when no one will have one with you.
I don't mind working past 44 to provide a nice life for my family, and neither does my husband. We both enjoy working. We have jobs we enjoy (do what you love, and you'll never work another day in your life) and we feel like we are contributing something by being out in the workforce. In this day and age, we are lucky to have jobs and the country is lucky we are working because someone has to pay the taxes that are supporting so many people on unemployment and Social Security. My dad just retired at 59 and he is having a hard time with it - this is the first time since he was 15 years old that he hasn't been working, getting up in the morning with a purpose. It's been proven that people need something to keep them going and that many people who retire early, die early as well.
More than that, I wouldn't trade my son for a billion dollars. He has enriched our lives unbelievably. We aren't counting on him providing any help for us in our retirement because we know he may not. But we have a close family and enjoy spending time together and the moments we have had as a family are more priceless than diamonds. I may not retire at 44, but this morning I had a little boy climb into bed with me, pat me on the face and say "I love you mama, you are my best friend." Money can't buy that. Early retirement can't buy that. When was the last time you had someone tell you they loved you, Sydney? Someone who wasn't your mother? And your cats (I'm sure you have several) or dogs don't count, as they can't talk. Those are not actually people, you know, and you can't substitute pet love for the love of real, actual people who choose you and choose to be around you. I won't retire at 44 but today I'll take my son to the park, go to lunch with my family, maybe take in a movie, come home and cook a great dinner, have amazing sex with my husband and go to sleep knowing that there are tons of women like you in the world who have all the money they could want, but they can't buy the day I've just had with my family.
I wish you best of luck in your early retirement. I hope when all of your friends (assuming you have some, which is by no means assured) are showing off pictures of grandchildren, and going on vacation with their families, and sitting in living rooms on Christmas mornings with grandchildren crawling all over them giving them kisses, you still feels good about your choice. And if you don't, I certainly hope you doesn't decide to do IVF at 60 like some bitter, regretful careerists have.


I don't beieve we should be negative to you about your decision not to have children because that is a personal choice but I don't agree with saying that people who choose to have children live less happier lives. I'm a single parent and to say that life isn't hard for me because of it would be a lie but even knowing this I would never change my life. My child has brought more joy than burden into my life. Her father and I are not together but not because of her but because some things are more important to people than others. I now have a wonderful man who's also a single father and we have chosen to raise our kids together and we are as happy as can be but yes we still do have problems but again nothing to do with kids, it's our own selfish ways. I wouldn't want to live not lnopwing the joy of someday seeing my grandchildren around me when I'm older. As I said earlier though That may be the right choice for you and if it works for you than great .


Hi Sydney,

Reading your posts and articles makes me a little sad for you. I actually don't plan to have kids myself, but it seems pretty clear to me that you're not not half as happy with your choices as you pretend. All over your posts, your articles, your facebook page, everywhere you feel the need to scream from the rooftops about how happy you are because you don't have children...one gets the impression that, if a stranger were to stop and ask you for the time, the response you would give would be something to the tune of "It's 12:30, and the reason I know is that THANK HEAVEN I don't have CHILDREN taking up all my time, so I'm actually able to check my watch, and I ASSURE YOU THAT IT IS A DELIGHTFUL WAY TO LIVE THAT I COULDN'T BE HAPPIER ABOUT." Usually people that are so much more contented and fortunate than others don't feel the need to insist upon it quite so loudly...my guess would be that underneath all your talk, there's some real ugliness and pain. I'm sorry for you.


YIKES! The virulence of some of these comments (haven't gone to check the ones on Yahoo yet) is frightening.

Glad you can laugh it off, Syd. Nobody knows your business like you and your husband. Keep laughing and enjoy every moment! Nobody has the right to judge anther's life decisions. Period!


Well Syd, it appears that the judgmental people have made it over to your blog, given that screed by ael above. But you knew it was inflammatory subject matter when you wrote the article. There were some thoughtful comments at Yahoo when the article was first posted but the early comments, including my own, seem to have been purged.

Like you, I retired early and wouldn't have been able to do so were I not childless. My experience was much the same as "deegee" above: I knew early on that I didn't want kids and later, in my 30s, set the goal of leaving the stress of the work-a-day world by retiring early and leaving the big city for life in a rural mountain setting. My original target was 40 but I didn't manage it until 45. That was a dozen years ago, so far so good!

Being single, children weren't an option anyway, but I wouldn't have made a good parent so it's just as well I never had any. However, some people who DO have kids aren't good parents, sad to say.

Being male I didn't get the pressure to have children by friends and relatives that seems to be reserved for childless women, married or not. Except for my mother, until she realized that I was happy with my life alone and my sister, who did have children, was troubled and depressed. After that, I never heard another word about it.

Back when I was planning my retirement I had to deal with what I call the "guilt factor" of no longer being a productive member of society. So I started doing some volunteer work and found I enjoyed it and the people I worked with. Problem solved. Now that I am retired I do massive amounts of volunteer work of many kinds. Some of the volunteer jobs involve social interaction, which is important when one lives alone out in the boondocks. I also still keep in touch with former colleagues and neighbors via e-mail and occasional visits. [When I first retired many of my colleagues were surprised because they didn't really believe I'd do it or that I could pull it off. They've since come around. :-) ]

You've heard all this stuff before. One of the pleasures of stumbling across your blog thanks to your US News article is finding that there are a whole lot of early retirees who have experiences similar to my own!


Interesting article. Congrats on retiring early! That's quite an accomplishment. I've been married for 7 years to my husband and we are not going to be parents. Not because of financial reasons, but mostly b/c we really really didn't want to. Its nice to read an article everyone once in a while about our very socially unacceptable choice. I wish there weren't so many hateful comments, but I guess that's to be expected. Anyway, thanks for writing :-)

Oh and I'm wondering am I the only one who can't see the comments on the original article??

Retired Syd

Jenna and dgpcolorado: Thanks so much for taking the time to come over here and post your comments. dg, looks like you have created a very nice and fulfilling life and retirement for yourself. Congratulations!

ael, l, and Allison: Thank you also for your comments, people don't believe me when I tell them about the venom that is directed at women that choose not to have kids. Now maybe they will.

Imani: As always, thank you for your centering comments.


I have a somewhat canned response to anyone who claims that being childfree is selfish:

Choosing to have kids IS the most SELFISH thing someone can do.

Let us assume for the moment that someone who chooses to have kids is making a decision which most benefits that person, or else that person would not make that decision. And let us assume for the moment that someone who chooses not to have kids is also making a decision which most benefits that person.

The difference between these two people is that the childed person expects others, including those who choose not to have children, to subsidize (i.e. using resources, getting tax breaks, favors and benefits in the workplace, tolerating other's children in places they have no business being in) the choice of the childed person, while the person who chooses NOT to have children neither expects nor receives any benefits from the childed people because of the choice he or she made.

That is the essence of the "Who is selfish?" debate. Each is making a decision which best suits himself or herself, but one expects the other to bear some of the costs of that decision, while the other does not. This is why those who have children are selfish while those who do not have children are not selfish.

I also got a chuckle from those who commented to your the Yahoo article invoking religion or god as a reason to have kids. I am an atheist, so that reason mmeans nothing to me. No kids. No debts. No god. A terrific way to live!

Retired Syd

@deegee: While the selfish and God arguments are entertaining, I myself like the argument that I am one of those "abrasive, unattractive women that never got married."

Oh yeah and bitter, I almost forgot bitter. (Again with the irony--didn't that whole comment seem a bit bitter to you?)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.


I love your post. I have always wanted to retire in my 40s. I am a 27 year-old female. When I told my friends and family that I want to retire early, they all said "good luck with that." Reading your blogs made me realize that it can be done with good planning. Thanks :)

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