A Provider’s Clock For Men Is Like A Biological Clock For Women

Lately, I've been pondering why I have less admiration for men who claim to be retired but have a working spouse. Is it fueled by envy? It's possible, considering I wouldn't mind if my wife were the breadwinner, easing some of the financial strain on me.

The sentiment is akin to observing several of my neighbors, able-bodied men in their thirties, still living with their parents after 7-10 years. Come on guys. Let's get it together already! You can't depend on them forever.

I'm also struggling to resist the urge to keep working hard despite having amassed a comfortable net worth. Sure, there are new expenses due to buying a new house, and my liquidity is thin. However, I could liquidate an asset to cover upcoming costs instead of stubbornly adhering to my first rule of FIRE: generate enough passive income to cover all basic living expenses.

Whatever happened to lounging on the beach in my old age? A female reader literally emailed me saying she and her husband are in Hawaii right now on vacation. He hasn’t worked for eight months since leaving tech and he doesn’t seem to have any sense of urgency. They have two children under four.

Since I prefer not to dwell on negative emotions and dislike being stuck in dilemmas, I'm actively striving to evolve and become a better version of myself. Positivity is better than negativity! Maybe you are experiencing something similar yourself and can’t figure out why. Let me help you.

Evolution And A Man's Need To Provide

After some deep introspection, I've realized my feelings for such men and my inability to do nothing largely stems from biology. Given biology is innate, we can’t help but act the way that we do.

Fathers operate on what I've termed a “Provider's Clock,” where our DNA is encoded to provide for our children for at least 18 years after they are born. If we fail to fulfill this role, we often feel inadequate and view other fathers who don't provide in the same light.

Perhaps I'm being a bit stringent, but biology tends to be unyielding to ensure the continuation of our species. Biology may also be a reason why there is sometimes incredible pushback against the FIRE movement, since the majority of participants are men.

When society sees able-bodied men choose not to continuously work traditional jobs to provide for their families or be productive in society, it goes against convention, or everybody's Provider's Clock.

Provider's Clock and Biological Clock

Declining fertility rate graph gives women the feeling of having a Biological Clock, while men have the feeling of having a Provider's Clock

The idea of a man's Provider's Clock parallels that of women's Biological Clock for childbirth.

As women approach 35, the chances of conception decrease significantly due to an increase in eggs with abnormal chromosomes. By age 45, the natural conception rate drops to less than 5%.

More couples marrying and having children later in life has lead to a rise in the IVF industry to combat infertility. Therefore, a woman's Biological Clock may start ticking as early as puberty and may stop by age 45. In other words, a woman's biological clock may last for 30 years.

Similarly, some men feel a strong urge to provide for their families once they become fathers. A man's Provider's Clock begins after his children are born and continues to tick until they reach adulthood, typically 18 years later. My sense is that a father's Provider's Clock may also last for 30 years, or until their child is financially independent or has found someone to take care of them.

Just as a woman may feel pressured to start a family before 45, some men experience a profound desire to prioritize their role as providers.

When a woman hears her Biological Clock ticking loudly, she may experience feelings of dissent toward women who are not prioritizing motherhood. Likewise, a man with a resonating Provider's Clock might perceive other men as irresponsible for not taking fatherhood as seriously as they do.

Not Everybody Needs To Have Children Or Needs To Work

Let's address several key points before we go on.

1) It's entirely acceptable to opt out of having children.

Life can be simpler, less expensive, and less exhausting without the responsibility of raising kids. Not everyone finds a partner they wish to start a family with either, and not everyone has the financial stability or time to commit to raising children. In these circumstances, choosing not to have children is a rational decision.

2) It's fine to take a break from work, temporarily.

Perhaps you built a successful company in your 20s and sold it for a substantial sum in your 30s, granting you the freedom to pursue other interests. Or maybe you diligently saved and invested a significant portion of your income for many years, allowing you to retire early. If you have the means to forgo work due to luck or hard work, then it's nobody's place to criticize your current lack of productivity.

However, unlike the biological constraints that may prevent some women from conceiving, a man who is capable of working but chooses to rely on his partner for financial support can raise eyebrows. Moreover, if a man opts out of work simply because life is more enjoyable without it, he deprives his partner of the same freedom. This behavior can be viewed as selfish.

3) Women obviously have Provider's Clocks too.

In addition to Biological Clocks, women also experience Provider's Clocks, adding to their pressure. In contrast, most men do not have Biological Clocks, just the acknowledgment of their mortality.

Many women aspire to work and earn as much as possible to support their families. Moreover, there is a growing number of women who out-earn in cities such as New York and Washington D.C., while also serving as the sole income providers.

map of U.S. where young women earn as much or more than men

Those driven by a Provider's Clock inherently desire to care for others rather than be dependent on them. Therefore, witnessing an able-bodied individual being cared for can evoke discomfort, envy, and even disdain.

However, with a Biological Clock, no matter how much a 45+-year-old woman wants to conceive naturally, it is likely not going to happen. Therefore, society doesn't display the same amount of negativity for women over 45 who don't have or want children.

The Provider's Clock And A Man's Responsibility To Care For His Family

I'd like to outline three key responsibilities for fathers based on our inherent Provider's Clock. Becoming a father is a choice and with that choice comes certain obligations.

Given I am a man, I'm sharing my point of view. If you are a woman who hears her Provider's Clock, feel free to share your point of view as well.

1) Presence until adulthood

The Provider's Clock begins ticking at birth and persists through adulthood. At that point, children may choose to pursue college or leave home to start their own lives. It's often said that over 80% of the time you'll ever spend with your children happens by the time they turn 18. Therefore, the imperative to be present and involved begins from the moment of birth.

While life events such as divorce or long-term travel for work may occur, these circumstances shouldn't hinder a father's presence in his children's lives. Even if physical proximity is not possible, maintaining regular communication through emails, text messages, visits, sleepovers, and video calls is essential. Consistent and persistent efforts should be made to ensure that all fathers remain actively involved in their children's lives until they are capable of providing for themselves.

The ultimate objective for fathers with loud Provider's Clocks is to raise their children to become financially independent adults who embody qualities of kindness, thoughtfulness, and productivity. If a father’s Provider’s Clock is soft, then he may leave the family well before his children become adults.

percentage of children with married parents, solo moms, cohabitating parents, or solo dads

2) Financial provision until children reach adulthood

Whether through full-time employment, part-time consulting, side ventures, or entrepreneurship, men driven by their Provider's Clock must sustain some form of employment until their children reach at least 18 years of age. It is incumbent upon all such men to ensure that their families have access to adequate food, clothing, education, and shelter necessary for their children's development into responsible adults.

While a father need not necessarily be the sole breadwinner, he should aspire to earn a sufficient income to cover the essential needs of his children. Although life may present challenges, the earnest desire to provide is paramount. With determination, a father will find a way to meet his family's needs.

If you are aspiring to be a FIRE parent, this second responsibility of a father means that permanent early retirement is against the nature of a man's Provider's Clock. Even if a man was able to generate enough passive income to cover for his family's basic living expenses, a man must continue to be productive in some capacity.

Good thing is that you will likely find it impossible to do nothing once you have children.

3) Ensuring the family's well-being in case of premature death

Those driven by the Provider's Clock not only focus on the present but are constantly planning for the future. Given the unpredictability of life, including accidents, illnesses, and unforeseen events, there's no assurance that a father will be present to see his children through to adulthood.

Consequently, the Provider's Clock prompts men to establish contingency plans, such as drafting a will, organizing a death file, and setting up a revocable living trust. Furthermore, this innate drive encourages proactive measures like building an emergency fund, investing in retirement accounts, and cultivating a taxable portfolio capable of generating passive income.

For those attuned to the Provider's Clock, obtaining a life insurance policy is indispensable. The extent of coverage required depends on the individual's circumstances, with a larger policy often deemed necessary to ensure peace of mind in the event of an untimely demise. Consider getting at least 3X your annual expenses as a death benefit amount.

One of your main goals as a parent is for your kids to live on completely fine once you are gone. To get affordable term life insurance, check out Policygenius. After inputting your needs, you'll get customized quotes to price compare in one place. It's way more efficient than applying to individual carriers one by one.

Everybody's Provider's Clock Size And Volume Are Different

“Have children and the money will come.” – Unknown

Men are inherently inclined to provide, but this inclination may not be equally pronounced in all individuals. Consequently, my three fundamental principles of fatherhood may not resonate with every man, as fathers are entitled to parent in the manner that suits them best.

This innate drive to provide can be traced back to evolution. The first phase involves the desire to have children, the easy part. While the second entails nurturing them into adulthood, the infinitely harder part.

The strength of one's Provider's Clock correlates with the likelihood of passing down one's lineage, as children raised with the necessary skills are better equipped to thrive independently.

For those who choose parenthood, recognizing that children did not choose to be born underscores our responsibility to provide for them until they can fend for themselves.

As soon as I realized the strength of a man’s desire to provide is predetermined by genetics, my negative view of able-bodied men who do not work or rely on their wives to provide dissipated.

We simply cannot help who we are just as we cannot change our hair color, height, or motivation engine. Therefore, we must accept and respect all people for who they are.

The Solution For Men Who Feel Unsettled

If you're a man feeling unsettled about not providing for your family while your wife works, consider re-entering the workforce, whether in a part-time or full-time capacity. While your wife is at work and your children are in school, utilize the downtime to explore job opportunities. Eventually, you'll regain a sense of fulfillment once you can generate income again.

If, for whatever reason, re-entering the workforce isn't an option, then create your own business. Not only is it rewarding to create something from nothing, you'll also work toward doing something meaningful for you and society.

If your family is ungodly rich, then consider creating a trust fund job that gives you a sense of purpose. It doesn't have to be immediately successful or profitable. The key is to take action to give your life meaning and a sense of responsibility for your children.

Alternatively, if you're comfortable with your wife being the primary breadwinner, more power to you. You've been able to conquer the innate desire for a man's desire to provide.

For Those Who Want To Retire Earlier

All great posts offer actionable advice. Therefore, for those aiming to retire early, consider finding a partner with a strong Provider's Clock.

To achieve this, take the time to understand their background and any childhood experiences that may have shaped their work ethic. Perhaps they grew up in poverty, worked challenging jobs while facing ridicule from peers, or endured the loss of a close friend in a tragic accident, spurring them to strive for success. Alternatively, they might have experienced neglect from their parents, fueling a determination to provide better for their own future family.

On the other hand, individuals who have led a privileged life without significant challenges may lack a strong Provider's Clock. Why exert effort when everything has been handed to them on a silver platter? Partnering with someone of this mindset could potentially increase the likelihood of needing to work harder and longer. However, it's important to note that not everyone fits neatly into these categories.

Reader Questions On A Provider's Clock

Do you believe every father has a Provider's Clock? If so, do you think the men who choose not to work despite having a family to support have quiet Provider's Clocks? Does every man's inherent need to provide explain why there is so much disdain for the FIRE movement, given it is mostly compromised of men? What are some other responsibilities of fathers?

If you're in the market for affordable life insurance, I highly recommend checking out Policygenius. With just a few details, you'll receive personalized quotes in minutes. My wife and I both utilized Policygenius to secure matching 20-year term policies amid the pandemic. With mortgage debt still on our plate, we find immense peace of mind knowing that if the worst were to happen prematurely, our young kids would be financially secure.

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25 thoughts on “A Provider’s Clock For Men Is Like A Biological Clock For Women”

  1. TLDR: My clock was very quiet until we had our first kid, got louder with the second and is now loud enough for me and my wife, lol.

    Great analogy, definitely true for me. After our first kid was born we sold our German cars, bought a Prius and Odyssey instead (helped that a car seat didn’t fit in the fun cars). Started educating myself wrt finances as I had zero knowledge and came from a family that didn’t talk about it. This really got us off to a great start of being on solid financial footing in just 10 years (started from $20k in the bank, no family money and both in the military); I suddenly viewed so much of life on my ability to provide for my family. We lived pretty frugally, rented out extra space in our house, sought out raises, invested consistently. My wife got an MBA when our oldest was 3 and has been able to earn more as a result, she’s a rockstar and has worked our whole marriage (15 years). 10 years later, college for the kids is paid for, we hit accredited investor status four years ago and I’ve been way more aggressive with my employment that provides for a better QOL for my family than I think I would’ve been without kids.

    I think because my “Provider Clock” is so loud and now that our finances plus my salary allow for it, my wife is suddenly wanting to throttle back with work to have more mental freedom for family life and space for more community involvement. Which I find humorous, as I was always the one talking about FIRE and she was the one wanting to work until she couldn’t. We are now switched. I’ll work until I’m 65+, but fully plan on taking a few leaves of absence for a few months each to hit some “retirement” wants while we’re young enough to enjoy them.

    My oldest is 10, youngest 4.

    P.S. I appreciate your transparency and willingness to put down actual numbers in your discussions. I realize some people are uncomfortable with it, but I’ve found it very helpful to know some exact figures, e.g. $300,000/yr being middle class in expensive city.

  2. Robert Greene

    Hi Sam.
    This was a great post as it brings the spotlight on some interesting situations.
    And in my opinion, there is no more important job than that of a parent, yet so many people bring children into this world that do not get this right. And believe me, I made my share of mistakes along the way.

    Here are my thoughts/answers to your questions-

    Do you believe every father has a Provider’s Clock? I think they should. When my son was born, and the Dr. put him in my arms for the first time, I had the thought that my life is not about me anymore. It became – it’s about achieving the goal of getting the role of father, that role that I chose to become, right.

    If so, do you think the men who choose not to work despite having a family to support have quiet Provider’s Clocks? Either a quiet Provider Clock, or there is something going on with them either physically or mentally. I would venture that the loudness of your clock can change over time, which is why it is important to have a strong life / work balance.

    Does every man’s inherent need to provide explain why there is so much disdain for the FIRE movement, given it is mostly compromised of men? This is where it gets deep, but you asked. I don’t think it is disdain for FIRE, I think that FIRE, in the purest since, goes against our very nature. As one of the respondents said, we are creators. It is in us, or we are hardwired, to create, to advance, to grow beyond our situation. Personally, I do not believe we are supposed to retire because to quit something that provides something good goes against the grain of being human. I think if we lose sight of our purpose, which is to serve in some capacity, these other issues set in.

    What are some other responsibilities of fathers?

    To show them, by the way you live and the example you set, how to be kind, compassionate, productive, generous, members of society.

    To not raise them to be entitled.

    Thanks Sam

    Robert G.

  3. Being a parent is a choice. Most people have kids out of cultural norms and ego but I am not sure many truly understand the choice they are making. That’s why there are many men (and women) being irresponsible with their children. The way I see it, being a parent is basically playing “God” where we get to create a new life. As a responsible and rational creator, I feel 100% responsible for the child’s emotional and financial well-being. And that responsibility doesn’t end at 18 with me, I feel responsible for this person because his birth was my choice, not his. Obviously, we all want our children to be self-sufficient and happy and that is what we should aim for as parents. Unfortunately, most people with kids don’t give it much thought. And I hope in the future, as society evolves, people will be required to have a license to have children (and pets). Maybe not too good for the economy but imagine the misery and abuse this simple requirement would save society.

  4. Personally, I am not sure about that Provider’s Clock. It is interesting to read your thoughts and theories about it, as you currently are in phase where you are extremely vested in all aspects of child rearing. From a strictly biological angle, I don’t think there is a male provider’s clock; it is more of a being a good, decent and responsible parent kind of thing. When I was in that phase of my life, I set up a college fund and, of course, made sure all financial issues were met. But I was really more concerned about what my child’s memories of childhood and upbringing would be. For we never know what we will remember — those few moments, words images or events — and the vast majority of things that as humans we will later never remember. We really have very little control of what will be remembered, but I tried to give my child as many good things to potentially remember as possible, and I think that’s all anyone can do. How it all turns out may take decades to find out.

  5. Sam,
    I think I thread the needle with you here “Fathers who claim to be financially independent but won’t allow their working wives to join them.”

    As a semi-FIRE male with a working spouse. I do think we are partially aligned. I don’t have the hubris to claim to be fully FIRE while my wife works since there has never been a stay at home mom to proclaim to be financially independent.

    It is possible that my providers clock is broken, or 10 years in San Francisco has broken me free of the usual societal norms in a way that you have managed to escape. Although I do think that perhaps that is the benefit of knowing how much “enough” is and that I feel like I have fulfilled my provider obligations, and if my partner still wants to work I don’t have any issues.

    1. Hi Andre – Do you not plan to go back to work anymore?

      One of the biggest tests is whether you’ll feel OK if she no longer works. And will she feel OK?

      Maybe her provider’s clock is very loud in her given you are no longer working. So that sounds, it would make sense that our providers’ clocks tech at different levels during different circumstances.

      1. I have seen Sam talk about men who don’t work and their wives continue to work, and this is the first time I’ve seen it here. I know my ex-BF did that, and it didn’t end too well. And then I let him do it again with me. I paid all expenses of a 4 BR house rental in Bethesda, MD for 3 years. And before that at other rental homes we stayed at, big enough to house 3 kids. Why, because he duped me into it, and through financial and emotional abuse as well as threatening to take half of my things through common-law, well… I didn’t know how to get out of it.

        Back to the question at hand. Are you SURE she is not resentful. I would be. Unless you seriously have the house sparkling and some great dinner when I get home. Bc my ex was a slob. Just checking on that. How many years have you been Semi-FIRE?

        1. You asking me or Andre? My wife has the luxury of not having a day job since 2015. But she does a ton of childcare, editing, book editing, and back end work for FS.

          If your question is for Andre, you have to click the other reply button and copy and paste your comment.

          My blogging friend Joe retired at 38 and had gotten his wife to work for the past 12 years. They only have one kid.

          He even guest posted on FS on how he did it.


          1. Thanks, Sam! You think I’d know how forums work after 20+ years of it.

            I was asking to Andre, and hoping that his wife doesn’t have secret resentment. And offering a tip to do a lot around the house. Bc I always was thinking, “Well, if I didn’t have to worry about house chores, then that would make the fact that I paid all the bills bearable.” But, I did have to worry about it. So, it was ALL wrong. Also, those were not my kids (though I liked them)

            1. Financial Samurai

              No worries. I think it’s too early for Andrew’s wife to be resentful. Maybe in three years. He just left Meta within the past year due to a layoff and most certainly has tried looking for new work and has worked on his letter. I plan to do a catchup podcast episode with him.

              You can listen to our conversation here on Apple. Please leave a review! Thanks.

  6. Hey Sam – I have some thoughts on your follow up email to this article about people that bother you:

    First off, you assert that “fatherhood is a choice” well, what if the woman claims to be on birth control or she pokes holes in the condom so she can get pregnant without the man consenting? Society assumes that all women are innately good, our “better half” if you will, but that is not always true. I personally know two guys that had this happen.

    Ok, now on to the people that bother you:

    “Fathers who leave their babies soon after birth for no good reason.” Agreed. Regardless of the situation, and innocent child NEEDS their father and you should do everything you can to help.

    “Fathers who claim to be financially independent but won’t allow their working wives to join them.” Um, isn’t this one obvious? The guy doesn’t like his wife but is too lazy, frustrated, burned out (pick one or all) to work it out and/or too cheap to get divorced. I saw a gallup survey once that showed only 10% of married people are “Happily Married” – 50% get divorced and 40% are unhappy. Those are shit odds but they pretty much match up to the couples I know so this one doesn’t surprise me.

    BTW, on the topic of improving romantic relationships, my girlfriend and I recently read “The Man’s Guide to Women” by John/Julie Gottman and we both highly recommend it. FI people obsess over 3.5% vs 4.0% withdrawal rates when many of them could be facing a 50% haircut and probably having to go back to work if they don’t improve their marriage.

    “The presence of able-bodied men still living with their parents 10+ years after high school or college.” Yeah, this is quite annoying. I’m GenX so my parents pretty much ignored me as I was growing up and I thought it was great! In comparison, so many parents these days worship their kids as Living Gods so it’s no wonder they prefer the nest to the real world where not everyone likes them and bosses expect them to do real work. That said, you don’t know the backstory and their could be some very legitimate reasons, mental illness for one, for why they won’t launch.

    “Rich parents who, despite not needing to work or work as hard, still dedicate countless hours to their jobs, even with young children.” These people just don’t like being parents so they use work as an excuse to avoid parenting. I agree it sucks but I would say when parents are being honest, only maybe 10% actually like it. There is SO MUCH PRESSURE to have kids that many people give into it and then are stuck for 18+ years. Hit up “bad mommy” on reddit, it’s both funny and sad.

    1. Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll have a read. Do you have children? It’s unclear. If so, how has your provider’s clock changed over time?

      Once I was reminded that genetics plays a big role in how much we desire to care for our children, my internal conflict went away.

      1. I do have kids, my daughter is 30, working full time and is going to grad school. She’s married (but soon to be divorced), and they have a daughter. My son is 27, got out of the military, finished his bachelors, and started his first job.

        My daughter is in Bozeman, son is Tucson and I am in Fayetteville Arkansas. I threatened to put them to work if they moved back home and that seems to have worked. :-). Now I really wish they would move to the same area so we could at least have Sunday dinners together.

        Both of them are in that early career, “reality sucks” phase of life but are taking positive steps to improve their lives. Finally. It’s been a bumpy road to say the least. Part of that is just me accepting that they have very different values and priorities than I do so their goals are very different than mine were at that age. I wish I would have learned this earlier, it would have saved a lot of senseless arguments that we are still healing from.

        1. “I threatened to put them to work if they moved back home and that seems to have worked. :-). Now I really wish they would move to the same area so we could at least have Sunday dinners together.”

          Hah! I feel you on this. Go on kids, be independent, but actually, I’m gonna miss y’all a lot.

          Thanks for the tip on trying to except their values and interests, and to not force mine on them too much. But of course, we always think we know Best right?

  7. My wife and I have a blended family, where each of us was previously divorced with two children, so a total of four between us. As a child, each of us (meaning my wife and I) grew up just above the poverty line, so had it fairly difficult. Seeing our parents struggle with which bills to pay first and how to stretch $20 for food for the week – yes, $20 for the WEEK, (I am 60 and my wife 58 just for reference)I believe ingrained in our DNA a sense of resourcefulness and responsibility not to overextended ourselves financially. My wife strongly encouraged her children to study hard and expected them to persue at least a 4 year degree. They both did and now in their early 30’s are each fairly successful business owners and more than capable of supporting themselves and their own children.
    My 2 children did not attend college, although I wanted them to, so I fully expected them to get full time jobs and pay a significant amount of rent to their Mother(whom they live with) in addition to paying their own car insurance and cell phone costs. I also forbid them from taking out a loan to buy a car. They paid cash for relatively inexpensive used cars and pay for any maintenance or required repairs as well. Myself and my wife both worked manual labor jobs to support our families when the kids were younger and getting divorced certainly didn’t make it any easier on us. So either way we were determined to encourage our grown children to seek out higher education and /or buy necessities with cash to keep them from getting stuck behind the financial eight-ball. All this to say that DNA does, in fact, play a significant role in how someone runs their lives, financially or otherwise. We believe education is NEVER a bad thing no matter where life ultimately leads one.

    1. Thanks for sharing. Yes, I believe education will set us all free.

      The importance of financial education is what keeps me writing consistently since 2009. It’s important to share our experiences and our knowledge to help others make better choices. There are so many boobytraps and landmines on the road to financial freedom. Why not sure some of them to help protect other people?

  8. That may explain why a lot of guys are burnout by this analogy. I think whoever has the stronger provider’s instinct could provide for the family, and as long as the family is happy, then who cares. Why couldn’t able-bodied men or women just enjoy themselves without proving “they are worthwhile to the society”, especially if they don’t harm others or do illegal things? What is wrong with a man or a woman living a simple life at home doing whatever while the partner who enjoys going out to work to work, if they already amass a big nest egg? Of course no money is enough, 1 million dollars, 2 million, 10 million, 1 billion, etc. We don’t need to worry about food, shelter, etc. and why are we so anxious about preparing for the future society that we couldn’t even predict?

    1. This analogy was just created. So it’s too earlier to get burned out by it. But for fathers and mothers who feel the need to provide financially and provide a lot of childcare, it is exhausting. But the exhaustion isn’t forever since kids become adults.

      Does your husband have a loud or quiet Provider’s Clock? I’d love hear more from working women with stay at home dads if that’s you. Thanks!

      1. Yup that’s me. My partner is burned out from provider instinct from 20s to mid-30s, the constant saving, maximizing money-making over personal health, anxiety of the future, etc. Provider instinct would really hurt people with an insecure childhood if not managed properly. For people with secured and happy childhood, that pressure is less likely to bear them down. So now in our forties, a paid off house in a nice neighborhood/good school district, nest egg over 1 million and I am still working pulling in 6-figure salary and have no intent of stopping unless it becomes unbearable. Yes the outsiders would think low of my partner who checks out of the traditional path, but hey his early hard work has earned this privilege. The lesson learned here is FIRE could be achieved in a more sustainable way without total burnout (if I have to do it all over again). And if you get to FIRE (even with partner support), just enjoy it as much as you could with things you find meaningful and enjoyable and don’t let the internal/external judgements drag you down. By the way, I enjoyed reading your book/blogs and echo some of your sentiments for the next generation (typical Asian right:), me Asian too). However, I also recognize that the parental sentiment to create a path as smooth as possible for our kids sometimes would suffocate a child’s ability to figure things out themselves and finding their own happiness.

        1. Financial Samurai

          Thanks for sharing. Your husband is lucky to have you then as it sounds like you have a loud Provider’s Clock.

          What do you think has driven you to work for longer as your husband takes it easier or easy? Do you think it’s genetic or based on seeing him burn out that you feel you need to work more?

          Btw, if you mind leaving a review of Buy This Not That on Amazon, I’d appreciate it. Thanks for reading.

  9. Great article. I often felt that one important measure of man is how he provides for his offspring in terms of commitment. The more serious you are about this, the better off your kids will be. Unfortunately, I met a lot of guys who feel if you like a woman put “a bun in the oven” and let the others pay the bills. That statement has impacted members of my family both ways with the kids being worse off. This lifestyle choice negatively impacts society as well. I just more members of my gender took this job seriously.

    1. Financial Samurai

      Yes, stay committed until their children at least reach adulthood. 18 years is both long and short.

  10. Great analogy, and so true! Some men simply aren’t biologically hardwired to provide as much as others. This is why you see some men leave their wives after they have a baby. This is why you see some men have multiple babies with multiple wives and then fail to provide child support.

    I know we live in modern society where women are more educated, and are earning more than men nowadays in many instances. But that doesn’t change biology.

    It really is about evolution and survival of the fittest. And I am surprised some others would put up with having a man not contribute significantly to the household. If I am a mother, who has to take care of my kid and earn money, you better believe I will demand my husband also work as hard.

  11. Your creativity never ceases to amaze me Sam. I’ve never heard of a provider’s clock concept before nor seen someone do a provider’s vs a biological clock analysis, but I can relate to what you’re getting at here. Personally, I’ve felt both to some degree. We also had children late, as did most of my friends and many people in my network. Having seen so many of them want kids but experience biological delays we started to experience anxiety around this too before becoming parents.

    We also wanted to hit certain career and financial milestones before diving into parenthood. In hindsight perhaps we were too stringent about it all, but we did what felt right to us at the time. I won’t lie – balance is very hard these days. I struggle with working enough to provide and contribute while also wanting to spend enough time with my kids, keeping up with our home, and trying to find or guiltily force in any spare moments for myself. Bottom line, I know when I’m 70+ I won’t look back and wish I worked more. I will wish I had more time back to be with my kids when they were young and wish I stressed LESS.

    As much as I want my kids to spend a lot of time with me throughout the rest of their childhood and into their adulthood, realistically I have to expect they will grow up and have their own lives with less and less time for me. I will do everything I can to stay involved with them, but now is when I have the most opportunities to do so. It’s a juggling act with work stress, life stress, home stress, etc. But I’m making a good effort to do what I need to for work during the time I have allocated for it, push work out when the kids are home/awake, and minimizing any complaining.

    Ultimately, complaining doesn’t help at all it just sucks up valuable time. I’ve made peace with my current circumstances and know everything I’m dealing with now is really all just temporary. Gotta get the work done upfront each day – I’m just aiming to hit expectations and not worry about going above/beyond – and close the work door when it’s time for everything else.

    As for other people who are or are not working – I don’t really get bothered by what other people are or are not doing. I think this is largely because I’m simply in my own head a lot and am too preoccupied with my own challenges and to-do’s that I simply don’t put much time/thought into other people’s providers or biological clock situations. I have enough to deal with of my own so it doesn’t bother me how other people handle or don’t handle providing for their kids.

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