Having Absurd Dreams Are OK Because Sometimes They Come True

In one of my recent newsletters, I supposedly wrote something absurd. It didn't occur to me I was being absurd until a reader called me out. Read for yourself the introduction before I got into stocks, the economy, and more.

Happy Father's Day to those of you who are fathers and still have fathers. And for those whose fathers have passed, let us remember the good times we had with them.

My parents, sister, and niece are in town for the week so I'll be busy spending lots of time with them. Too bad they live in Hawaii and New York and I'm in California.

When my kids grow up, I plan to at least be in the same time zone as them. It doesn't make sense that 80% – 90% of the time we spend with our parents is over after we turn 19.

One of the things that bummed me out the most about COVID was being separated from family for too long. Given my parents are in their mid-70s, I feel the time crunch more acutely. I want to see them as much as possible.

I regret not relocating to Hawaii before COVID. I had been looking intently at homes since 2015. If we had moved earlier, we would have been able to spend more time with my parents in Hawaii. Living in Hawaii after they shut down incoming flights for a year would have been sweet.

But it's hard to uproot a family. We've got our doctors, friends, and schools. Unfortunately, my parents aren't willing to relocate to San Francisco because they are used to their environment as well.

Due to my inaction, I am determined to make it easier for our children to spend more time with us by relocating closer to where they live. They don't have to spend time with us, but I'd like to give them the option if they wish.

A Reader's Response To My Plan To Spend More Time With My Adult Kids

I didn't think too deeply about the third paragraph I wrote in my newsletter until I got this response from a reader.

Happy Father’s Day!

I mostly enjoy your newsletters. Why only mostly? Because sometimes you write things that are absurd. You plan to live in the same time zone as your children? What if one moves to NY and one moves to Hawaii? You’ll either need to maintain homes in each location and travel back and forth frequently or choose one.  

Your children are young. Just like you couldn’t have imagined life as it is today before you had children, it’s nearly impossible to predict how it will change when they are adults. 

Life has a way of tossing surprises in your path. And while money can help you navigate, it doesn’t fix everything.  Trust me.  

To your good health!


It's OK To Have Absurd Dreams

I admit that I'm an absurd person, but I think it's more fun that way. Why do we always have to think and do things based on societal norms? Sometimes being absurd works out!

For example, if I followed the standard protocol of giving my manager two-weeks notice before quitting, I wouldn't have received a severance package.

If I didn't receive a severance package, I wouldn't have traveled to 20 new countries between 2012 – 2016. Visiting St. Petersburg, Russia now feels even more special because it looks like we won't be able to go back for a while.

Nor would I have checked off a lot of bucket list items like watching Roger Federer on Center Court at Wimbledon. That was an incredible experience while chowing down on strawberries and cream.

An Absurd Book

I also wouldn't have written a book that teaches people how to negotiate a severance. Before 2012, many people believed the idea of negotiating a severance was absurd. But I did it to the tune of a multiple six-figure package and so have thousands of others since.

I actually think people quitting their jobs after years of service with nothing is absurd! But out of ignorance or fear, millions of people do just that. Hopefully, the idea of fighting for your rights and benefits as employees becomes more commonplace over time.

Although I shared my regrets about not taking the money when a competing firm gave me a sweet offer, I was still able to leave work behind at 34. In retrospect, walking away from a steady paycheck so young was also absurd.

More Flexibility In Retirement

I don't see living in the same time zone as my children as a big challenge. Why? Because I thought about actually living on the same street in the same city as my adult children! Bwahaha!

If one child lives in a different city or country, then of course I'm going to rent or own a second home where they live. What a great way to diversify the real estate portfolio!

And if they relocate for another job opportunity, then I'll be relocating too. What a blessing to have more opportunities to see our country or the world. And of course, buy more real estate.

Flying back and forth between two children is not a problem since we will have the freedom to do so.

Like Kathy Bates in Misery, I will be their biggest fans!

Home is where the family is.

After spending 18 years raising my children, it's going to feel weird not seeing them every day once they leave the nest. So I think it's a fair compromise to at least see them once a month by living in the same time zone.

As retirees with excess passive income once the kids are independent adults, it's going to be easy to move around the country or the world with them. My wife and I will treat real retirement life as one great adventure!

Just like how I chose to save and invest more aggressively, I will choose to live closer to our children when the time comes. They might not like it initially, but they will grow to appreciate the time we spend together.

I refuse to believe 80% – 90% of our time with our children will be over once they turn 19. Therefore, I will not let this statistic happen to us.

But let me check with my wife first about my plan. She may not be on board and think I'm nuts!

80% to 90% of our time with our parents or children is over once they turn 19, so I have an absurd dream of not making this statistic a reality for my family

Don't Be Afraid Of Being Absurd

Society is an artificial construct.

For example, we have Originalists who still believe everything written in the Constitution should be followed to the letter today, despite it being written on September 17, 1787 by slave-owning aristocrats!

Maybe I'm just weird because I like to write, paint, and play guitar during my free time. Being more creative makes you naturally question the purpose of always drawing within the lines. It's more exciting to do your own thing.

Sure, there are benefits to conforming and assimilating. Conforming and assimilating will help you get promoted and paid quicker. You'll also be able to have more friends, which means you're less likely be lonely.

However, there's nothing wrong with having absurd plans or thinking in absurd ways. So many things that are common today were once considered absurd in the past.

Typing on a iPhone with no buttons? Absurd! My Blackberry will do just fine thank you very much.

I know money can't fix everything. It's why some people with money still aren't happy. However, I won't stop going for the things I want, no matter how absurd they might sound.

If I arrive at a disappointing outcome, due to a blind spot or something else, I'll change my plans accordingly. Trial and error is what makes life more interesting.

Other Absurd Things That I Did Not Expect

  • Got into my favorite state college despite getting into trouble in high school
  • Got a job at a major investment bank despite coming from a non-target public college
  • Reached 5.0 in USTA, a top 1% level dominated by ex-college players when all I played was HS tennis
  • Wrote a Wall Street Journal Bestseller after not being able to even get an agent in 2012
  • Kept Financial Samurai going for 14 years in a row and counting

You just never know until you try or keep trying. Please free yourself of society's shackles. If you do, you'll discover new adventures you never thought possible!

Reader Questions and Suggestions

What are some absurd things you thought about that ended up happening? Why is it so difficult for some people to think outside of the box? What are the challenges or downsides of relocating closer to your adult children to spend more time with them?

Pick up a copy of How To Engineer Your Layoff. It will teach you how to negotiate a severance package so you can spend more time with your children or do what you want. Use the code “saveten” at checkout to save $10.

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Join 60,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter and posts via e-mail. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. 

About The Author

37 thoughts on “Having Absurd Dreams Are OK Because Sometimes They Come True”

  1. Most adults do not wish that their parents and parents in law relocate in order to live close. Instead they wish that their parents and parents in law retain their support systems and hobbies and a life of their own (as long as they are still in good health). Of course not everyone is similar so it may be that your children and children in law will appreciate you relocating to be closer to you.

  2. Bay area grunt

    Several generations living together used to be the NORM. The absurd thing is the way we live now. It’s also absurd that we only get a day or two bereavement from work when a member of our immediate family dies. A year of morning used to be the NORM.

    When my tech employer was doing layoffs in 2002, I asked to be laid off too when I heard about the severance package. I had no plan except I had arranged a job as a ranch hand in Half Moon Bay in exchange for room and board for me and my horse. I stayed there 18 months. I think it added 10 years to my life.

    After that I got another job which was literally magical, but all that is the subject of a memoir you’ll have to buy my book lol.

    I always said I would never be able to get a job in tech again because I was out too long. But now I have a semi-tech job and and pretty much getting back into tech again at the end of my career.

    Absurd and magical things will happen to you. You just have to allow them to happen.

  3. Sam, your plan to be in the same time zone as your kids isn’t absurd at all! I have a similar plan. I even plan to be in the same city as my only son. When he goes to college, I’ll get a place in the same city but I won’t make him live with me. But that’s if he goes to college! Who knows, in 9 years, maybe college will be standard via remote lessons. My son is 9 now.

  4. I don’t find your dream absurd at all. I too always wanted to move close to where my daughter ends up. In reality it probably won’t happen. First, she’s turning into a very independent woman. She can handle visit’s about every other month but after 3 days she’s ready for me to leave. I get it. I definitely interrupt her routine. Second, as I get older I realize how hard it would be to replicate my social circle. Im very blessed with the friends I have and the older I get the more valuable it is to me. The big caveat is if she ever has kids. In that case she won’t ever get me to leave!!

    1. Haha, yes! I hope you are blessed with grandchildren and never leave them.

      Really good perspective on it being difficult moving away from your old networking friends. Then I totally get how a parent can be disruptive after three days. We are all set in our ways. Parents can’t help but still tell their adult children what to do in their house.

      Do we really all just end up turning into our parents?

  5. I don’t think your dream is absurd. My uncle and aunt had all of their adult children (as well as my grandmother and another aunt) living within walking distance of their house for many years. My parents live about one or two miles from my sister and my brother-in-law, while I’m less than an hour drive from them, and my brother is three hours away. These things are possible, though I think it helps to live in a rural area where land is cheap, and where people feel a strong tie to the place where they grew up. For example, in the case of my aunt and uncle, they and their children all live on what was originally my grandparents’ farm.

    Regarding the point about the Constitution, I don’t see how it’s absurd to follow the Constitution and what it meant at the time it was written. A constitutional form of government only works if you actually follow the constitution that established the government, and of course there is an amendment process for when changes are needed. Whether the people who wrote the Constitution were slaveholders is beside the point (in reality, many of them were opposed to slavery), and of course the Constitution has since been amended to abolish slavery.

  6. Great post. I’m a strong advocate for disregarding societal norms whenever they don’t make sense. I find myself often falling into what I call the 3% category. I say that because I found myself Googling to see if any other folks were like myself, and it kept turning up 3-5% statistics.

    We have opted to homeschool our two children, in part because of how quickly those 19 years will pass as it is. These are prime money-making years (mid 30s) for my wife and I but we’ve instead chosen to slow down and cherish these years. I’ve come to view money as a game, and I feel there will always be enough of it. But I know that time is something I’ll never get back, and thus I’ve prioritized it above all else.

    Besides, if I don’t invest my time and effort into the beautiful relationship I have with my sons, then I certainly can’t expect to have any return on that investment after they move out in the form of spending time with them. In other words, no Cat’s in the Cradle relationship.

    1. Good for you, Mike. I’ve always wanted to homeschool, but we were only able to make it work for one year during Covid, when there wasn’t a great alternative for in-person schooling. I think you’re doing the right thing, and I applaud you for prioritizing spending time with your children.

    2. Great attitude, Mike. There’s always a trade-off between spending time, making money and spending time with your children. I struggle with us as well because I wanna do so many things.

      But I don’t think will ever regret the time we spend with our children. I hope the investment we making them will be rewarding with them, wanting to spend more time with us as adults.

  7. It’s perfectly fine to let our imagination soar and dream the impossible, we must also recognize the importance of planning, hard work, and persistence. Dreams alone do not guarantee success; they serve as the spark, but we must fuel the fire with our actions and dedication.

    So, embrace those absurd dreams, nurture them with passion and determination, and never let anyone discourage you from pursuing them.

  8. I think your goal is realistic. You’re wealthy enough to have 2 homes. Do your children want you to live that close, though? They probably want to live their own lives without their parents looking over their shoulders all the time.
    I don’t get along too well with my dad so it’s hard to spend a lot of time with him. A few days per year is more than enough.

    1. Only time will tell! One time zone is huge. They could live in Los Angeles and I could like in Portland. That’s more than enough distance for independence and privacy. But at least the time zones are synched so we can chat/video call more easily.

      It’s harder to coordinate with my parents 2-3 hours behind in Hawaii and my sister 3 hours ahead in NYC. So the communication frequency declines.

  9. Though I appreciate your intent here, you’re going to want to make sure you and your kids are on the same page when the time comes. I love my parents very much, but I can say without question I would feel smothered if they tried following me from job to job or wanted to fly to see me once a month. I would resist and actively try to keep more distance. Healthy relationships between parents and adult children are very much a two-way street, guided by the preferences of both parties, and I hope you keep that in mind.

    1. For sure. Same area code seems reasonable. Did your parents smother you when you became an adult? If so, what were some of the things they did that annoyed you / were negatives?


    2. What did your parents do to you to not want to see them once a month? They spend 18 years raising you. I would think that once a month would be no big deal. Thanks

    3. This is something that people need to very seriously consider before having children, but I don’t think the large majority of people think nearly that far down the road. This is why having children in today’s world probably only makes sense if you are financially wealthy since the chances of children sticking around when you are old are continuing to dwindle.

  10. The key is to accept absurdity and not conformity. My family thought I was absurd for leaving my small town in Mass to attend undergrad in Colorado. They thought I was even more absurd for studying abroad in Australia. The absurdity continued after graduating college when I lived in a tent for 6 months in the jungle of Panama conducting research on endangered species of monkeys. Bananas Absurd! They down right thought I lost my marbles when I spent 2.5 years backpacking around Central and South America as well as SE Asia during my 20’s. After completing med school I had an absurd idea to practice in Hawaii right out of school. The absurdity has never left me and I feel I have lived a much richer life than those who criticized my actions. To come full circle to your point with the prior commeter, my most recent absurdity was investing in real estate in Colorado. Now my children will all have a nice home to live in within a block of each other when they are adults if they so choose. I can only hope that my absurd idea of tethering my children so they live close to me when they are adults comes to fruition. More absurd things have happened. Be absurd.

    PS. Everytime I have criticized something as being absurd it has backfired on me in spectacular fashion. Google: “who needs another search engine when you have internet explorer? Absurd!” Amazon: “who wouldn’t want to go to the mall and buy stuff? Absurd!” Facebook: “who wants to look at pictures of meals your friends just ate? Absurd!” I think you get the point. Don’t ask me for stock picking tips.

    1. To CMAC, love the absurd but be prepared for you kids to embrace it and not live near you.

  11. Engineer By Day

    I think you misunderstand Originalists. The idea is that the Constitution should be interpreted as the people who wrote it meant it to be interpreted. If times change and the ideas in the Constitution no longer apply, we should amend the Constitution to something that makes sense today (as we did on slavery and Women’s Suffrage).

    What Originalists don’t want is for the Courts to “interpret” a law as whatever they would like it to be rather than what it meant when it was written. If that becomes the case, then there is little point in having a written set of rules at all, since the laws can just be reinterpreted to mean whatever the Courts want them to mean and not what the law meant when it was written.

    If the court can reinterpret a law as something other than what was originally meant, they are effectively abolishing the original law and making a new law, which should be the responsibility of Congress.

    1. “What Originalists don’t want is for the Courts to “interpret” a law as whatever they would like it to be rather than what it meant when it was written.”

      Yes I agree, b/c then interpretation will go off the rails. However, there needs to be more amendments as times have changed.

  12. Stay absurd….dream it and do it and be flexible. I’ve got 4 kids entering the high school years, am winding down a 20+ year career in the military, we own a SFH in Nashville close to family (rented out) and a duplex in nashville that we both rent out and keep for long visits. We also spend time living in an RV In California where my work is…. Looking at a multi family in colorado. If they all split to the 4 corners of the US – we’ll visit them all in our fifth wheel as an insurance policy. Though your critic did call out the absurdity of modeling anything beyond a year or so, it’s absurd not engineer some wonderful models to attempt to preserve that time with family. Good luck

    1. Love it Greg! Plan for the future, stay consistent, and have those insurance policies and options. If you don’t need them, then great! If you do, then great.

      Thinking and planning is free. So why not think and plan?

  13. Not sure why the commenter thinks it’s absurd for you to try to live closer to your adult children once they get jobs. I think it’s smart and logical.

    It’s sad that children leave home, go off on their own, and sort of forget about their parents. Maybe initially, parents are relieve their duty as parents is over. But as parents age, most long to be in their children’s lives, especially if they are blessed with grandchildren.

    Family is everything. Like everything, building good family relationships takes effort. And part of that effort is seeing your family more often.

    I think the commenter must have some difficulties in her family life to say that your goal of living in the same time zone is absurd. I can see it in her words that she is frustrated she doesn’t have a stronger relationships with at least one of her children.

    1. Yes, the commenter followed up mentioned she has some family issues. However, we all do.

      And yes, of course things are not going to go according to plan. But we can view new twists and turns as a fun challenge to improve or with acceptance.

      I don’t accept being ok with only spending 10-20% of time left with my kids once they turn 19. I refuse to accept this, therefore, I will change.

  14. I don’t think it’s an absurd goal at all. This lady is speaking from something in her personal life that doesn’t necessarily apply to yours. Of course you want to avoid subtly manipulating your children or pressuring them to stay close to home if that’s not what’s best for them.

    1. I think so. I received a follow up email from the commenter explaining some issues with her son.

      I definitely don’t want to hold my children back from pursuing opportunities wherever they are in the world.

      Given we have the flexibility to travel I figured why not explore with them or at least in the same direction.

      Why be apart from the people that matter the most.

      1. Sam, as many a 1st generation immigrants will say, we moved to a different continent, thousands of miles away from family, and are flourishing, while nurturing out family ties.

  15. Yes many things that seem absurd turn out to be very innovative and even profitable.

    I find self driving cars absurd when I see them driving around everywhere with nobody inside. But the technology is actually super incredible and very promising for further safety in the future.

  16. If you’re wise, you will listen to my story and take it to heart. I had a very close relationship with my son. He left for college across the country and left all of his support system back home. A female covert narcissist got her hooks into him and got pregnant. She has done everything she can to isolate him from his family and she’s been very successful at it. I could count the number of times I’ve seen my grandchildren on one hand. My oldest grandchild is now 17

    It’s going on three years since I’ve seen my son. He’s absolutely clueless. What is going on and does this to keep the peace at home. The selection of a spouse is among the most important decisions you will ever make in your life. Be sure, and educate your children about the signs of a narcissist, and particularly a covert narcissist. You will save them and yourself in a lot of pain .

    I too had planned on spending a lot of time with my son and grandchildren. We have the economic resources to do that but regrettably it will not be allowed. The situation is far more prevalent than is recognized.

    I hope everybody reading this or take the time to educate themselves so that they can teach their children what to watch out for. My best to all of you.

    1. Retired Agent

      I am so sorry for the pain that you are experiencing. My only suggestion is to keep your door open for your son and his family. You just never know when things could change. My wife and I are so blessed.
      We have one child age forty-two with a great son-in-law and two grandchildren. They live an hour from us which is perfect. Our children are seventeen and fifteen and still like to come and stay a few days with us. Just yesterday (Father’s Day) our daughter and family drove down to visit. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and wished me a Happy Father’s Day. Her actions mean the world to me. Again, we know that we are blessed.

    2. Sorry to hear about your son. Hopefully he is happy or somewhat happy with his wife and son though? I’m not sure what I’d do if this happened to me. Love and infatuation are hard to beat. I think I’d just try to get along and accept and encourage their life. B/c that would at least get me to see him and my grandchild.

    3. I feel terrible for you being in that situation, but I feel bad for your son as well. I have good relationships with my wife and with my parents, but there have been a few times when I’ve felt torn between being loyal to my wife and being fair to my parents. It’s a difficult position to be in, because I believe that a man must be more loyal to his wife than to anyone else, but at the same time, he shouldn’t let loyalty to his wife lead him to treating other people badly.

      I wish I had good advice for you. The best I can say is to make sure that you send cards to your grandchildren every year throughout the year (birthdays, holidays, etc.), and send gifts for special occasions like birthdays or Christmas. Based on what you’ve said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the mom hides these cards and gifts, or even returns them to you. But you can continue sending cards once your grandchildren reach adulthood (you mentioned that one is 17 already), when their mom doesn’t have as good a chance to block them. Then maybe at some point they will realize they have grandparents who love them, and they’ll want to have a relationship with you. (If you are a man of faith, then you can pray for your son and his family as well, and you can let the grandchildren know that you pray for them daily.)

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