Gustavo – A Portrait of Worry - Childfree Wealth

Sep 27 / Jay Zigmont, PhD, CFP®

27, Single, Male, Texas
Master’s in Architecture
Drafter and Clerical Support

This portrait is one of 26 real life stories presented in the book, 
Portraits of Childfree Wealth. You can download a free copy here.

Gustavo is 27, single, and living with his parents. He has a Master’s degree in architecture, but for now, he is just gaining experience doing drafting and clerical support and working his way up. He wants to live on his own but is worried about his job not paying enough and the impact on his family. He wants more from his life, but is concerned about the steps it will take to get there. He would love to run his own company, but that can be scary. He followed many of the “normal” steps, but isn’t where he wants to be:
“I went through the typical path. Everyone tells you to go to college. I went for six years to get my Master’s of architecture. I was used to succeeding all the time. I was the type of person where I’m used to succeeding academically. But the problem with me looking back is that I was always a full‑time student my whole life. I never got exposure to the real world after graduating from college. That’s when I started to struggle for the first time. I had to accept the fact that I could not achieve anything. I cannot get everything that I want.

When I graduated, I had six months before I had to pay student loans. I needed to get a job somewhere. I applied to a few architecture firms, but I didn’t get anything back. I got one interview with a recruiter. But it did not go anywhere because I did not have experience. Things are not just handed to you. Like nothing. I’ve already learned that. So after four months of searching, I started to look for something else that’s not related to architecture. I had to find something to begin paying off student loans.”
Gustavo worked in tech support for a while, which helped him learn personal skills and pay off his student loans. It wasn’t what he wanted or his original plan, but it worked.

So why did Gustavo decide to be Childfree?:
“Looking back at my past, I’ve always been one of those kids who put focus on school. My main focus was on college. People asked me if I wanted to have kids or not. I was more focused on my school, so I never questioned it. Later, I came across two videos that helped. It started with one particular video from Australia’s Insight [a current affairs television program]. The topic was being childfree. The host interviewed all these different people about their experiences of if they don’t want kids, or they want kids and all these different stories. I was just blown away by hearing all these people’s different insights. That was my first exposure to hearing that it is an option you can choose. Then later, I came across other channels. In particular, I’ve seen Hannah from Wife Without Kids.

So I guess to sum it up, the reason I don’t want kids is I guess the financial one is a big one for me. The second one is the freedom that I have. I don’t have to worry about having kids. I can just relax. I can take a breath after working, and I can focus on finding ways to be able to move on and to make progress towards being more financially stable. I hear all these different stories from people who struggle financially. I don’t know how they do it, and I don’t want to go through something like that at all. And also, another reason is just; I’ve never desired fatherhood. I never desired to be a parent. I don’t desire that typical life that people tell you to do.”
Gustavo’s experiences are typical. He followed the standard LifeScript™ and went to college and planned on getting that great job out of college. That did not happen as expected. He made the best of it and worked hard to get out of student loans. Like many others, he did not initially realize that it was a choice when it came to having kids. Having kids is just another part of the LifeScript™ that is expected. Luckily, he took the time to reflect and learn what made sense for him.

What does Gustavo see as the biggest benefit of being Childfree?:
“I’ve got time for myself. I guess the freedom part of it. I can focus on more important things in my life. I’m learning when I’m not working my full-time job. I’m working on proving my skills until I find a better job.”
Does he have any regrets about his choice to be Childfree?:
“I don’t think twice about it. I like the life that I have, even though it’s not the best, I know I have it better than most people. People are struggling with kids. Even people who don’t have kids are struggling. Sometimes I forget to be grateful for what I have. So many people I know wish they were in a position where I’m at.”
So what does Gustavo want from his life at this point?:
“I guess I want to be my own boss to be able to just build digital content for clients. I want to make enough for myself and to not rely on anybody anymore, especially from the struggle of finding a job. So I want to work where I am my own boss. I want to be able to just work on my laptop. As long as I have internet and my computer, I want to be able to do my work. I just want to take my computer anywhere I want to go. In other words, I want to be able to travel and just not be tied down and stuck in one place.”
Gustavo is debt-free and has an emergency fund. What is holding him back from following his dreams? What does he need to do now?:
“I guess, more than anything, I just need to enjoy life a little bit more and not take my life so seriously. I always feel like I’m just stuck or financially not in the best situation. That’s why work crosses my mind so many times. When I’m not working on the working, I’m focusing on working on my way to find a better position where I make enough money for me to live. But at the same time, I need to enjoy life as well. Sometimes I just go to restaurants by myself, which I enjoy. Even going to some parties and just walking around and being somewhere where there’s nature helps a lot. But even then, the social part is tricky because everybody doesn’t have time as they used to. It’s not like college or high school, where you always have to see everybody. Now everything is different. I feel like everybody’s growing up way too fast.”
Overall, Gustavo wants to start enjoying his life. So was there a time when he truly enjoyed his life or is this just the start of it?:
“There were moments that I enjoyed. For example, I got the opportunity to study abroad in Italy. That completely changed my view on so many things. I never felt so happy in my life. Experiencing a different culture, different norms, seeing all these different cities and places, and seeing a whole different world. I even got to travel and visit other countries such as Spain, Germany, the Vatican, and San Marino. I saw all these different places and got to embrace a whole different culture, different world, a whole different lifestyle.

They’re not materialistic. They’re not luxurious, but I was very happy with the life I was living. I was very happy. I had no stress. I felt free and liberated. And I felt the sense of community because it’s very communal. It’s not like you’re in the States where everything is all divided.”
If Gustavo was so happy living in a different world, outside the U.S., why doesn’t he move?:
“Well, there are so many different factors. One of them is my parents are an issue. I mean, they’re not an issue, and I love them dearly. The real issue between them is that they are kind of breaking apart. There’s gonna be a time when they’re not going to live together. It’s going to affect everything. On the financial part, I have to take care of my mother, of course. She’s the one who will be, if it does happen, who’s going to be living with me. If it does happen, I will lose the financial stability that I have right now. If my parents end up separating, things are going to be different. It doesn’t affect how they love me.

It’s just going to change everything. I guess, financially, it will affect a lot of things. And I feel like all the parts are going to be on me. I want to move, to be able to help myself and then help my parents out as well because they’re good right now but they’re just like back and forth. I’m not involved in their drama, but it is gonna affect me as well as an adult child.”
Is Gustavo’s mom expecting him to take care of her, or is he doing this because it is what he thinks she needs?:
“The second part, I think it is what she needs. She’s at retirement age. If she is going to be on her own, she needs support. I mean, it’s, it’s complicated for me. The whole thing, the whole drama with my parents, is just what’s preventing me from growing because I don’t know what’s going to happen. And sometimes divorces can be messy. I’ve been told you cannot prepare for what might happen. And that concerns me because when it does happen, everything will be different. My financials are going to be different as well. I feel like that’s what is preventing me from growing. Yeah. It’s, it’s complicated. I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m overthinking it too much or not.”
Gustavo probably is overthinking things. As the classic saying goes, “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” He is already paying for what might (or might not) happen in the future. Like many Childfree individuals, he has taken on supporting his mother. It is why he hasn’t moved out and why he isn’t taking a chance to start his own company. He fears what will happen financially, even though it might not ever happen. I asked him why all of this falls onto his shoulders:
“Well, I mean, how I picture it is as if it was just my mother and me, and she’s retired. She has her Social Security, but that’s hers. As for me, I have to make enough income to just live on my own. Ideally, I just want to live by myself and not deal with anybody.”
Worrying about things that might happen might just be part of Gustavo’s nature:
“I am the person who overthinks things. It’s just like, I think about all the scenarios before they happen. I think it’s just the fears. I just do not want to be in a situation where I’m just stuck. I’m having to worry so much about how just to survive and live.”

About the Author - Jay Zigmont, PhD, CFP® is the Founder of Childfree Wealth, a life and financial planning firm dedicated to helping Childfree and Permanently Childless people. Dr Jay is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Childfree Wealth Specialist, and author of the book “Portraits of Childfree Wealth.” His Ph.D. is in Adult Learning from the University of Connecticut.