Photo by Benjamin DeYoung on Unsplash

Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) 

FIRE, Financial independence, retire early is a movement dedicated to a movement of extreme savers and investors. It allows people who follow to retire far earlier than traditional budgets and retirement plans would allow. 

They usually aim to save 50%+ of their income. Those taking the movement a little more seriously usually get to 70-90% of their total income. After a while, they can live solely off withdrawals from an investment portfolio, where most of their savings go.  

They can retire much earlier than the average person because they live frugally. Usually being able to retire within 20–30 years, depending on how much they decide to put away from their income into investing/ saving. 

What to invest in. 

 It is difficult to say a group of people do this or invest in that, but from my research, I found that people in the movement usually choose index funds. 

If you listen to anything I have to say or listen to me at all, it’s a good idea to do this. If you have some extra time, I would also suggest ETF and stocks only if you have time to do research.


Pros 

The movement teaches people about saving and to start thinking about retirement. The number of people who I talk to about money doesn’t seem to have long term plans. I am a teenager so that might play a factor, but there are a load of people out there who don’t think or plan for retirement.

Don’t simply retire from something; have something to retire to.

Harry Emerson.

After all, it’s not going to look after itself.  

The average person doesn’t have £/$1,000 in savings. This scares even me, and I’m not in that bracket. (humble brag… I should stop). I have heard many stories of people only having £1,000 in savings when there 55. Peoples faces make them seem like their dying a little inside when they realise they can’t retire or need to work a few more years to be able to. It’s unfortunate.  

The movement brings this attention it needs to people who need it most.

How Fire changed how I thought about money.

FIRE teaches you to prioritise. 

Drinking every weekend is fun. Trust me, I know. What is it doing to your wallet and your future self?  That car looks nice but what is it going to do to your credit? How much longer are you going to have to work for that BMW? The number will surprise you.

People see the car and see they have enough money for it, so they want it. At worst, they don’t even think about it. This situation brings me back to a quote… 

“Future me can deal with it!” 

— Inv3sts younger self. 

Do you want to work somewhere or not? I know I want to have that decision rather than being forced to work somewhere I don’t want to because it pays the bills. Oh, and get weekends off.

We don’t want an annoying boss over your shoulder for years when all I want to do is retire. 

I think their ideas about being financially free is super important. 

Fire thought me that.

I’m not saying stop drinking every weekend. Or take this movement as seriously as you can. My suggestion is that we look at our expenses and truly ask ourselves.

Do I really want/need this? Could, or do, I want to live without it?

Cons 

This very much depends on how much you subscribe to the movement. 

Finding nifty ways to save money can be fun. You can create a game out of it. I’ll have a post on saving and small ways to do so later, so make sure you’re following the blog to catch those podcasts and blog posts.

Suppose you buy the cheapest food. Quit hobbies because there too expensive. Stop living in places you want to because the rent is too high.

Then I think you’re starting to take it too seriously. 

You think doing the hobby next month or next year is going to be any better just because your financially free? 

Yes, retiring at 30 (or in 10-20 years) is nice but what will you be doing or want to be doing? Does that mean that you’ll be living on rice and beans? Maybe that okay during your 20’s but do you really want to be doing it in your 40’s, 50’s or 60’s?  Didn’t think so.

Do you completely forget about money after that point? Try to live frugally. Do you try to get money from doing the things you love? You get the point. What kind of life are you saving for?

What happens when/if you want a kid? Do you have to save up and invest more? Might you have to go back to work for a while?

A real negative of the movement is how frugally you’re going to live or want to live. Life is meant to be experienced and if you’re going to say no because you need to save for retirement… your not really living.

What does retiring early look like to you? 

Is it travelling the world in a boat? Have you ever tried it for a short period of time because I can tell you living on a boat isn’t as nice as that 2/3 bed apartment? Do you prefer freedom or comfort?  

Is it cocktails on a beach somewhere in a hammock with chilled music playing in the background after a day of surfing…with the sunset… (No thought went into that whatsoever). 

Have you ever tried that… That would get boring (if you didn’t like surfing) really quickly. 

My point with this? Yes, retire young is an interesting goal to have, but what kind of life are you living for? What would you do without needing an income? How do you (or even do you) make money, if you need to at all, while doing that? 

How much thought have you put into retirement before seeing the word financial freedom? I’m not saying you need to know how many grandkids you’re going to have or pick between gardening and knitting but what kind of expenses are you going to have and how long will you be retired for?

How Fire helped me to find my new stategy.

I want to be Financial independent. I can skip out on new clothes and new cars and whatever the new android phone/laptop is to do so. No matter how many times it turns up in my dreams… leave me alone, please.

I want to live life too. If that means I have to do a couple more years, work then sign me up.

I want to get rid of my bucket list before I hit 50 or 55. If I ‘could have’ retired by then well, I prefer having my bucket list ticked off then being Financially independent.

My rating & conclusion 

There are some decent lessons the movement can teach you (and me) about finance. Things I preach a lot. Retirement plan. Saving. Investing. Expenses being a big one, and of course, my main message. 

Financial independence — it’s in the name. 

That sounds like a video game I used to play (Let me know if you caught the reference… extra points to you). While I more promote finding a better phone bill, controlling expenses, investing, they suggest not using one because the internet is a huge thing which allows you to message for free. Spending £10 on a weekly food budget (I would die). Move house because rent is expensive etc. 

They suggest spending little to no money on as much as you can so you can retire early. This is usually the message I get from die-hard fans of the movement, but as I said, it only really matters how hard you follow the movement. 

While… 

I say Spend money on things that matter. Keeping in mind your income and expenses and try reaching financial independence while doing so… My message is longer than that, but you understand the premise and the difference. 

It has quality within it. I think it gets people to really think about retirement and their future financial self and think about their money and what they’re spending it on. I do think people can take it way too seriously.

Check out what others had to say over on Money Twitter! 

BWP Finance says it best…

I love the concept, but I don’t think I would retire early, I think the financial independence part would change my entire outlook on what work is and allow me to truly find my passion. 

Luke | The Progression Playbook also has an interesting view… 

I think it’s awesome. Become financially independent and then you can choose what to do with your life each day. I don’t subscribe to the ultra-frugal though where you deprive yourself.

Let me know your thoughts! 

Peace

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