FIRE is Financial Independence Retire Early. There are people who are saving 50% to 75% or more of their income, investing it, and amassing enough wealth to become financially independent and retire early. Some are retiring in their 30s, but they are not retiring and sitting at home doing nothing. They are retiring from the job that they had and now do things in life that they want to. Many of them start their own businesses, some are traveling full-time, and some are bloggers and stay at home with their kids. They were disciplined to save enough money where they no longer must work to support themselves. They support themselves from their investments or a side gig they might continue to do. Now they have the time to do whatever they want to do.
I am a big proponent of FIRE. My very first post talks about how I became interested in this. I’ve read many articles about these people who are living the life they have always wanted to. They got to that point by being disciplined, saving, and living a frugal lifestyle. They didn’t find it necessary to spend their money in order to be happy. Many of these people learned how to fix things around the house themselves or grow their own food in order to save money and learn new skills.
There are some things I don’t like about FIRE, but the good far outweighs the bad. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of FIRE.
There are many good things about FIRE. In fact, there are so many good things that I am reluctant to even mention what I consider bad. Here are some of the good things when trying to reach FIRE.
Saving money is good, and don’t think saving half of your income is easy. It takes a lot of discipline to do that. If saving half of your income was easy, everybody would retire in 17 years. We are taught to save 10% or 15% of our income—but the reality is that we are only saving around 8% in 2019—so we work, and work, and work, and never have enough to retire. Some say that saving half of your income seems like a boring life. I guess saving more than 8% is considered a boring life for half of America, too.
Increase Your Income
It’s hard to save half of your income when you only make $40,000. I get that. That doesn’t mean it is impossible at that income level, but if you think it’s impossible to save half of your income at your current income level, then you need to increase your income. While you increase your income, you cannot keep inflating your lifestyle if you want to save money. If you want to reach FIRE, you need to look at getting out of your comfort zone and do things that can increase your income.
Having a Goal
FIRE gives you a goal to work towards. It’s hard for people to set a goal to get out of debt and save an emergency fund. Add in saving half of their income, and the people who can set a goal, plan it, and reach that goal are rock stars in my book. Some people can’t plan their day, let alone plan out how they will save enough to retire.
Becoming Financially Independent
Becoming financially independent should be everybody’s goal. Whether your plan is to get there when you are 65 or 30 doesn’t matter, but if you don’t have this as your goal, how do you plan to support yourself in retirement? Social security might give you half, but you will need additional assets in order to retire.
Learning to be Content
Most people who are disciplined enough to save 50% of their income have learned to be content with what they have. As their income increased, they didn’t keep inflating their lifestyle. They for sure have learned that they don’t need to spend more money than they make and can easily live within their means. They most likely learned to be content first, and then that is why they could save half of their income.
Having Fun Without Spending Money
Spending money does not bring you happiness. All-inclusive vacations and cruises are fun and relaxing while you are there, but when it comes time to pay the credit card bill, the fun wears off fast. It turns into not fun. Being frugal is not a bad or boring way of life. There are so many things to do that don’t cost much money or are even free. Don’t equate “fun” with spending money. I am all for traveling and having fun. I still do it. Instead of all-inclusive resorts nowadays, I have as much fun with my wife and kids in a hotel pool or at grandma and grandpa’s places while pouring my own drinks.
As I mentioned before, most people want to retire from their current job so they can do something that they want to do. They want to add more meaning to their life. This is good and bad. The bad part about this is that a lot of people keep working at a job that they don’t like instead of trying to find something that they do like. A lot of times, it’s hard to get away from a job you don’t like because of the pay and benefits from that job. I can relate to the people in this group. I stayed at my job as long as I could because of the pay and benefits. A better thing to do would be to find something you really enjoy right now.
Another bad reason to want to retire early is that some people want to stop working and do nothing. Even some people who retire at 65 do this. There is no magical age for retirement. The only number for retirement is your net worth so that you have enough to support yourself the rest of your life. And that is one of the great benefits a FIRE. Instead of doing nothing, though, use this extra time to volunteer, start your own business, and have some fun.
The worst thing about the FIRE world is that most people consider credit cards and the points they earn as a good thing. They do a bunch of travel hacking with their credit card points, which I used to consider brilliant, but now that I know that people who use credit cards spend more money, I never recommend using a credit card. Using a credit card in order to get points is not worth the risk that comes with using them. Just get rid of them. They are not needed.
There are so many good things about FIRE and these are the reasons I want you to be able to build wealth. I want you to become financially independent. Retire early if you want to. As always, there are some things you need to watch out for.