What is the most valuable resource in the world? Is it Gold? Maybe Platinum, Diamonds or cold hard cash? The answer is none of these. The most important resource we have is TIME. Welcome to the FIRE movement, where the goal is to give you back some of this precious time.
It is what you do with this time that is most important. Directing time to things that are important to you and bring you happiness and fulfilment. For a lot of you reading this it would be safe to say you are working a job that you may not love for about 30% of your lifetime. There goes that precious time.
I’m here to tell you that there is another way!! FIRE is the answer you have been looking for.
You no longer need to be handcuffed to the traditional ways of finances and retirement. It’s time to take back your financial freedom and work towards earlier retirement, so grab a cuppa/beer/wine/beverage of choice and read on.
Introduction to FIRE
In the simplest form, the definition of FIRE is when the income from your investments covers your living expenses. The FIRE movement is generally characterised by a high savings rate, frugality and investing consistently to build an investment portfolio that will provide you with passive income and the freedom to choose your own path in life.
FIRE stands for Financial Independence Retire Early.
The concept of FIRE is to break away from the traditional thinking that the average person must work until they are in their late 50s or 60s until they can retire.
People who aim for FIRE are planning to retire much younger by changing the way they save, spend, invest and act in order to reach this goal.
Whoever decided that the retirement age was 65? Why are we all continuing to believe that this is the only way, that we must work for the best half of our lives to retire only when someone else decides. Why don’t we break down the old rules, the rules of the economists and politicians and choose our own destiny? FIRE is this solution.
For the majority of the followers of the FIRE movement the financial independence (FI) component is the most important. Why? Because it is the foundation of the entire process.
Financial independence is about choosing how you spend your time and not being forced to work for money. Having the financial freedom to make choices based on your interests in life instead of being tied to consumerism and working because you have to, not because you want to.
When did the FIRE movement start?
The first origins of the FIRE movement are generally attributed to the 1992 book, Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.
With the increasing use of the internet and finance blogs, FIRE starting getting a lot of traction in the early 2000s and has since been growing it’s following.
Different types of FIRE
There are different types of FIRE; the core differences between them are the lifestyle in which you would like to live in retirement. Don’t get too hung up on this as everyone will have their own version of FIRE that works for their personal situation.
Knowing which type of FIRE suits you will then help when determining how much money you’ll need to save for retirement.
Lean FIRE is generally considered the ‘extreme’ version of the FIRE movement. It is suited to a minimalist who is comfortable to live on a lower income and retirement number in order to retire earlier.
Fat FIRE is the opposite of Lean FIRE and favours a less frugal lifestyle. In Fat FIRE you can live it up a little, splurge a bit more and live more comfortably.
Sounds great right? It sure is. It requires more work and can take longer to reach financial freedom and ultimately hit your retirement age.
For those on larger incomes, like myself in the mining and resources sector, this type of FIRE is likely more suited to you. Having a higher salary and a solid savings rate can really boost you towards FIRE quickly if you are investing the money wisely.
As Fat FIRE usually takes longer to achieve, it is therefore much easier if you start at a younger age.
Barista FIRE is the middle ground between Lean FIRE and Fat FIRE. It still adopts all the major principles of being frugal and having a high saving rate, but as the name suggests incorporates a semi-retired life supplemented with some part-time work.
Sounds fantastic. Retired life while doing some part-time work of your choice that you enjoy to boost your lifestyle or alternatively put more money into your nest egg! This could be seen as a stepping stone from Lean FIRE to Fat FIRE.
For myself, this might become something I look at as I love the idea of doing some part-time work in something I am passionate about. For my wife, on the other hand, I am fairly confident she would be more than happy to retire tomorrow on wine island (the couch) and constantly tells me “I would be good at retirement”.
As you can see there are a few variations of FIRE. Underpinning all methods is the same goal of escaping the rat race.
If you look at the 3 main types of FIRE like stepping stones you can start with the aim of Lean FIRE and jump to Barista FIRE and eventually Fat FIRE.
What Financial Independence means to me
The first thing that springs to mind is the movie “In Time” featuring JT. The plot of the movie is that time is the main currency instead of money, where you only have finite time and can trade tasks or money for more time and life.
If you start thinking about money as time then it will shift the way you act and spend. We all have a finite time in this world and how you spend that is entirely up to you. Want to keep working until your late 50s or 60s? Or, do you want to make a few small changes to the way you spend, save and invest so that you can use your time doing the things you love and retire early?
The reasons I love the FIRE movement are:
- Escape the 9 – 5, which for me is actually 6 – 7, but who’s counting.
- More quality time with my family
- Work when and where I want
- Have the choice to work because I want to and not because I have to
- Surf more
- Leave a legacy
Mindset is everything
Now for some deep thoughts, wisdom and some fancy quotes to get you excited before we wrap this post up.
Let’s start off with a favorite quote of mine.
Real wealth is not about money. Real wealth is: not having to go to meetings, not having to spend time with jerks, not being locked into status games, not feeling like you have to say ‘yes,’ not worrying about others claiming your time and energy. Real wealth is about freedom.James Clear
This is FIRE in its most pure form. If you take just 5 words with you from this post then let it be these, “Real wealth is about freedom”. Imprint that on your brain forever.
You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.Dave Ramsey
To put it simply, this is your savings rate. If you have a 0% savings rate and are spending everything you make then you will never be financially free. You won’t have the freedom to choose how to spend your days. Don’t let money control you. Make money work for you, instead of you working for money.
The FIRE movement is all about shifting from the consumerism mindset of spending money and buying stuff, to investing wisely and realising that money can buy you time. Freedom and time are more important than stuff.
Red or Blue?
Much like the Matrix, you have a choice to make. Will you take the Red Pill or the Blue Pill?
If you take the Blue Pill you will continue down the path of the majority. A path of blissful ignorance and slave to the old financial ways of life. Ignore all the life-changing content from this blog and continue working until you are 65, close this window now.
You can take the Red pill and open your mind and eyes to the wonder of the FIRE movement and all the fantastic content that this blog will bring to your life and others around you.
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Are you already on the road to FIRE or not sure what to do to start? I would love to hear about your story so wack a comment below, or send me an email.