The FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early) is a growing movement of thousands of people seeking Financial Independence and Early retirement before the typical retirement age. The members of this movement front-load sacrifice by saving and investing their income at non-traditional rates (40% or even 70%) in order to walk away from typical W2 work in their 30s and 40s. Recently, I’ve heard a lot of people vocalizing disagreement with the Early Retirement aspect of FIRE.
Those who don’t truly understand this movement say things like, “there is no way to REALLY be financially secure unless you work your entire life,” or “if you retire early, you’ll become bored/unhappy/unhealthy just lounging around.” It’s clear that many don’t really understand the movement, and take the FIRE acronym too literally, instead of embracing its memorable branding. Can you come up with a better acronym? The best I’ve been able to come up with is FI(RE) to emphasize the optionality of early retirement.
I consider myself a part of this movement, yet I don’t have any plans to retire in the traditional sense. My goal is to reach financial independence so that I don’t have to rely on W2 wages and company provided insurance so that I can start my own business, focus on family, and give back to my community through volunteering and teaching. Many people in the FIRE movement have similar goals.
Sure, some people want to lounge on the beach drinking margaritas, play golf or go fishing, but I don’t believe this to be the majority of people pursuing FIRE. The type of person who is driven enough to save 70% of their income, bike to work or one of the other many sacrifices we see in this movement, isn’t the type of person who can sit still doing nothing for the rest of their life. But hey, if that’s you, go for it. This is America, so you should do whatever makes you happy. That’s where FI becomes FU.
To all of you out there seeking Financial Independence and/or Early Retirement, keep at it and don’t worry about the negative or fear-mongering things that people say. Personal Finance is just that— personal. So do your due diligence, plan, keep up the savings and enjoy your financial freedom, and your retirement if that’s what you choose to do.