What is FIRE?
It’s a question I had when I first started reading financial blogs. It was easy to find that FIRE is an acronym for Financial Independence Retire Early. But that’s still kind of cryptic. What is financial independence? And retiring early? Does that mean I can retire in my 50’s?
What is Financial Independence?
Financial independence means different things to different people. To some, it’s the realization you no longer depend on your 9-5 for financial security. For others, it’s the ability to retire on a whim (hence the ‘RE’ in FIRE).
- To this family of three, it’s the ability to travel the world.
- For this guy, it’s evolved from the retire for retirement’s sake to enjoying more family time
- This guy, takes the extreme stance against consumerism
For me, as I assume it is for most readers, financial independence is freedom. It is the power to demand more from work. It is the ability to overcome the fear that you need your job. Instead, it highlights the fact that your job needs you. It’s the choice to decide how to live your life. That brings us to the next question:
What is Retire Early?
Retire early seems straight forward. Most people retire at 65 (increasingly, more people retire at 70) So anything before that is considered early, right? Well sure, but FIRE-ies don’t settle for retiring 5 or 10 years early. We know that if we commit ourselves early enough, we can retire decades earlier – say, 30? – (like MMM).
But early retirement doesn’t mean sitting on the couch for the rest of your life (unless that’s what you want!). If you want to work, go for it. If you have a hobby, do it! You now have the time to do what you want, when you want. So negotiate that raise, you never know what could come from it!
Does FIRE mean sucking the joy out of life?
On the contrary! FIRE helps you realize that more things don’t make you happy! Does owning the latest gadget make you happier? Is that BMW in your driveway truly making you feel happier, or is it adding extra stress to your life? What about that do-dad you bought as a souvenir on that trip you took 3 years ago? Wouldn’t a picture bring back the same memories? I am very much a minimalist amongst my friends, and I believe the same holds true for most FIRE-ies.
This doesn’t mean we lack happiness. When you realize that enough is enough and that keeping up with the Jones’s doesn’t bring happiness you’ll know you’re on the right track!
So what does FIRE mean to you? Are you on the path to FIRE? Let me know below!