Should You Pursue Financial Independence Retire Early (F.I.R.E)?

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Indexes
  1. Lean FIRE
  2. Fat FIRE
  3. Barista FIRE
  4. 1) Is it for everyone?
  5. 2) What’s the price to pay?

What’s F.I.R.E?

Financial Independence, Retire Early” is a lifestyle movement that means you retire well before the statutory retirement age, by living frugally and saving aggressively during your working years.

FIRE can be broken down into 2 parts.

FI- Financial Independence

RE- Retire Early

In recent times, the FIRE community has been gaining traction. More people are aiming towards financial independence, in an attempt to retire early. Whilst this is a good goal to work towards, not everyone should pursue it.

In my opinion, everyone should work towards becoming financially independent. Retiring early, on the other hand, is a different ball game altogether. After all, you’ll need to decide how to fill your days, should you retire early.

With that, let’s look at the 3 types of FIRE, where you can decide which is most suitable for you (or maybe none at all).

Lean FIRE

Lean fire means having enough to cover basic needs and daily necessities. It’s akin to being down to a bare bones budget. This may mean missing out or giving up on certain experiences like overseas trips.

Fat FIRE

Fat fire is the other extreme, where you have a 6 figure sum of living expenses per year to live a super comfy and luxurious lifestyle. However, in order to make this happen, you need a high level of income during your working years to build up a multi-million dollar investment portfolio. If you’re one of those, then this may be for you.

Barista FIRE

The middle ground would be barista fire, where you work a less demanding job to cover your living expenses. This could be working as a barista, or taking up freelance roles or side gigs (something that you enjoy) to help supplement your income. This feels like the most sustainable path in the long-term.

When deciding which FIRE route (if any) to embark on, we need to consider routine as a factor. As humans, we need some element of routine in our lives. Without routine, we’ll be like lost sheep, not knowing what to do from day-to-day. At the start, it might feel good that you don’t have a boss to report to. Over time you will feel like you have lost that sense of purpose and fulfilment.

Things to consider before pursuing FIRE

1) Is it for everyone?

To a certain extent, personality matters when it comes to the FIRE movement.

There are some common traits we see among those who have achieved FIRE.

  • Frugal
  • Introverted

Which begs the question: Is FIRE only for introverts? Or can extroverts also attain FIRE?

The edge that introverts have over extroverts is that they tend to spend less time outside engaging in social activities.

While it is true that it’s easier for introverts to reach FIRE, extroverts can still FIRE. It’s a balancing act between social interaction, and saving money.

2) What’s the price to pay?

  • Lifestyle compromise

Which part of your lifestyle do you need to compromise? Do you feel like you are missing out on an experience? Having said that, you can’t miss out on an experience which you never had. It comes down to what you are willing to suffer for.

IS FIRE only reserved for those with sizeable salary?

Likely yes as you need a sizeable capital.

On a lower income, it is still possible to fire but it takes longer. It’s just like investing. When your portfolio is small, you will not see much gains. As your portfolio grows bigger, it gets easier But yes, you still need that basic level of income, or what I call survival capital. If you cannot even survive on a basic level, then there is no need to think about FIRE.

Conclusion

FIRE involves a huge amount of commitment, hard work and sacrifice. If you’re not willing to pay the price that it takes to get there, then it is definitely not for you.