The Case Against FIRE

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FIRECracker

FIRECracker is Canada's youngest retiree. She used to live in one of the most expensive cities in Canada, but instead of drowning in debt, she rejected home ownership. What resulted was a 7-figure portfolio, which has allowed her and her husband to retire at 31 and travel the world. Their story has been featured on CBC, the Huffington Post, CNBC, BNN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance. To date, it is the most shared story in CBC history and their viral video on CBC's On the Money has garnered 4.5 Million views.
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Ever since the New York Times featured the FIRE movement, our inbox has been flooding with requests from reporters all over the world, wanting to talk about FIRE. Needless to say, the flames have been fanned. The fire is spreading. And now the truth can’t be put out.

But where there’s truth, there’s also hate. Because when it comes to going against the herd, an angry mob inevitably follows, torches and pitchforks in the air.

Having dealt with haters for the past 3 years, none of this is new to me. I mostly view the hate now with a sense of wonder and amusement. Wonder at how little the average person knows about investing. Amusement at all the people seething in front of their computers. How bad is their life that they want to waste it giving a shit about what I do with mine?

And just because it’s fun, let’s pull back the curtain on some of this vitriol.

 

“FIRE is elitist. Only rich assholes can do this.”

Based on our blog location stats, if you’re reading this, you likely live in a developed English-speaking country like the US or Canada. And if you do, then a yearly salary of just $32,400 USD a year makes you the top 1% of the world.

Dismissing other people’s success and attributing it to privilege doesn’t help you fix your problems. All it does is give you an excuse to “feel” better.

There are many stories from the FIRE community showing examples of people who grew up in poverty, crawled their way out of it, and became financially independent not in spite of it, but because of it. I am one of these stories.

Using “elitism” to avoid financial education is a self-defeating attitude.

No one said becoming financially independent is easy. It is SIMPLE. But it’s definitely not EASY.

If you made a mistake and picked the wrong career, make a change—like Rob and Robin. If you grew up poor, pulled yourself out of it, only to get dragged down by overwhelming student debt, find a way out—like our reader and subject of one of my favourite reader cases MillennialAcademicScientist. Hell, even if you f**ked up so badly you were sentenced to 10 years in prison, you can STILL pick yourself back up—like Bill.

Your past doesn’t define you. What you choose to do going forward, does.

FIRE isn’t just for the rich or privileged. It’s easier to become FI if you were born into privilege, but it’s not a pre-requisite. In fact, those who are privileged are less incentivized to become FI. After all, if they ever run into trouble, there’s always the bank of Mom and Dad to bail them out. The rest of us have to save ourselves, and that’s what FIRE does. It allows us to save ourselves if we run into trouble.

 

“No way their funds are going to last 30-50 years. You can’t tell what’s going to happen in the future.”

Ahh the good ol’ excuse of “I don’t have a crystal ball, so I’m never going to change my life, because bad things could happen.”

News flash. Bad things will always happen. Jobs are getting less stable, pensions are disappearing, people are working longer and longer hours. But would you rather be prepared or caught with your pants down?

Becoming financially independent protects you against all those things. It’s precisely because bad things can happen that you need to become FI.

Would I rather rely on a job or a portfolio? Even if the markets crash, I still get paid dividends and I have a cash cushion. In a market crash, a job isn’t safe—so you’d be unemployed with no passive income. The choice is easy.

 

“It’s only because you don’t have kids.”

But Jim “The Godfather” Collins does. So does Jeremy from GoCurryCracker. And Mr. MoneyMustache, Mr.TakoEscapes, Mr.1500days, Justin from RootofGood, and Retireby40. I could go on, but it won’t matter. Because the haters will find something else to hide behind. Because doing things is hard. Excuses are super easy.

 

“Why bother becoming financially independent? Just find a job you love.”

Where can I get one of these magical jobs that, apparently, they’re handing out like candy?

The idea that you could just “find a job you love”, have it pay you a living wage, be secure, and stay “likable” forever and forever is laughable. If your passion happens to be in a lucrative field, good for you. You are the lucky exception rather than the rule. For the rest of us, we have to face the reality of having to give up our dreams to make money because we don’t have rich parents to bail us out.

The world doesn’t owe you a job you like. And even if you manage to get one, no one can guarantee said likeable job will stay that way forever.

Dismissing Financial Independence because you are one of the few lucky people to have a job you like is like refusing to wear a harness while rock climbing. Maybe there won’t be any wind. Maybe you’ll never sweat and lose your grip. Maybe you’ll never get tired and slip. But more likely, any of those conditions you have no control over can happen at any time. Not wearing a harness and just “winging it” is idiotic. Maybe you have a death wish or are hoping a trampoline will magically appear underneath you. In my life, the lesson has always been “no one is coming to save you”. We need to save ourselves.

But more importantly, too many people focus on the RE part of fire, which means “Retire Early”. FIRE doesn’t mean you have to quit your job. RE is optional. FI is mandatory. If you like your job, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t keep working. Becoming FI simply saves you from plunging off the cliff because you were too arrogant to wear a harness.

 

“Why would I want to live like a miser now so I can live like a miser forever?”

This is the biggest misconception out there about FIRE. That it’s all about frugality and clipping coupons and eating cat food. It’s not. We’re just better at spending money than the normies.

As I write this I’m sitting on a balcony in Riga. Next month I’ll be flying to Greece for our Chautauqua. Then after that, who knows? Maybe we’ll be in Morocco. Maybe we’ll be in Singapore. Maybe we’ll be in Australia. We literally don’t know because we haven’t decided yet, but the world is our oyster, and somehow travelling makes us money because it allows us to spend less than our 4% withdrawal rate.

Does that sound like deprivation to you?

 

So there you have it! Whenever you try to do anything contrarian, there will always be haters. That’s how you know you know you’re doing something remarkable. Haters are a badge of honour.

Whether you are for or against FIRE, it doesn’t matter. Every day more and more people are waking up, and realizing that FIRE is a real thing. It’s been tried, tested, and vetted. And we all know, in the end, it’s not about getting rich or quitting your job. It’s about freedom and choices.

Even if you don’t become fully FI, having FU money gives you choices. To ignore it is to be fooled by the haters. The ones who never stand FOR anything, but are always AGAINST something. The ones who can give you a hundred reasons why something won’t work, but not one example of something that does work. Beware of those people. They just want to drag you down to their level or sell you something that lines their pockets, not yours.

When it comes to the debate about FIRE, one thing is clear.

FIRE is the single most life-changing thing that’s ever happened to me. And I’ll be shouting about it from the roof tops because of all the ways to “get rich” that I’ve tried, this is the ONLY one that’s proven to work. And the amazing thing is that even if I didn’t, the movement will continue to live on. It can’t be stopped and it’s bigger than any individual blogger.

The FIRE movement is here to stay. And it’s spreading…

What are some of the cases you’ve heard against FIRE? Do you agree or disagree?



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113 thoughts on “The Case Against FIRE”

  1. Thanks for posting this. Great responses to some of the nonsense that came from the comments on the NYT piece. FWIW, add me to the crwod that has kids and was somehow able to do this.

    The most important point in my opinion is that so many people seem to embrace the “self-defeating attitude” where if they don’t immediately agree with something or take the time to understand it, then it must be trash. This is a societal plague we all need to deal with somehow…

    1. Yup. Whenever there’s a new idea that goes against common beliefs, it’s easy for people to get riled up. Some can be convinced with a bit more education, but others just want to hate. On the plus side, the haters are the ones who continue working and supporting our lifestyle, so can’t complain 🙂 Thanks, haters!

  2. i can say i just woke up one day and ran the numbers for the 1st time and kinda said “looks like we could stop working now.” this is after financial irresponsibility until my mid-30’s. i worked a swing shift in a factory and got there along with mrs. me’s middle class job. i keep working because i “want” a few things but if work got crappy like it used to be i would stop and give up the wants and do something else with my time.

    i don’t read much from the haters and never have. ignoring them comes with general independence and thinking for yourself. well done, you revolutionaries.

  3. “It’s only because you don’t have kids.”

    But Jim “The Godfather” Collins does. So does Jeremy from GoCurryCracker. And Mr. MoneyMustache, Mr.TakoEscapes, Mr.1500days, and Retireby40.

    +++++++++++++++++

    To fair, Retireby40’s wife still works full time — and makes a pretty good salary. Not sure about the others on that list though.

    But I get your point.

    1. Mr. Tako has a working wife, Mr. 1500 days has a working wife, GoCurryCracker they are both aggressively pimping themselves out constantly over big media to bring traffic to their site. Mr. Money Mustache was making $30,000 a month since about 2015 (and now much more) while claiming he lives off $3,000 a month, which is a total farce. He created a cult to get the most helpless people to just focus on frugality while he got rich off them.

      It’s smoke and mirrors people.

      MR is fine. Eventually the non stop travel will get boring. There will be change. But for now, enjoy it.

      1. I’d be curious to hear more on this.
        I’ve heard of MMM but don’t follow his blog. Is there specific evidence that he isn’t living off $3K a month? Even if he’s making lots more than that, he could still be living frugally. No idea if you’re right or wrong, just wondering what the story is.

        1. @Adam Davies

          MMM has published his numbers pretty rigorously. I’ve not been on his site for a while, but he lives on around $24,000 a year from what I remember. Which is perfectly reasonable in my opinion, and I have no reason to doubt that number.

          There are quite a few people who work with MMM and live near him, and he is quite open about his house, electric car etc so I would be very surprised if he was living the lifestyle of a Kardashian in secret! 😉

      2. @Truth Seeker:

        > Mr. Tako has a working wife, Mr. 1500 days has a working wife, GoCurryCracker

        I’m not trolling – I am genuinely curious as to why that matters? I am FI (and still work), but my partner also works. We share bills 50:50 which seems a reasonable thing to do. Are you saying you can only be FI if you fly solo?

        > they are both aggressively pimping themselves out constantly over big media to bring traffic to their site.

        Err? Again, just because you are FI does not mean you have to stop working or running a business, does it? Many don’t go into business until they hit FI, and then they are on a mission.

        > Mr. Money Mustache was making $30,000 a month since about 2015 (and now much more) while claiming he lives off $3,000 a month, which is a total farce. He created a cult to get the most helpless people to just focus on frugality while he got rich off them.

        I actually think it was $2,000 a month he was living off! 😀 That is a perfectly reasonable number though – I live on far less myself. What you earn is a totally separate thing. Yes MMM pushes frugality, but that’s nothing new. YMOYL was based on frugality and the idea of having enough, based out of Joe Dominguez’s nine-step plan developed in the 1960s, but of course frugality goes way back before that. I think secretly MMM is just as surprised as everyone else that his blog succeeded in terms of making money, but you’d have to ask him about that.

        > It’s smoke and mirrors people.

        Is it? That has not been my experience. I used these same ideas to dig myself out of a very bad situation (not quite “ten years in jail” bad, but bad) so I am not talking off the top of my head. I have no website and no agenda to push here. I genuinely believe this stuff works – but you have to have the right mind set.

        > MR is fine. Eventually the non stop travel will get boring. There will be change. But for now, enjoy it.

        Sure, travel is not for everyone and people do tire of *constant* travelling eventually – but then what is to stop one from creating a base at some point, and traveling as and when the desire arises? That seems a reasonable thing to do. You don’t have to be constantly traveling to be FI.

        All the best, Codefreeze.

    2. A number of them have working wives, but I believe would still be OK without that income. Health insurance costs are a real risk without a working spouse though. Without a huge bankroll, Americans would have to depend on continued government largesse.

      It’s all about the bankroll. Honestly I wouldn’t consider the RE part with less than 2-3 million in investable assets unless you are prepared to live in a poorer country for an extended period, away from family and friends.

      Props to Justin from RootOfGood, he makes it work legitimately with a family of 4. It has a lot to do with where he makes home.

      Disclosure: I am RE but with an 8 figure net worth.

      1. To each their own, but I think you could be fairly comfortable in most rich countries (perhaps outside of select cities) with as little as 1 million.
        4% gives $40k a year which is higher than the median income and between 2 people is going to be almost tax free. In most rich countries health care isn’t a major issue.
        More is certainly going to be nicer or easier, but it is do-able without moving to a poor country or living in anything like poverty.

        1. I was accounting for the possibility of a major market correction. We’ve been in a long bull run.

          If you have $1 million to $2 million and can guarantee that figure goes up every year after deducting taxes and spending, then you are probably all set.

          It would be tough for a family to get by on $40k a year in SF though. My health insurance for a family of 3 is already $20k a year (I’m not subsidized), and it gets worse by a lot every year.

          1. In SF, absolutely; costs there are crazy!
            There are places in the US and Canada (etc.) that are much, much more affordable. Those health costs are also only an issue if you live in the states (not suggesting you should have to leave for FI – just that it’s only an issue for some of the audience).

  4. Let me add a few,
    1. I don’t earn as much as you do.
    2. I can’t save anything after paying the bills. Some things are necessities you see.
    3. Houses are less risky.

    1. @ Sharil:

      Good ones!

      Number 1) always amazes me. It’s as if some people believe that what they earn is pre-ordained by a higher power and can NEVER be changed EVER. Total bollocks if you’ll pardon my Olde English! 😉

      1. Yeah, I never understood that. Most people don’t start out with high salaries–they work up to it in their fields after many years of experience. But yeah, it’s one of the easiest excuses ever.

  5. Hey FC. Amazing post!!
    I think you remember me from your “How to FIRE in Brazil” post. We’re not part of the English-speaking developed countries and we still pursue FIRE and think it’s the best think someone can plan to do in life – It’s FREEDOM !
    So let the haters hate while we ignore them and sail to our greater goal in life – or in your case, enjoy it at this very moment!
    AA40

  6. Awesome rebuttal to all points above. I’ll put these responses in my back pocket in case I ever meet a hater. So far people have just been weirded out, but not negative. They already know I’m a weirdo and FIRE seems to be just another example on the pile.

    Also I’d love to hear more about these other ways you’ve tried to “get rich.” Super curious!

    1. Glad you are a member of the “weirdo” club–like me! Being normal so boring.

      That’s cool you haven’t met any negative people in real life though. Guess it’s easier to troll online because they can hide behind a computer.

      Other ways I’ve tried to get rich –writing children’s books (HA!), FB app development, starting niche websites, building apps, building websites for authors, etc. None of them worked out.

  7. Your haters have never been great at understanding nuance. They act like it’s a binary choice between saving nothing and making your own granola by foraging for twigs and berries.

    They seem incapable of acknowledging any middle ground where maybe they should have a bit of a slush fund in case this precious job they love so much disappears. And to accomplish this maybe make the extreme sacrifice of not buying a brand new CR-V every four years. They can’t though, because true deprivation would be owning a vehicle without a warranty or Apple CarPlay.

    1. So true. I’m not sure why it’s always so black and white. It’s either they can do it 100% in the next day, or “can’t win, don’t try”. Guess it’s much more sexier and gratifying just to keep paying for instant gratification in the form of shiny things.

  8. Right on!
    Here are a few I’ve seen.
    – I’ll be bored after retirement. Like parents everywhere say – only boring people get bored.
    – People die faster after retirement. ?? Not sure about this one. No research into it.
    – Your wife still works. I’m guilty of this one. Why force her to quit when she’s not ready to. She’ll retire on her own timeline.

    Thanks for the mention! 😉

    1. “only boring people get bored”. Ha ha. So true.

      The “die faster after retirement”, I’ve also heard the “healthier after retirement” rebuttals as well. Well, from seeing my co-worker almost die from overwork at his desk, I’d say I’ll take the latter bet.

  9. “We’re just better at spending money than the normies.” This part reminded me of when I worked as an administrative assistant at a civil engineering firm. Most of the people there made more than my spouse and I combined and there were a lot of fancy cars in the parking lot, people paying $25000+ on weddings, going on expensive trips, buying expensive houses, etc. I’d sit in the lunch room and hear people complain about their money problems and just think to myself “you make more than twice as much as I do and I don’t have money problems, if you have money problems you are doing it wrong”

    I remember a conversation I had with another administrative assistant there and she told me I should go to school and become and engineer because the people there made really good money. I told her that I didn’t really care that much about making a lot of money if it meant having to work all the time, the only reason why I would want a lot of money would be so that I wouldn’t have to work so I’d have time to do what I wanted. I didn’t see the point in spending the time and money on a degree just so I could get a high paying job that I’d have to be working all the time (and I honestly didn’t see the appeal of civil engineering particularly, to me that seems like the most boring engineering field of all). She looked at me like I was crazy. This was before I discovered the concept of FIRE, now I do see the value in that route if it meant achieving FIRE faster but aiming for a high salary just to live a higher priced lifestyle is not worth it to me.

    1. Yup. Making more money doesn’t mean keeping more money. So many people get caught up with lifestyle inflation whenever they have a big salary. Kudos for not getting caught up with all the FOMO.

  10. That’s what people always focus on when I talk about FIRE – the RE part. Really, the RE part is optional, but for someone reason, people hear the RE part, then make the excuse that they never want to stop working. But just because you don’t want to stop working doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for those first two parts, Financial Independence. I feel like there’d be fewer haters if people were just talking about financial independence, which is something that everyone is trying to do (or is supposed to be doing anyway).

    1. That’s ’cause it’s easy to make excuses, harder to do shit. I suspect even if we just talked about the FI part, they’ll just make an excuse about “what the point, if I’m continuing to work.” So I think either way, “excuses” people will find a way to dismiss it. Plus, I do like the image of FIRE, where as FI doesn’t really bring any images to mind.

  11. For the people hiding behind the “work in a job you love” excuse, here’s a tip. In your endless journey to find that ‘ideal job’, being financially secure will help. And, if you have commonsense, you’ll figure out a way to FIRE in that journey..regardless of whether your ‘dream’ job falls into your lap or not.

    1. Hopefully the “dream jobs” people aren’t looking to become writers–because, as I know from experience, they will get a rude awakening 😛

  12. I agree that non-believers are annoying, but in my opinion there is a spectrum of “haters.”

    On one end is unknowingly ignorant haters. These are the better type of haters because they did not know such information existed in the first place. I think these types of haters lash out initially because they are distraught by the initial realization that a core belief they have held for so long is incorrect. I am not justifying the asshole way in which they express this existential crisis, but I think it would be rude of us to not at least try to empathize why they are lashing out in the first place.

    I wouldn’t even call these unknowingly ignorant individuals “haters.” I would much rather they be called passionate skeptics. They are just trying to ensure the FIRE movement is real by throwing every test they can at it. In my experience, passionate skeptics always come around as they educate themselves. It just takes some math and reading about a FIRE icon that somewhat resembles their current life situation. Empathy + education = converted passionate skeptic.

    On the other end of the spectrum is the willfully ignorant hater. These are the worst type of individuals as they have done the math and seen the success stories for every situation, but still choose to think the proof was rigged in some way. When each test proves FIRE is real, and the hater is still not achieving what they desire, it is the hater’s ignorance that is holding them back.

    I have no problem calling out the willfully ignorant on a regular basis. But I do think we need to be careful so we do not categorize everyone who opposes the FIRE movement as a “hater.” Polarizing “us versus them” mentalities never have positive outcomes. In many cases people make inflammatory statements about FIRE to test whether or not the movement is a real possibility for themselves. While I do not agree with the disrespectful approach many passionate skeptics take to learn about the FIRE movement, I am giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming positive intent. We should not judge individuals while they are pursuing knowledge in an effort to cure their own ignorance.

    Thank you for making this post Firecracker! The links you present here will definitely help passionate skeptics educate themselves!

    1. Very true. There are 3 groups of people. Group A is already financial savvy, so it doesn’t take much convince for them to jump on the FI bandwagon. Group B the ones who don’t know much about the topic, but can be convince to pursue FI with some education. Group C is the lost cause group. Doesn’t matter what you tell them, they will never change and will always make excuses. This article is about Group C.

  13. Well, you don’t need to convince me! I’ve been FI for over three years now… living the dream!

    Don’t stress about the haters. Hate is just fuel for the fire. (pun intended)

  14. Being FI, especially at a younger age, is the opposite of what society wants from you:

    – college education with student loans
    – have a career to pay taxes
    – consume as much as possible (phones, electronics, cars, etc)
    – large amounts of debt (mortgage, auto, credit card, medical)
    – buy a house to pay more taxes, services (for repairs/upgrades), and related items (appliances, furniture, electronics, etc.)
    – having children is personal choice but benefits society (future taxpayers and consumers)
    – sedentary lifestyle so money is spent on medications and treatments
    – retire when your health deteriorates so your remaining savings go to the medical industry before your die

    I like the FI route myself…

    1. Good points, Drater. It’s like the screw over-ability index that MR talked about. If you FI(RE), you mess up the entire society’s ability to screw you.

      P.S. Excellent job on your Canadian Financial Summit appearance, MR. As usual!

    2. @drater:

      Nail on the head. I think you summed it up really succinctly there. There really needs to be a big WAKE UP call to people as to what’s REALLY going on. You are a tax battery, you are expendable, we want you to keep working and paying taxes until you drop dead and then we are going to tax you again. Why people aren’t out on the streets with pitchforks amazes me. We have been numbed. Brainwashed.

      I’m with you Drater, the FI route is much more attractive!

    3. @Drater, totally! I have even seen comments like that before where these judgemental people will be like “oh these selfish millennials just want to live off the market and not contribute to society, imagine if everyone did that, society would fall apart”

      I’ve gotten the same judgemental backlash before for deciding not to have kids and have been accused of being “damn selfish” for choosing the life I want rather than the life society wants me to have. To that I say “keep living like a stooge to society and being angry about it, I’ll be over here living the life I want and being happy about it”

    4. You nailed it…that’s why FIRE is revolutionary. You can’t have a majority of happy, healthy, debt-free people working on passion projects as the norm. Who will they sell pills to? Who will generate all the wage-based tax revenue? Who will buy all of the latest products? It certainly won’t be us.

  15. I don‘t think the haters want / can deal with a rational response to their claims. But kind of you to try to convince these lost souls… 😉
    I completely agree with your point regarding FU money already being great for the soul. I‘m at this stage right now and feel so much less stressed. Having options is great. 🙂

    1. Yes, me too. I’m beyond just FU money, but not at the FI level yet (unless I decide to move somewhere like Thailand). But you are right. The stress level is soooo much lower even with just a few years’ worth of salary in savings/investments working for you.

  16. Sorry to hear that the “haters” have massed their forces and attacked. I wholeheartedly agree with your approach and what you espouse. While I took the scenic route to FI, and not retiring early, I think that there is great merit in what you say.

    I think the idea of working in a job that one loves is interesting and I have been fortunate to have worked in areas that I really did like. I have also had several jobs in my life that were utterly fascinating. In each of these, though, the thrill and excitement wore off. Once I had learned as much as I could or cared to about a particular field, I tended to become bored. And in this, I don’ t think I am alone. What I found interesting at age 25 is not even remotely interesting to me at 62.

    I think a significant part of a fulfilled and happy person’s life is based on a capacity or appetite for learning, being engaged, and wanting to find out more about something. In turn, this willingness to learn helps to offset the drudgery and annoyances (read crap) that we have to put up with whenever we work. That stuff is just background noise and it has to be filtered out.

    Where I think a lot of people fail (and that is not going to change anytime soon) is that they are not willing to really examine what they are doing. There is a writer named Thomas Mann, and in one of his books (forget which) he wrote about the revenge of the unlived life. What we suppress is often what we really should be trying (or at least examining what it is about what we try to suppress that intrigues us). I guess that is another way of saying that knowledge of oneself is key to growth and development.

    So now, more or less on the same journey that you two are, I can honestly say that it has been worth it, hugely, because like you, I can choose to do what interests me and be open to wherever following my interests takes me.

    As a last point, and this is where you two and others your age really got the shaft (sorry). There is so much competition for work that pays reasonably well and so much pressure on anyone in the workforce today. Expectations from the past of what one could reasonably afford to take on as debt obligations can be lethal if allowed to become a reality. People should focus on FIRE because they may simply not have the option of being gainfully employed for most of their adult lives.

    1. “I have also had several jobs in my life that were utterly fascinating. In each of these, though, the thrill and excitement wore off. ”

      Yup. That’s what I’ve found too. Every job changes over time. And to your point about Millennials having less stable jobs, it’s so true. We don’t have the job security, so FI is even more vital because we can’t depend on those jobs for life.

  17. I like the haters!

    They are serving me drinks and making my dinners at restaurants. They are flying me to places I want to go. And they are putting money in social security and paying crazy high taxes that support the services I use as I go about my totally FIRE’d up, non-working life…

    Let them be… 😉

  18. Well said. I always say, I’d rather be caught in a bad situation with a boatload of cash, than none.

    People can’t seem to argue that one. But yeah, I dont think it sinks in that this is feasible for most folks. And even if you cant quit your job, you can put yourself in a much better spot. Why wouldn’t you want to do that?

    1. Sadly, the appeal of getting instant gratification from shiny objects is much stronger than the delayed, much better long term payoff of FI. But anything that’s worth doing is hard, and things that are hard, inevitably filters out the “doers” and the “complainers”. On the plus side, the complainers help support our lifestyle, so I should probably be thanking them. 😉

    1. NZ is definitely on our list (though we will likely annoy the locals with our Lord of the Rings references ;P). We’ll reach out if we’re ever in your area, thanks for the offer!

  19. I have a friend who has it all figured out, and if I try to contest his whac a mole theorys, he always has a rebutal… he is never wrong. He is 100K in dept, on the verge of divorce, and has run away from his family to spend time with me. He has the perfect life… according to him.

    I have done all I can for him, and he is a big boy. You guys have done all you can, and I am grateful, save the ones you can…

    The cost of being right, can be very expensive…

    – spaceman

    1. Some people cannot be saved. They have to save themselves. Sadly, that doesn’t for a lot of people until they reach rock bottom.

      You’re right, denial can be very expensive.

  20. Wish I could have worked for a job I loved. Luckily FI is giving me the opportunity to create that job for myself! Nothing can replace that wonderfully freeing feeling of having FU money. Haters gonna hate.

    1. Good for you, Rachel! Most of us can’t just “find jobs we love”. We have to earn the money first, then build the jobs we love. Way to get that FU money!

  21. Having haters is a good position to be in, means your doing something worthwhile and challenging but not yet fully understood! Ignore them and keep stashing cash, living the life of FIRE is the best response.

  22. Like the sage words of Ms. Taylor Swift “haters gonna hate”. I think FI folks will self-select, and it’s great that there’s now such great content available for when people are ready. Loved your intro re: the FIRE is spreading.

  23. I always loved my job. I was proud of the results, proud of the projects etc. But some day, I looked around and I saw my 50 years old colleagues completely afraid of losing their salaries. And I realized the negative impact of this vulnerability in their performance and in their wellbeing. No way I will be in that situation. I prefer to love my job and not depend on my salary. I love my job, but I love my child even more. It is horrible to go to a job that you love and leave your child sick at home. At the end, there are many other priorities in life even if you love your job. By the way, I am not from a rich country and I don’t live in one.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, ABM and proving that FI is valid regardless of whether you live in a “rich country” or not.

      I’m totally with you on the “I prefer to love my job and not depend on my salary”. Just because you love your job, doesn’t mean it loves you back. Can’t depend on companies to take care of us. We have to take care of ourselves.

  24. Yeah. The FIRE concept is really not that extreme; really no reason to hate IMO. My induction into “the FIRE cult” was pretty uneventful:

    I stumbled on it accidentally 3 years ago when googling “how much money do I REALLY need to retire?” The standard 80% of your pre-retirement income thinking struck me as meaningless and devoid of any rational math. Then I found the 25X rule and the Trinity Study and I was like “Ok, great this what I was looking for….huh, looks like I’ll hit my retirement number that 45 not 65….. I guess I’m a FIRE person now”.

    1. @Erin.

      > Yeah. The FIRE concept is really not that extreme; really no reason to hate IMO.

      Yeah, it’s an odd one isn’t it? You wouldn’t have thought it would be a controversial idea that gets people’s backs up, but apparently it is!

    2. Nice! Welcome to the FIRE club, Erin! Yeah, that 80% of your pre-retirement income is completely crap. Designed to keep you working longer so the bank can get richer. It’s so easy for them to scare people into continue working because you might “run out of money”. Hell, after seeing my co-worker collapse from overwork and almost die at his desk, I’m more afraid of running out of life.

  25. “The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”
    ― Nassim Nicholas Taleb

    “It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.”
    Voltaire, 1694-1778

    “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
    Henry Thoreau, 1854

  26. I agree with you guys. I think it is about controlling your own destiny. Most people never do the analysis to determine what kind of life they want to live and plan out how to get there. It is important to be able to set your own goals and make a plan about how achieve your goals.

    1. I think that’s probably why the biggest regret of the dying is living someone else’s life. When you don’t stop to question and make plans about what you want to get out of life, you’re just drifting along, doing what other people tell you to do. Glad I don’t have that problem anymore. Setting goals and working towards them is the key.

  27. Awesome post! Very well made points, even if you don’t become FI, having a pot of money is a great thing to have and possible for almost all.
    P.s. if you get lost in Europe, do drop by the Netherlands for a cup of coffee!

    1. Thanks, CF! I almost made it to your Utrecht meet up! Unfortunately, I already had plans that weekend, but for sure the next time I’m the area!

  28. There was an ‘article’ in The Guardian yesterday about the FIRE movement which cited MMM. I can’t really say it was written. More like shat out without any real analysis or serious consideration. If you do buy the paper copy of this rag you’ll never need to buy toilet paper that’s for sure.

    1. Yeah, lots of click-baity “why I hate the FIRE movement”, “which FIRE is for misers” articles out there, trying to capitalize on the momentum. On the plus side, it just gives us more exposure. So, it has the opposite effect of what they intended.

  29. I started late, but was reasonably FI by late 40’s. My definition of FI was having enough to pay off the house and another year (+) in near cash equivalents. It was a great feeling knowing I could walk away if I chose to do so.

    I liked my job until I didn’t. Pulled the plug at 60. Presently sitting in a nice AIRBNB in Brussels discussing dinner option with my (very) better half.

    I kept quiet about my plans until the very end. And yeah, there were several coworkers who suggested that I hadn’t thought this out or I was irresponsible, etc. A very few were genuinely happy for me. For the most part, the haters were chained to their McMansions, high end imported lux cars, and, of course, while hemorrhaging money from credit card debt. Like JLC (AKA here as The Godfather) says, these people are just gilded slaves.

  30. I agree with everything you said, my only gripe is I have yet to see a FIRE person who has kids and went through divorce, resulting in child support. Our child support is a huge expense (we both pay it to our exes, as a result of working harder and getting better paying jobs, ironic. As our income increases, so does the child support). We’re 35 and 41, and I don’t even know if it’s worth trying at this point. I wish someone would tell me “no, you can’t RE, just worry about having enough to live on after you work your whole life” or “Yep, can still do it, just work harder”, but that someone has to understand our situation. Really, I just need some guidance, and most FIRE people seem to have started a loooong time before we did and don’t have child support.

    1. @Anna:

      Me. Divorced at 40 in 2003. 20% *net* income in child support – two kids. 150K of debt by 2006. Found YMOYL in a second-hand bookshop and started doing the 9-step plan like my life depended on it (it did, had one friend who got divorced and then committed suicide due to financial armageddon that ensued). Zero debt (and mortgage free) by 2012. Daughter finished University in 2014 which I part funded (that’s also when child support at, then 15%, stopped – my son who is three years older than my daughter started his own business at 18, so support dropped to 15% for a few years). Now FI as near as dammit (depends on your definition I guess). Still work (I do like my job) but take time off whenever I want – have had various sabbaticals and mini-retirements. Just took 7 months off with a month in Philippines. Plan to fully retire next year at 56. No agenda here. I have no product to sell or website. Loving life. My path to financial freedom (as I prefer to call it) has not been typical (and there is no room for all the detail here), but I can assure you it *is* possible.

      1. Thank you, that was a fantastic response with a lot of detail and very encouraging! Makes me happy to know it’s possible to climb out of that hole of child support, kid expenses, divorce expenses, etc. Honestly, you were in a worse situation in 2003 than we are now, so it whips me into shape. No more feeling sorry for myself! Plan on talking with my husband today to continue with our frugality and tighten up even more – we’ve both been feeling discouraged lately due to expensive car repairs. I’m reading How to Retire Early by the Charletons, and I’ll look for a copy of YMOYL; I’ve heard it recommended quite often. Thank you!

        1. @Anna:

          Always happy to help.

          On YMOYL you will question it and other people will question it. I can say if you do the steps – it works, but you have to *do* the steps. I did them because I was all out of ideas and didn’t know what else to do!

          I had to take a long hard look at my spending. For examples when I had the kids at the weekend I’d take them to the cinema, we’d get treats in the cinema, and ice cream on the way out, then go to the shops and guess what – yep spend more money! When I sat down and actually worked out the cost of it I was staggered. Instead of the cinema every week they got to choose a DVD and have pic n mix and they were happy with that. I started taking them to a lot of free places too – parks, picnics, library – you name it! I cut my own spending down to the bone – and then cut it again.

          It will seem like the small savings won’t matter but it is surprising how quickly they add up. When I started doing the steps I had £500 a month more going out than coming in. Within a few months I was saving £500 a month and paying down debt fast. As my debt reduced I was able to pay it off faster and then start overpaying on the mortgage. It snowballs.

          I had little bits of help along the way that made a surprising difference. For example, I phoned up the mortgage company about making regular overpayments and almost as a passing thought the lady on the phone suggested I reduce the term with each overpayment rather than the monthly amount – I was set up for the latter. It was a one second change that made a big difference in overall interest paid because the term reduced far more rapidly than I’d anticipated. God bless her! I was clueless about such things.

          Which brings me to another point – learn everything you can about personal finance, investments, pensions, tax, everything (this site is great for that). For example, when I went contracting I massively reduced my income tax bill by contributing “bigly” into my private pension scheme and then copping the 40% additional tax relief. My child maintenance payments were net of pension payments too (something for you to check) as per our settlement. As I earned more I upped my pension contributions, which kept the lid on the child maintenance payments – they were generous anyway, so my ex didn’t complain and I felt my kids were still getting a good deal. Less maintenance, less tax and more pension! What’s not to love! 😀

          There’s a mysterious way the nine steps work together which is not apparent when you start doing them – for example I’d built up a little bit of savings and then the company I worked for went bust. I used those small savings to pivot into contracting and significantly increased my income – but if I’d not had the savings (a few months worth of expenses) I’d never have had the courage to make that move.

          It seems as you start heading towards FI the universe sends help – but you have to make the first step.

          Good luck and stay hopeful!

      1. Thank you, and you’re right – his answer was great. I really like your site as well, just found it a few days ago and plan on digging in this weekend. Thanks for doing what you do and helping the rest of us figure it out! I’m feeling more determined than ever to work towards FIRE.

  31. The pitchforks are hilar… good choice!
    Turns out I was a 1 percenter all along. I knew it! 🙂
    I def agree on the job you love bit… I’ve always thought that was laughable.
    But I am a bit in the miserly camp somewhat… it’s just way more fun to spend money on stupid stuff and deal with the consequences later than to have be as intentional with money as FIRE requires. Just my truth.

    1. Totally agree with your truth. “following your passion and the money will come” is way sexier than “follow the money first, then your passion will come”. But from experience, I know only #2 is realistic. But it’s human nature to want short term satisfaction than working hard toward the better, long term pay off.

  32. When launched my FIRE journey 5 years ago I remember getting comments like “those are some prime earning years your walking away from” the were right about the “prime” part, they have been prime living years I would not change.

  33. Awesome post. Lately with the strong emergence of the FIRE movement, do you think there is a strong correlation between the FIRE movement and one of the greatest bull markets? A decade long bull market, the explosion and simplification of blogging, and the passage of the ACA in the US all came together to form the prefect storm?

    Maybe contemplate and write an article about this. Maybe during the next crash, there will be a thinning of the herd?

  34. Great post! I got here from the Godfather’s site.

    I’ve just starting my fire journey with my family this year and it’s going well. Already invested and hoping for the looming market crash, as all the news networks are talking about.

    Coming from a very Catholic country (Philippines) here are a few beliefs making it hard for some people:

    – wanting money is a sin.
    – money is the root of evil
    – do not worry, God will provide. (pray it till you make it, basically)
    – rich people are bad/corrupt people.

    1. Welcome, Adrian! And yeah I hear you on the “pray and it will work out” + “rich people are bad people” cases against FIRE. Hopefully they’ve also heard of the term “keep praying but also continue rowing toward the shore” 🙂 Happy investing and welcome to the FIRE tribe!

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