Financial Independence Retire Early, FIRE for short, is a community of people who want to stop working for money and would much rather enjoy life. To achieve this, they are aggressively saving and investing between 20% to 50%+ of their salary.
Financial independence is hard to define because it means something different for everyone. For consistency, we will define it as having enough money to maintain a satisfied lifestyle without working another day. This doesn’t mean you have to quit your job, it just means you CAN.
Retiring early is pretty straightforward. The standard retirement age to receive benefits is 62. Retiring early just means you stop working before 62. Many people in this community retire somewhere between 30 to 60.
The FIRE movement generally follows the 4% rule to achieve the lifestyle they want and stop working at the same time.
Does this sound amazing? Maybe, it depends on what you want. More and more people seem to think so. We can see growing interest in pursuing FIRE from various media outlets including the Wall Street Journal.
The reddit community /r/financialindependence, where people pursuing FIRE come to discuss and seek advice for retiring early, has grown popular over the past few years as well.
It is important for us to understand that there is a certain level of privilege associated with achieving independence and retiring early. This is NOT to say FIRE is impossible for low or middle income individuals.
It is more difficult.
And that is fine. Not everyone wants to retire early. A good portion of people would want to maintain their lifestyle without additional income. Being financially independent is important because it can protect us from economic downturns and allow us to spend less time at work.
Most people do not like the work they do and if, given a choice, would chose a different profession. According to a Gallup study in 2013, 51% of Americans don’t feel engaged at work.
Financial constraints is one reason people cannot choose the work life they want. We have responsibilities such as student loans, first home purchases, families, and so on. Many of these responsibilities are almost non-negotiable.
FIRE is definitely not for everyone. Some have non-negotiable expenses that would make it very difficult while others just love work and find it fulfilling.
Retirement at 62, on the other hand, should be a realistic goal for most of us. Being financially independent and not having to work at 62 is great.
The first step toward financial independence at any age is saving for retirement.
For those of us pursuing FIRE, good luck! For those of us pursuing normal retirement age, we got this!
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Cover Image: Cullan Smith
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