What is F.I.R.E.?

updated October 16, 2022
An acronym, or something to make s’mores on?

There’s a buzz about the FIRE movement in the personal finance world. As an allied health professional, you probably have no idea what this is. And I wouldn’t expect you to know!

So, what is the FIRE movement, anyways? 

The F.I.R.E. Community

The FIRE community is not known as a group of pyromaniacs (although the acronym can be incredibly misleading). FIRE is an acronym that stands for “Financial Independence, Retire Early.” It’s a lifestyle movement that my husband and I have been a part of together since 2020.

According to good ol’ Wikipedia, people in the FIRE community: 

  1. Maximize their savings rate by either increasing income and/or decreasing expenses.
  2. Accumulate assets of at least 25x one’s estimated annual living expenses, with the thought being that the resulting passive income provides enough money for living expenses throughout one’s retirement years
  3. Once retired, using the 4% rule as a rough withdrawal guideline to live their lives.

These three basic steps means that paid work now becomes optional. This allows for retirement from traditional work much earlier than the standard retirement age. The end result sounded awesome, but I had some serious doubts about the steps to reach FI (financial independence).

How Did I Hear About the FIRE Community?

It started with reading blogs! I started reading the blogs of people living the FI life to the fullest: Mr. Money Mustache, Mad Fientist, to name a few.

From these blogs, it lead me to some of my favorite podcasts: ChooseFI, Afford Anything, and the list goes on. 

And these people made me realize – it’s not just to retire to sit on my ass all day doing nothing. Retirement is in the eyes of the beholder. The time you can gain by quitting your full time job can open doors to other opportunities! There are other intermediate steps in between that it’ll take to get to there. But the journey can be just as fun, if not more, than the destination.

Retire Early? That’s a thing?!

When I started telling my friends and family about this, I got a little more backlash than expected.

“You can’t retire when you’re that young!” – from an aunt who worked for the government for 30+ years

“What are you going to do for the rest of your life then?” – from a family friend who just retired at 70 years old and is attempting to cram all the travels he wished he’d done in the past into his 70’s

“Sounds like extremely frugality to me.” – from my dear friend who spends her paycheck on excessive amounts of clothes, skin care, and dining out

“So no fun now, but fun later on?” – from a Weekend Warrior who is 6 figures in student debt and yet makes sure to “live life to the fullest” on his days off

And I hear ya. My mantra used to be the complete opposite of FIRE… it was more like ICE – “Independence Can’t Exist” after initially learning about the FIRE movement (pun intended). If you just read the first two paragraphs of the blog post, it’s easy to have doubts. But I challenge you to think about this concept of “retiring” from a different perspective.

Thoughts on “Retirement”

No longer being forced to work until you’re in your 60’s or 70’s. Not sitting at a stagnant job because of the employer 401(k) match or for the pension. No longer using the excuse “I don’t have time” to work on a passion project that hasn’t gotten any farther than the dream board you created months ago that’s hanging behind your bedroom door. Not missing your children’s soccer games or saying “No” to going out for drinks with a friend after work on Friday because you’re “too tired from work.” No longer stressing about your financial situation and if you’re even able to make your next mortgage payment if an emergency arises. No more feeling like you have no control over your current life situation.

By accumulating enough wealth and streams of passive income to get you to retire early, you can quit that job you hated in the first place. As Paula Pant from Afford Anything puts it, FIRE is “freedom to work on Purpose-Driven projects, instead of relying on a paycheck for groceries and gas.”

I hope I have convinced you to at least open your eyes to this concept of FIRE and see what it’s about. Listen to those podcasts. Read those blogs. Get more information. And get excited for what’s to come!

Note: I am not a certified financial advisor/planner or a certified financial analyst or a CPA or an accountant or a lawyer. Remember, I am an allied health professional, just like you! This website/blog is for entertainment and educational purposes only. Please consult with your financial advisor(s) regarding your personal finance, investment, and tax matters. 

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