“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money but you cannot get more time”. Jim Rohn
This is the core philosophy of the Financial Independence Retire Early Movement (“FIRE”).
Fire has been the buzzword in the US for a number of years and is picking up rapid momentum across the pond in the UK as well.
Its proponents push against the old work for life paradigm and choose to create a new life plan built on three pillars:
- Opting for an early retirement. No more trading their time for money until somewhere in their 60s. They push for retiring in their 30’s, 40s and sometimes even 20’s.
- Achieving Financial self-sufficiency where they can live off the income generated by their assets
- Having the free time to live the life they want and do the things that they believe build a rich
Although this sounds like a hedonistic life of lying by the pool and sipping cocktails all day, these pyromaniac FIRE chasers strongly dispute this and claim it is not a retirement in the conventional sense but rather the freedom to pursue their own dreams and ambitions outside of the framework of the 9 to 5.
What are the steps to FIRE?
The FIRE equation is based on simple maths. Spend less than you earn and invest the difference and follow these rules:
- Have a compelling why for your FIRE plan. Do you have aspirations to start your own business, write a book, have the freedom to travel or volunteer for a bigger cause.Have a clear and compelling vision.
- Set a target number. The FIRE formula uses the same back of the envelope maths that is often used for conventional retirement; 25 times the annual expenses you WANT to be spending in retirement. The bigger the life you want the LONGER it will take you to get to your FIRE retirement.
- As eluded to above, the key is to grow the gap between what you earn and what you spend and to invest the difference in passive Index funds, rental producing properties and other passive income generating assets. The gap is fuelled by increasing your earnings and reducing your expenses.
- This means adopting a level of frugality. The Fire proponents clarify that by frugality they mean being intentional about spending. Cut down on the expenses that don’t add value to your life and spend on those that create your rich and wealthy life every day.
The equation is straightforward but requires commitment, diligence and patience to achieve.
Is FIRE for you?
If you are driven to getting out of the rat race you are on and are happy to spend a large number of years living frugally, saving a significant portion of your income and quickly amassing assets. This is for you.
If you are on a lower income or have children or other responsibilities this may seem a bit pie in the sky. I still believe that financial independence is possible for you. To me financial independence is breaking free from being a slave of the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. This means building a wealthy life today by choosing what you spend on. Forego the things that don’t create your wealthy life and when you get down to your true values a lot of the material trappings on life that we have been led to believe will make us happier seldom do. Happiness is built on spending your time with the people you love, doing the things that challenge and inspire you and giving back to your community.
Financial Independence is not all about reaching some retirement goal it is about living fully every day free from financial worries and the burden of always chasing the next material acquisition. This means consciously creating a solid financial foundation which the spend less earn more equation strongly advocates.
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