I have spent 40 years helping people become financially independent. I am the queen of needs vs. wants. One of my most emphatic messages is that getting the same pleasure from saving as you do from spending will put you on the road to wealth. That gives me plenty of common ground with the FIRE movement.
But I also have some serious concerns.
For anyone who isn't up to speed on FIRE, it stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early.
Financial Independence: Count me in!
Retire Early: Yikes, that's where I jump off the bandwagon.
When I was first asked my opinion about the FIRE movement, I had plenty of questions. I wanted to know about the Retire Early part of the equation. In my world, retirement means not working. Full stop. I was told that this was indeed the focus of FIRE, and that early was 30s or 40s, not 55.
The math of that makes absolutely no sense. And I said so.
But I now realize that I was given bad information. Retire Early for FIRE followers is not about stopping work completely. It is about stopping work that you don't like, or just do for the money, and finding work that you actually enjoy, and that fulfills you.
Hello! We are so on the same page. In fact, I have been telling people that they should never work at a job they hate. And I have long said that living below your means, but within your needs is how you set up your life to be able to live life On. Your. Terms.
That seems to be right in line with what the FIRE movement is all about. If you want to retire from a long commute, a corporate hierarchy you loathe and work that you don't look forward to, I am 100 percent cheering you on. But that assumes your next goal is to segue into a new "career" that speaks to you and that, yes, brings in some money.
For here's the one thing I can tell you as a young 67-year-old: Money will never make you happy, but you need a base level of money to give you and your family security. Saving 25 times your current income and then retiring before age 40 without continuing to make money is just way too risky, in my opinion.