The FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement has gained a lot of followers and is starting to get a lot more attention in more mainstream media including some who have a disdain for the movement. I love the movement and think it is a great accomplishment for those that have already achieved it. As for myself, I am currently at a moderate stage of financial freedom. I continue to work on my own path to financial independence, however, at this time I do not have plans to retire super early.
FIRE Stories Drive Inspiration
I love the FIRE movement and reading personal finance blogs written by folks who have achieved financial independence and retired super early. Their stories are inspiring to read to see how they achieved their goals and what their plans are in early retirement. For many folks, they have the opportunity to leave behind a job, career, or boss they no longer enjoy working with. Others have found other ways to stay active in some form of work, but not because they “need” the money.
What makes reading stories like these so exciting to read is that you can sense the happiness that this has created in their lives. And when someone can reduce their stress levels by a huge margin or improve their happiness level significantly and shares their story it can be an inspiration to many. This level of inspiration can lead others to make positive changes in their lives.
I’ve read many other personal finance blogs, but there are a few that have stood out to me as I’ve embarked on a path towards financial freedom. Mr. Money Mustache is one that is has a lot of great information for those interested in improving their financial standing. I’ve used his post here as the basis for how to calculate my personal savings rate. Some others that I’ve enjoyed reading recently are TheMoneyHabit.org where J.P. tells her story of retiring early at 28 years old living in New York City, and also DistilledDollar.com where Matt talks about how he was able to retire early in Chicago. Both of their stories were great for me to read since they both work/or worked in the finance/accounting field which is similar to me, and also live in a major metropolitan area similar to me.
Their stories and many others out there are why I see blogs as having such a great positive influence on those that read them. By nature, people are curious and like to hear or read about stories about others lives. That curiosity is what makes seeing stories about average amount saved at “X” age or median retirement account balance by age such intriguing stories, we love to have a benchmark to measure where we stack up against our peers. But the other part of reading about the specific things that others have done to achieve their success you can take that information to find ways to improve your own life, and potentially achieve the same level of success.
FIRE Gains Strong Momentum
You can really tell the amount of momentum that the FIRE movement has generated when it starts generating more headlines in mainstream financial media sites like Marketwatch.com and others. Even more telling is when some of the popular mainstream finance experts pour cold water on FIRE. In a recent interview on Yahoo Finance, Suze Orman says she’s “pissed off” about the movement says “when I was 30, I was dumb and stupid”, insinuating that people who are Financially Independent and Retire Early are being stupid. She goes on to say that “it’s so unrealistic” to retire at that age and that she recommends to folks coming to her to not retire until age 70. I could go on about her negative views towards the FIRE movement from her interview, but I think you get the point.
You can certainly tell that the FIRE movement has gained significant momentum when people like Suze Orman attack it. My personal opinion is that she feels threatened and that it is an attack on the more standard financial advice that she might give.
FIRE Without The RE
So why would I decide that FI is the way to go for me versus FIRE? For me it is pretty simple, I love my current job, the company I work for is fantastic, and I have a great boss. Package that all together and put it with a commute that is short enough that I can go home for lunch and I have a fantastic current situation.
Now with all that being said, there is still a strong argument for achieving financial independence. There is a significant weight lifted from your shoulders when you can significantly reduce your monthly expenses. I am continuing on the path to financial independence as there are many benefits of reaching financial independence including the following:
- No worries about unexpected expenses (when you have little to no debt and high savings rates, you can cover the unexpected car repair, etc.)
- Allows the ability to be very choosy about where you work and what you do for a living (this is not a big concern right now given my current situation, but it’s always better to have unlimited options)
- Less stress or panic if the company you work for goes through reorganization or layoffs
- Better sleep at night not having to worry about money
- Overall more choices and options are open when you don’t have to worry about money
So while I continue to build wealth on a path toward financial freedom, I do it for the overall peace of mind that it gives me. I also feel that while I love my current job, my job only gets better when I have little worries about the income it generates.
How I Make Sure I Achieve FI
Now in order for me to make sure I hit my goals, I continue to regularly track my Top 3 metrics to continue on my path to financial freedom and ultimately complete financial independence. I used to track everything via Excel spreadsheets, but have since moved to more automated tools to track my expenses and net worth. I’ve tried several including Mint and Personal Capital, and my current favorite is Personal Capital as I find their net worth tracking superior, as well as their investment tracking and their overall web and mobile app interfaces.