What is FIRE? Why should I care?
A term floating a lot recently is FIRE. What does that mean? How does it affect me?
FIRE = Financial Independence Retire Early
This trend is catching on fast especially with the millennial generation. Why? Simple, millennials want more out of life and not to be tied down to a job their whole lives. They want experiences. They want to travel and see the world. Bottom line, they want more in life. Period.
Now, why this concept seems great, most people shy away thinking it is impossible. Retire early? Retiring at 30? 40? Or even 50?
As Americans, we are stuck in our ways. Retirement for many means what is defined by the government and what the Social Security Administration states. As of right now, the earliest you can draw on Social Security benefits is age 62 or as late as age 70. Thus, why people look to retire in their 60s.
So, in order to retire early, you must become financial independent. What does the mean? The definition of financial independence is your assets have reached a point in which you estimate they will cover all of your expenses for the remaining part of your life. There is no need to work unless you desire.
Now, the first question probably is “what is the magical number” needed to become financial independent. First, it varies for everyone based on their lifestyle, medical history, choices, etc. As a VERY general rule of thumb, use 25x your annual expenses. Another general rule of thumb is 20x your annual income. Between those two numbers, you have a general idea of what your FIRE number would be. (Yes, those numbers may vary greatly – like in the million range – but for now, we are looking at a general idea without diving into specifics for your situation.)
Any person can achieve financial independence retire early (FIRE) if they chose to.
How to Achieve FIRE:
1. Act like a True Fire Exists
Just like a real fire under foot, financial independence retire early (FIRE) is meant to be fast. Move quickly to achieve FIRE. There is no time to drag feet while making decisions. You have to move quickly to reach financial independence.
2. Save More than 50% of Income
In order to achieve financial independence, savings is a must. The more you can save, the faster you can reach your goal. The threshold is to save more than 50% of your income. Many people who have reached FIRE status said they saved upwards of 75% of their income.
The first reaction is yikes – how in the world am I going to save that much? Well, it depends on how big your fire under foot is. Do you want to achieve financial independence soon or later? The amount you are able to save will determine how fast you reach your goal.
Pick a percentage that is a stretch from your current savings rate. Each year, grow it by another 5-10%. Receive a pay increase or lowering in expenses, put it straight towards your FIRE savings. Like everything with money, it is a personal decision of what works for you and your household.
3. Limit Spending
By how much you limit spending will determine how fast you reach FIRE. This is a personal decision on how much you are willing to limit spending and expenses. Many times, this may mean become extremely frugal. Also, it may mean beginning to live a life of minimalism.
Today’s society focuses on materialism. There are many ways to limit spending. However, when the price for little trinkets are SO cheap, it is easy to pick up items here or there. That $1, $5, $10, or $20 can add VERY fast and equate to $500-5,000 over the course of a year. Make the decision of what is more important – limiting spending or accumulating stuff.
Personally, we limited our spending while we paid off $53K in debt. The interesting thing we never went back to our old spending habits.
4. Invest (Earn Passive Income)
The big piece of the FIRE puzzle is investing and passive income. Part of your magic number from above assumes that your assets will make some rate of return for many years to come. Thus, being about to provide the passive income for expenses.
There are many “experts” on how to invest, but the truth is there is no magic formula to investing. The biggest key to long term success is diversification. Simply put… don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Spread them out for greater success.
Related Post: How to Invest in the Stock Market – Beginner’s Guide
While FIRE is great in many components, life is precious and the future is completely unknown. Rhythm needs to be found in achieving your FIRE while living life today. A financial term for it is opportunity cost. The definition of opportunity cost is something that must be given up to achieve something else. It only takes one person who has lost a loved one to truly understand the impact of opportunity cost.
The idea of financial independence retire early is exciting! It is the ultimate path to freedom. The FIRE movement is fantastic. Um, hello, have you seen the latest debt statistics? Join the thousands of people are taking control of their financial lives and saving money with FIRE. All to live life to the fullest.
What has you excited about FIRE?