I remember the first time learning about Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE). My SO had just casually dropped that he wanted to retire in 10 years.
“Say what?”, I said, as I looked back at him. Turns out he had just convinced his SO to FIRE.
FIRE – Financial Independence, Retire Early
No one had ever said anything like that to me in my life. Everyone just worked until 65. They worked hard, and they accumulated wealth, but there wasn’t really a number that was enough. The people I knew around me came from places that had food shortages or limiting governments. I’m a first generation American who moved to the US when I was very young, so my perspective was different than my parents, but I still believed that we were all meant to work until we were 65.
Those around me believed the path to wealth was real estate — a tangible asset with high returns no one can take away from you. They didn’t quite understand interest rates, stocks, or bonds, but they were highly intelligent. It just wasn’t done in their home country, so they didn’t trust it. Cash was king, not putting it in non-tangible investments.
I grew up with this mindset and believed it too, until I went to college and majored in economics. We had a large finance department and I began taking courses related to it, and soon learned a lot about investing in different things, and more importantly, how to go out and research and model financial instruments I had never heard of prior. Surprisingly, I never learned about the basic free things you need to do to get your finances in order until after college.
All this is to say that I didn’t grow up in a family who knew much about investing, but I still turned out ok. I’ve learned a lot over the years, and I know that you can too. One you see the light of FIRE, you’ll be hooked and want to reach financial independence immediately and retire early!
What would I want after FIRE?
While I didn’t grow up with a FIRE mindset, when my SO asked what I would do if I had a nest egg that would pay for anything I wanted, I thought about it for a few seconds and realized I’d want to spend my time creating and producing things, and learning cool skills.
I could learn to be a great gymnast or ballerina purely for the fun of it or I could create something tech-y in the retail industry — I hate shopping so it would be great to have a VR experience to just try on things in from my living room. I could start an organization that builds capsule homeless shelters so homeless shelters wouldn’t run out of space and everyone would have a space to sleep. A tutoring non-profit also sounds great so those who don’t have access to college guidance counselors or the ability to pay $100/hour for a great tutor would have a fair chance at getting into a great college.
I wanted to do so many thing. Unfortunately, most of my days were spent working on spreadsheets trying to make money for my firm.
I realized what he was talking about was definitely possible. What brought me over the edge to decide to FIRE though? The jealousy that he would get to do whatever he wanted! I wanted that too! I knew if one of us was working while the other was essentially retired, it wouldn’t work out. It would be nice to do that as a team.
I began researching FIRE and nerded out over all the tax-advantaged accounts, complicated tax laws that allowed for loopholes, and ways to save money. I started to talk about FIRE with all my friends and the friends of friends I’d meet. Most nodded and smiled, but I could sense that they weren’t all that interested, or that they weren’t actually processing what I was telling them.
Reject the norm to work until 65
It’s unfortunate that society has conditioned American to spend more and save less, and no one thinks about retiring early. The social norm is just to retire when you’re 65 and just blow your salary on material goods. Don’t worry though, I still spend on the everyday luxuries of life, and so should you! I believe anyone who is introduced to FIRE can achieve financial independence.
In the months since I’ve decided to achieve financial independence, I’ve taken a close look at my expenses via spreadsheets I’ve built, sat down and created my largest possible budget I’d need for when I retire, and got really excited about saving money (seriously, who says that). I’d like to offer a perspective from someone young (25) and excited to tackle the journey ahead. You can be young and FIRE in less than 10 years.
I hope to share my knowledge so that we can all retire a little sooner, and contribute to bettering the world. Let me know if what kind of posts or topics you’re interested in and I can research them further! I’m a big believer that you just don’t know what you don’t know. I love to learn about new things, because who knows? It might save you money, let you invest better, or allow you to come up with a new idea!
This blog is going to be my outlet for everything I’ve learned and hope to learn in the coming years. Hopefully it will allow you guys to save some more money too!