The FIRE Movement
In this article I am going to discuss the FIRE movement—I’m going to talk about what the FIRE movement is, and I’ll explain why you might want to join the FIRE movement yourself! 🙂
What Is the FIRE Movement?
The FIRE movement is a movement where people are seeking financial freedom.
FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. Those who are a part of the FIRE movement (or who long to be) are generally young people (in their 30s to 40s) who are working hard and saving up a bunch of money (often 50 percent of their incomes or more)—or who have already done so and have already achieved FIRE—in order to be financially independent so that they can quit their jobs and retire early in order to pursue the life they dream of.
Why Would You Want to Join the FIRE Movement?
If you have ever longed to be able to leave your job (even a job that you love) in order to pursue other dreams or take care of your children or parents or volunteer and serve or live a more purposeful life, then you may want to consider joining the FIRE movement.
April 5, 2018—the date I discovered the FIRE movement and particularly FIRE bloggers—was a life-changing day for me.
The FIRE movement, and particularly some of the FIRE bloggers, will always have a special place in my heart because it was being introduced to their blogs that first gave me the idea to be a blogger myself. In the beginning I wanted to be a FIRE blogger, too! It was like I had found my people—my tribe! These are people who are willing to spend less in order to have more independence later in life and to achieve that freedom earlier (for them, much earlier!).
I still might create a FIRE blog one day. (I even know the name of the blog, so I hope no one else snags it before then! :)) But ultimately, I decided I wanted to write about personal finance in general—or rather, family finance—because there are so many facets of personal and family finance that I love beyond just finding financial freedom.
But I still want people to know that FIRE exists—that there is a potential way of life available that is far different from that of the normal work 40 years, save 10 percent of your income for retirement if you can, and retire between the age of 65 and 70 to enjoy the few remaining decades that you may have version.
If the idea of the FIRE movement and retiring early—decades early, or maybe just a decade early or even a few years early—sparks an interest in you, then read on. In the next section I will discuss some of the things that those in the FIRE movement do to be able to reach financial independence early (and what you can do, too, if you want to be a part of the FIRE movement).
21 Must-Know Tips to Help You Spend Less Money!
11 Surefire Steps So You Can Retire Early!
Complete Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting
17 Must-Know Tips to Rock Your First Budget!
Budgeting Fail? Try This Simple Alternative to Budgeting
13 Surefire Steps to Help You Stick to Your Budget
9 Must-Know Tips to Help You Finally Start Saving!
Who Are the People of the FIRE Movement?
When I first learned about the FIRE movement I devoured everything I could about the members of this group. It was just so cool to learn about people I could identify with. These are people who are willing to sacrifice, if you want to call it a sacrifice (it doesn’t really feel like a sacrifice to me, because the rewards of intentional spending are so worth it to me) in order to retire younger and be financially free earlier (in this case, decades earlier) than the norm.
Some of those who are a part of the FIRE movement even have the primary motivator that I do—to be able to stay at home and be the one to raise their children, as I want to be able to stay home to raise my three beautiful kiddos.
So let’s meet some of these amazing people who are part of the FIRE movement!
Mr. Money Mustache. Some might call Mr. Money Mustache the leader of the FIRE movement. This guy is intense. He admits that he has been a money saver basically since birth (or at least from a very young age). And some of the things he did as a young’un are pretty funny, like ironing his money bills and keeping them in a book or binder. He may be the most popular FIRE blogger. The thing that I admire most about him is his self-sufficiency. He says that he doesn’t outsource anything—no home repairs (he taught himself how to do it), no yardwork or housework. And he definitely has tons of personality, which comes out loud and clear in his writing style.
Root of Good. I love this family. Justin is the father of three children, and it’s fun to read the adventures of their family. He was a civil engineer who retired at age 33. They now spend several weeks a year travel hacking in order to visit beautiful and fun places around the world.
Mr. Tako Escapes. Another dad, Mr. Tako has two beautiful sons and also lives a modest lifestyle. He has a ticker on his website that count the number of days since they last went out to a restaurant to eat. (As of this writing, he was up to 124 days, 18 hours.) Love it!
Retire by 40. Another dad who retired early, at age 38, from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home parent and blogger. Joe’s blog chronicles the adventures of their young family.
Early Retirement Now. Though it’s not his real name, Big Ern was his pen name for years until he recently was able to FIRE and revealed his identity. “ERN” stands for early retirement now. Karsten was able to retire earlier this year (2018). This guy worked for the research department of a large financial management company, and he is scary smart. Trying to understand all of his technical financial talk kind of makes my head hurt. 🙂
Think Save Retire. Steve in an IT professional who started working toward FIRE a little later than most, at 34. (But I didn’t learn about the movement—sadly!—till I was 38, so we’re even later to the party!) He recently retired early.
The Frugalwoods. This is a delightful young family of FIRE followers. They own a 66-acre homestead in Vermont and blog about simple living, frugality, personal finance, and homesteading.
Physician on FIRE. Physician on FIRE writes to physicians and others about personal finance early retirement, medicine, and more.
Financial Samurai. A long-time finance blogger (he started in 2009), Sam discusses subjects including investing, real estate, retirement planning, career strategies, his philosophy on money, and more.
Our Next Life. Tanja and Mark retired early at the end of 2017 and are enjoying and blogging about their travels.
What Does It Take to Achieve FIRE?
You have to be willing and able to spend less than you make (a lot less). The only way to retire early is to be able to save a lot of money. And the only way to do that, of course, is to spend far less than you earn.
You have to earn a high income or be very frugal or intentional with your spending (and most FIRE members do both). If you want to achieve FIRE and retire in your 30s or 40s, then you need to have a good or really good income, have a really inexpensive lifestyle, or have both. And obviously the more money you make and the more you tighten down on your spending, the sooner you can achieve FIRE.
Both sides of this equation are super important if you want to FIRE. But even though I spend a lot of time teaching people how to spend less money, and I honestly feel that learning to control your spending is the more important of the two factors when it comes to gaining financial stability and building wealth, I feel that earning more income has the greater potential impact. And let’s be honest—it’s just more interesting and more fun. Because there are only so many things that you can do to reduce your spending (but check out this article to learn more than 20 ways that you can reduce your spending in pretty much every budget category), but the opportunities to increase your income are nearly limitless! Check out this section of the blog to discover ways to earn more income.
You have to be content with what you have. In order to retire early, you have to be content with what you have and not want to spend everything you make in an endless cycle of always buying more and more and more stuff.
Are you interested in retiring early? Especially once you start investing for retirement (or get serious about it), I recommend that you sign up for a great free app called Personal Capital in order to track your progress toward reaching your retirement and other financial goals. With Personal Capital, you can see not only all of your bank checking and savings accounts and even your credit cards and other finance accounts, but you can also link your retirement and regular nonretirement brokerage accounts.
This allows you to have a complete, overall picture of your current financial situation. And you can also view your account history to see how your accounts and overall portfolio have done over time. I love this very helpful tool and use it regularly! Sign up for your free Personal Capital account here.
From what I’ve read, the FIRE movement is catching on. And in an age where most people are dissatisfied or at least not overly satisfied with their jobs (a sad reality of our time), that makes sense. (But read this article to learn how you can find a job you love!) If you are interested in knowing what it takes to retire in a certain number of years, check out this article by Mr. Money Mustache where he explains the surprisingly simple math behind early retirement.
What questions do you have about the FIRE movement? Have you ever considered retiring decades early? What would you do if you achieved FIRE—what life goals would you pursue? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Invitation to Share
Was there something in this article that inspired you to change something about your money? Are there ideas or tips that you feel could help others? Would you please take a minute to share this article via email or social media? I would love your help to share these principles of financial well-being. Thank you!
Join our closed Families for Financial Freedom Facebook group to get support and share ideas for how we can all improve our financial well-being by earning more, spending less, saving more, and investing more and reach our financial goals. You can do this! And we are here to help.