Before I start today’s post, just know that the purpose of this is to simply share a movement that is upcoming and most likely possible for you and your family. It’s about awareness, and to encourage you to pursue a lifestyle that you can love and find fulfilling. You may or may not like the FIRE movement, but it’s here for you to look over and decide for yourself.
What FIRE Is
FIRE stands for “financial independence, retire early”, and it’s kind of like a trust fund that you create for yourself. Financial Independence means you have enough money that you could stop working, and never run out of money, regardless of how old you live to be. This is done by typically having investments, be it money in the stock market, index funds, real estate, rental income, or some other form of passive income. To know how much money you need socked away to reach FIRE, multiply your annual expenses by 25, and that’s about how much you’ll need to survive the ups and downs of the economy + inflation. For example, a person who spends $20k annually needs to save up a portfolio of $500,000. A person who spends $50k annually needs to save up a portfolio of 1,250,000.
You are financially independent when you can stop working, yet provide for yourself and your family via savings or passive income.
The ‘early retirement’ part of FIRE isn’t so cut and dry, and many people argue over the definition of ‘retired’.
To me personally, I believe retired is when you no longer have to work for a living. You can be retired and still ‘work’ every day. ‘Work’ can take place in a factory, a cubicle, or some big corporation. ‘Work’ can also take place in your art studio, on your laptop in a coffee shop, or in your self-employed small business. ‘Work’ can also be spending time at a non-profit, donating your time, energy, and knowledge to those you care about.
Other people though, believe you can only be retired when you no longer do anything, aside from hobbies. People who see retirement as a “strictly relaxing only” vacation, tend to dislike the idea of FIRE. Early retirement means sipping alcohol on the beach, getting a tan, and never lifting a finger again. I have to agree, this would get old, and fast.
Why I Choose to Pursue FIRE
- I have dreams that don’t earn much money. This blog is an example of that! If I wanted to spend more time here, I’d be sacrificing income to do that. Obviously, this is keeping me from putting too much effort into Diamonds N’ Denim. Being financially independent means that I’d have a steady stream of income regardless of how I spend my time, which means I could put more into ‘passion projects’ such as this one.
- Any cash I earn after reaching FIRE is bonus money. Being FI (financially independent) while still earning a little bit of money, is like living a life with no bills or expenses, AND having extra money to buy frivolous stuff that won’t affect your rent money.
- I’m immensely privileged, and I want to pass that on. Though I don’t yet feel comfortable disclosing all the ‘leg-ups’, lucky breaks, and straight up blessings I’ve received, just know that I’m a privileged girl. I want to continue this legacy by sharing the wealth and the privilege too. As mentioned in the previous reason, any money I earn after FIRE is extra. This extra money can be set back for philanthropy, or for setting others up for a similar lifestyle. Should I ever have children of my own, adopt, or foster, I’d like to set these children up well (without spoiling them!). Can you imagine turning 18, just to be gifted a house, rental property, a paid-for-bachelor degree, or some thriving stocks? AWESOME.
- If Devin and I ever have children (or foster, or adopt) we would love to both be stay-at-home parents. Just the other day I was flipping through some photos from my 5th Birthday when I noticed something a bit upsetting. Over half of the people in those photos have passed away. My three great-grandparents are gone. My paternal grandparents are gone. My great uncle, who shared his birthday with me, is gone. My godmother is gone. Even my dad is gone. I’m not that old either, I just turned 21 in October. I know how important it is to spend time with your family, love on them, and make memories, before they’re gone.
- I want the confidence boost. No, having more money stashed away won’t make me feel confident in myself as a person. I know that has to come from within, and I have to control that. What I’m talking about is the confidence and the privilege to do what I want, when I want, without worrying about the risk. It’s a huge goal of mine to retire my husband and myself, so he can finally open his dream gunshop. If it never makes any money, it doesn’t matter, and we can both have the confidence to pursue what we love, simply because we love it.
- Volunteering will be much easier. I fully believe my time will be equally as booked once I reach FIRE as it is now. However, doing good for others will be easier, simply because I won’t have to fret about the small stuff. Like it or not, volunteering usually comes at a greater cost than you assume. Petsitting for a friend just because takes more than your time, it also requires money for you to replace all your doors because Fido ate them. Fostering children takes more than your time and attention, because it also requires money to replace all the children’s clothes, because they never came with them. Volunteering hours at your church takes more than your weekends, especially when plans fall through, and your church asks you to work during your workweek. As a retired person, you have more flexibility to move your week around to meaningfully accommodate the needs of others.
- FIRE trains me to hyper-focus on the problems I can solve, and then provides me with the resources I need to take action. I know I can’t control the weather, or the economy, or politics, or what my neighbors think of me. Working to become FI has taught me that focusing my attention to the small details is more impactful than worrying about the large ones that I cannot control. I cannot control the weather, but I can choose to be happy during the rain, and I can choose to see the good in natural disasters. I cannot control the economy, but I can choose to diligently save, live frugally, and then do what I can to support others in ways that I feel are meaningful. I cannot control politics, but I can choose to vote, write to congressmen, campaign, speak up, run for office, and vote with my money by spending it where I feel it’s most powerful.
- I can make more money, but I can’t make more time. By making my money work for me, I don’t have to work. When I’m not doing mandatory work, I have more freedom to do what I want, when I want, without feeling like my life is being 9-5’ed away. This pairs up nicely with my last big reason.
- I want the freedom. The idea of having my life pre-paid, with my time freed up for missions and projects that I deem important, is empowering and exciting to me. This is the largest reason why I choose this lifestyle. I want to live how I want to live, without the burden of a lack of time or money.
Reasons Why Others Choose to FIRE
So you see the main reasons why I want to FIRE, but there are even more than the ones I listed for myself.
- Social Security is not a retirement plan. Social security will not last, and it will not be able to provide you with a comfortable living, especially in the future.
- People want to travel. It’s really difficult to travel the world when you’ve only got 2 weeks of vacation time each year. Reaching FIRE allows you to travel when and where you want, without having to check in with your boss, or stress about your bank account.
- Some people truly want to take it easy, and only pursue hobbies, never working again.
You Don’t Need a Million Bucks to FIRE
Depending on your spending habits, you may not need $1,000,000 to retire early. If you spend less than $40k a year (and you don’t want to spend more than $40k per year during retirement) you don’t need $1M to retire on the 4% Rule.
My husband and I are some of those people. We don’t have a college degree, and our earnings are nothing outstanding, but our spending is exceptionally low too. Because of this, we don’t need much to feel wealthy, and we can reach our retirement number at a relatively quick rate.
Retiring Early is Not Lazy
I have no idea why this is even an assumption, but people who FIRE are not lazy. Check out this list of people who retired at/before age 32, not one of them is lazy. Heck, even if they were lazy after retirement (which they aren’t), a lazy person does not make a budget, scale down spending, increase income, carefully calculate potential life changes, invest, and reinvest some more. Taking the necessary steps to retire early is not easy, and wanting to pursue something other than the 9-5 does not make you a bad person.
FIRE Isn’t Common, Because It’s Pretty New
It’s Too Easy to Say Life’s Too Hard
It’s so darn easy to fall into the herd mentality, especially if you value spending much time with other people. Oftentimes, we don’t really look beyond our own little paths, until we see someone else blazing a trail that looks better than our own.
Because people can easily fall into that trap, and because of years of evolution- our human brain has come to believe that “easy” and “familiar” is best. Our ancestors didn’t go poking around caves they didn’t know unless they absolutely needed to. And for good reason- you run into less saber tooth tigers that way.
In today’s cushy and safe world though, good things primarily come to those who take risks and go spelunking in big, scary caves. The majority of us just haven’t figured this out though.
Early Retirement is still a fairly new concept, and it hasn’t caught on with the general public. Because of this, no one considers it an option (until shown otherwise).
Still, reporters and many news sources prefer to walk on the safe side. It’s easy and familiar to damn and criticize those who don’t walk the line. It’s easy and familiar (and welcomed by the general public) to write about how hard life is. Write about this privilege, and that privilege, and those privileges. To blame the “elites” and the tax man and the lawman and even our parents for our problems. Responsibility is scary, and no one wants to claim it.
We see so many articles that talk about how horrible our healthcare is, how expensive fuel is, and how costly our food is.
Yet, our health is often something we can control (and only large, monstrous illnesses and accidents are out of our hands), we drive large vehicles everywhere (and walk nowhere), AND we’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic.
I still believe that money goes a long way in America. Hell, here’s what a measly $5 can do:
- Buy 10 lbs of rice at Walmart (seriously, that’s around 100 servings) for $4.54
- Buy 2 gallons of gas (which gets you 40 miles, if you have a 20 mpg vehicle) for $4.36
- Buy 6oz of this fancy, fair trade, organic coffee beans (this makes 18 cups of coffee) for $3.00
- Buy 4,500 gallons of tap water (enough for 45 days, if you use 100 gallons daily) for $5.
- Buy 6 days worth of cell phone service (if you have a phone similar to mine) for $5.
Or ya know, it can buy 0.42% of a concert ticket to see Taylor Swift up close and personal (only 232 more $5 bills are needed to fund the entire ticket).
I’m not condemning your lifestyle or what you do for fun. Oftentimes though, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of believing that life is difficult and expensive.
Early Retirement is Just Now Becoming an Option Due to Technology and Our Economy
According to this report, today we only need to work 11 hours to make the same level of income as those working 40 hours in 1950. That’s insanity! What are we doing to still be living paycheck to paycheck?
- The average millennial spends an average of $62.50 a month on TV / Cable / Subscription services such as Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu.
- The average home in 1950 was 1000 square feet with the average family consisting of 3.37 members (poor little 1/3 Tiny Tim). Now, the average house is 2,500 square feet with 2.5 household members.
- Americans are also paying $47-80 a month for their phones each month. That’s another optional cost that those in 1950 didn’t have.
- We’re also blowing our money on foods that didn’t exist (or wasn’t wildly popular) in the 1950s. Takeout, Eating Out, Prepackaged foods, precooked foods, presliced foods, unnecessarily branded ‘organic’ foods and other ridiculous eating conveniences. Stick to foods that are less than $1 per pound, that you have to prepare, cut, and cook like so many in the 1950s did.
- Beyond these specifics, we’re also purchasing 50% more crap than we did in the 50s.
- The average European 10 year old ‘owns’ £7,000 worth of toys, but plays with just £330 worth of them.
- The average American woman owns 30 outfits. That number used to be 9 outfits in 1930, which is a 233% increase.
- Americans have an embarrassing storage unit problem, there are a half million storage units here. Every single person in the US would have to own 7.3 square feet to occupy it all. Plus, 25% of Americans who own a two car garage, don’t have enough room to park their cars.
- We have so much stuff in fact, that we spend an average of 153 days of our lives simply looking for stuff we misplaced.
- While the average American family sits at 2.5 people per household, the average American house is home to 2.73 television sets.
What If I Try Early Retirement But Hate It?
“I don’t want to retire early, I’d be bored.”
That’s a valid concern, changing your mentality from “work + save, work + save, work + save” to “rest + spend, rest + spend, rest + spend” is HUGE.
Many people who start out for FIRE (financial independence, retire early), end up opting for FIRO (financial independence, retirement optional). The key piece of FIRE is the financial independence, which simply means that should you ever decide to stop working, you’ll have enough money to continue living well, without ever earning another dollar.
If you DO decide to retire early, there’s almost a zero percent chance you’ll spend your remaining decades sitting on the beach, staring at your perfectly painted toes. After putting in the work and discipline it takes to save up your retirement number, you’ll be more conditioned to setting goals, making progress, and doing good- even if it’s not at your 9-5 job.
Suddenly, you’ll find yourself able to do all the stuff you’ve always wanted- like traveling. And hiking. And spending time with your kids. And volunteering. Writing that book. Taking the photography class.
Once you realize what freedom you have, you suddenly have the option to do things because you love it, not because of the money. Once you’re retired and money is no longer an issue, you’re free to take up art or photography or writing. Who cares if your stuff doesn’t sell? You’re doing what you love, risk-free. Always wanted to work at GameStop, but didn’t because it wouldn’t pay the bills? Now you can.
Of course, should you ever truly get bored, no one will stop you from rejoining the workforce.
Working Joneses vs. Retired Joneses
Truly, I don’t believe my husband and I will change our lifestyle much after we’re officially retired. We’re actually spending less now, than the allotted monthly ‘allowance’ we’re saving up for in our retirement.
Devin is working his dream job at the local gun shop. He’s doing what he loves, learning about his favorite brands, keeping up with trends, and socializing with like-minded people all day. I’m also working my dream job from home as a writer and freelancer. I don’t like commuting, and I don’t like socializing in business settings (ugh, small talk!). I’m free to work where I want, and work as little or as much as I’d like, on my own schedule. When we retire, I’ll continue to freelance, and Devin will continue to work in a gun shop (it just might happen to be his own though). Right now, we work because we love our work, and also to eat and to save for our retirement. Once retired, we’ll work for the sole purpose of its enjoyment and impact.
We already set aside 1-3 days a week to do what we want, be it having a lazy day of movies and popcorn, kayaking, camping, mini-road-tripping, or spending time with our dogs and horses. This is a good balance, and we plan to keep it even after retirement. We may have to sneak in a few long-distance trips through- Eastern Europe, Canada, and Iceland are calling our names.
We do put aside time to invest in friendships and helping others, but I really hope to give away more time and money once we reach FIRE.
We also spend every Friday evening cooking a meal and having dinner with my mom, sisters, and maternal grandparents. I’d like to start doing something similar for my husband’s side of the family soon (I married into an excellent family!!), regardless of our FIRE status. Family time is really important to me.
FIRE isn’t the Only Way
Look, FIRE won’t magically cure all your problems or make you a happier person. For some people, it’s really not feasible or ‘worth it’, and that’s okay. What works for me, doesn’t have to work for you. The sole purpose of today’s post was to introduce you to this movement you may not have known about and give you the opportunity to take it or leave it.
Take the 20 Days to the Money You’ve Always Deserved Challenge
Today’s post was the very first one I’ve created in over a month! This was because I spent a lot of time on my freelancing business, but I also poured over 100 hours (no, that’s not a typo!!!) into creating the 20DTTMYAD Challenge. As of right now, I’ve got a few people who are on Day 6 of 20, and I’ve already had some seriously uplifting emails and tweets expressing how much people are enjoying (and benefitting) from this challenge.
This challenge is awesome because it gives you my contact info, which allows us to talk to each other, day or night, and really work together to improve your finances.
Every day, for 20 Days, you’ll get an email from me with a message, and then two challenges. These challenges are not remarkably difficult, but they really pack a punch! Seriously, if you only do about 5 of the 20 challenges, you’ll see some awesome and radical changes in your life, for the better.
If you’re interested, click the photo below to give it a try. Don’t worry, it’s free. And best of all, there are no hidden affiliate links, sponsored posts, ads, or sneaky ‘coupons’ anywhere in this challenge. The goal is to help you get a better handle on your money, not spend more of it.
I literally created this challenge because I keep finding bad financial advice online, and hearing it in out in public. Since it’s frowned upon to stop a conversation you’re not involved in to add in your two cents, I’ve resorted to creating an easy to access, free resource, with the hopes that those who could use it, will find it and take advantage of it.
Take the challenge today, click the photo below!
- Have you heard of the FIRE movement before?
- Would you ever consider pursuing FIRE?
- Heck, just share some of your favorite life hacks down in the comments below, we all need more of those.
Like this post?
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As always, thank you for stopping by!