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Retirement Spending

The F.I.R.E. Movement

I’ve been reading about the FIRE movement for years – FIRE meaning ‘Financially Independent, Retire Early’ So what exactly is it? Let me start by saying, I am NOT young and certainly not ready to retire but many devotees of this movement have managed to ditch their jobs, retire young and now travel the world or do whatever hell they want.

HOW DID THEY DO IT?

From some of the stories I’ve read, these FIRE followers lived below their means, sometimes saving as much as 50% of their income (or even more) and then invested any surplus in the stock market or real estate. The stock market has been on a huge bull run the past ten years, bloating many stock portfolios and allowing some of these young savers to even retire in their 30’s! I’m an older guy and I have to tell you, I do not have the money to retire, and it is impressive to hear how they have done it.

I think the run up in values of the stock and real estate markets has surely been a help. Tech stocks have gone up by at least a factor of ten or twenty – it doesn’t take much to retire if you invested wisely have have the benefit of this. I also noticed many of the FIRE disciples had high-paying tech or professional jobs. I wonder if it would be as easy to retire early if you didn’t have the benefit of an excellent education which many of these jobs require. Does it look like much fun living far below your means as many of these early-retirees did? I guess it depends on what kind of person who are and what you can tolerate – short term sacrifice for long term gain!

IF YOU’RE OLDER AND NOT YET RETIRED?

Well, I do feel a certain amount of envy …lol … but here are a few lessons that I will take away from the FIRE movement:

  1. Discipline – it’s still not too late to keep track of your finances and keep your expenses low – it’s never too late to live below your means and not ‘keep up with the Joneses’
  2. Retirement – I’ve learned that I will always have to be doing ‘something’. I will never fully retire because I would get bored … but, it is nice to have the bank account to have the freedom to tell people to get lost.
  3. Multiple streams – the stock market took a hit early in the pandemic. I think if someone was living off one source of income, it could be a cause for concern. Multiple streams are the way to go and anyone can start at any age.
  4. Real Estate – it’s never too late to buy a rental property (cash-flow positive) or do some kind of ‘house hacking’ or renting out a part of your home if you can.
  5. Comparison – it’s not always good to compare yourselves to others. Everyone’s journey is different and maybe don’t worry so much.

I have to admit, I was a late-bloomer with regards to my personal finances. When I was younger, no one really talked about money as much as they do today. I got my first internet connection in 1996 and at the time, personal finance blogs were not as prevalent as they are today. One of the first books on personal finance I read was “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” back in 1997 and that opened my eyes to the world of how money really works. Today, there are literally thousands of blogs and pieces of information on any topic you want. I think culturally, money is talked more openly now.

Anyways, onward I will continue … I think I will modify the term F.I.R.E. for myself – ‘Financially Independent, Retire Eventually.’