F.I.R.E for beginners and how to get started

Benjamin with fire eyes

What is FIRE?

F.I.R.E stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. It’s an almost new lifestyle movement. It encourages saving, earning, and investing at a high rate to achieve early retirement. 

Why has it become so popular?

Firstly, everyone wants to retire early and live off passive income. F.I.R.E encourages saving the majority of your income. This cash is then ruthlessly invested into a diversified portfolio that will compound over time. The end goal is being able to support yourself when you decide to retire. 

The endless amount of content produced on the internet has also made this become increasingly more popular. Below shows the growth in F.I.R.E-related subreddits over time using subredditstats.com.

Which types of FIRE exist?

  • Fat FIRE: Someone who spends a bit more money and wants to enjoy themselves. These people don’t want to be too stringent with their cash. They would rather earn more than spend less.
  • Lean FIRE: These are the hardcore savers living minimal lifestyles. Making sure everything is optimized to reach their FIRE goals ASAP is a priority. These people are frugal.
  • Barista FIRE: Someone who has quit their 9-5 but still takes on some work to ensure their retirement fund isn’t depleted.
  • Coast FIRE: Coasters have enough to retire but still take on some part-time work to continue growing their fund.

Is F.I.R.E for you?

It’s hard to answer this question without first understanding what your values are. Below are some questions to think about before getting too involved:

  • Do you want to be financially free?
  • Are you willing to be financially free at the expense of instant gratification?
  • Would you change careers/jobs in pursuit of F.I.R.E?
  • Do you have the motivation to educate yourself on financial literacy?
  • Have you struggled starting, sticking to, or eliminating habits?
  • Is your environment conducive to healthy personal finance habits?

Your habits are one of the most important aspects of achieving F.I.R.E. In James Clear’s book ‘Atomic Habits’ it clearly breaks down exactly how to build and remove habits. The book delineates the difference between systems and goals. Systems drive new habits, not goals.

This can all be a bit overwhelming. Especially if your personal financial situation isn’t great. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to Forbes, 71% of Americans are struggling with at least one aspect of their finances. 

Which F.I.R.E should you choose?

So by now, you’re probably thinking about which type of F.I.R.E is best for you. Again, this is based on your values and your goals. 

  • Do you want to retire early with a lot of cash? Fat F.I.R.E is for you.
  • Are you frugal? Lean F.I.R.E might be a good option.
  • Hate working full-time? Maybe Barista or Coast F.I.R.E is an option.

I found the Wait But Why Career Guide gave me great direction. It uncovered my values, my needs, and my wants. This plays an important role in choosing a correct F.I.R.E route. 

An easy way to determine if F.I.R.E is for you is  by joining and engaging with different F.I.R.E communities such as:

Where to from here?

  • Educate yourself on personal finance and habit formation. Arguably the two most important factors for F.I.R.E. Here are my favorite books:
  • Determine your short and long-term goals:
    • Complete the Wait But Why Career Guide
    • Complete The Ultimate Annual Review to audit your year
    • Ask yourself harsh questions:
      • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
      • What sort of person do you want to become?
      • Will you be proud of that person?
      • What will make you resentful?
  • Save more:
    • Track your spending
      • Download free apps that track this for you or create a simple spreadsheet
    • Audit your expenses
  • Make more:
    • Audit your current career
    • Audit your current job
    • Build leverage and ask for a raise or apply for higher-paying jobs
    • Up-skill where you can
  • Invest:
    • Learn about investing and the different forms of assets that can compound over time

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