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Meet the FIRE savers who retired early

Meet the FIRE savers who retired early

Fisker’s 2010 book, “Early Retirement Extreme” — written mostly while living in an RV on $7,000 a year — is a seminal text for early retirees. Two others are “Your Money or Your Life,” a 1992 personal finance bible written by Joseph R. Dominguez and Vicki Robin, and the blog Mr. Money Mustache, started in 2011 by Peter Adeney, who retired from his software engineer job. in 2005, at the age of 30, and figured out how to reduce his family’s expenses to just $24,000 a year. The Tao of the three volumes is that minimalist spending and anti-consumption can offer the keys to a better life. (Adéney professed (He’s just trying to get the rich to stop destroying the planet), but his tens of thousands of monthly visitors tend to be more obsessed with his other mantra: “Make yourself rich so you can retire early.”)

Conventional FIRE practitioners are not necessarily high earners or genius mathematicians with incredible impulse control. Their superpower is their expert planning; it’s the ability to see the finish line from miles away that has allowed even some minimum wage workers to retire early. A simple FIRE rule of thumb is to first calculate your target “FI number” by multiplying expected annual retirement expenses by at least 25, then save as much as possible in interest-producing or tax-advantaged buckets like 401(k)s. , low-fee index funds, certificates of deposit, HSAs, and Roth IRAs until you reach that number. As an example, if you bring home $150,000 per year, can save half of that, and plan to spend $50,000 per year in retirement, you will only need 16.5 years before you can say goodbye to your job. For those who earn less or spend more, it will take longer – but for still others who can withstand greater sacrifices, FIRE may be possible as early as their 30s.

From these simple origins, many offshoots of FIRE have sprouted – some much more brazen than others. These days, it’s rare to find someone who actually wants to retire early while living on beans; these individuals, with their rigorous rigor, are widely known in the community as LeanFIRE. More people are aiming for CoastFIRE (a more measured approach that involves focusing your retirement savings up front, “rolling” on compound interest, and working lightly until you’re ready to quit) or BaristaFIRE ( quit your job but bolster your retirement with a side job, such as a part-time barista, to receive health insurance benefits) or FatFIRE (a luxurious, no-sacrifice approach to retirement, the opposite of LeanFIRE – and the subset to which Wong belongs).

You might be tempted to think of pre-retirees as slackers, enjoying the sun while everyone else is working hard. But why not consider them courageous maniacs, daring to build a completely new vision of the world? Retirement has long been intended as a reward for a job well done – social reformers began pushing for mandatory post-work benefits in the early 20th century, and policies like Social Security later codified the tipping point between work and play – but if FIRE’s incredible popularity of late (the r/Fire subreddit alone has nearly half a million members) is a defiant response to economic woes, but it is also a plea to reassess the central role of work in modern life. Perhaps, the movement suggests, we should always have stepped up for ourselves and no one else, from the start.

On my left was a woman who ran a sex hotline; to my right, a cruise operator, a disaster response volunteer, a kitchen appliance contractor, a public school teacher, and a former Off Broadway actor who now lives in the back of a 18-wheeler and spends 70 percent of his weekly paycheck time in index funds. It was a cool spring weekend and we had all flown to Cincinnati for EconoMe, an annual FIRE conference where hundreds of people of all ages, from everywhere, swap tips about financial independence from dawn to dusk. . The purpose of FIRE meetings – EconoMe is the largest, but others are held around the world, some monthly – is only partly to give tax advice. After all, each person’s retirement plan is a highly individualized choreography, which is why the numerous workshops and working groups are intended to offer only high-level ideas. The broader goal of these meetings is more of a kind of group therapy, intended to help people achieve their common goals and overcome their shared struggles.

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Mattie B. Jiménez

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