From One Geek to Another Financial Independence,Money Five Opinions and Ideas About FIRE That I Do Not Agree With

Five Opinions and Ideas About FIRE That I Do Not Agree With



Hello FOGTA Readers,

 

FIRE has been in the news a lot recently. Everything from an interview with Suze Orman to others showcasing what happens when you achieve FIRE and then life catches up with you. It seems like there is a new article or post every week about FIRE.

For those new to the game, FIRE stands for Financial Independence/ Retire Early. It’s a big part of why I started this blog, and we are working towards being financially independent. However, while FIRE seems to be in the headlines, there is a lot of confusion and opinions on what it means and entails. Everyone has a different view on methods you take to get there and whether or not it’s even possible. There are also lots of ideas about the people trying to achieve FIRE.

Sadly, there are quite a few that I do not agree with. Not to say that they are incorrect; different stroke for different folks after all. Just that, for me, it’s not worth it or doesn’t apply. At all. So, here are five opinions and ideas about FIRE that I do not agree with.

Extreme Frugality

 

This one always gets me and often shows up whenever you look up FIRE. And for a good reason. One of the first things you should do is look at your spending and decide what you need and don’t need. You’ll find that you don’t need to go to Starbucks every day of the week for coffee. You won’t need to buy that new dress when you have a closet full of clothes you barely wear. You’ll even be able to live without the Corvette and the Jaguar. All that’s great.

I will not, however, go without AC in the summer. We live in Florida for crying out loud. I am also not going to commit to never going out to eat ever again. That would kill my soul. I am also not planning on eating Ramen and hot pockets until I finally make it to financial independence. Why? Because that is not a life worth living to me. I’m still going to live and enjoy things on this journey. Otherwise, life becomes miserable and that is quite literally the opposite of what I am trying to do.

Great for a day or two. Not for years at a time.

No Longer Working After You Have Achieved Financial Independence

 

With a name like Financial Independence/Retire Early, this can cause a lot of confusion. Many people assume that you hit your FI goal, retire immediately, and then live off the spoils forever. While I am sure there are quite a few people who do this, it’s not my goal.

My goal with this is reaching the point where I no longer need to work. After that, I can do what I like. Right now, I very much need my paycheck to survive. We have five months of expenses saved up, and then we are dead in the water — not a fun place to be. This is made even worse with both my and Mr. FOGTA’s (trying this name out for a bit) job doing an odd shift in their culture and how they manage the companies we work for.

Financial Independence would mean that we would be free of that. We could leave our jobs and do whatever we want to do. Neither of us plans on not working. We plan on stopping work that we do not enjoy just because we need the paycheck. Think of it as retiring from a traditional job vs. retiring altogether, and you’ll get us.

 

You Need At Least $5,000,000 to Retire Early

 

I’m sorry Suze, but that is bullshit.

A couple of months ago, Suze Orman interviewed on the Afford Anything podcast. On it, she declared that she hated the FIRE movement and that you need at least $5,000,000 (really $10,000,000 once you consider taxes) to retire early.

In this same podcast, she also took the time to brag about her private plane, her private island, and how she will never live long enough to spend her money. She also mentioned that she pays $30,000 a month to care for her mother. You know — ordinary things.

Unfortunately, the only thing that I gathered from this is that we are entirely different levels. This means that she is not able to connect with people who are living on a MUCH lower budget than herself. I genuinely believe that due to my lack of private island, private plane, and excessive medical care needs, that we’ll be okay with less than five million. Especially if we are putting it into rental properties like we are planning.

 

People Who Pursue FIRE Are Lazy and Just Don’t Want to Work

 

This is insulting and couldn’t be further from the truth. Working your butt off to increase your savings and income so you can get to FI is anything but lazy. Shortly put, it’s the hardest freaking thing I have ever had to do. It’s even more noteworthy when you realize that the median retirement savings are $16,000 in your 20s and $45,000 in your 30s according to Synchrony.  We are talking about 33 times the median savings for the country.

How the hell is that lazy?

I would dare say that people pursue FIRE are among the most driven people around. They looked at their situation, decided that it would work, and decided to by back their time by becoming financially independent. That is fantastic. Why that is being considered lazy, I have no idea.

 

Constantly Asking, “Is buying this worth working longer?”

 

This one is a little controversial, but hear me out for a second.

I get that if you give up a daily coffee of $5 a day would save you $1825 a year. I also understand that if you were to invest that weekly with a 7% return on investment compounded daily, it would be worth $26,339 in ten years. That’s something to consider, and I agree that you should think about that.

Lots of money can be made from $5 a day.

 

Nevertheless, thinking like that for EVERY purchase is exhausting. Due to my anxieties, this mindset is detrimental. I cannot live that. The things we have given up weren’t sacrifices, even if they felt like it at the time. They were indulgences. Stuff that we didn’t need, but felt like we should have. There are things you’re going to need to buy, and there are things you are going to want to buy. While, I am not on board with buying $400 shoes and $800 dresses (seriously why?), but buying at $20 dress on Amazon should not be the reason for my existential crisis.

Not to mention, I love traveling. It’s a large part of what I want to do in “retirement”. So, me going on vacation now, should not be causing me grief about my “delay” in financial retirement. It’s kind of what I want to do.

Doing this is useful, but it has the risk of keeping you from enjoying today. You end up sacrificing your time and happiness now for a future that may not happen (no guarantees on life, unfortunately) and that’s not healthy. The way I see FIRE is that we should be working towards happiness throughout the whole journey. Not just when you attain it.

 

In Summation

 

So, that’s where I stand on those ideas about FIRE. What about you? Do you have any views or opinions on FIRE? Do you agree with me or do you think I’m crazy? Let me know either way in comments.

 

Till next time!

-G

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21 thoughts on “Five Opinions and Ideas About FIRE That I Do Not Agree With”

  1. G says:

    Sorry if you have been having issues leaving comments. Should be good now! 🙂

  2. Mary L Rosado says:

    Amen to not giving up our occasional treks to eat mussels and still retiring early!

  3. e. wright says:

    FIRE and live within your means, is key.

    1. G says:

      Very true. Thank you for reading.

  4. I’m not a big fan of ramen or agonizing over purchases either. I’m a late starter on the FIRE trail (now in my 60s), so FI without the RE is my probable financial destiny.

    Have made my own coffee at work for over five years now. The savings largely subsidized an expensive clarinet that I had wanted (and paid cash for). I still go out for coffee once a week, in an unhurried place, and out of a mug rather than a paper cup.

    I stay in a hostel when travelling, but I don’t fuss around in the hostel kitchen trying to save a few more dollars — exploring local restaurants is much more fun.

    And don’t even think about trying to take away my symphony tickets!

    1. G says:

      Agreed! Have to enjoy life as well. 🙂 Thank you for reading.

  5. Roxanne Eberle says:

    Is there any chance of getting a link to that spreadsheet?

    1. G says:

      Sure. It’s the investment goal calculator through Bankrate. Here you go: https://www.bankrate.com/calculators/retirement/investment-goal-calculator.aspx
      Thank you for reading!

  6. I love this post. As a Louisiana native, I will definitely run the AC in the summer time! In my opinion, life is best lived in between front loading the sacrifice and letting the good times roll.

    While I pack my lunch during the week, I do enjoy my favorite sushi roll at my favorite rooftop bar in Baton Rouge every now and then!

    1. G says:

      Exactly! We run the AC here too. It’s Florida. We would prefer not to melt. 🙂
      Thanks for reading!

  7. Dan says:

    re: Extreme Frugality. I refer to them as Frugal Freaks and they fly their freak flag proudly. A corollary is the argument against lifestyle inflation. If you start your career living like a college student, lifestyle inflation is a good thing for you. If you are living in a dangerous neighborhood because the rent is cheap, lifestyle inflation is a good thing for your. If you are spending 2 hours per day commuting to work (each way), lifestyle inflation is a good thing for you. Keeping your lifestyle at a level akin to a 21 year college student is not a healthy long-term lifestyle.

    Most people need to inflate their lifestyle to a sustainable level that promotes safety, health, mental well being, etc. above the bare minimum.

    1. G says:

      Some amount of lifestyle creep is definitely healthier for people if they can afford it. Extremes on either side can be too much.
      Thanks for reading. 🙂

  8. JD says:

    Every article about FIRE I read is about leaving their day job or the a job they are in just for the money and that’s ok but the problem is these people are not retired,They are just working at something they love to do.You need to take retired out of the story

    1. G says:

      That is true. Most phrase it as retiring from full-time work. Most will still work on something they love but without the stress of money. There is another acronym called FIOR- Financial Independence Optional Retirement. It may fit some people better, but it’s not widely used.
      Thanks for reading! 🙂

  9. Keith says:

    I like your post for the most part, we should enjoy life, travel while you’re were you g enjoy good food and good company. However, I do believe Suze Orman is correct with that number people neglect the expense of healthcare/illness we will not always be healthy and having an enjoyable retirement appears very expensive. What’s the point if we have to continue to work and not live life to the fullest. I have a number in my head and hopefully that will be enough. Great post.

    1. G says:

      I agree that we do have to save money for medical costs. It come up and there is no avoiding it. I do not think that we need $30,000 a month to cover it though. 🙂
      Thank you for reading.

  10. peterhorsfieldcfp says:

    In truth the F.I.R.E. movement is about self-discovery, our authenticity, experiences and our journey towards personal mastery. The mastery of being able to better define, develop and live our own authenticity and to add value to others.

    1. G says:

      Agreed! 🙂 Thank you for reading.

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