It seems millennials don’t wish to get sucked into the rat race the way their parents did. The FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early) is literally setting the world alight. FIRE is allowing people to retire as early as their mid-thirties. So how does it work? Early retirement is achieved by living life frugally, permanently. This does two things. Firstly, it enables you to pay off debt quicker and save more. Secondly, the fact that you have cut your living costs to the bone means you need less capital to retire. It’s all about living life in a very simple way rather than with all the luxuries and costs of modern living. The internet is clogged with bloggers extolling the virtues of FIRE and young people are avidly reading their posts, learning from those who have ‘FIRED’ successfully.
Being financially independent brings a huge sense of freedom but it doesn’t necessarily bring happiness. It’s important to define what happiness means for you and how much money you need to do or have the things that make you happy. Giving up your job can mean a loss of identity and of a sense of purpose. Think carefully about how you would fill your day if you weren’t working. Early retirees sometimes find the ‘honeymoon’ period of retirement quickly wears off, and boredom sets in if there is nothing meaningful to replace work. For couples or singles looking for a partner, the FIRE mindset needs to be shared, or it can destroy a relationship. Friends and others in society can find it hard to relate to someone who doesn’t fit the norm. Unexpected expenses from the likes of divorce, ill-health and natural disaster can derail someone who has FIRED.
Early retirement is great but it doesn’t solve everything. Think before you FIRE!