Damaging The Movement I Love – The Problem With FIRE Stereotypes and The Mainstream Media

I have been interested in FIRE (financial independence, retire early) since before it was called FIRE. And it breaks my heart to hear people say that they think the movement isn’t for them, and it’s only for white male software engineers. Or only for those that earn a high income.

I’ve been pursuing FI for a long time – since I was a broke new graduate from college, making $35k per year, struggling to survive on a small income and care for a baby. Life hasn’t been easy, and my road hasn’t been a straightforward one. But I’ve gotten back up whenever I had setbacks, because I believe in the power of financial freedom.

My introduction to the FIRE movement was not Mr. Money Mustache, or the “Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement.” Most people who I speak with nowadays started here. But not me.

No, it was a woman called Amy Dacyczyn and a book called The Tightwad Gazette (affiliate link). I call it one of the four books that changed my financial life.

The story of how I came to the financial independence movement is why I hate the current media-driven stereotype about FIRE being for white, male, software engineers who blog (I know I’m not the only one – my friend Our Next Life wrote about it recently too).

This breaks my heart, because I truly believe FIRE is for everyone. I call it “Financially Independent, Retirement Elective” for a reason.

I even asked Mr. Money Mustache himself about it. Stay tuned for his response.

And check out a list of just some of the many, varied sites of people pursuing financial freedom.

How I Loved FIRE Before It Was FIRE

You see, in the back of that book, Amy has a short article on the concept of financial freedom. She was the stay at home mother of six children, and they lived on her husbands Navy salary. While living on that salary, they saved money in every way possible so they could live their dreams of buying a lovely, large, older home in Maine without the two working parent/daycare craziness that was part of most couples lives at the time (late 80’s/early 90’s).

In that chapter, she talks about a book called Your Money Or Your Life (affiliate link) by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robbin. She discussed how she doesn’t think financial independence and early retirement is for most people, but for her family, they were able to do so because they lived below their means and scored a book deal through her gazette.

I was in my early 20’s when I first read that chapter, as part of the first of many times reading through her book. I can’t remember what year it was when I finally picked up Your Money Or Your Life, but I was in my early to mid twenties. This would have been in the early to mid 2000s.

There’s a reason Your Money Or Your Life is on that list of the four books that changed my financial life.

Tightwad Gazette
Here it is – Page 831. Luckily I read the entire book.

When I read the book, I was not an MBA, mother of three, or six figure earner. I was the breadwinner, but not by nearly as much as today. I was not broke, but I was far from wealthy. Something about the book just clicked with me. I can’t remember if it was the concept of the crossover point, where your investment income was enough to cover your expenses. Or if it was the idea of the freedom and security that financial independence represented. It may have been the concept of exchanging your life energy for “stuff”…or for freedom,

The book was filled with examples of ordinary people – single women, married couples, younger and older – who had done it. Joe Dominguez himself made his money on Wall Street and never profited from his books. He spread the message that a simple, frugal life coupled with saving and investing can bring you freedom, while consumerism will only trap you in the earn-to-spend cycle.  Vicki was a follower of Joe, and together they founded an all-volunteer, non profit foundation to help bring the message of financial freedom to more people.

It was that message, and those stories, that resonated with me. There were people like me there, high income and low, with families and without, and it seemed like a very inclusive idea. I distinctly remember the story of a waitress saving for FI. Financial freedom was something anyone could achieve given time, money, patience, and a willingness to focus on the things that really matter in life rather than “stuff”.

This beginning is exactly why it saddens me so much to see the stereotyping of people who achieve financial freedom in the mainstream media.

The Birth Of The FIRE Movement

For a long time, those of us who adhered to the principles of Your Money Or Your Life sat by ourselves, bothering our friends and family with our crazy ideas. Then with the birth of the internet, we were able to find others who were interested in financial freedom.

I don’t know when the FIRE acronym first came up – who invented it or why. But it was Pete from Mr. Money Mustache that first became well known, and cemented the idea in the public’s head that FIRE was for white, male, software engineering bloggers.

I’m a big fan of Pete’s. I read his blog before he got big (I’ve been reading personal finance blogs since J.D. Roth was chiseling them into stone tablets back in the 90’s), and loved his ideas and writing style. I’m in IT, like him, so I’m a relatively logical thinker. And it was nice to find someone talking specifically about financial independence. Having virtual “friends” along for the ride helps you feel like you’re not alone.

Note – “Friend” is in quotes because until I started this website, I was strictly a lurker. Never commented. So it was a one-sided friendship.

I also don’t remember when, exactly, that happened. But I do know why. And it’s not because of Pete, or Carl of 1500 Days, Jeremy at Go Curry Cracker, or the Mad FIentist. They’re all amazing bloggers who wrote to tell their stories with the world, never intending that they would feed a stereotype that didn’t exist yet.

Why The Stereotype Exists

It’s because the mainstream media is inherently lazy, prone to the most extreme of headlines, and follows each other like a pack of rabid animals. When one big media outlet picks something up, the others ones do as well. And they tend to write stories about each others stories, seeking out the same source every time. Most don’t bother digging deeper to find other sources, and they write blithely about how the movement is mostly young, male, white, and in tech.

CMO Note- a reader kindly pointed out in the comments that this characterization isn’t true of the individual people who work in media. I thought that was a good point-I don’t want to reinforce stereotypes either. This might be what it looks like to us from the outside, but individual reporters within the media companies are mostly good folks doing the best job they can.

When they do this, they don’t realize (or don’t care) the damage they’re doing to peoples financial futures.

Those of us independent bloggers, hobbyists, and writers just don’t have the reach to successfully counter mainstream media with a different story. Nothing I write here on my site has the reach of a New York Times article. Even a hundred – or hundreds – of us writing together can’t match the reach of a single front page article. Not just because of the size of their audience, but also because of all the news outlets who will write articles about their article. The NY Times has 42 million Twitter followers, 16 million on Facebook, and 4.4 million on Instagram. Together, they have more social reach than us combined with even the biggest of bloggers.

What makes me think this? How do I know for sure? At FinCon, I chatted with someone looking to start a blog, and she told me how there were no female FIRE bloggers. This is after major media features of Bianca, a flight attendant; Lily, an AirBnb hostTanja from Our Next Life, a former consultant, and Liz Frugalwoods, And these seventy blogs listed on the Rockstar Finance forums by women about early retirement. Let’s not forget about Angela from Tread Lightly Retire Early’s famous list of women in the financial independence movement, and her Facebook group with 2,000 women.

It’s not just women, either. I spoke with men at FinCon who have dismissed the FIRE movement because they’re not high income, or in tech. I also spoke with women who feel like the stereotype has stuck, and no matter what they do, they just can’t move the needle back in the other direction. There are people who feel as if because they’re lower income, FIRE isn’t for them. The list goes on.

And that’s what really makes me sad. Because financial freedom, financial independence, is very important to me. And I feel strongly that the pursuit of it is for everyone.

The Damage

When people don’t see others like themselves – with a similar story, background, values, family situation, career, etc. – inside of a particular movement, they dismiss it. People make decisions very quickly, and if the first thing they read in that NY Times article where the author proclaims that the movement is mostly for young males in tech, they roll their eyes and move on with life.

Why is FIRE so important to me? Why do I care? After all, I’m fine financially. What does it matter what other people do, or think?

Because the concepts of financial freedom and financial independence, time, and patience are what has gotten me into the financial situation I’m in today. Without them, as my income increased from $22k to six figures, I would have adopted the lifestyles of my co-workers rather than deflating mine. When my husband got sick and almost died of septic shock six years ago, I would have gone bankrupt, or still been paying off bills today.

Yes, it’s true that my story will never be as headline-grabbing as “retired at 32 to travel the world!” I’m thirty eight, so without a time machine I will never retire at 32. My husbands illness and subsequent very long recovery did take a financial toll, although it did not derail us entirely thanks to our saving and investing habits over the years. And I will be able to retire long, long before a typical person – all because of those same lessons.

And that’s the real damage these stereotypes do. It causes other ordinary people – people who might already be in their 30’s and 40’s, who may have a lower income, in careers that have nothing to do with tech, and who otherwise don’t fit into the stereotype – to dismiss the whole thing without digging any deeper. Other ordinary people like I was, all those years ago.

I want them to find the strategies of financial independence, and pursue them. Not dismiss them.

What I Asked Pete (aka Mr. Money Mustache) – And What He Said

OK, you may be wondering what I asked Pete about at FinCon. It was about this exact topic.

My perspective, as someone pursuing FI for a very long time, is skewed. It’s even further skewed by the fact that I’ve spent the past two years diving deep into the personal finance blog world, where I’ve found people from every background. So I don’t pay too much attention to the mainstream media, unless I see my friends there. And when I do, I just get excited that they’re featured.

But I keep hearing the same complaints from others about the stereotypes, and I wanted to know two things:

  • Why does this stereotype exist?
  • What could we, as people at FinCon who write/podcast/blog about personal finance, do to help change it?

At FinCon, we all had the chance to ask Pete a few questions. So I thought I would ask. If anyone would have an idea of how we could tackle the problem, I figured that he would.

Pete was kind enough to answer both questions, in a very helpful way.

The answer to the first question was that the media tends to follow itself. When someone becomes a big, public deal, the media coverage follows them. I’ve heard someone call it “having momentum” before, and it’s why once someone is picked up in a major publication other publications follow suit. Pete, Carl, Jeremy, Jacob, and Brandon all have similar backgrounds and perspectives. They write about their lives, and for others like them. When they’re picked up as the representatives of the FIRE movement, and that coverage is spread widely (and repeated ad nauseum), people on the outside tend to think that this concept is only for those with a similar background.

For the second question, Pete actually turned the responsibility back on himself and the others who are frequently in the media. Frankly, they don’t always like doing interviews anyway. They could turn away some of that coverage and deflect it to others in the community who could showcase a different perspective. That would help those on the outside to see that this really is something anyone can do, in all different life circumstances/family arrangements/backgrounds/careers.

I thought that was generous, and a good idea. After all, I (and my fellow non-famous bloggers) are limited in what we can do. It’s easy to say that we could, theoretically, become just as famous and well known. And we could. But it’s difficult and requires a lot of work, as well as a lot of luck. A faster path is those already in the spotlight helping to redirect it towards others.

Asking the question caused people to come up to me for the rest of the conference to thank me for asking it. Frankly, I am a shy person (see: my FinCon and introversion article), and that was a bit…overwhelming. Even Carl from 1500 Days thanked me, and told me to let him know if I could ever use his help. I spoke with a lot of people who said one of a few things:

1 – I was thinking the same thing, but didn’t have the courage to ask.

2 – I’ve never looked into the FIRE movement, because I’ve bought into the stereotype (heard this one from a few men, actually)

3 – I was so glad you asked that, and loved Pete’s answer

Although the support was overwhelming for a person like me, I was happy about it. I didn’t want to come across as critical in any way, or negative. I happen to really enjoy blogs written by men in IT, probably because I’m a woman in IT. I don’t think that I would make the best representative of diversity in the movement, because really – then people will still think it’s a white/IT thing.

But bringing financial independence and financial freedom to more people is really, really important to me. And I do want to do what I can to help break down whatever barriers exist, so more people can find financial security.

Blogs That Break The Mold

So mainstream media, if you’re reading this and looking for your next scoop, check out this list of different perspectives on FIRE. You’ll not only get an interesting and fascinating story, but you’ll also be truly helping others at the same time.

Be sure to add your suggestions in the comments, so I can update this list.

Looking for a man not in tech, dad, retiring early in his 50’s? You want Fritz from the (award winning) Retirement Manifesto.

How about a female teacher, and mom, who retired early in her 50’s? Check out Vicki from Make Smarter Decisions.

Want to find some non-white men? Stop by and read about TJ from Half Life Theory, or Jude from African Style FI. Perhaps also swing by Joe from Retire by 40.

FI from an LGBTQ+ perspective? You want Queer FI. Or ZJ Thorne. Or Frugasaurus. Or why not all three?

Eight years sober, and on path to FI? Want some inspiration from someone on the same path? Try Ms. Fiology.

Female, teacher, world citizen, mom, pursuing FI and location independence? Laurie from Three Year Experiment is who you want.

Want to feature a female in tech who is financially independent and taking a break from work? Find Felicity from Fetching Financial Freedom.

A mom who doesn’t make a six figure income? Angela from Tread Lightly, Retire Early is who you want to see.

How about Erin from Reaching for FI, pursuing financial independence on a non-profit income in an expensive city.

A woman who’s actually cut the cord and retired early from a non-tech job? You want Tanja from Our Next Life.

Looking for large families who FI? Jillian from Montana Money Adventures is who you seek.

Non-white women who FI? What about Olivia from Birds of a FIRE, Lily Frugal Gene, and Journey to Launch?

How about some nurses? Living Life, Loving Us has the female mom nurse perspective, and check out Smart FI for the male dad nurse one.

A family of five living on mom’s income, with a stay at home dad, pursuing FIRE despite huge medical problems? Give me a ring.

You can also check the many stories of the different Women on FIRE featured here on my site.

In Closing

Luckily, people who write about personal finance and financial freedom on the internet know that financial independence isn’t just for one type of person. There are many people who consume content for every one person who creates it, I know this means there are many people out there that are on the journey to financial freedom that don’t fit the stereotype. I see it all the time in forums, on social media, on blogs, and elsewhere.

I sincerely hope the media picks up some of their stories, and shares them just as widely.

Only then can we help change the world, and set more people financially free.

Are you a woman on FIRE, or simply have a different kind of background and want me to share it with the world? Hop on over to my Be Featured page and fill out the interview form to be considered. Don’t fit one of those categories? Email me at liz@chiefmomofficer.org so we can chat.

Be sure to follow my blog for more great posts via e-mail or WordPress, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter and say hello! You can also check out what I’m buying or baking on Instagram,  what I’m pinning on Pinterest, or the latest books I’m reading (or want to read) over on Goodreads.

37 thoughts on “Damaging The Movement I Love – The Problem With FIRE Stereotypes and The Mainstream Media”

  1. It’s because the mainstream media is inherently lazy, prone to the most extreme of headlines, and follows each other like a pack of rabid animals.

    Drop-mic, walk off. And that assures that this article won’t get picked up by mainstream media, not that you care 🙂

    Lots of good nuggets here. And having been down there in Orlando at FINCON myself I talked to tons of folks from all walks of life and occupations. Sure, all of them weren’t FI, but most were on the path and taking time out of their lives to travel to an event about it. That shows commitment and passion.

    It was so awesome meeting you and congrats again on your award!

    1. chiefmomofficer

      I agree with all of this. The great thing is that once you’re on the path, seeking out others, you find tons of people with different backgrounds doing the same thing. But if the mainstream media drops phrases like “this is mostly a thing that appeals to guys in tech”, or even the other stereotype of “high income and living in a van” or whatever, it turns people off. I know they don’t care, but I do. And thanks!

  2. Let’s talk about stereotypes: I am a white male engineer and I am still not sure if FIRE is for me…

    On the other hand, yes, there is a specific type of human being who is capable of reaching FIRE. The most important thing is that you are breathing and alive. The second most important is that you have an open mindset, you believe that things can be changed, you want to put your energy into analyzing your financial situation, you want to put energy into researching how you can improve it and once you find your path you can consistently follow it.

    Earning a high salary definitely helps to accelerate the journey but as you can see from the examples it is not impossible even with lower salaries. In the end, it all boils down to your optimized living expenses and your savings rate. And to never forget that you can always improve your situation, you are not late and this is not a contest.

    Oh, and Liz, you deserve a special thanks as you definitely do a great job in spreading the word about the most different paths to reaching FIRE.

    1. chiefmomofficer

      Thanks HCF. As I mentioned, I’m a white woman in IT, so I don’t feel like I’m the right example to hold up and say “look, anyone can do it!” But I can use my platform to be the one to help do that.

  3. Great post Liz, way to keep pushing the movement forward, and always pulling in people from all sorts of backgrounds to bask in the glory of FI together.

    Thank you for continuing to serve the community!

    1. chiefmomofficer

      I think sometimes that I’m too close to it to know how much of a difference there is. Heck, Military Dollar made a card with women in finance for FinCon, and it still comes up!

  4. There are so many important things here. And I think it’s worth remembering that the online FIRE movement is relatively new, but what *a lot* of us are seeking isn’t. Most people not connected to the movement digitally or IRL might scratch their heads when they hear about FIRE, but I think everyone wants autonomy and purpose and passion.

    It’s not even that the media is lazy, IMHO. They found a formula that makes them a boatload of cash because it keeps people talking (negatively in the comments).

    1. chiefmomofficer

      Ah, the good old eyeballs business model. Doesn’t matter how we’re impacting people’s lives-just the 💰 in our pockets. I like money just as well as anyone else, but I like changing people’s lives more

  5. Having read one of the many pages of comments attacking The Escape Artist on a recent Daily Mail article in the UK, I’d say that one reason the media love to hate FIRE is that there’s a ready market for it out there in the general population. Perhaps the problem is that articles tend to be along the lines of “x retired at 30”, which most people just can’t relate to at all. Those who have achieved financial independence are easily written off as smug b****rds. Maybe the answer is to try to push media attention towards those starting on their FIRE journey? Their motivations, successes and setbacks may resonate better with the general public and generate understanding rather than derision? Jo

    1. chiefmomofficer

      So true. I know they love sensational headlines and stories, but those “I retired at 30!” Or “I saved a million dollars in five years!” Articles really cause a negative perception. Media likes that, though! 😑

  6. Raina - Reading Richly

    I love the Tight Wade Gazette too!

    When I heard you mention it asking your question at FinCon I wanted to jump up and wave.

    I never hear that book mentioned, but Amy is amazing example of prioritizing how you spend money to match your most important goals.
    Isn’t that really the heart of pursing FI?

    Anyone can do that, even if you still work, you’re not retired at 32 or a high earner.
    Great article.

    1. chiefmomofficer

      Yes! My copy of that book is well worn, and was used many times. I remember she had a great chapter where she talked with a friend about frugality, who was saving for a trip around the world. Her friend felt “not frugal” especially compared to Amy with her low income and big family. But Amy told her that prioritizing spending and saving for big goals is the essence of frugality. Even if it looks different for you versus for me.

      And I wish I could have gotten a wave going for Amy! She really is one of our key fore-mothers. I think people don’t know her as much because she truly retired to her home in Maine and didn’t work/do media anymore.

  7. Thanks for asking the question and then writing this! There have been major strides taken this past year to promote other perspectives in the path to FI (like your Women on FIRE series). Someday the mainstream media will catch up. 😉

    1. chiefmomofficer

      I’m sure they will. We just need them to stop saying things like “it’s mostly for men in tech!”.

  8. Fun post! Perhaps the stereotype exists because people consistently talk and link to the stereotype people?

    One of the reasons why I’m excited for Financial Samurai’s growth is because the site is not commonly referred to or linked to in the FIRE space or in mass media.

    As an Asian American who grew up in Asia attending international schools, came to the US for high school, worked in finance, and who lives in an expensive coastal city, it’s a different story that doesn’t fit the mold.

    Given literally half the US population lives on the coasts, I’m really excited about the opportunity to reach out to these people, dealing with high cost of living issues, whether they are a minority or not.

    People have to realize that America and the world is diverse. You only need a small slice of marketshare to do really well.

    I know I won’t have the same amount of opportunities as a minority since most bloggers and mainstream media journalists are white. People naturally tend to gravitate to folks who look and talk like them. But that’s OK.

    I will create my OWN opportunity! Whoo hoo!


    1. chiefmomofficer

      Honestly Sam your site has always been one of my go-tos as well. I know it’s not FIRE, but my personal finance interests are more general finance anyway. And as someone who lives on a coast myself (although the opposite one from you!) I’m always interested in that content 😃

      1. Cool beans.

        I think folks just need to focus on their own opportunity. In this example, some women might overly focus on why more men are being highlighted. Minorities might overly focus on why white people, men and women, are being highlighted more than they should.

        It never ends until one can adopt the abundance mindset to realize everyone has a tremendous amount of opportunity to carve out their own niche.

        Congrats on the Plutus Award btw!

  9. Thanks for including me here, Liz! Oh man this is an important topic and I loved Pete’s response. I consider it highly respectable for him to say it is the responsibility of those in the media spotlight to deflect to a more diverse crowd. Liz, great job on asking such a big question in what I consider an intimidating forum.

    1. chiefmomofficer

      Yes I was rather intimidated. Not only because I do love Pete’s site, but just the sheer size of the crowd. But honestly I wanted to know his thoughts, because he knows more about the media than most of us. Loved his response.

      1. That is the best reason for asking a question! Nice work on pushing through the intimidation. Love!

  10. I’d never even heard the term FIRE until a few months ago. Actually had to google it.
    This article is great. I’m obviously a novice. It makes absolute sense that (almost) anyone can do this. Sounds like hard work and it requires bulldog intensity but can be done. But certainly can be done.
    Nice job fighting “fire” with FIRE.

  11. Interesting perspective, and it’s nice to hear there was so much support for your ideas at FinCon. I agree with Financial Samurai’s point about making your own opportunities and linking to the people you’d like to see more of — just the way you included all those links to the different FIRE groups, so helpful! In my circles (NYC, more traditional corporate folks) FIRE isn’t a widespread idea, so when my husband and I referenced FIRE in our blog, some of our friends and family thought we came up with the term ourselves! It just goes to show how much room there is for the FIRE movement to grow, and along with that growth will be more diversity in how the movement is perceived.

    1. chiefmomofficer

      So true! I don’t talk about FIRE at work (corporate, Connecticut) because most people I know spend every dime they make. They’d think I’m even more of a weirdo than they likely already do 😆 Part of my mission is to not just help myself, but help others, so I hope I can be a small part of helping to drive change

  12. I think what’s important to point out here is the FIRE movement is pretty new to many and thus give the assumption that it’s not attainable for them because of their financial situation. I believe if they look into it more by dig deeper into the FIRE movement then they might change their outlook on it. It may be a marathon to do it but if they have the commitment and passion to achieve it then it’s possible..just like anything else you set a goal for.

    1. chiefmomofficer

      Heck I’ve been at this for twenty years. It takes longer when you have some major life challenges, and start off low income. But like you said, if you have the dedication to stick with it when the going gets tough, you’ll eventually succeed

  13. Great article and great questions of Pete. Congrats on the Plutus! I hope to make it to FinCon next year with a site that is fully up and running. 🙌🏻

  14. This is such an important topic for us to cover, as it really can be a scary thing for someone to think about trying to do something that, as portrayed, is only done by a small demographic of high-income earners.
    I am an electrician, making right around the median salary, and I love to write about different ways people who don’t make six figures can save money and build confidence by developing DIY skills or learning a trade. I think, especially for second-gem FI, a career in the trades can be a fabulous path to FI, and the education can be had for free if done right! Plus, these are jobs that will never be shipped overseas, and the trades in general are experiencing a massive gap in available jobs vs suitable workers as the older generations are aging out. People have been so focused on going to college for the last forty years or so that they haven’t given the trades a chance, when really there are many fantastic and lucrative opportunities!

    1. chiefmomofficer

      Love that you help share a different perspective. My father always used to tell me that I should get into one of the trades. My personality was better suited to college, but I absolutely agree the trades and DIY skills have advantages over going into debt for college.

  15. cathleen hutchins

    I was a lurker for the last 5+ years, too! Just reading content- not even exploring outside of MMM- just started seriously documenting and writing hoping to have a guide for my kid when he grows up. And suddenly, I’ve discovered FB groups and all these great blogs by all sorts of people! Don’t worry, You are famous with me!
    It sounds like FINCON was a roaring success.
    Though my thoughts on financial independence are not swayed by the articles presented by media- I am not even sure how I found MMM, but I don’t think it was through the news. Though it is interesting to see the news features on MMM and other similar more famous blogs and compare them with what I have read in their blogs.
    I also think that maybe the IT crowd is featured more for FIRE community because at the critical forming period mostly IT people were writing blogs about optimizing their finances. Less so for others. I’m an engineer-but not a computer or IT person- so forming websites, blogs, etc. was not on my radar for the longest of times. Its all materials engineering and industrial engineering (efficiencies) for me.
    So perhaps its the fact that a majority of the early successful bloggers all had a predelection towards documenting and sharing with the world anyway, back when programming knowledge was required to host and put up a blog. And I don’t know how the word “predelection” is supposed to be spelled but I am too lazy to go look it up and correct it, or to try different alternatives to get the squiggly red line to go away :).
    Similarly, as certain careers are still associated with male vs. female connotations due to the historically accepted leanings (like nurses, teaching, being a doctor or lawyer or engineer)- maybe FIRE is suffering from such preconditioned leanings.
    Lucky for us- we get to catch it well in its relative infancy and make the correction now- just as you are doing with your blog, featuring plenty of women who are crushing it.

    1. chiefmomofficer

      That’s a great point Cathleen. Blogs now are really easy to start (hard to get to succeed, but easy to start) and they used to be much harder. People with tech backgrounds were probably more likely to be making websites. Hopefully we can all be part of helping change things! 💪

  16. “It’s because the mainstream media is inherently lazy, prone to the most extreme of headlines, and follows each other like a pack of rabid animals. When one big media outlet picks something up, the others ones do as well. And they tend to write stories about each others stories, seeking out the same source every time. Most don’t bother digging deeper to find other sources, and they write blithely about how the movement is mostly young, male, white, and in tech.”

    You’re right that when a big media outlet picks something up, others do to, and that reporters often go to the same sources. And as a PR person, my experience is that reporters have to turn a lot of stories and don’t necessarily have time to invest in cultivating new sources – and since reporters work on deadline, it’s easier/faster to go to someone who you know understands what you need (a soundbite, an on-camera interview, whatever).

    That being said, your link that “the mainstream media is inherently lazy, prone to the most extreme of headlines, and follows each other like a pack of rabid animals” is leaving a really bad taste in my mouth. You wrote a piece about why stereotypes are (and why they’d bad and damaging no less) and led with one yourself! Reporters are individuals. They’re people. Some may be lazy, but I’d say most aren’t. Also, most reporters in mainstream media don’t even write their own headlines (editors or web content people do)! To say nothing of your comparing them to rabid animals…

    I love your blog and appreciate the broader point you’re making about FIRE being more than just white male IT types. Please just remember that reporters are more than just… well, you know.

    1. chiefmomofficer

      Good point. This may be what it looks like to us on the outside, but just like other people’s perception of FIRE, I’m sure it’s not true of the individual people in the industry. I appreciate you pointing that out to me!

  17. Yes, a coworker introduced me to MMM, which is when I learned the term FIRE, but I’d been exploring the ideas of FI and RE separately. My parents saved, invested, lived & raised my siblings and I frugally. When they reached points in their careers where they were forced out or chose to exit, they were financially set to retire before the typical or social security age. I wanted to set myself up for that freedom!
    I was working at a large international company, and realizing I would never make it very far up the corporate ladder, without a level of undying loyalty, and life energy I wasn’t willing to sacrifice. If becoming a high level executive was suddenly off the table as my goal, what did I want out of life? Having enough money to spend time with friends and family, and maybe pursue volunteer work, or work I’d like to do but doesn’t pay near my current salary (which would be possible if I had enough in the bank to cover living expenses and any pay was extra).
    I’m definitely not in IT, and I’d like to make 6 figures some day. 🙂
    I am grateful to you, and many other women on (in pursuit of) FIRE, and to all the bloggers sharing their stories. If you curate a little from columns a b c, you can find your own path. 🙂

  18. melaniepartnersinfirecom

    Wow this is a great post! I think we all are making tremendous progress in challenging the stereotypes surrounding FI, but there’s still plenty to be done. I recently read a MSM article about a family of color achieving independence by using a bunch of different accounts! Wish I could remember their blog name. But little by little, I think we are breaking through the stereotype. I love your list of all the different bloggers!

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