Re-FIRE-ment is the new retirement. Or at least, that’s what they say. OK, I made it up.
The concepts of living well below your means, spending intentionally in alignment with what really matters in life, shunning mindless consumerism, are not new. The FIRE movement (Financially Independent, Retire Early – or make Retirement Elective) is bringing more and more people to the discovery that they can live their dreams by slashing expenses.
I’m a big proponent of the FIRE movement, and have been since before it was called FIRE. I came to it back in the early 2000’s with Your Money Or Your Life, which I found from a book called the Tightwad Gazette. Although women aren’t usually portrayed as driving the FIRE train, in my household, that’s absolutely the case.
Even if you can’t quit your job and travel the world at 35 – or don’t want to! – getting your expenses as low as possible while getting your income as high as possible can give you options. Options to send your kids to college, start scholarships, take on more meaningful work, or just feel financially secure.
Redefining Retirement on FIRE
FIRE Principles Saved Us When My Husband Nearly Died
When I was 32, with two young kids, my husband went into septic shock following a surgery. The time since was filled with a month away from home in the hospital and rehab, multiple other surgeries, and lasting impacts. The only reason we were able to get through this time financially was because we’d been saving and investing much more than “average” for quite some time. Although we hadn’t hit the magic 50% mark, we were well on our way. It was this event that sparked the desire to save and invest even more. Here’s more about our story.
The public seems to think that all folks seeking FIRE are young, white, men in tech. Sometimes you can throw into the stereotypes someone with no kids, no significant medical/other life issues, and earning a high income in a low cost of living area. There are many amazing people out there who do fit these stereotypes – but many more who don’t. Learn more about how these perceptions damage the movement, and what Pete (aka Mr. Money Mustache himself) pledged to do to help fix it.
Your Savings Rate Is Meaningless
Ever see someone bragging about their savings rate being 90%, 75%, or 50%? Have you felt like your savings rate must be inadequate, because you just can’t compare? In this article, I talk all about how different savings rate definitions can skew the percentage – and argue that your savings only really matters in the context of your goals.
Safe Withdrawal Rates, Women, and Early Retirement
In this article, I look in-depth at the prior safe withdrawal rate research and discuss what it means to women – and early retirees. And yes, for this article I actually read the Trinity Study, as well as related research.
Learn To Live On Lentils
Have you heard the saying “learn to live on lentils, and you won’t be subservient to the king”? I argue if you learn to live on lentils, you can become financially free. Make your needs few, and you’ll be able to use the power of your income to super-charge your savings.
Income Inflation Plus Lifestyle Deflation Equals Freedom
Growing the gap between income and expenses is the only way to become free. Of course, the higher your income is, the easier it looks to be to do this (although it’s not always “easy” – come back to the next article for more). No matter what your current income level, deflating your lifestyle and upping your income is how you grow that gap.
Use Your Bonus And Raise To Break The Golden Handcuffs
If you work in a corporate job, you may receive a bonus. And perhaps you get a raise each year – even a small one. You can use the power of compounding to turn that raise and bonus into freedom, rather than into more “stuff” you don’t need. Learn more about how here.
Giving On FIRE
One powerful reason many folks want to become financially independent is to become generous givers. It’s certainly possible to give when you don’t have much – and some may argue it’s more meaningful – but feeling that yourself and your family are financially secure allows you to be more generous. In this article I talk about Vanguard and Fidelity donor advised funds, which are great options for setting up a giving legacy.
Hack Your Way To Maxing Your 401k
Back when I started working, I didn’t make nearly enough to max my 401k. In fact, sometimes I thought I would never get there. So I focused on putting away what I could, even though it wasn’t much, and using half my raises to eventually hit the max. You can do this too – find out more about how, here.
Embrace Your Frugal Weirdo
Ever feel like others think your level of frugality is strange? It’s time to stop caring what they think, and embrace your frugal weirdo. Sometimes if you drive an older car, live in an older, smaller house (by today’s standards anyway), don’t eat out, and use creativity to have fun rather than money – other people will think you’re strange. And that’s OK. Lets embrace our frugal weirdos.
Calculator Mountain – My Review Of 26 Retirement Calculators
I once used twenty six retirement calculators in a single day, and posted about it. Yes, it was a bit crazy. Yes, it was fun (for me, at least). Read on to see what I thought of them all, and the answer to the eternal question – did I get that wine?
It’s OK If You Don’t Want To Quit Your Job And Travel The World
When you start to hang around the FIRE movement, you can be forgiven for buying into some of the stereotypes that everyone wants to quit their job and travel the world. Some don’t, though, and that’s OK. A vision of an ideal life is different for everyone: and to me, becoming FI is about being able to live out your vision, whatever that might be.
High Income Doesn’t Mean Wealthy
People mistakenly believe that having a high income makes you wealthy – but it’s not about what you make, it’s about what you keep. Many high income folks are pressured into keeping up with the proverbial Jonses rather than living an authentic life. Whether it’s fancy cars, expensive homes (that begat ever more expensive things), private school, excessive clothes, or anything else, the high income face much pressure to spend.
Willpower – Is It A Limited Resource?
When you’re exercising willpower in one area of your life, you may find it hard to do so in another. So you might be ultra-focused on your finances, but find your health slipping (or vice versa). This article explores studies and research around why this might be – and the next article talks about how to hack this.
Transfer Effect – Hack Your Willpower
Getting smarter about your money can make you smarter about your money. The transfer effect explains why this is true. Learn more about how you can hack your willpower, a limited resource, and set yourself up for success.
Do You Need A Budget? Not Necessarily
There’s a technique that millionaires use to manage their money when they don’t want to create and maintain a strict budget – and you can do it too! Just sweep off the top whatever you need to meet your goals. Then spend the rest however you want. Reaching financial independence is all about experimentation and setting yourself up for success. If a strict budget isn’t for you, give this a try.
Cone Of Financial Uncertainty
Don’t let analysis paralysis keep you from taking action. Whenever you’re making financial plans, tomorrow’s events are uncertain. The farther out you are from the financial event you’re planning for, the more uncertain things become. Check out here more about how to deal with this – and use agile roadmapping techniques to help you.
Is financial automation a good thing – or a setup for disaster? The answer is, “it depends”. Check out here where I talk more about the pros and cons of automating your money.
Interested to learn more about your money? Check out my “Your Money” page for more.
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