While the majority of people I talk to about financial independence and early retirement are perceptive, it is definitely a curve-ball compared to their standard worldview. I’d like to go through a few of the most common misconceptions, excuses or complaints that are sometimes levied against the FIRE movement and respond.
- But I like my job
That’s great! I’m happy for you! You can plan on staying at your job for forever. You should still focus on saving money and growing your investments though. Your attitude toward your current job could change for a thousand different reasons. Maybe you get a new boss, the company restructures and you end up doing work that’s not as interesting to you, having to manage others if that’s not your thing, not getting to manage others when you enjoy it, the company moves, the entire industry disappears…and so on. I could keep going but you get the idea. If any of these things happen, you might try to find another job, but wouldn’t it be nice if that wasn’t such an urgent task. The “I need a job right now and I’ll take anything because I need to pay my mortgage” job search is a lot different than the “I want a new job that I will enjoy and also pays me what I deserve, and I’m willing to wait for it” job search. The difference is having some savings to fall back on, weather it’s technically enough to retire forever or enough to get you by for a few years, it provides a HUGE amount of flexibility.
- I don’t make enough
If that’s the case, these principles are even MORE important for you. If you only make $30K a year then it’s imperative that you maximize the efficiency of that $30K! I won’t tell you that you have to save at least 50% of your income, but if you can use some of these frugality principles to cut out any wasted spending, you should be able to save SOMETHING. You can invest that something in Index Funds, Peer to Peer Lending, or whatever you desire and try to grow your net worth. You’re right, at $30K income it’ll be very difficult to retire in ~10-15 years like I did and several FIRE bloggers have, but you’ll still be better off and able to retire at some point in your life if you “play the FIRE game”.
The other response to the “but I don’t make enough” statement is that you can always try to make more. Try a side-hustle, start a new business, change careers or find a more lucrative version of your existing one. You might have to think outside the box…maybe change location, maybe work remotely….but giving yourself the financial freedom is worth it in my opinion.
- But I Like (My Big Fancy Car/My big house/Eating Out all the time/etc.)
Ok, cool. We all have our vises. Even the great Mr. Money Mustache lives in relatively expensive modern renovated (ok sure, he does the renovation himself) houses when technically he and his family could life in a cheaper older place that’s just slightly less convenient. We still eat out more than lots of personal finance bloggers say we should. You don’t have to give up all of your luxuries and amenties. You just have to change your perspective to realize what each of those things is costing you, both in terms of real dollars and your freedom. When we sold our home in San Diego and moved to the Denver suburbs we could have gone for a new development or lived in a larger home, but we know that wasn’t as important to us as doing what we wanted to do on a daily basis. We still bought a nice, normal sized house. It was built in the 80s…had been partially updated but plenty of room for improvement, and it is in a suburban town, not the major area cities of Denver and Boulder themselves. We still spent a lot of money on this “luxury” piece of earth, but were able to use the savings over a more expensive place to buy some notes and significantly increase our passive income. The slogan of Paula Pants blog puts this one perfectly. “You can afford anything, but you can’t afford everything. ” It’s your life and you get to decide what’s most important. What’s worth an extra year in the workforce, and what’s not.