Making Plans and Achieving Goals

Why I Am Chasing FIRE

Why I Am Chasing FIRE

When we started this blog last year (2016) I had never heard of FIRE.  I actually had to google it to find out it meant Financial Independence / Retire Early.  Basically, there is this growing movement of people who are realizing you don’t have to work a 9-5 job your whole life and can go another way.  Two people that you have probably heard of are Mr. Money Mustache and Financial Samurai.  These two guys have gone about getting out of the rat race very differently but they have both been a huge inspiration for myself.

What Is FIRE

Let us start with a definition.  Since this is my post, I will give you mine.  I will have reached FIRE when my investable assets are 20X my average annual spending.  If we spend $50,000 per year, we need a million dollars spread across 401ks, IRAs and brokerage accounts.  I use 20X because that is a 5% withdrawal rate, which is aggressive, but it assumes you spend the same in retirement, you don’t get social security and you never earn another dollar.

Early retirement, for me, is about being able to leave behind corporate America and being able to choose if I continue to earn money.  It is difficult to put an age number on “early” retirement as it is different for everyone.  If you thought you would have to work till 75, but have figured out how to retire at 65, then that is early for you.  Personally, our goal is to be done by 40, or 10 years from now.

Why FIRE

Right now, I leave my house at 7:20am and get home at 5:40pm.  Factor in the time spent getting ready and that is 11 hours per day, Monday – Friday.  That is 55 hours a week, or roughly 2,750 hours a year.  Working these kind of hours didn’t bother me until very recently and now it gets to me about once a week.  I currently see my 8-month-old daughter about 1-2 hours per day during the week.  I know I need to work to provide for her but that work-life balance thing is feeling off.

FIRE, to me, isn’t about being able to quit working, per se.  I just want to be able to choose how I spend my time without having to factor in money.  There is no way I’m leaving work at age 40 to just drink during the day, play golf and nap.  I have every intention of continuing to work and earn money but it will be on my own terms.

When I look around at most of the people out there who have retired young, they are staying quiet busy with their blogs, traveling, writing books, coaching clients, maintaining rentals and caring for their kids.  These people aren’t just sitting in a dark house with no A/C eating rice to survive.

How to Get FIRE

Every time I type FIRE I can’t help but think of Link running around the woods in Zelda for NES

Spend less and save more.  Sounds easy enough.  If our annual expenses are $80,000 then we need 1.6 million before we can start transitioning out of “real” work.  If we only spend $40,000 then we only need $800,000 which seems extremely doable in 10 years.   We have been fighting hard to keep expenses in check this year.  This is difficult to do with a baby in daycare, but we are making improvements every month.

Develop some passive income.  People have different ways of doing this, but rental income seems to be far and away the most popular.  In the next few years, we are looking to either turn our current house into a rental or purchase a rental property.  Even just a few hundred dollars a month can help out tremendously to keep your nest egg intact during retirement.  I am optimistic that I will still be blogging then, too, and will have developed some other means, through that.

Line up some kind of side hustle for retirement life.  Like I said, early retirement isn’t about just sitting around doing nothing.  That is depressing.  10 years is pretty far off, but blogging is a fantastic way to earn a little money and stay connected with people.  I may also do some engineering work on a consulting basis.  Difficult to say where we will be in 10 years.

Finally, being debt free isn’t required, but it would sure make things easier.  You want your revolving payments to be as low as possible every month.  If you could have your house paid off, it takes your annual expenses down a lot.  I am not sure if we will be able to pull this one off if we get into the rental game.  I would probably justify not being debt free as long as one of the houses was paid for.

Conclusion

Life is like a movie in which we already know the ending.  When people get old and are dying, they always wish they would have spent less time working and more time with friends and family.  Suddenly, money in the bank and all those promotions seem to not matter.  Yet, we still charge straight ahead to watch the movie play out in our own lives.  Reaching Financial Independence and being able to Retire Early is about writing a new ending to my personal movie.

Are you chasing FIRE?  How do you keep a work-life balance until then?

-Grant

 



22 thoughts on “Why I Am Chasing FIRE”

  • The FIRE movement is awesome. Hopefully more people will “get it” and take actions to position themselves for this type of financial freedom.

    “I just want to be able to choose how I spend my time without having to factor in money.” – Amen!

    My wife and I retired at 43/44 (I’m the older one – she keeps reminding me). We stay almost as busy now as we did before! We blog, we coach and mentor some people, we volunteer, we workout daily, etc. What do we do? We do what we want! But we don’t do “nothing”. We’re too young to stagnate.

    One point on the math -> I’d suggest at least 25x and more likely closer to 33x annual spending before considering a move into early retirement. 25x has pretty good odds of lasting a 30-year period, 33x decent odds to last a 50+ year period. Right in the middle (3.5% drawdown) is where we personally decided to live.
    Financial Coach Brad recently posted…4 financial benefits of downsizing (and 3 non-financial ones)My Profile

    • Hey Brad, thanks so much for commenting. That sounds awesome to already be “retired”. And, my wife is older by 3 weeks and I let her hear about it pretty good for those 3 weeks. Sorry hun ?

      I agree that 25-33X is far safer. Based on the Trinity study of safe withdrawal rates you have a roughly 60% chance of not running out of money with a 5% withdrawal rate (20X). But, that study assumes that you don’t get any social security, spend the same in retirement and don’t earn another dollar.

      Even though I will be “retired” I fully expect to be earning some money from rental properties, hopefully this very blog and who knows what else. $12-15,000 a year basically would put me at a 100% success. I just don’t want to end up working for another 5 years when I probably don’t need to.

  • I’m a little obsessed with the FIRE movement. Living in NYC with no plan to leave because of family and friends is a big obstacle. My job is okay but like you, I want more freedom and flexibility. Unfortunately I have a long commute which is increased because of drop off/pick up due to child care. Then weekends are packed with errands and kid related activities/visiting family.

    • Yeah, free time almost doesn’t exist during the week when you are working full time and have kids in daycare. Best of luck making it in NYC I know that is an expensive city.

  • I am definitely trying to run as quickly as I can towards FIRE. I am using 25x to be a bit more conservative using the Trinity Method, but I think I can get there in the next few years if I want to pull the plug. That’s a huge IF but something I am really looking forward to if given the chance 🙂
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…Please Stop Spoiling My KidMy Profile

    • That is awesome you are only a few years away. Yeah 25X is definitely a safer number. I’m going with 20X because I know we are going to do what everybody does and slowly transition out of the workforce. Most people I read about hit 25X and then do the just one more year until they end up at 30X and positive they won’t run out of money. Also, the Trinity study assumes you won’t earn any money ever during retirement, you will never get social security and your spending will stay the same.

  • 5% is slightly aggressive, but I think people who FIRE are generally a conservative bunch and very capable of adapting if push comes to shove. In the early part of retirement, sequence of return risk is the biggest potential issue. But again, I doubt anyone sensible would forge full steam ahead if we have big consecutive down years! So that ability to adapt, I think, is the most important. A big majority of people who go with the 4% SWR actually end up with double the money they started off in retirement!

    • Hey Tim! Thanks for stopping by. No doubt about it 5% is aggressive but I just want to start getting out as early as possible. The 4% is the safe number for never earning another dollar or adjusting spending. No way I “retire” at 40 and never earn another dollar. Looks like I got a new post idea as that has been the main comment.

  • I am right there with you on the chase! My husband and I are making our count down plan this summer. First child is graduating high school in a few short weeks, then 2 more to go. I am just learning the passive income journey and then will be teaching my husband. We would like to become digital nomads and travel this great country of ours and then the world.
    Lori @ My Journey Along the Way recently posted…Father’s Day Grilling Gift GuideMy Profile

    • Fantastic! We still need to sit down and lay out our plan in more detail but I love looking at it. That would be so cool to travel around the world in retirement. There are all kinds of great blogs out there showing you how to do for really low cost.

  • Grant – I’ve FIREd about 5 years ago and I’m loving it.

    I consider myself a disciple of Mr. Money Mustache. His posts help to convince me that it was OK to retire early. I just wish I’d found out about some of his savings and philosophy 20 years ago because then I could have saved more sooner and retired even earlier!

    “When people get old and are dying, they always wish they would have spent less time working and more time with friends and family.” Couldn’t agree more. It is weird that people humble brag about how they are working so hard for so many hours. Meanwhile their important friend and family relationships wither. Very sad.
    Mr. Freaky Frugal recently posted…Adventures in negotiating rentMy Profile

    • Congratulations! That is so awesome that you have been able to hang it up early. It is always awesome to hear how much everyone loves their freedom. I mean how could you not but it is extra motivating.

      MMM is awesome. The way they save money is amazing. What is crazy is that they still spend so little even with an income and savings that could support 5 times as much.

  • I’m obsessed over FIRE too. We got to 30x before I quit my job in 2012, but our expenses crept up over the years. Luckily, our net worth increased quite a bit too so we’re still good.
    Mrs. RB40 would like our passive income to cover our expenses before she retires, though.
    FIRE is a great goal to have. Keep at it!

    • I consider a passive income that covers your expenses and 30X+ to be like super FIRE. Based on your last report showing a FI ratio of 93% she better get her two weeks notice ready.

      Thanks for commenting Joe!

  • I suppose I’m chasing FI but not RE.
    I was so excited as well when I found this concept of people that were able to retire dozens of years early and enjoy their lives to the fullest. I brought this idea to my husband, who essentially said, “Hey, that’s great…but I love my job and I’d be find here working until 65.” Which is great, but financial independence, even without the early retirement option can create SO many options for the future. We may get to financial independence a little bit slower, but we’ll get there because I’m the money manager (haha!).

    • Hey! Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

      I really like my job too but I will be gone as soon as I can be. I always think about the extreme hypothetical example of if you knew you only had a year to left to live how much time would you spend at work? I want the freedom to live everyday like that.

      • Yeah, the retiring early part is all about choosing based on passion without worrying about money. And of course being able to sweep your driveway in your pajamas and nap at 1:00.

  • Love the FIRE movement. It keeps getting more traction every day it seems. Especially with Millennials. New blogs popping up daily and it is fun to track everyone’s journey and experiences. Makes you more accountable and pushes you to stay on track to get there faster. Thanks for sharing.
    Dividend Daze recently posted…Small Savings, Big ImpactMy Profile

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