Why Do So Many People Want to FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early).

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Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash

I asked a question on Quora recently about What Is Your Strategy to Obtain Financial Independence and How Long Can You FIRE?

I got a lot of responses that were helpful involving savings rate, investments, 401(k)s, Roth IRAs, cutting spending, and stuff that I had heard before. I’m really more interested in some more off the beaten path plans, which I haven’t seen too many of, but there was the one guy who doesn’t understand why I asked the question.

His Answer:

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First of all he as dual degree/double major from a University in Accounting and computer science, he is an entrepreneur, and he has been a CPA longer than I have been alive. I think he has enough knowledge and credibility to provide a really good answer, but I think he found a detail of the question that bugged him — Retire Early.

I think that majority of people who want to FIRE are trying to do because they want to do something other than work for someone else for their whole lives. These people are willing to make sacrifices, cut spending back, and live without luxury even if they could afford it all in the idea of putting away an extra 200–300 dollars into an index fund.

I know of some people who work in consulting and absolutely hate it because they think that the major skill they have learned over the years is how to prepare PowerPoint slides when in actuality they are interested in something else like becoming a baker or working in clean energy.

In some instances a jump is possible, but what if it isn’t? What if you work in a specific city or have a specific situation where you are a primary care provider for a family member and you can’t make the move?

Knowing PowerPoint doesn’t help one become a baker and sometimes you have to travel around the world to know that where you started was the place for you all along.

Another situation that I’ve seen is someone who is in their 50s, is the sole provider for their family, and they get laid off 10 years before they are eligible to retire. A lot of people never planned to retire at 50. They were like the guy above who “doesn’t understand people who want to ‘Retire Early’” and they have their dream job, but are not read for that layoff. In the United States the majority of people are employed “At Will” and they can be fired/laid off in a second.

Now, if that person who got laid off in their 50s had been able to Retire Early then that is not such a scary story.

So moral of the story. People want to achieve Financial Independence or the ability to Retire Early because it gives them some control in their life:

Hate your job and thinking about crashing your car into the median every time you drive to work? Quit, you can afford to.

Getting Laid Off at the age of 58 after 37 years of service to one company and they are giving you 3 months of severance and benefits extension? Tell them to fuck off because you don’t need it (take it anyway).

Traveling abroad and mentoring kids with your spouse for a few weeks and you figure out you would like to start a school in that country as opposed to going back to work? Do it.

In the words of John Goodman. Get to a position of Fuck You.

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Writer of The Polymerist newsletter. Talk to me about chemistry, polymers, plastics, sustainability, climate change, and the future of how we live.

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