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Thoughts on FIRE

Last year I attended a pensions workshop at work. After this, I have spent more time reading up about pensions and other financial matters. You don't need to do much reading before you come across the FIRE movement.

FIRE

FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. Essentially, people live well within their means, spending in some cases half of their take home pay, and investing the rest. Long term returns for investing in the stock market is around 7%, so this money can compound and eventually provide enough if an income to allow people to retire early. In some cases very early. Some very lucky folk are retiring at age 30!

Now there are lots of caveats here:

  • The movement is very American centric (though there are lots of people from the UK as well)
  • The US stock market has had a very good run since the 2008 financial crisis, so people's returns have been better than long term expectations. This is unlikely to continue forever.
  • Those that are retiring at very early ages tend to be in high paying jobs (programmers, lawyers etc) though again there are those that are in less high paying jobs.

There are also lots of people who don't like the FIRE acronym, particularly the "Retire Early" part and are instead more focused on the financial independence part.

The Blogs

I think my favourite part of the movement is that it primarily takes the form of personal blogs. Not a forum, not a Facebook group or in Reddit. Lots of individuals writing on their own blogs each with a feed you can follow if you wish.

Here is a typical list of FIRE blogs as well as a long list of female FIRE blogs showing some more diverse backgrounds.

My Position

I am not at the stage of declaring my intent to retire within the next 10 years. For a start, I do enjoy my job and I doubt we could realistically achieve the savings rates required to retire within the short timeframes. Raising children is generally expensive and we do make frequent trips over to America to visit family.

On the other hand, much of the lifestyle aspects we already do:

  • Our house is relatively small
  • We only have one car (and try to cycle whenever possible)
  • We have already repaid my wifes (US) student debt within 6 years
  • We have already repaid more than 60% of our mortgage within 7 years.

I am a very cautious person, so I can’t see me racing to put all my eggs in the stock market and then giving up a reliable source of income while praying that it all works out. But the idea of having a pot of money that is making money, as a backup source does sound appealing.

So I expect I will continue to work until I am twice the age I currently am. But I think I will keep following the blogs and will try to continue to increase our net worth, either through savings, investments or simply continuing to reduce our mortgage.

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