What is F.I.R.E.?

Financial Independence Retire Early. This acronym is simple to understand but holds a ton of weight. Does your life sometimes feel like this clip from the movie office space?

Chances are if you’re on this page reading about FIRE, it’s because you’ve experienced this situation or similar and you want out. Congratulations, you’ve come to the right place! The path to FIRE isn’t easy, but the hardest part is behind you. You’ve accepted that you want to make a change to secure a better future for yourself, and now you’re doing the research to figure out how.

The basic tenets of fire are this: Start by saving a percentage of your income. Cut superfluous expenses over time so that you can save more. Invest these savings into assets that will make your money earn more money for you such as stocks, real estate, a business, etc. Keep building assets until the money that the assets are earning is more than your expenses and then (optionally) retire.

Before I start handing out advice and resources like candy on Halloween, let me be clear that everybody’s path to FIRE and FIRE goals look different. Some people want to get out of the workforce as soon as humanly possible and will do so as soon as they have enough money just to get by. Others might not mind working as much and are acclimated to a very expensive lifestyle, and these people may choose to save many times the amount of money and assets their frugal peers need to before they’re ready to call it quits and move on from the corporate workforce. The important thing is that YOU decide what path is right for YOU because only YOU know what will make YOURSELF happy. Don’t feel discouraged or pressured when reading success stories, keep your eyes on your own prize and find fulfillment in the life you choose. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting at 35 and someone else has retired at 27. It doesn’t matter if you only make half what some tech guy in California is making in the same job. What matters is that you start, and since you’re still reading, you’re already on the right path!

If you’re completely new to the FIRE scene, take a look at the navigation bar at the top of the screen before anything else. The most important take away you should get from your research is that saving is the key. If you fall into the 21% of Americans who save nothing for emergencies and retirement then the first thing you should do before anything else is head over to the Saving section. Having a cash cushion will reduce your stress when crap hits the fan, and a budget will help you to stop worrying so much about money so that you can spend more time focusing on accomplishing your financial goals and giving your life more balance.

If you’ve been around the block a time or two and are looking for something a little more advanced, try reading some of the recent articles posted to the homepage which will cover more than the basic “Save more earn more” articles you’ll find on the first page of google. If you’re looking for a community of like-minded individuals I recommend checking out the extremely active Reddit page on financial independence. There are many other sites and forums out there like the subreddit, but the important part is that you join a community where you can talk strategy, learn from others, and post updates to keep track of your journey.

Another valuable website that has been an amazing resource to the FIRE community is Mr. Money Mustache. His writing style is friendly and easy to read, and he has been a huge resource for me as I developed my own taste for FIRE. I don’t agree with all of his teachings, but in general, I think he has the right idea. If you can look past the strange name I highly recommend checking out the site, as you can get tips written by somebody who has had an enjoyed a great deal of success at becoming FIRE.