Start Your FIRE Journey – Introduction: What Is FIRE?

If you are doing it right, investing should be very simple.

[TL;DR for post series: Getting started in FIRE and investing is easy, even if you are not a U.S. Citizen.]

You’ve just discovered this thing called FIRE… Financial Independence/Retire Early. It’s new, it’s exciting, it’s very promising…

…but you’re scared.

You don’t know anything about investing! Learning about investing and money seems daunting and about as much fun as watching paint dry!

If this describes you, there is hope.

This series will help you tackle the fear of investing, move past it, and take action. In four easy steps, you will start your FIRE journey in as little as two weeks!

It’s not difficult, I promise.

In this first post in the series, we will cover:

  • What is FIRE?
  • Key FIRE concepts
  • Why a FIRE lifestyle can be challenging
  • Challenges with getting started in investing
  • Why you need to get started now

Let’s get started!…

What is FIRE?

FIRE stands for Financial Independence Retire Early. It is the idea that if you save and invest 25 times your annual expense, you will never have to work for money again.

You can continue to work if you want, but chances are excellent that that money will last, not 25 years, but beyond your lifetime because of compounding growth.

FIRE is about making life decisions that open incredible possibilities. Every FIRE journey is unique. Different people make different decisions and pursue different possibilities with the freedom they have created for themselves.

The concept of FIRE is simple to understand, but not easy to achieve…

  • live below your means
  • invest those savings
  • repeat until you have saved and invested 25 times your expected annual expenses
  • live off the proceeds and never have to work again… unless you want to

If it sounds like the best lifehack ever, it is!

Key FIRE Concepts:

  • Retirement is NOT Obligatory
    • There is no rule that says you have to retire after you’ve reached the 25x target. If you love your work, continue working. If you want to start a business, do it. The point is… you no longer HAVE TO work to cover your living expenses. What would your life be like if you could choose work/projects based on what you love to do rather than what will pay the bills?
  • FU Money is a Very Powerful Thing
    • You don’t have to wait until you achieve FI to enjoy the benefits. For some, saving as little as a few thousand dollars is a massive game-changer:
      • Breaks your dependence on credit card debt
      • Reduces financial stress
    • FU money tips the employer/employee balance of power in your favor; it allows you to walk away from a bad boss or job at any time!
  • Savings Rate Matters
    • Your savings rate determines the number of years you have to work before reaching FI; in other words, the more you save, the sooner you “retire”. Your goal is to Grow the Gap (i.e. increase your savings rate) over time and invest those savings.
  • FIRE is a Journey, Not a Destination
    • Please don’t think that after you quit work all your problems go away; you are still your flawed self, just with more time on your hands. Use your new superpower wisely. Achieving FI will be a journey and that journey continues after.
  • A Bit of Frugality Goes a Long Way

Why a FIRE Lifestyle Can Be Challenging

Answer: Rampant consumerism is socially acceptable in our modern, “Western” society

It is cool to spend money. Really cool. What’s not cool? Saving money, living a simple life.

It is natural to want the cool shit you see in ads. It is meant to look cool. Driving a nice car, wearing “fashionable” clothing, having the latest whatever. But, that is a losing game. As soon as you have the thing you desire, it is no longer desirable. Now you want the next thing. It is a proven psychological phenomenon. Google “Hedonic Adaptation”. If you are human, you are vulnerable to it. The marketers have perfected the game. You are now addicted to consumerism. And there is no 12 step program. You’re fucked.

But if you can break the addiction or mindfully choose to opt-out of it’s most destructive components, then you have created space to build the life you want, to make your own decisions about what is and is not important to you… what you value in life and therefore, what you are willing to give up your hard-earned dollars for.

Ok, now that we have a solid grasp of FIRE and it’s basic tenants, let’s tackle that fear of investing!

Investing is Easy

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If they do, remove them from your life immediately. Seriously, you don’t need the kind of negativity. 😉

I take offense to people who say it is difficult. It is not. At least it doesn’t have to be.

If you listen to the typical advisor in the financial industry, of course, they overcomplicate it and use big words… they want you to remain scared so you’ll take the easy way out and pay them to “take care of it for you”. F*ck that!

Unfortunately, all too often, when someone says “investing is hard” they are trying to excuse their lack of action or effort. The intimidation is a construct of Big Finance… pay them the big bucks and they will take care of it for you.

You are smarter than that.

Follow the four steps outlined in this series and you’ll be doing better than 95% of your friends and family. Don’t worry if you make a mistake, it is a natural part of learning. Better to make mistakes now while the numbers are very small.

Why You Need to Get Started Now

You have a lot to lose by not taking action now.

The two biggest factors in determining your long-term financial success are:

  1. How much money you invest
  2. How long your money is invested in the market

This is primarily because of Compound Interest. Don’t let ‘perfect’ be the enemy of ‘good enough’. Doing something, even if it is not ideal, is much better than doing nothing.

The best time to start your FIRE journey was yesterday, the second-best time is today! It is never too early. I know babies who have an IRA account!

You can get started investing with a few dollars. Don’t be just another face in the crowd of consumer-driven Americans who have a million excuses about why they can’t invest. Don’t give me that shit.

Instead of “I can’t invest because…” figure out how you can. If you have ANY discretionary money (and you have eliminated bad debt and funded an emergency fund), you have money to invest. If you buy coffee on the go, you have money to invest. If you eat out, go to bars, go to the movies, go to the convenience store, you have money to invest. Sock those $5’s, $10’s and $20’s away and before you know it you will have enough to buy your first share. Some ETF’s allow you to get started with as little as $50!

Take Action

Now that you have a better understanding of Financial Independence and the confidence and empowerment it can provide even long before you have reached FI, it is time to take action…

Additional FIRE Resources:

  1. Debt: How to Get Out of Debt, Get Rich Slowly
  2. Budgeting/Spending/Emergency Fund:
  3. Podcasts & Blogs:

Questions, Comments, Feedback…

  • Leave your questions and comments in the Comments section
  • I am not an expert or a financial advisor but I’ve made enough mistakes over my decades of investing to know the basics of what to do and what not to do
  • Let us know how we can best support your journey around:
    • Getting Started Investing
    • Financial Independence
    • Retire Early, or
    • Living Abroad
  • We would love to hear from you
  • I have a 100% response policy for my blog; I always respond to every comment on my blog
  • I would love to have you Follow the Travel Inspire Connect blog and join our community of supportive enthusiasts

Thanks for reading. If you haven’t already done so, commit to taking action today! And please reach out if you need any help.

Un Saludo!

–lane.

7 Replies to “Start Your FIRE Journey – Introduction: What Is FIRE?”

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