Light Yourself On F.I.R.E. This Year (Financial Independence + Retire Early)

FIRE financial independence retire early
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Nope, not talking about pyromania. I’m referring to F.I.R.E., which is an acronym for, you guessed it… financial independence + retire early.

Now clearly these are two different things, but they tend to get lumped together.  Since I see them as very separate and unique goals, I’ll define them that way.

financial independence early retirement FIRE

Financial Independence (otherwise known as “FI”) is simply having enough money that you no longer have to work to earn a living. Your money does that for you, whether it’s dividends from investments, income from real estate, or having a really sweet Sugar Daddy/Mama paying all your bills (not sure this one qualifies as “independence”, but you get the idea).

Retire Early needs no explanation, only what you might not realize is that there are many people with average incomes retiring in their 30’s instead of waiting until their 60’s.

While these are simple definitions and there’s nothing new about either idea, I think most people in the Western world don’t consider this an option because they assume it’s meant for those lucky few in the 1%.

I thought that too.

But somewhere in the middle of 2017, I stumbled upon this amazing subculture of regular, normal people like you and I who are focused on building wealth so that they can retire from their day jobs and just live off the proceeds of their investments.

Now, you might be thinking, “okay, that’s great but I don’t want to live on kibble and buy my underwear at the local Goodwill”.

Neither do I.
But if you’re willing to minimize unnecessary spending as much as possible and optimize your savings so that you never have to work another day in your life (if you don’t want to) those second-hand undies may start to sound more appealing. (Okay, kidding here, second-hand undies are gross.)

The point is that the road to financial independence is paved with many personal trade-offs, but the commute is not as long as you think. It’s totally possible and the more creative and flexible you are, the faster you’re going to get there.

The road to financial independence is paved with many personal trade-offs, but the commute is not as long as you think. Click To Tweet

But what if you don’t want to retire early?

Some people can’t imagine not working because it gives their lives structure and purpose. Some people LOVE their jobs and can’t imagine giving them up. If that’s you, I say – rock on, unicorn! But the reality is that most of us don’t feel that way about our primary jobs. More to the point, financial independence can make any job way less suck-worthy because you have the choice to walk away at any point. Financial independence provides the freedom of having absolute control over your time, energy and choices and that’s a very VERY happy-inducing place to be.

Financial independence makes any job way less suck-worthy because you have the choice to walk away at any point. Click To Tweet

The best part about FIRE (or even just FI) is the quality of life it affords and the ability to say “no” to doing things you don’t want to do. Consider how that would change your life! Perhaps it would alleviate unnecessary stress, open doors to more appealing opportunities or just allow you and your family to enjoy your lives in a much more meaningful way.

The idea feels pretty amazing, right?

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write this post because it’s the #1 reason I started Funding Happy. The entire message behind this website is to fund what makes you happy – your time, your freedom and your creative energy.

Retiring Early(ish)?

This is a phrase I’ve coined for my own situation based on my age and level of financial independence. I’ll write more about this in a future post, but the point is that retiring early is relative based on how old you are when you first set that goal. I know several 20 and 30-somethings that view early retirement as something you do in your 40’s. As someone who is well into their 40’s already, I may have skipped the boat on the millennial version of early retirement, but that’s not really my goal, anyway.

Financially, I am at a place in life where I don’t have to do work I hate. I’m not entirely financially independent (I still need some income), so I call myself semi-retired in the sense that I can be picky about the work I do. I call this the “pants-optional” phase of my career because I hate commuting so I will only accept work I can do from home.

Okay, I just realized I should be careful about using the term “pants-optional” when talking about my career.

So while I’m not fully retired, I consider myself retired(ish) as I want to write for a living until the day my fingers can no longer translate my thoughts.

How to get started on your road to FIRE.

There is SO much to write about here, and while I’m not a guru at investing money (by a long shot), I am pretty savvy when it comes side hustles and saving, which are two key areas of accelerating financial independence.

My recommendation is to start where most of the FIRE community starts – Mr. Money Mustache.  His ideas are often considered radical, but his philosophy about money will change your life as it has for so many.  From there, head to Rockstar Finance to find a ton of personal finance bloggers who have already retired (or who are well on their way) and start following their journeys for inspiration.

Now I’d like to hear from you!  Does this sound like nonsense or is it something that appeals to you?  

Financial independence and retire early


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  1. Hi Caren!

    Awesome write up here. I don’t think this is nonsense at all. It’s definitely possible…… as long as you have a really sweet sugar daddy or mama (haha JK!). I cracked up reading that part, but hey… the result is still the same (again, JK)! LOL

    But yes, I really do think FI is possible, and even more so for the middle to upper middle class group! They just need to prioritize their spending and live well below their means. Finding ways to increase the income helps A LOT as well!

    My fiance and I started saving and investing after we graduated from University but we spent a bit more than we should’ve. We were just thinking about fun at that time lol.

    Thinking back, we could’ve been better with our money. It wasn’t until I read blogs and books that I got even more serious and addicted to money topics. I’m glad I discovered them sooner rather than later >.<

    Btw, I'm from Toronto as well! 😀

    1. Hi FinsavvyPanda!

      I agree with you – it’s totally doable, and the path is simple, but it’s not easy in practice. As you say, it’s easier for middle/upper class. Those who struggle on minimum wage are going to have a harder time achieving this.

      It sounds like you’re well on your way to FI! I wish I had discovered this years ago. I have always saved, but not as aggressively as I do now.

      Live and learn 🙂

      Yay! Always good to meet other peeps from the motherland 🙂

  2. Hi…
    I really do love your post,it’s very insightful,educative and windblown, the truth is that everybody want to be financially independent even those that love their job so much because you never can tell what will happen tomorrow. I have invested in few things in my quest to be financially independent but they are not going the way I was told it will go, I don’t know if am investigating in the wrong place or there are things am not doing well.

    1. Wow, it’s hard not to be doing well with investments in this market. Low fee index funds are what I focus on and I’ve seen an 11% return on my investment in the last year alone. You might want to look at where you’re putting your money!

  3. I love this article! It made me laugh throughout, but you make so many excellent points – FIRE isn’t only just for the “select few”, but it takes a lot of discipline and commitment.

    I won’t lie, I struggle with financial discipline. I love going out, eating at fancy restaurants, drinking away my cash, instead of squirreling it away. I have come very far in cutting out a lot of this, but I still believe you gotta treat yo’self every once in a while for making those sacrifices.

    Cheers to being on FIRE!

    1. I agree with you amanda. Going out for dinner/drinks is my guilty pleasure as well. That’s one of the things I’ll never give up because it brings me so much pleasure.

  4. Funny article. I admire that you can be semi-retired(ish). I had never heard of the acronym, “f.i.r.e” before, but I think it’s quite clever. Thanks for also recommending Mr. Money Mustache and Rockstar Finance. I’ll try to follow your articles and other financial blogs when I can. I’ve read a lot about retiring early and so on, but I guess it’s like 100X easier said than done. That being said, I hope 2018 can be a year I start on a path towards financial independence. Thanks for the article!

  5. My fiance has been listening to a lot of podcasts about becoming financially independent so I loved reading your thoughts! Trying to figure out how to acheive it can be a little hard and overwhelming but it’s also exciting to feel like your future is truly in your hands and you’re not just in a corporate rat race.

    Sarah Camille //

    1. It can feel overwhelming, but it’s actually doable. It’s just a mindset shift to holding onto a goal for a long period of time. Like losing 50lbs over the course of 30 years?? lol.. But the end result is worth it.