Let’s start with an understanding that retirement is not an age, it is a financial number.

There is no rule that states you must work until you are 65

There is a new(ish) wave of people proving that it is possible to retire in their 30’s and 40’s with the financial freedom to repurpose their retirement into something greater. F.I.R.E is a moniker for Financial Independence, Retire Early and is a movement highlighting one’s ability to eliminate debt, save aggressively and invest into their future. Although the movement is most often associated with early retirement – think 30’s, 40’s or 50’s – it’s really more about financial independence than anything else. People who are on FIRE are constantly doing a couple of things: keeping their expenses extremely low, raising their income, and investing into their retirement. Remember, the lower your expenses the faster you reach financial independence.

For those on FIRE, financial independence does not mean sitting on a beach, sipping a coconut, doing nothing. It means being at a point where you are able to work when, and how, you want to – you can scale it as you desire. The goal isn’t always more money. The goal is living life on your own terms. However, you can only cut expenses so much, you must also focus on maximizing your income. There are some fundamental principles to follow if one desires to be on FIRE.

Financial independence frees you up to repurpose your time into something you love.

tweak your idea of post-retirement work


Part of the FIRE movement is encouraging individuals to think about their retirement dreams and needs earlier in life. The most recent stats from 2019 indicate that: only 36% of Americans have even thought about their retirement needs, 43% of adults under that age of 34 have nothing established for their retirement needs, and 12% of retirees re-enter the workforce every year out of necessity to generate an income. Start with a plan on what your retirement goals are. What quality of life are you looking to live? Then ask, what do I need to do to start working towards those goals.

Eliminate Debt.

People on FIRE are aggressively looking to cut down on expenses and reduce their spending. Just think about the additional income you would have if all you were paying for was food, fuel and PG&E every month. Your retirement income can be supercharged by micro decisions you make now that reduce spending and eliminate debt. Start small and pay of your credit cards, car loans, student loans, your mortgage and your RV. A simple way to increase your income is to decrease your debt.

Generate Supplemental Income.

This is the fun part; the creative part; the part where you can turn anything into extra cash. Part of being on FIRE is making additional income. There’s no way around it. But remember, we are looking to live life on our own terms and retire when and how we desire. Nothing is off limits. Yard sales. Pizza delivery. YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. Make money off of your hobbies – your woodworking, your crafting, your culinary skills and abilities. Your time and talents are worth getting paid for.

Saving and Investing.

Being on FIRE for retirement involves maximizing your saving and investing strategies. Participate in employer-matched 401(k) plans, open an IRA, start a Roth, or utilize a Permanent Life Insurance policy. Team up with a trusted financial guide and create a personal income strategy that meets your needs, dreams, and goals.

Followers of the FIRE movement are very aware of, and are attentive to, the trap of Lifestyle Creep. If you desire to retire on your own terms, avoiding lifestyle creep is paramount. Lifestyle creep can be thought of as lifestyle inflation and occurs when our living expenses and non-essential expenditures grow as our income increases. Most fall victim by altering their definition of moderation and being in denial about their excessiveness. You can avoid this by giving all your “extra” money a purpose. Whether it is used for paying off debt, expenses or investing, give it a place to go. Lifestyle Creep is the number one threat to growing your net worth.

There are a lot of moving parts in retiring early, but it is possible – and you shouldn’t plan alone. The best way to work towards making your dream into a reality is by working with someone who can help you get there.

Comment below on your FIRE experience and strategies.