When I first started my interest in personal finance back in 2014, I had never heard of the concept of FIRE.
In fact, I did not learn about this acronym until early 2017, but I did fit into the movement quite well at the time.
For those of you reading who have no idea what FIRE is, it stands for financial independence/retire early.
And to define it quickly, FIRE is a movement dedicated to extreme savings and investment strategies that allows people who practice it to retire far earlier than traditional budgets and retirement plans allow.
Many of the proponents of FIRE also practice frugal living and minimalism lifestyles as well to retire in their 30s and 40s.
There are also many types of FIRE like; Fat FIRE, Lean Fire, and some others are popping up as well. You can look those up if you are a bit more curious about those variations.
My initial finance goals fit into this movement well, but over time this has shifted. I’m no longer pursuing pure FIRE; instead, I’m choosing FI with EWYD (Enjoy What You Do).
Where I Stood on FIRE
I’ve been connected and absorbed in the FIRE community and with personal finances in general in the last year. Like I said in the intro, I didn’t even know what FIRE was until about three years into my financial journey.
But looking back, my initial goals were to get out of the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle, increasing my salary, start saving and investing aggressively, become financially independent, and retire in my early 40s at the latest.
Those are some serious money goals! And fit quite naturally with FIRE.
But since discovering FIRE and more recently starting this blog in June 2018, I’ve shifted a bit from the starting goals I had back in 2014.
That’s common, and over time, most people's goals will change. But I think it is my mindset and other life events that have happened where I don’t think traditional FIRE makes sense for me anymore.
I also still love the community, even if I don’t practice everything that is preached or agree with every method. But I sure still respect it!
My Background Towards FIRE
I love personal finances and investing. I also don’t think my twenty-year-old self would ever have imagined this. But here we are!
One of the aspects I believed in when pursuing my new financial lifestyle was being able to retire early.
This idea was in my head for two reasons:
- As far as I can remember, I was not okay with the idea of having to work for a company until I as well into my 60s or even 70s. I’ve always shuddered at that thought.
- And secondly, I truly despised my job at the time and felt doomed forever. I was in a cubicle, doing mediocre tasks, making under $40,000/year for four years after college, and had no true defined career path.
Note: It’s worth noting here that not everyone pursuing FIRE does it because they hate their job. Many do. However, a lot of outsiders to the movement think that’s always the motivator. There are plenty in the community that loves their careers, but still, like the idea of retiring early.
I was grateful for the job because it was a recognizable brand name, it had great benefits, a 401k (not that I understood it), and gave me a steady paycheck right after college.
But after the first initial year of excitement, I was over it.
There were some company politics involved and a culture of fear among non-management because they were known to let you go for random reasons. That is not an environment you want to be in.
So for me, the company I worked for was a big reason for my interest in retiring early initially in my financial pursuit of freedom.
Why I’m Choosing EWYD Instead
I like the idea of financial independence, saving, and investing aggressively. That is one aspect of FIRE that I have continued over the years and have no plans to slow down.
In fact, one of my goals this year is to stick to a 65% savings rate and soon push it to 70%. I’m also aiming for my first $100,000 saved and invested.
But since 2014, my goals of achieving FIRE is now leaning more to just FI. But, I’ve also decided that I’m focusing more on EWYD or “Enjoy What You Do.”
You might be sick of the acronyms and all that by now, don’t worry, I’m not introducing any others!
One thing I did not mention above that always worried me about early retirement is that I would be bored. Many might not think of that at first, but it started to hit me, the more I was working on my finances.
Sure, I’d no longer have to work for a corporate company, I could travel more often, relax, spend time with family, etc. All good things.
But, there was a passion missing. Something I could work on, be excited about doing on my own time.
I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve found two work passions in the last few years: digital marketing and growing websites into businesses.
I went to college for computer science, specifically the graphic design track. I also picked up a minor in communications. I’ve never worked in graphic design since graduating.
My first job at the company I mentioned above that I was not enjoying was in email marketing. But, if there is one thing to credit with this gig, it opened my eyes to digital marketing.
After four years, the culture of fear of losing my job came true. Poof, just like that, a few weeks before Christmas, my job was done.
Yet, although I was a bit shocked and unsure of what I was going to do, a sense of happiness came over me too. It was a gift of escape from this job I didn’t like and was going nowhere.
Only a few weeks before being let go, I had started some freelance basic marketing tasks for a company a friend of mine worked at. I was getting some more experience and some extra cash.
I started learning more about digital marketing on my own, working some freelance gigs, then some contract work for startups, a marketing agency job, to now my current remote position as the head of marketing for a software company.
I love digital marketing, which is why I’ve chosen to EWYD instead of focusing primarily on everything that is core to FIRE.
I can see myself continuing to be a marketing advisor for companies in the future, creating websites and building them up, etc.
I’m very passionate about working with companies, helping them grow, and finding creative ways to reach their target markets.
I know not everyone will feel the same about this or early retirement. That’s okay! I wanted to share my story and pursuits for a few reasons:
- That your goals will and can change. This EWYD vision of mine may change again in a few years, who knows!
- You don’t have to agree with everything about FIRE, but can still be a part of the community. I’m not extremely frugal, I don’t want to live in a tiny home, nor do I refuse never to spend money. But I still love the mission and message of helping others with personal finances.
- I think many who are retired early are EWYD, as many have passion projects or still do work in a small capacity.
- And to keep my journey documented for my purposes, but also to hopefully help you think somewhat differently as well.
So yes, I’m not entirely abandoning FIRE, more so just RE. I like the pursuit of having enough saved and invested, that if I did choose to retire completely, I could.
But I no longer care about that as even when I do have enough, I’ll still be working on projects. Sure it may not be full-time, but whether its marketing advising or working on new websites, I’ll be enjoying what I do.
Find your passions, enjoy what you do, and consider that your goal instead of just looking to FIRE because you hate your job.
This article originally appeared on Invested Wallet and is being republished with permission.
Fred started the blog Money with a Purpose in October 2017. The blog focused on three primary areas: Personal Finance, Overcoming Adversity, and Lifestyle. During his time at Money with a Purpose, he was quoted in Forbes, USA Today and appeared in Money Magazine, MarketWatch, The Good Men Project, Thrive Global and many other publications.
In April 2019, Fred, along with two other partners, acquired The Money Mix website. To focus his time and energy where he could be the most productive, Fred recently merged Money with a Purpose with The Money Mix. You can now find all of his great content right here on The Money Mix, along with content from some of the brightest minds in personal finance.