I love the FIRE movement. I think it is the solution to much of the unhappiness and dissatisfaction in the modern Western world.
We have been conditioned by the society to go to college/university, study hard, get a decent paying job and then work loyally for employers for 30-40 years before (maybe) retiring.
FIRE uproots all of that and emphasises that I as an individual is ultimately responsible for my own destiny.
If I didn’t want to follow this conventional path then it’s absolutely fine. FIRE gives me the mental framework to pursue being independent financially from a single employer and retire at a time that suits me.
Except if I don’t want to retire. So FIRE isn’t a suitable path for me. Reflecting carefully on my preferences, what I actually want is a variant of FIRE.
#1 – I love my job
I see many commuters in my train who dread going into work. I’ve written about Joe and George. They are merely representatives of the countless other people. For them the prospect of retiring early from a job they detest to spend time with non-colleagues might be a dream come true.
Except I love my job.
I work in a fast-faced startup that is transforming the world of male grooming. I work with a wonderfully talented international team that I respect and enjoy spending my personal time with.
Of course some days are crap. The day when we ran out of stock; the day when I accidentally hit “reply all” on an extremely sensitive email. Not to mention that day when we almost ran out of cash!
But the bottom line is that my work is interesting, my colleagues are fun to be with and my remuneration is decent. I cannot actually imagine myself to be a stay-at-home dad/blogger as that the lack of social interaction would drive me crazy.
#2 – My salary enables me to build my wealth
I’m an inherently risk averse person. This is why I take risks in order to minimise bigger risks down the line. A bit oxymoronic I know.
I learnt through many first hand lessons not to be overly reliant on a single employer to provide all of my income, because it causes single point of failure, which can be catastrophic. This is why I side hustle and take risks with my money to invest wisely and generate additional income avenues.
Currently my side hustle income (after tax and expenses) can cover my essential living expenditures (mortgage, insurances, utilities and food). This provides a great pressure relief in times of needs (e.g. I become unemployed for whatever reason).
Crucially this means the majority of my salary can be saved and invested, enabling me to increase my financial buffer and generate even more income while I’m seeking for bigger and greater challenges.
#3 – I want to have control of my time
I have realised that time is the most precious commodity in this world. Once a second has past, it is gone forever.
Time simply cannot be replenished.
My ultimate aim is to regain control of my time and pursue activities that I enjoy the most on terms that suit me. I have never been a conformer and the prospect of doing a 9–5 for more than 10 years absolutely terrifies me.
I would love to spend hours under the sun with WB40 Junior, exploring all the wonderful gifts our beautiful planet can offer, rather than like my peers and be stuck in a cubicle for 8 hours.
The ability to make a living on my own terms is in fact the key purpose of the WealthyBy40 Challenge and that’s why I hustle hard now so that I can afford to regain control of my time later.
So I have concluded:
- I love working
- I don’t want to be dependent on a single source of income
- I want to take back control of my time
All of the above relies on the presence of choice and with choice comes freedom. So my heart really lies with achieving financial freedom.
So instead of FIRE, I’m really a FFNE – Financially Free and Never Retired!