Fundamental Principles of the FIRE Movement — My Take

In light of the New York Times’s article about gender bias in the FIRE movement, a serious conversation about our core beliefs is in order. Granted that nobody speaks for this movement and that none of us are gonna agree on everything, but are there some basics we can get behind? And are these some of them? The comments section is down yonder.

1) The FIRE movement is open-armed.

2) FIRE can be described as possessing sufficient means to sustain a chosen lifestyle without having to sell one’s time.

3) FIRE isn’t primarily a numbers game. To chase FIRE is to chase personal transformation. Money is the wrench; not the machine.

4) FIRE’s criteria are matters of personal choice. They cannot be imposed. “An’ ye harm none, do what ye will” applies.

5) FIRE’s achievement is to a large degree determined by an individual’s risk appetite. Ten million bucks isn’t enough for some people’s comfort. Ten bucks is more than enough for others’. One person’s van down by the river is another person’s paradise.

6) FIRE’s methodologies can greatly improve one’s quality of life. That said, the active pursuit of FIRE isn’t a requirement for benefiting from those methodologies.

7) FIRE’s tools are broadly but not universally applicable. Examples include compound interest, the 4% Rule, frugality, DIY, rental real estate, etc. But inheritances, windfalls, the sale of one’s business, etc., can all get one there too.

8) FIRE strategies and tactics vary greatly by individual. What works for some may not work for others. Diversity is a thing. People also have limitations beyond their control.

9) FIRE requires balance. Allowing one’s life to be entirely dictated by one’s financial goals can cause severe damage to one’s self-confidence, relationships, social life, and other factors key to one’s happiness.

10) FIRE isn’t a glorified geographical cure. People’s problems follow them. Aspiring FIREees can benefit greatly from putting the same effort into sorting out their heads as they put into sorting out their finances.

11) FIRE doesn’t prohibit paid employment or the monetization of a pursuit after retirement. In the words of Mark Twain, “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

12) FIRE’s current state is the result of a tremendous amount of thought and work and collaboration that goes back hundreds if not thousands of years. The FIRE movement has no inventor, architect, or messiah.

13) Suze Orman is full of shit.

OK, maybe for the sake of propriety we need to strike that last one. But yeah, I’m hoping these are ideas many of us agree on. Discuss?

Author: ER Dude

Sick of your job? After a thirteen-year career, Early Retirement Dude fled corporate America for good. You can do it too! Visit or email

5 thoughts

  1. Great list of the Fundamental Principles of the FIRE Movement. I don’t see any gender bias in the FIRE Movement, but what do I know….I am one of the “privileged white males”.

    I think mainstream media is always looking to create articles to trigger the negative to get increased readership. I would love to see more positive and optimistic reporting. I think it would be healthier for our society.

    “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
    Winston Churchill

    1. >I don’t see any gender bias in the FIRE Movement

      I gotta say that while I agree with you about media spin, and while I’ve always thought of the FIRE movement as completely open to anyone, a pre-op trans gay black woman I know told me something really sad and pithy not so long ago: “I don’t always feel invited to the table I’m welcome at.”

      Gave her a big hug.

  2. “I don’t always feel invited to the table I’m welcome at.”
    That is a problem, and not a easy one to solve. How does one make someone else feel invited? Using your Blog as an example: Do you need to put a disclaimer on the front of your Blog to specifically invite everyone from all creeds, ethnic origins, places of origin, races, colours, ancestry, citizenships, sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions?
    That might be a place to start to would not necessarily make everyone “feel” welcome. I would like to see a world where everyone feels invited and welcome everywhere. The world we live in is not prefect, so we can only strive to make it better.

    I agree with your assessment “Mr” and “Dude” are pretty strong indicators of maleness and likely why they were referenced in the article.

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