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?