Episode 207- My Opinion on the FIRE Movement

I had the absolute pleasure a few weeks ago to speak at a campfire event. It was the Southeast campfire event in Gainesville, Florida. Oh, camp fi is a three to four day event now they’re run by a great guy named Steven barrier. And with the recommendation of my friend Christine Wheatley, I got the opportunity to speak at this great event and I got to spend the weekend with 60 great people having intense fun conversations. And in the middle of it giving a presentation, which is the lead in for the book that I’m writing that will come out next. So we all have different opinions on what financial independence is. So if you read my book and know our story way back, we found Dave Ramsey, we decided to pay off our debt, follow his lead and pay off our house, get completely debt free. And that was all 12, 13 years ago.

But in recent times there’s been this fire movement, not just financial independence, but fire stands for financial independence, retire early. As much as I love the world of financial independence and I preach about it. I am not particularly a fan of the fire movement because I don’t believe in retirement, at least not for myself. And I don’t understand it for young people. Now, if you’ve been in a career for 40 years and you’re burnt out and you’re tired and you’re ready to stop because you’ve been working so hard for all those years, I understand that. But in this day and age, I’m seeing people in their thirties that are looking to retire and I asked them, what does that mean? It means they don’t want to work anymore. And I’m confused by that because I don’t understand. To me, I want to have purpose in my life beyond leisure and purpose comes from the work that we do and the people that we help with the work that we do.

So I try and understand more why people want to just stop working. Cause if you’ve ever stopped working for a month, which we’ve done and you stay at the beach for a month, which we’ve done, you’ll eventually get incredibly bored, especially at a young age when you still have so much to give and to add. So I’m really good at being the contrarian. I’m really good at asking questions that might annoy some people or might challenge some people. It doesn’t bother me at all because I really love deep conversations whether people agree with me or not, I’m not looking for people to agree with me. I’m looking to understand. So I want to ask people about the fire movement and retirement. I heard a lot of answers that sounded similar and I started to see a pattern. And then one day at lunch I got into a conversation with a great woman named Lauren Tang and she runs a podcast called in love and money.

And we started talking about the whole fire movement. And I told her my issues with the whole thing and she cited all these people that retired at whatever, 32 years old and they live on $22,000 a year. And I was like, okay. And, and one of them is this guy named mr money mustache. It’s a ridiculous sounding name, but he’s one of the financial gurus in this space. And she explained how he lives on 20 again $22,000 a year and he’s retired and he does what he wants. And I had heard of them, but I’ve never really followed him very much. So I asked them questions about them because he’s a leader in the retirement early movement and I kind of acted like a six year old like I do when I ask questions sometimes, I’m just curious. And I’m like, so he lives on $22,000 a year.

How do you know about him? And she’s like, well, he’s got a really successful blog. And I was like, Oh well does he write the blog? And she said, yeah, he writes the blog. So it’s obviously pretty well known since, you know of him and everybody knows of him. Oh yeah, it’s a huge blog. He does speaking and all this stuff. I said, does he make money off of this? I just say he means a lot of money. It’s a very profitable blog and platform. And I said, okay, well then he’s not retired. And she’s like, yeah, but he says he’s retired. And I’m like, well, he writes the blog and he speaks and he earns income from it. Correct. And she started laughing. She’s like, yeah, well he’s not retired so it doesn’t make very much sense. And she said, well, you know, he used to do something.

He had a job he didn’t like. He got out of it. So that’s where the retirement comes from. I’m like, that’s great. That’s a pivot. You went from one career to something different. But again, it’s not retirement. And we had a lot of laughs during discussion. That was not a heated discussion at all. We were having a great talk. It was mutually respectful, but I said, this is where I think the movement’s gotten wrong because so many people are looking to retire. But to me it’s a very selfish proposition. Retirement means I’m going to get as much as I can get for myself. I could take in as much money, I can put it in an account, it’ll make me my 4% that I could live off of and I never really have to do or produce anything any longer. And trust me, there are a lot of people in this movement that do not feel this way.

But the overriding theme is how do I get enough money so that I have what I need and that I’m good. So I told her and others my opinion of it, just my opinion is that it’s a very selfish way of looking at life and at money. My perspective on financial independence is this, I want to be financially secure. I want to have all my debts paid for. I want to have my money in my account, making me money, building us wealth so that not only don’t have to worry about money, but that I can be generous with my money and maybe most importantly it allows me to do the work that I want to do because I believe in work. I believe work helps other people and when you don’t need to do it for the money, you get to realize very quickly that all the selfish goals that we have that I’ve had are pretty empty and I’ve had them all and I’ve accomplished them a lot and my happiness doesn’t come from that.

My happiness surprisingly didn’t come from my achievements. My happiness at this stage in my life, not thinking about money is helping other people achieve their goals and their life that they want. That’s why I do all this. So if I was going to pick up my ball and go home and say, I’ve got what I need, let me figure out how I can live on a certain percentage of the money that I have and make sure that I hold onto that money. That to me is a giant wasted opportunities. And I learned some of this from Dan Miller who was a mentor of mine and he was talking to another wealthy person. I won’t name their name, but pretty much they were in that position. They made a lot of money. They were retired and he challenged them. He said, Oh good, you’ve got enough for you and now you’re going to stop.

And it stopped that person in their tracks because the way you said it in a smart but challenging way was you’ve made enough money for yourself. Your life is going to be good, your life and your family is going to be happy. You’re no longer going to use your skills and your talents, the gifts that you’ve been given to create more wealth, to build more money, to enrich your community and to use the things that you’ve learned to make yourself better, to make those people around you better. And I can tell you it had a profound effect on that person. So we’re all in different communities, different groups. But it doesn’t mean that we always have to agree with everything that’s said in that thing that’s more like a cult. And that’s what was so refreshing about this conversation this weekend where that people were open to being challenged on what the norm is.

And even to the point that Jonathan and Brad from choose FI, they don’t say fire in their name cause it’s about financial independence, not necessarily about financial independence, retire early. And what I told them in my own way is I think the acronym fires would hurt people because it was so catchy and it was so clean fir a fire that some people might’ve lost. Focus on what it really means to retire early because I don’t believe in retiring by, I believe in pivoting where if you don’t like what you’re doing, get yourself financial independence that you can pivot out of one thing into the other thing that you really want to do. Cause I told them when I’m 88 I’m still going to be creating, I’m still going to be making things and helping people and earning income. And I don’t plan on fading away.

I plan on keep doing this too. I’ll be making more money when I’m 75 than I am now. I’m not about to slow down because when you slow down, you start dying to so many of the people ask me, they want to hear my opinion on the fire movement. And it came together in this weekend that was packed full of awesome people, interesting conversations and wonderful friendships that had just started. So if you have a chance to ever go to one of these, I highly recommend it. Go to camp.org they’ve got events this year in Virginia, Colorado, Joshua tree, California, which I really would love to go to cause I love campfire. And I also love Joshua tree and in Texas and Minnesota. So check it out if you’re interested, campfire.org and until then, we’ll continue on a life of financial independence, but not retiring. Talk to you tomorrow.

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