FIRE: Everyone Has Their Own Reaction

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I’ve noted before that the media loves to create hysteria & fear about early retirement.  From Suze Orman’s cautions that the FIRE movement is “the dumbest personal finance decision people can make” to this recent article from CNBC focusing on the ‘Downsides of Early Retirement That No One Tells You About’.

I thought it might be good to offer my own experience as a counterpoint to what the author shares in his article.  Everyone will have their own reaction to the lifestyle adjustment that comes with FIRE and the five concerns he shared frankly don’t match what I have felt at all …

  1.  “You May Suffer From An Identity Crisis” – No, not at all.  Good jobs certainly come with a degree of status, but I haven’t heard anyone who wouldn’t trade their current title for ‘financially-independent goof off’.
  2. “You may second-guess yourself” – I haven’t done this one single time in over three years.  Even when the stock market has fallen suddenly or my MegaCorp stock options lost most of their value, I was still happy to be free & independent.  (MegaCorp options have bounced back nicely, by the way).
  3. “People may treat you like a misfit” – I can’t think of  situation where I’ve felt that way.  Generally, I would say that my FIRE story inspires many people and I feel more like a hero and people say I ‘beat the system’, ‘won the money game’, or comment that ‘I wish I had your life’.  No real misfitting.
  4. “You might be surprised that you aren’t that much happier” – I enjoyed going to work & had interesting jobs.  Still, I’m a happy person overall and not working has been an absolute pleasure.  As I’ve learned from others, the ‘honeymoon phase’ doesn’t need to end.
  5. “You may get really really bored” – Nope.  As I’ve said, there aren’t boring retirements, only boring people.  If you can’t find things more interesting to do than work on MegaCorp budgets, manage MegaCorp projects, and handle MegaCorp administrivia, you have a lot of learning to do.  Like most FIRE devotees, I am busier and having more fun than ever!

One person’s joy can be another person’s challenge, of course.  I like the author’s Financial Samurai webpage for the most part and he has been very successful.  I’m not trying to negate his experience with this response, but want folks to know that his ‘downsides’ certainly don’t apply to everyone.

Image Credit: Pixabay

6 thoughts on “FIRE: Everyone Has Their Own Reaction

  1. Thanks Mr. Firestation for the upbeat post. It does feel like the FIRE movement has turned a bit negative over the last couple of months. You now need 33x expensives vs. 25x. If you don’t have your purpose in life figured out outside of work, you will struggle, etc..

    The problem with going negative on change like FIRE is that you are indirectly advocating the status quo. Are we suggesting giving up your freedom for a few more years at Megacorp is the best course of action?

    Everyone’s situation is different and pointing out situations to be careful of is important. However, what makes this community different is a consistent “point of view” that financial freedom is achievable and it is better than the status quo.

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    1. The media loves to show everyone the downside of everything, don’t they? I guess people being successful by being self-reliant fights with the ‘everyone is a victim’ narrative that they find sells much better. 😉

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  2. While I mostly agree I think your personal career experience is causing you to have a lack of understanding about the first concern. Being a corporate marketing guy probably did not give you the damaging ego boost that having hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of people working for you might have. My brother-in-law is a mega-millionaire. He had 4o,ooo people working under him. He’s been retired about five years and he misses being “the man” so much he bought his own processing plant just to get back in the game. He strongly advised me not to retire. I wasn’t on his level of extreme wealth but I was well past financial independence. I ran the largest employer in half of my state and literally everyone knew me on sight. I was the public face of a beloved century old company. I had access to everyone. While I don’t miss the job, the way I got treated because of my celebrity status, the prototypical big fish in a small pond, was hard to walk away from. It was like being the mayor or governor. How many of those do you see retiring early? Just look at the presidential candidates, they are nursing home aged and still at it. Same thing for aging sports stars and actors. Fame and power are narcotic and hard to walk away from. Lucky for me I never felt like I was anything special. I’m more comfortable in “my financially independent goof off” role now. But I was atypical, most of those big dogs can’t give up the narcotic of fame and power. Money is easy to walk away from however, once you have enough.

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    1. Sorry I hadn’t responded earlier. I agree with your point that certain people are in unique situations, but that is not the the author of the piece had, nor the audience that he was writing for. I think few people are in the situation you describe.

      That said, my wife and I had the pleasure of seeing Bob Newhart perform at the Minneapolis Comedy Festival last weekend. At 89, Newhart certainly doesn’t need to be working … but clearly he loves it. I presume he gets a kick out of the status that comes from selling out a big theater to see him perform. Again, a guy in a very unique position.

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  3. I agree with Mr. FireStation on this one. While I am sure the occasional big dog retiree might get a little ego crushed with retirement. However, I’d surmise the vast majority of FIREd people are not at that level, and therefore likely not experiencing a painful ego drop of not being a Governer or CEO. I’ve been FIREd for just over two years. I was a high level pharma executive on a global level for well over twenty years. My experience is very similar to Mr. Firestation. I couldn’t be happier retired early. Most people I meet are a little curious, maybe a little jealous, but most want to know how to do it. I haven’t had a single day of regret or boredom since FIRing. My only possible regret is not doing it sooner! Let the naysayers, pessimists, and glass-half-fullers keep their jobs. There’s always going to be a few squeaky wheels who whine louder than the millions of happy folks. I expect it’s one more of a Millionaire Next Door kind of thing….and I’d venture that the vast majority of FIRE goers are quietly living a blissful and happy FIREd life. It’s the handful of miserable, that the media tend to focus on. The media outlets are trying to keep the working minions in line by trying to convince the masses it’s horrible to have your freedom.

    Thanks just the same…I’ll happily keep my freedom in retirement!

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