Up until maybe a year ago, I was not aware of what ‘FIRE‘ was, and had no idea that there was a large community who all shared similar goals and mindsets towards achieving financial independence, and in some cases, retiring early. Although sometimes I wish I could’ve discovered FIRE earlier, the next best thing for me was to hop on the train now and pursue it to the best of my ability. As the old proverb goes – ‘the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now’.
FIRE, for those who don’t know, is an acronym for Financial Independence & Retiring Early. It’s a lifestyle, a cult, a community or whatever you want to call it. We are financially savvy individuals who aim to invest a significant portion of our active working income to generate a passive investment income in the hopes of one day having the money received from passive investment income exceed the cost of living (at which point, you have achieved financial independence). There are many different approaches to achieving FIRE – these include but are not limited to;
- Investing in real estate or property to collect rental income;
- Investing in diversified index funds for capital growth and withdrawing during retirement using the 4% rule (John Bogle approach);
- Or alternatively a lesser known Australian dividend focused approach (Peter Thornhill approach), where we never sell shares are live off the dividends generated since Australian companies in general have a higher dividend yield than international counterparts.
Now moving on to the most important part of FIRE – why should you care? It really depends on the person, but for me FIRE was something that I was pushed towards due to the financial circumstance of our family. I love my parents and would do anything for them. They moved here from south east Asia around 30 years ago giving up everything they knew – their language, their friends & family and their familiarity with their motherland.
They struggled through physically demanding jobs (since overseas degrees mean nothing here in Australia) and did everything under the sun to support my brother and I for every endeavor we wanted to pursue, regardless of educational, sporting or recreational. They worked to the point where their bodies were actually breaking down due to the intense physical labor involved with the work they did. I made it my mission that as soon as I was able to help them, I was going to with everything that I could afford to, and also position myself in a way that I would never go through what they had to do.
So this is where we are now – I am starting my journey towards FIRE. I want the freedom of working a job that I like, rather than working a job I need because of money. I want to one day be able to wake up when my body has decided it’s time to wake up, rather than wake up at 6:30 a.m. to catch my train otherwise I’ll be late. I want to be able to say ‘no’ to the boss, without having to be worried that it will affect my future remuneration, development and promotion prospects. When the time comes for me to have kids, I’d like to go to all their sporting events, or dance rehearsals or whatever, just because I can rather than be stuck in another meeting or conference call for work. I want to be able to travel whenever I want, rather than only during the 4 weeks annual leave that I am entitled to as a full time employee in Australia. Basically I want the power to do my things, on my terms, and on my own time.
There is also a sense of security that comes with achieving financial independence;
- What if you got injured and could no longer work? Well if you’re financially independent, then you’re all fine since your passive investment income is greater than or equal to your living expenses.
- What if you choose to continue to work after becoming financially independent but hate the job? Well, just quit and find another one.
- What if you wanted to spend more time on what you really enjoy, your hobbies, interests and really wanted pursue those? Well now you can because you are financially independent.
- Most importantly of all for me, I get to spend the time doing what I want, whenever I want and with the people I want.
FIRE for me is a solution to a problem I see around me every single day. I see it in friends, family and co-workers. I intend for it to not be a problem for me, so I hope you will join me on this insightful journey to achieving FIRE.
Stay tuned for more coming soon.