For These Women, a FIRE That Burns Too Male and Too White

Fed up with the bro-heavy archetype of the FIRE trend (“financial independence, retire early”), women are carving out their own niche in the frugal-living movement.

Comments: 311

  1. Plenty of options in life when your income is six figures. Meanwhile the rest of the country prepares food at home, shops at thrift stores, drives old cars and grandma cares for the kiddies, because they can't afford anything else.

  2. @Heidi [[Meanwhile the rest of the country prepares food at home]] Knowing how to cook for yourself is a basic life skill that everyone should possess. [[shops at thrift stores]] I just got a beautiful coat from the Salvation Army. Made in England, mint condition, perfect for the autumn, for twenty bucks. How delighted am I? Extremely. [[drives old cars]] My car has a CD player and no bluetooth, so that tells you something. And just this morning, I grabbed some CDs off the shelf that I hadn't played in a while and brought them with me. [[and grandma cares for the kiddies]] Children learn a lot from the elderly and the elderly are entertained and mentally stimulated by the children.

  3. @Third.Coast: HA! I can beat car is a 16 year old minivan with 167,000 miles on has a TAPE DECK! (A CD player? amazing luxury!) I buy all my clothes at the Salvation Army Thrift Store OR at garage sales. My winter coat cost TWO DOLLARS! (not kidding, and it's actually a very nice lined thinsulate coat) And it only helps a little -- it keeps the edge off, it lets me live without credit card debt. It still took me 30 years to pay off the mortgage on my very modest Midwestern house. To do this FIRE system, you FIRST must start out at as a very highly paid tech worker -- six figures from the starting gate -- with NO COLLEGE DEBT. That applies to VERY few people.

  4. The 4% rule (or 3.5% or whatever withdrawal rate you use) is flexible enough to accommodate any spending preferences you have. If hair care or taking care of the in-laws or anything else is worth it to you, just add the cost to your annual spending and multiply by 25 to get your FIRE number. That said, I can understand wanting to get that information from someone you can relate to and who makes FIRE feel attainable to you personally. I can also understand how reading Silicon Valley bros preach about hardcore minimalism and manly stoicism could be... off-putting.

  5. Thank you for this article. The tone-deaf exclusion of chronic illness sufferers in FIRE discussions has been so discouraging. I have up to $2,000 a month in medical and dental bills...and am too unwell to work full time. But I also love the frugal life and am proud to have at least stayed afloat...

  6. @Kiwi You should write an article or a blog about your experiences.

  7. I'm a retired white male software engineer. I don't relate to the FIRE guys either, so I wouldn't take it too personally.

  8. @CBThey are not taking it personally. They are talking about how gender and possibly race/ethnicity structures ones financial obligations in a particular way. Those socio-economic structural differences change the path to FIRE that has largely forged by white men. It's not personal.

  9. @KayVing It's personal, as in putting you into a category in a very arbitrary way (it's called sexism when it is done to women), and then talking about how you need to be changed.

  10. @Teal To take just one example of how structural (not personal) differences impact women's path to FIRE: The average woman's unadjusted annual salary has been cited as 78% to 82% of that of the average man's. This is a structural economic difference between men and women.

  11. I have difficulties understanding this (for me very American) obsession about stressing what differentiates people rather than what unites them, as well as this obsession about “white men” (who seem to be very bad people). Mr Money Mustache is a great read, and the fact that is white, male, Canadian, father, divorced, etc. has little to do with it. I have enough imagination to empathize which someone who differs from me, and to learn from his experience. The main author of the Millenial Revolution, a well known blog in the FIRE movement, is an Asian Canadian woman: a great read again and the fact that I am neither a woman, a Canadian and from Asian origin does not change anything about it. That’s great to have a cohort of new, diversified authors in the FIRE movement but I am sure that their gender or color of skin is less important than their talent and ideas in writing their blog. Additional comment: the FIRE movement has never been about Silicon Valley guys who make six figures salary. On the opposite, it is full of people who have regular revenues and followed various paths to generate these revenues. Surprising to read this misconception here.

  12. @Julien Levy I couldn't agree with Julien more. Learn from your fellow humans and stop focusing on how race or gender makes it different for you. I do not have a Silicon Valley paycheck but living with what I need and not wasting money on STUFF I've been able to retire at 56.

  13. You read that whole article and that was your only understanding? Reread it and this time with some empathy for people’s different lived experiences. You don’t have to be scared of race and gender. Plenty of us in the world don’t have the luxury of pretending these things don’t impact our lives. We’ve had to think deeply about the way we walk in the world for better or for worse.

  14. You’re not alone, Mr. Levy. Many Americans are puzzled, too. The more frustrated ones elected Trump. The intersectional activists behind this movement believe that blacks and whites are inherently different. The former will always be oppressed by the latter. As such, they will always require special treatment. It’s very regressive.

  15. It's about time. The whole success blogoverse is dominated by you white single guys. It's great for them, but let's be honest that, older people, people with young and older kids, handicapable folks, and more diverse people are also trying to do the same things: live frugally, save money, downsize, eat better, participate in our communities, etc. Diversify the blogs and you'll see how we can all commit to this type of lifestyle. I the FIRE guys blogs tend to be about somehow "dominating and conquering".

  16. I think it is a pity that the headline used by the NYT seems to make this into a race and gender issue when the article is basically clear that people are motivated to blog about their own experiences when they can’t find something useful on line. This doesn’t make someone else’s experiences any more or less relevant.

  17. @Dubliner Financial welfare in the USA is absolutely a race and gender issue. Nothing here is 'making' it into that - the disparity has been codified (literally) for generations.

  18. @Dubliner - I just love comments like these, because they reinforce the writer's point a priori without anyone saying a word more. if you lived here, you'd understand what that means.

  19. Yet another example of the culture's (as reflected in the NY Times) obsession with identity markers like race and gender. Everyone is an individual, including white males.

  20. @Naysayer That is not the point...these are women who are sharing their stories with people who might be in the same situation.

  21. @Naysayer agreed the NY Times' Identity Marker Obsession got Trump elected and will get him re-elected, yet they think otherwise

  22. @Zenster You're right - he got elected by straight white dudes who couldn't stand seeing anybody else in office.

  23. I'm reminded of that (old boys' network) saying "He who dies with the most toys, wins."

  24. @Bettina I think the idea behind FIRE is to die without any toys, having spent most of any savings to live their life without having to work. Obviously the "number" is uncertain, so there's some risk in chucking it all after hitting it.

  25. @Bettina That is almost the exact opposite of the ethos of FIRE.

  26. @Bettina this is not what FIRE is about. FIRE is about prioritizing your wants and need, living below your means, and saving copious amounts of money to retire from the workforce - IF you so choose to do so. It is about living a lifestyle that will enable you to throw off the bonds of work (should you choose).

  27. Good article, and I welcome more diversity in the FIRE community. But I feel the title is unnecessarily combative and doesn't fit the tone of the body. If you wrote another article about a white person becoming interested in a largely black movement and deciding to contribute there, would you say in the title that they are joining the movement because they found it "too black"?

  28. @Marshall That depends. Would you consider it an accomplishment for a white person to join a group or organization that has typically been nearly exclusively black? I struggle to think of an example of this beyond slavery or racially segregated schools. Perhaps a jazz music group could be a positive answer. Whereas for black people, it can often (not always) be seen as an accomplishment to join a group or organization that has typically been all white. Country clubs, wealthy neighborhoods, top professions such as doctors and lawyers, etc. etc. etc. etc the list goes on. If you don't want it to be seen as notable for different races or genders to join these groups, maybe the problem was the previous systematic exclusion of others from those groups in the first place.

  29. @Galt The immediate example that springs to mind is Eminem. I'm no expert in hip hop, but I think many would argue that the fame he earned in an overwhelmingly black art form was quite an achievement. The New York Times could easily write an article praising his lifetime of work as a minority within the hip hop world, but they would never title it "For Eminem, Rap was Too Black". Nor should they. Believe me, I am in no way against the inclusion of minorities in typically white organizations, especially ones where systematic exclusion has been historically present. In many areas, that is a huge problem. But in this case, it doesn't seem like minorities are being excluded from financial blogging. Many of the people in this article seem to be having great success.

  30. @Marshall At the risk of getting off topic, for what it's worth, Eminem's being white 100% contributed to his commercial success, which he himself acknowledges. That isn't to say he didn't have a rough life or isn't a supremely talented musician, but being white was wasn't a hindrance. White people finding commercial success in traditionally black art forms, and/or mainstreaming them isn't a remotely new thing. It's a little dated, but there's book called "Everything but the Burden" by Greg Tate, which is largely about this- worth a read for anyone interested in the subject.

  31. I feel like this article is stretching pretty hard to make this into a gender/race issue. "White dudes" have aging parents, outside interests, and needs beyond eating, too. There's plenty of need (and space) for alternative approaches to financial independence and early retirement, and I applaud these women for sharing theirs. Shame on the NYT, though, for playing the gender/race card.

  32. Why is it playing the gender/race card just because people are talking about their lived experiences?

  33. If the NYTimes hadn’t printed this, I would not have known about it. Shame on you for wanting to shut down a conversation just because you don’t like the perspective.

  34. @mosselyn Exactly. The FIRE movement is a couple generations old at least and extends far beyond "white guys" already; no need to sow division where none exists.

  35. Just curious — does anyone ever consider wanting to work, finding work that you want to do?

  36. @David Many people in the FIRE movement focus more on the Financial Independence half than on Retiring Early. It's much easier to find fulfilling work when you have the freedom to be selective about the jobs you take.

  37. @David I think a better way to view this is the adage working to live rather than living to work. Of course we need/want engaging work but and underpinning of FIRE is that work should not result in an endless cycle of acquisition and debt. That it is not necessary to have the most and the best (a marketing ploy in many cases) and that living within one's means is both a smart and sustainable thing to do.

  38. @Josie Wow, now that's one long response that doesn't even answer their question!

  39. Anyone interested in another great female voice in the FIRE community should also look into Paula Pant and her blog and podcast, both called Afford Anything. She's a great writer and interviewer, young, accomplished and covers the FIRE movement from multiple angles without focusing exclusively on women's perspectives but also acknowledging that FIRE looks different for women, people of color, marginalized groups, and non tech bros. I have no affiliation with her or her work. Just a fan girl.

  40. People who don’t like their jobs but want out. Usually too afraid to take the plunge and reroute their life’s trajectory unless they amass savings to support if necessary. Spending less than you earn and saving the rest is open to everyone. Fire just happens to be pro environment.

  41. Sounds awful. I enjoy my job and I love living life to the fullest: Traveling; eating good food; and buying nice things that give me joy.

  42. @sansacro Agree. I'm coming up on 68 years young, house paid off, 10 year old car paid off, in overall good health, collecting *full* social security, working a full time demanding job that keeps my mind active and pays well, and using my extra money to fix up the house, travel, and buy myself all the little luxuries I could never afford before. Yes, I save some $ too but I will never have $1M and I may not live to 99 -or even 69- so I am enjoying every minute NOW!

  43. @sansacro Great that you enjoy your job and life. But for the 80% of Americans who don't, this alternative might sound liberating.

  44. I read blogs by all kinds of people and I feel like I can learn from anyone's experience. But - *As a woman, my experience is different than that of men and I want to see blogs by other women *As an African-American, my experience is different than that of someone who is white, or Asian, or Hispanic, and I want to see blogs by other African-Americans *As someone who is not a high-paid tech worker who has the ability to make six figures working from home, I want to see blogs by people who work more traditional 9-5s. *As someone who has health issues, my experience is different than someone who is healthy. I want to see blogs by someone who shares that experience. This is not about "playing the race and gender card." Yes, there may be commonalities among people, but there are also plenty of things that make us unique. If you can't understand that people need to feel that their particular circumstances are represented, it's probably because you've never lived in a world where yours weren't. And by perpetuating this culture of outrage when someone has the gall to claim their own space and create a place where their perspectives and experiences are valued, you are, quite frankly, part of the problem of race and gender relations in this country.

  45. @Josie Well put and thanks.

  46. @Josie I second Marta’s post. I’m first generation college, served in the military, help care for an in-law and retiring early is/has been never even been an option for me even though I’ve had a good, successful career by many measure.

  47. White men don't have aging families to take care of or varying incomes/professions or class backgrounds or health needs?

  48. @MK No one is saying they don’t have these issues but these topics rarely come up in the most FIRE blogs. It’s great to get other perspectives and stories.

  49. @MK. I read some of these blogs, and I like them and find some of them inspirational, but it's true what JEA says - they rarely address those issues (except perhaps the lower income one). Women do have different and often more costs than men (I say this as a woman married to a man) - birth control, societal expectations of appearance (men can say ignore them, but okay, they don't have to live with them to the same degree, so it's easy to say), more expensive clothing and a greater variety of clothing required to look professional. Women are also disproportionately single parents, and they are also more often the primary caregiver for children and family - and in some communities it is still frowned upon for mothers to work. Women might also feel that they need a greater level of safety in their environment (affects housing costs), a higher heating bill, and greater care and attention to diet and some aspects of physical and psychological health. There's no doubt that it's a different experience of the world.

  50. They may simply assume “someone else” will take care of their aging parents.

  51. In about 2 months, once my car is paid off, we can start "snowballing" some debt. Soooooo looking forward to it. Was rather shocked that once we get going we can pay off the house in about 10 years. Assuming we don't need a new roof, kid doesn't need another tutoring program that is the equivalent of college tuition etc etc. Hard part will be convincing hubby a used car is good enough if his bites the dust. There is no one way to do this. Without a mortgage, I don't need to save as much. The more diversity in opinion, the better.

  52. Everyone is different, and that is the beauty of American society. What works for one person may not for another. But thanks to the white guys in tech for coming up with a great concept that others can use to modify for their own needs. Personally, I have no spouse, no kids, no parents alive, no debt but plenty of savings, no mortgage (bought residence with cash), drive a 19 year old car, still work full time because I still enjoy it, buy clothes and furniture (if I really need anything else) at thrift stores, cook at home but sometimes go out with friends, and have never been happier than I am now at 64.

  53. @Janet Baker Erm, white men in tech did not come with the idea of frugal living. This has been around for a long time. Talk to an older person who lived through the depression. All these women are doing is sharing their stories. None of these people are being innovative.

  54. @Janet Baker Nor did they come up with the term FIRE - Financially Independent, Retire Early. That was coined by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez in their book Your Money or Your Life which I highly recommend.

  55. I went to her blog site and found a few wise, practical tips. Reading the comments from fellow foreigners, we should perhaps be respectful and keep in mind she is an American woman. She is not Canadian, Irish, or from France. Also, she lives in a seemingly very angry country. Not an expert on American culture and do not follow it, but perhaps anything in America could have a racial connection, from a paper clip to a bottle of catsup, that the rest of the world may not always understand. But we can listen. Trying to view her message through Canadian, Irish or French eyes is not the same as the experiences we have in our own countries. America is different. But we can perhaps learn something from her perspective. I say good on her for trying to reach out to an American group that may not feel that the wisdom of frugality applies to them. She seems sincere and wants people to succeed. I wish her much success.

  56. @MKS- Having visited and lived in each of those countries for an extended period, I can say that, even somewhat in Canada, those countries have a much worse problem with race, class and privilege. The US has never had an aristocracy or a "Premiere Etat" to deal with, thank goodness! You have, and still do. "Noblesse" almost never "obliges" when it comes to religion, gender, race or class, and we are very well shut of it! We have also been a melting pot far longer than any of you, and a longer history of a pretense at equal rights. It has benefited our people of every religious persuasion, race and gender that we never had a queen to contend with, a state religion or a ruling class. As difficult as it is to be a POC or LGBTQ here in the US, I'd rather be here dealing with this problem than in your country, or the those you mention. At least here, FIRE is a possibility for those with talent and drive. In the Old World, much less so because far too many obstacles exist to the lower classes ever achieving it. It's a reason why this conversation is typically and primarily an American one. Pity you don't see that, because nobody in your country is arguing the point.

  57. I'm a single white male work in tech in NY. I love what I do and get paid well to do it. I like the idea of financial independence to give me flexibility but the notion of retiring early makes no sense to me personally. I do think more voices are needed when it comes to a way of living that can make it applicable to others. I read FIRE blogs and other money blogs to gain different perspectives. There's a writer I follow Jason Vitug on Twitter who recently tweeted Hope is Hearing Other People's Experiences. I think he's Latino or Filipino. I relate to him and he's not white. He also doesn't talk about financial independence but more wellness. Maybe that's what we need to give different people the space to share their story and let those who may not identify with a white guy like me find hope with someone they can relate to. Maybe having the different voices would open FIRE to more people and eventually won't identify mostly by gender or race but by the movement itself.

  58. @Mark P - look, that's very lovely, and more power to you. but are you saying that you don't or can't relate to what Ms. Saunders says? Please be clear if you can. Let us be perfectly clear. The "movement" as you call it is only limited by economics, not gender or color. It's just about the money, and the choices one makes with it when one is privileged to have those choices. Only 20% of wage earners in this country will EVER have the option to pursue it, and not all of them will achieve it. It amounts to the establishment of of a new, upper class of privilege and wealth. You need to let go of any burden of guilt you may be carrying, as it will get in the way of you arriving there.

  59. Some of us are old enough to remember when the idea of spending less than one earned, saving for retirement, having the equivalent of at least 6 months of take home pay in a separate savings account to cover emergency expenses, and buying with cash, not credit (except perhaps for a mortgage) was considered the norm and not some sort of new way to live. That said, more power to all these folks, whatever their race, ethnicity, or gender. I hope they live long enough to enjoy the wealth they amass and don't look back in regret at the choices they've made and the experiences they didn't have.

  60. @West Texas Mama Real wages have hardly changed since the 70's, while costs of things like housing, healthcare, and education have ballooned. It's a little more complex than 'just save 6 months of takehome pay' for most Americans.

  61. @Sam, agreed. And for many people in this country who live from paycheck to paycheck even saving $10 in a month is difficult if not impossible. I do realize that. Most, if not all, of the people discussed in this article are clearly not in that group, however. My point, which perhaps wasn't clear, is that nothing about these concepts of frugality is new. Some of us have always lived that way as a matter of course rather than subscribe to the rampant consumerism that pervades our society. But having seen friends put off any pleasures until later in the interest of saving for retirement only to die before they could spend any of it, I believe there is probably a better, middle way to take.

  62. @West Texas Mama. Not to mention that we are advertised to constantly - buy some thing online and the suggestion to buy something else based on your purchase comes up. That level of marketing expertise didn’t exist “back in the day.” But you make a very good point.

  63. Retiring early is a nice fantasy. But the reality is that until we have something like Medicare for All that also covers long-term care, you never know how much money you'll need for yourself or a family member. A $1 million after-tax portfolio maybe gives you $40,000 per year to live on if you don't want to touch principal. And of course we had a 50% market decline in 2008-2009.

  64. @David Doney That’s what I always wonder about with these stories. So you walk away from your six-figure job at 38, with millions in the bank. 15 coupon-clipping years later, you’re hit with seven-digit medical bills and have to go back to work, with 15 year outdated skill set. Hmmm...

  65. That's a US-only problem. Every other developed nation has normal healthcare. I hope that in 2020 the Dems win and the US can join the rest of the developed world in this issue. Not because it's inconvenient to the specific FIRE philosophy, but because it's a Human Right.

  66. I was inspired many years ago by Thomas J. Stanley's "The Millionaire Woman Next Door." It reminded me of my mother's Great Depression era philosophy about life, money and materialism. Her frugal legacy has served me well. Not buying what you don't need is revolutionary. And so is not buying what the hyper media tells you you should want and should have. Being a revolutionary non-consumer of marketed bs is a heady thing.

  67. Your Money or Your Life, by Vicki Robin plus another author, from the 1980's, provides similar ideas. Good stuff.

  68. Embrace womyn, they are our future ! In the words of The Faces tune, Ooh la la:” l wish that l knew what l know now, when l was younger”

  69. The headline alone made my eyes roll and I resolved, very briefly, not to bother reading the story. I read it. Another example of the daily menu of media focused on the young and the "other" who happen to have means.

  70. O my...this is exactly what my mother taught me...Phi Berta Kappa Economics major from Berkeley...only in the 1950s!!!! It is so obvious....We lived a wealthier life with great gourmet food at home...spent only on nice trips...summer in Hawaii once...BUT used cars...scrimp on other items...never blow it on nonsense...frugal, no credit card debt....but building Investment Acct was the focus, and other ways to make money...real estate etc......The stock market was a huge topic of conversation....AND women must have accounts in their own name only. If anything happened to you, you want your Investment Acct to go directly to your children, and not mingled as community property for the creation of your husband's next family!...yep my mother was no nonsense practical!

  71. @momo41 Better still set up a revocable living trust in your name so your children's inheritance doesn't have to sit in probate for a year.

  72. @momo41 Yes, 50’s moms WERE so practical and common sense oriented! Today, no one uses the expression “common sense. Is that because it’s not trendy or is it because not too many people have any?

  73. @momo41 Far more women inherit money from men than the other way around - if men followed your mother’s advice I imagine there would be a lot more destitute old ladies.

  74. These distressing articles focusing on race/gender have such a 70's mentality. Everyone black woman is the stereotypical single mother struggling with a low income; every white male is a frat-boy making millions on Wall Street. Maybe the Times could focus for once on like the zillion of successful black and female (sometimes both) entrepreneurs instead of this victim stuff. What does someone's race possibly have to do with their tips on saving money?

  75. @R.P. I so agree with you about this being 70s mentality. They were sick then - weren't they? Today, we are so post-racist. I am not sure why my work place in SV has no blacks - but it is likely to be their problem. The society provides equal opportunity now. And, everyone lives the same white way. These tips are of course universal. There is no need to refine them for any particular demographic.

  76. “There’s a cost to maintaining this Afro,” she adds. “There’s a cost to taking care of my skin. You don’t have to cut them to be on the FIRE path . . ." NOT on the path is children, an enormous, avoidable expense, no matter how you play it . . . or maybe Ms. Saunders is thinking delayed fertility?

  77. @Tabitha Plinth - so if I understand you, you are saying that children are a bad idea on the FIRE path? And to be avoided at all costs? As are any kind of family expenses beyond one's self and one's spouse? Or even less than that? And here I thought both Malthus and Hobson had fallen out of fashion! Explain to me again, who would want this choice? Yes, I and we all need a clear answer...

  78. The gender/race component of this article is a real stretch. "What if you have to take care of an aging relative?" is not a gendered or racial question, yet it's printed as if obviously only minority women have aging relatives that need support. That's offensive.

  79. @Jeff caring for aging parents is absolutely gendered. Just take a parent to a Drs appointment on a weekday and see all the daughters in the waiting room. Not a son in sight. Though I was surprised to see a young man with an elderly woman once and complimented him for caring for his mother. "Oh no," he replied "She's not my mother, she hired me to come with her."

  80. @Jeff I know. Even whites have families. Jeez! Though, being an NYT reader, you probably know that whites have to spend less in support of their parents than others - right? Consider the job opportunities for older minorities; the incarcerations; the lack of access to medicine and healthy food choices, ....

  81. The more voices the better. It only enriches the conversation. But deriding some who have previously propelled this movement forward, based on their gender and ethnicity, is sexist and racist, even if they happen to be (horrors) male and white.

  82. @Franco51 I am glad you took the time to call the racism and sexism out. It must keep you extremely busy - calling out all the whitist messaging that NYT, WaPo, etc. push out. Maybe, you don't notice it when it is the other direction?

  83. @Franco51- don't call it a "movement". It's a plan and an idea that goes back in written history as far as Babylon under Cyrus.

  84. The internet is an infinitely expandable medium. If you don’t see what you want, you can create it yourself. Nobody dominates anything.

  85. @Thomas- such a pity then that the founding voices on many of these blogs are predisposed to a single and particularly male/white/straight privileged point of view then, don't you think? Especially when they could include any and everyone, and thereby benefit? But refuse to, quite literally?

  86. Congratulations to Kiersten and all of the other women who have been able to retire early. I’m not part of your definitional cohort, however. I’m a male; but I was never a real tech, millionaire guy. I only later wove the designs computer chips, I didn’t design them. One's in the collection of the deYoung. My story? I retired in 1987 at age 43 after the practice of law (it was voluntary). Since the ‘retirement,” I’ve been weaver, artist, actor and now, an indie film director. In the past year alone, I've traveled to seven countries on three continents with my films. It's not "awful." Part of our secret is that my wife and I live frugally. The other part of our secret is that my wife, at age 72, continues to work, albeit part-time. She loves to get out of the house. She loves her work. She refuses to retire. Life choices don’t need to be a gender thing. Let me add this part of our secret: don’t spend on lots of things just because you think you need them to keep up with friends, acquaintances and that great multitude of folks who spend beyond their means to project the aura of success. He/She who dies with the most toys doesn’t win. If you can manage to live a happy and healthy existence with even limited resources, that’s all the success you really need from life. So yes, Kiersten, you can replicate those “largely white, male(s) [who seemed to be] based in Silicon Valley” - and, in fact, do better. And so can the "not tech millionaires" guys. Have great journey.

  87. There are definitely dominant voices in FIRE groups that condescendingly fail to grasp that there is diversity of life experience. And there are often vocal misogynists, if I'm honest. The Choose FI facebook group got ugly on a meme about MacKenzie Bezos. "LOL, look how you can achieve FI, ladies." Disgusting. Women who complained were then told they needed to be able to take a joke and were too sensitive. I quit following the group after that. There are many paths to FI and I find it refreshing to hear from those who are blazing their way and sharing their stories based on a life experience different than "I'm a highly compensated software engineer who moved to a low cost area and work from home eating only rice and beans while renting out my couch on AirBNB. That's the path the FI." Well, no, that's *A* path to FI. Not the only one. I look forward to read from the the blogs I learned about here.

  88. This article seems like a solution in need of a problem. Places like the Motley Fool message boards have long featured regular commenters who are not Sili Valley software tycoons, and many of whom are women. That under-30 women have embraced the FIRE concept is great, but they are not pioneers in any way, shape or form.

  89. @Earthling - no they are not, nor are modern white, privileged, wealthy men. In fact, this idea dates back in written records before the Babylonian empire before Cyrus the Great. Which means it's not Western or even Caucasian in origin. Modesty and good manners should have moderated the tone of your post. Such a pity they didn't.

  90. Your "FIRE number" will be much lower retiring in the rust belt, especially if you don't mind diverse neighbors. Housing costs a fraction of coastal cities and local fresh food is abundant from the nearby countryside and from urban farms. Roads and parks have little congestion.

  91. @pre Many West Virginia young people move to the cities, Baltimore and DC especially, work there for 30 or 40 years and then come back home to retire. I've had the same life, except I'm a California country boy whose 3500 population home town is a 100,000 person subdivision for San Francisco. WV is a much more than adequate replacement. From the Appalachians to the Rockies, America has been devastated by globalization. That, rather than white racial resentment, is the main reason for the radical shift in politics, the emergence of the Red States. We know a lot about the coasts: it is the mass culture that washes over us all. It's not reciprocal. The world doesn't know much about the real extended Midwest. This region has other names: Red States, Rust Belt, Flyover. We have a deeply rooted and authentic culture, rather than the homogenizing vogues of the coasts. We also live with a wounded economy. In this we are more real, we live in a more serious world, more like most of the earth's people. On the other hand, the coasts are caught up in the smugness and illusions of a dramatic technological boom which is carrying the world economy. When the boom ends, the illusions will come due. C'mon out and take a look, by car. Pick up local papers and check the prices. And notice how much history and variety there is. BTW, we're not all Old, White, Men. But we're all as OK as the rest of the population. Welcome.

  92. Trump country? Thanks but no thanks!

  93. @alyosha "But we're all as OK as the rest of the population." If O.K. means shutting Planned parenthood, refusing to bake cakes for gays and lesbians, having restaurants with no diversity in cuisine, and electing GOP politicians who are paid by the NRA to oppose reasonable gun control. I live in a place like that already, thanks. I do NOT recommend that anyone voluntarily come here. Go to NYC! or SF!

  94. Apparently not too many commentators read the original FIRE article in the NYT. It was quite entertaining because the white couples featured apparently did not have parents who needed their help in any fashion (i.e. we’re rich themselves) and their children were all above average. The takeaways from that article were that they all had six figure incomes prior to retirement, they went without health insurance (or one spouse worked for it), they did not save for their children’s education (explicitly said so), they believed a dollar today would be worth a dollar tomorrow and the stock market would never crash at an inopportune time, and that their blissful marriages would never end in divorce (financial wars). It’s still gives me a laugh.

  95. @Linda Jean I was thinking that myself. I cherished that article for its Peter Pan innocence. None of them had a spouse with cancer, job downsizing or any other misfortunes that aren’t because of anyone’s bad behavior or poor choices, just bad luck.

  96. This article is elitist in itself, as it is about subcategories of elites. "Hyper frugality"is not a choice for most people. Driving old cars, cooking and socializing at home rather than eating out, not being able to even consider vacations, these are realities for most Americans. Trying to save funds for retirement is not a niche movement. Retreats for women in the FIRE movement certainly is.

  97. Retreats cost money too so in theory you should invest that trip expense in a Roth IRA.

  98. The author says the FIRE movement is unfair, is only accessible to white males, implies there are no female archetypes, then names about two dozen. Oh, and she’s willing to do *anything* to meet her own FIRE goals except spend less money on her hair because her definition of “essential” is different to a everyone else’s. If you want financial independence you have to earn more (any way you can), spend less (on everything), and save every penny. It’s about hard work and discipline far more than it is about race and gender.

  99. @Tony Myles I re-read the article and nowhere does she say the word "unfair." Like her, I notice a lot of redditors in the specific FIRE thread she's referencing are male; it's not un-common to see disparging comments there about the "wives that don't get it." All she's saying is she has a different lived experience and perspective and she's benefited from learning from others with more similar experiences to her. And that the FIRE movement encompasses more people than just those in one Reddit thread.

  100. The FIRE movement is cyclical. It shows up in different forms after every business cycle. The FIRE movement will move on when the cycle turns again.

  101. For decades the visionaries were promising that technology would one day allow us to all stop working and live lives of leisure. Strangely, once technology really did explode, people stopped talking about this: workers started accepting the idea that it's normal and sensible to keep working well into old age. I give a lot of credit to the FIRE people -- especially the middle income ones -- for showing that it is possible: Ordinary people can earn enough in a short working career to retire early and enjoy life. It's not just for silicon valley engineers.

  102. Never mind retiring early, my biggest worry was that I wouldn't be able to retire at all. In 2004, at age 48, I had nothing saved. I made 80K (non-tech job) and saved 25% from 2004-2018, maxing out my employer-sponsored IRA, a Roth IRA, and putting the rest in a separate non-retirement mutual fund account. Thanks to the historic bull market from 2008-2018 and an aggressive growth portfolio, I was able to retire at 62 in 2018. Half of my income comes from Social Security and half comes from 4% annual distributions from my mutual funds paid monthly, and this is working out very well. I know that this could have turned out very differently if the the stars on Wall Street had not been aligned in my favor (and continue to be). So the worry of not being able to retire has been replaced by the worry that my retirement won't last, but I would rather worry without also having a job that I dislike. I am healthier and happier, which is what matters.

  103. What do you do for health insurance? That’s the main reason I can’t retire because it is too expensive to buy an individual account.

  104. @Doggirl58 This was a big worry for me, too. I will answer your question by telling you what I pay. Medicare Part A is free (basically, hospitalization), Medicare Part B (outpatient services, doctors and physical therapists and so on) has a premium of $135 a month -I think this varies by state?), which is deducted from my Social Security benefit, and my Medigap policy (mine is New Era) covers the expenses not paid in full by Part A or B at a premium of $143 a month; and I also pay about $30 a month for my drug policy (Part D), which covers all but $5 of my medications. I have zero co-pays, zero worries, and my insurance is good anywhere (some limits with foreign travel, as if I could). If you opt into Medigap as soon as you retire, there is no medical exam or pre-existing condition restriction (there would be if you wait). An alternative to Medigap is an Advantage plan (Part C, an alternative to Medigap), where the premiums are likely $0 a month, but then those plans kill you eventually because you have to pay co-pays. If you need three months of physical therapy because you fall on the ice while walking your dog (as I did), the co-pays would be so much!, twenty visits at what, $20 each? Or you need chemo or dialysis. I am grateful every day that that I took a Medigap policy and did not take an Advantage plan. When you are healthy, a zero dollar premium seems fabulous, because co-pays are few and far between. So, that's how it worked for me!

  105. @Mary The previous poster wants to know where 62 year olds like cjalbright find affordable medical as they aren't eligible for medicare for another three years.

  106. "FIRE" is just a rebranding of what many other people have been doing for a long time. I learned a lot about saving for retirement from Jane Bryant Quinn, a woman, who has been writing about financial independence for over 20 years.

  107. If Saunders had looked a little deeper and past the tired assumption that the hated "patriarchy" explains everything, she would have found that the entire "fire" movement sprang from Vicki Robin's book "Your Money or Your Life" -- which Robin published in 1992, decades before the "fire" term was coined to refer to her ideas.

  108. @Tom Tom, I am so glad you brought up Vicki, and the book that kicked off (and named) the FI movement. One note though - the book was written by Vicki’s husband Joe Dominguez- and then later editions became a joint project. When Joe died, Vicki went on to promote, and teach FI all over the world. Your point is the same - which I think is - just because their may be some white Silicon Valley programmers who made this a competitive game - it is not inherently racist or sexist. It’s roots are in Joe and Vicki working together. One more point - how could the author of this article not mention “Your Money or Your Life?” It is a sign of doing no real research, and instead writing an article by doing some internet scrolling, and then finding a way to make it edgy by the way she puts in the race question. White Silicon Valley dudes are going to achieve FI and talk about it in their frat boy way, and others of us will achieve it in a different way - with complications and families. If you read the book you discover that Vicky and Joe talk about that extensively.

  109. @Blues- "... she would have found that the entire "fire" movement sprang from Vicki Robin's book "Your Money or Your Life"..." Not true. The idea, and even the economic plan to achieve, it goes back in written documents as far back as Babylon during the reign of Cyrus the Great. It is probably far older, and has been repeated ad infinitum since. So no, Joe and Vicki did not think this idea up on their own.

  110. @laguna greg For the record, Cyrus the Great was a Persian not a Babylonian.

  111. What I don’t like here is the ongoing narrative about being white and male. Maybe I’m missing something here but it’s offensive to hear. Did anyone of us choose our color? For some reason it’s now a trend, if you happen to be male and white you’re just wrong. Even if you’re a guy that came from nothing, built a company, employ thousands, and give healthcare you’re wrong because now you’re rich and white. Doesn’t matter that you’re creating jobs and providing opportunities. Let’s all try to regard character above all.

  112. @Tina Damn, well said Tina!

  113. @Jay There's a name for what's going on Jay: racism.

  114. @Jay This is such a willful misreading of the article. No one said the white male FIRE bloggers were bad--just that their priorities and experiences aren't universal. Also, no white man in America "came from nothing". He already had two legs up on everyone else. Bravo for working hard and moving up. It's commendable. But don't pretend there weren't others who started further back and just want to see their experiences represented and celebrated too.

  115. also works for men.Don't smoke anything don't buy alcohol,expensive,excercise at home. Pay off fuel efficient car and keep it,buy a small inexpensive house,install efficient appliances.Make long term safe investments.don't run with the crowd ,take expensive vacations or attempt to keep up with the Joneses. Do get aways in off season at half price,always shop seasonal sales and wait for price drops.If you have to relocate ,do it,keep your job is increasingly expensive ,figure out a savings plan.

  116. Funny, when I check my favorite FIRE forum I am unable to determine the racial background of the contributors, or the gender diversity of active participants. Is there some setting I should be aware of? Or should people be forced to clearly self-identify their ethnicity and gender so everyone can quickly weed out white males, whose experiences and elitist attitudes are so harmful?

  117. @Krakatoa i think you are white though you have not said a word. Am I right? How do you think I came to this conclusion? Is it funny?

  118. @MJ: Inasmuch as the women described in this article are themselves saying that their financial situation is not adequately addressed by "FIRE goals," it does seem uncharitable to complain if the advocates of those goals say the same thing.

  119. @Krakatoa I am also on a lot of those anonymous FIRE forums. Self-identification is unnecessary when there is a constant stream of comments about how "Women are expensive" and "Marrying a woman is counter to FIRE goals". It is difficult to feel welcome in a community when some members of the community are endlessly telling you that you are incapable of being there due to your gender. Some FIRE forums, like the reddit one, have recently cracked down on sexist remarks like those, which I am grateful for. But having witnessed how extensive and popular these sentiments were before the guidelines, it's still difficult to participate knowing the unspoken beliefs of some of the male participants.

  120. "I wouldn’t be able to replicate exactly what they did.” Well, of course not. It's called "personal" finance for a reason. Everybody should know the basics and then decide what is important and not important to them. I keep my cars for 15 or 20 years. I don't care about cars. I need one but I don't care about them. For others, a car and the type of car is important. I spend very little money is some areas and more in others. Its personal.

  121. I read this with some amazement -- having not heard of the FIRE moniker. Good for everyone who's thinking and working towards this, whatever age, sex, or race. I remember listening to a radio program some decades ago whose host espoused "financial independence" -- I'm thinking it was something like Bob Brinker's Market Timer, but I listened frequently. A good thing, I thought. A divorced mother who worked her way to financial security, encouraging me to take care of my financial life along the way, was my ticket (and my higher-earning spouse's) to long-term financial security. It's pretty simple. Live within your means, whatever that is. Clearly distinguish between needs and wants. Save and invest. Of course, having fairly reasonable salaries and living in lower cost parts of the country helps -- it did in our case. But I've cooked at home, driven older cars, and bought clothes recycled at thrift stores out of choice, too.

  122. This article didn't mention a few important points. First, women live longer. So they must save more (from lower paychecks, which lead to lower Social Security). A married man might plan to have his wife take care of him in his later years, but who will take care of her? Next, society has different expectations of women, especially aging women. We are expected to keep up a youthful appearance and not get frumpy. This is expensive. Add in the well-known premium that women pay for things like haircuts and dry cleaning. Finally, Mr.Money Moustache--one of the most prominent FIRE bloggers--has pointed out in the past that his wife's job (which has health insurance) is one reason he could "retire." So glad he successfully "retired" while his WIFE is still working!

  123. @Kay "Next, society has different expectations of women, especially aging women. We are expected to keep up a youthful appearance and not get frumpy. This is expensive. Add in the well-known premium that women pay for things like haircuts and dry cleaning." I could really dissect the various points above, but suffice to say that no one forces us to buy anything, nor 'buy into' anything.

  124. @Kay You don't seem to get it - FIRE is about not listening to what expensive things society tells you that you need to have or be and charting your own path to financial independence.

  125. @Kay Shout it from the rooftops!

  126. The Live Frugal and try-to-retire-early mindset is all well and good but.... I can't help but feel that these women are just another niche group that most people, male or female, can't relate to. When I hear someone is a 'blogger', I tend to think of an 'educated' person. (How many blue collar folk do you know who also define themselves as a 'blogger'? lol) I really dislike any books, classes, movements, etc. that are directed towards women. It just feels all very opportunistic to me, and as a female, I don't like being 'pandered' to or coddled, as if I need some special kind of treatment, or to be spoken to or taught in more pedestrian terms. Heck, there are plenty of men out there as well, who haven't a clue what the FIRE movement is all about. In the end, we make our own decisions about how we want to spend our money. Far too many people aren't willing to make the sacrifices in the short-term, for a better future. Things like 'skin care products/treatments', special hair treatments/styles, a car (especially if they live in an area with meaningful public transportation), the latest iPhone etc. ...none of these things are essential, but rather, personal decisions on how to spend one's money. People who are truly sacrificing have none of those things.

  127. While the modern "FIRE" movement may have started in a white male techbro culture, the principles are universal. Cut out everything you can. You don't have to have an afro. You don't have to support your mother in law. It's about making choices. Maybe you feel you aren't willing to cut one expense or another because you have different values, but that doesn't really have anything especially to do with your race or gender. It just has to do with being you. And at the end of the day, the more you save, the earlier you reach your number, no matter who you are or what you want to do when you meet that goal.

  128. @Big Cow. “You don’t have to have an Afro”? So every woman should shave her head? “You don’t have to support your mother in law”? Wow. Many people have people in their lives whom they take care of, and do not feel comfortable abandoning. Single, antisocial men living in a van down by the river, eating beans from a can, are not, thankfully, the bulk of society.

  129. My 3 thrift gurus, before the internet, were Humberto Cruz, a nationally syndicated Florida Sentinel columnist on savings, Amy Dacyczyn who wrote The Tightwad Gazette and Mary Hunt, Everyday Cheapskate. Cruz and Dacyczyn retired when they reached their financial goals. Mary Hunt is still going strong.

  130. @EmilyBooth: I am very familiar with the Tighwad Gazette in the 80s. At that time, the Dacyzyns were on their 30s! and they could "retire" because Mr. Dacyzyn had 20 years in the military and a nice military pension and free health care for life. They did not emphasize THAT in their books or newsletters. Today, they'd be in their mid 60s, but have been out of sight for the last 30 years. I have not heard a thing from either of them! even with the 2008 Great Recession! Mr. Dacyczyn really drove that whole Tightwad thing -- he wanted to retire at 38 and never work again, and pushed his wife relentlessly to "do without". She sounded pretty miserable, frankly. I always figured they got divorced!

  131. My boyfriend had a funny joke about this - women have always had a FIRE movement - it's called getting married :) He also let me know that he would have FIRE'd himself already if it weren't for me and he could just live in an RV.

  132. @Christine That’s not funny. It’s obnoxious.

  133. @Christine Do not marry him. That way, the joke will be on him and not on you.

  134. @Christine Welp, at least you're not married to him.

  135. Thanks NYTimes! This so resonated with me! As a woman, I have found that women will talk about menopause, weight gain, their husbands, their sex lives, etc. freely, but are very reluctant to talk about their financial goals and financial activity. Heck I don't even know if my female friends even have any financial goals. Since women typically earn less than men AND live longer, we have to be smarter about our money servicing us for our lifetimes. I have often told people my ultimate goal that I'm working and sacrificing for (property on an island), and that's usually the end of the discussion. I honestly think women need more dialogue on how to achieve their financial goals and how other women are accomplishing this. Investing wisely in the stock market, not owning depreciating assets such as a car, saving double-digit percentage of your income are all smart financial moves that lead to significant gains in a short while. Yes, I too was sick of all the six-figure software career guys writing about their FIRE goals and accomplishments. Their stories are all very extreme and not relate-able at all. Saving 80-90% of your income?? Living in a camper van?? It seems like they're all single guys and have no kids or parents to take care of and don't think about safety like women do. I'll look up these women in the FIRE movement. What they are saying is very, very relate-able!

  136. Ha~! This is about deliberately being poor. Since I was poor involuntarily, I doubt that I will ever reach the point of having enough money.

  137. @Zetelmo don't you mean " poor with benefits " ?

  138. Great stuff, I have been getting more and more annoyed over the last few years that most of the talked about widely big ideas / great ideas are from a mans perspective . In the small things and the big things a woman's experience and perspective is different from a mans - and no doubt being a black or coloured woman adds another dynamic. Thank you for the piece with the links to these great blogs.

  139. This article doesn't even mention once index funds, which are central to FIRE. Optimal investing means buying low-cost, broadly diversified index funds. This is independent race, gender, background or upbringing.

  140. @mq- you know, if you make enough money, it won't matter what you invest in.

  141. I am a liberal white Male. I have always been one to recognize systems of privilege and oppression throughout our society. But after years and years of articles like this that create the narrative that white males are always privileged, and after meeting so many people who believe their economic uncertainty has everything to do with their identity, while my financial uncertainty must be my own failures and shortcomings, I'm done with the pettiness and divisiveness. There are plenty of difficulties in our society for white males. Many of them are underpaid and overworked. I know many white male social workers, police officers, construction workers, and other professions that work hard every single day providing necessary services to our communities and can't afford to buy their own home, let alone retire in their 30's. If were gonna ask Trump to stop race baiting. Let's ask the left to stop it too.

  142. @PJ You are right that there are many white men who are financially struggling. But that is not to say that media is not mostly tailored toward a specific group (because of the composition of editors, writers, etc.). I would say that having an article that focuses specifically on women and/or minorities is not a statement that all white men (or even most) do not have their own struggles. "Race baiting" should be viewed in terms of intention. This article does not intend to attack anyone.

  143. @PJ If you were able to be a woman, you would never write your comment. Whatever woes you have, they would likely have been worse if you were a woman. That's what men don't seem to get - the constant subtle misogyny that we women learn to live with or even thrive in spite of, men could not survive for a second, let alone a lifetime. If you think that it stings men to have their entitlement noted, compare that to the sting of having a life with no entitlement. I'm pretty sure which life you'd pick.

  144. @PJ Indeed. And while we're at it, can we give an early retirement to the terms 'white privilege' and 'male privilege'? When we use such terms, we are looking at injustices and inequality all wrong. I don't consider it a 'privilege' to not be followed around by security when I go into a store. Men shouldn't consider it a 'privilege' that something they suggest during a board meeting is taken into consideration versus being less so, simply due to their gender. In other words, most white people and/or males, the the world over, aren't mistreated or misjudged, solely because of their race and/or gender. They are generally regarded at face value, with no negative stereotypes attributed to them. And really, isn't that how everyone should be regarded and treated? So instead of castigating whites and/or males for enjoying supposed 'privileges' throughout their lives, let's instead correct the underlying problems that contribute to other groups not enjoying these same basic levels of consideration and respect as human beings.

  145. I'm glad to see NYT highlighting the contributions of some female FIRE voices; I'll have to check them out! People like to listen to people they can relate to. It's not that the 30-something white professional guy's advice isn't widely applicable; it generally is, and I enjoy many of their blogs and podcasts as a 30-something woman. But blogs and podcasts create a community of regular commenters and followers, and it's always fun to interact with people who have things in common with you and whom you relate to more. All these folks are interested in financial freedom and building wealth, but when someone shares your gender, geographic location, career field, religion or race, you're automatically going to relate to them more. It's always fun and exciting to share a connection. And it is more likely to trigger that "hey, if she can do that then so can I!" aha moment. As a result it just spreads the FIRE message to a wider audience, which is great. And female FIRE voices do sometimes address different topics like parenting challenges (funny how the men never seem to worry about work life balance), being hit on at work, negotiating a salary, solo traveling challenges unique to women and - yes - different spending priorities. Different voices just means more options.

  146. The most important thing you can do to live frugally is to choose your friends wisely. If your friends cook at home and go hiking and camping for vacations you will save more than having friends who go to Vegas for vacations and like to try the hottest new restaurants. Keeping up with the Joneses is the greatest impediment to early retirement or any retirement for that matter.

  147. @Just paying attention This is a great observation! Your peer group has to share your values and goals too. I currently have a group of friends who assume they will make the same salary and so spend that way. I, on the other hand, am feeling isolated from the group, and am searching for people to spend time with who do not prefer to have expensive experiences.

  148. @Just paying attention What if the Jones and you make minimum wage or just a bit above it? You might not approve of this article bringing up women and race, but it and just about ALL the comments ignore economic classes, aka or the fact so many of us have to live from paycheck to paycheck, just to feed our children and ourselves and keep a roof over our head and to pay for medical expenses, etc etc etc... You are all parroting Queen Marie Antoinette who is reputed to have said when told that the people didn't have bread (aka were starving): "let them eat cake" (actually she didnt say that, it was propaganda against her, but the comments do say that.... let them watch every penny and keep up with what the stock market is doing --- as if most of us didn't already have to watch every penny to make it through the month with enough food for our children and to pay rent, etc. Oh and as if most of us owned stocks!

  149. 1500 characters is insufficient space for a nuanced argument that recognizes the inherent challenges in presenting a story that involves women and people of color democratizing a largely white and male-dominated movement. But to put it succinctly, I find the framing of this democratization as a reaction to an exercise of male privilege, or as righting a "wrong", a gross oversimplification that diminishes the complexity of this movement and attempts to shoehorn this narrative into the "overcoming adversity" mold, where it is an ill fit. White, male bloggers in the FIRE movement not writing for a more diverse audience is not something to be "fed up" with, any more than a soul food restaurant not having Vegan options would be. It is not "tone deaf" for a person who does not have a mother-in-law or Black hair to not budget for those things. Blogging is a deeply personal arena - I imagine if a white man *was* making budget outlays for a hypothetical Black audience you would find that offensive. Framing the inadequacy within the existing FIRE movement as due to its whiteness or maleness is problematic. Basing a lack of relevance on immutable characteristics both precludes the opportunity for adaptation and ignores reality - I imagine a female Asian Google employee would find the "tech bro" blogs more relevant to her situation than Ms. Saunder's. Headlines like this may get clicks, but so does Russian propaganda on Facebook - because you are choosing inflaming over informing.

  150. @NS oh stop.

  151. @NS... Excellent points!

  152. @NS No one expects single white male FIRE bloggers budget for black hair care or family care for nonexistent mothers in law. But the preponderance of tech bro blogs with (sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit) assertions that if others couldn’t achieve their financial goals then they were not sufficiently disciplined and just needed to try harder definitely came across as tone deaf to others with different life experiences that reflected greater financial hardship, ie closer to that of the median American adult. And financial hardship, on average, IS a function of immutable characteristics: women have greater family care obligations and get paid less than men, people of color on average also earn less and have less generational wealth to pay down debt, etc. This is hardly inflammatory, it is just reality for those of us who live it. The new blogs that reflect this reality are welcome voices.

  153. I recall reading a NYT story a few months ago about a young family of three who was struggling to make ends meet. The story mentioned in passing that the couple had bought a 2800 sq ft home. Not one commenter suggested that maybe they should have bought an economical starter home, so that they could build up their cash reserves or contribute toward retirement, and trade up homes as their careers stabilized and progressed. This was the normal way of living in previous generations. I’m happy to know that young people are taking charge of their lives. Frugality does not preclude happiness. I’ve been to many upscale restaurants in my time; they were fun, for a while, but they were not the source of my happiness. Family, friends, music, home cooked food, and pets truly make me happy. And you can’t buy the first two; the others are easily achievable.

  154. The concept of living with your main goal being the acquisition of wealth, and retirement sounds a little sad. Perhaps it’s the game as much as the end result that they enjoy? If so, it reminds me of my mother the coupon clipper, who had a cross referenced indexed, breadbox of coupons. Every week’s score was tallied, and celebrated. And what of our boom and bust economy? I trust that all our FIRE devotees are talented enough investors to avoid big losses when the tide turns. Still, so much focus on later, seems to detract from other worthy goals and enjoyments in life. Has our urban enterprise society (just guessing there are few rural members) become so valueless that we live to escape.

  155. @Michael Dorey It seems you have missed the whole point of FIRE. It's not the acquisition of wealth - it's the acquisition of TIME. You save your money and cut expenses so in your 30s you can stop selling half of your waking hours to someone else doing something boring and ultimately pointless like coding, lawyering, or accounting. When you reach you number you can do things on YOUR schedule that YOU want to do. And you have most of your life to do it, not just the 10 years of health you have left between the ages of 65 and 75.

  156. As others have put more eloquently, the idea of wageslaving until one hits a certain old age is ridiculous to some of us. This shouldn't be so hard to understand. Giving up some pointless overpriced lattes and some frivolous material junk that in no way increase one's happiness in exchange for time to spend with your loved ones? What's not to like about that plan?

  157. @mq - not running down the idea, but it remains a goal and preoccupation of the privileged wannabe leisure class. When you hit 50, or the next big crash, you tell us how it worked out for you, especially the full-time childcare part.

  158. The financial freedom part is intriguing but from what I've read most if not all of these FIRE people are not living up to the second part, retiring early. It's all about saving a bunch of money, living on way less, and then still having some kind of side job like a blog or being an Instagram influencer (probably profiting off of selling the idea of the FIRE life style). Also, this tends to only have a shot at working out if your parents have a lot of money saved up too so that you never have to take care of anyone but yourself. The hole thing is tailor made for lone, tech Bros from middle or upper middle class families. I will say this though, the general message of living within your means and saving in order to free yourself to make better decisions about which jobs you decide to take, is an important and useful message.

  159. @Biz Griz My parents were depression-WWII survivors, in their early thirties by the 1950s. They pretty much lived the FIRE lifestyle because it was the only one they knew or could imagine. They took care of their parents because the oldsters had no savings. They raised me on a shoestring--I never was allowed to drive (they had only one car), had no social life because of it, etc. They did not retire early, but they had put together a nice portfolio by the time they did. Bro culture had nothing to do with it. FIRE is not new.

  160. @Al from PA - yes and no. The concept is not new, not at all. But this manifestation of it, and the motivations that drive it, are as skewed as the writer suggests.

  161. @Al from PA. Indeed, and many immigrants live like those who grew up in the Depression.

  162. The author listed enough good examples of 'alternative' viewpoints that it belies the notion FIRE is a white boy network in Silicon Valley. The white boy part may be fairly accurate, but most are not in Silicon Valley. Mr Mustache espouses a cost of living that doesn't even get a one bedroom apartment in these parts. (though his true income would certainly manage). In great contrast, the Financial Samarai does live in SF, and leaves no doubt on the income scale being discussed. FIRE in general is the natural consequence of a 10 year bull market. None of these people have put their plan to the true test- will their 4%, 40k/year lifestyle stand up to an ugly market pull down? What if they get a major illness? Or more simply, what if ObamaCare subsidies go away? Many of these people retired on hope and a prayer, and the articles on those who falter are most interesting. If you've been out of Silicon valley for 5 or 10 years, you're going to struggle to get back. Same for many industries.

  163. I have noticed that many of the FIRE men have working wives with health insurance.

  164. @Allen - but wait, it's the only way that plan can work. As has been stated on almost every blog that discusses this issue. Or didn't you know that? Especially in this day and age when everyone works? You need to get out more....

  165. @Allen My favorite example is the Frugalwoods. They live somewhere in rural Vermont and present themselves as modern-day homesteaders. They don't mention the husband's 6-figure salary from his remote job (requiring high-seed internet, which doesn't exist in large swaths of rural Vermont) or the $4,000/month they get from their rental home just outside Boston. Their income is something like 5x the state median.

  166. This article seems to be inventing conflict where none really exists. The beauty of FIRE is that it is not a one size fits all approach to finance. That is the whole appeal of it. For Mrs. Saunders, maintaining her preferred hairstyle and taking care of her mother-in-law are "essentials". For someone else, "essentials" will probably be very different...and that's okay! As a white woman in my 30s, I read a lot of stories about folks paths to FIRE, and no two of them are anywhere close to being identical. FIRE is simply a set of tools/approaches/concepts and figuring out what works for you personally. The sad part of all this is they way women are regarded and treated in some of the online FIRE communities. That IS cause for concern.

  167. 'They drive old cars, eschew restaurants and bars, turn down social outings, make food from scratch, shop at thrift stores (if at all) and institute “no-spend weeks” (just what they sound like).' Agree with all this, which I have always done, except for driving old cars, which I have also done. Old cars are dangerous – for the driver, the passengers and other road users. Their primary safety is inadequate. Their secondary safety is below parr. How do I know this? From bitter, personal experience. Don't drive an old car if you want to grow old and enjoy your retirement, safely and healthy.

  168. @Colenso I would love to drive a newer, safer car, but I simply can't afford to.

  169. @Colenso How are old cars dangerous if the owners are maintaining and replacing parts as needed?

  170. @Colenso: I drive a 16 year old car with 167K miles on it. The body is not perfect, but mechanically it is fine. I have an excellent mechanic and I take care of problems promptly. That's a very superficial statement.

  171. It seems to me that the article is well balanced. I’m rather dismayed by the defensive position in the comments taken around white males being mentioned as using the race or sec cards. The title and first paragraphs state right away that some women are not finding their concerns represented in the mainstream blogging and discussions on the subject. Why do we have a problem listening to these differences? Obviously it’s our shared commonality that brings us to the subject of wanting to find a different path in work and retirement to begin with but there can still be differences. The quotes from such bloggers explained very clearly why they felt this and personally I enjoyed linking through to these women’s blogs and discovered interesting insights there. All of this to say that the defensive position towards women expressing their sense of exclusion is really overblown in these comments. I find it positive that the NYT dared to show these positions and nuance the discussion of the larger movement. This is what I meant by balanced — showing all sides.

  172. @Jules I think it is not a gender based concern, as I suspect that as many prudent women as prudent men would find it silly to claim that the essentials of life include hair and skin treatment. Food, shelter and clothing are the essentials. The author considers other items essentials, but anyone could come up with equally frivolous needs. She is welcome to her needs, but is playing the identity politics card by saying her needs are because she is a black woman rather then because she personally wants nice hair and skin,

  173. @Dr B Did it ever occur to you that Black women can’t show up at most jobs without looking well groomed because we are subject to so much judgement and scrutiny in that area? Nice hair and skin are required to keep one’s job and certainly to advance for many black women. Even if one doesn’t go to salons regularly, the cost of hair and skin products is a business necessity. Life isn’t the same for everyone. Why is that hard for you to accept?

  174. @Dr B - As a fairly average white woman, I must disagree with your claim that it is somehow foolish to consider hair and skin care a basic part of life. Even if I eschewed societal norms, which I don't, and did not use make-up or hair products and tools, there is a basic need for moisturizers, sunscreen, sanitary products, and even haircuts. Failing to understand the needs of half the population is why women such as Ms. Saunders have an audience.

  175. Women historically control the household spending. So at least a few of the FIRE bros needed permission. I’m just sayin.

  176. The saddest part of reading this article is that it deals with a segment of the work force that has six-figure salaries. It matters not so much that it is gender oriented, but that the bygone ways of planning for the future have been eliminated due to the steep decrease in defined benefits plans. The percentage of workers in the private sector whose only retirement account is a defined benefit pension plan is now 4%, down from 60% in the early 1980s. In addition, only about 5% of individuals in the United States make more than $100,000. That leaves 95% of individuals outside of the premise on which this article was based. Rather than debate the female vs. male orientation of this article, it behooves the NYT to discuss how the 95% of the population who could never entertain the thought of "retiring early" can plan for a secure future, past the normal age retirement. It's pretty obvious that the concerns of the 5% do not pertain to the majority of us. Such an article would be much more beneficial to the general population.

  177. @wysiwyg Census data vary, but the range of the per cent of US citizens making more than $100,000 a year is 7.7 to 22%. Where did you get the 5% number?

  178. @Dr B The issue you raise may be related to teasing out Individual income versus Household income. The statistics on Individual income noted above were published at: Nonetheless, the ACS survey in 2017 reported that the median Household income in the U.S. was $57,652, far below the floor of the economic level on which this article is based. Clearly, this topic does not address the concerns of the vast majority of individuals or families in the U.S., which would certainly be more helpful to the general readership of the NYT.

  179. @wysiwyg - OK so, what you are saying is that 22% of wage earners may well be an accurate number, indeed confirming what the OP wrote. That in no way renders it less interesting or newsworthy, even to the lowers 78%.

  180. I am equal measure repulsed and sympathetic to the so-called FIRE movement. People who are paid well, often enough, and received the benefits of a good education "retire" from what may be socially important jobs to do what they want. This seems, in a word, selfish. On the other hand, the NYT just had a piece about age discrimination. People get laid off in their 50s and 60s and if they are lucky enough to find another full-time job with benefits, it's at half the pay. Preparing to be treated like leftovers seems prudent. Most people will never achieve FIRE. That's the reality. Life gets in the way. I don't think the people who achieve FIRE should be given the time of day, honestly. I don't want to hear their justifications. There's nothing heroic or interesting about these people. They are niche, a privileged minority, who have nothing important to say or contribute.

  181. @Patrick The good news is people who achieve FIRE feel no need to justify themselves, to you or anyone else, so you don't have to worry about that. Your comment reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of FIRE. The goal is not to save furiously so you can stop working and relax for 50 years. The goal is to be financially independent so you can pursue work, paid and volunteer, on your own terms and in a manner that promotes physical and mental health. Often, there are community benefits as well. Like the nurse who FIRE'd and volunteers with Doctors Without Borders. Or the software engineer who is the (volunteer) tech support for an entire community of older folks. The lifestyle, which reduces pollution, consumption and waste, is better for the planet, so we all benefit from that. I have implemented some of the FIRE concepts in my 50's. I don't have a goal to retire early but I'm benefiting from them nevertheless. And I am most assuredly NOT part of a privileged minority. Your contempt is undeserved.

  182. @Patrick Why is it selfish to retire early to do what one wants? It’s not unless that individual is not taking care of family responsibilities, if any.

  183. @Patrick the goal of any retire early program is to stop being a wage slave and live by your own priorities. Retiring early does not mean dropping off the face of the earth. It means being in charge of your own life, and not dancing to the tune of a boss - for those so inclined. Do one has to justify their retirement to you. If one has to means to retire early, that is their choice. If you don't want to give those who retire early (you don't know how they did it either - unless you ask), then so bit it. There are many of us out there though, who, by a combination of being in jobs that allow retiring early (such as government), or other means, we exist.

  184. Having retired recently, I find this article to be ridiculous. People are going to retire around age 40 and spend the next 40 years never going to restaurants, going to the theater, etc? I don’t consider that much of a great retirement lifestyle. The truth is, most people who retire at a conventional age find that they go out to lunch with friends a fair amount. And, if you want to stay intellectually engaged and take courses WITH OTHER PEOPLE, there’s a cost to that. If you live in an average climate area, there’s not a lot of hiking from December through March, unless you’re particularly hardy. While I agree that seeking out free and low-cost activities and interests is a good goal, to retire early and feel constrained about every expenditure over a 4-decade retirement does not sound like a happy life, to me.

  185. @Adrienne I agree but would add if you live in a fortunate climate and geographical location as I do in the Pacific Northwest you can participate in winter sports which are ever so much nicer if you avoid the weekend crowds. Also there are many low cost cultural activities to enjoy.

  186. @Adrienne I think you have that backward. The plan is to be frugal and save while working a lot of hours to quickly save enough that you can retire early and do whatever you want. That is the FIRE concept.

  187. @Adrienne You're in Westchester. I live in Manhattan. I'd retire early, IF it meant I could spend my days working out at Equinox, attending opera at the Met, skiing in Tahoe, hitting the beach in Southampton, playing golf in Rye, and eating at great restaurants in Manhattan. I'm not part of the FIRE movement. I'm part of the desire movement. I want things. I'd work extra hours to buy a Porsche and Isaia suits.

  188. This FIRE thing mystifies me. I retired at age 70 and moved to a beautiful seacoast village with a rich social and cultural life. And I am often bored. I return to the city for a vibrant multicultural, and multi-age experience. I decided to go back to work part time (teleworking) to access the intellectual complexity of my changing field, and exercise my brain in ways that gardening and local volunteer work can not. I continue to do those local things and enjoy them, but my neurons would disintegrate if that was all there is to the life of the mind. Why are people so all-fired eager to retire? Maybe it would be better to find a stimulating and rewarding work?

  189. I recommended this comment and a couple posted just before it because they are so well thought out and expressed. I would note that jobs don't always make for much neuronal stimulation, and far from aiding society, they often do harm — they exist, after all, for the making of money, and also as scaffolding for one's identity. Financial independence offers a way out of the quagmire, but the money is only part of the equation. FIRE candidates must forge mental habits, discipline, and a sense of social identity during their work years. If they wait till they leap off and retire, they are likely to find themselves bored indeed, and irrelevant.

  190. @SJL - then I accuse you of lacking imagination, and of refusing for some Freudian reason of engaging with other people. The truly loving, compassionate and imaginative person is never bored.

  191. @SJL I retired 18 years ago I am never bored. A successful retirement takes imagination, perseverance and an ability to set priorities. Retirement is not for the faint of heart. It sounds like you are one of many who could not handle the rigors of retirement. To get up every morning, to find a purpose can be difficult for a lot of people. It was not for me, but I know many people cannot handle life without a boss or someone telling them what to do. I am, literally, never bored. I was bored at work many times. That stopped when I retired, along with the headaches (and I had a great career). I love my freedom though and the optimal lifestyle for me is to have a long time horizon with no commitments other than the ones I choose. There is no right or wrong way to retire. I took to retirement naturally - I am a self directed person who does not need a schedule or a boss to feel useful or to fill my day with worthwhile activities. Being independent comes naturally to me. Others do need a schedule or other activities such as you described. Nothing wrong with that but just realize that there are millions of retires who do find it joyful and can find a purpose in life, sans a job.

  192. Aside from the critical comments about early retirement as a lifestyle choice, I remember what my mother always said about finances, “It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you save.” I had to retire at 50 for health reasons and am much happier, mostly because I can actually do what my doctor recommends these days.

  193. @SBC my Mother said the exact same thing!

  194. What a novel concept. Live within your means and save for the future. I recall that's what my parents did when Dad came home after WWII. Initially out of absolute necessity. The lessons we learned from them was invaluable. We just didn't have a name or an acronym for it. Taking personal responsibility is liberating.

  195. @Charlie I was just wondering if you put three kids torough college in the last few years like my desperately overworked son. He is absolutely certain he will never be able to retire for that reason alone.

  196. @Kimberly Breeze - I hope with all my heart that he is wrong.

  197. I am ok with early retirement but I would like to see some higher moral motivation behind it. If it’s purely for personal gratification, rather than a platform to give back to the community, I would consider it selfish and ill advised. Some college friends struck it rich in the early ‘70’s investing in McDonalds franchises. They retired early, and “went to play golf.” Five years later all three of them were alcoholics. If there is no higher purpose associated with early retirement the consequences can be deplorable.

  198. @Kinsale My thoughts exactly. Thank you for putting it in words.

  199. @Kinsale..your position is admirable. Still merely being financially independent of the Welfare system( such as it is) is a moral position.

  200. @Kinsale If it were skiing instead of golf, they wouldn't be alcoholics. Golf is a game for alcoholics. Alcoholics gravitate to golf (and not skiing or tennis), because it's a low movement activity.

  201. I suppose frugality among the elderly is not news. Nevertheless here's my 69yo 2 cents. I have found 20 years post early retirement that I want more money. There are certain medical things which are optional but would greatly improve my quality of life that I want to get done. So I'm contemplating returning to work. One problem is though I am highly qualified in my field all my work experience is old so I will need some "backdoor" help. No one's going to bring me in for an interview just by looking at my resume. Then there are other ways of making dollars - real estate, non-professional jobs (could I endure a weekly shift at McDonald's?), using my place as an AirBnB, etc. It actually makes life feel more exciting much as I have loved my retired life, which really wasn't very retired. The trick I found was to prevent myself from over volunteering. Any suggestions?

  202. @yaela ettlinger Taking classes to update your skills might be an option. Meet with a career coach for ideas and resume help.

  203. This is all well and good and it's great to be frugal and meet financial goals, but what does one do when one is a single parent to two or more kids and makes $50,000 a year?

  204. @MCA, none of these blogs have an answer to that question. Shocking.

  205. @MCA you don't retire early.

  206. We practiced those "frugal" methods all of our working lives ( it was not a "choice") and are adequately funded in retirement, but this is not possible for many people, there is no excess to save. Because our country has such poor health care, one illness or accident can plunge many into bankruptcy and disaster. This article seems to be lauding an elite and is hardly relevant for the majority.

  207. @Isabel, I wouldn’t call these women the “elite”, maybe the lucky....that said, your point is well taken. But given the US’s terrible healthcare system, even the well off are in dire straights if they have an accident or illness, unless they are heavily insured...

  208. Wow! Guess everything old is new again. Forty years ago my best friend's father dropped dead of a heart attack in his mid-50's. He had been beyond a penny-pincher his entire adult life, continually reminding his stay-at-home wife that when he retired they would live the high life and travel the world. Although I myself am very frugal and champion the trait, young folks don't often consider the mortality issue, which can happen any time. So I'd suggest balancing the occasional splurge with strict money management. You just never know when the grim reaper might show up unannounced, even if you're 40.

  209. @Lily: my dear grandfather said this his whole life. He was a cheapskate and very frugal -- lived through the Great Depression, etc. He always talked about the day he would retire, and leave his awful job and move to Arizona, where it was always warm and bask in the sunshine and do his hobbies. The day came and he retired (with a nice pension; he worked for the Railroad) and he promptly packed up and moved with my Grandma to Phoenix AZ. They bought a little stucco house there. 20 months later he was dead. Lung cancer…..he had never smoked. But everyone in his tiny windowless office DID smoke. He got cancer from 2nd hand smoke. He never got to enjoy very much of that retirement after 45 years of working. My grandma sold the house and moved into a retirement home for the next 30 years. But what did all that penny pinching really bring Grandpa?

  210. Unfortunately, the FIRE option is unavailable to those who need it most, those who do dreary, debilitating jobs for little pay and perhaps no benefits, no vacation time, no opportunities advancement. The people whose bodies are worn out by age 50. Those who have never experienced the world of the low-status, low-wage worker always have facile answers: 1. "Get a second job," even though the person is already exhausted at the end of the day. 2. "You're not poor. You have a DVD player," even though that $30 DVD player and $1 movies from RedBox are the person's only affordable entertainment. 3. "Go to school to qualify for a better job," even though the person works at a job with variable scheduling, so that s/he doesn't know from one day to the next whether s/he will be called in or not and for how many hours. 4. "You should have done better in school," even though it is impossible to climb into a time machine and do one's youth over. 5. "You shouldn't have had children," uh, these aren't fish that you can throw back if you don't want them. Also, see #4 above. This article is just another example of the Times catering to the 1% and ignoring the realities that millions of Americans live with. Forget about early retirement. How about something for the millions who have to retire on a low income?

  211. @Pdxtran Catering to the 1%? They wouldn't bother with this article or the FIRE concept because they don't need it. I am a middle class woman in my late 50's who has been implementing FIRE concepts in my life for the past decade. My husband and I are better off financially for it. We were financially responsible before that, but I learned how to accelerate savings and reduce expenses even more. Your list of 4 points is valid, but concluding that this article doesn't speak to millions of ordinary people is incorrect.

  212. @Pdxtran - sorry, it's low-income workers who need FIRE the most! FIRE is all about building resiliency. Our society has failed to teach basic life lessons and wisdom, partially because privileged folks (the types with "facile" in their vocabulary) are unable to imagine a simple and resilient life is achievable in the United States. Simple things, like eliminating car ownership, ending unnecessary gym memberships, cutting out the mental-decay-inducing-cable-subscriptions, riding your bicycle everywhere, cooking cheap whole foods, building DIY superpowers...these are all paths to power and competence and wealth. Kids don't need stuff, they need love.

  213. @James When the internet was in its infancy (56K modems were blazing fast, and Amazon only sold books), I lived in a rural area with no car, very little public transportation, even less taxi service, and no "car sharing" services. Riding a bike 10 miles one-way over mountain roads with a weeks' worth of groceries on my back is something I *never* want to do again, even in the summertime.

  214. What I am getting from this article is that the person profiled, Kiersten Saunders, sees the FIRE movement in terms of race and sex: "[W]hat’s essential to a white male is very different from what’s essential to me." But I would have thought that strategies for retiring early are simply a function of two variables, how much money you make and how much your expenses are. So what are the special issues raised by gender or racial identity? She mentions her Afro and her skin, but is that it? I've looked at Mr. Money Mustache and didn't particularly get the idea that the advice there would be helpful only for white male residents of Silicon Valley (I thought the writer was Canadian) but maybe I missed the nuances.

  215. @Mark- you're not entirely wrong, but apparently you'd have to be black and female to get this. And possibly also a mom.

  216. I wonder if, a few years down the line, we’ll start seeing articles about FIRE disciples who indeed RE’d but were unable to reenter the job market once life circumstances (recession, death of a spouse, need for reasonable insurance, etc.) rendered them unable to live off 10% of their savings. Out-of-date skill sets with significant gaps on resumes aren’t very good selling points to HR departments.

  217. @Goth Brooks: I took some time off work in my life to raise a family. I also took time off later on to care for my dying parents. I took an ENORMOUS hit at work for this. It made me virtually unemployable in my original profession -- no matter how I handled it, I was seen as a "slacker" who put family first and therefore, would NEVER be 100% dedicated to a job. It also ensured I was somewhat older than the ideal, care-free millennial who is a singleton and willing to work 80 hours a week, or weekends, or late at night without DISCRIMINATION, which got drastically worse after I was about 45. Good luck explaining to some future employer in 2035 how you "took off" 15 years of your most productive time of life and used it to build a log cabin or go fishing.

  218. @Goth Brooks yup. things just don't go as planned. and when the kids show up, all bets are off. * some have special talents * some have special needs. * some have a tougher time in high school for assorted reasons (many of which require therapy, and isn't it nice not to be restricted to someone in-plan) * some are just lovely people you might enjoy spending time with BEFORE they are 18. And us: We spent a fortune on travel during my son's second decade. We shared many wonderful experiences that nourish me still. Those memories bind us during the tougher times of raising a child to adulthood.

  219. This FIRE movement and declining birth rate does not bode well for the social programs. We need good earners to work for a long time so their taxes can continue to fund existing entitlements like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and all of the new ones proposed by Sanders/Warren.

  220. @Chat Cannelle, They will, it is called a wealth tax. Doesn't matter if you work or not, if you have accumulated a lot of wealth (congrats if you have!), then somewhere around 3 to 5 percent each year will be paid in a wealth tax to the govt. I'd much rather have more wealth taxes collected than income taxes on wages.

  221. @smflan- look that's a lovely idea, to some people. But the fact is that we don't have a "wealth tax" yet, and may never get one with the current and relatively unchanging makeup of congress. Don't expect the New Blue Wave to change that either. There is nothing in the electoral map or recent polls to suggest that the voters who need to have changed their minds from the last election cycle.

  222. @Chat Cannelle If people have enough saved up, they won't be needing medicare, medicaid, social security, etc. Financial responsibility should start in grade school, so people are better prepared for real life.

  223. I agree with those responses who say why retire if all you're going to do is go out to eat? With local and global issues becoming forefront in our minds via news media, why wouldn't you set your sights on doing something for the community or the world if you are not going to work? There are numerous local volunteer organizations who would love to engage retirees on a higher level and have them help. You could teach folks to read, teach prison inmates mathematics, remove invasive plants to allow local flora and fauna to regenerate. All this discussion of inward focus, hair, skin, dinners, makes me sad.

  224. @Margaret Flaherty- then again, why not? I and others just don't see that point as valid. Why stay at work if you don't have, and don't want to? There's no moral imperative to that course of action, certainly. There are lots of other people who will take over your job the minute you leave it, so it's not like your presence is mission critical or something. I am not at all running down volunteerism, having spent most of my adult life doing that very thing. However, the one has nothing to do with the other, not even ethically.

  225. @laguna greg: I respectfully disagree. If you have enough money to no longer work, you are a blessed person. The rest of the world struggles. I am not religious but my doctrine is that we all have the moral imperative to give back, if even a little. Especially when you are young and energetic and have all your faculties.

  226. @Margaret Flaherty - well, I disrespectfully disagree with you. What you are talking about is a forced tithing to a "church" of some kind, arbitrarily defining moral and economic values we do not share. "Charity" is only that when 1- the person giving it has more than enough, and 2- it is freely and gladly given. Otherwise it is nothing but theft, and a taking. I've spent my entire adult left working as a gay community activist and volunteer, and I never once believed I was ever owed anyone's help. I have no patience or sympathy for anyone who does. I had to make my own "help", as does you or anyone. It's one of the many things that make this country great, that you can. It's not like that in other places. Rich people do not owe you, or me, or anyone anything. The fact that many of them are willing to give it just shows how wonderful people are potentially. Believing that you are owed this help shows just the opposite.

  227. " They drive old cars, eschew restaurants and bars, turn down social outings, make food from scratch, shop at thrift stores (if at all) and institute “no-spend weeks” (just what they sound like). For fun, they entertain at home or do free activities like hiking. " Oh gosh, i've been ahead of the curve for 50 years, who knew? Of course, we had different motivations, like being less materialistic and caring for the earth, but hey... welcome to the club. BTW, never got to retire early doing that.

  228. @Miriam: and here all these years, I just thought I was broke and underemployed!!!!

  229. @Wise Woman - You were. Don't mistake your poverty for these peoples' entirely affluent "choices."

  230. It's a lovely idea, to be sure. But history has taught as a few things. Like eating rice and beans for too many meals gets old, especially if you don't have a choice. So does never going to the movies, or not being able to help someone you'd like to, like a family member in trouble or a problem in your community. Getting to the FIRE point also makes one lead an unbalanced life, and that can burn you out or even make you sick or injured. Most men will not find fulfillment in community service, volunteering, or even their families. These days many women won,t either, needing, just like men, the sense of accomplishment and success a forward-moving career can give. As many very wise people have said before, the curse of the leisure class is their leisure. Why not just leave your current job with a pile of money, and then start a second career in a field that means something to you, where money is no longer a concern?

  231. @laguna greg Most FIRE adherents don't intend to stop working when they have achieved financial independence. The "retirement" part of FIRE refers to the freedom to choose to work, and do so on your terms. One blogger I follow enjoys building and renovating, so he traveled to Hawaii to do a project, getting paid to spend time in paradise doing something he enjoys. He also bought and renovated a building where he created a community center to support entrepreneurs, from which he makes a profit while having fun and benefiting his community. Being able to choose work that aligns with your interests and values is one of the benefits to FIRE.

  232. @Carolyn- I agree completely with your point. However, most people don't have the maturity, courage or imagination to think of themselves or their lives as meaningful outside of the normal scope of traditional human activity. This is especially true of men, who've been socialized to see their meaning and value only through work and its many accomplishments. It's also not what I read lately. Right now, what I've read mostly are articles and posts of (white) men , post-retirement, who don't know what to do with themselves at age 45 after they've made a bundle aren't aren't working anymore, and are bored or depressed. Considering who they are, the outcome was totally predictable and would have happened whether they retired now or in 25 years. They can't imagine anything else! The economics may have changed slightly in the last 4 decades, but culture and society have not.

  233. @laguna greg I hope it's not accurate to say that most people don't have the imagination or the maturity to create a meaningful life for themselves should their life circumstances change. I guess I have more faith in the resilience of people than you. Your original comment stated that getting to the FIRE point "makes" one live an unbalanced life, and while that may be true of some it is not the case for those who ascribe to what is called FIRE. The opposite is actually true, seeking balance in terms of work, leisure, family, finances, and health. I know many retired folks who are busy, active, and enjoying their retirement years, and they are engaging in paid and volunteer activities that are certainly considered "traditional human activity". I agree that culture hasn't changed in this regard much in past decades. I hope the ideas of reducing consumption, living below your means, and thinking differently about what provides value will become more mainstream, because I think that is change our culture (and planet!) can benefit from immensely.

  234. What I don't get about the FIRE adherents is that living so frugally means missing out on tons of things while your body is still young enough to do them. Take it a bit slower and enjoy more of the resources. Maybe take a break for a while and travel before the children show up... I'm all for frugality and saving, but these guys are turning even frugality into a competition.

  235. As if living a simpler life was something to avoid and not something good in itself. FIRE is not a competition, but an existential struggle for quality time. It's a much worthy endeavour than trying to keep up with the Joneses (Stoicism beats Hedonism out of the water). Of having children (plural?!) and travelling the world I will say this: both activities are environmentally terrible and I have, fortunately, never seen the appeal. I'll take my early freedom over any other reward every time.

  236. @Lydia I've been reading Mr. Money Moustache for years. They live frugally, but he and his (recently) ex-wife weren't missing out on anything. They explored interests by starting small businesses, traveled, home schooled their son for a few years by creating academic adventures together, and are energetic, creative community leaders with active social lives. They are physically active and engage in some form of work daily, which keeps their physical and mental health robust. They are enjoying their youth far more than the frazzled, two career expensive lifestyle folks who are always exhausted and have no time to relax. Some FIRE adherents are hyper competitive about their frugality, but it is possible to eliminate a lot of expenses many consider necessary while living a full, rich life.

  237. @mq- many people disagree with you, and what they would think of as an immature and unreasoned perspective.

  238. Some people want to retire early and spend time relaxing. Other people want to keep working in a way that is meaningful and stimulating to them. Some people think they want one thing and realize that they miss the old thing. That's all fine! Let's PLEASE not turn this into another "Mommy wars" debate. Just say no to beating that drum before it too explodes into a media fueled frenzy that helps no one.

  239. The thing I find most interesting about these articles is that these young people actually have any time to read blogs, let alone write them.

  240. What does it have to do with color and sex? I was fully retired at 46 and went on to two more careers. I've "retired" three times. I am white, and I'm now 64. My first career was as a heating/air conditioning tech. My second career was in education (where I was the only man on staff), and the third was in IT. My "white privilege" seemed like a lifetime of hard work to me.

  241. If I'm getting this right ( I'm new to this FIRE movement), my first thought is that these people must really hate their jobs to sacrifice so much of their youth just to retire early. I guess if your only motivation is money then your career choices might indeed be emotionally poisonous. Honestly, I sense that there is some sort of psychological imbalance at work (pardon the pun) here. I'm wondering how the most ardent practitioners of this regimen define happiness or self-fulfillment. Perhaps in the end they'll ask themselves "is that all there is ?".

  242. Contrary to what advertisers and politicians tell you, it is possible to have a full life without spending tons of money. Our goal was not early retirement but a first-class education for our children. We were very frugal, taking camping vacations and rarely eating out. (I learned to cook) Our children amused themselves with rental videos, books and games and played in the woods in back of our 1600 square foot, Ikea-furnished, house. We kept our compact American cars until they died. We achieved our goal - our children graduated from private college, debt-free. Is this possible for everyone? No. We were fortunate enough to have solid, but not investment-banker level, jobs. However, It is possible for many who are floundering in the bottomless pit of American consumerism.

  243. @Nana2roaw In my part of Manhattan, 1600 sq ft would cost 3.25 million or more.

  244. People working hard is fine but there is no guarantee you'll live to be 40 or 50 or 60. If you die before your goal, was that 3 hour commute to your job each day really worth it? People miss the present moment when their focus is always on the future. If you look at spiritual traditions, true happiness comes from helping and serving others. My suggestion to young people is work in something that you feel makes a difference for the world. You may not make as much money as you would in another job, but when you work for something that helps others, then every day becomes meaningful.

  245. @C If you die before you've reached your goal, you won't care--you'll be pushing up daisies.

  246. @C there is no guarantee but there are statistics for populations. You are less likely to die at age 40/45/60 than 80.

  247. That people have an emotional reaction or even care about how some fraction of the population chooses to live their lives - assuming it’s legal and harms no one, never ceases to amaze me. Be it birdwatchers, Comic book collectors or FIRE advocates, what difference does it make and why should I become indignant if it doesn’t speak to me? Jeez, there something out there for everyone, and just in case there isn’t, just do what works for you makes you happy. Not everything we do needs to be socialized unless of course, that’s the real purpose of the exercise...

  248. And some of us reached FIRE while ignoring the affiliate-link-heavy blogosphere, sparing ourselves comparisons of race, gender or class. We spent less than we earned, watched every penny, and stubbornly ignored others' expectations. Not that difficult.

  249. @Heather. It might be difficult to do, but how to do it couldn’t be more obvious, as outlined above.

  250. @Heather Perhaps you ought to try making a budget for someone living on minimum wage or a bit higher? Or for an American HOUSEHOLD living on the median wage (which is now around $50,000) When I was a single mom working menial jobs, I used to have to watch every penny. Now that I no longer have to, I know enough to not gloat about (i.e. "not that difficult") about other folks' poverty. Do you even know how many children in the US (or in most cases their parents who are often working 2 part time jobs) are going to be hungry? Do you realize you sound like Marie Antoinette, who when she was told the people had no bread (aka were starving) responded "let them eat cake".

  251. @HeatherAgain, only not that difficult when you earn a living wage or more, do not suddenly find yourself without a job in the middle of a recession, and get cancer when you hae a high deductible health plan. Not to mention being at higher risk of chemical dependency and health complication due to a workaholic life style.

  252. I "retired" for medical reasons at 40. If I hadn't been frugal and saving, I'm not sure what I would have done. Hop on the opiod train and work until I was completely disabled? Planning for a future you want to live isn't selfish. It's smart... and it also hedge your bets when the unplannable happens.

  253. The 4 percent rule is an amount that is expected to last 30 years. If you need longer than that, you may need to assume 3.5 percent (per an article on adjusting withdrawal rates to the retiree's time horizon from Michael Kitces blog). That should last indefinitely.

  254. How about an article about frugality without the white-male bashing, or is the bashing the main point? Another example of people seeing what white men do, copying it, and criticizing them for having done it. Kind of like living to the New World after it was conquered by white men.

  255. @vbering- I don't know, perhaps it's a trend? And newsworthy? Besides, it's only "white-male bashing" if you feel threatened by it. I don't, but then again being gay helps in spite of how white, male and middle-aged I am.

  256. Not to be nit-picky, but which white male is Saunders referring to - this one, or that one? If it's all of them, she's no different than "they" are.

  257. @James- that's just insecurity talking.

  258. @laguna greg Hers, or mine? She’s railing against establishment, great. Why put a color and gender to it?

  259. @James - 1- Yours. 2- Because it's inescapable among enlightened folk, these days. I must also say that the only reason you object is because you feel threatened by it. If you didn't, you wouldn't even notice. You'd just carry on with the conversation and listen attentively, like the rest of us. PS, no one is attacking you.

  260. Being poor is terrible. Enforcing poverty upon oneself is insane.

  261. Leaving aside the unnecessary emphasis on gender and race, let me say: it’s spending, stupid. It doesn’t matter how much you make, it’s always possible to spend it all and more. Our in-laws have a household income that’s roughly double that of ours, and yet they managed to accumulate $600k in debt while we saved substantial amounts each year. It’s not just about savings rate, either. The lower your overhead, the less money you need to accumulate to reach the point where investment income can cover those expenses.

  262. Why is race and gender so often the focus? Is every behavior racially or gender motivated? Why is it negative for whites to share an observable habit (being frugal)? Give it a rest already, not every human behavior has a negative racial, stereotype component.

  263. @TJM- I see your point. I really do. But when every single time, a public mouthpiece or opinion is focused from a single standpoint, in this case white, straight, male and privileged, well, it becomes inescapable. "If the shoe fits..." Many of the comments previously posted will show this to be the case. Your own tends to confirm the existence of the bias.

  264. @laguna greg White male privilege, I think everyone gets it. I think TJM asked why shouldn't white males be able to post observations. Please address this. Would you have them be silenced due to their privileged background? Elaborate. I am genuinely curious.

  265. John- my friend, I don't see it that way. First, you can't silence them; nobody can. The Internet is the Wild West. Anything goes. That includes the responses and backlash from people of color and LGBTQ, and that's only fair. Don't dish it out if you can't take it yourself. And I don't quite agree that "everybody gets it." These people don't. Second, some open criticism is long overdue. As a white middle-aged man, I am not threatened by this. Why would anybody be, except for some deep-seated insecurity? As a gay man, I can see the very strong reason for it. Third, they dish it out very freely, those that object to anyone with a differing opinion or concern on the subject. I see no reason why this should be accepted without comment or rebuttal. If you are not convinced, just scroll down and peruse the previous 200+ comments. You'll be shocked at the divisiveness and outright hostility expressed in some of them.

  266. I had enough invested money when my husband died and I was already 55. But when the political right gets their grubby hands on the American economy they can't help themselves and they have mashed my investments twice and seem determined to do it again! There is no protection against political suicide squads.

  267. @Kimberly Breeze: of course…. YOU could not have made bad choices or bad investments. It was the GOVERNMENT scheming to destroy your inheritance!

  268. The political right is in charge now and my investments are at a record high and I paid $3000 less last year in taxes. So am I going to vote for a woman who wants to let people off the hook for borrowing $130000 to go to drama school and then teach at a junior high. With candidates like this Trump is a shoo in.

  269. @Kimberly Breeze that is strange. My mutual fund portfolios have grown great since 2016 (comparing the total value in Sep 2016 versus May 2019) and value is the highest it has ever been.

  270. I think the majority of men writing FIRE blogs would acknowledge that the whole movement has a founding matriarch: Vicki Robins, author of Your Money or Your Life.

  271. @Jordan- No. This idea and even its economic plan was outlined as early as early Babylonian history. Recent iterations are just a repetition of the same idea.

  272. An origin comment - FIRE was being used on the Motley Fool boards before 2000. It's not exactly a new concept.

  273. @Barbara Lee- try again. This personal economic strategy has been written about as far back as Babylon under Cyrus the Great. It is not a Western idea, nor is it in any way modern.

  274. Cool! Thanks for extending the origins info, I want to read more about that when I get a chance.

  275. @Barbara Lee - excellent. I really hope this helps. There was a lovely little book published in the 90s that discussed these documents of early economic history going back to Chaldea, that I can't seem to find in my library right now. But it appears this very same plan was shared as "good money advice" even then.

  276. The bottom line in these comments and in the articles seems to be this: Work very hard at something you hate, for the money, and save a tremendous amount, giving up most pleasures; so that you can live modestly and do what you want later in life. Why don't you just live modestly and do what you want, from the beginning? Just the other day, I was thinking "I'm so glad I spent a lot of money on clothes when I was younger, because in my old age, when I have more money to spend, my figure is awful and I wouldn't look good in it anyway." I traveled when I was young--not to Vegas....why would I give away my money to a casino? I'd rather have a pair of shoes to show for my extravagance--and now that I am older, I don't care if I ever see another airplane. Spend money on a date, within your means; eat well and live well--don't overspend, but don't waste your very good young years. If you are doing something you love, you will continue to do it for decades. I'm 72 and have no intention of retiring from my very nice profession, that doesn't pay fabulously, but has given me many good years.

  277. @VHZ Sounds about right.

  278. @VHZ: wise words. Though I might add: it is a true blessing in life to have a good decent job -- even if the money is not spectacular -- that you LOVE and ENJOY doing. Not everyone has that privilege.

  279. @VHZ Thank you for this! I’m 51 with daughters headed to college in the next 3 years. Like you, I work hard AND enjoy my life, because you know what? Life can throw you lemons when you least expect it. Travel, be with the people you love, and enjoy life while your health is good and your mind clear. If disease or illness strike (as they often do As humans age), you will have already lived your best life. “Seize the day” has longevity as a life motto for a good reason.

  280. The basis of 'FIRE' is GREED and materialism. The basis of what Kiersten Saunders puts forth is envy and resentment. Neither one can lead to what ultimately brings health and contentment, let alone anything so 'old school' as gratitude.

  281. @Wyoming FIRE is the EXACT opposite of GREED and Materialism. It is choosing to spend your hard-earned money on what matters most to you, not being a pawn of advertising and the latest gadget. The focus is on the FINANCIAL FREEDOM, which gives you the ability to CHOOSE how you spend your time. Money provide choice and not having to stay at a job you hate because you stretched to get the big mortgage, fancy car lease, extravagant vacations...

  282. How so? FIRE is based in index investing and reducing expenses. How can a lifestyle that tells you to stop buying material cruft be materialistic?

  283. @Wyoming - Oh it is not!

  284. I think most people in the FIRE community would agree that the point is not to scrimp and be miserable, but to live a happy life that doesn't require spending as much as (or more than) you earn. As other commenters have noted, there's no reason to negatively stereotype the authors of various blogs. "The occasional bottle of wine" can absolutely be part of any FIRE plan, provided you can afford it. Everyone who wants to do this will do it their own way, as of course they should.

  285. Yeah, this is another thing for people with more money than me. -- White male.

  286. I despise Trump, but the more I see the left reject integration in favor of a separate America exclusive of straight cisgender able-bodied white men, the more I believe we have the president we deserve.

  287. @Mssr. Pleure Hate Trump. Voted for Obama twice and Hillary last election. Consider myself liberal. Over the past two years I am beginning to see why he won. Don't agree with the reasoning (or lack of it) but the more the left gets offended and points the figure at white males over things like this, the more enemies it creates and pushes people who were on the left toward the middle and even right.

  288. @John- i can't say you're wrong, which is really depressing. But the fact is that everybody who's not white/straight/male has a valid point. And the very fact that it needs to be explained, and continues to be dismissed by those same people, so it must continue to be fought for, just validates that point further every time it happens.

  289. @laguna greg This is circular logic. It doesn't need to be explained. We get it. You are in a car with two gas pedals pointing the finger at those trying to pump the brakes.

  290. I FIREd in March this year, a few months shy of my 50th birthday. I started thinking about retirement in 2014 when I realized how much I disliked my job and started reading many of the FIRE blogs. Are they anti women? I didn't notice. The main lesson I took away was that you've got to figure out your own budget and divide by 0.04 to get your target. Or 0.03 if you're conservative. Retired now and supremely happy. I don't miss the office politics, the non-stop conference calls, the client expectations and ridiculous email deluge that's become corporate life today. I exercise, I eat healthy and I'm enjoying the many things New York has to offer. Yes, I feel very lucky.

  291. @Anjali They're not "anti-women"; however, those blogs just don't apply to the different circumstances of many women's lives. Strategies are not going to be the same for people across the board.

  292. @Anjali The fact that it didn't even occur to you that it may or may not have been relevant to women, POC, etc. shows a bias. The white cis het male is still the assumed normal.

  293. "Life is what happens while you're making plans." John Lennon Is there anything tone deaf, arrogant white males in Silicon Valley do that doesn't irritate and annoy everybody else? Have another burrito, brah. Go crazy, have two.

  294. Once again this paper finds a way to turn anything and everything into a conflict about race and gender.

  295. @reader- I just love comments like these. They support the writer's point completely without saying another word.

  296. This is utterly fatuous, sexist and racist. "Bro-heavy?" Please. Nobody is stopping people of color or women from adapting or appropriating, or refining these concepts however they want. Most of the bloggers referenced speak about THEIR lives from personal experience. That's all they can responsibly talk about. They don't presume to speak for everyone.

  297. @J.M. Spot on. And if they attempted to address other groups' concerns, they'd be mansplaining, patronizing, or culturally appropriating. Articles like this will reelect Trump.

  298. @Thomas- that quite an over-reaction the two of you are having! I almost can't stop laughing!!!

  299. @J.M. Um, no one said that "the bloggers referenced" (white, male, often working in jobs related to software, 6-figure incomes) shouldn't speak about their lives from personal experience. The article said that their personal experiences and choices are too far removed from the experiences of these other people (female, not always white, not always making 100k+, financially responsible for extended family). Then the article talks about how they are speaking about their lives and personal experiences, which are different. So your complaint that this is "sexist and racist" is based on what? Is it sexist and racist to say that personal experiences are different and that there is room to express them all. Not sure why this would feel like an attack.

  300. The person who dies with the most money wins!

  301. @Toni No,actually. If they have been so miserly that have the most money at death, what have they gained by being a Scrooge? What good does it do them?

  302. I am not even a fan of FIRE, I am more a pay your bills put a little away but spend what you have left to make your day to day enjoyable. So I get spending on hair skin care etc. but the spending on family or special causes should be done with a hard look at protecting your future as well. I see many parents also risking their retirement by trying to provide too much of a safety net for their children. It is not some racist idea to only have children when you can afford them, take care of your own expenses for family and do not support other family members when they have made bad decisions. Only give to charity when you are really far ahead with your goals for college for your children and a retirement for yourself. Taking care of elderly parents is not included in this, when they are your own parent. This will sound racist but continuing a welfare culture in some families is why they continue to not get ahead even after people get good jobs and incomes. If family members cannot continue to feed off of that person who made it out they may actually do something with their own life.

  303. @marie- "It is not some racist idea to only have children when you can afford them, take care of your own expenses for family and do not support other family members when they have made bad decisions." Look, it's perfectly fine if you think that way about your family, and your points are well-taken. But not everyone has an abacus in place of a heart a heart, especially when it comes to having children or taking care of their aging parents. Are you saying that the bottom half of earners in this country should simply forgo children entirely and remain barren? Or that they should ship their parents off to the soylent tanks when they get past a certain point? Because for Heaven's Sake, only the top 20% of earners in this country can even consider FIRE as a lifetime economic plan. Should everyone else just give up on love and family? it sounds like that's what you're saying.

  304. @laguna greg I am saying that women continue to think with their heart or sex organs and not their head when they have babies before they are ready, I know it takes two to tango but the women knows at the end of the day she will be having the baby if she is not smart. You can plan to have some job before having one child and keep it at one if you have no real prospects in life. I am a pragmatic person so this comes easy for me but in the ear 2019 i am tired of hearing women blame everyone else in there life when they make the same bad decisions over and over again. No I said that people should take care of parents but the post was not clear. But don't provide for other family members that are on the dole so to speak at your own expense.

  305. I am mid-50s, and have been in the dark about FIRE until this article. But I do recall book “The Millionaire Next Door” from the early 90s that basically said live carefully, distinguish between wants and needs, save and invest your money and dont buy a new car every 4 years. “Everything in moderation” has worked for me, without the recent trendy extremisms. A better question is what about the less advantaged people of all ages? My workplace security guards work multiple jobs, without benefits like sick leave, to scrape by. People need to recognize exploitation, including professionals, and organize to reign in the incessant demands of the workplace. Leads to happier workforce, less FIRE.

  306. I was excited by the headline even before I read this article. I’ve read Money Moustache and he has good ideas, but I’m excited to read these other blogs by women and people of color. My 4c hair takes money to maintain too! I have no plans to retire early, but I have decided that it’s time to leave my soul crushing job and do the things I want to do, my way. I’m excited to read these blogs and learn anything that will help me on that path!

  307. I "fired" in the year 2000 at the age of 48. I had been a corporate executive, wife,mother, sister, daughter and friend. Divorce prompted the change to a life tailored to who I was and how I wanted to spend my time. I am now an artist, a mother, a sister, a friend, a hiker, a grandmother and a volunteer doing some very high level work for the municipality l live in. At first, it was a very difficult transition finding who I was without the definition work lends. However, it's been a very meaningful journey, along with everything that has come before, and I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to make the decision I made. I wish the best for each and every person who makes a similar decision.

  308. A lot of the commentary seems to echo the old fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper. To my mind, what seems to be standing out is a sense that a majority of the FIRE bloggers are "tech bros," fortunate enough to be at the confluence of right skills, right time, in the right place. In my experience, the "tech bros" tend to by rather myopic individuals, unable to see beyond their particular shared subculture. They promote what's specific to their particular (and possibly peculiar) lifestyle. I confess to have not heard of FIRE before this, but a question or two comes to mind. How much of life is sacrificed? HOw many of these folks will live a decade or two of an almost hermit-like existence of work and sleep, and find themselves with the leisure and means to enjoy life, and find themselves with absolutely no idea of how to enjoy life? It is entirely possible to wind up self-defining yourself totally in terms of your work. The second question is how much of their lives involve current generosity or helping others?

  309. A major factor in ability to acquire wealth - assuming you have an income - is whether you have kids or not.

  310. My mantra is “enjoy yourself along the way because you never know what the future might bring”. Caveat - don’t pauper yourself along the way as you may be retired for 30 years and don’t want to live in a packing crate. We’ve all heard stories of someone who saved all their lives in order to have a wonderful retirement and then they drop dead soon after retiring. My wife worked with someone that retired on a Friday and was dead on Saturday. What happens if you lose your mobility or develop dementia? I also tell people that they need a plan on how they are going to replace “9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday” for the rest of their lives. Gardening and jobs around the house won’t cut it.