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Are you Turning the FIRE Movement into a Fad?

I think I say this often around here - I believe I have written the most unpopular article to date. I'm sure this article will twist several panties into a bunch. Prepare your soft feelings.

Are all these wusses saving 10-49% on the path to FIRE actually a part of the movement? Or are they just big softies ruining the hardcoreness of the Mustachian lifestyle that runs parallel with the mainstream FIRE movement? Spreading the gospel that FI is the answer and RE is the devil is complete bullshit. What the fuck people?

This post is part 2 of the continuation of "The Requirements of FIRE"

A book came out in 1989 explaining how to really not give a shit about your finances and still be fine for retirement. It was called The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton and it is the best selling personal finance book in Canada ever since. The book basically states this: save 10% of your income and don't incur any other debt besides a mortgage. Put your income into well run mutual funds (which we now know is outdated advice, you can simply read that as broad-based low-cost index funds) and otherwise work until your CPP eligible and enjoy an easy retirement with zero stress of money from the time you started "paying yourself first" (the 10%) until you die. Hurray for most but not for us.

Canadians loved this message and still do. Money isn't confusing when you put such an obvious psychological trick into your spending - that is paying YOU first. Afterwards, who gives a shit? Blow the money on whatever you want. You can buy Burger King everyday from now on because you're GOOD with money. Such free reign resonates with everybody because you're free to make whatever decisions you want and the best part is nobody can tell you shit.

I think this style of thinking, which I call 'Wealthy Barberism' is a fantastic way to live a simple life with money. If somebody told me they don't have any other debt besides their mortgage and shove 10% of their income into the Wealthsimple Robo advisor app and call it a day, I'd be happy for them. No need to preach FIRE, no need to complicate their lives unless they wanted more from their money situation.

This brings me to my problem - I think a lot of people on the path to FIRE in Canada are actually choosing Wealthy Barberism but calling it 'FI, not RE', or 'Slow FI'. This drives me up the fucking wall.

The FIRE movement was never designed to appeal to all, it was designed to lifehack to the original 9 to 5 grind that Wealthy Barberism is. Afterall, with Chilton's plan you'll still be working a 40 year career, give or take a few years. The FIRE movement wants you to work a 17 year career at the VERY most, and chances are any lifestyle that has you retiring early in 17 years won't take that long anyways.

Think about it: if you save half of your income, the countdown clock starts at 17 years according to Mr Money Mustache. To get to this superb savings rate can take a lot of time, sacrifice and even experiments in the scary/forbidden word: deprivation. Nobody can just hit that tomorrow if they've been following Wealthy Barberism, especially if you're the sole provider of your family. But at what point did somebody chasing the FIRE movement decide "You know what? Fuck this, my savings rate is at 23%, I can't see any other way of getting it higher, I'm just gonna call it FI because FIRE is stupid. I didn't wanna RE anyways, waaa waaa."

You should be proud, 23% is still amazing, you're clearly an adult with your shit together. So why are you pulling apart the strings of the FIRE movement just because you didn't achieve a 50% goal? Perhaps that's an arbitrary goal that this blog sets as a requirement to actually be on the path to FIRE yet I would argue somebody with a 23% savings rate is actually following Wealthy Barberism because they are ~35 years away from retirement!!!

That's not FI or RE (which are the same thing). You'll be eligible to collect CPP and OAS sooner (if not already, depending on when you started) and yet you want to be independent from all other income? No, it doesn't work like that. I'm not arguing you don't account for CPP and OAS into your financial plan but don't call yourself FI when you depend on the government for your money. Furthermore, don't go spreading your bullshit online that RE isn't the goal when you yourself have failed to meet that goal. That's your personal problem, not the FIRE movement's.

I think a 23% savings rate is fantastic and this individual has done an incredible job of providing security for his or her family. I'm not arguing that. It pisses me off when people bandwagon a cause and dress up like their a part of something when they really aren't. People do this all the time in real life with sport teams (Raptor's fanbase exploded once they were contenders for the Championship) and they even do it with diets and all the other fads that come along with radical lifestyle choices. Can you be a Vegan on Tuesdays and Thursdays only? Fuck no, you're just eating plants on Tuesday and Thursday. I think Vegans would be happy with your effort and that you're making progress but that doesn't make you a Vegan or part of their movement. FYI, I'm not Vegan I just thought that was an easy example.

So please, unhitch yourself from the FIRE movement if you have no actual desire to achieve a state of financial independence and therefore early retirement (aka - the choice to do whatever the fuck you want). Branding yourself as FI not RE to disguise your marketing objectives is even worse because you're just capitalizing off a movement that intended a much different lifestyle than the one you're selling to all the other bandwagoners out there. You're not original, David Chilton described your methodology long before you began watering down the FIRE movement for your own selfish purposes.

Ryan Myricks

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