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The Vortex of FIRE Information (here we go again)

Card art from Yu-Gi-Oh! by Konami
A while back I posted an article by the same name as this one highlighting several of my favourite bloggers and podcasters in the FIRE scene. I have since taken it down and rebuilding the thought from scratch. 

The original intention was to highlight the vast see of garbage "FIRE" content plaguing the movement and turn the readers focus away from the onslaught of blogs and instead read only a select few that I recommended. I failed the readers with this attempt of an article because I wanted to include the up and coming blogs and podcasts that I thought had merit (or were closely affiliated with - shameful), thereby instead of thinning the herd as I intended, I created a fat list of bland FIRE content that served nobody. 

Whoops. This was made more apparent as the blogs and podcasts I recommended went inactive (or barely active) and the content creators that hung around stopped actually making FIRE content and instead served up bland-ass personal finance with some FI not RE marketing sprinkled on the outside to lure you in (such disappointment...).

Anybody getting into FIRE and starting a blog is actually a great thing (otherwise I couldn't believe in my own blog) but there comes a time when you read a few too many like I have and realize nobody has anything really all that important to say. It's more like reading another persons diary for the most part or people just reinventing the wheel explaining the 4% Rule or explaining the advantages of equities in a TFSA.

All of this is what I call the "Vortex of FIRE Information." Some others simply call it Death by a 1000 Blogs.

As a reader and perpetual explorer of new and innovating FIRE content for Canadian, I get so frustrated reading the same crap over and over. Wow, I should fill up my RRSP? Never heard of that one. You haven't read what an RRSP does on this blog because you should already know what an RRSP does. Advanced tactics surrounding the RRSP will eventually be discussed.

The sad part is some people whether it be on forums or their own blogs want to get SO basic that they begin saying truly amateur hour stuff like "Don't ever have credit card debt!" and other gems such as "TFSA or RRSP? The showdown!" like they are actually providing meaningful advice from the context of FIRE.

One of the most key Requirements of FIRE is to be financially literate. I define financial literacy as the ability to understand your own household income and expenses, implement investing decisions by yourself and have a basic understanding of how compound interest is evil (with debt) or miraculous (with investing). You don't need a deep understanding of economics nor do you need to be able to list the best dividend paying stocks in Canada.

So my point is many content creators and forum posters like to simply recreate the same bland personal finance crap over and over again while marketing themselves as pursuing FIRE - yet this is NOT what FIRE is about. FIRE is a lifestyle optimization strategy designed to hack the mandatory 40 hour work week and reduce the amount of years spent in a workplace.

Some of these bloggers carry this message well but then cater to a crowd of band-wagoners I call the "PerhapsFI" crowd (a play on ChooseFI). These are the people who "like the idea of FI but don't want to RE" which is a logical fallacy. I've written about these people Turning FIRE into a Fad before but to summarize the post I argue most people are simply patrons of the Wealthy Barber and do not actually want to realize Financial Independence. It's fine to be a Wealthy Barber, nothing wrong at all, but don't dilute the FIRE movement because you want your blog to succeed or you're looking for a sexy way to sell your somewhat-better-than-average frugal lifestyle to yourself or others.

And so that leaves me back where I started: where is the good FIRE content? Especially for Canadians?

Here's what I am looking for:
  1. Needs to highlight FIRE philosophy that doesn't pander to newbies with no chance (i.e. save 50% of your net income minimum).
  2. Needs to be transparent - tell us what you have, when you got it, where you got it, where you're going and what your strategy is. Being vague is bullshit when you're actually talking about a radical life optimization strategy which FIRE definitely is. How can you trust such a strategy from a complete stranger who isn't willing to reveal their networth, their income or their industry of work? Please.
  3. Needs to focus solely on Canada. I never want to hear about a 403b again. I have a LIRA so where is THAT information!?
  4. They need to get to the point (unlike this post which has gone on forever). It's hard enough to find good content let alone having to skim articles over and over. It's time draining and mentally fatiguing.
  5. I want Canadian product reviews. I'm sick of heading to places like ratehub to find out what the best credit card in Canada offers. Why isn't a Canadian FIREwalker talking about this?? (Ahem...)
  6. I want a template of what Canadians around the nation use for the FIRE ethos (Increase your Income, Lower your Spending, Invest the Difference). Just give me the foundation and I'll build my own house on top of your recommendations, so to speak. I don't want to read 60 different long-winded articles you wrote over three years to piece together what you do - consolidate it into one article in a easy to read format.
The harsh truth is this: there is no good FIRE content in Canada and especially not one that answers my above requests. I don't want to overlook Millennial Revolution - they do have good content but it is quite obvious from a Canadian standpoint that they blog a nomadic lifestyle without children or home ownership, two things I have decided to include in my life and quite a lot of others have too. Before people lynch me, I'm not blaming or shaming them for blogging or living the way they do - I'm just saying it's not applicable to me or a what I believe is a large portion of Canadians on the path to FIRE. To each their own but I will reiterate that because Millennial Revolution has this ultra narrow niche that there is still to this day no good FIRE content in Canada.

So here's my frustration: 
  • I'm frustrated that pretty much every "FIRE" blog in Canada sucks (or isn't applicable). 
  • I'm frustrated that no "FIRE" podcasts exist in Canada.
  • I'm frustrated that my blog is still taking form and hasn't been the Canadian FIRE I envisioned it to be by now. There is a tonne of FIRE content I've yet to even talk about and while I am prepared to be fully transparent with my numbers and income, I've yet to really put anything meaningful together for my audience to learn from. Where's my FIRE plan? How much money have I made since 18 years old? How much help did I have? What is my specific strategy for Early Retirement? 
I have a lot of work to do and I appreciate now how hard it is to create GOOD content. I'm gonna keep trying, I still believe in the long term outlook of this blog and I definitely believe I'll be able to better perfect my FIRE plan by sharing it with you. But first things first, I should probably write it out and put in on the blog, duh...!?

Before I leave you with your own thoughts, I would like to highlight 3 content creators that always have me coming back for more. These 3 are my top picks for the FIRE Ethos, which is Increase Your Income, Reduce Your Spending and Invest the Difference:

Increase Your Income - Best is ChooseFI Podcast
  • Specifically episodes 211 and 147.
  • I have a love/hate relationship with ChooseFI because of their hypocritical statements about FIRE and the type of audience they cultivate as a result of their annoying and sleazy marketing. BUT - their episodes about career progression and in the specific links above about salary negotiation are top notch and could not be more applicable and helpful to the average Jane or Joe working in corporate offices. They even have templates for you to copy/paste into emails with HR, management, etc.
  • Increase Your Income is probably the most overlooked ethos of FIRE but it is equally as critical as the other two. You cannot achieve FIRE with frugality and index funds alone - you must increase your income.
  • Also, anything after episode 47 (but not including 47R) is where ChooseFI derails big time and goes soft.
Reduce Your Spending - Best is Mr Money Mustache Blog 
  • MMM is a hero of mine. Yes I'm biased, sue me. 
  • He has been creating content for 9 years now and is the undisputed leader of the FIRE movement. He's always specialized in writing about how stupid consumers are and his articles showcase easy-to-understand math and how what you thought were inconsequential purchases or lifestyle decisions can affect the likelihood of you ever achieving FIRE. 
  • Here are my favourites: Killing your $1000 Grocery Bill and Get Rich With: Bikes.
  • To tag onto the recommendation: my "Best in Canada" series is designed to help you reduce your expenses and I hope this will be a keystone of my content. So far I've written about Tangerine, EQ Bank and Public Mobile. More to come.
Invest the Difference - Best is Canadian Portfolio Manager Blog + Podcast
  • Justin Bender and the rest of PWL Capital have been providing free and consistent content to help DIY investors get into index investing. They do this for free because their clients read their stuff and stay invested with them. It's also great marketing. Huge win for us freeloaders!
  • Specifically his 4 model portfolios (Light, Ridiculous, Ludicrous, and Plaid) which go from easiest to hardest in that order. Reading, understanding and implementing ANY of his model portfolios makes you a savvy indexing pro in Canada.
  • Affiliated PWL content includes Canadian Couch Potato Blog + Podcast, Rational Reminder Podcast, and the Common Sense Investing YouTube Channel. Soak up as much of that as you want or simply stick to the "Light" portfolio and call it a day.
  • Special shout out to "Beat the Bank" by Larry Bates. A wonderful book that teaches Canadians how big a rip off the mutual fund industry is. Larry would know. His career was on Bay St. Take out that book from the library, pronto.
Hope this all helped. If any of my blogging friends are offended by this article... sorry. I don't mean to hurt feelings. I guess I just like you more than I like your blog :(

Thanks for reading,

Ryan Myricks

You can email me here: canadianfire1@gmail.com (I respond to everyone)

Comments

  1. Interesting post. I believe that FIRE is more philosophical, and hence the long winded posts about things like happiness, and stoicism. Since people come to FI +- RE different ways for different reasons it may explain why theres not a supergood fireblog for canadians... yet ( present company excluded).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the compliment, though undeserved (at least in my part, you might be a FIRE blogger too?). I suppose you have a point about people's different place and trajectory but I would double down on the fact that having Canadian finances and one tax system must mean there is a very narrow and traditional approach to FIRE in Canada that isn't discussed or debated enough.

      Delete
  2. It's been ages since I watched Yu-Gi-Oh. Great show. Hey you know it's kind of funny how FIRE is such a personalized endeavor. No two paths are a like - yet there can still be a strong community around it supported by common goals. Going to miss you on the podcast, Ryan. But family comes first. Maybe you can appear as a guest in the future and update everyone on your financial progress. Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment, Liquid. Indeed, everybody starts with different help, mindset, net worth and probably several other factors too. But in my opinion, the great unifier is the savings rate. Crank that thing up through obvious savings and mini experiments.

      Chrissy will have my lunch if I never return so expect me to be a guest... eventually.

      If you haven't already, check out Yu-Gi-Oh the abridged series on YouTube. Thank me later.

      Delete

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