When FIRE Disappoints

I haven’t been in the mood to write or work on my podcast in the past month (errrr maybe two months now?). I’ve been jaded by the FIRE community over the last several months and just felt like I’d rather step away from that focus personally and here on the blog.

Which is good I didn’t start a personal finance podcast! Ha, you should’ve known I’d change my mind and move on to another topic to focus on soon enough.

FIRE is starting to feel a bit too sales-y to me with many trying to take advantage of its popularity to help them reach FIRE themselves. Over the years, I’ve come to learn various bloggers are not being entirely honest (silly me!) about their finances or have gone through major financial changes all the while preaching to everyone what they should be doing.

There were a few podcast guests who shared more outside of recordings than they shared publicly on their websites that made me go, “Huh? Why don’t you share that side to the story?” It doesn’t fit the narrative they’re selling, which is unfortunate, but it’s not my place to expose them. It’s made me really think about everyone I followed to look for the cracks in their ideal curated life and finances online.

Frankly, I don’t know too many who are actually retired in the FIRE community, as most are living off a spouse’s salary and benefits, or are making money from their blog adventure and selling ebooks or communities to join. Are all stay-at-home-mom/dad’s on FIRE because they don’t have to work for the rest of their lives?

That’s totally okay for them to hide parts of their truth (we’re all entitled to a little privacy), but I was just under the impression, before I pulled back the curtain, that the FI goal was so you didn’t need to work ever again? Literally…

I agree with Suze Orman, you may need more than you think later in life (I’ve seen medical bills rip apart people’s finances), and you also are missing out on prime years of earning potential when completely retiring in your 30’s. Now, I know the FIRE community was on fire (see what I did there?) over her comments, but no one in the RE end of things is actually retired in the original accepted idea of the word. How on earth was she to know that? (Yes, she was a bit obnoxious with her 3 mil for that or I own this though…)

re·tired
/rəˈtī(ə)rd/
adjective
1. having left one’s job and ceased to work.

There are a few cool cats who I still follow, and yes, they are retired and maybe they even retired in their 50’s after a nice career. I’ll continue to keep up with their musings because I respect their work ethic and their honesty.

For the new year, I started with paring down my subscriptions and moving on to other interests. I follow about 3 blogs that write about personal-ish finance and that’s down from maybe 10-15 regular ones I used to keep up with.

We love our work, so for us, our work is not only a pathway combined with frugality to FI, it’s also a community service that we can give back to others. I’m okay with doing that into my 50’s, maybe even 80’s, because hey, we all know those elderly public librarians, #amiright? So, if I can be on FIRE in X number of days but choose not to, is that okay to? Heck yeah, it is.

I definitely started my career with the goal to be the part-time old librarian espousing advice from a myriad of texts to youngsters on an as needed basis. I hope I don’t pass gas too often in conversations though, tee hee.

Not everyone has a cubicle job they hate. Not everyone chooses a career with an exit plan in mind to rake it in and then sail off into the sunset. I’m starting to see the flipside – the general public’s viewpoint. It’s okay to be a librarian making meh-salary levels for your life. No, I didn’t need to go into software engineering to kill myself and get out wealthy in 10 years or less. (Pep talk to yours truly).

Sure, if you’re miserable in your job, do everything you can to move on (I have many times when I chose locations that were just an awful fit). Through frugality, we’ve had more flexibility to do so and I’m super thankful 10 years ago we found it and changed our lives.

I personally am happy to just be a frugal family focusing on building our wealth snowball and not seeking to exploit the masses for our own gain. Hi all 4 readers! Plus, I’ve been ridiculously busy helping my friend’s business grow, so yeah, I’m making side hustle money that this blog won’t ever top 😉

With all of that disappointment aired out, I feel like I can move on. I don’t have to follow those I may no longer respect. And I am still thankful for the frugal online community who started this whole thing and taught us so very much over a decade ago. The FI part is awesome, I just plan to drop the idea of RE from our language and focus.

Truly, we’re retired 1/6 of every year with holidays and summers off. So, by the end of my 25 years I will have only worked 21 total of them 😉 How’s that for an intermittent retirement?

Being frugal has opened hundreds of doors for us and our future and we’re able to do things like this when I get a feeling of “I think we should replace our roof this month,” and without hesitation can sign and pay a contract to do so.

Oh yeah, this was a huge job and luckily it didn’t hurt (well it always hurts me to spend like this) our pockets because we saved for several years and planned for it. Bam. New roof. Old moldy one gone. Snow in the forecast two days later.

While I may sound like I’m complaining about the FIRE community, I just have found where I want to shift my focus. Everyone is entitled to their own story, the story they choose to sell, and tell. I just would like to get back to being the frugalite who’s a foodie at heart, getting in shape, and rocking the mortgage payoff and stop giving so much attention to the hustle of trying to reach the RE part. I may never RE or ever cease to work 😀

Thanks for listening to my rambles and oh, Happy New Year! I’m back into the groove and will be popping in regularly. Here’s to hoping I can churn out a podcast episode or two soon!

2 thoughts on “When FIRE Disappoints

  1. hi kate. as you may or may not remember i have always been a little leery of the branding and selling part of financial independence. i’ve never cared to have too much identity of my own wrapped up in an acronym like FIRE. i do love writing about the saving and investing part but don’t have a very sensational story to capture 10’s of thousands of readers. it’s a good thing i don’t depend on this for any money i guess. i gravitate towards the same ones as you i suspect. there are a handful who have been there/done that or are just about to and you can tell from the writing it’s genuine. nice article. good to see you let off some steam!

  2. Thanks Freddy! I am still following along on your journey and maybe you’re “letting off some steam” has inspired me to do the same 😉 Thanks for your support!!

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