To many people, FIRE is not just about Financial Independence and Retiring Early, it is a lifestyle.
FIRE as a lifestyle includes the following:
- Financial education
- Becoming debt free as fast as possible and avoiding future debt
- Rejecting consumerism
- Monitoring and controlling spending
- Accumulating assets to provide enough passive income to quit your job
- Staying healthy to enjoy life after retiring
At its most basic level, FIRE is achieved by spending less than you make and investing the difference. While most experts recommend saving 10% to 15% of your income, people pursuing FIRE often save anywhere from 50% to 75%. That may sound impossible right now, but it’s a lot easier than it first appears.
There are only two ways to increase your savings rate – increase your income and/or decrease your spending. For most people, it’s easier to start spending less right now while working on improving your income in the future.
How to Spend Less
Take a look at your phone, internet, and cable bills and calculate those as a percentage of your monthly salary and I’m sure you’ll be surprised at how much you’re spending. If you live in Thailand, the amount you spend on nightlife could be your single biggest expense after rent, and also the easiest to cut back on. Eating out in Western restaurants can also be expensive.
Rejecting consumerism is also easier than you think. You don’t need to buy a 30,000B phone every year or buy new clothes every week. Don’t live in the most expensive house or condo you can afford. Financing a car for more than five years or paying 20% interest per year on credit card debt are the worst things in the world to spend your hard earned money on. Reduce your debt immediately by paying down as much as you can on the highest interest rate debt first.
How to Retire Early
Once you are debt free and have reduced your spending, the money you save is invested in a diversified portfolio that includes tax saving funds in Thailand along with international investments outside of Thailand. When your investments equal 25 times your annual spending (which is equivalent to withdrawing 4% a year), you are ready to FIRE.
Yes, it’s really that simple!
By saving 50% of your income and assuming 5% returns on investments after inflation, you can retire using the 4% rule after 17 years. If you save 75%, you only have to wait seven years!
If you don’t believe me, the mainstream media has reported numerous success stories. In one recent example, a flight attendant is almost ready to retire after only six years of following FIRE by owning her own apartment and saving 75% of each paycheck! In another example, a millennial couple following FIRE is planning to retire by 2029.
Staying healthy is also important. There’s a whole generation about to retire that are too unhealthy to actually enjoy it. My grandparents only went on one cruise after retiring before my grandfather passed away. Working shift-work for most of his life didn’t help, but the biggest contributor to his early death was smoking. Many people aren’t able to enjoy retirement because of self-inflicted health problems. Drugs, alcohol, lack of exercise, poor diets, prescription medications, and excessive stress for years and years can stop you from enjoying retirement. Make an effort now to get healthy and stay healthy. There’s no point in sacrificing for the future if you’re not going to be able to enjoy it.
FIRE is like exercise – almost anyone can do it but it requires effort and internal motivation. After getting a check-up with your doctor, you will benefit mentally and physically from any amount of exercise no matter how out of shape you are. The equivalent to a health check-up for FIRE is financial literacy. Once you understand money and investing, it doesn’t matter what state your finances are in or how seriously you apply the principles, you will still benefit. Your finances will be in better shape and you’ll feel better and be less stressed about the future.
Click here to find out why Thailand is the best country in the world for FIRE.