The Downsides to the FIRE Movement…

June 21, 2023

In this highlight, we discuss the down sides of pursuing FIRE and what you need to watch out for.

For more information, check out our full show called, “How to Achieve FIRE By Income (Are You on Track?).”


I think that the brochure is really easy to sell. Like everyone wants to buy into this idea. Hey, go live your best life in your 40s, go live your best life in your early 50s. Try to get out of the rat race as quickly as possible. But if you’re going to do that and if you’re going to take the steps necessary to achieve that goal, there are some downsides. There are some things that you ought to be aware of if you’re going to prioritize moving in this direction. Yeah, let’s jump into some of those downsides.

The first one, I think if you’re FIRE, and this is not something where we’re just trying to throw cold water, it’s just something you have to look for your blind spots. What are the things you’re not thinking about? What are the areas that could cause an “oh my goodness, why did I not think about this before we got into this process?” And the first thing is that you’re… we’re going to show you from a number standpoint, is that FIRE requires a lot of discipline. You have to save a lot of your income. By the way, you have to have a big shovel. You have to have a really good income. We’ll show you in a second. But because of this commitment, because you have to prioritize this discipline, there’s a good chance a lot of life goals are going to be even harder. Like thinking about trying to save up for your first house down payment, think about trying to budget for children and other things. Life goals get a lot harder when you know you have to prioritize a lion’s share of your cash flow towards this future. So like with most things, there’s a trade-off. Make sure you understand the opportunity cost of the things that you’re walking away from.

Now here’s another one that you and I have talked a lot about, Brian, when it comes to FIRE. We think, “Man, I wish I just had more time.” And one of the things I want to do with my time is spend time with the people that I love. I want to be able to go hang out with my friends. I want to be able to do that thing. Well, if you’re someone who’s retiring early, a lot of the people that you work with or that have kids the same age that are going through the same life stuff, they might not be there with you. So you might find yourself in your mid-40s looking around and like you said, on Sunday night, you just got done hanging out, all your working friends are ready to be in bed by 8:30, but you’re sitting there ready to have a good time. Make sure you understand that it can be isolating. And we’ve actually seen this practically with a number of our clients who’ve left the workforce. They say, “Man, you know what, I kind of miss… I don’t miss the work, I don’t miss the job, I don’t miss the grind, but man, it was great that I had a built-in social structure. It was wonderful that I had people I could interact with on a daily basis.” So if you are going to be FIRE, you’re naturally going to be in an exclusive club where there might not be a lot of folks around you. Yeah, so I would encourage you… I’ve done this, I’ve had mixed results on what I’ve done, but try to, if you’re part of the FIRE movement, try to find friends and family that will do it with you. Because that way you’re not hanging out and, whatever shopping center or whatever hobby or whatever you’re doing alone. But look, this does work and there are some benefits. The fact is, think about it, you get to travel. Yeah, when everybody else is doing so, it’s probably much easier to go to your Walmart or Target on a Tuesday versus a Saturday at Costco. There’s one that’s probably great to be a member of the FIRE. But it is one of those things you might not have as many friends hanging out with you because you’re doing things a little differently.

Here’s the other big downside that we’ve seen, again from our experience working with FIRE individuals, is that the grass may not always be greener on the other side. A lot of times, folks are so focused on that thing that they are escaping from. “I want to get out of the rat race, I want to get away from the job, I want to get away from the nine to five, I want to get away from the fill in the blank.” They might not spend as much time thinking about either the positives of their current situation or some of the stress or negatives that come with the next iteration. Don’t just go into it assuming everything is going to be rainbows and butterflies. Well, I just don’t want you to skip steps. I think a lot of people have this false narrative in their head that is, “All my problems will be solved when I reach three million dollars or five million dollars.” But they never actually did the work of figuring out why they are unhappy or what they actually enjoy doing, what are their passions in life. Don’t skip the “whys.” Know what makes you happy, know what hobbies you’ll pursue, know if you’re going to transition into a different, I don’t want to say career, but maybe a different job or something that you could volunteer to do. But don’t skip that step because if you’re unhappy while you’re working, you need to kind of know the root cause of that so that you don’t repeat it just because you’ve changed the venue you’re living in. For more information, check out our free resources here.



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