If it were possible, everyone would retire early! Unfortunately, this is not a reality for most people. The Financial Independence (FI) Retire Early (RE) movement is the idea that with extreme frugality and aggressive saving/investing, you can retire in your 30s or 40s instead of your late 60s. Budgeting and gaining financial independence is a learning process. That’s why we are here to help! This guide will tell you everything you need to know about becoming FIRE. (Yes, even more fire than you already are.)
The reality of it is, not everyone has the mindset or is in the right place in their life to begin FIRE. Starting your path to FIRE is a big decision to make. Make sure you discuss it with any close relatives and the financially dependent people in your life beforehand and ensure they are also on board with this goal. Depending on your level of savings rates, you may not be able to go out to eat at restaurants often or take part in costly activities. These are the sacrifices that you will need to make to become financially independent and retire early.
Because of these drastic changes, it’s smart to plan out if FIRE is viable for you. Determine which savings rates you can make. 50% – 70% of your income is the typical savings rate for someone in the FIRE movement. However, if this is too extreme for you, start out with a lower rate of saving! There is nothing wrong with committing to your financial goals step by step. You’ll want to make this saving plan feel reasonable and achievable for you.
After deciding to become FIRE, the first step you should take is setting out a budget. A budget will help you determine your expenses and where you can save. To get started, live normally, and write down all your expenses for a month. Not only does this summarize your spending as a whole, but it also reveals where your excess spending is residing.
Reflecting on your monthly spending is a great way to analyze unnecessary costs. Keep purchasing the essentials and cut down on excess spending! This tip leads us to the next step in the process.
Using your budget, determine areas in which you can cut costs. FIRE is all about saving money, and the best way to save money is to not spend it. This is easier said than done, we know! Take your monthly income and subtract it from your monthly expenses. The higher this number is, the more you save. Here are a couple of examples of how to cut some common costs out of your life.
Let’s say you stop by Starbucks and order a Grande Vanilla Latte every morning before you go to work. That $4.15 purchase may not seem like a lot each time you purchase it. Putting it into a bigger scale really shows it, though. That coffee costs you $20.75 a week, $83 a month, and $1045 a year. $1045 for a cup of coffee before work. Your caffeine addiction can really start adding up!
Another more extreme example is cutting out your car mileage. Gas is a constant, expensive cost that’s only purpose is to make your car move. But what if you didn’t use your car as much as you did? No car means no gas, which means no money spent. Mr. Money Mustache is a frugal, financial blogger and one of the first proponents of the FIRE movement. From his calculations, “doing a couple of bike errands per day (4 miles) in place of car errands will add up to $10,752 over ten years.”
Perhaps the most important part of saving money is finding actual ways to boost your income. You can’t save money if you don’t have any money to save! If boosting your income was easy, then everyone would be rich. If you want to boost income and retire early, you’ll need fantastic commitment skills! There are a few tips that you can follow to help make a little extra money, which we will explore below.
The simplest way to boost your money intake is by asking for a raise at work! This can be troubling for some people. You don’t want to go through the awkwardness of asking, or maybe you don’t feel good enough to deserve one. It is completely normal to ask for a raise! If you have been performing well, putting in extra effort, and have been with the company for a substantial amount of time, go ahead and ask! Before going to your boss, put together a list of your achievements and accomplishments. Show the company just how much of an asset you are!
If all attempts at getting a raise fail and you still need an added boost of income, consider searching for a new company that pays higher. Or, you can check out some of the side hustles we have included next.
If you have extra time on your hands, consider taking on a side hustle. This can be anything from walking dogs to writing for a blog. If you have a marketable skill or passion, it’s smart to monetize it. Side hustles won’t be your main source of income. Instead, they’re a supplement to what you’re already making. Making an extra $100 a week adds up to $5200 a year. If you’re paying all bills and expenses with your main source of income, then that can be an extra $5200 saved for retirement each year.
Investing your money into stocks can be both the riskiest way to earn extra money and also the smartest. If you blindly put your money into whatever stock sounds the best, you could lose a lot of money. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you research and invest wisely, this can be the smartest way to make a lot of money.
The most important thing to do when investing is to diversify your portfolio. If you have all your money in one stock or one industry, you will lose a lot of money when that stock or industry goes down. However, if you spread your money across multiple industries, that risk vanishes. Consider investing in Index Funds (a portfolio of stocks). Index Funds offer much, much less risk.
If you are new to investing – check out our guide to get started!
To help in your FIRE movement, join communities of like-minded people. Talking with others with similar experiences will motivate you to continue your journey. The Reddit community, r/FIRE, has over 75,000 members. Here, people post about their experiences, share tips and success stories. Search through the internet to find other FIRE blogs, forums, and communities to keep you motivated.
If you are someone who works well with concrete lists, here’s a brief overview of what you need to get started in the FIRE movement. You’ll be on your way to becoming financially independent in no time! If you are successful, you may even retire early.
What are you doing to ensure that you can retire early? Do you have a plan in mind? If so, connect with us on social media and share! We would love to hear from you.
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