RETIRE at 30. It seems like everywhere you look there is someone retiring when most people are just finishing their grad school degree. How in the F**K do they do this? These people are skipping all the BS and using just a few work years to save a grand sum of money that they can live off of forever.
If you don’t know what FIRE is check out my other post here:
Some people have very expensive tastes and hobbies, others are willing to live on next to nothing. Neither of these is right nor wrong. What is money? What is the point of it? For FIRE people, the purpose of money is freedom, I tend to agree. What’s better to you? Having 30 pairs of shoes or retiring 5 years sooner? Having a huge closet full of clothing, or retiring 4 years earlier? Having two nice cars or retiring 10 years younger? Most people are never told that just cutting out a few things per month and instead investing can allow you to retire at 50, quite easily. Most people are not told that paying an extra $50 or so dollars (depending on the mortgage) can cut your 30 year mortgage down to 23 or so years. Thats 7 years saved!
Making decisions that cost only a few hundred dollars here and a few hundred there can actually end up costing you years, because you need to work longer. Don’t get me wrong you may want to work until you die, maybe you would be bored if you didn’t. But work is a lot more enjoyable when you’re not relying on each paycheck, I can promise that.
We discussed FIRE and how they feel about money, what about for minimalists? They chose to live with only the things that are essential to their lives and that maximize happiness and enjoyment for the long term. They use their money exclusively for what they NEED as well as what they really LOVE. So, they are probably going to purchase one or two comfortable, slightly expensive jeans. But that’s all they will need for the next 8 years. They will save and spend the rest of their money on experiences, not things. They chose to live life to the fullest instead of living their lives with the purpose of buying more items.
Minimalism almost always leads to saving more money, or at least having more money to spend on brilliant experiences. They are no longer buying new clothes all the time. No longer replacing things when they get a few scratches. They have a car and treat it so well it lasts forever, and they probably are not upgrading any technology until its necessary. But this really depends on their values.
Minimalists detach themselves from their material positions. This can also transition into finance, into social media, into email, and into the people close to them. Everything in their life tends to be more deliberate. I believe that to be FIRE with an average income, you will probably need to also adopt some minimalist habits. This doesn’t mean you will need to become an extreme minimalist, but if you want to retire early and you’re not making hundreds of thousands per year, your spending needs to be cut back quite a bit and adopting minimalist traits is one of the easiest ways to cut spending. If you are a minimalist, you are probably also reaching FIRE quickly even if you don’t realize it, at least the FI in FIRE.
It’s important to note that when I say minimalist, I’m not talking about the hyped up social media minimalism. These people are mostly fake, and they are also getting rid of perfectly good things just to seem cool by only owning 10 $50 black t-shirts. If you are new to minimalism you don’t really need to get rid of much. You just need to stop buying new things that you don’t need. (de-cluttering is also shown to reduce stress and it saves lots of time cleaning as well as picking out an outfit)
The best way to achieve FIRE is to start off by first becoming a minimalist. Sell the excess items in your life, invest that cash. Downgrade your home/apartment, invest that cash. Get rid of your car payment and possibly downgrade your vehicle to something that is reliable and does its job well, invest the difference. Learn to invest your own money and invest the savings you would have spent on paying someone else to do it. Stop buying new clothing, invest. Stop eating out every day, cook, invest.
At first glance trying to achieve FIRE by using minimalism seems like adopting a lifestyle that really sucks. It sounds like you never have fun and do everything possible just to save a dime. From my experience the opposite happens. You start doing more things that you love; you no longer worry about material positions. You start to understand that the people who care most about you don’t care if your jeans are $20 or $250 and the people who do judge you about that probably shouldn’t be in your life to begin with. Your entire life will end up being based on just a few things, one of which is the bigger purpose of retiring at x years old (this could be 30, 40, 45 or whatever you decide), and you also start to focus on what really matters, which is the people in your life and the experiences you have with them.
Minimalism is becoming essential with what you bring into your life. Minimalist stop chasing material items to make them happy and focus on relationships. The goal of FIRE allows you to be more minimalist and feel good about it because each one will complement the other, allowing you to stay dedicated to both. Every dollar saved is you buying your future, you are deciding to put money in an account that will provide you with FREEDOM from working later in life. Maybe you want to work but at least you wont be forced to because of your debts. You are saving on expenses so that you can travel, or go to more concerts, or spend more time with your friends/children/significant other, etc.
Minimalism can lead to FIRE, and FIRE is achieved MUCH easier if you decide to take on attributes of minimalism.
These things are two in one. If you decide to do both, this can lead to a financially prosperous life that also will reduce stress. Save money to buy your future, reduce materialism in life, spend your time doing what you love.
Everyone should remember that going extreme on anything can usually cause equal harm as good. Being so frugal you no longer hang out with friends or do the hobbies you absolutely adore is probably not a good option. Also, throwing so much away that you’re the most minimalistic person in the world but your life is extremely uncomfortable may also not be a good option. You will need to work to find what works for you and nobody on social media can decide that for you.
Thanks so much for reading, I had a blast writing this post. Feel free to reach out to me with questions, I plan to write about my personal journey with become full FIRE and how I’ve used minimalism to achieve this.
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Nothing in this article is financial advice, it is just the observation that FIRE and minimalism go very well together.