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What even is F.I. or F.I.R.E ?

F.I/F.I.R.E is an acronym for 

Financially  Independent, & the R.E. bit being Retire Early.

You don’t have to have one for the other- but it’s likely that one really leads to the other. If you are really FI then you are likely no longer working- or more accurately, no longer being paid to work (volunteering your time perhaps instead). If you are really F.I- why would you continue to work? Well it maybe that actually you really enjoy it and could think of nothing else- 

What it’s not:

It is not eating lentils and beans, not spending a single penny on anything. If you want to live in that way, then go right ahead- but its not what the F.I.R.E movement is about. It is about cutting out the things that do not give you joy- it is about saving/having/investing money so that you can have more control of your life.

To be Financially independent

You need to have enough assets to sustain the lifestyle that you want- usually by income that comes from dividends or selling shares, or a buy to let property- the list is endless. How much are you going to need to be financially independent? – well that totally depends on how much you spend. This is why people tend to focus on saving money, as every £1 that you save, is less than you require in assets that produce this income. See this article for what you fire number is.

To Retire Early

You also need to have enough of an income to survive. Most people tend to retire at, or just before they get to state pension age. This is so that they have enough money, with the state pension private pensions & any other incomes that they have- which enables them not to have a full time job. Just because you don’t get your pension until much later on in your life, it doesn’t mean that you can’t retire early. What you need to do is bridge the gap between when you want to retire and your pension start. Read here on how to do this

First steps

  1. Do a budget. I’ve written more about how to do this here. The quick version is that you need to work out and understand both your income and outgoings. This is usually done on a monthly basis- but you could do this based on your pay period if that makes it easier for you (eg. you are paid weekly/4 weekly, rather than monthly). 
  2. Both stick to your budget and adjust it as required.
  3. Start investing in products that will return on a cumulative basis (rather than income)- these require no time/effort in order to benefit from compound interest.
  4. Reduce spending on items that bring you no joy/benefit- look at doing an exercise to see what subscriptions are worth it to you, and remove anything you define as not worth it. Remember- every £1 a year you don’t spend, is £25-30 you don’t have to have invested.

Not a sprint

Remember that it is not a sprint- do not get discouraged by comparing yourself to other people that are on the same journey. Focus on the goals that you have – use the budget on a monthly basis so you know where you are and make small changes. These small changes all add up, and by the time a year has passed, you should have made good progress and create good habits for yourself. 

Balance

Remember that this is all about creating a balanced budget/lifestyle for yourself. Sometimes you are going to spend more than expected, a larger spend on a holiday than normal for example- and this is totally ok. The idea of F.I/R.E is to create a budget that is normally followed- but a singular one of purchase isn’t going to push this down the road too much- it’s when this becomes a weekly/monthly purchase, that could push your F.I. date years away.

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