There’s a community of people on the internet that I like to lurk on from time to time.
They are known as the FIRE community, which is basically a conveniently cool (though, not literally) acronym that stands for Financial Independence Retire Early.
These are people that essentially are living well within their means, and thus saving boatloads of money so that they can retire early (i.e. in their thirties or forties).
Effectively, these are people that want to actually enjoy their retirement while they’re at a relatively young age, presumably so they can do more hang gliding and less golfing.
All jokes aside, I admire these people.
It’s obvious that one of the cruxes of our society is the ability to delay gratification, especially when it comes to spending money (or worse, money that we don’t actually have).
And to know that there are actually people who are saving enough money to not have to work into their twilight years is quite impressive.
But I’m not gonna lie, I’m also very salty about this philosophy.
Maybe I’m just jealous?
Well yes, I’m definitely jealous.
I’m also often filled with excuses and a victim mindset when I think about FIRE.
“I live (and was born into) a place with one of the highest costs-of-living…”
“I own a business with all kinds of expenses a W2 employee would never understand…”
But there are also a few things about FIRE that I definitely don’t envy.
For one, it seems like a lot of people engaging in FIRE are unhappy with their current jobs and/or lifestyle.
Yes, this is good motivation to save like hell and get the fuck out…
But what if you don’t make it to 40? Or worse, what if you don’t make it to 30?
What if you die the day after you reach financial independence? Will it have all been worth it?
My personal financial path may be way slower than that of a FIRE practitioner, but I take comfort in knowing that I’m spending every day as if it could be my last.
This doesn’t mean I’m traveling the world, eating in fancy restaurants, and going to concerts every single day of the year. Obviously, I wouldn’t be able to afford a lifestyle like this unless there was a guarantee my life would be over in the very near future.
But this doesn’t mean that I will take each passing day for granted either.
While I’m doing my best to save as much money as possible, I’m not working towards FIRE.
Every day, I’m working towards making my life a little bit better.
I’m not slogging through the same shitty job just for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Instead, I’m using each passing day to figure out how I can not only make my work more fun and rewarding, but also how I can make my personal life more fun and rewarding.
In many ways, I feel like I’m already retired just for the simple fact that I mostly enjoy my work and I get to mostly choose how I spend my time.
And don’t get me wrong, I know that if I was on a FIRE path I’d be feeling even better than I already feel.
However, I still wouldn’t choose this path if it meant giving up the relative freedom and flexibility in my day-to-day.
Life is far too unpredictable for that kind of risk, $30k emergency fund or not.