Across the world, more and more young professionals are focusing on the goal of achieving financial independence and retiring early, popularly known as FIRE, by rethinking their relationship with money.
“Hi there. If we haven’t met, my name is Mr. Money Mustache. I’m the freaky financial magician who retired along with a lovely wife at age 30 in order to start a family, as well as start living a great life. We did this on two normal salaries with no lottery winnings or Silicon Valley buyout windfalls…"
Now, before you dismiss these lines as fictional or fake, here’s something to pique your interest: this is an extract from a well-known blog (1) run by US-based Peter Adeney, who actually retired from his job as a software engineer in 2005 at age 30, albeit with enough money to last him and his family for a lifetime! He retired early to live a frugal, yet badass life!
So, how did Mr. Money Mustache do it?
Both he and his wife saved 50% or more of their incomes every month (at the time of their retirement, they had amassed nearly $600,000 in investments); they cut down on irrational spending; they never incurred debt; and they found cheaper substitutes for nearly everything. You can truly lead a life better than your current one—that could cost 50% to 75% less!
Interestingly, Peter is not the only one to have embraced this kind of lifestyle. Across the world, more and more young professionals are focusing on the goal of achieving financial independence and retiring early, popularly known as FIRE, by rethinking their relationship with money. There are forums (2), camps, and retreats (3) on FIRE, and there is also a FIRE subreddit (4) that has more than 400,000 subscribers!
One of the obvious reasons for people to be doing this is that they don’t wish to keep working till the age of 60.
To delve further into the principles behind FIRE, we spoke to a few millennials who are part of this movement. Read on to know how they are going about it!
Uddipta Ghosh, Digital Marketer, 31, Kolkata
Plans to retire by: 40
Targeted corpus: Rs. 3 crore in both liquid (shares, mutual funds, FDs) and digital assets (online businesses, blogs)
Tenets followed: Saving 60%-70% of monthly income; not owning a house or a car; eating out not more than 3-4 times a year
Plans after retiring early: Travelling the world; watching live FIFA World Cup matches; engaging in social work.
Pro-tip: Don’t fall into the EMI trap; don’t buy something simply because everyone around you is buying it.
“Life is not only about working day and night; there are so many other things that I wish to do when I am 40 or 50, without having to worry about money. And this is what propelled me to become a FIRE devotee. I started out by saving nearly 60%-70% of my income every month, and have been following this trend ever since. Approximately 85% of my investments are allocated towards mutual funds, while the rest are towards Public Provident Funds (PPFs) and fixed deposits.
My wife, Monisha, is supporting me in my efforts.
I took up the FIRE philosophy also because I don’t want to be a victim of lifestyle diseases; I have seen employees of many corporate organizations getting totally burned out by the time they are 45 or 50, which is really saddening. You sacrifice your health, your family life, and yet, you’re not happy.
However, it’s important to have a passive source of income once you retire. No matter how much you save, it’s never sufficient to take care of all your necessities; investments which are locked in for a long period of time help."
Shreyansh Jain, Business Analyst, 26, Delhi
Aims to retire by: 50
Targeted corpus: Rs. 2-3 crore in liquid assets
Tenets followed: Saving 35%-40% of monthly income; not owning a house or a car; never taking loans or using credit cards; minimizing meals eaten outside.
Plans after retiring early: Establishing a dog shelter; investing in small businesses.
Pro-tip: Don’t buy things that you don’t need; take public transport as much as you can; don’t opt for loans or credit cards; invest as soon as you are paid.
“The FIRE movement may have caught on recently, but I have been a firm believer in retiring early for quite some time now.
I don’t want to keep working forever because my job is very stressful. I want to be super healthy even when I am 55 or 60. Frankly, at my age, it’s not easy as it is sounds. So I try and save wherever I can. I take public transport, live in a small house so that I have to pay less rent, and make only one or two big purchases a year. I also don’t eat out as often as my peers.
It was my father who taught me to be careful about money. I would see him putting away a portion of his income every month before spending even a penny, and I do so, too. I set aside nearly 35%-40% of my salary towards PPFs, SIPs, and Unit-Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs). The good thing about ULIPs is that they provide investment as well as insurance benefits.
My advice to fellow FIRE followers would be to not lose hope and invest as much as they can. But, at the same time, don’t be too hard on yourself!"
Pardeep Goyal, blogger and content marketing consultant, 33, Chandigarh
Aims to retire by: 40
Targeted corpus: No such target
Tenets followed: Living in a rented house; investing heavily in term insurance, PPF, and digital assets.
Plans after retiring early: Engaging in community service; providing mentorship to small businesses; investing in the education and healthcare sectors.
Pro-tip: Invest in both digital and traditional banking instruments; find a passive source of income; opt for long-term investment plans; don’t invest in an asset unless you have full knowledge about it.
“My friends tease me by the name of ‘Kanjoos Baniya’. I acquired this moniker back in college because of my habit of saving money on every item that I purchase. But I don’t mind. I am proud of who I am today.
I don’t believe in retiring from a hectic job at the age of 60, only to die in a hospital a few years later. Instead, I believe in retiring early, with enough money for the purpose of community development. How will I achieve this?
I will never buy a house, simply because I don’t want to pay a hefty EMI every month. My wife, Neha, and I are very happy in the rented house that we live in. With this move, we have saved enough to fund our travel and other leisurely activities. We call this our own ‘financial freedom’.
I also learnt the importance of money when I failed at my startup in 2014 and lost all my savings. In 2015, I started a blog (5) called CashOverflow, where I regularly guide people on becoming financially independent. Neha is my business partner.
Term insurance plans, PPFs, and SIPs are my preferred modes of investment. I also have investments in a couple of websites and digital marketing assets."
If you are a FIRE enthusiast like Shreyansh or Pardeep, and are looking to get one step closer to your dream, you need to be an uber-saver. This means you have to save 50% or more of your income. Now, this isn’t impossible. If you closely track your spending, invest wisely in financial instruments like ULIPs, and rethink your relationship with money, you can become a die-hard FIRE adherent too!
If you think about it, a ULIP offers you the twin benefits of life insurance and savings at market-linked returns, as well as the flexibility to switch between your fund options. There are several insurers today like HDFC Life that enable you to invest in ULIPs. That’s not all. You can also enjoy tax benefits by opting for these policies.
Even if retiring early isn’t your thing, or if you’re in a job that pays peanuts, you can still take away a lot of practical tips from the FIRE lifestyle that’ll help you save and manage your money well.