Is the FIRE Community Full Of Hypocrites?

It’s interesting how much controversy the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement seems to cause in our society.  Personally, I find it a fascinating topic and view the discussion generated by the FIRE community as valuable to everyone working toward retirement, whether they’re in pursuit of early or traditional retirement.  I’m encouraged by the FIRE community and feel that ANYTHING that makes more people aware of the need to save for their retirement is a good thing. 

For the record, I’m a fan of FIRE.  

However, is it right to accept the movement without question, or should we take some time to think comprehensively about FIRE and attempt to determine if there are some “gaps” in the strategy which warrant discussion?  It’s always good to question things, so today we’re going to do just that.  We’re still a land of Free Speech, and we’d be wise to leverage that Freedom for a more complex discussion around important issues.  Money and Retirement are certainly important issues. 

So…

Let’s have some fun.  Let’s challenge ourselves.  Let’s learn to keep our minds open.

Let’s look for gaps in the FIRE movement.

Is the FIRE community hypocritical? Today, we look at 4 areas where it may be wise to question the FIRE movement. Click To Tweet

FIRE Community hypocrites

I recently had one of the most comprehensive comments I’ve ever received on this blog.  As you’ve likely guessed, it was regarding the FIRE movement.  Given the quality of the comment, I’m dedicating this post to answering the issues raised.  

Phil raises the questions about FIRE respectfully and they deserve a thoughtful response. Is FIRE hypocritical? Today, my thoughts... Click To Tweet

Regardless of where you are on your journey to retirement, I trust you’ll find some value in the discussion.


Is the FIRE Community Full Of Hypocrites?

The comment which generated this post was in response to my article titled “What the FIRE Movement Is All About – In One Word”.  The reader, Phil, prefaced his comment with a generally favorable view of the FIRE movement, including a few comments I’ve summarized below:

  • Darrow Kirkpatrick and others ” have had a big and, largely, positive impact for me and my family”.
  • “To be clear, I find nothing wrong with trying to improve people’s financial literacy and promote a culture of frugality.”

However, Phil soon moves into the “meat” of his comment with this statement:

“…After being on my own FIRE journey for 4+ years, I have developed some serious reservations about what I am reading these days…”  Phil

Turns out that Phil has been a member of the FIRE community for 4 years!  My curiosity peaked as I continued to read his words.  Here’s a member of our community, and he’s raising some questions.  “Hmmm, this could be interesting”, I thought as I continued to read his words.

What followed was this statement,

However, FIRE bloggers are ignoring some serious issues with their collective community and their message. Click To Tweet

Phil follows this claim by writing 4 well thought out concerns about the FIRE movement.  Given his tone, I took his comments seriously, and have spent some time thinking about the issues he’s raised. 

I challenge you to do the same.


Is the FIRE Community hypocritical?

4 Questions About FIRE

Phil’s comment, respectfully raised, has merit.  In an effort to look more critically at the FIRE movement the points he makes deserve to be considered.  In our culture of increasing “Political Correctness”, it bothers me that folks aren’t open to exploring ideas which contradict with their own. Personally, I love to look at arguments that don’t fit the conventional narrative.  What I like in particular about Phil’s arguments is that he has been a self-professed member of the FIRE community for 4+ years.  In full transparency, I consider myself a member of the FIRE community, having retired at a (by society’s standards) relatively young age of 55, though “older” than most in the world of FIRE.

If Phil has questions, perhaps others do as well.  Let’s air it out.  Let’s look for gaps.  Let’s discuss the issues. 

Arguments which contradict our narrative make us think. Thinking Is Good. Challenge your brain, and learn to think through alternative ideas. Click To Tweet

Today, I’m going to look objectively at the 4 questions Phil raises. 

My approach for each question will be the same:

  • Phil’s Comment: I will copy each of the issues Phil’s raised verbatim from his comment.
  • What’s The Point? I will summarize what I believe are the main points raised by Phil “What’s The Point”.
  • My Thoughts: I will provide my thoughts on the topic raised.
  • Subjective Score:  Where I’ll rate my agreement with the validity of the comment (100% = Total Agreement)

With that, let’s challenge our brains…


1. We Should Be Skeptical Of FIRE Bloggers

Phil’s comment:

“FIRE bloggers are “lifestyle influencers,” and merit the same level of skepticism as anyone in this game. Most FIRE-bloggers monetize their blogs and so are sellers of a product, a product that should be evaluated objectively. I’m sorry, but the general defense that FIRE can be anything you want it is not accurate. Every single FIRE-blogger is selling the idea that financial independence and a lifestyle of much less work or no work will improve your happiness significantly. The reality is that this may not be true for everyone. I applaud Chris Mamula, Sam Dogen, Joe Udo and others who have written about the downsides of this lifestyle – depression and loss of purpose. JD Roth has been willing to write about the down-side of the FIRE-blog community and people should read his posts.

Unfortunately, many other bloggers refuse to acknowledge this. The fact is that most research into the psychology of happiness in the past several decades has shown that people are actually more happy when producing than when consuming. The simple fact is that remaining productive is difficult for many people outside the context of a standard career. FIRE bloggers should talk more openly about this.”

What’s The Point? Phil raises three issues in his first comment:

  1. We should be skeptical of the motives of FIRE-bloggers who are attempting to monetize.
  2. FIRE-bloggers promote the idea that less work will improve your happiness, it may not be a reality.
  3. Research indicates that people are happier when productive, and that may be harder outside a career.

My Thoughts:  In my view, the most valid point raised is the question of happiness after FIRE is achieved (I also agree we should always be skeptical of folks trying to “sell us something”, but don’t see that as a major flaw in the FIRE movement.  I think it’s also fair to mention that there are likely more FIRE followers who don’t blog than do.  While this comment questions the blogging element of FIRE, it’s not fair to throw the non-bloggers under the same bus). 

But, more importantly, on to the “happiness” question:

As I was moving toward retirement, I did a lot of research on the topic of happiness after retirement, which I summarized in my post “Will Retirement Be Depressing”. For the record, I agree with Phil that this element of early retirement is not covered to the extent that it should be.  Having said that, I also provide some suggestions on how to ensure you’ll avoid some of the traps that cause depression in retirement in the post mentioned above.  I’ve implemented those steps, and I’ve found my retirement to be anything but depressing.  I agree more should be written about the topic, and agree with Phil that this is a valid point regarding the FIRE movement.  Too many folks focus on the financial side of early retirement, but true happiness requires an equal (or greater) focus on the “non-financial” aspects of retirement.  I suspect we’ll see a natural shift as more of the FIRE bloggers achieve RE.

(For the record, this is why I’ve been writing a larger % of my posts about the “soft” side of retirement.  Now that I’m in retirement, I realize the importance of the non-financial topics in achieving a great retirement.  I also realize it’s not covered to the same extent as the financial side, so I’m doing my part to rectify the situation.)

Subjective Score: 80%   Skepticism is good, and there should be more written about the “softer” side of happiness post-RE.


2. FIRE As A Marketing Scheme

Phil’s Comment:

FIRE bloggers are too much like multi-tiered marketing sales people.

Blogger: “You should save a lot of money to retire early.”
Reader: “Why?”
Blogger: “It will give you freedom to pursue more creative pursuits.”
Reader: “Like what?”
Blogger: “Blogging. Take my course!”

Not everyone wants to be a lifestyle influencer. Not everyone has a creative bent that they will be able to finally express when free from a job. FIRE bloggers need to discuss the reality of finding productive outlets for people who are not FIRE bloggers.

What’s The Point? Phil argues that FIRE bloggers don’t broaden the discussion on post-FIRE productivity options beyond the common approach of monetizing a blog (or creating a course).  FIRE bloggers should dedicate more page space to discussing alternative outlets.

My Thoughts: I’d frame this issue more as a question of how applicable some of the FIRE blogger advice is to folks who don’t blog, especially as it relates to options around finding an outlet which provides productivity and joy after early retirement.  I’ve written extensively on the topic, and I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned anything about monetizing a blog.  Perhaps I’m unique, but in my 4 years of blogging, I’ve always tried to write with the reader in mind, and the vast majority of my readers don’t blog.  So, I write about ways of “normal” people to find a Purpose after retirement.  In 5 Keys To A Great Retirement, I provide a summary of the top 5 keys from two decades of retirement research, none of which focus on being a lifestyle influencer.  For most folks, however, there are almost unlimited options to find a Purpose.  I agree with Phil on the importance of the topic, but I also understand that most bloggers write about what they know.  I don’t have a major issue with this one, but I do agree on the importance of stressing wider options which apply to a greater audience.   

Subjective Score: 50% I agree that we would benefit if a higher percentage of FIRE blogger content focused on “finding productive outlets for people who are not FIRE bloggers”, but I disagree that this “plague” affects all bloggers.  Many bloggers discuss the post-FIRE lifestyle more holistically and do not warrant the “multi-scheme marketing” label.


3. FIRE Is An Escape From Reality

Phil’s Comment:

Many young people who latch on to FIRE really just need to get some coping skills. It is painful to read the blogs of the youngest bloggers and Redditors who have some dream of living off of a half-million dollars for the rest of their lives by “embracing frugality.” Work is hard. Building a career is hard. Raising a family and taking on the financial commitment it requires is hard. You know what else is hard? EVERYTHING WORTH DOING.

Simply put, for too many, FIRE is running from the harsh world to the pleasant, but fantastical dream of complete freedom. There is no such thing. To paraphase my favorite line in my favorite movie: “Life is pain, snowflakes. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

What’s The Point? Phil argues that some FIRE advocates pursue the dream as an escape from reality, and are unwilling to endure the pain required to achieve true success.

My Thoughts: I hate “snowflakes” as much as anyone, and detest the idea of “safe places” creeping into our University system.  That said, I don’t think this argument is valid for the legitimate FIRE community.  If there’s ANYONE who appreciates the rewards of sacrifice and hard work, it’s someone who’s saving 50%+ of their income in order to achieve the dream of FI.  In fact, I would argue that they’re a better example of hard work and sacrifice than someone who is following a more traditional pursuit to retirement, given their willingness to voluntarily make the extreme sacrifices required to achieve early retirement.  I suspect there are some “illegitimate FIRE followers” who are fair to criticize, but I see that as a minority percentage of the FIRE community as a whole.

Subjective Score: 10% I argue that legitimate FIRE advocates are a great example of sacrifice and pain for a longer-term goal.  I’ll maintain the 10% rating for those “illegitimate” members of the FIRE community who view the dream of early retirement as an escape but aren’t willing to make the required sacrifices.  It’s a minority of FIRE population, in my view.


Does FIRE mean early retirement?

4. FIRE Folks Don’t Really Retire

Phil’s Comment:

Very few FIRE bloggers actually live off of their passive income. Here is my biggest pet-peeve. FIRE bloggers are really people with second-careers, who have chosen lifestyle-influencing as that career. Sam Dogen appears to make six figures from his blog. Joe Udo is making $60k per year now. Montana Money Adventures just fessed up that she makes about $70k per year “consulting” and her husband has a military pension that puts her household income over six figures. Even Justin at Root of Good covers a good chunk of his meager expenses with income from his blog and consulting. You know what these people are: part-time social influencers. They are not retired. They are entrepreneurs in the competitive and demanding field of social media content. Don’t get me started with MMM, who makes almost a half-million dollars a year from his blog.

Just tell the truth. No sane person seems to retire in their 30s or 40s without some income. Yes, income. Not assets, but INCOME. A pension, a side hustle, a blog, some rental properties, whatever. Human nature seems to strongly favor income over capital appreciation. I know of one FIRE blogging couple who is actually not hard into a second career as a for-profit lifestyle influencer – “Where We Be.” They seem to actually walk the walk, but they appear to be a very rare exception to the rule.

And here’s the thing – income takes work, with only one known exception – passive income from a diversified portfolio of investments. Right now, the most one could hope for would be in the range of 2% between the current S&P dividend yield and interest rates. That is half of the revered 4% rule. So, if you really want the ideal FIRE lifestyle of worry free passive income, and given the behavior of FIRE bloggers who indicate with their actions that “worry free” means not drawing down on a the principal of a portfolio, then be prepared to save 50x your current annual spending needs.

What’s The Point? Phil’s “biggest pet-peeve” is that folks in the FIRE community don’t really “retire”, but rather pursue second careers, often as “part-time social influencers”.  As such, they are not retired.

My Thoughts: It is from this comment that I derived the title of today’s post, and Phil’s comment reflects a common criticism of the FIRE community.  Many view the FIRE Community as being hypocritical, given the reality that “RE” often includes some form of (voluntary) work. I think the argument misses a very important point:

The true value in achieving FIRE is the elimination of mandatory work. Click To Tweet

I addressed this exact issue in the post on which Phil left his comment (What The FIRE Movement Is All About – In One Word), and paste below my statement, verbatim, from that post.  I continue to stand by the statement today:

Note:  There’s some debate in the community on the meaning of the “RE” part of FIRE, given that many FIRE advocates continue to “work” after they “Retire”.  Fair enough.  What’s important, however, is that achieving Financial Independence allows folks the freedom to do whatever they wish with their time.  If that means continuing to work on things they enjoy, instead of pursuing a traditional Job for money, then I say “More Power To Them!”.  Perhaps, as suggested by Dr. McFrugal in a comment on this post from FIideas, we should redefine RE as: 

Recreational Employment.

I recently read an excellent post on this topic from a very good FIRE blogger Financial 180 titled “FI Without RE“, which won a CampFireFinance award.  The article is worth a read, but most relevant for today’s post is this line from the Conclusion in the post:

“Because FI isn’t about retirement. It never wasIt’s about freedom.”  FI180

Subjective Score: 20% I think this argument misses the true benefit of FIRE, the Freedom From Mandatory Work.  Given that many in the FIRE community also argue about the moniker, there is some validity to the point that “continuing to work” after “RE” is confusing to the population at large and leads some to consider the FIRE Community to be “full of hypocrites”, hence my 20% score to the comment.  For those who spend a lot of time in the FIRE community blogosphere, there grows an understanding of what “RE” is all about, and there’s acceptance of those who CHOOSE to work when, in reality, they could CHOOSE not to.  That’s a huge difference from the majority of folks who live a life without the freedom to choose.  My BFF (wink) Steve at ThinkSaveRetire makes frequent mention of the “Retirement Police”, a joking reference many in the FIRE community have adopted as a term to summarize this criticism.


Final Thoughts

Phil ends his comment with the following paragraph:

The FIRE community needs to address these issues. Bloggers need to be more transparent with their readers / customers. Bloggers are selling a product and they should accountable for the accuracy of their claims. Many of them have good intentions, but good intentions do not guarantee good results. People with problems and challenges come across your blogs, read your ideas and make life decisions based on what they find. Hopefully, FIRE bloggers will work harder to present the positives and negatives

Subjective Score: 40% If you average the subjective scores on each of the 4 issues raised, you’ll come up with 40%.  I think that’s a reasonable overall score for the questions about the FIRE Community raised in Phil’s comment.  He did a nice job with his summary comment above, and I think we’d all be wise to spend some time in self-reflection to consider how we can continually improve the messaging of what the FIRE philosophy is all about. 


Conclusion

While you may think this post was about questioning whether The FIRE Community is Full of Hypocrites, I had a more sinister motive behind my words.  My real challenge to you today is to avoid the pervasive reaction of disagreement so prevalent in our society today. 

If your initial reaction on reading the title of this post was to feel an escalation of blood pressure and an involuntary moment of rage, this conclusion is particularly important for you. 

If you remember nothing else from this post, remember that involuntary reaction.

Learn to stop and think before you react to something you disagree with.

If nothing else, learn to challenge yourself to practice analytical thinking versus our increasingly normal reaction of rejecting alternative thought before we’ve taken time to consider if the alternative point of view has merit. 

Is the FIRE community full of hypocrites?  No.  There are elements which confuse the general public, but I think it’s unfair to label the FIRE movement as hypocritical.  Most FIRE folks that I know are honest hard working people who are simply trying to take an aggressive approach in life to build more Freedom.

Does the FIRE community have room for improvement?  Sure.

Then again, Don’t We All?

#NeverStopImproving

119 comments

  1. In our culture of increasing “Political Correctness”, it bothers me that folks aren’t open to exploring ideas which contradict with their own.

    That kind of sums it all up, and yes we saw that this year in the FIRE community and it was ugly. What’s more problematic is that we’re seeing it increase rapidly in society in general. It’s scary where this trend of shutting down speech that people don’t agree with and cyber-mobbing the perceived offender will go.

    To the other points, perhaps the reader doesn’t read enough FIRE blogs. All of his complaints have been written about and fessed up to by bloggers. Not all bloggers of course, but as you point out the FIRE movement is much bigger than the small % blogging about it. He suffers from “exposure bias” since he’s only seeing stuff that’s being blogged about.

    Lastly, society in general is full of hypocrites, especially in America. Most Americans believe in human-caused global warming but the #1 selling vehicle in America is the horribly gas-wasting Ford F150 and SUVs are so popular that Ford and Chevy are stopping the production of sedans. We say one thing but behave in another way.

    1. we saw that this year in the FIRE community and it was ugly”

      It was, indeed, Dave, and it was a primary motive for my post. One of the things I used to love about our community was that it was the last bastian of free thought in our increasingly polarized society. It saddens me that it’s no longer the case, as the flaming reaction to recent controversial posts so blatantly illustrates.

      Hopefully, a few folks will think as they read my conclusion, and take time to consider differing views. Our world needs more of that, and less of the ugly and hurtful knee-jerk reactions.

      1. I’m coming in late here but wanted to mention something based on the “polarised society” comment. We have always been polarised. It has just been over time we are more influenced by those outside our immediate location. Here I mean connections like friends and family who are close to us geographically. Where we are today is natural progression of having more information, good and bad, at our disposal. And with that information comes more exposure. Radio came about in 1920s. TV in 1950s. Internet came about in the 1990’s. We could throw in printing press, newspapers, etc but the idea here is that as we have become a smaller planet by communications reaching us from broader and broader geography. With that comes the exposure to the information, opinions, and views. We are more connected but more separated than ever due to this single phenomenon. We are exposed to more people who share our views and that strengthens our position. With that come more reluctance to accept another position. Are there any FIRE community members over 65? How many FIRE community members are under 40? 30? Someone who has grown up with the Internet and it’s “connectedness” has been influenced by it’s ability to bring us together is some ways and apart in others. The FIRE community is affected by this just like every other community. Our opinions are strengthened by group mentality and it’s natural to defend that position. We are in fact dealing with cultural change versus a social change. It is cultural because a specific group has been exposed to the world via the Internet and is now influenced by that broadness. This is a great thing in most cases, broadening one’s understanding, but without guidance by those who lives have had struggles, that broadening goes unchecked and is not based on the reality of multifaceted experiences that are broad in scope.

        1. Good comment but I believe you may be getting cause and effect wrong.

          May I suggest reading a book on “Socionomics” to understand the underlying principles on how society / economy / life flows from times of convergence to times of conflict and back. These cycles will never end and understanding them and where we are right now will greatly help one take an objective view and prepare oneself for what may come.

    2. You said it perfectly Dave. Couldn’t have written a better response myself. I’ll add that people who criticize FIRE always seem to have a very narrow or completely misinformed view of the community.

      Fritz, you did a great job of going through the commenter’s questions in detail and giving a good, fair response to each.

      I agree with you that we need to be able to hear different viewpoints without getting our hackles up. This is how we grow and improve as humans—by being open to new information.

    3. Dave, I respectfully can’t let your comment about hypocrisy “especially in America” sit without a response. Using the dictionary defintion of hypocrisy, “a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not : behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel”, I’m not sure you could prove your claim about Americans. Too easy to take a swipe at Americans. Your example is a good one, but I doubt American’s have pulled ahead of other groups of humans in the area of hypocrisy.

      It appears to me to be a human condition, due to the way our brains evolved.

      It’s a tiny detail, and please don’t consider it an attack. Picture the two of us sitting at the coffee shop and I’m agreeing with you on most everyhing you say, except your Americans comment catching me as wrong. We calmly discuss and listen and either agree or agree to disagree, and we keep happily chatting none-the-less.

      1. Ha! First off this is the furthest thing from an attack I can imagine. Just FYI, I don’t play those games of defensiveness and trying to shut down others opinions.

        You’re 100% correct. My saying ‘Americans’ wasn’t intended to assert we’re the only ones guilty of this behavior. But with the F150 example, which is such low-hanging fruit and easy to use, it’s an American thing. So I picked the fruit.

        Hypocritical behavior I’m sure transcends all or most cultures but with the sheer amount of “stuff” we in the first world consume per capita and our massive carbon footprints versus a poor person in Africa, saying we in the first world are concerned about climate change is really fertile ground to show hypocrisy. Others may see it differently and that’s okay too.

  2. I published a post on Monday all about why we stopped chasing FIRE in exchange for a happier life.

    I completely agree with the observations made by your reader. Retirement means not working and there are a lot of FIRE bloggers making money after leaving their corporate cubes from their now entrepreneurial venture.

    Selling the dream is fine as long as you’re doing it openly and honestly. Don’t say you’re retired or that you FIREd if you’re still earning income.

    It’s just not semantics. Words mean things and they’re important.

    Lisa @ Mad Money Monster

    1. I just popped over to your blog and read your post. Captures a lot of my thinking at this stage of my life. Good to see the alternative viewpoints popping up.

  3. Yes, society in general is full of hypocrites. Not just in the FIRE community…everywhere. The eco guys that ditched plastic straws but drive big trucks and keep their A/C blasting at home. The fitness moms that go to the gym but they just read People on a 0.1 speed treadmill. The list goes on.

    Phil makes valid points for sure and they can be debated. Yesterday USA Today posted an article on Retiring Early / FIRE and it you read the comments…get your popcorn ready because it’s fabulous entertainment.

    I FIREd in 2015 at 36 before I even knew about FIRE, MMM, and the likes. I did not follow “influencers” and I don’t have a money-making blog. Maybe a 30-40% market crash will estinguish the FIRE…

    1. Hypocrisy Lives! Sad, but true. I saw the USA Today article, but didn’t get to the comments. Time to make some popcorn…

      Finally, I agree that it will be very interesting to see what impact the next Bear Market has on the FIRE movement. It will come, and it will be fascinating to watch.

  4. As any community gets larger , criticisms are likely to increase. The bottom line for me is that Physician on Fire and the White Coat Investor were crucial in giving me the confidence that I didn’t have to die with a drill in my hand. I also read Darrow Kirkpatrick. Their influence help me sell my dental practice after 25 years and enjoy life. They all changed me from being a miserable workaholic owner/DDS into a very happy and very part time employee public health dentist.

    1. I love your bottom line. Find the bloggers that most resonate with where you are in life, and apply the lessons to your own life in a way that makes sense to you. Done well, we can all move “from being a miserable workaholic”….into…being very happy. That’s what it’s all about.

    2. WHAT SHE SAID! I have taken inspiration from all these FIRE authors. Fritz is particularly helpful in giving a template to follow (5 years out, etc.) When I discovered I had crossed the retirement thresh hold (in my case, 20 years in meant I had 50% in retirement benefits), I realized it was “OK” to think I could retire “someday,” maybe even “soon.” So I started to really think about what my life could be like on the other side of that divide. Getting rid of the “divorce debt” was an obvious goal.

      Thank you Fritz, and the other bloggers for showing me it could be done. I probably won’t live out of suitcase in Portugal, but now I know I could… if that were my dream.

  5. As you know, my husband recently wrote an epic discussion-worthy post, which the mob of ugliness feasted on. Interestingly, your BFF was the first to comment saying how he LOVED the post. AND tweeted about it immediately saying something to the effect of “If you read only one post today, this is THE ONE to read”. And then he folded like a cheap camera when Tanja Hester called him out on Twitter saying she was saddened and disappointed by people she thought she knew. So then, he deleted his tweet which praised my husband. And do you know what my husband did? He contacted Steve and told him he’d remove Steve’s comment from our blog so that Steve would receive no further flak. Steve didn’t even ask, but that’s my husband, taking other people’s feelings into account. But to the mob out there, I’m married to a vile, disgusting Nazi.

    Aside from you and one or two others I no longer have the stomach for the PF community. It nauseates me.

    1. i watched all that crap unfold and just took mental note, mrs. g. i really didn’t like that big reversal when called out by the den mother. i just don’t like self appointed “leaders” who think they’re making rules for everyone to follow. be your own arbiter i say. don’t let anyone tell you what to think or what to write or even who to befriend.

      1. This guy doesn’t bow down at the throne of any queen. I’ve always done my thinking for myself, and I always will. “Be your own arbiter”, indeed! Let’s hope more folks learn the value of free thinking and analytical thought instead of following the whims of social media and it’s relentless pressure to conform. One of the very core principles of our great country is the value of freedom. Don’t sacrifice that great gift for the worthless gain of popularity. Life’s not worth that, and never will be.

        1. I see a weird double standard here, Fritz.

          Why is it when someone reads a post that they find genuinely offensive, with parts that sure seem xenophobic and borderline racist & sexist, why is that post “free thinking and analytical thought” but the criticism of that post not classified as such?

          Why do we put the original post under the mantle of freedom, one of our country’s core principles, but the free speech response to that is somehow mob mentality, driven by a pressure to conform?

          Why isn’t my speech the result of free thought?

          Seems like some people sure want the ability to say whatever they want, but don’t like when others have things to say in response.

          1. Mr. G welcomes people challenging and yes, even attacking his ideas. Attacking him? Not so much. Huge difference between free thought and a free-for-all bashing of a person.

            My husband will say “I think you’re wrong and here’s why”. If you explain why he might even change his mind. But he will never call you names. Or say you have no value and you’re a terrible person. That’s the difference. The mob just wanted to shut him down, write him off, and treat him like scum. They had no interest in discussion, only attack. They went out of their way to “archive” his post which we didn’t understand until someone explained it’s a way to keep viewers away from your site while allowing people to read the post and grow the mob. So they could hate on it and on him among themselves. Pat themselves on the back for being virtuous. Maybe Tanja will now say hello to them at FinCon.

          2. You’re wrong DBF. I relish feedback, especially if it challenges my viewpoints. And I don’t mind if my detractors call me a sexist, homophobe, racist, Nazi. All’s fair in love, war, and blogging. I’m just not a Twitter guy when it comes to debate. The character limitations kind of put the kibosh on a nuanced discussion. But I love debate in the comments section and in rebuttal posts (e.g., Matt’s awesome response to my manifesto over at Optimize Your Life). So I’d love to hear your feedback, DBF. And if you show me where I’m wrong, I’ll gladly make the correction and publicly praise you. I might be a sexist, homophobe, racist, Nazi, but I’m first and foremost an honorable blogger. Peace.

            P.S. I do think the archive thing was kind of cowardly. Why not just confront me openly and directly? Why the back channels?

          3. I heard Mr Groovy interviewed on Countdown to Fi’s podcast and he seemed like a good, down to earth guy. Nice New York accent too.

            I’m a left leaning Democrat and I find Tanya and her crew a bit too much to take. Not to get too political but I actually think that public backlash to that type of behavior is why we ended up with a guy like Trump in the White House.

          4. The problem is, you’re part of the problem DBF. You are part of the bully mob on Twitter.

            And Tanja telling what to do and telling FIRE bloggers to be more transparent while she herself never reveals her numbers is hilarious.

            No wonder why she has issues.

          5. This response is for the Groovies, not DBF, but the replies don’t go down enough levels.

            First off, I’m fundamentally sad at how little you all think of your fellow bloggers. As much as I might love to have an army of minions, that is not how this goes, and I don’t have anyone at my behest to go do whatever you might be imagining is happening. I certainly had no part, nor do I know anyone who did, in archiving your post. I didn’t know that was a thing. But moreover, people are plenty capable of forming their own opinions, and there was enough in your post to make a lot of people feel offended on their own. You literally said exactly that in the first line. Frankly, I found many of your ideas ignorant and hurtful, including the ones that were obviously directed straight at me, even though we’ve never actually interacted, and I have no clue the source of your grudge. And many defied logic, like the idea that some of us think that someone’s starting point determines their endpoint. If that were true, why bother writing a blog and a book? Obviously I think people can improve their circumstances. I didn’t write a response because I don’t think that you are honestly open to debate, you were just stirring the pot. I wrote one tweet that didn’t even tag you that condemned the ignorant ideas in the post, and that is it. You may imagine some grand conspiracy, but there is none. I hope you’ll spend your energy focusing on other things moving forward because I don’t think your imagination is serving you well.

    2. Mrs. G… You and the Mister are two of the most wonderful kind hearted people I know. To think people attacked you over ideas and opinions sickens me. They obviously have never taken the time to get to know you. Much love and support from the N. GA area! 😊

      1. Thank you so much Jackie. Fritz is an amazing man but he is also a very lucky man to have you for a wife. Your love for people and dogs warms my heart. We’re blessed to call you both friends.

          1. This is a response to Tonja.

            It was easy to see that Steve retracted his tweet in direct response to you. You don’t bash. You just state your moral position, often, and the cool people follow you. You pleasantly point out the “incorrect” protocols others use, and the “incorrect” ways they think, and nicely chide them for not being more like you. It’s a great tactic that works for you. “I hope you’ll spend your energy focusing on other things moving forward because I don’t think your imagination is serving you well.“ Perfect example.

            If you looked at the 113 comments on my husband’s post you would know he is open to discussion — or the many comments he made in Matt’s rebuttal post. So that’s nonsense. You just don’t like the way he thinks and that’s fine. Yes, he stirred the pot a bit but that’s because he gets bored with the same old FI speak. But that was not his motive in writing the post.

            Saying something is ignorant isn’t an argument. If you would comment on the post and prove your point, my husband will gladly admit he was wrong. And I’m not sure what made you conclude any of the content was directed at you. While working on the post for a few months, and discussing it with me, your name never came up. We don’t follow you on Twitter and haven’t been to your blog in the last three years.

            Fritz, thank you for giving me an opening to speak. Watching a mob bash my husband and say cruel things about him for months has not been fun. (Tonja I’m not saying you’re a basher, but you indeed know exactly what you’re doing with your platform). About a dozen people we’ve either met in person, talked with, been to their home — some even stayed several nights in our home — none of them so much as reached out to see if Mr. Groovy was OK during all this. That’s my biggest disappointment. You find out who your friends are when they drop you like a hot potato without a word.

    3. Mrs G!! Thank you SOOO much for stopping by. The reaction to Mr. G’s post was a primary motivation behind my writing of this post. It sickens me that our “once friendly and supportive” community has become so divisive. For the first several years of my blog, I was constantly amazed at the love and support ALL fellow bloggers had for each other. We realized we were all writing about PERSONAL finance, and we supported differing opinions.

      Clearly, something significant changed in the past year, and NOT for the good. The reaction you and Mr. G experienced was shocking, and awful, and your nauseated stomach is entirely justified. While we were once an idyllic island of support and discussion in an increasingly divisive culture, I’m afraid our little island has been submerged by the polluted waves of the world.

      I doubt my words will change much, but I was hoping to build a few sandbags around the island with my “Conclusion”. Regardless of where our society goes, we should always be able to count on our friends. You know you can always count on me. That’s what friends are for, and political disagreement should never break that all-important bond.

      1. I didn’t like what I saw either Mrs. G and reached out to the hubby but no response. 🙁 Anyway, one of my favorite authors/speakers is Brene Brown, and in “Braving the Wilderness,” she wrote about this mentality that people nowadays are in this mindset of “if you are not with us, you’re against us.” Like, there is no gray area or anything. You CAN’T be a gun owner and also NOT support the NRA, for example. You can’t be a meat-eater and then say you are compassionate about the treatment of animals. And that nature of social media fuels the firestorm (or sometimes shitstorm). Here is my thought. If you don’t like what you are reading or a “moment” you are following, then stop. If you are doubtful or have reservations, that’s OK too. It’s OK to questions things and think about how a specific message applies to you. Have an independent thought! No one is holding a gun to anyone’s head and forcing the fire movement upon anyone. Great article! These days I take everything with a grain of salt. My interests vary beyond FIRE or even money talk in general. I’m much happier that way!

        1. Crap, I love animals, but I eat meat. #IAmDoomed

          Wait, wait, wait. Did you say we’re free to choose to NOT read something if we don’t like it? Wow, sounds a lot like Freedom. I’ll take mine with that grain of salt, please. Thanks for stopping by, Tonya!

        2. Great comment Tonya, I also love Brene Brown’s books! I would urge everyone to read “The Coddling of the American Mind” by Jonathan Haidt to understand where this bizarre call-out culture that wants to stifle other people’s opinions comes from. You’re correct that social media is uniquely designed to fuel it and spread it. It’s sad.

        3. Thanks for reaching out to Mr. G, Tonya. I can assure you he missed your email or he most certainly would have responded since he has great respect and fondness for you.

        4. You don’t know how happy I am to hear this. A lot of people reached out but your missive sadly got lost in the shitstorm. I apologize. Who knew the scribblings of an obscure blogger could cause such rancor? But in all seriousness, thank you. This made my day.

      2. My opinion is that things changed late last year when Suze Orman voiced her polarizing opinion regarding FIRE on Paula Pant’s Afford Anything podcast. That’s when I started to see the tide turn and the claws come out.

      3. There’s so much hate from Tanja and her angry mom. It’s like they wake up every morning angry at the world and think everybody is offending them.

        Sad! If you look at all their backgrounds, they all have some serious personal, mental, or financial issues. This manifests in jealousy where they project all their problems unto others can can’t debate with insulting.

    4. Can you link to the blog post you’re referencing? I’d like to read it. I am late to the game but glad I missed the ugliness. I agree with what you’re saying – when I got involved in this movement it was great and now it’s just been exploited and sullied. I guess we have to take the good with the bad, and sort the wheat from the chaff (and there is a lot more chaff now). Lots of nastiness, and most of it tall poppy syndrome.

    5. Two things you need to know about Tanja Hester:

      1) She worked on the Democratic presidential campaign and is a super feminist for Hillary. When Hillary lost, Tanja was gutted and pushed out of her profession bc she knew she had failed and would be useless for another 4 years. She harbors a tremendous amount of anger and hate for any blogger who leans right.

      2) Tanja has a disability. She won’t say exactly what, but it is probably both mental and physical. This makes her volatile in temperament, again causing her to lash out at others. Wish she would just come out and admit her problems.

      Her failure, insecurity, and mental instability is why she is so divisive and a very unpleasant person.

      1. Fritz – So I hope you are going to remove ad hominem attacks on people because it’s neither fair nor constructive. Maybe you want to disagree with Tanja but it’s not fair to attack people based on information made up inside your own head. Tanja is one of the few people who has been willing to propose how we can actually make the world a better place because of our work optional lifestyles. Those ways are including, but not limited to: opening up the conversation and letting folks other than white males have an opinion, calling out the ableist bias contained in a lot of the prescriptive lifestyle suggestions like “ride your bike everywhere” and “do all your own home improvements” (one that convicted me on a very deep level – I hadn’t realized how deep my bias was in that respect), and even something as practical as carefully considering the healthcare system we have in our country and maybe using our votes to make some important changes and not have health insurance attached to our employment. Many in the blogging community are afraid to touch anything that may rock the boat and lose some page views. Those are not right or left issues. They are just issues, some of which have existential implications (like healthcare). It’s pretty clear to me that Tanja has lived a life of integrity and has contributed greatly to our community. If she pisses you off or offends you in some way, just leave it at that and don’t read her book or her blog instead of attacking in a sophomoric fashion. If she were a white male former coder, would you have the biases against her?

      2. Lol. You’re 0 for 2 here. Did not work for Hillary’s campaign or have anything to do with it. And I’ve talked about my condition plenty in extremely public places: https://nypost.com/2019/02/09/how-i-retired-at-38-and-you-can-too/. But go on with your “facts.”

        Fritz, you cool with these attacks living on your blog? Didn’t think that’s what you’re about even if inventing stories about me has apparently become fashionable in certain circles.

        1. To quote my favorite president “There you go again.”

          Politely telling someone what to do and chiding him like a den mother, showing your “disappointment “. On his own blog. Too, too funny.

          1. Mrs. G,

            Your initial comment was about how wrong it was that bloggers attacked your husband, rather than debating his ideas. You & Mr. Groovy say you want to raise the level of discourse: defend ideas, don’t attack people.

            Now when the same happens to Tanja, when someone makes erroneous & petty attacks on her, how do you respond? Isn’t this a double standard?

            With all the pearl clutching about personal attacks, bullying, and acting like a mob…this whole comment section is turning out to be pretty damn ironic.

        2. Tanja, I’m afraid these comments have made exactly my point. Our society today seems incapable of having an intellectually honest debate without turning personal, and without offense/defense for one’s position. Both sides are guilty, as is obvious throughout these comments. This post has been a fascinating “experiment” in touching on a sensitive topic, and I can appreciate why most folks are now so afraid to wander out on the thin ice. What a sad state of affairs.

          I’m disappointed, but still believe it’s in all of our best interest to let others voice their opinion. I detest personal attacks, and am sincerely disappointed that what I intended as a thought provoking dialogue has digressed into a forum of warfare. It’s sad, but I’ve decided to let it stand.

          Free speech, right?

          1. “Free speech, right?”

            Free speech has limits and defamation is one of them.

            There is also no constitutional right to free speech on blogs. You choose to allow what you want to.

            Very sad to see the comments here are so full of vitriol.

          2. You’re confusing a blatant lie with an opinion. Nothing in the first comment here from Troika is an opinion.

        3. Tanja,

          I have no beef with anybody, but it seems that you are blind to how hypocritical you are. Your Twitter stream is public for everyone to view and so is your blog.

          On your blog, you talk about diversity and harmony and all the good stuff you want to hear from a politician running for office (or trying to promote something, like a book).

          Then your actions bely what you say. A lot of your tweets are combative and nasty when there’s simply no need to be like that. Only someone who is unhappy with her life or has some mental issues would lash out like this, contrary to what she writes on her very own blog!

          In a free society, you telling people what they should do and say is just comical. Nobody made you the leader of anything.

          You are so self-promotional, it’s sickening. “How I retired at 38 and SO CAN YOU?” are you kidding? Haven’t you been attacking people for click bait titles, yet here you are promoting your own click bait title? That’s hypocritical to me.

          You’ve got to be more aware of your actions Tanja. When in doubt, be nice. Do some self-reflecting and ask yourself why you’re so combative and trying to bully people. Only you can find the answer.

  6. I never questioned the notion of folks working in retirement, since all of my parents and in-laws are doing it. My mom is a retired waitress, now a caregiver. My father in law is a retired attorney, now pecan farmer. My mother in law is a retired marketing VP, now marketing consultant and bookstore sales person. My stepmom is a retired realtor, now wedding officiant.

    Does it matter that they’re all 55+? Do we only have permission to call ourselves retired if we’re at that age where it’s ok to go back and do a different job for fun?

    I’m constantly inspired by folks 30 years older than me who are retired from their main career and thriving in their new fun jobs. My local blogging group includes a lot of retired Californians who now blog about photography, blog for their church, for their interior design biz… It’s so cool seeing “little old ladies” who know more about CSS code than me, a millennial who grew up with the stuff. Never stop learning, never stop growing.

    I’m so thankful for folks like Root of Good who take the time and put in the work to showcase an alternative to the 40 hours a week for 40 years path. So what if his hard work (putting together a website is not easy!) generates some ad revenue? Haters gonna hate I guess.

  7. Given the sorry state of this country’s retirement savings, I think a lot of people could benefit from a little more FIRE-thinking. Most of what normal retirement planning consists of is saving, living on a budget and investing for your future self. FIRE is just an extreme version of that. Where it gets a little dangerous is when a naive 25 year old who doesn’t have the psychological and financial wherewithal to achieve FIRE reads a blog and thinks he or she can also retire by 32. Many end up doing a financial face-plant shortly after leaving the workforce. Achieving FIRE means doing a lot of contingency planning. The younger you are when you leave the workforce, the more planning that is required.

    1. “Given the sorry state of this country’s retirement savings, I think a lot of people could benefit from a little more FIRE-thinking.”

      I couldn’t agree more, Steve, and have made it my goal to share the FIRE principles with “late starters” in the retirement savings game. The principles work, whether you’re starting at 25 and retiring at 40, or starting at 45 and retiring at 60. It’s time to learn from each other, there’s a lot of wisdom in the FIRE community that can benefit us all. After all, we all hate face plants, right?

      1. Exactly! I wish more FIRE bloggers would mention this. I had a divorce in my 40s that wiped out a lot of savings as we paid off all our debt. But using advice from several FIRE bloggers I changed jobs to a company that would provide a small pension, saved like crazy, invested in index funds (through the 2008 crash) and retired in 12 years. So I know that FIRE works.

        And this retirement police stuff drives me crazy! I retired from my career. I didn’t “retire,” I didn’t just quit my job and not look for another. I filled out paperwork, money was exchanged, benefits applied, and legal commitments were met. So whether or not I ever generate income again, I feel fine saying that I’m retired. Sheesh, I’m tired of folks saying that if you make a dime you are not retired. I make a little money now because it’s fun and it’s great to have “mad money” to spend on whatever I want.

      2. I agree totally, a lot of people don’t give much though about how much money will have when retired, they think that “Social Security” will cover their needs and they realized too late that it won’t, I see my Wife’s aunts which have “retired” and in SS but sometimes not enough to cover basic needs. It helps them at least to start thinking about it.

        Edwin.

    2. Agreed. How many years will be zeroes in the naive 25 year-old’s Social Security calculation. Do they realize there is a minimal amount of time worked to qualify for Medicare (at least for the moment)?

  8. Thanks for an Interesting and engaging post. It is definitely thought provoking. I am fairly new to the personal finance space, but I agree with some of the poster’s (Phil) comments.

    The monetization idea, in particular, is always a slippery slope. I have mixed feelings on it and am still working through those. I agree that the work of writing and maintaining a blog deserves compensation. However, I think the need for more clicks and affiliate marketing may produce some immoral behavior—pushing the products with the highest returns. For instance, many people in the FIRE space constantly push personal capital and other high paying affiliates, which contradict individuals own personal investing advice (AUM fees in addition to fees for funds).

    Money with a purpose had a great post of this hypocrisy a few weeks back. He doesn’t critique the use of these affiliates, but does critique those who openly bash actively managed funds / professional financial services and then spam you with personal capital and betterment links on their blog. His post is great and fits nicely with this one.

    The PC idea I also have mixed feelings on. For me, diversity of thought is encouraged and highly desirable. I think conflict often drives ideas and innovation. However, IMO free speech isn’t all the same. Civil dialogue about issues and points needs to be rooted in something. When people state things that simply are not true we cannot simply say, “you make a valid point” or assume that all points of view are equally valid. We should be critical of all views and critique them from the standpoint of facts.

    Thanks for writing this! I really enjoyed your post.
    Cheers, Pai

    1. “It is definitely thought provoking.”

      Mission Accomplished. #CriticalThinkingForTheWin

      By the way, Money With A Purpose and I connected via IM this morning. We share a common message, and I suspect you may see a guest post from him on this site this summer. Stay tuned…

  9. you really have a hit with this one, fritz. i’ve been pounding the table of independent thought on my little blog for quite some time, even though i consider myself on the very fringe of the acronym of fire. as another of the older adults in the room i cringe at the oversensitive safe spacers who seem like they might shatter like glass if you look at them wrong. i read a few of those monetized blogs because i really like the content. to anyone who will listen/read the only “advice” i would give is the read it all with a skeptical eye. take it in, chew on it, and think for yourself. there is a whole lot of good to take from this and a lot of people put out good content for free or for very little money too.

    i would love to read more about people who are drawing from their nest eggs to fund their life expenses. one of my favorites is ms. liz who has a little blog like mine who is executing a plan in real retirement right now in her 50’s. i won’t likely ever make a dollar from writing content but connecting with some other writers and a few regular readers whom i very much respect is worth the time to keep putting content out there.

    keep thinking out loud (or on the screen) amigo.

    1. One of the valuable parts of your response is that you are willing to allow nuance. Life is messy. Partially correct answers are the real correct answers for many things in a plan. “Sort of” is a wonderful response but doesn’t meme well. Thank you for nuance. And thanks for FIRE. Financial independence , recreational employment. I love it.

  10. Hi Fritz,

    Great article, although I had to chuckle when you stated “Most FIRE folks that I know are honest hard working people“…:)

  11. I have been following the FIRE movement for about 6 years and I think Phil’s “grade” is much higher. I believe his “grade” is higher because he thinks of FIRE in the traditional sense of the words. Financial Independence does not mean living off of 20k and getting free stuff from the government and Retire Early is not defined as getting a side gig. MMM went from how he retired early by flipping some house and saving money, to now owning an empire and in that sense of the word he is no longer RE. I am sure Bill Gates loves his job, and all of us would agree he is not retired.

    1) Skepticism, Yes always be skeptical of everything that is just a good way to be. I always try to look behind the curtain to see who is blowing the smoke, it matters. And the topic of retirement is huge it is hard to cover every side of the topic so I give him 60%

    2) As far as bloggers making money, many of the bloggers put forth a tremendous amount of work in their product and deserve to make something from it, does that still make them RE I don’t know but Mad Money Monster just wrote a post about quitting the pursuit of FIRE one of her concerns was the pressures of writing her blog and meeting the deadlines from her advertisers, that sounds like work to me. There are some blogs that are almost impossible to read or at the least are extremely aggravating because you have to continually close ads just to read the words. And since it is obvious they are trying to sell something you have to wonder whether they are writing because they want to or that they need to. 60%

    3) Escaping from reality, in the early days I used to comment a good amount on MMM forum and it became very clear to me that there were MANY young individuals with a lot of hatred and ignorance on that forum, taking about living off of 20k a year and getting food stamps and free healthcare and then in the same sentence complain that social security would not be there for them in 50 years. So it may be that the sellers of the FIRE movement have good intentions but they are preaching to the masses and there are few people that know how or are willing to put in the work and sacrifice that is required, the rest are living a pipe dream and are being led down a dead end road. It is much like socialism, on paper it sounds great but when you dig into it, it is the masses that pay not the leaders. 60% (This is more about the readers of FIRE rather than the leaders, but like the suffering in every country it is the leaders that are the cause.)

    4) The real meaning of retirement. This is my biggest pet peeve against the leaders. I follow about 12 bloggers. Out of that only 3 of them I would consider truly retired. I have 3 that are stay at home parents, 3 are still working and are in pursuit of the dream, 2 are “retired” but their spouse works and they keep their money separate so they say they are retired, 1 is a real estate investor but says she is retired so she can fit the narrative and others either consult or have their own business. The FIRE bloggers have pushed the envelope so far just so they can claim they are retired it just no longer fits the narrative. That is way so many people talk about maybe change what RE in FIRE actually means. In the TRUE sense of the word, retirement does not mean find a side gig. 100%

    Phil gets a 73% from me.

    1. “Phil gets a 73% from me.”

      How DARE you disagree with me! You are hereby banned from my site. #NoDisagreementAllowed

      Quite the opposite, actually. Nothing better than seeing you think analytically for yourself, lay out your arguments clearly, and take on the teacher in front of the entire classroom. Kudos, Rick, I’ll give you a A.

      PS – Phil wishes you were his teacher. He’d probably bring you an apple….

      1. I do not think Phil wants me as his teacher he did only receive a C-. Though I am like Phil, I look at the traditional sense of the words and develop my opinion. FI means no help from others and RE means not being subjected to anyone else’s time table, except for my wife. She rules

        The definition of FIRE will never defined in one word. You can tell by the totally different replies to this post, when some people think that being a caregiver or book sales person is the definition of retirement, there will never be agreement. To some people words are meant to be stretched and bent and to other it is what it is.

        Great Post as usual.

  12. I do think a lot of early retired people really are still working full time. And who is to say they are as passionate about the work as they claim? I’m not all that passionate about my one day a week work. I do feel it adds to my life and it keeps my withdrawal rate at nearly zero, which does feel better than pulling from investments. But some days it feels like a job and I’d rather go fishing or play tennis. I have maybe an hour or two of work to do today that I don’t want to do, but need to. But once I get into it, it will be kind of fun. But not as fun as my non-monetized blogging is, and not nearly as fun as fishing or tennis!

  13. Just found my way to this Page / Blog through the MSN Article about “401k Millionaires” this morning

    My Wife is on Disability now for over 5 years
    I’ll be 59 1/2 at year’s end – and am planning to retire then.

    Selling the house in town, completing the house we’ve been building in Northern MI in the woods over these last years. Our plan is to bail from the Rat Wheel, and travel / enjoy while we still have our health and mobility.

    Our intent is to be DEBT FREE (Including the house) with 2 commas saved in our Retirement Accounts when we pull the pin, and are absolutely on track. That was more of a Dave Ramsey-ish influence, than anything from the FIRE movement. My only exposure to FIRE has been a few articles from MMM…

    Still finding it very scary to “Officially Retire”, and sell that primary residence.
    It’s a really Big Step, and if you “Face Plant” it’s difficult to “Un-retire” and ever get that income back

    Dave says you don’t save a penny in retirement till you’re Debt Free – I completely disagree with that point.
    You cannot start saving early enough. But I am finding a lot of overlap between DR and FIRE however…

    The article on the SAFER Retirement draw down strategy was excellent.
    Already doing most of it, found a few nuggets of reinforcement to my way of thinking, and also found a few other nuggets to incorporate into my plan.

    I always measure twice and cut once when I run across anyone trying to sell me something.
    That does not mean there is no value – it means PROCEED WITH CAUTION…

    Thanks for the insights, and have a fine day.

    1. Glad to have you on the team, PAP! Northern MI sounds marvelous. As for those “pre-retirement jitters”, I think we all experience that in our final months of work. I know I did! It sounds like you’ve got a great plan, and you’ve put yourself in an excellent position. So….enjoy your final few months of work, you’re going to love life on the other side of The Starting Line!

  14. I think there are some legitimate criticisms here. Though I don’t agree with the retirement cop mentality, it is true that many of these bloggers are making money off their blogs and so not truly living off their investments alone. Or some have side gigs, consulting, or so on. But so what? I fully intend to still work in “retirement” – I’m a writer and I’m not going to stop writing (freelance journalism or adding to my self-published book catalogue). Same with photography, podcasting, or blogging. These are all things I care about, and see no reason to stop. This goes to what he says about purpose — it seems on the one hand, he’s saying FIRE people can never lift a finger again, then says doing so takes away purpose. It’s easily solved by flipping the equation: Having these activities provides purpose, as well as possibly income. It just means you’re not reliant on it. Going further to purpose, not everyone has or can have a job that pays well and provides fulfillment. Some might make good money but feel no attachment or sense of purpose to their job. They might find more purpose in something entirely different, and that thing might or might not pay a lot. Perhaps that something would be a volunteer project. The whole point of FIRE is the option to purpose purpose. (I’m stealing that for a post on my own blog!)

    I have yet to come across a FIRE blogger selling me a course. None that I follow do. I’m sure there is someone out there who is, but I think I can say with a fair degree of certainty that it’s not pervasive.

    I also don’t think that FIRE is an escape from reality – it’s deciding to create a new reality. Although calling it FIRE is somewhat new, I’ve known a couple of people who lived the FIRE lifestyle without knowing it. FU money is much older, after all. I know a retired Intel microchip engineer who packed it in around his mid-40s, relying on real estate aribtrage and stock options combined with a frugal lifestyle to float himself (and he did some tax work in the spring, in case anyone wants to call the retirement police). And I dated a woman who spent much of her time living off her FU money she built up early, working when she felt like it and spending months on end skiing when she wasn’t.

    There are things to be critical — MMM seems to subsidize his purchases by calling them business expenses, for example, and another blog I used to love no longer seems that frugal to me (they spend much more than I even earn in a year). But more important to me is that I know real world people for whom this is working, who do not own blogs, and are just living the life. I plan on expanding on this on my own blog this week.

  15. I think one of the key issues is that people focus too much on the “retire early” part of FIRE too much. To me it should more like “Financial Independence Work Optional.” And by work I’m loosely defining it because some people can see “work” as your full time salary job, but some people see “work” as anything that you do with your time that makes money. The power of FI is that you can do things that you truly enjoy regardless whether you make money or not. If you do, that’s just a bonus. FI allows you to choose what you do, want to volunteer at a local shelter every day for 8 hours? Great, you can do that and you don’t have to worry about money.

    On the idea of FIRE will bring you happiness. I think that’s a load of BS. Happiness doesn’t just come magically when you become FI or when you RE. If you’re not happy today, you’re not going to magically get happy because you cross some sort of financial milestone. That was the whole premise of a post I wrote a while ago – https://www.tawcan.com/have-do-be-or-be-do-have-that-is-the-question/ (sorry for the self promotion). What I’ve realize is that finding happiness and contentment is a life time journey. From time to time I struggle with finding happiness and contentment in my life and I realize that is OK to have such struggle, it’s human nature.

    1. 40-45 years in a cubicle can be a terrible price to pay for security. I’ve seen too many people who hit 45-50 yrs old and feel stuck in stressful, miserable jobs. With the prospect of 15-20 years of grinding it out to go… They are wage slaves, pure and simple, selling their lives for a pay check. Thanks to Kiyosaki and others (Millionaire Next Door), I’m FI, and have taught my kids the principles of building wealth. Not to retire, but to buy Freedom.

  16. One thing, I do find kind of odd, especially since I have been self-employed my entire adult life, is all the people who claim retired early, or financially independent, but then work to create independent income streams. Maybe I’m old school, or just never worked a corporate job so I don’t know what it’s like to leave the rat race, but that sounds more like an entrepreneurial endeavor to me. Are you FIRE? Or are you a casual, solo entrepreneur? Or are you a writer and an artist skilled enough to get paid for your work? Or are you all of the above? I mean, I have hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash-flowing assets, and multiple solo-prenuer income streams without having a boss, so does that mean I’m FIRE? But in the end, I’m like whatever. Definitions change. Generations change definitions. And ultimately, I’m more worried about my own life and finances, than someone else’s life and finances.

    In the end, I’m all for bloggers making some $ from their work. It takes a TREMENDOUS amount of effort, skill, and talent to create good content, and if the creators want to make some $ from all the time they put into it, I’m 100% in support of that.

    1. You nailed it for me. I have 3 family members that are self employed, meaning they own their own business, NONE of them think they are retired. I am a stay at home dad, I never thought I was retired from being a pharmacist. My cousin is an artist that make pottery, he does not think he is retired. The FIRE movement is trying to redefine the word “retirement” and that is why traditionalist think the acronym is not correct. I am fine if they want to change it, but just be upfront with it.

      Make money where and when you can, the more the better, just don’t tell me you are retired while you work 30 hours a week.

    2. Thank you for expressing this- my parents and grandparents were self-employed entrepreneurs and I spent the first half of my adult life freelancing, which sounds very similar to what some folks are doing even as they call themselves RE. I think I get stuck on the RE words because of this – it’s my definition of “retired”. So I have been focusing on the FI message of the bloggers I read, partly because I love what I do and so am in no rush to retire and partly because if I go back to freelance work or some new side hustle after leaving my current career, in my head I won’t actually be retired.

  17. The thing I love about the fire movement is that after you put in some work it gives you options. I always say that having options is one of the most important things in life. The option to change jobs, the option to retire, the option to start your own business, the option to do more volunteer work, etc. the FI is much more important than the RE.

    So does the fire movement have hypocrites? I’d say probably so. Is it full of them? Full is a bit much. Every topic in the world has hypocrites. I’ve been reading blogs for years and writing one for weeks(lol). I feel like for the most part this community is full of great people with a common goal. That feeling is very important to me. If “the real world” my thought process is like being on an island. This group is helping me pay for my own island 😎✌🏻

  18. I’m a fairly new blogger in this space, and I found this article to be enlightening. I can relate to some of the points Phil brought up, but I think you addressed each one well.

    It bothered me that what I perceived as a “free thinking” movement was dividing over differences of opinions and perspectives. But I’m now realizing that FIRE bloggers are just like every other person. We like to relate with people based on where we are at, and from our own biases/assumptions. I don’t want people reading my blog and agreeing with 100% of what I say. I want my ideas and assumptions to be challenged. I want to hear different perspectives. I want people to correct me when I am wrong.

    Before we can help others, we have to be willing to learn ourselves. This article reminded me that there is no wrong way to pursue a version of FIRE, and the most important thing is that we are thinking about how we spend and save money, and what we want most out of life. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Dang Fritz, there goes my plan to rebrand my husband from “stay at home dad” to “retired.”

    Funny thing I’ve noticed in this industry the past 2.5 years is that there are bloggers and “bloggers”. There are hobbyists who mostly do this for fun, or because it’s a cause they’re passionate about, and people who really aren’t running a blog- their aim is to run a business.

    Also, plenty of FIRE folks don’t blog. I think people forget about that. It’s just that it’s easier for the media to find bloggers to write about, than it is for them to find people who don’t write about themselves online. And of course, if they’re blogging, there’s always the specter of how much are they making/how much are they working.

  20. Phil should check out Sam‘s post on his latest investment income. He makes about $250,000 from his investments and I would say that’s more than enough to live off of with the family.

    https://www.financialsamurai.com/in-search-of-fire-financial-samurai-retirement-portfolio-review/

    I’m curious to know your thoughts on whether this is enough to live off of for a family in Weather that allows Financial Samurai to claim he is FIRE even though he says he hasn’t said to anybody he’s been retired since 2013.

  21. Thanks Fritz for your comments and thought provoking summary.

    1. There appears to be different interpretations of what the RE in FIRE means. Some see it as living only off your investments and having no additional sources of income. Others see it as escaping corporate America and having the freedom to do what you want when you want and making income along the way. The list of interpretations is almost infinite as is the diversity of the world’s population. I say let’s stop trying to make the FIRE movement an exact science and more focus on the principles as a blueprint or guideline for others to explore, follow, and modify to meet their needs. We can all learn from other people’s journeys so trying to make this topic binary diminishes its value.

    2. Logically thought out topics are good to debate. Many times people will make unproductive and at times hateful comments since they feel they are safely anonymous. The divisiveness that we see today across this country, pick a topic, is driven from the proliferation of social media and this feeling people have of anonymity I state above. Also, much of the younger generation is rooted less and less in social etiquette and believe assaulting, verbally and physically, other people is acceptable behavior and is supported by the likes of Youtube, Facebook, and even the media as these videos/events are much more widely publicized than would have occurred 10 years ago. My point here is that disagreements and debate is a good thing and make us all better. Most of corporate America learned this need for diverse ideas years ago, and many successful companies reward leaders and teams who can work together and devise solutions across a diverse employment base.

    3. I believe that leaning should never end, and therefore, it is in my best interest to seek our different ideas, opinions, and data from what I may believe as “fact”. Facts have a funny way of evolving over time as more information is received and more data is made available. Keep an open wind and realize that when you feel uncomfortable with a topic or a challenge to your held beliefs, you are really being given the opportunity to explore and learn more and maybe make a positive impact not only on your own situation but on situations of others.

    1. I agree with @AccidentalFIRE who says “perhaps the reader doesn’t read enough FIRE blogs. All of his complaints have been written about and fessed up to by bloggers.”

      We spoke about these complaints/questions decades ago! (we left the working world in 1991 at the age of 38).

      I just want to make a few comments –

      Billy and I been independent thinkers all our lives, and some people simply don’t like that. The herd mentality is alive and well everywhere and being different is something one must realize about themselves. You can’t “stand out, be a leader, try something new, be original” and still be a member of the herd. If you are not comfortable in that position, there’s nothing wrong with that. You just have to choose which place you excel.

      Having alternative ideas is how we made our successes. We decided that for us, fitting in was more pain-full than standing out.

      On our website, we have always stressed individuality and choosing your own best path of fulfillment.

      One can’t run from a job you hate and then expect to land “somewhere” and find perfect contentment. We always explained the value of making out a list of things you want to do, places you want to go, things you want to learn, make a list of your skills for future volunteering, etc. BEFORE you leave your work. Also, make a list of what your job gives you that you want to keep when you leave your career.

      If it is social connection – find a way to replace that in your life after FIRE. If it is recognition, find it in your new life. Realize the perks you are getting from your current employment (flying first class, having a title, having the “high” of being influential…) and make peace with them. If you think you’ll miss those perks, then either find a way to replace them, or come to terms with them being gone.

      I don’t know what went on in the FIRE Community that caused such a stir, but if having original ideas or standing apart from the crowd is so offensive and you are bothered by what someone else says, then ER is not for you. If you are looking for approval from your peers, that’s a personal problem, not a Retirement problem.

      When you are covered in sweat as you climb up on a palapa roof in a tropical village somewhere, installing solar “liters of light” because the village has no electricity, you won’t be depressed or looking for meaning in your life away from a steady paycheck.

      Or when you have just collected enough money to pay for an x-ray machine for the local clinic, you aren’t going to worry about a PF blogger thousands of miles away stripping from you the title of being retired. I promise you it won’t even cross your mind.

      Or as you help gather 40 street dogs and get them to the volunteer vet hospital to spay and neuter them, you just aren’t going to concern yourself over “voluntary frugality” making sure you aren’t spending over 4% of your net worth, or attaining enough points from using hotels, restaurants and purchasing air tickets so you can live the lifestyle of someone with a retirement income of 200k a year. And you won’t be tripping up over your numbers so you can receive subsidized health care – Instead, you’ll be living your fully-engaged life.

      We left the working world almost 30 years ago because there were too many rules and we wanted our personal freedom. All these years later people are still wanting to tell others what they can call themselves and when, and what infraction they have committed if they made a dollar doing something outside of a steady paycheck.

      Being a happy, satisfied, personally free, contributing member of society is far more important than someone judging our actions if they don’t fit some small box they have constructed for us.

      By the way, we don’t make ½ a million dollars a year from our blog or even close, and the hours we spend helping our readers find what path to Financial Independence works best for them is our passion. It’s our volunteer time.

      Just sayin’.

  22. Perhaps I am the oddball, but I always envisioned retirement as being able to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it! Whether or not an income was attached to that was secondary (at least). Why must retirement need to fit some cookie cutter mold or some hard and fast definition? Some seem to be threatened by the word “retirement”.

    I know for me, the real thinking about moving from working to receive financial reward to being able to do whatever I wanted really started back in the mid-80’s when I was working in retail. One holiday season, I worked an extreme amount of overtime because that was my chance to earn more in the short term and wouldn’t happen again for another year. A very respected businessman from the local area came to the mall and walked with his wife every evening and noticed how much I was working. One day he came in and handed me a pencil and a piece of paper. He told me that he wanted me to go to the largest cemetery in the area and make a note of every gravestone that said “I wish I had spent more time at work!”.

    His point was valid then and still is today – even in our critical society that no one seems to like but somehow it continues to prevail. Life is short, and in the end, it is not the financial riches that are dear to us but rather the experiences and relationships we have. Every 90+ year old person I have ever met has reconfirmed that. So as soon as one can move from working for income and having to “report to work” to choosing how to spend that particular day – call it whatever you want – that is indeed a blessed day. Now we all still have to pay the bills but you can choose to limit those if that aspect is critical to you. Producing or consuming isn’t as important as – enjoying! Whatever creates joy for you – that should be the goal!

    I was very lucky in that most of the time, I truly enjoyed my career. But I still had scheduled hours, necessary travel and some topics I dreaded. I will probably always work to some extent but now I get to decide when I want to and when I don’t. Some days are very productive, some are very rewarding and some are both!

    1. “I always envisioned retirement as being able to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it!”

      Yup, that’s how I view it! Freedom to do whatever you want. Whether that includes work or not does not detract from the value of the Freedom to choose.

  23. If you’re not excited and enthused about the topic you write about, no one will read it. Therefore, I find all bloggers to be about 40% full of BS.

    In most cases, I don’t think it’s outright hypocrisy, it’s just that the blogger is hyper excited to share something that they are madly in love with, and it works for them. I follow FIRE, International Travel and Full Time RV bloggers and it’s all the same. They LOVE what they are doing, but since you are not them, you will have a different perspective on it, and it probably won’t be as wonderful because you are simply a different person than they are.

    As for me, I tried all three of the above and found that the reality falls about 40% short of the hype. I still love being at FIRE, but I don’t want to do either full time International Travel or RVing. I will travel for a 1-3 months a year, but not full time and those that I met who are doing it are getting something extra for it – like a successful and monetized travel blog.

  24. Hey there, 1st time commenter, read your stuff sometimes. I respectfully disagree with you that folks don’t want to hear other viewpoints. I think other viewpoints are totally valid when they are based in fact, not someone else’s very limited, microcosmic world view. That might be said person’s EXPERIENCE, but it is, in fact, not the same experience for another person. I do think there are a lot of people in the work optional community who early retired who actually DO live off their investments. They don’t blog about it. They are living the life they want and if they are like me, working on living most of their life away from a computer and phone screen. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s wrong to be a blogger, I just think there is a whole larger community out there that isn’t blogging, podcasting, etc. I thought about for a joke making up a website down below to be a hypocrite after I said I don’t have a website but I’m too lazy.

  25. Thanks for the mention! 😉
    I think the problem is I predate the FIRE movement. I never advocate living solely off the 4% rule when you retire early. My goal was always to make a little income after quitting my main career and put off withdrawal as long as we can.
    I don’t trust the 4% rule and I think it’s foolish for any young person to put all their faith into it. You have to be flexible and adjust your plan as you go.
    Cheers

  26. Really interesting post, and equally interesting comments.
    The skills and work ethics that enable someone to become FI, do not always fit easily with the RE setup. They are often pretty goal orientated / driven people. Many FIRE people (not limited to bloggers) don’t want to stop work, but they want to do it differently.
    What FI gives them is – Choice. To link to Fritz’s word of Freedom. They are Free to Choose what they do next. That might be nothing, it might be inspiring the next movement to FIRE, who knows? It is their own ‘blank sheet of paper’, they can write their own next chapter without worrying where the money comes from. That is the critical difference. FI does not have to mean RE.
    FIRE is a great mnemonic, but it’s not a rule book. FI is about doing things differently.
    As for polarisation of views, this modern world of social media, or as I prefer anti-social media, encourages this. We only read like minded things, we don’t see things that oppose our views. I even wrote a post about it a few weeks ago. As for trolling. For some reason, it is now acceptable to say horrible things online that you wouldn’t say face to face. I abhor it.

    1. What FI gives them is – Choice.

      Erith, great to see you weighing in, I value your opinion tremendously! You are the epitome of someone who has leveraged their freedom to live their life as they choose. You’re my role model! 🙂 And, why am I not surprised that you also wrote a post about our increasing polarization of views? We think a lot alike, my friend.

  27. I like Phil! About a year ago, I found myself reading a lot of financial blogs with a focus on FIRE. Then I began to realize how at half were selling their course on how to make a profit blogging. Over time, I’ve decreased dramatically the blogs I follow. Now down to a few quality ones, that at for me, appear genuine and speak to my goals in life. Appreciate you publishing another point of view with your well thought out take on his points.

  28. I love the line from FI180. It’s about choice and there is nothing wrong with generating income post retirement. As influencers & bloggers we just need to be transparent.

    Great post, Fritz!

    I also love this line,
    “If nothing else, learn to challenge yourself to practice analytical thinking versus our increasingly normal reaction of rejecting alternative thought before we’ve taken time to consider if the alternative point of view has merit. “

    1. Thanks for picking out my favorite line from the post, D! It seems this one has certainly made some people think. I know it’s kept me busy in the comment field!! For the first time in a long time, I’m simply going to have to let a lot of comments go unanswered…I have a retirement to live, and I don’t want to be stuck to this keyboard any longer than I have to be (because, hey, some folks may criticize me for spending my retirement WORKING!). Thanks for stopping by!

  29. I’ll be retiring in a couple of years, most likely, in my late 50’s. I call that Early Retirement because, without all the things I’ve learned in this little corner of the internet, I would’ve been working until my late 60’s.
    And yes, when I retire from teaching I won’t be racing around doing side-hustles and the like… I’ll be doing whatever I please, whenever I please. Sounds like heaven!
    **
    On another note: I’ve been blogging since 2007 on my personal blog and only 2 years on my FI/RE blog. I’ve been reading blogs in the FI/RE realm for around 5 years now. This particular niche has taken an ugly turn in the last year or so… comments both on blog posts and on social media are sometimes turning into personal attacks instead of examining and discussing the actual content of the posts.
    I’ve never seen behaviour like this in my 12 years of blogging before and frankly, it’s a bit off-putting. We’re writing about adult subjects around finances, retirement and managing money, but some of us are behaving like petulant children. It’s divisive, hurtful and it’s so different from the supportive, friendly blogging communities that I’ve been a happy member of.
    It’s like the FI niche has decided to turn against itself and start tearing itself apart. I see enough of this when I’m at work – ever watched a class of 14/15-year-olds with their fluid friendship groups??
    It’s a little eyebrow-raising to find it here among the “grown-ups.”
    Cheers, all!
    Have a good one!

    1. It’s like the FI niche has decided to turn against itself and start tearing itself apart.

      I couldn’t agree more, Froggy. I was very careful in how I wrote this post, with the objective of generating thought provoking debate on a sensitive topic, among adults. It’s truly discouraging to me to see these comments digressing into personal attacks and the vitriol so prevalent in our society at large. I could try to play “traffic cop” and sit here for hours deciding what to delete and what to keep, but that’s just not the way it should be so I’ve decided against taking that approach.

      We’ve truly lost what once was a very special FI blogger community. I’ll remember it fondly.

      These comments sadden me beyond words. I guess that’s the price we pay for Free Speech.

      Sad.

      1. “We’ve truly lost what once was a very special FI blogger community. ”

        My initial comment was suppressed so I’ll try again.

        I don’t believe in the concept of online “community”. Much less “special” ones. I never have. I don’t come to sites like this to look for agreement and group hugs and kum-bay-yah. I expect facts and data and healthy disagreement.

        Fritz, you can lament the loss of your supposed “community” but in reality you’re merely upset that the collective groupthink of your fellow bloggers has splintered. You should view this as a positive because that how learning happens. But I’ve been reading your stuff for awhile. You expect agreement and affirmation, and the ability to smirk and snark at opposing points of view. (You’ve done it to me; don’t deny it.)

        Gossiping over who criticized who(m) on what platform and who’s true to “the cause” and who’s not, is a total waste of time. Stick to facts and data and everyone will be much happier. Those that wouldn’t be happier, aren’t people who have a worthwhile contribution to make anyway.

  30. Great post, Fritz. And thanks for the shout out.

    I’ve been enjoying my “Recreational Employment” so much lately that I haven’t been reading and commenting. But this post makes me want to chime in.

    One thing I said in my post was that whatever opinions you have about retirement, or anything else, you have to ask yourself “What if your current self and your future self disagree?”

    Actually, I sincerely hope they do disagree. Count me as someone that wants to be proven wrong so that I can grow and improve. I feel that Mr. Groovy’s post was saying that a person with a victim mentality might not be able to leave it behind and grow and improve. We all would be better off if we can listen to new ideas and say “hmmm”.

  31. How about putting a qualifier on it.
    If one is receiving a W-2 from a full-time job that provides health benefits AND one is still contributing to a 401k, then no, you are not retired.

  32. Nice post – and a good discussion about what it means to RE. I wouldn’t call FIRE bloggers hypocrites – I see them as realists. If retirement means not working at all, then many of us aren’t suited for retirement. Not because we can’t afford to retire but instead because the traits that led us to position ourselves to be financially independent are part of who we are – we are all over-achievers of some sort. How many of us will be satisfied with kicking back and watching the world go by? For me, retirement is about achieving balance in my life in a way that maximizes satisfaction and enjoyment. To have the ability to try something different and not worry about the financial aspects of starting over. To work part-time or to take summers off. But not to stop doing something of value to others, stop achieving, or to stop making a difference.

    My response to Phil is that perhaps the FIRE blogging community is setting an example for us all – by leveraging their financial independence to pursue their passions.

  33. Hi! Thanks for a really thoughtful post. I loved this line:

    “If nothing else, learn to challenge yourself to practice analytical thinking versus our increasingly normal reaction of rejecting alternative thought before we’ve taken time to consider if the alternative point of view has merit. “

    It reminds of this brief TED talk (I guess it’s a TED salon?): How To Lead
    A Conversation Between People Who Disagree
    . Now, more than ever before in the past, it feels like we as a society tend to polarize and split in a knee-jerk reaction to any view that is not in line with their own. I’ve been guilty of this in the past and will likely continue to be guilty – but hopefully will be able to have a second knee-jerk reaction to examine my initial response! This post is a great reminder to do so, and I hope most of your readers take that message away.

    Thanks again, and I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    1. Arrggg. Based on the title of the TED talk, I was hoping for a “how to”. Interesting talk, but not a how to.

      The country has been in worse spots before. Imagine our founding: a huge split between British citizens living in the Colonies. It ended up in an actual shooting war. We call it a revolution, but it meets the definition of a civil war. We were all Brits at the time.

      Then not even one hundred later later, we were so divided we had another civil war. 600,000 Americans died fighting each other in what we call The Civil War.

      Not as bad but still awful, go back and look at the news from 1968. We were embroiled in an actual major overseas war killing tens of thousands of our people. There were political assasinations (MLK and Bobby Kennedy). Huge riots where people actually died. The president at the time was hated by a majority (he actually chose not to run for election at the end of his term).

      We are divided today, but we’ve been in worse spots in the past.

  34. Wow. This is all so sad. Focus on the mission, folks. You squabble like a bunch of children.

    1. Ain’t that the truth. I think I found the article that ignited all the hissing and hair-pulling (“my husband recently wrote an epic discussion-worthy post, which the mob of ugliness feasted on.”). It was an attempt to push every social and political hot button that one might possibly have, and it had nothing to do with FI or RE. And people are surprised and dismayed and taking sides over it? How could anyone possibly be surprised by that?

  35. This post and its comments are very enlightening as I didn’t know about the drama going on between FIRE bloggers. Let me start by saying I really admire Fritz for taking the time to consider the counterpoints instead of calling Phil the retirement police, a troll, jealous, or just deleting his comments and blocking him altogether like I’ve seen so many other bloggers do to commenters they don’t personally agree with. Seeing both sides of the story makes it easier for readers to figure out where they stand on the issue.
    I also give Phil a higher score. While I agree much of the benefits of FIRE are from the FI part, there’s enough debate about what makes the retired part even here in the comments that discounting his criticism of RE to under 50% seems artificially low to me when RE is half of the acronym. I love that so many readers have suggested such great alternatives and hope some catch on.

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