FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early – it’s a strategy focused on saving like a demon and investing as much as you can while you’re young, which will then allow you to retire far earlier than normal. Want to give up the nine-to-five in your 40s? It’s possible!
The main thing to understand is what ‘financial independence’ means. In the context of FIRE, it’s when the income you get from your investments is sufficient to cover your living expenses, which means you don’t need to work. But just because you don’t need to, doesn’t mean you don’t have to. You could do something that you’ve always wanted to do which might not pay as much, or devote more time to hobbies, volunteer work or travel.
Proponents of FIRE typically aim to save and invest at least 50% of their income – far more than the conventional figure of 10-20%.
How to do it
- Increase your income. Advance your career, start a side business, invest in income-generating assets…
- Decrease your expenses. Budget hard! Cut all unnecessary expenses.
- Save aggressively and invest wisely. As mentioned, you’ll need to save at least 50% of your income. Invest all your saved money to take advantage of compound interest.
Is FIRE right for you?
To be fair, FIRE is not the right strategy for everyone. You have to think clearly about whether this approach aligns with your personal and financial goals. Are you comfortable with reducing your lifestyle expenses to increase your savings? Can you manage the risks associated with market volatility, which could affect your investment returns? Are you prepared to maintain a frugal lifestyle, even after achieving financial independence?
Remember, embracing frugality doesn't necessarily mean denying all life's pleasures. It’s about making conscious decisions about what truly brings you happiness – and discarding all the other unnecessary stuff.
If you decide that FIRE is for you, remember to reassess your financial goals regularly and adjust your strategies accordingly. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Speak to a qualified financial advisor if you need some guidance.
That said, even if you just explore a few of the basic principles of FIRE, you’ll be able to address some big financial issues faced by many South Africans, like taking on too much debt, not saving enough for the future, and spending recklessly.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
If you're considering going down the FIRE path, start by understanding your financial habits and use 22seven to create a budget that allows you to save as much as you can. It’s fine to start slowly – becoming financially independent might take years, if not decades. Be patient and continuously reassess your budget as your life, income and financial goals change.
Remember, you have the power to shape your financial future! Whichever path you choose, patience, discipline and a bit of thriftiness will never do you wrong.