I have been following the FIRE movement online for a while now. FIRE stands for "Financial Independence; Retire Early" and is the concept of spending less than you earn, putting the difference in simple investment products until you reach a point in life where your expenses are completely covered by the income from your investments. As a rule of thumb, this amount is about 25 times the total number of your annual expenses. When you reach this point is a simple calculation based only on your savings rate: How many percent of your income are you able to stash away instead of spending. So if you save 16%, you can retire in 34 years. At a savings rate of 58%, the time shrinks to only 11 years.
Based on these concepts, the author and his girlfriend take us on their 1-year journey from learning about FIRE to completely changing their lifestyle. They reference many of the central figures in this movement, be it by personal conversation or a link to their blog or podcast.
I found this book very captivating. Most of the central concepts were not new to me, but following someone on their actual path felt very authentic.
I have learned even more that FIRE can take many forms. Yes, you can be frugal as hell and only eat rice and noodles, but there are a lot of alternative and effective ways of decreasing expenses. The central idea is often summed up as 'optimising for happiness' with the optimisation considering of short- and long-term effects. Overall, it also means a more sustainable and environment-friendly way of consuming resources.
Also, the term 'retirement' is clearly not meant in the traditional way of simply not working. Instead, it means the general independence of a paycheque-based employment, offering freedom to work on passion projects without financial worries, traveling or in general just doing what makes you happy.
Now, will I go FIRE? I don't know. Some of the steps, I am actually already doing 'right', but I am not on a full-steam path in any means. Most of the concepts are not binary though, and do not only have positive effects in the distant future. Instead, getting rid of debt and other liabilities in your life will lead to an immediate increase in personal independence and freedom.
The pure fact that working till you are in your 60s is not a given is deeply fascinating, I think.
The book is a prelude to a documentary that's coming out this year -- which I can't wait to watch.