3 signs the FIRE is spreading around us

We’re fortunate to know exactly what it’s like to achieve big financial milestones. For years, we made a point to celebrate the passing of every mile marker because we knew deep down it would all be a blur unless we attached something deeply memorable to the moment.

A few years ago, we could rely on scheduling a celebration every 12 – 15 months or so. Then, as housing values increased, rent increased and the market boomed, we found ourselves celebrating a few times a year. But even in the sweet times, we were always mindful of the other side of our experience. The all too common and unfortunate reality that many of our friends and family may never experience the moments we’d grown accustomed to.

Whether they know it or not, many of the people closest to us are really struggling. Some are sitting on a ticking-time bomb of debt that could explode at any minute while a small subset of folks are living the good life. Given the imbalance of “success stories” in our inner circle it’s easy to allow pessimism to creep into our spirit.

But then the “universe” sends signs to let us know there are actually people we know who are having aha moments like we did and course-correcting the direction of their financial lives. It’s a beautiful thing to see and over the years, we’ve begun to celebrate their successes just like we do our own.

We are neck-deep in the FIRE lifestyle so we see and read articles about people who’ve achieved great feats all the time. While big media mentions do make us all giddy inside, they pale in comparison to watching someone we actually know come to the realization that the pursuit of financial independence [FI] is a life worthy of striving towards. It’s also really cool to see people excited about FI in unexpected places like the workplace.

Here are three recent examples of FIRE spreading around us.

Troy, New York City, NY

We love us some Troy! Aside from being the husband to one of our dear friends, he’s a father, son, brother and all around good guy. We’ve celebrated Friendsgiving with them for the past few years and it’s always a good time. He works in advertising, so naturally, he has a creative side. One of the ways he expresses his creativity is through his annual report. You can check it out here.

Like our blog, creating his annual report is a fun and creative way to share his life happenings and hold himself accountable. We look forward to seeing it every year to see the milestones, the achievements and an honest reflection on his struggles. Like us, Troy and his wife are first time parents so we expected to see lots of pics of their beautiful baby boy. But we were totally surprised to see his Number 1 goal for 2019; creating a plan for early retirement.

We’ve spoken with them about our plans before but had no idea he was so intrigued by the concept. So we reached out to get his thoughts on what led him to this point. Here’s what he said…

I like the work I do, but don’t feel that my career is the most important thing in my life. My priorities are spending time with family and friends and doing the things I love to do. If I could do all of those things without having to work, I would…like tomorrow.

Christina…aka Carmen Sandiego

[Stock] Photo by Girlan XM from Pexels

Mr. r&R has known Christina for over 20 years. She’s one of those people who are just too sweet to be true, giving, caring and quiet as a church mouse. The last time we spoke, we were both frustrated with work, workplace politics and exchanging stories on how we’d gain greater control of our respective lives.

The last we heard, she was being courted by a major company based out west so we assumed she was reaching out to tell us she’d moved and was all settled into the Pacific Northwest. We could’n’t have been more wrong.

Since we last spoke (July 2018) she quit her job, sold her home, sold her car, paid off all her debt and started an event planning business. She also spent weeks vacationing in Southeast Asia and was currently sitting’ in a villa somewhere in central Italy where she plans to stay for a few months.

We spoke like it was old times again and it all boiled down to a simple theme; there’s more to life than work. So she’s taking a much needed break, exploring her creative side [landscape photography] and re-thinking what the next chapter of her life could look like.

She doesn’t consider herself someone pursuing FIRE but to us, she embodies the lifestyle and mindset. Here’s what she had to say about her life at the moment.

“It’s about being bold enough to disrupt my routine. I’ve lived in the same city for 20+ years, I’ve owned my home for 10+ years; I’ve worked at the same company for 8+ years and had my student loans for 10+ years. I simply needed a break from my comfortable routine. Sometimes you need to embrace change to understand and appreciate what you are capable of”

Mrs. r&R talks FIRE…at work?

Yes, you read that correctly. Not only do some of her co-workers know about our FIRE plan, but some of them are actually followers. When Mr. r&R was working there, he got a similar response from many of his old co-workers. We think this is mostly intrigue of how wacky it all sounds but there are definitely some people who are genuinely interested in how it all works.

So when the opportunity was presented to discuss personal finance with a group of younger employees, Kiersten [Mrs. r&R] was asked to sit on a panel and to discuss her own experience with saving, investing and FIRE. Talk about transparency?

When we think about the implications of FIRE we don’t just think about the impact it could have on our individual lives; we think much broader on how it could shape society as a whole. For example, what impact could the spreading of the FIRE movement have on workplace dynamics, policies and retention practices. We’ve already seen glimpses of this with progressive tech companies offering lucrative salaries, unlimited vacations and perks to their employees but…what’s next?

Imagine a world where a significant number of top talent has achieved FI in their 30s and is torn between working or taking a mini-retirement. Would we see a boom in contract work and consultant gigs. Would companies finally embrace working-from-home policies and technology that enables location-independence? Could that lead to the end of commutes and what impact would that have on air pollution?

Could the FIRE movement trigger a war for talent between companies looking to hire the best and the brightest? Click To Tweet

These are just three recent examples of how our own world is changing before our very eyes. Our hope is over time, even more people wake up and feel empowered to radically change their spending habits and investing mindset.

There is plenty of evidence suggesting that what we’re doing right now [status quo] is simply not sustainable. Widening wealth inequality, US mortality rates, preventable health crises tied to workplace environments and record consumer debt levels are all glaring red indicators that a work-obsessive and hyper-consumer culture is doing serious harm to society.

The spreading of FIRE may not be the cure all, but it could be a catalyst.

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