What is FIRE and Why?
If you are here, then that is the first step in starting your fire journey. So what is FIRE - Financial Independence Retire Early, is a phenomenon that I have been exposed to over the last 3 years, but as a movement has been active for a good decade and a half.
Let us break this down into two. What and why.
What is FIRE?
You can split FIRE into 2 halves
FI - Financial Independence
RE - Retire Early
The two are not necessarily tied together, but most people find that the second half is a logical extension of the first. Once you are financially independent and are not tied to a monthly paycheck to make ends meet, you have the freedom to evaluate your options. You might want to do a different job, move industries, volunteer your time, support the needy, tutor kids, teach at a local school, homeschool your kids or any other passion project that you never had the time for.
Indian / Asian FIRE
Asian values towards money, hard work, and loyalty being what they are, FIRE is a very tricky conversation for anyone embarking on this journey. Also in the Asian / Indian context, parents and the extended family have a huge sway in your key decisions. (If you are an exception to this, more power to you) So if you even bring this topic of retiring early most people will either be perplexed or will think that you have gone crazy.
You probably can hear "aunties and uncles" saying "What is wrong with him? why would he want to throw away this well paying job to retire at such a young age? " in your head. Then they will go off on a tangent on how they put in back-breaking 80 hours a week just to make ends meet when they were young.
But the reality of the situation is, the market has moved on. Job opportunities are different, job loyalty (in both directions) is a thing of the past. Our wants, needs, and expectations are different from our earlier generations.
If you have a great job with good benefits and enjoy doing it, then fantastic. Stick with it and I am happy for you. If you have a decent job with decent benefits, but you have this constant nagging feeling at the back of your head that tells you "Is this all there is? Shouldn't I be doing something more?". Then you need to re-evaluate your priorities and consider the options in front of you.
FIRE is one such option. FIRE allows you to
1) Prioritize your life goals
2) Structure your finances
3) Crystallize a plan and
4) Execute the plan
for a more fulfilling and meaningful existence.
As I have mentioned in my "why this blog" piece. I wanted to share my experiences of this journey with you on becoming FIRE. But if we step back and go to the root of this movement, the first question is "Why FIRE?"
For that, I need to detail my current predicament. I started my career in Information Technology (IT) after finishing my engineering After completing my post-grad in finance transitioned into the banking and finance industry. (Wow, surprise surprise - Indian guy who does engineering, works in IT; then does MBA moves into Finance, has anyone ever heard of such a thing!!)
Leaving India and working in a few different countries, jet-setting to a few others, establishing my career and settling down in Singapore. I would say my career took me on a predictable course. So far so good.
The subprime financial crisis happened and aftermath followed for the next few years. I started to feel demotivated by the happenings in the industry, the greed, selfishness, the complete lack of morality in certain parts of the industry led me to question the need to be part of this industry.
I need to be clear, to the best of my knowledge I have never been a part of this corruption, but I felt like I am an indirect enabler for this sort of behavior by being a part of this industry. So I wanted to get out but it wasn't easy because of 2 reasons
1) I had bills to pay. The pay was good and I just could not make the transition out given that practically all my work experience was in this industry
2) Inertia to change and even if I got out, I didn't want to perform a 9 to 5 job
So that leaves me with 2 options
1) Get out of the rat race and start something of my own thing
2) Save up enough to do something of my own without that something needing to support me and my family
Option 1 is riskier, 2 less so. So decided to go with 2. I started researching online for options and landed on FIRE and that was 2 years ago.