Discovering FIRE on my Terms

So many bloggers are doing some amazing things to achieve FIRE (financial independence retire early). Saving 50%+ of their income, living on less, sacrificing the pleasures of today for a better tomorrow etc.

We averaged a savings rate of a little over 28% this year, just shy of the 30% goal I set out to have us achieve. Even though we were still able to cover our top wants for the year (three vacations, new mattress, laptop etc.), there were a few items on the list that got bumped to next year.

I know that if we really wanted to, we could save 50% of our income on a dual income household. We were putting about 50% of our income towards debt during our 2.5 year debt repayment journey towards getting rid of our student loans. So I know the ability is there, but the desire has changed.

Instead I want to strike a balance between saving aggressively enough to retire comfortably and living for today.

The major drawback with FIRE is that it focuses more on the destination, than the journey. You sweat, you hustle, you toil, you save, you sacrifice, you cut back, so that one day you can do the things you really enjoy and spend your time the way you want to. My take on FIRE is being able to do what you love now, get paid well doing it, have a healthy saving rate and retire earlish, or never retire because you can’t imagine doing anything else.

Here are 10 ways I have discovered FIRE on my terms:

  1. I will always pay myself first, no matter what

Paying myself first is not an option anymore. For every income that comes into the household, a percentage (ideally no less than 10%, no more than 50%) of it will be saved and invested to grow our net worth. With our savings rate fluctuating between 15%-30% on any given paycheque and averaging 28% this year, we made sure we are taking care of ourselves before letting go of our hard earned money.

  1. I will be intentional about how I spend my money

To ensure we are spending our money on our terms and not on what everyone else is doing, I will continue to stay true to what is important to us. For example, since my parents and our siblings are scattered all over the world, travel will always be an important component of how we spend my money, both now and in the future. For example, it has been 4 years since I have seen my parents, so my husband and I have decided to spend $4k + spending money on two round trip tickets to see them this Christmas.

Having a healthy emergency fund and saving and investing is more important to us than owning material things. A lot of what we spend our money on is on travel, healthy foods, charity.

  1. I will find balance between living on less and enjoying more

Frugality will always be something we practice in our household, at least I hope it will be. The experience of being so overwhelmed with debt has taught us how to live on less and the importance of doing so. In my effort to reach FIRE, I will find a balance between living on less and enjoying more. To me, this means sacrificing my spending in one area, which may not be as important to me, so I can spend it in other areas that are; all while keeping a healthy savings rate.

I think it is important to enjoy our money now as well as plan for the future. Although the 2.5 years we spent paying off our six figure debt made us grow and learn about managing money like we never had before, it was also a period of time with a lot of “less” and very little if any “more”. Moving forward, I strive to find balance in my life.

  1. I will seek fulfillment now, rather than when I retire

I will seek to do what I love and get paid for it as I seek FIRE. Instead of waiting until I retire to do what I love, I will discover my talents and strengths and use them to live a fulfilling life while making money. The idea of waiting till you retire to do what you enjoy sounds depressing, even if retire at 40 or 50 years old. Life is short, so why take that chance. I read somewhere that the largest number of heart attack cases are reported to happen on Monday morning before 9am. Doing the things that do not bring us joy or fulfillment can suck the life out of us and bring our life to a quick end.

  1. I will spend on things that help me grow personally and professionally

Jim Rohn’s famous saying ‘if you want more you must become more’ is something to be reminded of. Spending money on personal and professional development is an investment in yourself that can return dividends.

I am really big on improving my abilities professionally and understanding myself personally so I can be a better wife, sister, friend and co-worker. Whether it is books, conferences, classes or online courses, if the topic is near and dear to my heart, I will make it a priority in my life and spend money on this.

I think it is possible to retire on FIRE without giving up so much to do so.


Categories: Savings

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