Burned out on FIRE? Focus on Finding Significance

November 5th, 2017

The FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement, which was originally popular exclusively within close-knit communities of financial bloggers, has gained traction in recent months as a result of increasing media attention of many of the concept's most noteworthy blogs and practitioners. On the surface, FIRE appears to be a straightforward notion. People in their 20s and 30s aggressively save and invest 50-75 percent of their monthly income for several years with the goal of retiring decades before the average retirement age in the United States of 63.1. While that aggressive savings rate, as well as the fact that individuals cease working at what has historically been considered an incredibly early age, is regarded quite uncommon in and of itself, probably the most defining feature of FIRE is why they do it.

The notion that relying on a monthly income and working for a corporation in a job you don't enjoy is something to be avoided is a recurring topic among FIRE practitioners. They think that by achieving financial independence via saves and investing, you will no longer be reliant on any outside institution for money to sustain your or your family's lifestyle. As a result, you are free to pursue your genuine life passions, whatever they may be.

Do you volunteer full-time? Do you want to travel across the country in an RV? If you are not connected to a job, you can accomplish these things. While it may appear paradoxical to many old notions about saving and retirement, statistical data suggests that many individuals may be on board with the concept.

A 2017 research that tracked employee engagement using a smartphone app many times each day revealed that "paid work is scored lower than... With the exception of being unwell in bed, respondents report participating in 39 activities. 2” With so much apparent sorrow in the workplace, what can the normal individual do if the FIRE lifestyle isn't for them? Is there anything to be gained from the FIRE concept? Finding meaning in your life is the simple answer.

Working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. is unthinkable for a real FIRE practitioner. Many of them developed that perspective as a result of working high-stress professions that were well rewarded but seemed to lack meaningful purpose in their lives. 3 Finding your importance might be the single most important determinant of your overall happiness. Starting a business is not for everyone, but it is usual for entrepreneurs to assess success by the importance they spend on pursuing their passion for operating and developing a business, then looking back at how they were able to affect others through that effort. 4

Individuals who retire at 65 may find meaning by using their years of expertise and experience to a local charity Board of Directors and encouraging good change within that organization. Even better, the importance for a new college graduate may be reading a FIRE blog, evaluating some of the ideas, and then paying off some high-interest credit card debt in order to start saving for a home. The excitement of living frugally, no longer working for a corporation, but instead meticulously watching expenses and maybe performing little side tasks to keep busy, is significant for a FIRE practitioner.

The idea is that the things that are important in our life differ from person to person. What is crucial is that you take the time to think about what it may be for you. If so many people are dissatisfied with their jobs or bored in retirement, shouldn't they strive to do something that makes them happy and adds meaning to their lives? Aldwin Callen Associates' advisors assist clients in thinking through such decisions and provide guidance and input as needed. For certain customers, assisting individuals as they balance choices and explore what they are passionate about may take precedence over investments or tax planning, but as part of providing holistic wealth management, such talks are frequently critical to a client's overall success.

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