Are we the top of the iceberg?

Being part of the FIRE community sometimes feels like being part of a secret society. We have all these terms that make no sense to others: 4pct rule, FIRE, trackers, compounding interest, Trinity. Mysterious…

In some recent encounters with people, I noticed that a there are people that apply the principles of FIRE. They just do not call it like that. When I speak with them, they use other words. The end goal is the same: have freedom. Freedom to

  • travel
  • no longer work
  • work only on projects you like

Some examples of conversations

One person could not belief that there are dentists that live pay check to pay check. He used his insights from the part time job of his wife for that. To him, it is clear that taking expensive cars, a beach house in another country and a way-to-big-house do not help to save money and allow for freedom. His personal approach is similar to many of us in the FIRE community: be frugal, DIY, spend time with friends and family on experiences.

In another discussion, rental income was the topic. This person is a handy DIY person and wants to build up a rental income to replace his regular income. Inspiration comes from acquaintances. They have build up enough rental properties and now no longer have to work. The income from rental units exceeds the costs they have. For now, they still work, yet, they are considering to stop. That person has a frugal attitude, looks for the best offer on building materials for is own house: not the cheapest: good quality at a fair price and does a lot of work himself. I am sure he will be FIRE one day.

There are many more. i am sure you also know people like that.

This leaves me with 2 thoughts

  • How many people are there out there that apply the principles of a FIRE lifestyle without having read a blog about it? What is the common sense approach that these people have to be frugal, live below their means and invest?
  • How can you engage in a conversation with them? With the persons above, I do talk about the high level principles. I do not yet mention the concept FIRE or the internet movement around this. Should I?




17 thoughts on “Are we the top of the iceberg?

  1. CIao ATL,
    I think that many people work and live like that. I have an example in my family, from which I guess I have derived my drive to savings and frugality. My grandmother. Especially people who lived the war turned out to be great savers and lived a bit as if the war was still around. In a way I am using a lot of her “indirect teachings” and I cannot thank her enough for that because she taught me about investments and how to be clever about spending money… Sometimes I am a bit too extreme but, nobody is perfect! 🙂
    ciao ciao


  2. Hmm whenn I come to think of it, there is only 1 other person my age I know who is interested (thanks to my journey, he is not practicing it yet) in FIRE. The rest are all stuck in there rat race. My own parents fortunately have been wise with their money and are allmost debt-free.
    My money education started with my parents, I strongly believe that they played a major part in my current lifestyle (be it that I started later in life but have always been made aware of the importance of having money in your pocket)


    1. Education and experience as a younger one are big drivers. I hope to pass the education to my kids: right balance between frugal and fun… Tough one.. they complain a lot. Might mean I do something right


  3. How many people? Perhaps more then you think, but they are still a minority! That being said, finding them is difficult as people generally still don’t talk about money or life goals, just weather, holidays and sports.
    Stealth wealth comes in many forms 😉


  4. Interesting post, both of my brother in laws are over 65 and are still working. In my circle of friends, I am the only one who retired early. I believe that FIRE in North American is in the minority. 😞


  5. Dear Amber,

    I had never heard the term FIRE or knew that I was FI until I found finance blogs a month ago (although I thought that we might be close). I became a Homemaker in 2005 so knew that I was “retired” from a traditional income job and that our husband could support us on his (self employed) income. I don’t have any IRL friends that worry or even think about money. I on the other hand think (too much?) a lot about it and always have. My Father encouraged me to save from a young age and I’ve never really wanted for many things and that has continued on to this day.

    Besos Sarah.


  6. I think there are many more who have this kind of mindset, but don’t grasp this as a concept of retiring early. After all, most people still work or do something that brings in the money. The discussion we had at the last FIRE meeting was all about this topic, ‘retirement’ is a word people associate with doing nothing, not with finding happiness and doing what you love.

    So, should you enlighten people about the FIRE community, yes! But perhaps we have to come with a better name 😉


  7. I think a lot of people would be open to a part-time fire concept. It sounds a lot more realistic and easy to explain. Let’s say you lose 10K net income in Belgium and you’ll replace that with a 250K investment. Full fire, you need to go in depth on the frugal part and the investment part. Not a lot of people like living below their means or the stock market.

    If you said to me a couple of years ago that people with average paychecks can save up to 25 times there anual spending. I would probably force a smile and slowly walk away backwards.

    Also I see other questions rising once reaching FI. How to fill that extra time without spending some serious dough? And so on.


  8. Many people are just shy of investing. The desire of freedom is probably present in a lot of people, but the courage to take matters in own hands is absent.

    Unfortunately, for many it will stay a dream.

    I think the government should encourage investing more US-style for gathering a pension and to increase the financial literacy.


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