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Millennials drawn to retire-early movement

Saving with purpose: millennials drawn to the Fire movement believe they can avoid working until retirement age

Surprise! Fire — short for Financial Independence, Retire Early, is not about us anxious-about-retiring oldsters.

Nor is Fire about Fireworks, but a new millennial finance movement, generating a heightened global surge of interest (and dedicated followers) in retiring early — that is anywhere from 30 to 50 years earlier than conventional trends.

Millenials, also known as Generation Y born during the early 1980s and 1990s, are demarcated by their extreme comfortability in the Information Age with digital technologies and shared social media platforms.

Fire is a lifestyle-changing trend, the blogs, the books, the webinars, the videos, and the just released documentary (of the same name) in theatres focuses on millennial millionaires (or soon-to-be) stretched across the globe, who are already the living financial success evidence that they have, and you can, too, achieve the Fire goal.

The early retirement premise is simple:

• Find ways to increase income.

• Dramatically lower expenses.

• Invest net savings accumulations in passive vehicles, e.g. index funds sufficient that appreciation will generate income to cover future living costs.

• The larger the savings, the shorter the time frame to financial independence.

According to British newspaper The Guardian: “Twenty- and thirty-somethings do not intend to spend 40 years strapped to the corporate machine. Instead, they are practising a combination of extreme saving and rigorous investing to try to build up the ‘stash’ you need – commonly seen as 25 times your annual expenditure – to quit, or, as these millennials put it, to ‘get Fired’.”

The Fire movement was inspired by the amazing book, Your Money or Your Life written some 27 years ago when these very young millennials were barely exposed to adult financial concerns.

But, many children are far more aware of their family’s (lack of) finances, than we may realise.

Read millennial millionaire at 31 and Fire leader Kristy Shen’s brief excerpts from her fascinating book, five-star rated on Amazon.

Poverty: originally from a poor rural area in China, her parents combined earnings then were an estimated $161, annually, they lived on 44 cents a day! Such scarce resources meant they owned next to nothing and nothing was ever, ever wasted.

She recalls — at age 5 — picking through a medical waste dump to find something to use to make a toy.

The Scarcity Mind-Set made her prioritise financial security above everything else. When you are poor, money means survival. It becomes the most important thing in the world; it is worth sacrificing for; it is even worth bleeding for.

Optimism. Her family immigrated to Canada, where “I was told that because I was born poor, didn’t speak English, and had the wrong skin colour, the opportunities open to other kids weren’t open to me. They were wrong!”

Education. Pick a career based on your POT, not your passion. The Pay over Tuition Score means: median salary above minimum divided by the total cost of the degree. With university costing the same, a writer has a much lower score than a chemical engineer. Guess what she chose first?

Advantages and Disadvantages

Fire upside

• No more work deadlines, stress, or perceived monotonous jobs.

• Financial freedom to control one’s own destiny.

• Debt anxiety burden non-existent.

• Little to no reliance on future government benefits programmes severely underfunded or non-existent by the time GENYs reach their dotage.

• Make the money first, then fund your passion — contrary to traditional advice.

Fire downside

• Investment appreciation over time may not equal the percentage drawdown amount needed to fund a simple lifestyle.

• Decent income during typical earnings years needed to generate social security, or social insurance benefits at “real” retirement age, may be sorely inadequate.

• Minimal asset acquisition.

• Loss of work/career identity.

• Lifestyle changes – you can’t just do relaxing for the next 70 years. Yes, millennials are projected to reach 100 years of age, easily!

• Socialisation may become difficult with friends who are still in the work mill.

• Obsession with minimising expenses upset family relationships. Not everyone can, or wants to, give up just about every short-term treat.

• Detractors do not believe Fire can be achieved without parental, or other support.

And there you have an overview of this amazing movement. You may not believe it. You may not want, or feel that you can dramatically save far more of your net income each year.

The Millionaire Millennials have shown you the way forward — at any age. They have defied the traditional working person’s normality, and are credibly living well to tell the tale.

This Fire cannot be extinguished!

Next: we’ll be exploring more of this trend in future articles, including using composite cases and some easy calculators to estimate your timeline to success.

Influencer Sources:


The original: Your Money or Your Life (1992) by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez

Playing with Fire, the book by Scott Rieckens

The documentary: Playing with Fire: How Far Would You Go For Financial Freedom

Quit Like Millionaire, No Gimmicks. Luck, or Trust Fund Required: Stop Working, Start Living by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung


Mr. Money Moustache, https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/

Millenial Revolution, https://www.millennial-revolution.com/

Vicki Robin, https://yourmoneyoryourlife.com/blog/

Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_movement

Media publications

“The New Retirement Plan: Save Almost Everything, Spend Virtually Nothing”, Wall Street Journal, by Anne Tergesen and Veronica Dagher, November 3, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/y5hedngy

“Can anyone retire in their 30s? Meet the people who say yes”, The Guardian, by Stephen Moss, November 20, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/y676w57q

“This Woman Retired As A Millionaire At Age 31. She Says Anyone Can Do It.” TheLily.com, by Caroline Kitchener, July 16 2019, https://tinyurl.com/yxht9lmn

Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM: Masters of Law — international tax and financial services. Dual citizen: Bermudian/US. Pondstraddler Life, financial perspectives for Bermuda islanders and their globally mobile connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Finance columnist to The Royal Gazette, Bermuda. All proceeds earned from this column go to The Reading Clinic. Contact: martha.myron@gmail.com