The FIRE Movement and the Dot Com Lifestyle
Picture this. You’re completely debt-free, living in a home that you own outright, and you don’t have to wake up at 7 a.m. to commute to a job that you don’t enjoy doing. Instead, you’re going to sleep in, enjoy a relaxed breakfast as you listen to the morning news, before heading out to meet up with some friends to partake in an activity you all enjoy. Maybe you’ll go for a hike or play a round of golf.
For a lot of people, that might sound like retirement. And for so many people, retirement isn’t even a possibility until they’re at least 65 years old… and for some people, even that can feel out of reach. What if you could retire much younger than that and actually enjoy life while your mind and body can still fully enjoy it? That’s part of the appeal of the FIRE movement, which actually has a lot in common with the dot com lifestyle.
What Is the FIRE Movement?
By now, you may have heard about the FIRE movement, but just let me offer a quick recap or refresher. FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. Its proponents say that if you live an especially frugal lifestyle and aggressively sock away a huge proportion of your income, investing it strategically, you can achieve financial independence and retire early.
How early? Some of the biggest FIRE success stories have folks retiring in their mid to late 30s! Now, this naturally comes with a few caveats. By and large, the people who attempt to achieve the FIRE ideal are already coming from relatively privileged positions. They’re often high level professionals with jobs that pay well into the six figures, but they decide to live as if they make a lot less than that. They might net $200k in take home pay each year, and yet only spend $40k.
By making these sorts of very conscious decisions — choosing not to eat out, not to get the latest smartphone, not to get the nicer home in bustling city — they achieve financial independence at a much younger age. Financial independence means you’re at a point where your investments are generating enough income that you don’t have to work anymore.
Misconceptions About FIRE
This naturally sounds very appealing to a lot of people. Who wouldn’t want to retire early? Who wouldn’t want to spend all day reading books, playing golf, and leisurely toying around with a new hobby in their workshop in the back? But there are many misconceptions about FIRE that so many people overlook.
Just because you’re going after the FIRE ideal doesn’t mean you have to forego working altogether in your “retirement.” Indeed, many FIRE proponents continue to work part-time, but they’re only working jobs that they enjoy doing. They’re only doing it on their own terms.
Another misconception is that FIRE is only for young people. Wrong. It’s never too late to get started. You’re not too old. It just means you have to think about your timeline a little differently. Retiring at 55 is still considered early.
And FIRE people have to do away with all the modern creature comforts that our society has available for us, right? It means living in a very rural or small town kind of area, only making your own food, and living very simply. That’s not necessarily true either. It just means you need to adjust your lifestyle expectations and goals accordingly.
How Does FIRE Relate to the Dot Com Lifestyle?
All this being said, let’s circle all the way back to how the FIRE mindset really can align with the objectives of the dot com lifestyle. When you look at the fundamental principles, the ultimate goals and strategies are very similar.
- Quit the 9-to-5 day job: When you’re living in the dot com lifestyle, you live and work on your own terms. You are your own boss.
- Only do what you love: As mentioned, many FIRE people continue to work during their “retirement.” With the dot com lifestyle, you choose to do the “work” even if it never made any more money… thankfully, if done right, it can make you a very comfortable living.
- Live off your investments: The basic structure of FIRE calls for investing in stocks, bonds, ETFs, and so on. These investments generate income, so you don’t have to work. While blogging isn’t really passive income, many of the systems you can put in place as an Internet entrepreneur can generate passive income just like traditional investing. Have a great landing page for an affiliate offer with ongoing residuals? That sounds like receiving dividends to me.
- Choose what’s important to you: While part of FIRE means cutting expenses and saving aggressively, it’s really more about prioritizing the things that really matter to you and reducing your spending on the things that don’t. As a dot com entrepreneur, it works exactly the same way. You can save a lot of money working from home for your own business too.
- Be rich, don’t just look rich: If you looked at the lives of many FIRE success stories, you’d see a rather humble existence. And they’re very happy with that. And while you may associate the dot com lifestyle with all-inclusive resorts and a couple of Teslas in the garage, the reality is establishing a strong financial foundation so you can live the life you want to live.
Never “Work” Another Day in Your Life?
Ask just about anybody who is working toward FIRE or who has already achieved it. While “retire early” is part of the FIRE acronym, a traditional “retirement” is never the goal. It’s about achieving financial independence so that you can free up the time to pursue the things you actually want to do, not just the things you have to do to pay the bills.
Put another way, early retirement is not the goal. It’s about being free to do what you want, when you want, where you want, doing what you love to do for its own sake and making some money along the way as a happy byproduct. If that’s not the dot com lifestyle, I don’t know what is.