Joining the FIRE movement doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” — here’s proof

Posted: 15 January 2021 8:00 am

“Don’t save so much you don’t enjoy today — you need to find a healthy balance.”

Our series highlights stories from real people who’ve joined the financial independence, retire early (FIRE) movement. Some have successfully reached FIRE, while others are on track to do so over the next few years. Answers are edited for length and clarity.

  • Name: Jon Dulin
  • Age: 40
  • Profession: Full-time personal finance blogger
  • Investment strategy: 80% stock and 20% bond allocation of low-cost exchange traded funds (ETFs)

When did you begin saving and investing?

Both my wife and I have always been savers. We have made it a point to save something from every paycheck since we started working.

In addition to this, I’ve always been an investor. I was investing $25 a month when I first started working because I understood the power of compound growth.

After we were married, we were fortunate to be earning a healthy combined salary and instead of buying things, we saved. We were living on one income and saving the other 50%. This happened for over three years.

Today, we are saving closer to 25% of our income because we have two toddlers and as a result, have more expenses.

What inspired you to join the FIRE movement?

It wasn’t until we had children that we wanted to create our own story. We had been happy working, but once the kids came, we wanted to be with them as much as possible and enjoy our time together.

This is also another reason why we are saving less today as well. My wife left a high-stress job for one where she can work remotely, and took a pay cut as a result.

What advice would you give to others looking to join the FIRE movement?

The pieces of advice I would suggest to anyone looking to gain financial freedom are the following:

Regardless if you’re certain you want to retire early or not, make it a point to save as much as you can.

Having a savings cushion opens many doors. For us, having a large cushion meant my wife could take a lower paying job, and we could still reach our dreams. The point is you don’t know what will happen in life, and having money saved allows for many more possibilities.

With that said, don’t save so much you don’t enjoy today — you need to find a healthy balance.

We could have saved a lot more than 50%, but we were happy at that savings rate. We could still go out and have fun. Even now, we could save more money, but the sacrifices are things we don’t want to give up.

It’s not all or nothing — find a balance.

Understand that retiring early doesn’t have to mean you’re retired and do nothing.

Many people in the FIRE movement still work when retired. It really should be called something else.

For us, we still plan on working, but on our terms. That could mean working for ourselves, or taking a part-time job, or even volunteering.

While you can retire and do nothing, the happiest retirees I found are the ones still living an active life.

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