The Evolution of your FIRE Pursuit

I thought it would be interesting to talk about my own changing attitude towards my FIRE pursuit and that it would also be great to learn about yours as well. After all, That’s one of the main reasons for me creating this blog: to share and to learn during the FI journey.

So first off – don’t worry. I haven’t changed my attitude to be anti FIRE… I don’t believe it can’t be done now, it’s crazy, that it’s best to spend it all now – you could be dead tomorrow etc… I have however as alluded to in other posts changed my focus slightly and the specifics of the goal/target has changed. So firstly, let’s start with what hasn’t changed.

  • I am fully committed towards reaching Financial Independence. For me being Financial independent is simply the ability to no longer NEED to earn an income for all my basic needs in life. This includes having a home, paying all essential bills and also having a small amount of discretionary weekly money for small treats.
  • I still aim for the next few years at least to have a savings rate of above 50% of my post tax salary (Currently sitting at 58%)
  • I still aim to reach a £250,000 FI Fund within the next 3 years (Project 2235)

So what’s changed?

I think if I was to sum it up – the strictness of my original approach and ultimate goals has changed. I will now talk about the specific areas I think best highlight these changes and how the evolution of FIRE is occurring for me personally.

The ERE Approach & Depriving yourself


During my early FIRE years, I courted the Early Retirement Extreme movement as it were. I think this was of course mainly due to me trying to speed up the time it would take for me to FIRE. I wasn’t happy with having to wait what I originally had down as 23 years to FIRE. I cut back on so much when it come to my expenses and took seriously even the ideas of not owning a car, biking to work etc. As I discussed in my post on depriving yourself, I really took a good hard look at whether I was perhaps depriving myself with my strict pursuit of FI.

Firstly, I know the feeling of being deprived and judging whether something is or isn’t depriving yourself is a very personal thing. I would never say something is or isn’t as any universal law as each to their own but for me I certainly felt I was depriving myself of some joy and quality of life with how strict I was being. For example I couldn’t give up the benefits of owning a car. I love being able to just drive to and from friends, go to work that’s far away if the job is enjoyable. It would be a huge sacrifice to me if I didn’t have a car.

I now completely spend money guilt free, even large amounts of money on things that will bring me great value and joy. I recently bought a new 4K 65INCH LG OLED TV with a PS4 Pro. Doing that would have left me so conflicted in the past but I made the decision to buy those after a lengthy period of consideration, research and waiting for the right price. I spend more money now on going out to eat and drink at least once per week as I get a lot of joy out of those activities. I no longer think, I should of perhaps invested the difference etc. I make the decision based on the joy to stuff ratio so to speak. I happily spend money to go on multi day trips around the UK and trips to Amsterdam etc as this brings me great joy also. This for me is a big and healthy change as I already invest so much each month…

With this said, I am still very careful with my money. I still buy 20 lots of Branston baked beans (4xcans) when on offer. I still look for deals all over the place and withhold spending money on so many things that my peers spend on without even thinking. I still track money spent to the penny in my spreadsheets and I never waste my money so to speak.

Escape the Rat Race (FI or FIRE?)

I have written before about what I think makes a job good. I went from having a job I really disliked to a job that I now really enjoy. This really has helped change my attitude towards wanting to stop working entirely. I know that not everyone can find a job they enjoy but it is certainly possible to find one. I can no longer see myself retiring at 35 being able to afford the bare essentials in perpetuity. I think if I can keep my current job and things don’t drastically change which I know is of course possible, I wouldn’t want to stop before turning 40 at least. The benefits of FI on its own would be far enough for me as I already feel at this point that I choose to work and that will only get stronger the closer I get to and ultimately when I reach FI. 

The main reason for not wanting to fully FIRE is that work really doesn’t feel like work to me in my current job and I’ve been here 3 years nearly now so I don’t think it’s the honeymoon period either. There’s always things that are annoying, but the good far outweighs the bad. I also think being so far along the FI journey no doubt has helped hugely with this work sentiment as knowing you don’t have to do a job into your 60s or that you could last decades without working right now really takes away a lot of the negatives.

Cast Iron 4% Rule (The FI Fundamentals)

In my years since learning about the the FI movement and the whole concept of being able to live off your money in almost perpetuity if you take 4% of your pot + inflation going forward for multiple decades. I have sold the idea to a few of my friends very passionately. At least 3 of them as a result now invest monthly as do I and are working towards this goal albeit at differing speeds and levels of commitment. 

Setting aside whether 3.5% or 3% is actually the best bet for the future let’s just consider the belief that if you invest in a mix of bonds and stocks, reach a certain amount and then you can withdraw from that without ever having to work again. How much I believe that this is a sure fire thing (pun not intended) has gone from being around 99% perhaps to 90%. This is important because it has changed the degree to which I am willing to put so much on the line to pull the trigger. I like the analogy I heard the once about playing Russian roulette. I will gladly play Russian roulette knowing that there would be 1 bullet in the gun but 9 chances of FI going as planned as long as the bullet would be a strong rubber bullet that would no doubt hurt me but at least not kill me…

This cautious part of me that doesn’t want to put everything on the line for this goal is one of the reasons I own my own home and still have cash in the bank. A lot of people within the FI movement have suggested to me that I should sell my home, invest the money and rent instead to maximise my investing and reach FI quicker. That I should get rid of most of my Cash is King fund and invest this as well. If I truly believe in FI, then why wouldn’t I has been said? I think my answer is exactly that I do believe in FI through investing but not to such a degree I will risk my home and all my cash and put absolutely everything into it so to speak. I still don’t want all my eggs in one basket. I feel very similar to Mr Money Moustache when talks about having several layers of so called protection in case things didn’t go to plan and that he is a slight wuss by some accounts on that front. I use the 4% rule as a general gage of how long my money will last but that is protected with the additional expectation of Inheritances, private and public Pensions not being included in the totals and additionally no hard wish to never earn money again. 

All of this aside, I still fundamentally believe we are investing in humanity and that this will work in the long run. I am investing huge amounts of money every month, I just don’t want to risk completely wiping myself out if I am wrong that’s all.

Static FI Target & Rushing towards FI

My initial FI target when I first got into the movement was £250,000 so that I could live off £10,000 a year. This is still a target of mine with my recent Project 2235 post. This however it not a static target at which point I will pull the trigger on FI. This is just my short term target to get me to that barebones FI achievement. This will feel great no doubt but will not be the end of the story. When I get to this, I will reassess to see if I will then pull back on my savings rate and spend some money on doing up my house inside or buying a new car, pay for a wedding, or go on a world cruise etc. Who knows… I am no longer religiously sticking to a pull FIRE trigger amount or date.

This leads me onto the most important part of my FI pursuit evolution. I am no longer in such a dam rush to reach full FI and/or FIRE. My most important goal is to enjoy the next 3 years and not solely to get to my 3 year goal of £250,000 as quickly as possible in a way that slightly deprives every day living (Similar to only living for the weekend so to speak). This is still a big goal of mine which I am working very hard to achieve and I will still be investing £1500 a month to help achieve this, Its just that I am no longer as desperate anymore to get to the finish line so fast…

I can’t help but think this change in priority or perhaps more urgency is because I am already living through so many of the benefits of FI right now that I am so far down the path, I think if I was to get to £250,000 tomorrow, it wouldn’t make me that much more happy than I am now, and that feels epic…

Thanks very much for reading my article. I’d love to know if your pursuit of FIRE has changed at all or even if it’s more or less identical at the end to how you envisioned it at the start.

Chris @ TheFIJourney

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weenie
6 months ago

Interesting to read how your attitude has changed, Chris. You sound like you are very content where you are and that’s a great place to be, allowing you to just get on with and enjoy life. As you say, what’s the damn rush? I’ve mentioned that I’ve never really gone down the extreme FIRE road of depriving myself. I knew from the start that it wouldn’t work with me, it was unsustainable and liable to make me miserable. I know it shouldn’t matter what people think but it matters to me that there’s a semblance of living a normal life… Read more »

TheFIJourney
5 months ago
Reply to  weenie

Hey weenie. Thanks for your reply. Yeah I always thought you were not the ERE type based on your blog content. Each to their own indeed. Yeah people have actually said in comments that if you really believe in Fire then you would sell your home and invest as you will make more money doing that etc. Even if that’s potentially true, paying a premium or in essence missed opportunity costs are worth it to be able to sleep well at night. I don’t want to rent personally, I love owning my own home close to family. Have zero plans… Read more »

Jase
5 months ago

I know that feeling very well – When I first started FIRE I had this inherent urge to go as fast as I could. The pressure to keep the savings rate as high as possible and seeing others do so well created for me, that need / desire to want to FIRE ASAP. Realistically though, it can’t be done like that – “Slow and steady wins the race” applies to the FIRE principle to me very much so! We all have our own hurdles to over come and months of expenses. I realised it’s not a race (eventually) which led… Read more »

TheFIJourney
5 months ago
Reply to  Jase

Thanks for your comment Jase. Like you say, realising it’s not a race and stopping questioning every single purchase so strictly can be a relief, it certainly was for me.

The key is a balance that doesn’t deprive you from things you enjoy and that make life enjoyable day to day.

Chris

theFIREstarter
5 months ago

Sounds like we’ve had a similar evolution of thought on FI/RE over a very similar time frame. Once you have a bit of cash in the bank life somehow does become less stressful and work somehow becomes easier to take, although instead of finding a new job I just went part time instead, surely had something to do with it. The point is there is no one size fits all “race to FI” plan and in fact those that do that kind of thing are clearly going to be the outliers. With regards to the mortgage advice, that is again… Read more »