I read an article recently about Steve Jobs and when he introduced the iPhone to the world with a long presentation. The central point was that the Phone function and Text Function and even a basic Internet function were really secondary to the desire to have a bigger better iPod which had swept the market… it just happened to make calls, send text etc.
The Guru like status he has had since rather forgets that he and Apple did not see that the full integration was the killer app, the killer product and indeed made the point it was a bit accidental.
I reflected that in some ways there is perhaps a parallel to the FIRE philosophy and how it has morphed and evolved.
I came to the FIRE concept about 3 years ago by accident. I had sat down and worked out what it was we needed, how long we would likely live, and what we really needed to survive with part time work or no work. This led to us effectively retiring 2 years ago (almost to the week). The simple breaking down of spend, income streams, savings and a bit of forward budgeting was a revelation I spoke of before. As I started reading about FIRE and the many blogs and articles a few things have rather stood out.
Firstly, the original concept was Financial Independence…. the ‘Retire Early’ has rather been added. What I read about was that FI was not about retirement, but about being at a point investments could co-support working on what we really enjoyed to give a more fulfilling life.
Inevitably, some protagonists found they could sell up, move to (say) Thailand, or the Blue Ridge Mountains, live cheaply, travel, write and gain an income from Blogging or a few side hustles and survive perfectly well doing pretty much whatever they wanted to do. A sort of retirement. My overall impression was that this morphed FI to FIRE. Yes, I am being very simplistic but just thinking about the frame of it, that is how it seemed to me. It is logical to get to an FI point and then have the time to ask ‘how can I retire ?’ after all.
The next thing was to understand what Retirement actually meant, how long we would live, what we could draw from investments and all the numbers and schemes around that. Some I have written a bit, but I have a lot of drafts in progress to come about my thoughts.
Finally (and I know I am again being simplistic) we get to the variations: LeanFIRE and FatFIRE and sundry variations. The minimalist do it all early, life is too short etc, to those positively gloating about their millions. All variations of a theme.
So the parallel I drew to the Steve Jobs iPhone presentation was that in a similar way that he and Apple did not quite get the full integration, at the start of the FI movement, neither did many get that FI could become FIRE, could become LeanFire or FatFire. They did not get that the overall concept was not just about money, but was a way to live life. It all just seemed to start with ‘how can I stop doing what I don’t like and enjoy working again ?’.
I feel sure there are many views on this and who is to say I am right.
…. but it is food for thought that the unplanned and perhaps unintended consequence of starting a journey can lead to such a richer life.
Just go start the journey and take a chance !