The latest buzzword in the personal finance community is FIRE. Many of the most successful blogs now talk about FIRE. For those that don’t know, FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. The blogging community now has many blogs where people achieve financial freedom at a young age, and can retire well before traditional retirement age. Many boast of retiring in their 30’s.
This is a pretty cool movement, especially in the age where Millennials are breaking many of the molds created over years past.
I started thinking about it. I came to the conclusion that FIRE probably wouldn’t have been embraced by generations past.
Here’s my take on what I think generational mindsets are regarding FIRE.
Millennials (born 1980-2000s)
I think that millennials are the heart of the FIRE movement. Many don’t want the traditional life that they witnessed grown up. This stands to reason that many millennials are at the heart of the FIRE movement.
Generation X (born 1965-1979)
This is probably the dividing line between acceptance of FIRE and skepticism. Many in our generation have gone through enough recessions that we know things can change. We’ve seen good times and bad. The idea of FIRE sounds great, but many may see it as ‘too good to be true’.
Others in our generation still fall in the mindset that each generation should strive to be more successful than that prior. This has been pretty hard for our generation. There’s a lot more competition in the job market. We’re the first generation that saw most of our parents get a pension, but very few of us will. We have healthcare costs that previous generations did not. For many in our generation, just trying to keep up with our parents is hard enough. Adding in the goal of early retirement can seem even further out of reach.
Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)
The baby boomer generation was fueled by consumerism and prosperity. A lot of wealth was built by boomers. While making money wasn’t ‘easy’, boomers who worked hard found money flowed in. For many boomers, making money and achieving wealth was the goal. The big one.
Simply put, I think many boomers would have asked why they would give up making money when there was money to still be made?
Greatest & Silent Generations (born 1910-1945)
These generations were both impacted by the Great Depression. Because of this, FIRE would simply not have made any sense to them. Many here saw what it was like to struggle. To have nothing. Many people immigrated and started with nothing. The idea of retiring early would have been unheard of. For many in these generations, not having enough money was a giant fear. Even if they had enough, there was always the fear of what could happen. Why? Because many here had seen what could happen.
I think many in this generation would have been scornful of FIRE. To people in this generation, if you were able bodied, you worked. That’s just the way it was.
The Late 19th Century
In the late 19th century, everything was changing. Machines were making things easier and creating worldwide growth. Cities and population centers were exploding. There was so much to do that everybody had to pitch in. The demands of the world were plentiful, and everybody was expected to pitch in.
I think in this era, anybody who would have attempted FIRE would have been laughed out of whatever town they lived in.
Tribal Days (Going Way Back)
Hundreds of years ago, when we lived in tribes, everybody contributed. Many tribes expected every person to contribute. If you couldn’t, many tribes expelled you. Or worse. There would have been no FIRE here. If you had tried to stop working, the tribe would have taken what you have, and sent you away (or thrown you off a bridge).
Kind of makes working seem like a pretty good alternative, no?
FIRE Across The Generations
There’s my take on the generational acceptance of FIRE. I think that FIRE is a big thing because it truly is a new concept for many.
What do you think of my thoughts? Do you agree on how prior generations would have looked upon FIRE? What generation are you and what do you think of FIRE? Let me know in the comments below.