Playing with FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)

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FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. The participants try and live a frugal life, save, and invest the money to reach a particular number beyond which one does not have to work. The belief is that you can live on the passive income generated by the corpus.

Most of the FIRE literature and discussion is about arriving at the number, the lifestyle one must follow to reach that number, and the investment options to get you there.

In all this discussion, one forgets the critical question, "What will you do when you get to that number?" There is an assumption that the question does not deserve much merit because one can travel, watch films, drink with friends and pass their time without much worry.

In reality, though, it is the most important question one needs to face. Many studies have pointed out instances of depression after retirement, even at the average retirement age. It is natural. Work is a source of immense pleasure through its intellectual challenges, the social environment it offers, and the fulfillment it delivers due to the feeling of doing something worthwhile.

The critical question one needs to answer is to figure out how to move towards a life full of things that one wants to do. If you have an activity or activities that you avoided because there was not much money in it, these are the ideal candidates for later life. One makes those compromises all their life due to the worldly compulsions of earning money, raising a family, and fulfilling social obligations. In the process, one chooses the work that comes to their way or work that offers a decent financial payoff.

What FIRE gets right is the desire to carve out a path that reduces the compromises made to financial compulsions. It allows one to minimize activities one HAS to do and increase the activities one WANTS to do. If one uses the framework to move towards a life that will enable one to work on things that a delight, one can build a life that will allow one to "Tap dance to work."

Let us, therefore, start a movement called FINER(Financial Independence, No End to Recreation), where your work is a source of delight.

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