I was recently listening to the May 25th edition of the Stacking Benjamins Podcast, and they had on as their guest the host of the Marriage, Kids & Money Podcast, Andy Hill. For those unfamiliar, Andy also does a podcast where he “explores personal finance topics to strengthen your family tree and live financially free.” I’ve listened to a few, and they are fine podcasts, as is the Stacking Benjamins show. Please do not take the comments below as any criticism of any of the individuals involved.
As the interview progressed, it appeared that Andy filled in many of the perceptions a lot of folks (including Mrs. 39 Months) have of the FIRE movement. Both Andy and his wife had high-paying jobs almost from the beginning, and took the opportunity to maximize their savings. While Andy noted that they did spend money to live their life (moved to larger home, etc.) they also saved a massive amount of money. Even when his wife left her job to raise the kids, they had enough with his six-figure salary to continue to fund their lifestyle and sock away cash.
After reviewing the situation (Andy’s wife wasn’t completely on board with FIRE concepts) they realized they could take their savings and the extra money they made, and pay off their mortgage quickly vs. using that to move to a larger house. Fast forward less than four years, and they were mortgage free! Congratulations to them, and its great that they can share that story to the world.
The problem is that the vast majority of folks will never make six figures, or even have a combined salary of six figures. Because of that, it is almost impossible for them to see the lessons provided here as applying to them (even though a lot of people could benefit from the frugality and savings lessons). Because a lot of FIRE folks are like Andy and his family, it seems like that is what the FIRE story is all about – take your massive income, be frugal, and get independent in your early years.
It seems to me that a lot of the blog posts I read in the community are similar to this, and I’m starting to suffer from “FIRE blog exhaustion.” A lot of the same stories, told by similar people. I long to read more blog postings of folks in the lower middle-class, working and suffering as they slowly move towards FI. I think a lot more people would commiserate with the community if they could read stories like that. It would provide them with lessons they could see themselves learning from.
I know I’m not one to talk. As an engineer in his 50s, I’m earning a very good salary, and since my mid-30s, we have had more than enough that we didn’t have to struggle and could put away money in greater amounts every year. Still, I’ll be on the lookout in the months ahead, and hope to update my blog roll with some of this.
Mr. 39 Months