I have the hardest time telling (common) people I’m FIRE.
What Do You Do?
For me, in FIRE it can be very strange when someone asks you “what do you do?” Being in your 40s, the normal answer is “profession=XYZ, family=ABC, blah blah blah.” In my mind, I never thought it would be strange to say “I’m retired” since that is the standard nomenclature for no longer being tied to a 9 to 5 job. But I realized the full phrase is more completely “9 to 5 to 65.”
Yes, I know that retiring at 65 may be extremely optimistic for many people in our consumerist society, after all, there were many ‘things’ their family needs to enjoy their life together (watercrafts, ATVs, home theaters, new/smart appliances, larger vehicles with entertainment systems so little Tommy wouldn’t be bored driving 10 minutes to the (artisan) grocery store. First world problems to be sure.
It’s possible for many people that 65 arrives and the old SUV’s entertainment system relies on these things called DVDs or CDs (I have a cassette deck-adapter connected to my iphone) and the in-dash GPS has maps that were last updated 15 years ago…oh wait, nobody drives a 15-year-old car, well except people like us. Many people will arrive at 65 with LOTS of purchases in their past, but few assets/investments now.
I’m Retired … [silence]
My wife FIREd 3 years before me. She told me I would have a hard time telling people I was retired. I thought she was crazy. Why? After all we had done to live good but below our means, save and invest, etc, etc, it just made sense to be free from working 9-5. It shouldn’t be a big deal to others, it’s cool, right?
She was right! (as usual) Telling people you are “retired”—one word that to me means “I’m not forced to work a job to pay my expenses” seems to mean “old” to most everyone. There was always just utter confusion on many faces with my being retired. The concept of “what I do” was totally inconceivable to everyone. [live like no one else, so you can live like no one else—Dave Ramsey, is spot on]
If I didn’t want to use the word “retire” or more detailed “retired early” (anger-inducing) I could say I am FIREd, but I feel to most people the term FI seems elitist, a better-than-you classification. USUALLY it just means, we spent/wasted less than most others…and now we’re spending that money.
At our vacation trailer, a neighbor used the term “financially comfortable” which I thought was a great term. To me, it means, we have money set aside but we’re using some of our money to enjoy life. This isn’t a rich person position, nor is it a strapped with-bills-each-month and a missed paycheck is doom position. Financially Sound could be a family that has an emergency fund and some long-term savings (and tax deferred retirement savings).
I feel people in FI and FIRE are more than financially comfortable. Maybe we are near the ultimate in “comfortable.” The term Financially Sound came into my head as the position of rock-solid financial base. This is probably on the FU/FI Money scale, maybe just before FU and then FI. I believe Financially Sound is less off-putting to commoners (i.e the masses/consumerists—not that there’s anything wrong with that path in life).
So what do I tell people I do? Don’t laugh because it’s not totally absurd, I say “I do consulting.” That is usually enough to let me (try to become charming and) ask about them, show interest, which I truly am interested 99% of the time. In truth, I may do plenty of consulting. I may help others with technology, or help someone find something around town, help with some research, tell someone about a good restaurant, a Costco special, the cheapest gas station, whatever. It may be stretching the truth, but it’s not off-putting.
So, what do I do? I enjoy every day on my schetchle. I stay active running, biking, going to the gym, playing hockey. I read and learn for hours every day. I try to help others frequently (three people per day is a great goal). I try to get more zen to heighten my life enjoyment. I think I just enjoy. Just imagine if everyone could wake up each morning—or go to sleep knowing that tomorrow—and know all they have to do is enjoy their day.
When will people understand FIREd does not mean being fired from work, being laid off/RIFd/having your job taken away. It is the absolute opposite, walking away from your job on your own terms. Thought: I wish FIRE had FU in the acronym…that’s the independent in me. There is no question FI & FIRE are showing up more often in the media, but often as a radical concept…except to those of us who know the magical power. FIRE away.