Maybe you deserve to be FIRED

accreditation

If you are a salaried employee working in a job you don't like for a boss you despise, you have probably often asked yourself what are you doing there.

Many people spend their entire working lives in this unfortunate position – and it is one of the reasons so many people are stressed and unhappy.

It is astonishing to see the difference in these same people if you meet them a few years after they have retired. They are often much happier people. They may not have a lot of money to spare, but they are living better lives.

Is it time to ask yourself some questions?

Many people are not living so much as existing; not questioning why they are working so hard, what they are striving for, or how they really want to live their lives.

Many people follow the well-trodden path of going to school, getting a tertiary education, getting a job, raising children and then retiring one day.

There is nothing wrong with this path, provided you derive satisfaction from your labour and feel a sense of purpose and self-worth. Sadly, however, this is not always the case.

If you are in the unfortunate position of not feeling satisfied, purposeful and worthy, perhaps it is time to ask yourself what you really want to do with your life. There are many sensible solutions – and perhaps it is time to FIRE yourself.

The case for FIRE

FIRE (Financial Independence and Retire Early) is a movement born in the USA. It consists of people who turned the traditional concept of working upside down. Its committed members can be quite extreme in their choices, but they offer valuable lessons for all salaried employees.

Financial independence is well understood by now. You need sufficient assets in order to earn enough income to cover your lifestyle costs. Generally, most people work their adult lives to achieve financial independence.

FIRE turns this concept on its head by getting people to focus on what they would need, at a minimum, to get by every day. From there, they work out how to achieve this minimum standard. Having achieved this minimum standard, they stop working completely or find meaningful work without too much concern about payment.

People who are serious about this lifestyle start by asking themselves the following kinds of questions:

  • Do we, as a couple, need two cars?
  • Do I really need a car that costs so much? What about a car that is a means of transport only?
  • Do I need the latest smartphone?
  • Do I need a cappuccino every day?
  • Do I need to live in a big city/ in a house with more bedrooms than inhabitants?
  • Can I grow my own food, not just as a hobby?
  • Can I barter excess produce with other people, for essentials?
  • If I am not able to stop working entirely, can I live a largely FIRE existence already, so that I can save 45-75% of my earnings to reach my goal?

Radical changes

Some of the changes above may seem extreme. However, you must identify your purpose. What do you really want to do with your time? How do you want to spend your life? If you find purpose in your life and are happy to spend your time as you currently are, congratulations! If you are not this fortunate, however, perhaps it is time to reconsider your priorities.

Most people belonging to the FIRE movement continue to do some side jobs, but they can earn sporadic income without undue financial pressure – and the additional income becomes a bonus for luxuries rather than necessities.

Need help?

It would be a mistake to think adopting a FIRE lifestyle by choice is easy. Making financial and lifestyle sacrifices can be very difficult.

One of the best ways to change your spending habits is to join a group of like-minded people. These FIRE groups are quite vibrant in the USA, and people share ideas on saving and living frugally. They spend time together cost-effectively, i.e. cooking at home rather than going to restaurants. They arrange picnics or go hiking rather than going to movies.

Consider joining or starting your own group in South Africa. Alternatively, you can get a financial 'training buddy' – someone you can share your goals with, and who can help keep you motivated when times get tough.

  • Warren Ingram is a wealth manager at Galileo Capital. Views expressed are his own. Contact him on @warreningram

* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
14.52
-0.1%
Rand - Pound
20.21
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
17.17
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.73
+0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.0%
Gold
1,801.30
-0.2%
Silver
25.14
-0.1%
Palladium
2,654.04
-0.0%
Platinum
1,004.54
-0.4%
Brent Crude
71.29
+1.3%
Top 40
62,200
0.0%
All Share
68,371
0.0%
Resource 10
69,148
0.0%
Industrial 25
86,202
0.0%
Financial 15
13,559
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Should pension fund members be allowed to access their savings before retirement?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, it's their money to do with as they please.
33% - 193 votes
No, more people will end up without enough savings in retirement.
37% - 214 votes
Depends on how big the withdrawal limits will be.
31% - 179 votes
Vote