The FatFIRE movement of people working hard to retire early in ‘huge warehouses’

Joshua decided to take stock of his life about a year ago. He had just turned 33 and, after nearly a decade of working six days a week at a startup that had reached a nine-figure valuation, had taken away $2 million in liquid capital, $10 million in illiquid stock options and some real estate investments .

Most of his savings came from a recent sale of shares in his startup, but Joshua has lived what he calls a “pretty modest life.” He didn’t buy new clothes, put money into long-term investments whenever he could, and since he worked constantly, he took very few vacations and didn’t have many hobbies.

To build the level of capital needed to retire, Joshua had sacrificed a lot.

“I guess I’m 33 and single,” he joked Luck. “But the biggest sacrifice is free time. There’s no work-life balance. That’s gone.”

Once he realized he had done enough to never have to work again, Joshua decided it was time to retire. He always dreamed of building a house in the country and living off his passive investments as he traveled the world. Who doesn’t?

While retiring at 33 is unusual anywhere in the world, stopping young has always been Joshua’s ultimate goal. “Life is short and allowing myself to live life to the fullest, go with the flow and give it space, get rid of the system, that was my focus,” Joshua said. Luck.

Joshua, who did not want to use his last name, believes in FatFIRE, which stands for Fat Financial Independence and Early Retirement.

While “quiet resignation” has dominated the headlines and young workers flock to social media to vent their frustrations about the downsides of employment and capitalism, people like Joshua have turned to FatFIRING.

If quitting quietly is simply doing the bare minimum a job requires in a quest for a more equal work/life balance, FatFIRING advocates the opposite. He tells people to lean into work instead of out and rush as hard as they can to achieve the same thing most workers want: freedom.

How does FatFIRE work?

The online forum subreddit r/fatFIRE is full of people discussing investments, sharing advice and telling stories about FatFIRED—the day they retire in their 30s or 40s after having millions of dollars saved up in liquid and illiquid investments.

FatFIRErs, described by the tagline “retire with fat to hide,” try to retire on a budget that allows them to spend about $100,000 a year.

They often work at large tech companies, corporate law firms or their own startups, earning millions over the course of their careers. They then invest their money in small businesses and real estate that generate good, reliable profit margins in order to get to the point where working for money is never something they have to think about again.

The concept of FIRE is not new and first appeared in the United States in a 1990s newsletter called The Tightwad Gazette. Since then, the movement has grown online and expanded its definition to include LeanFIRING—where someone wants to live lean to escape the 9-to-5 through early retirement—and FatFIRE.

FatFIRE split off from the FIRE movement in 2016, motivated by people who were interested in FIRE but wanted a much higher standard of living. It was launched by a Reddit user who said he was tired of all the “just cut your expenses to the bone and buy vanguard index funds” noise parroted endlessly” and wanted to create a smaller community of wealthier FIREers.

The r/fatFIRE subreddit eventually outgrew both FIRE and leanFIRE and now has over 325,000 members who are ambitious, career-oriented, and value time and freedom above all else.

Generation gap

As different as they may seem, both SILENTS and FIRERS want the same thing, according to Alex Bryson, professor of quantitative social sciences at University College London.

To understand what this is, he points to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – the five-level model often depicted in the shape of a pyramid.

At the bottom of the pyramid are physiological needs such as food and shelter. A higher one is security—which often comes in the form of financial security. above that is love and belonging. then estimate; and finally self-actualization, or the highest level of physiological development.

Bryson argues that the new generation of workers is “questioning the relationship between paid work and reaching the top of that pyramid,” which is causing trends like quiet resignation and FatFIRING to emerge.

Age often determines which group people belong to. While young people at the start of their careers may look towards quietly stopping and disengagement as a means to a more fulfilling life, millennials and older generations who have worked for years may be more inclined to sign up for FatFIRING.

Job satisfaction across generations is the lowest it has been in 20 years, according to a report by insurance and benefits company MetLife. A recent survey by Gallup also found that about 50% of 15,000 US workers over the age of 18 were “disengaged” at work, meaning they felt disconnected from work and did the bare minimum.

As disengagement from work reaches an all-time high and employers hang on to their employees by a thread, it could pave the way for a generation of new FIRERS.

Be careful what you wish for

FatFIRING isn’t open to everyone, of course – and may be unrealistic (and unhealthy) for many.

According to Bryson, those who can FatFIRE are a subset of people who are “lucky enough to be in their position, who have valuable skills or opportunities that allow them to maximize their income early on.

“Most people are never in that position.”

Dana J. Menard, founder and financial planner at Twin Cities Wealth Strategies, puts a number on it: He says only about 10 percent of the population has what it takes to achieve FatFIRE status. And for those who do, there are risks.

Menard argues that the main danger of living a FatFIRE lifestyle is what happens after FIRING is achieved: “One of the biggest downsides I see… is that once they reach that ultimate goal of ‘retirement,’ they’re miserable. The idea of ​​retirement is much better than the reality of retirement.”

Removing the social construct that traditional work offers people can have a negative impact on mental health, he says, and leave some people finding themselves “just bored”.

Bryson from the University of Oxford agrees, arguing that “learning and then stopping is fraught with problems.” There’s an inherent risk of burnout when you try to work as much as you can to retire early, he says, and even when they’re successful, FatFIRERs “have no real idea of ​​what it’s going to feel like to go from one to zero. “

Indeed, on the r/fatFIRE community board there are many warnings from people who have suddenly decided to quit all work and travel, only to find themselves plagued with mental health issues caused by loneliness.

But for many others, the goal of FatFIRING is still a dream worth pursuing. For them, one of the highest-profile posts ever on the r/fatFIRE subreddit, by user Snoo68013, could serve as the rallying cry: “Good food. Enjoy relationships. Exercise and enjoy sex. Sleep well. Call parents. That’s all there is to life. Greed has no end.

“Repeat after me. Time is the currency of life. Money is not.”

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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