The idea of financial freedom is something which many people long for. What exactly is the definition of financial freedom? It is going to be different for each person. Forbes.com defines financial freedom as being “in control of your finances and your life choices.” Ramseysolutions.com defines it as making “life decisions without being overly stressed about the financial impact because you are prepared. You control your finances instead of being controlled by them.”
Both of these definitions might be true, however it is important to remember Black people are not always afforded these same opportunities. As we know, Black people have been historically stigmatized throughout history and continue to be disparaged in today’s society. Erin C. Perkins for moneygeek.com wrote “For centuries, the struggle for African Americans to build, secure and maintain wealth has been ongoing in the United States.” Black people are not being provided with the resources to access financial freedom as easily as non-Black people. Therefore, at Revived Prosperity, we hope to provide knowledge on building wealth and creating financial independence. One way to do that would be the F.I.R.E. method (financial independence, retire early).
Investopedia.com defines F.I.R.E. as being “dedicated to extreme savings and investments that allow a person to retire far earlier than usual.” People following the F.I.R.E movement strive to save approximately 70% of their normal annual income and withdraw in small increments. These withdrawals would ideally be only 3-4% of a person’s savings yearly. This movement was inspired by the book “Your Money or Your Life” originally released in 1992 by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. In their book, they offer a nine step program which shows ways to get out of debt, save money, reprioritize, etc.
Therefore, following the F.I.R.E. method, a person should aim to save roughly 25-30 times all annual expenses. For many, this number is above $1,000,000.00. At that point, a person should be able to quit their job and retire successfully. This works for some people. However, it is important to note that this method does not work for everyone. There are many factors to consider when making the choice to follow F.I.R.E. According to investopedia.com, there are three forms of F.I.R.E people can follow:
- s“Fat FIRE” – This is for the person who wants to save more than average, but does not give up how they are currently living. Note that this does require having a higher rate of pay and knowing how to save and invest.
- “Lean FIRE” – This is for the person who is willing to live a minimalist lifestyle. This typically requires a great level of savings and having the ability to live on less than $25,000.00 in a year.
- “Barista Fire” – This is for those who do not want to work a standard business hours job. However, they will work a part-time job and use their savings to live “a less-than-minimalist lifestyle.”
No matter what method of F.I.R.E. a person may follow, it requires a lot of diligence and intense planning to achieve the goal of early retirement.
A person may assume that something like this is not a realistic goal. However, more people are successfully making F.I.R.E. work for them. One example would be Kiersten and Julian Saunders. Alessandra Malito of marketwatch.com wrote “in…eight years, they’ve managed to pay off $200,000.00 in debt, buy rental properties…” and much more. Malito states that they have been on track to retire by the middle of 2021. An important point that the Saunders make is that “their FIRE number is…a moving target…and sticking to a static number may be a flaw….” Our lives are always changing, and we have to account for unexpected expenses popping up every now and then. Some expenses may be small, while others may be life changing. Therefore, when choosing to follow F.I.R.E., a person has to be prepared for these things.
Jackie Cummings Koski is another person who used the F.I.R.E. method to retire early. According to Charlene Rhinehart of blackenterprises.com, Jackie managed to gain a networth of $1,300,000.00 and retired at only 49 years old. Rhinehart makes it clear that this was no easy task for Jackie Koski to accomplish. She went through a divorce in 2004 in which she realized her husband’s retirement account had $120,000.00 in it. Her retirement account only had $20,000.00. Rhinehart writes that “This motivated Koski to join a local investment club to learn more about investing.” Investing pushed her towards taking F.I.R.E. seriously and moving forward in her progress quickly. After leaving her job, she began to work with others to educate on reaching financial freedom.
F.I.R.E. is a very aggressive method of trying to achieve financial independence. Therefore, it is definitely not for everyone, and requires a lot of planning. Even with being that diligent about saving money, none of us have the ability to see the future. Being flexible, or treating F.I.R.E. as a “moving target” like the Saunders mentioned, is very important. We all have to determine our priorities which includes what is important to us currently, and what will be important in the future. This is the key to trying to plan for financial freedom.