The 4 Flavors of FIRE – Which Are You Shooting For?

The 4 Flavors of FIRE – Which Are You Shooting For?

FIRE fields

Hey guys!

So we all know that FIRE stands for Financial Independence Retire Early here, but did you know that there were actually different *types* of FIRE that you could shoot for? Depending on how comfortable you want to be in retirement, as well as how long you’re willing to wait to get there?

I didn’t, but after seeing them pop up in that recent NY Times article that was floating around our community, I’ve been spending some time poking around & matching up the best version for my future 🙂

Here was the article if you want to check it out (super click-baity, gah) – How to Retire in Your 30s With $1 Million in the Bank  – but it features a ton of $$$ bloggers as well as these new-to-me flavors of FIRE:

  • Lean FIRE — “retiring” and living off a lot less
  • Fat FIRE — “retiring” and living off a lot more
  • And Barista FIRE -“retiring” and then working part-time at Starbucks to get company health insurance or other benefits, haha…

And then of course there’s regular FIRE, which sits somewhere in between Lean and Fat, and was the only FIRE I knew up until this point.

(I put “”around “retirement”, btw, since we all know you’re not truly retiring from doing stuff, you’re just switching your energy from doing stuff you don’t enjoy to that which you DO. Whether for money or personal satisfaction! I have yet to meet anyone who’s FIREd and just sits on their ass all day!)

Personally I’m shooting for regular FIRE with a mix of Barista FIRE, but I’d gladly take any FIRE 🙂 I don’t necessarily want to live real sparsely in retirement, but I also don’t need to live super luxuriously either. As long as my family has enough to survive + a little extra fun, I think we’ll be just fine. And since I always plan on working on *something* on the side anyways, whether on my own projects or at a coffee shop or bar or any other jobs I want to try one day, any additional perks that come would be gravy. And I’d imagine it’s a lot more fun working side gigs when you’re not in it for the money! 🙂

To put some hard numbers around this stuff though, I refer you to Adam of Minafi.com who put together a pretty impressive – and much more in-depth! – report around these variations of FIRE for much better context: What’s the Difference Between Fire, Lean Fire, and Fat Fire?

He came up with the following framework based on his research and polling of the space, which makes it even easier to determine which areas you’d fit in best:

  • Lean FIRE: living off $0 – $40k yearly income  (<$1,000,000 needed)
  • Regular FIRE: living off $40k – $100k yearly income ($1,000,000 – $2,500,000 needed)
  • Fat FIRE:  living off $100k+ yearly income ($2,500,000+ needed)
  • (Barista FIRE: the above range that fits you best, minus estimated insurance/perks?)

The number “needed” to hit these goals is based on the Trinity Study that many of us follow, which basically says you can live off 4% of your investments in perpetuity, or calculated another way: 25x your yearly expenses. So if you plan only needing $40,000 a year to live off, then you’d need $1,000,000 banked which is 25 x $40,000 and drops you in Lean FIRE range.

For me, it comes out to $1,800,000 if I want to retire with my current standard of living ($6,000/mo x 12 x 25), but in a perfect world it would be closer to $1,200,000 ($4,000/mo x 12 x 25) which still falls in the realm of regular FIRE. And in which case I’d need to have a paid off house or my kids out the door or any other substantial change in my lifestyle to make it a reality. All of which is pretty far away, haha…

I love seeing all these different versions of FIRE though, because it really helps remind you to pay attention to your *future vision* vs what’s going on in the here and now. Something I have a hard time keeping in mind myself, since I can barely forecast my life past tomorrow, no less the next decade or two 😉 But maybe you’re better at this than I? And possibly already living off your ideal expenses, making for an even smoother transition down the line?

At any rate, check out that article by Adam if this stuff interests you because it’s pact full of great stats and more thorough breakdowns, and also includes some excellent charts around what others in our community are working towards too.

Here’s a couple of them below. What version of FIRE are you shooting for?

types of fire chart

fire goals community

[click to enlarge any of the graphs]

 

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