Financial Independence, Retire early a.k.a FIRE. Do you want FIRE?
Not common during my time (haha)
You want FIRE? You must be younger than me today. This is quite a new concept because people of my generation or even my parents generation are not well known to think about retiring at 40. I am 43 this year. However these days, many do believe it is now possible to achieve FIRE and then they could do what they love to do without needing to do the tasks / projects which the boss wanted them to complete. Let us not debate on whether can or cannot. I am sure many could achieve this. Already I have many younger friends who could just stop working if they like.
Let us look at what may be necessary if one would like to just stop working full-time and do whatever one likes to do. It could be travelling or even as simple as watching Korean drama every night and day. Here are the 4 signs one is ready to FIRE. By the way, ready to FIRE and ability to keep the FIRE until the day we say bye-bye will depend on many circumstances too. Many of these circumstances may be sudden and unanticipated.
#1 – What’s the age target?
We want to achieve FIRE. Have we decided on the age which we would achieve this? When we hit our 35th birthday? When we reach 40 years old? How about 45 then? By the way, even 50 is fine because the life expectancy is no longer 65 like long time ago but it’s 80 these days and the expectations is that this will continue to increase in future. Thus, retiring at 50 still meant another 30 years more to enjoy the FIRE.
#2 – What’s the earning power like? (Yes, active income has to be way higher than your expenses so that you could save / invest)
Are we also working towards that goal by earning more than what people typically earns every month? Let’s take RM11,000 salary per month for calculation. This is the minimum household income for a T20 household in Malaysia. If these T20 households need to work 40 years (retire at 60) before they could retire, then if we wanted to retire earlier than them, then perhaps we stay focused on just working for 20 years and aiming at RM22,000 per month?
#3 – What’s the passive income AFTER FIRE? (Yes, passive income will now have to be higher than your expenses)
When we actively get a fixed income every month, everything seems fine. As soon as stop working and we do not have a fixed income every month, then we better ensure we have a recurring income every month. Preferably this recurring should be almost the same as fixed income if not more. Just now we used RM22,000 per month as a benchmark. Well, if we want to save enough money into Fixed Deposit to earn RM22,000 interest per month, then we need to have RM13.2 million saved into FD in the bank. Erm… how?
Do note that property investments are illiquid even if we get a positive rental return every month. Meanwhile stock market, even if we were to buy the bluechip counter would still have unforeseen circumstances. Many of these companies which were deemed to be as strong as the oak tree has fallen. Nothing’s certain these days. So, do plan in some disruptions to these passive income which we are earning. It’s like having 6 months of savings just in case we got retrenched and needed a new job.
#4 – Are we protected against unforeseen circumstances?
You want FIRE? Do get ready for unforeseen circumstances too. Do call up your insurance broker friends to understand more about medical cards, about other necessary protections based on our age and lifestyle. Please do not be penny wise and pound foolish because any sudden trips to the hospital for a week will likely to cause a huge dent in the expenses for many months. Suddenly, we are in deficit for the monthly passive income versus the expenses.
#5 – How low could our expenses be?
Beyond just the passive income focus, we also needed to know how low could our expenses go. If we are STILL paying rental, then do remember this amount goes up every year. My advice is to own a property which is fully paid on the day you decided you are ready for FIRE. Do finish paying for the car too and continue to drive the same car. If we intend to travel a lot, have we factored in this into the financial calculation?
If we are used to spending RM100 for food every day, are we ready to spend lesser? All these are to anticipate a sudden drop in passive income as well. No one knows when the future pandemic may strike.
#6 – WHY do we need FIRE anyway?
After all these and now I am saying this? Haha. Truth is, the lifestyle life we wanted need not be the life we need to have everyday. I love to have coffee with friends and just talk about everything under the sun. I do not need to do this daily. I love to jump into the sea and build some bad looking sand castles but I do not need to do this weekly. I have visited probably around 20 countries thus far and I would love to do this more often than every other month but I still love my hometown and all my family members too.
By the way, what if I love my what I do? Haha. I love people interaction. I love to share what I know. I love to write. These are what I am already doing today. As they say, if you love what you do, a job becomes an interest. When it’s an interest, you will be good in what you do and somehow all the rest could just fall in place.
#7 – We may already be some FIRE now.
Sit down and understand what’s the real difference of having a full-time job (which you have maybe 18 days of annual leaves and a total of 120 days of weekends and public holidays) versus a full 365 days of doing what we love to do. Do you want FIRE, everyday? Statistically, we already can do what we like 30% of all the days we have in a year. Not too bad, right? This is especially true if our current fixed income already covers all our expenses including those vacations, occasional splash for tech gadgets and even giving a generous pocket money to parents.
One day, when both my kids are already independent enough, I would not want to keep telling them how to do things my way. By the way, I have not mentioned even one time that they should become a doctor, an accountant or an engineer or even whatever role I think will earn lots of money. They will have their own interest and will have their own lives in the future.
I think by then, I can have my FIRE. Yeah, probably close to 60 years old. Haha. Financial Independence and Retire Early. If I live to 80, by then I would still have 20 more years to do what I like. Visiting a country every 3 months still meant I could visit up to 120 countries. WOW. 😛 I rest my case for my FIRE. You want FIRE? You need to decide. Happy working towards our FIRE.
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