How do you define retirement? In the traditional sense, retirement is leaving the workforce at 65 to do – well, possibly nothing. In today’s sense, retirement means something different depending on who you ask.
Regardless of who you ask, the consensus will be that retirement means different things to different people. Some would even say that the word retirement desperately needs a makeover, as more and more people have retired from something just to move on to something else. Case in point — I had a great career for 30 years in the federal government. I worked in one place for 30 years. However, I wasn’t close to 65 when I left. Yet, when I left, it was considered retirement because of the number of years of service. And as you can clearly see, I’m still working.
So, again, how do you define retirement? According to the FIRE movement, there are a few ways to retire. What is the FIRE movement, and what does this mean for people planning to retire but feeling a little “iffy” about actually calling it retirement? Read on to learn more. You may even find a movement that works for you.
What Is the FIRE Movement?
Financial Independence, Retire Early, or FIRE, is a movement that promotes retiring early to its followers (in their 30s or 40s) but gaining financial independence through other avenues outside of the hustle and bustle of the normal 9 to 5 grind.
Types of FIRE Movement
FIRE followers opt for a blend of retirement from required work with more meaningful work. There are different ways to accomplish this mix, and it’s up to the individual to determine the best way for them.
People who follow this version of the FIRE movement have saved up enough (at least 25 years of expenses) to live on a fraction of their usual budget. They don’t mind living the minimalist lifestyle, which is extremely frugal. With this lifestyle, individuals can make it comfortably by having just what they need.
People following this version of the FIRE movement aren’t planning to stop working. They intend to do some work, just not as much. Using their gifts and talents, doing gig work, or working part-time later in life describes this group. They may also be willing to work just enough to keep their health benefits.
Coast FIRE (Coast FI)
People who follow this version of the FIRE movement are about aggressively contributing to their retirement accounts to reach a certain portfolio value. They’ll do this at any cost — even working part-time or doing some side gigs to help them get there. Their ultimate goal is not to retire early but to have financial independence during their retirement years.
People who follow this version of the FIRE movement are about aggressively earning the income and savings needed to account for expenses that will be expensive during retirement. In most cases, that means starting their own business and retiring.
Suggestions for Anyone Planning To Retire (to something)
For most people following the FIRE movement, it’s about opting out of the 9 to 5 grind, not stopping work altogether. Who still does that? With the high cost of living and increased life expectancy, who would want to spend 30 years doing nothing? In essence, that leaves the traditional sense of retirement a little unrealistic.
However, it is believed that while not everyone wants to stay in the grind or stay committed to the required 30+ years of the 40-hour or more work week, they do want to do something during retirement. Most people want to retire to do something else. Here are a few suggestions to help you leave the grind sooner rather than later.
1. Spend less money than you make
You already know to do this. Maybe you’ve never practiced how to do it the right way. Doing it correctly requires having a monthly budget, managing it, and sticking to it. Doing this will help you live a more frugal life without overspending. Ultimately, that will cause you to save more. It will be hard to leave the grind without any savings.
This can be looked at in different ways — investing in your future and investing to save. If you don’t have retirement savings, now is a great time to start one. If you have one, now is a great time to revisit it to determine if you’re saving enough. Now is also a great time to take more care of your overall financial outlook to get a good idea of what your financial independence number is for your retirement plans. That could mean investing in a financial planner or learning more about saving for retirement.
3. Diversify your income
It’s never a good idea to rely on one source of income. Diversifying your income with multiple streams is a smart thing to do. If you’re planning to retire but want to do something else, now is a good time to figure out what that “something else” will be. You could start working towards that now so that by the time you retire, you’re an expert in the field and poised for a good income. Even if you don’t plan to retire to something else, having multiple streams will only help you to save more so that you can retire even earlier.
Business Ideas for Increasing Your Income
If you need work ideas to inspire you in the direction that will satisfy you in retirement, here are five ideas inspired by the FIRE movement.
Monetizing online content
More and more people are thriving through the content they create on social media. They can lead sustainable lives through paid ads or by building their brand and developing their followers. Consider growing an audience doing something you love or sharing valuable information with others using YouTube, TikTok, or a podcast.
If there’s something you love doing that brings you extreme joy, why wouldn’t you consider doing it in your retirement? Create a website to help market your skills and start a freelance business around it. That way, you work when you want and how you want.
Many online selling businesses don’t want to deal with housing inventory or shipping products, so they go through a dropshipping business. A dropshipping business allows online selling businesses to get their products to customers without all the hassle or time they would need to take themselves. You don’t have to invest a lot to start a dropshipping business, nor do you need your inventory.
This is another business that requires little startup funds. If you love creating as an artist or designer, you can sell your designs on mugs, t-shirts, tote bags, etc.
Selling digital products or virtual services
Digital products became more of a thing during the pandemic. Workshops and conferences that provided information to people in onsite settings were found online. Now, online coaching and consulting businesses are all the rage. People can learn from anywhere, all over the world. If you have a consulting or coaching idea, or if you teach dance or exercise, consider taking that instruction online.
The Bottom Line
Retirement is not what it once was. Today, you can decide what your retirement will look like, and the FIRE movement can help. Did you see one that works for you?