Well, it was bound to happen. Suddenly FIRE has move from being this underground movement of wierdo who can’t possibly be telling the truth about their achievements, to being truly in the mainstream media. Everywhere you turn, there is a story about some person on the road to FIRE or enjoying FIRE. From business insider to New York Post, even Forbes and CNN are reporting on what has become a feasible way of life for more than just a small lucky minority of engineers. Everyone has jumped on the FIRE bandwagon and it has become a burning platform (pun intended!).
Now don’t get me wrong, I am excited that this is now getting more attention. For one, it means I can read so many more inspirational stories and get handy hints for my own journey. I am excited that it is changing the discourse and creating a conversation about non traditional lifestyles and unconventional ways to live a life as opposed to the familiar “work till 65 then retire” model. HOWEVER…what is up with all these stories about achieving FIRE being this extra ultra frugal journey?
Look I am all about penny pinching, coupon using frugality but this new bunch of FIRE warriors take things to a whole new level. You have a lawyer buying brown bananas to save, another eating rice and beans and a guy working 80-100 hours for years, All the stories appear to be about the extremist frugality and are not exactly a glowing advertisement for why this journey could be worth considering. I get that the news agencies need click bait but this one sided story seems to me to do more harm than good. How can we have a civilized conversations about the pros and cons of FIRE if everyone is equating it to eating a deficient diet, moving to far flung places in the name of geo-arbitraging and wearing clothes that are literally falling apart?
Already the conversation is being diverted by the fact that people seem to equate FIRE with people earning ridiculous amounts of money. This is not helping to break down the misconceptions and if anything just leaves people with even misconceptions than answers. Unfortunately the many blogs on FIRE that tell a more balanced story are just that – blogs and not out there in the mainstream so people can start to explore for themselves. I guess they do say any publicity is better than no publicity and so that hopefully means that people will start to dig a little further than the sensationalist headline and determine what FIRE means and how they can make it work for them.