Why Early Retirement / FIRE Is Becoming Obsolete

Early retirement / FIRE is becoming obsolete and that's a good thing! No longer do you have to grind as hard and save as much to quit your job ASAP. Today, you can find many better ways to earn a living, no matter your education level or current occupation.

As one of the pioneers of the modern-day FIRE movement, I've witnessed many changes since 2009. In the good old days, the goal was to simply generate enough passive income to cover your living expenses. You could then retire early because you were financially independent.

Achieving the traditional definition of FIRE was hard. Therefore, new terms popped up to help FIRE pursuers feel better and more motivated about their progress.

Barista FIRE was created as a solution for those who still needed supplemental income and health insurance to be financially independent. Instead of working at Starbucks, I was thinking of working at Coldstone Creamery in Honolulu to help supplement retirement life.

Coast FIRE emerged for those who were still working day jobs but wanted to feel good about the amount of retirement savings they already had. But Coast FIRE and Slow FI are an illusion. It's similar to everyone getting a trophy just for being.

Post-pandemic, however, I've come to realize early retirement / FIRE is now becoming obsolete. We no longer have to invent new definitions of financial independence. We no longer have to retire early either!

Let me explain why.

Why Early Retirement / FIRE Is Becoming Obsolete

After dropping off my boy at school at 8:45 am on a Thursday, I went to play pickleball. When I arrived at 9:15 am, the courts were still wet from the recent rain. So I spent the next 20 minutes responding to comments and e-mail.

Soon thereafter, I met a 45-year-old single mom who was willing to drill with me on the slippery courts. She was an athletic director at a San Francisco private grade school who used to play basketball. Her job didn't start until 1 pm.

We ended up playing for two-and-a-half hours with various other players. If she can play for an entire morning, then work for five hours in the afternoon, and still make enough money as a single parent to raise a child in “expensive San Francisco,” does she really need to retire early?

Of course not. She just spent a wonderful day comprised of fun and balance!

Children may not be as expensive as you think. Perhaps it's your desire for climbing the corporate ladder that is trying to trick you into thinking children are expensive, thereby delaying having or not wanting them. Something to think about.

A Google Employee With Tremendous Free Time

At 10:30 am on the same day, a familiar face popped by the courts. Let's call her Stacy, a 26-year-old Google software engineer. I had gotten to know Stacy in December because she frequently played pickleball at another park during the weekday mornings.

During December, she frequently brought a Google co-worker to play with her for a couple of hours. He was also 26 years old. She said December was slow and they didn't have many meetings scheduled.

So when I saw Stacy again on Jan 19 at 10:30 am, I was surprised! The beginning of the year is usually extremely busy with new initiatives. “All hands on deck!” as my old bosses used to say.

But Stacy said Thursdays and Fridays were quiet days at Google. As a software engineer, she can simply code at night.

Originally, she said she had to go at 1 pm. However, she and her partner lost to me and my partner, so she wanted a rematch! We ended up playing together from 10:30 am until 1:30 pm.

When you have so much flexibility, why retire early? You don't need to retire early for greater happiness when you can have the best of everything while working.

Stacy is making around $250,000 a year. I'll take that type of income with maximum flexibility any day.

Grinding Away In Banking In My 20s

When I was 26 years old I was working 60 hours a week in investment banking. It was a stressful period because I had to prove myself all over again with a new boss in a new city at a new firm.

Unless I was doing a coffee run for the team or had client meetings, the most I could step off the desk was for 15 minutes. After that time period, people would start questioning where I was due to inbound phone calls that would have to be picked up by a colleague.

Being tied to a desk for 10 hours a day was one of the main reasons why I loved to travel for work. Every business trip I took to Asia felt like I was making free money. Even if my flight was delayed, I didn't care because I was still getting paid.

If I could have worked from home and played tennis or pickleball for even just two hours in the middle of the day, I wouldn't have burned out by 34. Instead, I could have easily worked until the ideal retirement age of 45! The misery I felt between the ages of 31-34 wouldn't have been as intense.

With 11 more years of work, I would probably also be much richer today.

How To Engineer Your Layoff Ebook New Edition

Early Retirement / FIRE Was Born Out Of Work Misery

The main reason why I started writing about FIRE in 2009 is because I had begun to hate my job. The global financial crisis had made me question the point of working in finance. If I had been happy at my job, FIRE might never have been born!

Being chained to a desk for 10 hours a day was unenjoyable. The daily commute was a killer. Office politics was a bummer. And the decline in merit-based compensation was demotivating.

The only solution to my job misery was to find a solution.

For three years after starting Financial Samurai, I saved and invested even more aggressively. Then I came up with the ultimate catalyst: negotiating a severance in order to retire early with money in your pocket.

Once I figured out how to negotiate a severance, there was no excuse not to retire early from a job I disliked.

If I got bored with early retirement or failed at an entrepreneurial endeavor, I'd simply return to work within three years.

When you are in a suboptimal situation, a rational mind always finds a solution!

Work From Home Makes Early Retirement Obsolete

From a professional standpoint, work from home is the best thing to have come out from the pandemic for a large portion of the workforce.

Today, millions more people are able to work from home and still get paid while raising their kids, running errands, exercising, meeting up with friends, and vacation traveling.

To retain talent, companies have been forced to provide its employees with more flexibility and freedom. Sure, there have been plenty of tech layoffs in 2023 with more to come. However, most of these firms overhired in the first place.

Big tech companies headcount growth during the pandemic, over-hired

Every work-from-home employee I've met is so thankful for the increased flexibility. It's only the ultimate go-getters who want to build better relationships and make maximum money who want to return physically back to the office.

Gallup poll after Gallup poll shows that ~70% of employees are not engaged at work. Hence, to be able to give them more freedom from work is a huge blessing.

Further, not having to interact with colleagues and bosses you don't like are some of the huge benefits of working from home. If you never have to run into your workplace bully or micromanaging boss, you will be much happier. And when you are happier, you'll stay at your job for longer.

Another Perspective To Consider

From the employer's point of view, there are tremendous cost savings thanks to less employee conflict. Back in 2017, an Uber employee accused a colleague of sexual harassment. HR supposedly ignored the situation which resulted in huge reputational damage to the firm.

The founder and CEO lost his job and a large part of senior management got culled. At the time, Uber's market capitalization may have taken at least a $1 billion hit. If more employers let employees work from home, physical employee conflict would decline.

There's no need to retire early or leave a job that treats you well.

Declining Male Egos: Another Reason Why Early Retirement / FIRE Is Obsolete

FIRE is an all-gender movement. However, it started off as a movement mostly by men with fragile egos who were dissatisfied with their jobs. Observe the blogs that began writing about FIRE after I started in 2009. They were mostly written by men.

The reason why no stay-at-home mom says she is retired is because being a stay-at-home parent is one of the toughest jobs in the world. 13 years in investment banking is easy in comparison to being a stay-at-home parent for five years. Due to stronger egos, you don't see many childless women say they are FIRE either.

But due to fragile egos, many men are unable to admit they are stay-at-home dads, especially if they have working spouses. Rather, they opt to label themselves as anything BUT stay-at-home dads out of pride. They come up with replacement terms such as:

  • Early retiree
  • Entrepreneur
  • Author
  • Podcaster
  • Musician
  • Consultant
  • Freelancer
  • Coach
  • Investor
  • Gig worker (dog walker, uber driver, etc)

Interesting, right?

Why Are Men So Ashamed Of Being Stay-At-Home Dads?

For some reason, it's not good enough for most men to be viewed as a stay-at-home dad. Maybe it's societal pressure that expects men to always be the principal earner.

But I'm sick of this pigeon-holing of men, which is why I wrote:

Become A Better Father: Time To Man Up Dads!

Let's Talk About The Dad Guilt Epidemic

I don't want childless men or fathers with working wives to ever feel embarrassed for no longer having day jobs. Instead, I want men to feel proud they are spending more time caring for their children and doing household chores.

Being a stay-at-home parent is easily a six-figure job. Let’s also better appreciate women who are the primary earners pursuing their careers.

It's too bad change in the face of a critical society is so tough. Not only do we need men to stop making fun of other men for being caregivers, we also need women to be supportive as well.

Looking At My Own Fragile Ego

Whenever I meet new people, I still find it difficult to tell them that I'm a stay-at-home dad. Due to the desire for status, nowadays, I'd rather tell anyone who asks what I do that I'm an author. It wasn't like this until after I had written Buy This, Not That.

By saying I'm an author, there's a greater chance of me connecting with the other person, especially if they are not a parent.

Earlier, before saying I was an author, I would say I was a high school tennis coach. And before saying I was a coach, I would say I was an investor. But saying I was an investor was annoying because then people would ask me for all sorts of investment advice. So I quickly stopped.

The reason I haven't written incessantly about early retirement since leaving my job in 2012 is because there's so much more to life. Leaving work behind is only one chapter.

For me, early retirement is becoming obsolete thanks to technology and the internet. I'm able to stay intellectually stimulated working my ideal 15-20 hours a week.

More Acceptance Of Stay-At-Home Dads

Thankfully, I've noticed society is gradually becoming less critical of stay-at-home dads with working spouses. Just look at the 100+ comments on the post, My Secret To Retiring Early With Only $4 Million And Two Kids.

There's so much love and acceptance! Well, not exactly. It's wonderful to support women who are focused on their careers. After all, more women are getting college degrees than men.

With less criticism about men with working spouses, the terms “early retirement” and “FIRE” are no longer as popular. Fewer men are writing and podcasting about FIRE and more about life in general.

Further, fewer men are saying they are financially independent because they're more comfortable admitting their wives are the providers.

When I stopped telling people I had retired early in 2013, a year after I had left work, I started to feel more free. Now that I've publicly hung a lantern on the fake retirement movement, I feel even better!

Different Income Opportunities Online Are Making Early Retirement Obsolete

The fake retirement movement embraces working on your terms. Whether you work in construction or in medicine, education or in sanitation, anybody can now access the internet to make money online.

The money-making opportunities online are endless: blogging, podcasting, YouTubing, consulting, teaching, coaching, editing, assisting, and so much more.

No college education is required because everything can be learned online for free! So long as you have the audacity to try, the opportunities to earn in different ways are endless.

Roughly 25% of jobs are done remotely now in the US. And it’s estimated that about 40% of jobs could be done remotely.

Just make sure you start your own website to plant your flag online. Own your brand instead of letting other organizations own you.

Retirement expectations are misaligned - another wealth paradox

More Flexibility And Pay With Blue Collar Work Makes FIRE Obsolete

So far, we've been talking a lot about more work flexibility and opportunities for white collar workers, or knowledge workers. However, there is also better pay, more work flexibility, and more benefits for blue collar workers as well.

Here are some of the demands of the United Auto Workers union:

  • 40% increase in hourly pay over 4 years
  • Reduced 4-day, 32-hour workweek
  • Back to defined benefit pensions
  • Cost-of-living adjustments
  • 5+ weeks of vacation
  • More paid holidays, extended parental leave

If the UAW gets even half of these asks, it will be a phenomenal win. With so many great benefits and perks, why would you want to retire early? I wouldn't.

Related: The Fundamentals Of FIRE

UPS truck drivers making $170,000

UPS drivers will earn an average of $170,000 in annual pay and benefits at the end of a five-year contract agreement, UPS CEO Carol Tomé said during an August 2023 earnings call.

The deal, which was reached on July 25, 2023, will increase full-time workers' compensation to $170,000 from roughly $145,000 over five years, according to UPS' calculations. It will also boost part-time workers' salaries to at least $25.75 per hour, and end mandatory overtime, Tomé told investors on Tuesday.

The new deal averted a strike and secured a new contract for 340,000 union employees. More than 70% of UPS' 443,000 employees are represented by the Teamsters' Union, the company's website shows

If you're making $170,000 as a driver by 2028, you have much less incentive to FIRE. Why would you when you are guaranteed to just keep earning more for five years?

As you can see from my examples, FIRE is becoming obsolete for both white collar and blue collar workers.

The True Test Of Financial Independence For Couples

For those in a relationship, here's the true test of financial independence: getting your partner to also leave their job.

Unless your partner truly loves their job, not leaving it is a signal your financial independence number isn't real. One or both of you are too afraid to let go.

Being reliant financially on someone is not financial independence. On the contrary, it is financial dependence. And when you are dependent on someone, you are never truly free. But given early retirement is dying, being dependent is becoming more acceptable.

We can fool ourselves into feeling more financially comfortable with different FIRE terms. However, at the end of the day, we're only fooling ourselves.

Yes, the journey to financial independence is long. There will be bear markets that knock FIRE adherents off course. But treat the journey as a fun game! The journey is more fun than the end game anyway.

With more work flexibility and receding male egos, FIRE is becoming obsolete. We no longer have to pretend to be something we're not or do something we don't like.

Now that is true freedom!

Early Retirement / FIRE Recommendations

1) Track your net worth. Check out Empower, the best free tool to help you track your money. With Empower, you can track your investments, see your asset allocation, x-ray your portfolios for excessive fees, and more.

I've been using Empower since 2012 to track my finances. Once you link up at least $100K in investable assets, you can schedule a free financial review and plan with one of their registered investment advisors.

2) Meticulously plan for retirement. Also check out NewRetirement, software specifically built to help you achieve the best retirement possible. NewRetirement's retirement features are the most comprehensive on the market today.

3) Negotiate a severance package. Finally, if you want to leave a job you dislike, read my bestselling e-book, How To Engineer Your Layoff. The book is an all-time classic that teaches you how to negotiate a severance package to move on to better things. Having a financial runway for your next chapter is huge! It's what I did in 2012 and I haven't looked back.

Use the code “saveten” at checkup to save $10. Never quit your job, get laid off with a severance package, unemployment benefits, health care benefits, and more!

How To Engineer Your Layoff Ebook New Edition

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 60,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter and posts via e-mail. You can also subscribe to my weekly podcast (Apple, Spotify).

78 thoughts on “Why Early Retirement / FIRE Is Becoming Obsolete”

  1. Julie Milam

    Even if a traditional FIRE isn’t possible (retiring at 30 or 40 years old) there are lots of great offshoots of FIRE. Retiring five years earlier than expected. Retiring and living off of savings for three-ten years before collecting a pension/social security. Or working and saving aggressively for 10 years and then downshifting and working less hours or a less demanding profession until retiring.

    Even the concept of simply saving more each year because you better understand what is needed after studying FIRE. Understanding that FIRE can mean not needing to work but choosing to do so. Saving of a special fund so that if your job is unbearable you have the funds to stop working. The idea of increasing savings each year so that you have more options in the future, so that regardless of what happens you’re looking out for yourself.

    There is piece of mind that comes with being financially independent or being on track to being financially independent with a healthy savings in place. If interviewing, you aren’t preoccupied and don’t come across as desperate. At work, you aren’t preoccupied with how you’re going to pay bills or other financial concerns.

  2. On contrary, the end game is just as much fun as the journey if not even more. When we get to the end game, we can chart our course for the future while during the journey, we don’t have that option. And most importantly, we can reap all the benefits we have earned from the journey and no longer have to go through the daily grind. Thanks for the great read Sam!

  3. I think this is one of your best posts I’ve read in many years. A fantastic perspective and one that opens my eyes beyond the old 2009-era FIRE framework I was born into.

  4. Yikes, not in my field. I can’t find anything remote/nonclinical in medicine. There’s just nothing for us physicians.

  5. HOLY COW!!!! Am I the only one who caught the comment about Stacey making $250/yr as a 26 year old developer?!! I almost choked on my OJ when I read that.

    I know that salaries in the SF area are totally & utterly out of synch with the rest of the world except maybe for NYC but OMG that’s INSANE!

    I’ve been in IT for over 30 yrs and the BEST & most senior developers/programmers coding in the most high-demand languages are lucky if they reach $175-185K/yr.

    If you run into her again PLEASE. PLEASE, PLEASE find out what languages she codes in and if she is also in management OR manages projects.

    Inquiring minds want to know :-)

    Thanks & have a great day!

    -Kevin from NH

    1. Hah, I guess you are the only one to point this out. But 22-year-old college graduates get a total compensation package of around $180,000 a year from Google, FB, Apple, etc. So after 3-4 years of experience, $250K/year is very normal.

      I’ll ask her what language she codes in next time. I think someone did ask and she said Python. But I’ll double check.

  6. Sam, thanks for the post. Thanks to Chris from Can I Retire Yet for linking to it.
    You bring up a lot of points, of which I agree and disagree. As always, there seems to be lots of room for nuance.

    I think my wife and I are good examples of both sides:

    My wife exemplifies the more evolved and balanced approach to work you’re talking about. She was able to negotiate for hourly compensation instead of salary, and to be almost completely remote. Last year she worked an average of 27 hours a week. She makes less than she could if she was full time, but her salary still covers our combined expenses and then some. She felt secure in making this switch years ago, as at that point she had amassed enough investments that would kick of passive income to cover over half of her expenses if need be(we found a combined but separate expense tracking worked best for us. It’s a bit complex, but works for us. TL;DR-we split expenses 50/50 on paper). She decided not to go the harcore save/frugal route, but instead enjoy her life in the present, as well as her job. Her investments have now grown to cover 80% of her expenses. The big reasons she was able to do this were:

    1. As an engineer, her job was totally doable remote. Covid cemented that.

    2. She actually enjoys her job, and gets a lot of positive benefits from it.

    Me? I’m probably the poster case for why FIRE is still a good option for those of us who have jobs that are currently unable to be done remote. My collar was blue; I started out as an enlisted grunt in the army. During the GFC I realized my combat experience and liberal arts degree qualified me for two jobs, either barista of cop.

    I chose the later, and worked in a large city for almost 15 years. I went full in with the job, and took on all the responsibilities offered. This led me to getting on the SWAT team and working as an undercover detective. Getting to save people’s lives was very rewarding, and the action was a lot of fun. But these roles required me to work over 80 hours a week with absolutely no regular schedule. As a rookie I enjoyed 90% of the job, and hated 10%. After a few years that started to drift to 70/30. As I looked at my older coworkers, I could see the writing on the wall, and a google search led me to the FIRE community.

    Sure, I guess I could have retrained for some other job that would have offered more balance and greater compensation. But I loved my job, and felt good about helping people. For me, and probably many others in blue collar/non-remotable jobs, FIRE was a good fit. Worked liked crazy, built investments, and slowly started to hate more and more parts of my job as people continued to try and kill me and my coworkers. Went to funerals for those who weren’t as lucky-that got old quick. A few years ago my passive income hit the point where it covered more than half of my expenses. Though I still believed in the job, it was wearing on my mental health, and I wanted to spend more time with our young kids. So a year ago I left the jobe to become a full time stay at home dad.

    For people like me, I don’t think FIRE is dead. And as you say, 40% of jobs could probably be done remotely. Which means more than half can’t. Sure, some of that 60% could retrain, but I believe a lot of them either don’t want to or would hate the type of jobs that can be done remote. For us, FIRE is still a good option.

    I also agree and disagree with you on the stay at home dad front. When I was getting ready to leave my job, when asked what I was going to do next, I always replied “Stay at Home Dad”. Most of my coworkers didn’t quite know what to make of that, especially in such a male dominated field. But more than a few were very supportive. I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement on how this is viewed in our culture, and I highly recommend that more men at least try it. That said, it was not for me. I had been looking forward to more time with our kids, and when our daycare arrangement fell through for our then 1 and 5 year old, I went full in on the stay at home dad thing just months after leaving the job. And it about crushed me. I’ve been shot, shot at, people have tried to stab me, blow me up. None of that was as stressful as being the sole caregiver for two young kids, even though I love them more than I thought possible. I now have so much more respect for all the stay at home parents who do this, especially those who don’t have a choice and/or are doing it alone. Luckily, our financial position gives us a choice, and our kids are in childcare 6-7 hours a day, and I have my sanity back.

    This experience taught me that being a full time caregiver is definitely not for everyone. I sucked at it, even though I was all about it before I tried it. So maybe it’s not completely about men(and women) being ashamed of being stay at home parents. Maybe some of them know themselves enough to realize that it’s not for them. I don’t think these are all cases of people with fragile egos. Maybe some are, sure. But plenty are probably people who have realized that role isn’t for them. My wife is a good example of this; while she is a great mom, she knows that being a full time caregiver is not for her.

    Well, sorry for the long comment here. I really enjoyed your post as it helped me think through the above points. To sum up, I think you are right about quite a bit, especially as it applies to people who can do their jobs remote, as well as those that have the disposition to be a caregiver. For the rest of us though, FIRE ain’t dead.

    Hope you don’t mind, but I just realized I spent almost an hour of my life writing the above. I’m going to post it over on my blog and try to flush out my response a little bit more. Maybe throw in some graphics. Don’t worry, I think like 5 people actually read my site. Your post really inspired me to try and remind people who are stuck in blue collar jobs that FIRE is a possible way out.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      “ And it about crushed me. I’ve been shot, shot at, people have tried to stab me, blow me up. None of that was as stressful as being the sole caregiver for two young kids, even though I love them more than I thought possible.”

      I hope more people read this quote bc being a FT parent to babies and toddlers really is so hard.

      I’m also glad you are no longer in the line of fire after having kids. Your current situation sounds good to me!

  7. Hey Sam, recently a friend sent me your “Ideal Amount of Passive Income” podcast and got “reconnected” with you. We worked together (in person too!) briefly when you were consulting with the company I was at in ~2015.

    Spot on post. I left corporate in 2019 at 38yo to focus full time on a side hustle my wife and I started that allowed me to pull the plug working at (another) draining fintech startup. 4 years in we’ve never been better financially, and love the flexibility and control we have over our physical presence and time. Especially awesome with 2 kids.

    I hear you about the ego thing. We’re definitely not “retired” running our biz full time and me also doing advising/consulting on the side, but sometimes the (perceived) perception from others of “wow-you-can-play-tennis-on-a-weekday-morning?” sometimes has me feeling somehow “less-than”. It seems from this post that you’ve experienced it too.

    We should catch up sometime!

    1. Congrats on the move and flexibility!

      “ but sometimes the (perceived) perception from others of “wow-you-can-play-tennis-on-a-weekday-morning?” sometimes has me feeling somehow “less-than”. ”

      I think you should take the opposite view. What a blessing to be so free!

      1. 100% agree. As a species we worry too much about what others think of us!

        And the other aspect that you’ve pointed out – the feeling of isolation – is a real thing for me too, albeit off/on. I’ve found it’s necessary to really build in social and networking time with friends etc. to keep the loneliness at bay even though I’m not even that social of a person.

        I understand that you’re going back to work soon, but have you thought about volunteering or sitting on a board to provide your expertise and insights?

  8. 7 years ago this week I sold my business at age 51 and pulled the trigger on FIRE. My definition was slightly different. Instead of Financial Independence, Retire Early, my move was to Financial Independence, Rewire Early. I work 25 hours a week (no Fridays) and coach other owners on how to build a better business. The Rewiring Early has done wonders for me personally. I love the work, the people and the flexibility. Pivot Don’t Quit is my advice.
    (BTW: Financial Samurai was my intro into FIRE back in 2010, thanks Sam!)

    1. Great to hear about the pivot Tim! 25 hours a week is a nice amount of time to spend working on things you enjoy. My limit is about 20 hours. After 20 hours, it eats too much into playing sports and spending time with family.

  9. I agree with the pandemic increasing flexibility. I dropped down to a 4 day work week (in person) but I’m much more productive during those 4 days. It definitely increased my longevity in this position. Someone above however made a good point as far as limiting the ability to advance. When it was time for promotions even though I had more experience I was overlooked. Which I’m fine with I want my time at this point. But people must evaluate their own goals. Still shooting for FI but won’t retire until I’m ready.

  10. Call it WIFE FIRE or maybe WIFIRE. I’m happy to be early retired while my wife works and have no issue telling people that. The kids are in college locally and I take care of the house. Could she quit? Yes. Just nice to have a little more runway to get the kids through school and possibly until I can get my IRA money without the 72t.

    I don’t necessarily see the FIRE movement burning out/becoming obsolete, just morphing. From a podcast standpoint I used to listen to different ones all the time but a lot seems recycled. Same FIRE people talking to other podcaster FIRE people.

    I do listen to yours!

    1. Yes, it s called WIFI!

      Yes, the FIRE podcast group is relatively homogenous, speaking to the same people over and over again. As a result, things have gotten stale.

      If they knew it was good for them, they would diversify their guests and topics.

  11. All excellent, thought provoking ideas, Sam. As a one time early retirement zealot…I can say the appeal has worn off for me. I simply wanted to escape. Now…I try to be grateful for what I have…knowing each additional year of work is worth 2-3X years off on the back end of my career. So many of the early retirement “originals” have disappeared/faded to black. Good to see you evolving/still going strong, Sam.

  12. Sam – Any thoughts/ideas for a 10-20 hour per week at home job for a burnt out ICU nurse ?

    I want to work , but I’m done with the current job and direct patient care.


    1. Case management and utilization review are two options if you are burnt out from direct patient care.

  13. At least from my view and experience, the whole work from home craze has been a total disaster for me. I am an IT Director(for over 30 years) for a large organization, and the comradery and general communication has been a real problem for the last few years. Pre-Covid, we all had the chance of working from home 1x per week which was great and very generous in my opinion. In fact our organization allowed our staff to do that for years and it was a great balance. Now 80% of the staff works from home full time. I don’t see nor speak to people anymore that I have worked with for decades. To be honest, the primary reason I am retiring early is because nobody comes to work anymore….how sad. I am in a building that was once bustling and fun…now it is empty and most of the lights are off. And Sam, you say one doesn’t have to deal with bosses and co-workers you don’t care for? I would suggest if that is the case then that person is at the wrong job. Zoom wont do squat for that I am afraid. Yes, there are some industries that can be much more flexible and effective with remote work possibilities, but many cannot and are trying to be but are flailing.

    1. You do paint a sad picture, and I am sorry for the loss of your camaraderie.

      The more you can find camaraderie outside of work, the less pain you will feel when you ultimately leave work. I’ve seen this many times before our people who retired get extremely depressed, because so much of their life was due to work.

      It takes effort to meet new people, but there are so many people who are looking for connection. Best of luck in your new chapter.

      1. I understand and thanks. Outside of work I have lots of social circles, hobbies, etc. But I also spend a majority of my week working which is what most people do…but nobody around. Very isolating just like working from home is. Except when I hear the leaf blower outside my window every morning during my Zoom meeting :)

        1. Haha, I hear you. I hear they will be banned soon? The electric leaf blowers aren’t so bad.

          Maybe you can take more zoom calls while on a hike or on a road trip or something. Just put up a fake background and you’re good to go!

          1. Fantastic idea! Never heard of that approach but very clever. Only thing is that if I do a Zoom call while hiking a better make sure I am not going up hill or else I will sound winded and that would be weird. By the way, I read your book last year and it is by far the best financial advice I have ever seen. I truly mean that. I have been around the block a lot in my financial life and this is a massive and iconic achievement you did. And people listen to Susie Orman….are you kidding?

    2. Any lost “comaraderie” at work is more than made up for in improved family relations and being there for my 9 year old and helping my wife. We were burning the candle at both ends before. My wife still has to go to work.. she’s a teacher, but my job where I literally went into the office and closed my office door to work for 10 hours a day… I now can do at home. Now I get to drop off and pick up my daughter from school without losing a 2 hours of my day commuting in obscene traffic. I can put her to bed at night and then go downstairs to my home office and put in 3-4 hours before I go to bed. My company probably gets 12 hours a day of very productive work from me… when before then got 8-9 hours in office with lots of distractions like pointless meetings, coworker lunches. It’s a win-win for us all.

      If i were a single guy…. i could see the downsides. But anyone with a family understands the value of WFH… and how it benefits both the employer and employee.

      1. George Georgonio

        A hundred precent.
        This “bustle and fun” for one, is pure torture for two-three others (statistically speaking, at only 30% engagement).

        Drive 3 hours a day, do a job in a place that’s inflexible both literally (can’t wear shorts) and well, literally (wanna pick up the kid? No can do).
        Instead of waking up to a coffee and work, 20 minutes later.

        Sure, some things are always lost. Some things we’re even worse off now, period.
        But to me, the insanity was before, employees willing to spend an extra 3 hours just to drive to the place where they spend 9 hours “working”, like in a cage-of-hours.
        Employers get much better 9 hours now, in all regards.

        But this is the same old question – I agree some things are lost and that is sad, but buying vinyl on the Fifth Avenue superstore in the 70’s, is a hell of a lot more exciting than streaming whatever whenever. Do we really want to go back to that?
        The pros far outweigh the cons, and half of the cons are sentimental anyway, half the time.

  14. Great article. I have felt this was for a long time. My wife and I make 260k combined and each have 20-25 days annual leave. Extremely good sick leave, 12 or so weeks parental leave, totally remote for her and 2 days in office for me, and we are both totally done by 4:30. Why leave this set up? I’ve always thought that many in the fire movement would be better served by finding more flexible jobs over leaving work alltogether.

    1. Sounds like a great set up to me! To be able to also know that work completely stops at 4:30 PM regularly is huge. When I was working, work with Kosola and bleed over to the evening as I had to insure that I got client requests from Asia. And we could literally be 24 seven if I let it.

      1. I wonder if there is an approximate level of annual comp where you generally lose complete control of ‘shutting down’ work. My view is somewhere between 500-750k there is no way to ‘turn it off’ and retain your role long-term.

        1. bingo – that is the “visibility and accountability” zone where Peter Principle is revealed

        2. I think the exception is tech companies again. Comp of $500-750k is mid-manager. It’s possible to not even be managing anyone else at that level at Google, Facebook, Apple, et. al. You have a small amount of power but are low enough on the totem pole that no one really notices you and you can be in and out as you please, e.g., taking mornings to play a sport, working from another country (in a much different timezone) for a month, etc.

  15. Not being financially independent is a big source of anxiety for me. I wish I really could fool myself into believing I am FI, and still work though. We are a single income family of 5 which makes it harder having so many people depending on it. Layoffs are definitely making this worse too.

    I am hoping that once our expenses can be covered by a 3% withdraw rate or less I can at least claim FI and feel better. But I’ll admit that I am not certain that will eliminate my anxiety around financial security. I won’t know until I get there I guess.

    1. You will feel less stress once you reach your target net worth.

      This anxiety feel it is also one of the reasons why so many male FIRE bloggers, and Podcasters still have working wives.

      Feel proud that you are able to take care of a family of five on a single income. No easy feat. I suspect you feel more stress relief once the kids or adults and out of the house.

  16. I work from home in a tech job, which is nice in many ways. I still need to clock in those 8 hours per day though, and occasionally there is stress that goes along with any corporate job. That is time I could be outside fishing, golfing, hiking, etc. Or time I could be working on home projects, messing around with the wife, working out, napping, or streaming shows and playing some video games. There are endless ways to spend your time. For me the point of FIRE is not to just get out of the corporate environment, but to live a life of leisure and better health.

    1. I wonder though, if you could just take the calls or meetings while you are running errands, and in between sets and stuff like that. That’s what I see a lot of people do.

      I’m betting you are a honorable worker who could take more advantage of your work freedom if you really wanted to.

      1. Ryan Sullivan

        I think this is true of a lot of tech workers. Especially now where you can tether to a phone with your laptop and use an apple watch for notifications, you should be able to get away from the desk a lot easier now to grab coffees, play tennis, etc. without being tethered to the home desk.

  17. Samurai Sydney

    Studying the changing workplace fascinates me. To add some color, according to some studies highlighted by Forbes, roughly 25% of jobs are done remotely now in the US. And it’s estimated that about 40% of jobs could be done remotely. So there’s still room for even more people to work from home but whether or not they will is going to depend on their employers policies and their employees preferences. The trend is definitely moving further toward more remote work.

    1. Thanks for sharing the stat! The progression from 25% to 40% is one of the reasons why early retirement is becoming obsolete. Let’s focus on trends. And the trend is to not retire early, but continue doing things we care about that compares money more easily.

  18. I sum it up like this: the efforts people deploy to make money exist on a continuum of energy destroying to energy additive activity. As you gain wealth and passive income your ability to choose your activities with less adverse consequences increases. This allows people to consider initially less lucrative or riskier forms of money making / wealth creation or in some cases just sit on the beach if that is how they want to spend their time. It’s about flexibility and freedom to choose how you spend your limited time on this planet by conscious lifestyle design aligned with your values. You need some financial breathing room to even contemplate the subject and that is what the wide spectrum of financial independence really is to me – a component of freedom sitting side by side other factors like health, relationships, etc

    1. “the efforts people deploy to make money exist on a continuum of energy destroying to energy additive activity.”

      Nice way to put it. Although eventually, overall energy fades. Hence, best to do what you really love as soon as possible before it does.

      1. I have not really considered overall energy fading but you bring up a good point. In my case I am thinking about bridging a 10 year gap between now and when I can touch retirement funds without a penalty. Once that point comes I can dial it down further if energy is a problem for me. (And assuming we do not experience a broad market implosion – knock on wood that does not happen…..) while I might be positioned to weather it the potential stress might lead me to energy draining earning activities

  19. This is a good thought experiment all around.

    But based on my observations around my neighborhood in a predominantly non-tech metro area, I don’t think that from a financial and spending standpoint anything has changed.

    Yes, more people work from home. Yes, many places are much busier than I would ever expect during the week. There is more flexibility all-around.

    And yet, our society is still based on mass consumerism. We dine out, we buy things we don’t need, we overspend on cars, and we build ever bigger houses on smaller lots.

    So until society gets our overall spending problem under control, I think you are going to see a lot of people working jobs they dont like, because they have to. Because they didn’t properly plan. And because they didn’t properly invest.

    1. Wouldn’t that make early retirement / FIRE a nonstarter for them in that case? If they are so focused on spending, the idea of retiring early wouldn’t cross their mind.

  20. Thanks for highlighting the phenomenon of men not willing to admit they are stay at home dad’s. It is sad, because if they are not willing to admit the importance of fatherhood publicly, then maybe they are not as present fathers privately.

    Kids need as much parental support as possible. And if dads are truly financially, independent, it would be nice if more dad spend more time with them, not less to pursue other careers.

    Speak up and support you’re working spouses, men!

    1. Absolutely. Only 5-6% got laid off after boosting hiring by 80% over three years.

      Gonna hit again today midday and I will ask her if she can hook me up with a job :)

      I actually hit last night with another young person until 9:30 PM. She is playing today from 10:30 AM until she is tired she says because her boss is in Tahiti and she is working from home.

      She is a research assistant at UCSF. In other words, the diversity of people with flexible jobs is rising, not falling.

  21. Interesting read. Any idea if the Google people survived the recent layoffs?
    It seems the economy we’re heading into will require more pivots. Here’s hoping the adjustments aren’t drastic.

  22. I agree and am glad that FIRE movement is dying. Due to technology, pandemic-enforced WFH opening up more choices, change in mindset about work/life and a levelling of the social contract between employer and employees. Power back to the people, yeah!

    Instead of simply retiring early, it’s more important to retire well. To borrow a golf term: it’s not how you drive but how you arrive that matters. Why retire early to a limiting lifestyle and having to stinge your way through life (classic FIRE)? It’s like jumping out of the pan into the fire (pun totally intended). Like you said Sam, the internet opens up a wealth of possibilities… and prudent investing has been and will continue to be a foundation for building wealth, and a cushy retirement.

    In fact the whole notion of retirement may be obsolete. Or at least it needs a complete re-think and revamp. Retirement 2.0 perhaps?

  23. Hi Sam,
    Love your writing and all your contribution to the FIRE movement.
    Maybe you are trying to provoke our thinking and it works – but at the same time – many of the examples you use in this post are Google employees and sports coaches… which likely has greater freedom than the majority.
    Being a wealth coach and trying to help others go FIRE and writing about it on Learn FIRE
    – in my experience, there are more and more who have tasted freedom due to the past COVID years, and many are now pulled back to the old standard office hours and wants to become FI to get some or all of their precious time back.

    I do see a move away from spending and keeping up with the Joneses – towards valuing time and control of your own life. This enables people to choose less demanding careers and long hours to maximise income and instead go for flexibility and maximise time, where it is possible – but actually around my network FIRE is growing.
    – Jan

  24. I do agree that FIRE has now become obsolete for people who have tech-heavy, white collar jobs whose duties can be done via Zoom, docusign, emails, etc..,. But again, less than 40% of the U.S adult population is college educated. Therefore, 60+ % of the adult population is VERY MUCH still interested in FIRE (k-12 teachers, law enforcement, nurses, doctors, retail managers, etc..,).
    So, please don’t stop writing about FIRE Sam.
    I sincerely hope that the FS community remains inclusive to ALL classes. After all, many of us worked our way UP to the situation we’re now in. Or, as one poet once said, many of us “started from the bottom, now we’re here” :-)

    So, let’s continue to be a beacon of light for those still trying to make it here.

    1. Could be! And point taken.

      Are you working in one of these occupations? k-12 teachers, law enforcement, nurses, doctors, retail managers, etc.

      The fake retirement movement embraces working on your terms. Whether you work in construction or in medicine, anybody can now access the internet to make money online.

      The money-making opportunities online are endless: blogging, podcasting, YouTubing, consulting, teaching, coaching, editing, assisting, and so much more.

      No college education is required because everything can be learned online for free! So long as you have the audacity to try, the opportunities to earn in different ways are endless.

      Just make sure you start your own website to plant your flag online. Own your brand instead of letting other organizations own you.

      1. You make valid points, Sam. Yes, many can make a good living online these days. I’m one of them! But I used to be a k-12 educator. These guys HAVE to be in the building with the students (the way things are now structured). There are just some jobs where you have to be physically present. We need those people to remain the boots on the ground in order for our society to function. But, a financial Oracle such as yourself can still give them tips on how they can one day retire with dignity.

        1. The future of school will change. It’s currently a day care center. Likely with stay-at-home parents who work from home they’ll realize schools do not teach much more than 1-2 hours per day of reading, writing so why pay all these taxes. Future schools should be a hybrid – online learning + sports and physical activities. I think a lot will change this century and we need to rethink assumptions.

    2. Sam mentioned the single-mom teacher at the beginning of the article and Sam himself being a high school tennis coach.

  25. I think it’s a bit shortsighted and non-inclusive to say working from home and having flexible schedules make FIRE obsolete, as so many people with jobs much more difficult than working in an office don’t have that luxury. Construction, first-responders, mechanics, etc, and basically other that keep the world going would still need to find a way to get to FIRE, for example by creating online courses on how to fix a garbage disposal, as they cannot stop doing their service or do it remotely.

    That being said, I agree that the shaming of dudes as stay at home dads needs to stop because there is much more to one’s identity and value than their occupation.

    1. The post is accessible to all.

      Do you not believe construction workers, first-responders, mechanics, etc don’t have the ability to make money online? If you work in one of these occupations, let me know and maybe I can help you.

      The internet is now accessible to almost everyone. And you can now learn everything for free. Hence, the ability to pivot to different ways to make money is now easier and more possible than ever.

      No college degree is necessary. Only the desire to try.

      I believe in everybody’s ability to change their lives for the better if that is what they want. Have faith!

      1. Financial Fives

        Yes it’s clear the post and the internet is accessible for all. I was pointing out that having more flexible schedules and working from home doesn’t make FIRE obsolete IMO. Houses still need to be built, along with the rest of the world. For some office workers, yes, being able to work from home and take your car for service at 1pm on a Wednesday makes the work more tolerable. But we still have an issue in this country where vital blue-collar work is shamed and not taught enough in schools, and while some have found alternative income streams, like making YouTube videos, others probably still have to work until traditional retirement age because they don’t have flexible schedules or the ability to do side work while they are on a job site.

        1. “vital blue-collar work is shamed and not taught enough in schools” – Who is shaming them? I’m certainly not.

          I worked as a high school tennis teacher for three years and felt proud of their work and my work. I also drove for Uber for several years and gave over 500 rides to earn money and listen to passenger’s stories.

          I’ve written a lot about questioning the point of going to college, for 4 years and so much money, not to prestige chase, and the importance of developing practical skills.

          FIRE isn’t obsolete yet. It is BECOMING obsolete due to more options to earn.

          Remind us again what you do? Were your parents blue-collar workers and you felt embarrassment or something? I’d love to learn more about your story. Thanks

          Related: Spoiled Or Clueless? Try Working A Min Wage Job As An Adult

    2. I think everybody has the ability to learn new things and pivot to new ways to make money as well. The internet makes it more possible.

      I wouldn’t look down on construction workers, first-responders, mechanics, believing they can’t find new ways to make extra income or a completely alternative way of living.

      FIRE is becoming obsolete precisely because these works can pivot. They don’t need to kill themselves at work until 65 if they don’t absolutely want to. And knowing they now don’t have to must feel good.

    3. Sam mentioned the single-mom teacher at the beginning of the article and Sam himself being a high school tennis coach.

      The internet is accessible to all. People don’t need to be or feel as stuck if they don’t want to.

  26. Sean macmannis

    Great post!

    Quick aside- in a passage you say “working my ideal 15-20 hours a day” – I think you mean per week?

  27. It does seem like a lot of the hype about FIRE has faded. And I also think the pandemic had a lot to do with that. The flexibility many firms have retained post-pandemic on letting employees work from home full or part time has really changed so much about how we work.

    If I had that type of flexibility to work from home or make my own hours (ex. work at night) at age 26, I know I would have been so much happier. But, I also think I wouldn’t have gone as far in my career as a result. I would have had less face time, not built relationships to the same depth, missed out on a lot of collaboration and fun chatter that can only happen on a trading-style desk office space, etc. However, I probably would have lasted longer in a traditional day job due to greater flexibility.

  28. Once I started doing part time work, mostly remote, I stopped really caring about the FIRE stuff. Life is pretty comfy already, and even less work isn’t going to open up many doors at this point. 20 hours per week is not much.

    I didn’t actually go part time until I had enough money to hypothetically FIRE though, because I’m pretty risk averse, so having that level of wealth in the background is important IMO. I’m just glad I made the switch at age 33 instead of 43 or even later.

  29. Great post Sam – As a 58 year old with a cushy job, extreme flexibility, and making large money this feels like the ultimate retirement as is.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *