As one of the founding fathers of the modern-day FIRE movement, I'm impressed with how big the movement has grown. Although my definition of true FIRE is to have enough retirement income pay for your desired living expenses, there has been a proliferation of FIRE sub-types over the years, including Wife Financial Indenence, or WIFI.
Wife Financial Independence is where a man publicly declares he has retired early, yet has a working wife who brings home a steady income, has a retirement savings plan, and very importantly, provides family health insurance.
To make sure we're on the same page, WIFI is pronounced wife eee.
The Proliferation Of Wife Financial Independence (WIFI)
The WIFI movement really picked up steam starting in the late-1990s and early-2000s as more and more women decided to grind it out hard in the workplace.
As more women worked longer hours to climb the corporate ladder, more men were able to take a step back from work. The stress on some men to always provide income for the family slowly began to fade. Eventually, starting around 2010, more and more men decided to retire early and let their wives bring home the bacon instead.
The WIFI movement has been great for working women seeking to achieve income equality in the workplace. By working longer, smarter, and harder, more women have been able to become breadwinners.
Another takeaway from the WIFI movement is that women are having children later or not at all in order to focus on their careers. Retiring early with children is nearly an impossible task due to the energy and cost required to raise them.
A Catalyst For Wife Financial Independence (WIFI)
Given Financial Samurai is a relatively large site with over 1 million visitors a month, I noticed a proliferation of the WIFI movement once this post was published in 2014:
My posts provides examples of five men who have been able to convince their wives to let them retire early. Although the post seems a little satirical, these are real examples of real men living the WIFI life. Further, there is no satire in fighting for equality.
The fight for equality between men and women really is one of the big overarching reasons why the WIFI movement is accepted and is taking offer. Although, if you have to rely on your wife to retire early, you are breaking the first rule of FIRE: accumulate enough passive income to cover your basic living expenses.
However, everybody is free to live their lives as they choose. If you're a husband who can get your wife to work for years after you retire early, more power to you!
A Risk To The WIFI Movement
One of the biggest risks to the Wife Financial Independence movement is childbirth. Any parent knows that having a child is one of the greatest moments of their lives.
There is no love greater than the love a parent has for a child. However, parents also know how brutally difficult it is to take care of a child and leave a child in the hands of strangers to take care of.
As a result, many women I know decide to stop working after giving birth. This puts the man's early retirement at risk given it's hard for both parents to be early retired without steady income and subsidized healthcare.
To help support the WIFI movement, I decided to publish a comprehensive post on April 1, 2019 to help men protect their WIFI status.
The post details some great ways to encourage your wife to recognize the importance of providing financially for the family. To permanently leave work also puts the gender wage gap at risk.
The post is inspired by my old boss who had three children and came back to work after three months each time. She was the hardest working person I knew who deserves all her career success. Go Kathryn!
WIFI Is A Fight For Equality
So long as men are fighting for women's equality in the workplace and in society, I believe the WIFI movement will continue to grow.
For too long, men have shouldered the heavy burden of making sure their households are financially taken care of. It's great that there's a growing percentage of breadwinning wives who will continue to society a better place.
Men who have children should also learn to do more work around the house and do more childcare. It's only right that if a man is WIFI, then he should become the CEO of the house.
As a founding father of the modern day FIRE movement, I approve of the growth of WIFI. Although I haven't been successful in convincing my wife to go back to work after giving birth to two children, I may try again once they are both in kindergarten full-time.
The early retirement is great for the most part. I hope everybody gets a chance to take it down a notch with their one and only life.
Long live Wife Financial Independence!
More FIRE Terminology
Fat FIRE – For those who live in more expensive areas of the country or who would like to live large in retirement. Many have kids.
Lean FIRE – For those who live in cheaper areas of the country who are happy to live a very minimal early retirement lifestyle. Many don't have kids.
Barista FIRE – Those who are in between Fat FIRE and Lean FIRE. They work part-time or freelance to supplement their income. Most FIRE members continue to doo some type of side hustle.
The Internet Retirement Police – The people who judge FIRE folks for how they live their lifestyles. The IRP or sometimes part of the FIRE community.
About the Author:
Sam worked in finance for 13 years. He received his undergraduate degree in Economics from The College of William & Mary and got his MBA from UC Berkeley. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $250,000 a year in passive income. He spends time playing tennis, taking care of his family, and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom too.
Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 and has grown it to be one of the largest independently owned personal finance sites in the world. You can sign up for his free private newsletter here.