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14th Feb 2024

Fire movement: The extreme savings method making waves with promises of early retirement

Sophie Collins


The extreme saving movement, FIRE, is making waves as it gives people hope of retiring in their forties, or even thirties

It might sound like a distant dream to most people reading this, but for advocates of the so-called ‘FIRE method’, it is actually a tangible goal that you may be able to strive for – if you’re willing to implement some pretty extreme measures into daily life.

The FIRE movement – short for Financial Independence, Retire Early – has gained momentum as a revolutionary approach to financial freedom.

It was founded in a 1992 best selling book, ‘Your Money or Your Life,’ written by Vicki Robin and it’s aimed at people who want to save and invest to a point of being able to retire early.

FIRE originated in the US and has recently found a large following in the UK and Ireland as the trend spreads like wildfire across social media.

Its promises of freeing people from the 9-to-5 grind with the opportunity to live off investments has garnered a lot of interest – but what is actually involved and just how extreme is it?

@maybefinance The FIRE movement explained 🔥 #firemovement #financialfreedom #financialindependenceretireearly #financialindepenence #financetok #moneytok💰✨ #personalfinance #finance101 ♬ original sound – Maybe Finance

Nick Charalambous, financial advisor and Managing Director of Alpha Wealth, has shared insights into the FIRE movement with and offers practical advice for anyone who is interested in embarking on this type of journey.

Understanding the FIRE Movement

“FIRE stands for ‘Financial Independence, Retire Early,'” explains Nick. 

“At its core, the FIRE movement advocates for frugal living, aggressive saving, and wise investment strategies to achieve financial independence and the option to retire well before traditional retirement ages.”

Nick also highlights that you would need to be able to save up to a staggering 70% of your income to achieve FIRE – which would be a far cry from reality for most of us.

However, he does have options for those who are not in a position to take this route.

Steps to Achieve FIRE

Nick says: “Financial independence entails being debt-free, having sufficient funds to cover all planned expenses, and possessing income-generating assets capable of supporting your lifestyle at a 5% withdrawal rate.” 

For instance, aiming for an annual income of €50,000 would necessitate approximately one million euros in income-generating assets.

However, achieving FIRE by your thirties or forties may seem daunting, however Nick says there is a more realistic approach: 

“To retire by 40 requires significant savings, amounting to 50-75% of earnings, which may not be feasible or advisable for everyone.”

A Realistic Approach to Early Retirement

Nick suggests that for a sustainable approach to earlier retirement, you need ot emphasise ‘prudent financial management’ and leverage the power of compound interest.

“By starting a pension early and making consistent contributions, you can accumulate significant savings by age 50,” he advised. 

“While this may require discipline, the potential benefits, such as tax advantages and employer contributions, make it a viable option for many.”

Embracing FIRE Principles

FIRE may seem extreme to some, but Nick says its value is in fostering financial awareness and providing flexibility and security. 

“Whether it’s retiring early, semi-retiring, or adapting to life’s challenges, the principles of FIRE offer valuable insights into achieving financial freedom,” he concluded. 

“By prioritising tax mitigation and smart financial planning, individuals can gain more control over their futures and enjoy greater peace of mind.”

In essence, the FIRE movement isn’t just about early retirement – as it may seem on social media – it’s more about empowering people to take control of their financial future.