What should Christians think about the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) Movement?
How wonderful would it be to feel financial independence before you are in your late 60’s or early 70’s? Wouldn’t it be great to not feel the pressure of going to a 9-5 job, working just to simply put food on the table? Many of us would jump at the opportunity to be financially independent and retire early, not having to rely or depend on someone else in order to be paid and make a living. There is a growing movement called FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) that holds to this kind of idea. Today, we address a listener’s question regarding the Financial Independence Retire Early movement. Is it a good thing to want to retire early? What are the motives behind this movement? Let’s look at our listener’s question first!
THOMAS – I am a 26-year-old. As a believer, a husband, and a father, I have found the biblical sequential priorities incredibly helpful learning how to properly steward our household.
When my daughter was born almost 2 years ago, I had an awakening to getting my finances in order and preparing for the future. A concept that I started reading about was the FIRE (financial Independece- Retire Early) movement. I have been grappling with the concept of whether biblical stewardship is compatible with that philosophy. Some people go crazy and FIRE in their 30’s. I don’t really see a pathway for my family with that, but my goal is to retire at 52. I do thoroughly enjoy working, but I see being in the position to retire early as freedom. Freedom to spend more time volunteering at church, more time helping with future potential grandkids, or building more community. Not retiring into laziness, but building my storehouses so that I can spend more time building the kingdom. I’d love to see you guys tackle the subject of the FIRE movement.
The main question is, can you follow the biblical sequential priorities for stewardship and achieve FIRE? I believe so, but in a different way than the world does, and for completely different reasons. Among that movement is the popular idea of “Paying yourself first” which goes exactly against what God has commanded us! It’s also tenuous because if I am increasing my savings rate to 20-30%, would it be wiser to up my giving instead? I’d love to hear your take, and I don’t think I’m the only one wrestling with these thoughts.
This podcast has been a fantastic resource, and praise God for your ministry! Thank you! 🙂
What is F.I.R.E.?
- Acronym: Financial Independence, Retire Early
- Goal: Invest somewhere between 50-75% of income so you can retire sometime in your 30’s or 40’s.
- Tactics: Cut expenses and raise your income drastically.
- There’s nothing inherently wrong with living on less than you earn, and saving and investing.
- Theres nothing wrong with having enough to retire, or even retire early.
- There are variants of the FIRE framework.
Our Concerns of the F.I.R.E. Movement
These questions are meant to get you thinking:
- What are you sacrificing in order to maximize your saving?
- Are you sacrificing giving to the Lord’s work?
- Are you blessing others through “offerings”
- What is your driving desire?
- What is the problem of work that you’re trying to avoid?
- What does the promise of retirement mean to you?
- Are you squeezing your family?
- Are you being a cheapskate and giving a bad name to Christ?
- Are you consumed with the love of money?
- What are you pursuing most?
Is what you are pursing bringing honor to the Lord?
- Retiring early to serve in the mission field
- To teach at a Christian school
- Serving at local missions/organizations
- Living on less than you earn
- Not being consumed by materialism
- RETIREMENT? NO. REDEPLOYMENT!
Can you follow the Biblical Sequential Priorities for Stewardship and achieve FIRE?
- Financial Independence? Sure!
- Retire Early? Not necessarily.
- I don’t want to be at the mercy of an employer
- I don’t want to continue to work a 9-5 thats killing me
- I don’t want to give any time to employer
- I want freedom to do whatever I want to do
- Ultimately, the greatest idol CONTROL
- I want to have more time to serve in the Church
The ultimate question: Are you monetarily driven? Or purpose driven? If you gain the whole world but lose your soul, what profit is there?
The pure FIRE philosophy leads us to sacrifice all generous giving for the sake of building bigger barns. So the pure FIRE philosophy is not compatible with the Good Stewardship Principles. However, a modified version may be compatible, assuming your motives align with Biblical principles:
- Give. Are you giving to the Lord’s Work?
- Save. Are you saving to protect your family?
- Spend. Are you meeting your obligations?
- Offering. Are you giving to those in need?
- Living for tomorrow and neglecting today. In pure FIRE, You’re living your life not for today, but for tomorrow. But tomorrow is never guaranteed! Rather than being so focused on the next phase of life, be focused on being present now, while also preparing for the future.
- Happiness & Contentment. Does happiness and contentment happen now or in retirement?
- The dangers of idolatry of control & independence.
- Take advantage of our free personal stewardship reviews so you can take your next steps to being a better steward.
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