How to be more productive and retire earlier
Financial independence is taking the world by storm and beyond the occasional criticism, there’s a substantial amount of Millenials willing to join them on it. But this approach to one’s life is deeply messed up, delusional, and dumb. And if you care enough to keep reading, this will be an attempt to explain why.
We won’t go through the traditional criticism: how you need something to do to be happy, how you will become depressed if you don’t do anything day after day, how much will you have to sacrifice in your 20s to achieve this dream. There’s enough of that on the internet already. This story will focus on understanding what drives this desire and how it being an individual approach is deeply flawed.
First, let’s build a layer of concepts;
Concepts to get through
Financial independence is the status of having enough income to pay one’s living expenses for the rest of one’s life without having to be employed or dependent on others. Income earned without having to work a job is commonly referred to as passive income. (Wikipedia)
Passive income is earnings derived from a rental property, limited partnership, or another enterprise in which a person is not actively involved. (Investopedia)
Early retirement: the practice of leaving employment before the statutory age, especially on favorable financial terms. (Oxford Languages Dictionary)
F.I.R.E.: a movement dedicated to a program of extreme savings and investment that allows proponents to retire far earlier than traditional budgets and retirement plans would allow. (Investopedia)
Why do we want to be financially independent?
The F.I.R.E. movement might seem to arise from the absolute energy and power Millennials have and the desire to take over the world, not depend on anyone or anything and be able to do “whatever they want with their lives”. Well, I doubt this is the origin. It seems to me this movement seems to be the only possible outcome of 1) a political speech that preaches that “you can become whatever you want” and a 2) consistent amount of people not being able to reach this ideal (because it never was a reality, just a fabricated and deeply flawed political campaign).
We are afraid. We are afraid because we have seen our parents work every day of their lives with something they don’t enjoy so we can have a better future. But we know better, we know that working 8 hours a day for five days a week might be the “better future” they aim for us. But is not what we want.
The work-life makes us feel trapped because it makes us feel like we don’t own our time, and we need to know we own our time because we’ve been told for way too long that our life is only ours and we should make what we truly desire from it.
Why are we taking the financial issue on to our own hands?
Beyond trying to understand Millenial’s obsession to be able to not depend economically on no one. We should focus on a more systemic approach to solve this concern. Politically, we are failing at giving a sense of security to young people, we are telling them that the government isn’t taking care of them and this is absolutely horrible. This is what governments are for: caring for your needs when you can’t because you (or someone else) have taken care of the rest of the population when you could.
There’s a radically different approach to this fear that concerns Millennials that tries to solve the same problem: The Universal Basic Income (UBI). Roughly said it’s basically a monthly income that covers your basic needs. So working is no longer mandatory. The psychology behind it is that when your basic needs covered, you are more likely to produce well beyond that which would, overall, increase our tools to live even more comfortably in this world. There’s information about it all over the internet, look it up.
This political bet has been astronomically unsuccessful when there have been referendums to apply it. But whit the FIRE movement it is absolutely undeniable to admit there’s a big demand for it, or something similar. And maybe we should think about it again. The problem here is that the Millenials that are concerned with it have bet for an individual approach and aren’t spending any energy on systemic changes that might offer a more permanent solution to our problem.
And I don’t know about you, but from what I’m getting when reading people that are concerned about climate change, in not that many years, life as we know it might not even be a possibility. You might be better of learning how to grow your own food, building a house, and all the appliances it needs to be functional and investing in relationships that can take care of you when and if you can’t than having a ridiculous amount of money on the bank.