Financial awareness and financial planning are the obvious skills that you can expect to learn along your path to FIRE. But FIRE is so much more than that! It is a mindset, a lifestyle, and a community.
We have picked up some invaluable insights along our FIRE journey. These have affected all areas of our life, and in some ways that we would never have imagined. It isn’t all about money management and setting ourselves up for early retirement.
Our values have been impacted. We have learned so much about who we are and what we truly need in order to live happy, prosperous lives. Let us tell you how FIRE has impacted our quality of life for the better.
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OK, we did say that FIRE isn’t all about financial goal setting. But we can’t deny that money management is a part of the FIRE lifestyle.
FIRE teaches important lessons about being conscientious regarding your spending behavior. Our journey has taught us an incredible amount about the benefit of making short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. Our wants and our needs are differentiated, but we also have the freedom to indulge ourselves without guilt by budgeting our “mad money”.
By being hyperaware of where we are financially and what impact our purchases have on our financial goals, it is easy for us to decide what is worth spending our money on and what doesn’t add value to our life. We have learned that we value experiences more than we value collecting stuff. That realization has fueled a lot of our decisions concerning where our splurge budget is spent.
Being intentional with money has enabled us to confidently set short-term and long-term goals. This helps us financially, obviously, as we are no longer worried about money. The weight of wondering where our money is going has been lifted from our shoulders.
In a very real way, the financial impact of our FIRE journey has transpired into the construct of our lifestyle.
The Impact of FIRE on Our Lifestyle
Hand in hand with helping us to prioritize our expenses, our FIRE journey has taught us what kind of lifestyle we want to lead.
We have learned what is important to us, and not only from the perspective of saving money. We have learned what truly brings value to our life. With that knowledge we can say that we are leading a life that carries so much more meaning than it would if we were just trying to collect “stuff”, and spending our hard-earned money on the latest thing, just to keep up with the Joneses.
Some FI-ers have learned that their personal happiness comes not from having the biggest house on the block or driving the newest, shiniest, most expensive car that they can qualify for. They are able to find happiness in smaller, less expensive things.
Simple lifestyle shifts enacted in the essence of saving money can compound, creating a ripple effect through every aspect of your life. Take road tripping as an example. You save the cost of air travel and at the same time give yourself opportunities for new experiences. The trip becomes part of the experience, as you visit new places and take in exciting scenery, rather than simply the means of getting yourself to your final destination.
When you start cooking to save money, you are giving yourself the gift of better health and conscious eating. This small shift can compound into a better relationship with your body and a longer lifespan.
By swapping out extravagant events for garden parties in your backyard, you are trading expensive outings focused on fleeting experiences for deeper relationships with your family and friends.
The most significant lifestyle shift for us has been the gift of relaxation. We have been able to shift from a scarcity mindset to one of abundance simply by gaining control of our financial present and future. With this comes the relaxing security of not having to worry about what might be lurking around the next corner, and the freedom to enjoy our life instead of simply live it.
The Community Impact of FIRE
One of the greatest gifts that FIRE gives to us and so many others is its sense of community.
Knowing that you are not paddling down this river alone motivates you to continue on your journey. Seeing how others are able to optimize their lives and contribute to their goals month over month encourages us to do the same.
Be an active member of your local ChooseFI chapter! We can’t stress this enough. You are not an island. You need a group of like-minded people that you can turn to when you might not be getting support from your non-FI relatives and friends. This is going to be a hard journey sometimes and having this community in your corner is invaluable to your FIRE goals.
It is never too late or too early to start your FIRE journey. If you are having doubts about your progress or your ability to reach your goals because you think you have started too late, that is all the more reason to be active within your community. There are others at the same point in their journey, guaranteed.
As you advance through this journey, you are going to realize that the things that you want are sometimes very different from the desires of most of your non-FI peers. And that is perfectly alright. Their priorities are going to be different, and you should have no reason to feel a need to justify yours to them. Just know that it might get lonely for you without your FIRE community to speak to for support. That is what we are here for.
An Impactful Decision
Embarking on our FIRE journey has been one of the most impactful decisions of our lives. You don’t truly understand what a positive influence such small shifts make on your mindset and lifestyle until you take the plunge and make them.
In a society where so much of our lives intermingle with financial prowess, it comes as no surprise that learning and implementing a solid financial plan will cascade, for the better, throughout every aspect of your life. Are you ready to start planning for the future that you’ve always dreamed of?
Let us know in the comments about how FIRE has impacted you!