It’s important to be thankful every day of the year, but the holiday season seems to bring out additional reflection. When I can convince family to participate, I love to have everyone go around the table during Thanksgiving dinner and share what they are thankful for.
One of the most significant things that I’m thankful for is that John and I have the FIRE principles in our lives.
Since college, we have made leaps and bounds towards:
This is all because of communities like ChooseFI, who have given us the tools necessary to prioritize our wants versus needs and to live a more intentional life.
At first, making this amount of progress seemed impossible from where we stood. But, here’s a quote that pretty much says its all:If you take small actions each and every day forward, you can transform the trajectory of your life and that of your family's. Jonathan Mendonsa, ChooseFI Episode 152
We reached CoastFI earlier in 2019, and while we’re not completely financially independent yet – I am particularly thankful that controlling our finances enabled me to quit my 9 to 5 job this summer.
Now, I have the freedom to pursue a career with growing businesses that truly makes me happy and has the potential to impact the population in a meaningful way.
This never would have been possible if we had not found FIRE.
Just as Jonathan said, it’s changed my life trajectory, John’s life trajectory, and the trajectory of our future children.
Financial independence and early retirement (FIRE) means so much to us and has completely changed our mindset and lifestyle. This fact made me curious as to how it has affected others as well.
I decided that the best way to figure this out would be to poll the community and share it with everyone.
Now, unlike Thanksgiving dinner, I had an overwhelming response from the personal finance and FIRE communities to the question: Why are you thankful for FIRE/personal finance.
No threat of withholding pumpkin pie needed here!
Each story is evidence of how powerful the impact of finances is on your life.
If you’re a softy like me, grab a tissue box. These are warm and fuzzy, happy stories.
How Has FIRE and Personal Finance Changed Your Life?
*Community responses listed in no particular order*
“Aside from what it’s provided for me financially AND all of the incredible people I now call friends, it’s simply the opportunity to share the FI concepts which may change another person’s life, who might have worked themselves to death otherwise. Imagine the multiplicative affect such a connection could have on so many others. No matter the monetization, popularity or personal triumphs, the chance to help just one person achieve FI is the ultimate win.”
“I am thankful for FIRE because I always felt like the life I was living was not normal. I have been big on budgeting throughout my life and finding about the FIRE community gave me a sense of belonging and I found my TRIBE. Like minded people who are following the same rules as me in order to reach financial freedom and early retirement. Thank you FIRE community and the FIRE movement itself.”
“I’m mortgage free at 35 – with a roof over my head for the rest of my life. My networth is increasing following the compounding curve. If things go to plan I should be FI in 5 years. I’m thankful for that privilege, and I am now contemplating how to leave my wealth to others in a meaningful way.”
“I’m thankful for over 17 years of financial independence. The 4% Safe Withdrawal Rate works! I enjoy having more control over my time, the freedom is great, and life just keeps getting better.”
– Doug Nordman, author of ‘The Military Guide To Financial Independence And Retirement’ and founder of The-Military-Guide.com.
“The FIRE lifted the fog and we were able to see clearer. It reinvigorated us to pursue something more valuable than our career goals and more valuable than a bigger home.
We not only took control of our finances but began living each day with a purpose. We began to read and listen to podcasts regularly. I began writing in my journal more often and enjoyed writing so much that I started this blog. Best of all, my wife began exercising with me more frequently.
By becoming consumers of knowledge and practicing habits that better align with our values, we are happier, healthier and smarter. We are cultivating the relationships that matter most to us and caring less about the things that don’t.”
“I’m not particularly pursuing FIRE but do want to retire as early as possible. The personal finance community has opened my eyes to better money management. I enjoy reading other peoples stories, their success, and failures. I can take bits and pieces and add them to my story. I hope by sharing my family’s money story, I’m helping someone else too. My goal is to share personal finance information to anyone that will listen. I always lead with my failure to help strike common ground with the person I’m talking with. Money can be a taboo topic, and we all need to help each other with it. That’s what the personal finance community is all about, helping others, and for that, I’m incredibly grateful.”
“Since I started focusing on personal finance, in particular creating and living on a budget I have become much less stressed about finances. I have no need to stress about each purchase, or worse stress about purchases my husband makes. Everything is decided and accounted for and so every time i shop I don’t need to second guess or wonder how it will affect my finances. Having money set aside for emergencies and big, occasional purchases has allowed us to handle “bad things” easily and without stress. It’s great for me and my marriage and my children!”
“It has changed my focused on working at a job for someone else to now focusing on myself and my financial goals to become financially independent.”
‘Personal Finance has always been part of my life but by taking a deeper interest it has helped me focus more on defining my own financial goals and as well I also discovered that managing your money was about more than choosing the right index fund or the rental property with the best return. It goes beyond “financial mechanics” such as the excel calculations, financial modeling or picking the right stock. In the grand scheme of things, managing your finances is about goal setting, life decisions, psychology, and your money blueprint.”
“We are thankful for fire in that it has made our lives more meaningful. We are no longer concerned with buying the latest gadgets and have embraced a slower, more intentional lifestyle. It also put us in a position to take significant chunks of unpaid leave when both of our children were born.”
“We’re grateful for FIRE because it’s helped us think outside of the box in terms of finances, investments, and W-2 employment. It’s made us communicate better about money and reflect deeply on our values in terms of how we want our money to work for us. We’re also thankful for all of the supportive people we’ve met in the FIRE community, and we’re glad we can all geek out together!”
“I am in no way pursuing FIRE but I am pursuing the FI part of it. However, the entire FIRE concept helped me realize how much I needed to up my retirement contributions and portfolio contributions outside of retirement accounts. It put everything into perspective for me so I think people that aren’t aiming for FIRE should still read up on it because it’s a great basis to follow (not in extremes though, but how it works for you). It’s basically changed my entire life and now my wife and I are dreaming and working towards things that we weren’t even thinking if 5 years ago. It’s a complete game changer for us.”
“I’m thankful for the awesome community of people working towards their goals. It’s really been an awesome way to come together, help each other and find ways to live a better lifestyle. There are plenty of experts, strategies and even forms of FIRE that there really can be a solution for anyone out there.”
“I don’t necessarily have the ambition to retire early, at least earlier than my 50s. However, as I routinely say, I might not want to go to the retire early dance but I’d still like an invite. Advancing our careers, living within our means, and sharing common financial goals have made our lives much easier and satisfying.”
“Money is certainly not the most important thing in life, but it makes some of the important things easier. Understanding personal finance improves your chances. With more freedom and options, you can spend time with loved ones, give back, pursue your passions, or do whatever matters most to you.”
“Before discovering the world of personal finance bloggers, I thought I was good with money because I was good at saving money. I’m thankful that I discovered there’s a lot more money than just saving!”
“I’ve always loved my work, so being financially independent wasn’t about quitting my job. It was about doing it the way I wanted. When I was younger and had small kids, financial independence gave me the freedom to work from home. (I threatened to quit, if my boss didn’t allow it.) Now, it’s allowed me to start a passion project — SideHusl — without worrying about when the site becomes profitable. Along the way, it’s given me the ability to travel, help my kids, nieces and nephews and make choices that simply wouldn’t have been available if I didn’t have the ability to keep the lights on.
BTW, gratitude is a key element to becoming financially independent, in my opinion. When you’re grateful for what you have, you don’t need more.”
“I am thankful for FIRE because it gives me peace of mind knowing that I have a long runway if a financial emergency comes up. I also love knowing that I have less than 10 years until I can retire if I want to as opposed to 34 years left if I wasn’t on the FIRE path. Rather than dreaming of being rich and able to do what I want “someday”, I’m able to confidently plan for what I want my future to look like in the near future. I feel in control of my life and my future.”
“Early retirement strategies give me hope that my wife and I can escape the 9 to 5 grind. It doesn’t have to be a corporate life sentence! Taking control of my finances gives me the focus and financial ability to be more intentional with my other goals for my life, too.”
“Learning about personal finance has provided me with greater feelings of confidence, security, and peace of mind about my future. I’m no longer worried about how I’d respond if I lose my job or the stock market crashes. I feel prepared, self-reliant, and resilient. Outside of the financial and emotional benefits, becoming passionate about personal finance has also introduced me to a strong, supportive community and facilitated many new friendships.”
“Becoming involved in personal finance has changed my life in many ways. For 15 years I lived a “Jones” lifestyle and the American dream. It was expensive, stressful, and caused a lot of financial difficulties for my family and I. I ended up downsizing from this lifestyle and now save $30,000 a year.
Since I no longer have these financial debt dark clouds looming over me in my daily life, I can now experience the fullness of life.
Being able to take my kids on vacation, or spend time with them trying to construct massive Lego cities are things I regularly do, instead of working to pay bills for a lifestyle that didn’t really bring any of us true happiness.
Having the freedom of my life back and the freedom to choose how I want to live the second half of my life has been the greatest reward of becoming involved in personal finance and the FIRE Movement.”
“I’m thankful that many years ago, I picked up The Little Book of Common Sense Investing, by John Bogle, which introduced me to the world of index investing. At the time, I was invested primarily in high cost mutual funds, and had no idea how much it was impacting my returns. I ditched the mutual funds as soon as I could, and never looked back.”
“Discovering FIRE helped me prioritize investing in my retirement accounts to create more freedom in my self-employed career years later. By knowing that it was even POSSIBLE to access those funds before traditional retirement age (via the Roth IRA Conversion Ladder), I was able to focus on maxing out my 401K and IRA for years and reduce our present-day tax burden. Meeting folks in the FIRE community in real life (at FinCon and other events) and seeing the clarity with which they describe their life choices is refreshing and rejuvenating. Thank goodness for the FIRE community!”
“I’m thankful for the fact that I learned personal finance concept early in life. We are first generation immigrants who came here when I was young and I got used to a life where I didn’t need much. It was so beneficial to learn early on that money wasn’t the root of all happiness and that things weren’t the end all be all. They were nice but a luxury. We didn’t have much but I still lived a relatively happy existence despite that. As I got older and learned about personal finance concepts, I saw that they really jived well with the lifestyle I was already living. I am 35 now and utilizing these concepts to save has given me a lot of flexibility in life. I’m still far from retirement but I have options and don’t stress over money too often because of the things I experience and learned early on life. I’m very thankful for that and for the fact that being in the US really opened so many doors for me. I have a good career, am pretty healthy and happy and am financially stable. All that start with my parents deciding to come here in search for a new and better life for us and I think they’ve succeeded. I am very thankful for that.”
“I’m thankful we found the FIRE movement because while we had always been somewhat frugal, we’d never really had a long-term plan for our money. Learning about the possibilities available when pursuing FIRE motivated us to pay off debt, save more, and redesign our careers. It also enabled me to stay at home with our kids for two years without financial worry. Even though we’re on a “slow FI” path rather than a FIRE one, this community has radically changed our perspectives on money and helped us to be more focused on spending where it matters to us.”
“Just had my first baby and now have the option to take some time off..OR go back to work. Choices are nice!”
“Financial independence has allowed me to take complete control of my time and live a life by design. If you told me what I’d be doing two years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. A combination of frugality, extreme side hustling, and ambitious networking has allowed me to fly down the path to FI…hence the blog name ;)”
“The possibility of FIRE has really “fired” up my imagination and believing that there is more to life than work. Even when the work I do provides value to society, FIRE would allow me to worry less about money, focus 100% on my family and only continue to work for the the love of it.
This is what I am thankful for. To live my life to the fullest with all the stress and worries that comes with normal life, but grateful that money won’t be one of them.”
“I’m a recent college graduate and immensely far away from being FIRE. However, the simple fact of knowing this concept exists is the most powerful aspect of FIRE, in my opinion. I feel like I have a better understanding of how to view and appreciate money since learning about FIRE, and I’m excited to focus on building wealth, being happy, and living a fulfilling life that isn’t focused on materialistic things.”
“Finding the FIRE message gave me the confidence and motivation to take control of my finances. This allowed me to buy back two decades of my life, when my daughter is young and I can spend time with her, I have my health to seek adventures, and I can pursue opportunities that excite and interest me and allow me to make an impact without having to worry about a paycheck.”
“Learning personal finance strategies has taught me things like how to stay out of debt or how to invest. But more importantly it has empowered me to align my money with my values and priorities in life.
Along the way, personal finance has opened up my eyes. I now understand how important it is to be mindful of how we use our precious limited resources including our money and time.
For me personal finance has been the gateway to intentional living and I’m grateful for that.”
“I’m so thankful for the sense of security and optimism that planning for financial independence has given me. For so long, money was an enemy. I never felt like I had enough (or would ever have enough) and it always felt out of my control. Discovering the world of financial independence led us to create a clear plan and take control of our finances. We aren’t FI yet, but will be in 3-5 years. Just having that on the horizon has improved our lives and the way we interact with our jobs enough that we’re not racing to retirement. We might retire early, but we may keep working. We can now do the work we love while feeling financially secure. What a gift.”
“Personal finance has changed my life because it has given me a whole new perspective. Before I started learning about it, I assumed anyone who isn’t born wealthy or who becomes mega-rich can retire before their mid-late 60s. But that simply isn’t true. Personal finance has taught me that nearly anyone can become financially independent with the right planning, intentional living, and sound investment strategy.”
“On Thanksgiving day my wife Allison and I will be on a cruise ship from Barcelona, Spain to Santiago, Chile. On Christmas day we’ll be in Machu Picchu, and right after the New Year we will be in the Galapagos Islands. This is all thanks to achieving FIRE 5 years ago! So, I’m very thankful that we can now spend our days exploring the world, having amazing experiences, and creating unforgettable memories.”
“I’m thankful for FIRE because it creates a collaborative and welcoming community of like-minded people who are striving to live their best life. Within the community there are people at every stage and variation of FIRE who are willing to share their journey and advice. Plus everyone who I’ve met, interacted with on social media, or read the work of is relatable, has humility, and is usually pretty funny! I’m a recent college graduate and one of the younger members of this community but I have found so many amazing personal finance role models to look up to.”
“Personal finance — and more specifically, getting out of debt — has changed my life for the better in so many ways. My husband and I paid off all our debt back in 2013. Now that the debt is no longer hanging over our heads and we’ve reached FI, having the freedom to do the things that really matter to us makes such a difference. But it’s not just being free to travel or work on the things that matter. It’s freedom from so much of the stress that comes with being in debt. You don’t really know how heavy that load is until you put it down. I’m grateful for that every day.”
“I’m thankful for FIRE because of the freedom and flexibility it’s providing me – especially now as a caregiver to family members. By learning about personal finance and achieving financial independence I was able to leave my job and be my granddaughter’s daycare provider for a year and just recently my elderly aunt’s guardian and conservator as she slips further into dementia. Having had the ability to spend time daily with my granddaughter the first year of her life and now having it to assist my aunt in the final years of hers, without worrying about a paycheck, is a priceless blessing I’m very thankful for.”
“I’m thankful for the FIRE movement because it taught me to get a better grasp of my personal finances. I’m not necessarily seeking early retirement, but getting to financial independence is 100% a goal of mine. Through mindful spending, above average saving, and aggressive investing (in index funds), I know I am setting myself up for success. And the FIRE movement help shed some light on things I can do to better my financial situation.”
“I stumbled upon the FIRE movement after my husband & I got out of debt, only to realize we were way behind on saving for retirement. We’d been following the Dave Ramsey plan, but Dave advises only saving 15% of your income for retirement. I knew that would not be enough, as we were older (in our 50s), so I started looking online for other strategies. I found multiple FIRE blogs detailing how younger people had saved a much higher percentage of their income, invested it, and were able to retire in their 30s & 40s! I am so grateful for finding the FIRE movement – it taught me that it is possible to do what seems impossible! We’ve been able to save 50% of our income to help catch up our retirement savings. I may not be retire early, but I will be financially independent thanks to the FIRE movement. For me, FIRE stand for Freedom In REtirement.”
“The FIRE movement opened my eyes to the possibilities that abound when you start managing your money right. Since stumbling on FIRE, we have paid off all our consumer debts and only have a mortgage to go. We have also doubled up on our retirement savings.
The impact of FIRE on our family’s finances is best captured by this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The mind once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” Our personal finances has improved in leaps and bounds!”
TLDR: FIRE = Freedom
This list of wins certainly brought tears to my eyes. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when you are motivated to practice intentionality.
The personal finance and FIRE communities are filled with inspiring stories and people who are so supportive of one another.
Getting control of your finances is not about restraint, it’s about the way you align your money with your values. When that happens, you paint the canvas for the life you envision.
Living an intentional life can grant you the freedom and flexibility you are looking for.
Whether you’re deep in debt, have no savings, or spend uncontrollably, it’s never too late to change your path. What’s in it for you? Freedom.
The freedom to work in a job that makes you happy or not work at all.
The freedom to travel the world or stay home and spend time with family.
The freedom to say yes and the freedom to say no.
A mind free of financial worries.
Financial independence and early retirement has changed our lives. Will it change yours?
Why are you thankful for FIRE and getting control of your finances? What freedom has it given you? Let us know in the comments!
If you’re new to financial independence and early retirement and don’t know where to start, check out our FIRE Guide.
If you’d like your story to be included in this article, get in touch.
Sam uses her BS in Finance and MBA to help others get control of their finances through budgeting, saving, investing, side hustles, and travel hacking. Due to following the FIRE Movement’s principles, she was able to quit her high-stress job in the financial services industry in July 2019 to pursue her side hustles. She is now a full-time entrepreneur and blogger. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her dog “Simba” and traveling with her husband, John.