Author Topic: Article: A Growing Cult of Millennials Is Obsessed With Early Retirement  (Read 5363 times)

Trede

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I never read Your Money or Your Life or knew much about Vicki Robin, so I found this article interesting:

http://time.com/money/5241566/vicki-robin-financial-independence-retire-early/

Can't say I agree with certain sweeping characterizations of the FIRE community in some places in the article (male-dominated, millennial, etc.) but enjoyed the read nonetheless.

jax8

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Thanks for sharing this!  I can feel the distain for Early Retirees oozing off this article...  How funny.

The warning about early retirees DYING makes me chuckle. 

1.) How many retirement decisions are made by health scares?
2.) If someone retired early due to poor health, it makes sense that they are inflating the whole "Early retirement leads to shorter life!" stats.

This is totally anecdotal, but I'm starting to wonder if women live so much longer than men because the stay-at-home-wife era led to less stress on women.  Their husbands are long gone, but the women in my family are still kicking in their late 80's and 90's.  They haven't worked since they were 25.  "Early retirement" seemed to have done wonders for them! 

Ynari

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That was a weird article. I couldn't quite figure out who their target audience was. Not FIRE folks themselves. It's equating FIRE to a YMOYL fandom? And also it reads like they just read the Reddit FAQ and decided to write an essay about it. I disagree with their assessment of why "millennials" are taking to FIRE:

Quote
The stock market has been very good to investors in recent years, especially to those who understand the magic of compound interest. Unemployment is low, and opportunities to earn extra money in the sharing economy are plentiful. Add the do-it-yourself spirit of a generation that can learn anything on YouTube, and you’ve got ripe conditions for a movement.

I've always felt that the reason FIRE is popular right now ("millennial" is effectively clickbait here, because those in the early-to-mid stages of "early retirement" are necessarily younger by definition.) was more due to the changing culture of work - it's no longer the norm to stay at a company for 40 years and get a pension. And even if you do, pensions aren't as golden as they used to be and you're expected to fund your own retirement alongside that. So if young adults already have to do a lot of retirement math and change jobs every few years, why not plan it out to your advantage? But also I think the recession got folks in the mind of saving (risk-aversion) and setting a goal of financial independence - the early retirement part is incidental. I guess I just don't see how the sharing economy or watching Youtube DIY videos has anything to do with FIRE.

Just... weird.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 01:15:53 PM by Ynari »

StockBeard

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I can feel the distain for Early Retirees oozing off this article...  How funny.
I felt on the contrary that the article was pretty well balanced, explaining multiple aspects of the FIRE community, including its pros and cons. I especially appreciated the last part which talks about the risks of blindly following the 4% rule (while still explaining where it originates from), as well as the fact that many of us in the community come from a privileged background but pretend it's not a factor.

I'd definitely share this article if friends/family asked me to explain about FIRE.

Telecaster

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That was a weird article. I couldn't quite figure out who their target audience was. Not FIRE folks themselves. It's equating FIRE to a YMOYL fandom? And also it reads like they just read the Reddit FAQ and decided to write an essay about it. I disagree with their assessment of why "millennials" are taking to FIRE:

The audience was their general readership.  For better or worse, the FIRE movement wasn't invented by millennials, not by a long shot. But millenials are driving it.  Say, eight years ago you could count the number of FIRE blogs on one hand. Now there are too many FIRE blogs to even count.  There are dozens at least, maybe hundreds. 

I also thought the author had a good concept of the basic ideas and was able to explain them with out going too far into the weeds.   

BuildingmyFIRE

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I think my only gripe with this article was the reference to "FIRE walkers."  That's so fetch.  Also the presumption that its mostly dudes. 

Dicey

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Only had time to skim the article, so this is mostly a PTF. The headline is totally misleading. Uh, she's been retired for...forever. And retiring early didn't kill her. Who writes this crap?

itchyfeet

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As an entitled, high earning white dude, I think that whilst the article did stereotype, stereotypes exist for a reason.

I'm a red panda

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Thanks for sharing this!  I can feel the distain for Early Retirees oozing off this article...  How funny.

The warning about early retirees DYING makes me chuckle. 

1.) How many retirement decisions are made by health scares?
2.) If someone retired early due to poor health, it makes sense that they are inflating the whole "Early retirement leads to shorter life!" stats.

This is totally anecdotal, but I'm starting to wonder if women live so much longer than men because the stay-at-home-wife era led to less stress on women.  Their husbands are long gone, but the women in my family are still kicking in their late 80's and 90's.  They haven't worked since they were 25.  "Early retirement" seemed to have done wonders for them!

Your family experience as a stay at home Mom must be different than mine. I go to work to escape. Staying at home is HARD.

jax8

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Thanks for sharing this!  I can feel the distain for Early Retirees oozing off this article...  How funny.

The warning about early retirees DYING makes me chuckle. 

1.) How many retirement decisions are made by health scares?
2.) If someone retired early due to poor health, it makes sense that they are inflating the whole "Early retirement leads to shorter life!" stats.

This is totally anecdotal, but I'm starting to wonder if women live so much longer than men because the stay-at-home-wife era led to less stress on women.  Their husbands are long gone, but the women in my family are still kicking in their late 80's and 90's.  They haven't worked since they were 25.  "Early retirement" seemed to have done wonders for them!

Your family experience as a stay at home Mom must be different than mine. I go to work to escape. Staying at home is HARD.

I've done both.  And right now as a working parent with two school aged kids, this stage is harder.  It sucks getting two sleepy kids into the car by 7 am each morning, and it sucks not returning home until 6:30 each night.  Throw in meals, homework, and baths and the evening is shot.  Weekends revolve around laundry and food prep for the next week.

I'd much rather be home with my kids than working.

fattest_foot

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I thought it was a pretty good article outside of the comments by Ms. Pattee. And while those quotes may have been cherry picked, a woman who can retire at 26 shouldn't be throwing out comments like, "very entitled white men who are very proud of themselves when it wasn’t much of a stretch for them anyway.” I get that "privilege" is the new buzz word for millennials (which is a ridiculous movement, especially when you throw out racist and sexist comments), but there's no way you can do what she did without a ton of it.

Her next quote was in regards to people in high stress careers who FIRE and then burn out because home brewing or whatever other hobby isn't fulfilling enough; ignoring that they're still in a much better position by being financially independent (something the article seems to mostly ignore in favor of the ER part) and can freely find any other hobby or interest to pursue.

Frugal Lizard

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Thanks for sharing this!  I can feel the distain for Early Retirees oozing off this article...  How funny.

The warning about early retirees DYING makes me chuckle. 

1.) How many retirement decisions are made by health scares?
2.) If someone retired early due to poor health, it makes sense that they are inflating the whole "Early retirement leads to shorter life!" stats.

This is totally anecdotal, but I'm starting to wonder if women live so much longer than men because the stay-at-home-wife era led to less stress on women.  Their husbands are long gone, but the women in my family are still kicking in their late 80's and 90's.  They haven't worked since they were 25.  "Early retirement" seemed to have done wonders for them!

Your family experience as a stay at home Mom must be different than mine. I go to work to escape. Staying at home is HARD.

I've done both.  And right now as a working parent with two school aged kids, this stage is harder.  It sucks getting two sleepy kids into the car by 7 am each morning, and it sucks not returning home until 6:30 each night.  Throw in meals, homework, and baths and the evening is shot.  Weekends revolve around laundry and food prep for the next week.

I'd much rather be home with my kids than working.
Gosh you have a long day - I don't know how you do it. I work from home most days so I can make dinner at lunch time and do laundry etc.  And I don't always have 40 hours of work in a week. 
My mom was a SAHM for a good chunk of my childhood.  I have memories of a number of her older friends who were done with active parenting having mental health issues.  These were the days of Valium prescriptions...And there was a rash of divorce in the neighbourhood.    Was being a SAHM the cause? I suspect working too much is bad and not having enough purpose is also bad.  The healthiest of my mom's friends (from my observations of their lives now) were the ones that were busy back in the day doing big community projects - starting recycling programs and fighting against developments. And being active parents.

K-12FI

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Her next quote was in regards to people in high stress careers who FIRE and then burn out because home brewing or whatever other hobby isn't fulfilling enough; ignoring that they're still in a much better position by being financially independent (something the article seems to mostly ignore in favor of the ER part) and can freely find any other hobby or interest to pursue.

In addition to the insensitive comments cited, her bit on how if one FIRE's, then they all but lose purpose is sad to read. While I admit I'm from a different...philosophical demographic than most here, I believe that Josef Pieper's Leisure: The Basis of Culture is a near-prophetic warning by a German philosopher who lived through the industrial war machine of the 20th century.

Quote
Leisure is an attitude of the mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world. Pieper shows that the Greeks and medieval Europeans, understood the great value and importance of leisure... Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture.

Pieper maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for non-activity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture and ourselves.


SwordGuy

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Some years back someone on one of the forum threads made a comment about it being mostly white and male.

That's when we found out that a lot of the posters were women.   A whole lot.   Quite a few were assumed to be male but weren't, and they told us so.

I've seen nothing to make me think the male/female demographic is any different.

I have no idea on the race of folks on the forum.  I would suspect whites would be proportionally overrepresented simply because whites typically have more wealth than many other racial groups.  All other variables being equal, that's the result one would get.

dragoncar

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I think my only gripe with this article was the reference to "FIRE walkers."  That's so fetch.  Also the presumption that its mostly dudes.

Stop trying to make fetch happen

Freedomin5

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I liked the article. It was a nice intro to FIRE for the general populace. Sure, some of it was stereotypical or maybe not 100% accurate, but in terms of getting your feet wet with the idea of FIRE, it provided a good starting point.

AdrianC

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This really had me thinking:

Missing is any acknowledgment of the privilege embedded in the ability to save 50% or 75% of your income to begin with. The FIRE movement, to a large extent, remains a culture of “very entitled white men who are very proud of themselves when it wasn’t much of a stretch for them anyway,” says Emma Pattee, 27, a writer based in Portland, Ore., who retired last year at 26 after making successful real estate investments. Many FIRE followers, she says, are already high earners who “disdain all the Midwest minions who can’t get out in front of their truck loan.”

Is there privilege (i.e. advantage)? Yes, no doubt. White, male, born in an English speaking country to parents who loved me and taught good values - I won the ovarian lottery. But then so did many of my peers...

Should we (FIRE'd-types) be proud of ourselves?

I don't tell anyone outside of semi-anonymous message boards that we're FI. No one would know it to look at us.

bacchi

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This really had me thinking:

Missing is any acknowledgment of the privilege embedded in the ability to save 50% or 75% of your income to begin with. The FIRE movement, to a large extent, remains a culture of “very entitled white men who are very proud of themselves when it wasn’t much of a stretch for them anyway,” says Emma Pattee, 27, a writer based in Portland, Ore., who retired last year at 26 after making successful real estate investments. Many FIRE followers, she says, are already high earners who “disdain all the Midwest minions who can’t get out in front of their truck loan.”

Is there privilege (i.e. advantage)? Yes, no doubt. White, male, born in an English speaking country to parents who loved me and taught good values - I won the ovarian lottery. But then so did many of my peers...

Should we (FIRE'd-types) be proud of ourselves?

I don't tell anyone outside of semi-anonymous message boards that we're FI. No one would know it to look at us.

I know plenty of "Midwest minions" who were also born privileged, have good jobs that pay well, and are still consumer suckahs. "I must have the King Ranch version!"

That said, saving 50% of your income is simple when you're making $100k. It's also difficult since you have to truly examine what makes you happy vs. what marketing tells you should make you happy.



Dabnasty

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As an entitled, high earning white dude, I think that whilst the article did stereotype, some stereotypes exist for a reason.
FTFY

Well, I guess they all exist for a reason, but not all of them are accurate reasons.

Much Fishing to Do

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I get that "privilege" is the new buzz word for millennials (which is a ridiculous movement, especially when you throw out racist and sexist comments), but there's no way you can do what she did without a ton of it.

Yeah, I had someone say something to me the other day to the effect of 'All White Southern Men are Prejudiced' and I was going to give them kudos for making such a clever funny and then realized it was not intentional....

BTDretire

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Thanks for sharing this!  I can feel the distain for Early Retirees oozing off this article...  How funny.

The warning about early retirees DYING makes me chuckle. 

1.) How many retirement decisions are made by health scares?
2.) If someone retired early due to poor health, it makes sense that they are inflating the whole "Early retirement leads to shorter life!" stats.

This is totally anecdotal, but I'm starting to wonder if women live so much longer than men because the stay-at-home-wife era led to less stress on women.  Their husbands are long gone, but the women in my family are still kicking in their late 80's and 90's.  They haven't worked since they were 25.  "Early retirement" seemed to have done wonders for them!

Your family experience as a stay at home Mom must be different than mine. I go to work to escape. Staying at home is HARD.

I've done both.  And right now as a working parent with two school aged kids, this stage is harder.  It sucks getting two sleepy kids into the car by 7 am each morning, and it sucks not returning home until 6:30 each night.  Throw in meals, homework, and baths and the evening is shot.  Weekends revolve around laundry and food prep for the next week.

I'd much rather be home with my kids than working.

 That's an interesting paragraph. I don't how old your kids are, buy I wonder if you could fix the morning part. Tell them the problem that you have. Get them alarm clocks, have them lay their clothes out the night before, coats and boots too.
 Make it clear, they have school 5 days a week, they need to get themselves ready, 5 days a week, make it clear, it's not your job to get them ready, it's their's. They could even get in the car and wait for you! What do you have to loose if you train them that way? If they are young, now's the time to start, if they are older, they can certainly do it.
 Why allow the kids to make you do all the stuff that they need to do anyway?
  I make it sound easy, but in the long run, is doing what you do know, harder than training them to do for themselves?
 Or if I misinterpreted and the problem is just to much to do, sorry. Or does that have the same solution?

SwordGuy

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BTDRetire - you are a person after my own heart!

What a concept! 

Raise kids to become responsible adults capable and willing to do what needs to be done.

Set expectations clearly.   Teach them how to meet those expectations.   Hold them to it.

I listen to so many parents who think that the kids are supposed to run their household and are totally passive about what happens as a result of that flawed thinking.

Slow2FIRE

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You get plenty of angst against Early Retirement from the Bogleheads.

There are several studies of early retirees in Europe where the early retirees have much better health outcomes and longer lives vs traditional retirees.

The studies in the US of early retirees dying earlier than those who work longer typically have a few key elements in common:
1.  Their early retirees are around 60-62 and really wanted to keep working but were "forced out".
2.  Their early retirees being "forced out" are usually due to health reasons or loss of job which can lead to depression -> which is rarely a good thing for your physical health.
3.  In the US, many wear it as a "badge of honor" to attempt to die at your office working well into your 70s and 80s.  Look at all the bogleheads who believe you should continue working until at least 60 even if you have several multiples of your FI number.

Malkynn

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Ugh.

I call bullshit on anyone who whines that early retirement is for the rich. That’s absolutely idiotically stupid. Yes, high savings rates and ultra young retirements require substantially higher incomes than your expenses, but so what?

Those with lower incomes should be MORE concerned with their savings rates and getting their expenses down. They may not be able to retire before 50, but it might allow them not to have to work into their 70s, which is much much much more important.

I’m working on this with my mom and step dad right now. They have low incomes and minimal savings and I’m trying to get their spending down to mine and DH’s level so that they can retire when my mom is 65 and my step dad is 70 because they’re working 7 days a week and won’t be able to ever retire at this point.

Early retirement just means retiring earlier through not wasting money. 4% rule is a rough guideline starting point for estimating how much you need to save. Beyond that, all of the remaining factors are individual, like if the person chooses to continue to work, or if they anticipate having to support their broke parents in the future :P

Focusing on the fact that financial security is easier for higher earners is so basic and pointless that it’s barely even worth mentioning. OF COURSE people with financial privilege have an easier time with this! Of course we do! People with financial privilege have it easier when it comes to finances. SHOCKING

The article mentions the high markets as a factor, but again, does that imply that people should save less if the markets are poor??? That makes no sense at all.

These things are variables within the exact same equation, but they don’t in any way change the equation itself. More spending means less wealth means later retirement. That’s true for everyone.

That article was infuriating because it focused on bullshit that doesn’t matter and forgets what the alternative is. If the choice is between spending less and achieving FI sooner vs wasting more money on shit you don’t need to be happy and forcing yourself to need to work longer, there is NO RATIONAL REASON to choose the second option.

People can talk about the recent markets and the flaws with withdrawal strategies and the “pending void” of theoretically having nothing to do early retirement that is eye-rollingly mentioned in the article, but really it all boils down to spending less or spending more and the rest of it is just bullshit cautionary noise because people love to be cautionary and condescending.

There isn’t a single argument against early retirement whose rational counterpoint is “so you should really be wasting more money on consumer shit that you don’t need”

Ugh. /endrant

Dicey

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I went to the dentist yesterday. I noticed this magazine and mentioned I'd heard a lot about this issue. When I left, they handed me a copy. It struck me immediately how small it's gotten, but I guess that's true for most magazines. Looking forward to thumbing through it at my leisure.

martyconlonontherun

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I have a friend who is retiring in a year at 32. I make sure to correct anyone who says she is going to be a stay at home mom. She earned it and saved.

Then again, I have 2 other friends who quite nice Big 4 jobs to be stay at home moms because they weren't the working type. I can see why people assume women who quite working are becoming a stay at home mom. It's not a fair stereotype but it's more from the women who leave high-paying jobs to be the primary care taker than any bias from society.

mm1970

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Thanks for sharing this!  I can feel the distain for Early Retirees oozing off this article...  How funny.

The warning about early retirees DYING makes me chuckle. 

1.) How many retirement decisions are made by health scares?
2.) If someone retired early due to poor health, it makes sense that they are inflating the whole "Early retirement leads to shorter life!" stats.

This is totally anecdotal, but I'm starting to wonder if women live so much longer than men because the stay-at-home-wife era led to less stress on women.  Their husbands are long gone, but the women in my family are still kicking in their late 80's and 90's.  They haven't worked since they were 25.  "Early retirement" seemed to have done wonders for them!

Your family experience as a stay at home Mom must be different than mine. I go to work to escape. Staying at home is HARD.

I've done both.  And right now as a working parent with two school aged kids, this stage is harder.  It sucks getting two sleepy kids into the car by 7 am each morning, and it sucks not returning home until 6:30 each night.  Throw in meals, homework, and baths and the evening is shot.  Weekends revolve around laundry and food prep for the next week.

I'd much rather be home with my kids than working.

 That's an interesting paragraph. I don't how old your kids are, buy I wonder if you could fix the morning part. Tell them the problem that you have. Get them alarm clocks, have them lay their clothes out the night before, coats and boots too.
 Make it clear, they have school 5 days a week, they need to get themselves ready, 5 days a week, make it clear, it's not your job to get them ready, it's their's. They could even get in the car and wait for you! What do you have to loose if you train them that way? If they are young, now's the time to start, if they are older, they can certainly do it.
 Why allow the kids to make you do all the stuff that they need to do anyway?
  I make it sound easy, but in the long run, is doing what you do know, harder than training them to do for themselves?
 Or if I misinterpreted and the problem is just to much to do, sorry. Or does that have the same solution?
Prob depends on the age of the kids.  Kindergartner gonna be different than a fourth grader

Note the part about getting into the car at 7 am.  My kinder kid wasn't even awake until 7:30 am.  Seven am is EARLY for many kids, meaning they have to be up and at 'em at 6 to get dressed and eat breakfast.  And then when are they going to bed?

A schedule that means you are only home for 12.5 hours (6:30 pm to 7 am) leaves very little time for all that needs to be done, whether the kids get themselves dressed or not.