Author Topic: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?  (Read 6403 times)

brooklynguy

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Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« on: December 11, 2014, 09:31:53 AM »
Financial independence and early retirement are supposed to be a means to an end.  One seeks to achieve them in order to accomplish one's true goals in life.  However, for me, the pursuit of FIRE has become an end in and of itself.  It has become my primary hobby.  I take pleasure in it.  I am passionate about it.  I enjoy the problem-solving nature of the pursuit, and I spend my free time researching and thinking about FIRE matters and exploring ways to achieve FIRE more quickly.  Because my free time is limited, I do this to the exclusion of some of my other interests.  I can't decide whether or not this is a problem.

bye-bye Ms. FancyPants

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2014, 09:50:04 AM »
Yea, I'm pretty obsessed myself. My husband tells me to stop looking at the budget all the time. I can't help it, it's so fun to see how well we are doing! ... But I know he secretly checks our Vanguard accounts all the time, lol. So we are even :)

Dances With Fire

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2014, 09:52:39 AM »
Many read fiction for hours, play video games, watch sports, surf the net, shop, and a host of other pursuits. If your passion is to research on how to better ones self, save and spend wisely, pay off your mortgage, research places to vacation or retire, etc. etc. then with the rest of your life "in balance" I would say it is a valid hobby... Good luck!

shotgunwilly

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2014, 09:55:53 AM »
I've had this thought myself.  I have noticed that some people show signs of being obsessed with it, and may be losing sight of the reason why they are doing it. To be able to do whatever they are passionate about full time. 

I wonder if it will overcome some people to the point where they amass a huge nest egg, and never use it to do other things in life. They just keep doing everything they can to save and grow it until they die. Bummer IMO.

dandeliongirl75

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2014, 12:35:45 PM »
I have just gotten into it and it is definitely becoming a bit of an obsessive hobby right now....but I think in a couple of years when I have really got everything as figured out as I can I will lose interest somewhat. I think I am so interested right now as it is all new and I am learning a lot which I love. in a year or two the amount of time I spend on it will not create meaningful returns and my obsessive nature will be grabbed by something else.

The only way in which I worry it might not be healthy is if I lose focus on living in the current moment and just focus on the future....and also, if I get there will I be bored and disappointed....but these can easily be avoided if I know they are risks...right ;)

Eric

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2014, 12:57:09 PM »
I think it's okay to not know what "your true goals" are yet.  After all, getting beat down week after week, it's hard to think of much else besides work or escaping from work.  After FIRE, you'll have plenty of time to figure out how you'd most like to spend your time, even if that turns out to be "not much". 

It reminds me of this.  You're currently in your Get To FIRE life.  You'll have other lives to perfect after this.

http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2722
"Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe."  -- Einstein

skyrefuge

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2014, 01:28:27 PM »
I wonder if it will overcome some people to the point where they amass a huge nest egg, and never use it to do other things in life. They just keep doing everything they can to save and grow it until they die.

Certainly "One-More-Year Syndrome" is a common ailment seen around early-retirement forums, but this brings up an interesting point: maybe that ailment doesn't actually affect as many FIRE-planners as we think it does, and it's just selection-bias that makes us think otherwise: people who never let their FIRE planning become their "hobby" wouldn't be posting on Internet forums in the first place, so if they're less susceptible to OMY syndrome, we'd never hear about it; maybe it's just those of us with 1000 posts who have a harder time letting go!

Really, anyone at this forum who has posted anything beyond a specific question about their own FIRE plans has taken up FIRE-planning as a hobby. Which I think is totally valid and healthy, and probably better for the world than most other hobbies.

ozzage

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2014, 01:42:31 PM »
I think the sort of people capable of FI are often the same type most likely to become obsessed by it.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2014, 02:38:37 PM »
I think the sort of people capable of FI are often the same type most likely to become obsessed by it.

+1

I was really obsessed for my first 5 years working, after we achieved one of our major goals (buying and living on our rural property) I chilled out for around 5 years, but I turned it back on to go ahead and knock out the last leg to get to FIRE.   I am in serious overdrive at the moment but think I will probably chill out again after FIRE and spend more time on the hobbies have been putting off.

A friend got really into weight training and showed me this video.  Fletcher's focus is compelling.  Watch it and replace the word arms with 'stache.  WARNING it contains lots of strong language, best not to fire it up at the office!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHiKDa4ip_Q


Bob W

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2014, 02:49:37 PM »
I am chiming in with it is indeed a valid and healthy hobby.  Positive addiction comes to mind.  Some people shop to get their jollies.   

As far as hobbies go,  I have had a few that I was interested in.  In reality,  I don't think most people stick with a hobby for more that 5 years (guessing here), So I wouldn't worry to much about the addiction/obsession problem.   

What you are doing now is developing new lifestyle habits.  Probably those habits will continue and serve you well while other "hobbies" and pursuits move to the forefront.   It's not too bad to be a little obsessed to slay the dragon either. 
Better living through math.

brooklynguy

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2014, 03:22:09 PM »
Lots of great points made so far.  I guess I was getting hung up on the fact that FIRE planning is supposed to be a means rather than an end, but I suppose there's no reason it can't be both a means and an end at the same time.

Certainly "One-More-Year Syndrome" is a common ailment seen around early-retirement forums, but this brings up an interesting point: maybe that ailment doesn't actually affect as many FIRE-planners as we think it does, and it's just selection-bias that makes us think otherwise: people who never let their FIRE planning become their "hobby" wouldn't be posting on Internet forums in the first place, so if they're less susceptible to OMY syndrome, we'd never hear about it; maybe it's just those of us with 1000 posts who have a harder time letting go!

This is an excellent point.  I would be curious to find out if this theory is borne out in reality.  One competing theory would be exactly the opposite:  people who make a hobby out of FIRE-planning are more likely to retire earlier, because they tend to better equip (or even over-equip) themselves to do so.  Another theory would be that people who make a hobby out of FIRE-planning are, as you postulated, more susceptible to OMY syndrome--however, because they tend to aggressively optimize to the point where FIRE becomes possible for them earlier than for the average FIRE-planner, the average FIRE-planning-hobbyist (even after delaying retirement due to a bout of OMY syndrome) still ends up retiring earlier than the average FIRE-planner.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2014, 03:31:44 PM by brooklynguy »

MrsPete

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2014, 04:59:30 PM »
However, for me, the pursuit of FIRE has become an end in and of itself.  It has become my primary hobby.  I take pleasure in it.
These sentences are concerning.  If you're working and saving so you can retire and do things you love, that's working towards a goal of freedom so you can pursue your non-work goals.  However, I'm not sure what you're describing isn't just hoarding.  Saving money just to save money, making it your primary hobby -- unless coupled with goals for what you want to do with that money once the magic number is attained -- is an empty shell. 

I suggest you search for a balance between working and saving . . . and other hobbies and passtimes.  You don't want to be the person who retires . . . and then says, "Now what do I do?  What's left for me?" 

I'm thinking of a friend of mine who has never really worked, but who has made her three children HER ENTIRE LIFE.  Her youngest graduates this year, and she's in full swing with a major identity crisis.  A phase of her life is ending, and she kind of has nothing left.  She's starting some volunteer work not related to her kids' activities, and I think that's helping her.  I think she wouldn't be in this situation if she'd had more balance in her life earlier. 



2ndTimer

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2014, 05:01:48 PM »
Let us consider some hobbies that are considered valid and healthy

Cycling, cooking, sewing, hiking, purchasing old books, gardening.  Oh wait, those are the things I do to save money.  Thank goodness, for a second I thought I had become a valid, healthy person.

brooklynguy

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2014, 07:15:56 PM »
These sentences are concerning.  If you're working and saving so you can retire and do things you love, that's working towards a goal of freedom so you can pursue your non-work goals.  However, I'm not sure what you're describing isn't just hoarding.  Saving money just to save money, making it your primary hobby -- unless coupled with goals for what you want to do with that money once the magic number is attained -- is an empty shell. 

I suggest you search for a balance between working and saving . . . and other hobbies and passtimes.  You don't want to be the person who retires . . . and then says, "Now what do I do?  What's left for me?" 

I'm thinking of a friend of mine who has never really worked, but who has made her three children HER ENTIRE LIFE.  Her youngest graduates this year, and she's in full swing with a major identity crisis.  A phase of her life is ending, and she kind of has nothing left.  She's starting some volunteer work not related to her kids' activities, and I think that's helping her.  I think she wouldn't be in this situation if she'd had more balance in her life earlier.

To clarify, it's not that I enjoy amassing my stash just for the sake of amassing my stash.  I fully intend to pull the trigger on FIRE as soon as I hit my number--which, I would guess, already has less built-in cushion than that of most folks on this board--and I'm constantly trying to whittle down my remaining time to FIRE even further.  But I've come to realize that I enjoy the planning, thinking and research that goes into it, not just because it will allow me to achieve FIRE but for its own sake.  Because I'm a nerd and I find it fun.  So much so that I started a thread on an internet forum to engage in metal-level discussion about it with other like-minded individuals, and right now at 9:13 PM on a Thursday night I'm opting to spend my time writing this post to continue that discussion instead of catching up on my unread novels or watching a movie in my Netflix queue.  Like others above have suggested, I think many of us can say the same thing, especially those with much higher post counts than myself.

samburger

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2014, 07:28:15 PM »
But I've come to realize that I enjoy the planning, thinking and research that goes into it, not just because it will allow me to achieve FIRE but for its own sake.  Because I'm a nerd and I find it fun.

I'm right there with you. I'm a problem solver, and I see my family's financial situation as a fun, challenging problem to solve.

For me, obsessing is part of how I develop expertise. I'll focus intensely on some activity or skill until I become proficient enough that I don't have to obsess to do it well. I do it with everything from learning to train my dog to baking muffins to achieving FI. But as my wife likes to remind me (heh), none of it's healthy if I can't keep some balance in my life while I indulge my obsessive tendencies.

Daisy

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2014, 07:57:31 PM »
I love optimizing. I see it as a game and solving a problem.

Sometimes saving money on an activity I was going to do anyways, but doing it smarter and more optimally, can give me a sort of mental high. I never said I was "normal".

Winning the optimizing game is sometimes more the goal than saving money. How much more can I do with the same resources?

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2014, 08:01:01 PM »
Let us consider some hobbies that are considered valid and healthy

Cycling, cooking, sewing, hiking, purchasing old books, gardening.  Oh wait, those are the things I do to save money.  Thank goodness, for a second I thought I had become a valid, healthy person.


Love this response!!!

fartface

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2014, 08:18:34 PM »
The "numbers" game of FI is like a complex puzzle. I find both the economic and psychological discussions behind FIRE quite appealing, though most people find it (gasp) boring or unattainable.

Yes, I'm obsessed. I'm constantly checking this forum, mint, my investment accounts, sharing posts w/my DH and kids, and ranting and raving about all this shit to anyone who shows even the slightest hint of interest. Needless to say, I've learned to pull back just a bit with friends, family and co-workers as very few people 'get' it.

Also, some people think I'm "obsessed" with money which I don't think I am. I enjoy my FIRE 'hobby' because I have moderate anxiety issues. Tracking income/spending/savings/investments/lifestyle are things within my "control" which I prefer to divert my attention to rather than letting my thoughts run away about things I can't control (still happens, but not as much when I focus on this).

There, I shared a lot of my crazy w/y'all but -  hey - you DID ask.


Beric01

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2014, 10:40:30 PM »
I love optimizing. I see it as a game and solving a problem.

Sometimes saving money on an activity I was going to do anyways, but doing it smarter and more optimally, can give me a sort of mental high. I never said I was "normal".

Winning the optimizing game is sometimes more the goal than saving money. How much more can I do with the same resources?

Same here! I think this is an INTJ thing. We love optimization for it's own sake. With FIRE in mind, how I can optimize my life to achieve my goal is fascinating. Save a little more here, earn a little more here. Soon we have a finely oiled machine.

In every single hobby and interest I have, I am always trying to optimize. Maybe it's how much I spend on it (money or time). Maybe it's how quickly I learn it or how useful it is. Optimization is my all-encompassing hobby, and FIRE is just one more subset of it.

Fallenour

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2014, 10:20:23 AM »
The honest and simple reality of FIRE is a lie, so I dont believe in it.

The concept, "financial independance", is based on a massing of wealths and collective "reserves" that make you non reliant on a lendor. However this concept is based on a system of accured fiat currency, which is heavily dependant on markets and politics.

As such, no matter how much "you build" you simply dont have the ability to reach "independence" at least not in america, where they can seize commodities from you without question or challenge as per executive orders.


however, with overseas accounts such as the ones offering monies stored in Gold, Silver, and other metals, then more so yes.

Early retirement can be reached by just about anyone though who buys solar panels, pays off their house, has well water, and knows how to garden.


Fastest way to retirement is as follows:

reach median wage status (roughly age 22ish), buy your first home as a short sale (usually saves you 20-40% FMV), live modestly until you pay off your house (bills roughly 800-1400 a month, rest goes to maxing 401k and mortgage), finish paying off house, pay off car, pay off college debt, buy solar panels, pay off solar panels, buy water purifier, pay off water purifier and well install, learn to garden, move your 401k into dividend incomes, retire.

Based on your living style, matching 401k status, dividends you invest in, expense of your car, college debt amount, well install costs, how long it took you to get thorugh school, and your income once you get out, you could be retired anywhere from 28-35 depending on where you live.
I quantify how profitable I have been in life by the number of smiles I made. They will be remembered and hold their value long after my last dollars are spent.

Mrs. Frugalwoods

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2014, 10:40:05 AM »
I think it's a great hobby and certainly better than a lot of other stuff people do as "hobbies." For me, frugality also facilitates/encourages my other hobbies: hiking (because it's free), walking (also free & better transit than a car), biking (self-explanatory), cooking (no eating out), hanging out with you lovely people on the forum, home DIY/renovation work, finding free stuff by the side of the road.... etc.

I think of all of these as the fringe benefits of frugality. Since FIRE is the totally pervasive goal for my husband and me right now, I think it makes sense that our hobbies are structured around it, or at least facilitated by it, in some way.
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EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2014, 10:45:26 AM »
Interesting.  I started on the path toward FI on day one of having a 'career' because it just made sense.  I look at jogging, reading, writing, video games, etc. as being hobbies.  They are things I do to make my life interesting and better when I have the time, but FI was a necessity.  Why go to work if you aren't working toward something?  I always planned as though I would lose my job (as a contract engineer) and at least have spells of unemployment, so I lived efficiently and improved my skills at investing the excess so I could ride it out. 

Only relatively recently has RE become something I ponder, so that is a hobby, trying to figure out if 'retirement' will make my life better or worse overall and what to do now that I'm FI.
Transitioning to FIRE'd albeit somewhat cautiously...

lhamo

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2014, 03:47:17 PM »
The honest and simple reality of FIRE is a lie, so I dont believe in it.

The concept, "financial independance", is based on a massing of wealths and collective "reserves" that make you non reliant on a lendor. However this concept is based on a system of accured fiat currency, which is heavily dependant on markets and politics.

As such, no matter how much "you build" you simply dont have the ability to reach "independence" at least not in america, where they can seize commodities from you without question or challenge as per executive orders.


however, with overseas accounts such as the ones offering monies stored in Gold, Silver, and other metals, then more so yes.

Early retirement can be reached by just about anyone though who buys solar panels, pays off their house, has well water, and knows how to garden.


Fastest way to retirement is as follows:

reach median wage status (roughly age 22ish), buy your first home as a short sale (usually saves you 20-40% FMV), live modestly until you pay off your house (bills roughly 800-1400 a month, rest goes to maxing 401k and mortgage), finish paying off house, pay off car, pay off college debt, buy solar panels, pay off solar panels, buy water purifier, pay off water purifier and well install, learn to garden, move your 401k into dividend incomes, retire.

Based on your living style, matching 401k status, dividends you invest in, expense of your car, college debt amount, well install costs, how long it took you to get thorugh school, and your income once you get out, you could be retired anywhere from 28-35 depending on where you live.

Wonder if crafting tinfoil hats is considered a valid/healthy hobby....

Anyhoo, I would argue that your "fastest way to retirement" strategy outlined above has at least a few unnecessary steps.

Why is the college debt necessary?  Or even college?  If you are aiming to be self-sufficient and set up a sustainable homestead, a couple of years in trade school learning plumbing or electrical trades might be the better investment.  Or forego the formal schooling route and learn on the job as an apprentice.

Why is a car/car loan necessary?

Well installation is optional -- personally I think you are at more risk of having your water rights infringed on than having municipal water supplies fail in most US locations, but YMMV.  Groundwater pollution is also a risk.  And are you even allowed to dig a well if you live somewhere with an existing water system? 

And why is learning to garden near the end of your list? 

Agree that it is fairly easy to reach FI status in a short time if you earn a decent wage, LBYM, and invest regularly/wisely, though.
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Sofa King

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2014, 04:02:34 PM »
the pursuit of FIRE has become an end in and of itself.  It has become my primary hobby.  I take pleasure in it.  I am passionate about it.  I enjoy the problem-solving nature of the pursuit.

I am the same.  I look at it as a very good thing!!!! 

Frugal_Red

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Re: Is the pursuit of FIRE a valid/healthy hobby?
« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2014, 03:33:21 PM »
the pursuit of FIRE has become an end in and of itself.  It has become my primary hobby.  I take pleasure in it.  I am passionate about it.  I enjoy the problem-solving nature of the pursuit.

I am the same.  I look at it as a very good thing!!!!

Ditto!  It is a great hobby in and of itself as well as a means to an end.