Last week I met one of my personal heroes.
Her name is Vicki Robin, and she co-wrote Your Money or Your Life. This mind-blowing book is about understanding the true cost of THINGS and how to free yourself from the grip of consumerism and pursue early retirement.
Vicki “retired” at age 25 by slashing her spending needs and strategically investing the money she had made.
She has been “retired” for over 50 years and now lives on Vancouver Island, occasionally traveling to make appearances and do talks.
I met Vicki after a screening of Playing with FIRE, an as-yet-unreleased documentary about the FIRE movement. FIRE stands for Financial Independence/Retire Early.
The teachings of this movement are largely what got me out of debt so quickly and caused me to raise my net worth by $70k in the last 22 months.
“Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) is 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. By dedicating up to 70% of income to savings, followers of the FIRE movement may eventually be able to quit their jobs and live solely off small withdrawals from their portfolios.” From Investopedia.
The Playing with FIRE documentary follows a young couple with their baby girl as they make a dramatic life change.
They opt to leave their high-priced life in Southern California, for a lifestyle where they can save over 50% of their earnings.
This meant letting go of two luxury cars, a boat membership, and a habit of spending $2,000 per month on food. But mostly, it meant letting go of an idea of themselves as affluent, “successful” young people with all the bells and whistles to show for it.
By dropping this expensive self-concept, they reduced their time until retirement from 30+ years to about 10 years.
By the end of the documentary, they wind up in a much simpler life in Bend, Oregon. Their new life is value-based instead of stuff-based – the biggest value being the time they are buying back from their working years.
The point of “early retirement” is not to stop engaging in society, but to have complete choice about where you invest your time and energy.
For many who retire early, this means shifting from doing a job just for a paycheck to being of service to the causes they are impassioned about.
Vicki is considered the godmother of FIRE. Last week she was on a live panel of FIRE writers, podcasters and bloggers after the screening.
This woman was dropping wisdom bombs right and left, but the question I stood up and asked on behalf of the students in my Wealth Realization Course pulled some crazy insight out of her.
To be honest, I’m still unpacking her answer, so I’m not going to attempt to recapture the moment yet. I will definitely do so in a future post though.
For now, I just want to leave you with these powerful quotes from her book. Take some time to reflect on each of these ideas and notice how it touches you.
“How you spend your money is your vote on what exists in the world.”
“Once we’re above the survival level, the difference between prosperity and poverty lies simply in our degree of gratitude.”
“What kind of society turns its young people into a profit center for the debt industry?”
“The world needs you to show up and follow your dreams.”
“Put your life in service to your values rather than putting your time in service to money.”
Ever since discovering this movement, I ensure every single one of my expenses is an “investment” in the person I hope to be, and the world I want to live in.
Spending money consciously is the essence of the FIRE movement.
And what’s the best possible way to spend your money? Let’s hear from super-investor Warren Buffett from a recent Forbes interview: “Ultimately, there’s one investment that supersedes all others: Invest in yourself.”
Since dramatically changing how I handle my money, only one expense category has risen for me (aside from savings): I’m regularly investing in my own education, trainings, and personal coaching.
I don’t want to surround myself with things. I want to make myself a better, more skilled person who can show up for the planet and all the beings that live on it with confidence, skill, and heart.
I want to be a better friend, teacher, aunt, daughter, sister, citizen, writer, and lover. I don’t want to just take. I want to give.
And how do you want to invest in yourself? How have these thoughts touched you today?
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