Join a Community
In the last three lessons, we’ve looked closely at the calculations behind early retirement. Today, we move on to the final section of this course to help you sustain your journey toward F.I.R.E.: becoming part of a community.
It can be incredibly empowering to discover how with a few tweaks to your lifestyle, you can be financially independent decades before many people. Therein lies one of the obstacles to staying the course toward financial independence: your community. If you’ve ever changed your life in a way that goes against what has been prescribed by society, you’ll come up against resistance.
Since the 1950s, America and many other first-world countries have seen enormous growth in disposable income. Combined with house price growth in the double digits and improved access to cheaper consumer goods, we’ve seen the rate at which we consume rise significantly. Consumerism, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, but what we see today has become detrimental to the environment and to ourselves: compulsory consumerism. Buying more has become the norm, with no real consideration for the impact on our wealth or on the environment. Since many of us are spending money unconsciously, we can often come across resistance when we try to spend less around friends and family.
Find Your People
Fortunately, we’re no longer limited to people within our immediate surroundings to find friends. With the internet, it’s possible to connect and form relationships with people with whom we have a shared interest. The F.I.R.E. community is alive and well on the internet, so if you find that your attempts to discuss financial independence with neighbors, coworkers, family, or friends fall on deaf ears, I recommend finding people to connect with online. Not only will you find the community open to listening to and discussing your F.I.R.E. journey, but you’ll also gain access to a wealth of information to keep you inspired when you hit a roadblock.
Attend Events in Person
Today, you’ll also find opportunities to meet some of the folks you connect to in the F.I.R.E. community by attending organized events via sites like MeetUp.com or through events directly arranged by a well-known F.I.R.E. blogger, e.g., Mr. Money Mustache. There’s so much I have learned by being part of the F.I.R.E. community, and they’ve had a huge impact on how I view work, life, and financial independence. Here are a few of the websites/communities online that you can connect with:
• Mr. Money Mustache, retired in early 30s
• The Frugalwoods, retired in early 30s
• Earn Save Invest, retired in 50s on a bigger fund than most
• ChooseFI, a partnership, one retired in their 40s and the other is on track to retire at a similar age
Contributing beyond Yourself
Given the variety of people who embark on the F.I.R.E. journey, you’ll come across those who have just started, are midway, or are close to reaching F.I.R.E. The great thing about this is that you’ll gain access to diversity of thought. You’ll come across people who have sold their homes and belongings to travel the world full time. You’ll find those who plan to stay where they grew up but have committed to volunteering in their community when they retire early. Most importantly, you’ll see that one size of F.I.R.E. does not fit all and that you can take the experiences, tips, and wisdom of others and challenge your thinking and actions to make your F.I.R.E. journey even more enriching. You’ll also be able to share your challenges and celebrate your successes with others.
Finding a community that aligns with your values and goals is also incredibly important for a long and healthy life. It’s no coincidence that people in Okinawa, Japan, are some of the longest-living people on Earth. With a huge number of centennials, Okinawans attribute their longevity to their sense of purpose and community.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at another aspect of F.I.R.E. that has nothing to do with numbers. For F.I.R.E. to be a sustainable path, you’ll learn about how to take a holistic view to ensure that you don’t become solely focused on the money.
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