What is FatFIRE? The anthesis of quiet weaning, promoting hustle culture and early retirement

Joshua decided to take stock of his life about a year ago. He had just turned 33, and after nearly a decade of working six days a week at a startup that had reached a nine-figure valuation, he had amassed $2 million in liquid capital, $10 million in options on illiquid stocks and some real estate investments.

Most of his savings came from a recent stock sale in his startup, but Joshua has lived what he calls a “pretty modest life”. He didn’t buy new clothes, invested money in long-term investments whenever he could, and because he worked all the time, he took very few vacations and didn’t have many hobbies. time.

To build up the level of capital required to retire, Joshua had sacrificed a lot.

“I guess I’m 33 and single,” he joked. Fortune. “But the biggest sacrifice is free time. There is no work-life balance. Let’s go.

Once he realized he had earned enough to never have to work again, Joshua decided it was time to retire. He had always dreamed of building a house in the countryside and living off his passive investments by traveling the world. Who doesn’t?

Although retiring at 33 is rare in any part of the world, stopping young has always been Joshua’s ultimate goal. “Life is short, and allowing me to live life to the fullest, to go with the flow and give it space, to be free from the system, that’s what stood out to me the most,” said Joshua. Fortune.

Joshua, who did not wish to use his surname, believes in FatFIRE, which stands for Fat Financial Independence and Retirement Early.

With “silent quitting” making headlines and young workers flocking to social media to vent their frustrations over the downsides of jobs and capitalism, people like Joshua have turned to FatFIRING instead.

If quitting quietly is simply doing the minimum required by a job in a quest for a more egalitarian work/life balance, FatFIRING advocates the opposite. He tells people to lean into the work instead of stooping, and hustle as much as they can to get the same thing most working people want: freedom.

How does FatFIRE work?

The r/fatFIRE subreddit online forum is filled with people discussing investments, sharing advice and telling stories of getting FatFIRED – the day they retire in their 30s or 40s after racking up millions of dollars in liquid and illiquid investments.

Described with the tagline “retire with a fat reserve,” FatFIRErs try to retire on a budget that allows them to spend around $100,000 a year.

They often work at large tech companies, corporate law firms, or their own startups, earning millions during their careers. They then invest their money in small businesses and properties that make good reliable margins, to get to the point where working for money is never something to think about again.

The concept of FIRE is not new and first appeared in the United States in a 1990s newsletter called The Tightwad Gazette. Since then, the movement has grown online and broadened its definition to include LeanFIRING – where one seeks to live frugally in order to escape the 9 to 5 via early retirement – ​​and FatFIRE.

FatFIRE split from the FIRE movement in 2016, driven by people interested in FIRE but wanting a much higher standard of living. It was started by a Reddit user who said he was tired of all the “noise of” just cut your expenses to the bone and buy cutting-edge index funds “endlessly parroted” and wanted to create a small community of wealthier FIRErs.

The r/fatFIRE subreddit eventually overtook the FIRE and leanFIRE versions and now has over 325,000 ambitious, career-focused members who value time and freedom above all else.

Generational divide

As different as they sound, silent dropouts and FIRERS want the same thing, according to Alex Bryson, professor of quantitative social science at University College London.

To understand what it is, he refers to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – the five-level model often depicted as a pyramid.

At the bottom of the pyramid are physiological needs like food and shelter; a higher, there is security – which often comes in the form of financial security; above is love and belonging; then esteem; and finally self-realization, or the highest level of physiological development.

Bryson argues that the new generation of workers is “challenging the connection between paid work and reaching the top of that pyramid,” causing trends such as silent abandonment and FatFIRING to emerge.

Age often determines which group people join. While young people at the start of their careers may consider quitting and quietly disengaging as a way to have more fulfilling lives, millennials and older generations who have been working for years might be more inclined to subscribe. at FatFIRING.

Job satisfaction for all generations is at a 20-year low, according to a report by insurance and benefits company MetLife. A recent Gallup survey also found that about 50% of America’s 15,000 working people over the age of 18 were “unengaged” at work, meaning they felt detached from work and did the bare minimum.

As work disengagement reaches an all-time high and employers hang their employees by a thread, this could pave the way for a generation of new FIRERs.

Be careful what you wish for

FatFIRING isn’t for everyone, of course, and may be unrealistic (and unhealthy) for many.

According to Bryson, those who can FatFIRE are a subset of people who are “lucky enough to get the job, who have valuable skills or opportunities that allow them to maximize their income early on.

“Most people are never in that position.”

Dana J. Menard, founder and financial planner of Twin Cities Wealth Strategies, puts a number to it: He says only about 10% of the population has what it takes to achieve FatFIRE status. And for those who do, there are dangers.

Menard argues that the major risk of following a FatFIRE lifestyle is what happens after FIRING: “One of the biggest downsides I see…is that once they reach that ultimate goal of ‘retiring they are miserable. The idea of ​​retirement is much better than the reality of retirement.

Removing the social construct that traditional work gives people can have a negative impact on mental health, he says, and leaves some people feeling “just plain bored.”

Bryson of the University of Oxford agrees, arguing that “maximizing and then stopping is fraught with pitfalls”. There’s an inherent risk of burnout in trying to work as hard as you can to retire early, he says, and even if successful, the FatFIRERs “have no real idea how you’re going to feel if you go from one to zero. ”

Indeed, on the r/fatFIRE community forum, there are many warnings from people who have suddenly decided to quit all work and go on a trip, only to find themselves plagued by mental health issues caused by loneliness. .

But for many others, FatFIRING’s goal is still a dream worth pursuing. For these, one of the highest-ranking posts ever on the r/fatFIRE subreddit, by user Snoo68013, could serve as a rallying cry for the movement: “Eat well. Take advantage of relationships. Work out and enjoy sex. Sleep well. Call your parents. That’s all there is to life. Greed has no end.

“Repeat after me. Time is the currency of life. Money is not.