Who Have you Told About Your FIRE Plans?

Anybody else feel the same way that sometimes it feels really weird talking about either financial independence or early retirement (or both) out there in the real world?

One of the reasons I started writing this blog was because I wanted to make sense of my thoughts about all things FIRE related and have some constructive discussion. I like to have my thinking either validated or challenged so I can course correct if need be.

And those discussions are few and far between in real life.

Thank you to everyone who engages in the comments – please continue! Your insights and examples of your own situations are invaluable as we navigate this somewhat unusual path. Safety in numbers as they say – we can’t all be wrong!

I suppose spilling my thoughts onto the page is filling a gap where talking to friends and family, to colleagues or to a supportive partner may be for other people. In my particular circles, I’ve found it difficult to convey to people in a way that they can relate and typically the conversation goes nowhere.

Sometimes I feel as if I am living a double life. I take care of my boys, manage my career, meet with friends and family and yet all the while, it feels like I’m working on this life-changing thing that none of them know much about. Something that has the potential to change my life so radically for the better. I want to share it with them all so they can do it too. So why does it seem so difficult?

How I Talk with my Children about Money & FIRE

I am really open with my teenage children about money and always have been. They know what I earn and I have tried to give them context as to how that compares to other jobs / other industries / other career stages. They know all about the FIRE basic principles of spending less than you earn and investing the difference. I’m hoping they grow up thinking that saving and investing is the norm and so even if they choose a different path for their own lives, it will be an educated choice.

Talking FIRE with Parents, Siblings & Friends

Conversations with wider family and friends seem much trickier. I’ve mentioned early retirement to them a few times and they assume I mean a few years early not around fifteen! If I try to elaborate, I’m given the standard responses:

“But what would you do all day?”

“I’m never going to retire – I love my job.”

“I’d never be able to do that – I don’t earn what you do.”

And my personal favourite:

“I don’t want to be all woo-woo and dress in hemp”. 🙂

It doesn’t really matter how I answer – I typically see two responses. Either their minds are closed and they don’t want to hear any more or they start acting differently once they find out I have some assets to my name. They don’t want to talk about the years of reading and learning, the effort put into advancing my career and making side-hustle income on top, the willingness to consistently manage my spending or to take calculated risks.

They see that I have a few rental houses and they think I got lucky. They think I am rich. (It’s a good job stock market investments aren’t visible – can’t imagine the reaction if they knew what I had stashed away there 😊).

Occasionally a friend may ask how long I have left to go in a good-natured way, much as they may ask “How’s work?”  They care about the answer (for me) without really caring about the answer. I almost feel like they are humouring me a bit – not really considering that it could be realistic.

Challenging the Norm

One way or the other, seeing me challenge the norm of working until the state says you can stop seems to be uncomfortable for the people around me. Perhaps it reminds them of financial worries they may have, or perhaps it makes them doubt their own choices – but whatever it is usually makes for awkward pauses and a rush to change the subject.

It’s frustrating because I still find the whole concept exciting and I would love to talk about it with my nearest and dearest. I am happy when I reach a savings milestone. I want to celebrate increasing my savings rate. But it’s like I am a completely different species to those around me who roll their eyes, scoff and shake their heads.

Most of my family and friends are working and part of dual-income households. With a bit of education and planning, financial independence would be achievable if they wanted it. I would love to open their eyes to this alternative future. I would love to share details and compare strategies and celebrate each other’s milestones.

But for whatever reason, they don’t want to hear it from me and so I don’t really talk about it any more. They don’t know about this blog or how close I am to being able to early retire. Instead, I forward them the odd article or guide I think might do the trick or suggest a book they could read. They never do.

Becoming Reality

Maybe when I pull the plug it will become real and they’ll want to know more – I hope so. It would be great to be able to share this experience with my nearest and dearest. Not to mention how much better life would be if we could all be at similar stages, with time on our hands to do things together. As it stands they will be working for the next 20 years while I enjoy my freedom. If they are resentful now, what will they be like then?

It’s disappointing but I’ve accepted that it’s different strokes for different folks, as the expression goes. I’ve told them enough that if they are at all interested they know who to talk to.

And in the meantime, I’m relying on you lovely people to keep me company 🙂

Let’s Talk!

Do you talk openly with friends and family about your plans? What sort of reactions do you get?

32 thoughts on “Who Have you Told About Your FIRE Plans?”

  1. Family think we’re mad and will be living like poor church mice. Yes, we will be leanFIRE but we’ve lived a lean, frugal life so it’s just more of the same without the job. Have shared with a couple of friends and they ok with it. Don’t understand but just roll with it. Not that they ask when, I think they presume it will never happen! Roll on 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It never ceases to amaze me how hearing about it doesn’t light a spark under everyone like it did for me. Will be interesting to see how they react when you do it – not long now.

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  2. Yeah, few people in real life really want to embrace the lifestyle, which I am fine with.

    I have various approaches, people who I have worked with and know how much I make I am more open with, and they generally mock and say it’s not possible.

    Friends that don’t really know how much I make I tend to tell that I’m going on a sabbatical for my mid-life crisis at 40, which people seem to understand more.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The kids know about our FI ambitions but we don’t really discuss with anyone else, either in the family or with friends. I think people are better finding it out for themselves as you have to be in the savings/investment mindset to be interested in it. Most people I know are only interested in getting new cars (on finance) and showing how successful they are through buying stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I never know what to tell people when they ask what I do, do I say I’m retired or that I consult part time? I feel like if I say I’m retired then it sells short my side gigs which are a lot of fun by making it sound like I’m sitting on the couch all day. If I say I’m a consultant then I feel like I’m saying I still need to earn money, which I don’t. And if I say I’m just working for fun but still earning six figures then I’m bragging. I usually settle for saying I’m mostly retired and consult a day or two a week. On the other hand they probably don’t really care and were just being polite by asking? These hemp clothes really are not all that comfortable either!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I first loosely mentioned my plans to early retire to my close friends (loosely as in not mention FI or my blog or go into detail), I got the usual ‘are you planning to win the lottery?’ and ‘you’ll be bored!’ comments. So, not taken very seriously.

    However, over the years, a couple of my friends have been asking ‘how are your plans going?’ and I get the feeling that they’re not just being polite. I hope with my replies that it spurs them to save for their own retirements.

    My best friend recently retired early (well, at age 53) – she knows a bit more about my plans and is egging me on so I can join her!

    My siblings loosely know I want to retire early but may be surprised when I actually pull it off (on my low salary). They can all afford to do so themselves (all high earners, with income from property, no debts apart from mortgage). Part of what spurs me on towards my goal is that I don’t want to be the one in my family left at the grindstone whilst they’re swanning off into retirement and the good life!

    The best way to talk to people about FIRE? Go to a FIRE meeting! Sorry, I know meeting strangers in a social gathering isn’t your cup of tea but it really is the most liberating experience to be able to talk about money, retirement and savings without the sort of disbelief, judgement and perhaps jealousy you may encounter from your usual peers who have not ‘seen the light’!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Doesn’t sound like you’re going to get left behind Weenie and with family and some friends being able to do the same you have wonderful years ahead.

      (I am writing this huddled and shaking in a ball under my duvet…… did you say “social gathering?” 😨 )

      Liked by 1 person

  6. nope. Even my husband doesn’t understand completely.
    But for us is quite easy: we have a lot of hobbies, we travel (low cost) a lot , we are doing volunteering, so it is obvious that retirement moment could be full of activities, for us.

    I plan to reduce the amount of hours worked daily. But it is not possible with this employer :(, they accept to take days off unpaid but not to work 6 hours per day

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Never the sort of conversations that come up and I’m not the sort of person to try to instigate a whole discussion around it. At work we’ve had chats which could be a part of FI which I don’t expand on, when retirement is mentioned I just keep it to that I don’t still want to be working in my late 50s and that extras like my bonus I’m putting in my pension to save on taxes.

    When it’s the company share schemes I’m the one pulling together a spreadsheet to workout on a good day the return, I really have to bite my tongue when I just want to shout out this it the best opportunity to double/triple your investment and I’m doing it to help me retire early.

    For family nobody knows my financial independence journey, a family member has stated they plan to retire at 50 and rely on their partners pension for any money gaps, there wasn’t any look of shock from any of us so I should be ok when the time comes to tell everyone. But if I was to go through the details at this stage I would find the well meaning responses unhelpful and they may think I’m taking big risks, most they know at the moment is my extra payments in my pension to make the most of salary sacrifice, not that they understand it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that well meaning responses can sometimes be unhelpful. My father constantly tells me to “be careful” if ever I mention the stock market and it winds me up a bit even though he means well.

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  8. I’m an open book on most things and this is no exception.i don’t really get the paranoia of some in the FIRE community about not telling your boss about early retirement plans like hes some sinister figure who’s going to sack you because you aren’t engaged enough. you do get a bit of jealousy and comments about ‘its ok for you with what you earn’ . The majority of my saving has occurred when I was earning a third of what I do now. I’ve only been on 40k plus for the last 5 years!

    But then you do get people coming to ask you questions about investing pensions etc. I feel if I can help then if people are aware they’ll come to me if they want to know more
    What i find weird is a large proportion of people hate their jobs yet they seem totally accepting that they will be stuck in it till after 70. I quite like my job and i dont want to be working till then!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – I really like it too if ever people come to me with financial questions. I wish it would happen more.
      I see the paranoia more in the US focussed blogs – seems culture there is very different to ours and you can’t show an ounce of interest in not working at your company forever.

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  9. In my experience, if people come across a totally new concept or something that sounds too good to be true or if they heard you can do something they’d like to be able to do but can’t, a lot of the time they start looking for full-proof excuses for why they haven’t done it too or would never be able to do it. I still catch myself doing that sometimes but I’m working on changing.
    Like Weenie said, going to FI meetups can be very refreshing. I know you’re not that into socialising with strangers, but we’re a friendly bunch really. There are regular FI meetups in London and Edinburgh, and if you’re feeling especially brave you could always come to Financial Independence Week Europe (FIWE) next year and spend a few days with like-minded people who won’t look at you like you’ve just grown another head if you talk about your plans.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You’re right – when I think about it, I do that too in other fields – look for the flaws or the loopholes in something, I hadn’t realised that before 😊

    One day I may be brave……. (screams, throws computer across the room and jumps behind sofa….)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi, I live in the US. I wish there were FIRE meetings here. I want to FIRE and probably could any day. (I make a little more than $3K per month from dividends-not including retirement account-and have no mortgage) I’m in my early 40’s, but after putting in 25 years at a job, it is hard to walk away from a pension, health benefits, and seniority (better job positions). It seems like if I was going to FIRE, I should have done it 10 years ago. Before I invested so much time there. Does anyone else ever feel that way? Also, I don’t know anyone who I could talk to about this. It’s like you mentioned-people are uncomfortable with the idea of FIRE.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Joanna – there are FIRE meetings in the US. Do you listen to the ChooseFI podcast? Take a look at their website – there are Camp FI weekends and a whole list of local groups that meet all over the country.
      Sounds like you are in an envious position financially and not hating your job, or you might have already left. Perhaps you need to focus on your “Why” – having something to retire to instead of retiring from….? And if your why is not that strong yet, you can keep working as long as you enjoy it.

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  12. Over the course of my dedicated push to FI I have gotten similar reactions to the ones you’ve described. It’s been challenging because my wife has been one of the most vocal doubters, luckily she’s much more frugal than I am, so she’s facilitating FI, even without being on board.
    For me it has been about living my values consistently, and as my family sees that I practice what I preach, they have slowly begun to accept my vision. From time to time they even ask me for financial advice. The way I see it, they don’t totally need to buy in for you to be successful, they just need to be a little better than before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Its great that they ask you for advice. That’s a huge compliment right there, even though it may be veiled. Hopefully your wife will come round – it takes some people a long time if they are risk averse. The main thing is her frugality is helping your push not hindering your progress.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Happy to found this blog! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have reached FI at age 34 (no kids yet) and am building my wealth and passive income streams now slowly to support a future family. I always wanted to ‘retire’ first before having a family to be able to enjoy the journey. I have met too many couples living dual lives with one working their ass off to support the other family members, often being away the whole week for work. Not my cup of tea. As to being open about it; mixed feeling here. I learned mostly through listening to others, not a reader, so sharing my thoughts back is normal for me. I work in the dive industry part time now as I love diving and might as well make some beer money off it, travel the world, and meet other FI people along the journey following a strong career in IT and Management. With family and friends I talk a fair bit about FI, sometimes able to inspire them to start their own FI journey. Mostly though, I get the weird look of ‘what are you talking about – that is insane’. Most people don’t realise how much cheaper life becomes when u quit your job. I shall write a post about it soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I think that you shouldn’t mention it to too many people – people don’t listen to what you say but instead just hear what they want to hear. Maybe they’ll ignore you, maybe they’ll hate you or something else.
    I’ve discussed it with my wife (surprise) and my brother but nobody else – I don’t think that they would understand and the running joke in my family is that nobody knows what I do (they’ve never asked and pretend it’s too complicated when I tell them).
    With friends, we’ve talked a bit about it in terms of family planning and spending time like that – whether FIRE is a long term move or just something we do for a few years (and that depends on financial performance and spending really) – is anyone’s guess at this point.
    FIRE in ~9month.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sorry to join the party a little late, but I really enjoy your writing. I felt like I had to chime in 😉
    I’ve had mixed experiences so far, with telling people about FIRE. I too feel like I’m living this weird double-life – like a secret fire agent! :p

    I get the not wanting to sound preachy, which I clearly have a tendency to do, so I try not to talk too much about my newfound “religion”.
    Like people finding religion (I’m not religious – but I understand the concept, and why people buy into it) I feel like the journey to start the journey towards FI cannot be replicated from person to person. You have to discover it in your own time, via your own path.
    – That being said, I am trying to encourage my little brother, not to make the same lifestyle inflation mistakes that I have done…had my journey started 10 years ago I’m sure I would be close to FI already! Oh well – better late than never 😉

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