I am convinced that nearly everybody has the capability of achieving financial independence and early retirement (FIRE). Many people have doubted this; after all, who can afford to save up 100,000s of pounds. Within the UK, many people have no savings at all and many are struggling to pay back debts. I will show you how you can join the fast track to financial independence and the mindset you need to achieve FIRE. This is directly applicable to everyone, no matter of where you are in your life, as long as you are not severely disabled or nearing retiring age. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of FIRE, check out this post and discover which actionable steps you can take today.
To ensure Monethalia remains free of charge, this post contains affiliate links.
FIRE is not about what you already have
All these finance bloggers posting their net worths of well beyond £100,000 every month, can make you think that it is easy for them to talk about financial independence. On the first glance, they seem to have little in common with ordinary people. You, on the other hand, may have nothing or are in debt. Maybe looking at me will make you feel better, my current net worth is only about £12,000 and there are only £690 in my FIRE fund. Or you may be completely broke right now, in which case I highly recommend reading on to find out about the mind-set you need to achieve FIRE, even if you have nothing.
How to change your mind-set
1. Change your thought process
If you are staring at the screen right now thinking you cannot achieve FIRE, then you are right. You will need to change your thought process first by adapting the mind-set you need to achieve FIRE. Instead of “it is impossible” try thinking “it may be possible”. Instead of “I cannot do this” think “I can try doing this”. If you start with this mentality, then over time the “maybe” and “try” will turn into “definitely “ and “will do” on their own.
2. Get as much information as you can
Now becoming a FIRE enthusiast does not happen overnight. When I started, I read every blog about money that I could find. Not only those that are FIRE-specific but also blogs about saving money, blogs about living frugally and so on. When you do this, you will realise that there are plenty of ways to increase your income and reduce your spending.
After reading blogs, go to your local library and take out every book about investing. If you do not have a library, you can buy finance books second hand. I highly recommend reading Tim Hale’s Smarter Investing: Simpler Decisions for Better Results. I know I mention this book quite frequently but that is because it is just that good.
3. Surround yourself with FIRE
If you read and/or talk about FIRE every day, it will become part of your routine and you will naturally become more conscious about your own money. Join finance-related groups such as u/personalfinance or follow finance bloggers on social media e.g. Monethalia on Facebook. For starters, it does not matter whether you read any of the articles, just being exposed to FIRE regularly on your newsfeed will help tremendously.
Find the right people
Another powerful method is to surround yourself with the right people. Even if you are not as wealthy or successful as them, just by spending time with them, you will naturally become more like them. Spending time with them can also include listening to their podcasts or reading their posts, in case you do not have rich friends lined up.
This approach is really effective because by nature, humans want to fit in. Back in the old days, being excluded from a social group meant death. A single human could not defend himself against bears, wolves, lions or whatever else was roaming around. Hence, humans quickly adapted not to stand out within their social group, as to not increase the risk of exclusion.
A real-life example
When I studied for my masters at Imperial College, my peers were mostly medical doctors, surgeons and the like. And there I was with my biology bachelor (no idea how I got in). Despite my usual anti-social outlook, I quickly made friends and during the course spent a lot of time with them.
These people really studied hard and still worked part-time in their fancy clinics. Naturally, I started caring about my grades more and started to consider a 2:1 the absolute minimum I had to achieve. Previously, I would have been happy just to pass. Either way, I spent tons of time studying with my friends and achieved my goal of a 2:1. For the previous me, that would have never been possible.
4. Write about FIRE
Taking this whole “surrounding yourself” thing one step further, blogging about FIRE is a great idea. You may wonder why as there are millions of finance blogs out there, probably written by people who know more about the topic than you. There are two answers to this:
People are interested in your perspective
Firstly, you will contribute your unique perspective which may be interesting to newbies and experts alike. Despite there being a number of FIRE-specific blogs, a person usually follows more than one blog, so there is plenty of space on the blogging market. You may even inspire others to start their FIRE journey!
Blogging is a powerful motivator
The second answer is that documenting your journey will help you succeed. If you suddenly go on a shopping spree and spend you FIRE pot, how will you explain this to your readers? They will hold you accountable, thereby motivating you to keep on track. Another powerful motivator is looking how far you have progressed after a set amount of time. With every step being documented, you can easily compare April 2019 to April 2020 and notice how much you have changed.
Blogging also has numerous other advantages, such as earning a passive income each month and developing your communication skills. Learn how to set up your own blog in under 15 minutes.No special skills required!
5. Leave your comfort zone
I always imagine my comfort zone as my bed. It is nice and warm and nobody will bother you. If someone does, you can kick them out of your bedroom. Leaving my comfort zone, on the other hand, feels like venturing through the Arctic. It is cold and who knows whether there are food and shelter.
Master life outside your comfort zone
You may fail and die but if you manage to survive, eventually the Arctic can become your new comfort zone. Perhaps you befriend the locals, build yourself a little hut and learn how to hunt. You may eventually marry one of the locals and have children. Looking back at your bedroom, would it not feel cramped and limited compared to the wide Arctic?
Leaving your comfort zone will enable you to see your past limitations, your weaknesses but also your strength more objectively. You will gain confidence from having achieved something that felt unachievable before. Never mind all your new skills!
Beat your fears
What is holding you back? Fear. You fear taking the risk because there is no 100% success rate. This, again, is a natural reaction shaped by evolution. Even if your living situation is suboptimal, you are likely to just accept it and over time it becomes the new normal. You may not even notice that your life could be so much better. And if you do, you feel the risk is not worth trying to change your situation. This is because your most important needs, food and shelter, are secure, so your brain is not alarmed. In the distant past, this behaviour was advantageous as you were more likely to survive this way.
Realise that your life is not in danger
Let us face it: when was the last time you had to make a decision on which your survival depended? For most people, including me, the answer will be “never”. Changing our lives nowadays is much less risky, but our brains still live in the past. People often talk about “rewiring your brain” and this is what you should do.
Before deciding whether to start a new adventure, whether this is moving to a new city, starting a new city of starting a blog, ask yourself what the worst possible outcome is. Perhaps if you fail, people will laugh about you. Humans hate being labelled as a fool because it increases the risk of social exclusion.
However, as we have established early, nowadays being excluded from a social group is not as bad as it once was. On the contrary, if you find your friends laughing about you after a failure, it may be better to find new ones anyway. If you start a new job and fail during probation, you are not in imminent danger to starve and lose your shelter. You can live from your savings (which you should have before changing jobs), and it is reasonable to assume that you will find another job quickly. Even if you have to work in less well-paid jobs (e.g. as a cleaner or retail assistant), your life will be safe.
Leave your comfort zone to kick-start your FIRE journey
You may not need to move anywhere or change jobs, but leaving your comfort zone becomes important when exploring new ways to save money and increase your income. When I started Monethalia, I was definitely out of my comfort zone as my personal thoughts are not broadcasted into the world. However, by now I have adapted and am actually happy that my post may help others.
Sit down NOW or as soon as you can make time for this and get paper and pen ready. Write down the reasons why you think you cannot achieve FIRE. Then start gathering as much information as you can and re-evaluate those reasons. If you still think there are reasons against FIRE, read this post again. You will see that all these barriers exist solely in your head and are solvable once you start working on them. If you are stuck, let me know!
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