The FIRE movement – Financial Independence Retire Early
7 April 2020
The retirement age in Australia is being gradually increased from 65 to 67 years by 1 July 20231. Retiring a decade or two earlier than this might feel like a pipedream – but it doesn’t have to be. Cue the FIRE movement.
What is the FIRE movement?
Followers of the FIRE, or Financial Independence Retire Early, movement believe that by saving and investing as much as possible in their 20s and 30s, they’ll be able to retire years earlier than most of us. The movement doesn’t have any official organisation, but FIRE adherents share tips and ideas on blogs and forums like early-retirement.org.
Strategies for achieving financial independence
There are many ways of achieving your FIRE dream. Most involve saving more than 50% of your income and putting it to work in low risk investments.
Additionally, you’ll need to have enough saved so you’re able to make small annual withdrawals – typically 4% – to cover your living expenses for the length of time you’ll be away from the workforce. This will require careful budgeting and an understanding that your investment returns and principal will likely fluctuate within this time.
Keen to grow your savings? Suncorp's Growth Saver Account rewards regular savings by paying you bonus interest every month you increase your net balance by $200 or more (excluding interest) and make no more than one withdrawal in that month2. It could be a good choice if you’re starting your FIRE journey.
What’s more, as a Suncorp customer you can track your spending using Dollar Tracker on the Suncorp App. You can categorise your transactions into expenses, like food, energy bills and entertainment, so you can better understand your spending and savings habits.
The challenges of the FIRE movement
Like any important life-related decision, you’ll need to do your research to understand if FIRE is for you. Many FIRE adopters choose to live very frugally, spending as little as possible on discretionary purchases such as dining out and overseas holidays.
It may be worth considering what you value about your current lifestyle and where you might be able to cut back. If saving a large percentage of your income feels like too much of a stretch or you don’t necessarily want to retire early, other strategies could be a better fit.
What you can learn from the FIRE movement
Whether or not the FIRE movement is for you, cultivating your ability to save money is a useful skill. Here are a few tips:
- Set goals. Your ultimate savings goal might not be FIRE, but there’s likely to be something else you’re working towards. It doesn’t matter if it’s a house, your next holiday or the newest iPhone – identifying your financial goals and mapping out how to achieve them in measurable steps will motivate you to reach them.
- Develop a budget. If you don’t already have one, a budget is key to knowing where your money is going. Try Suncorp’s Budget Planner tool to monitor your income and expenses, and work towards creating a savings plan.
- Automate your savings. Automating your savings contributions can save you time. Simply set up a recurring transfer from your main account, perhaps around the time you get paid. Make putting money aside something you do every pay day and over time your savings can really add up.
- The secrets of a successful saver
- How to save money with a savings account
- 4 simple ways to keep track of your spending
2 If you need to make more than one withdrawal, you’ll still receive the base interest rate
Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. You should make your own enquiries, consider whether advice is appropriate for you and read the relevant Product Information Document before making any decisions about whether to acquire a product.