Independence at all costs

By Audrey Somnard Switch to French for original article

The FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement is a lifestyle that aims to achieve financial independence at a much earlier stage of life than normal retirement age. The basic premise of the movement can be traced back to the 1992 best-selling book, Your Money or Your Life, by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. Enthusiasts tell us about their philosophy of life.

Freedom. It's a word that comes up a lot when you talk to people in the FIRE movement. Beyond the catchy headlines "retire at 40" that flourish in the press and some books, it's primarily financial independence that appeals to the adherents. The freedom to stop working, to work less, to retire earlier… or not. Jonathan, a Belgian living in Luxembourg, has made this comfort and freedom his goal. I want to retire earlier, or at least not depend exclusively on working. It's more a philosophy of thought, to have a more optimal management of one's finances", he explains. "I think I'll still be in business, but maybe in a different way, because I'll be able to take more risks or seize other kinds of opportunities", he says, while also recognizing that this trend is probably synonymous with a malaise in the employee world.

This more optimal management of one's finances is not without its difficulties. The philosophy is to cut out all intermediaries and their commissions and invest directly. This takes months of preparation to learn and understand the mechanics of finance and investment. But before investing, one must have capital. The movement is not within the reach of all pockets, it is primarily aimed at an educated public that can afford to allocate substantial sums to their investment. "I started with 100 euros, then I experimented with direct investments on the stock market with 500 euros. I did a lot of research beforehand and I made mistakes at the beginning that taught me a lot", says Jonathan, who nevertheless benefited from a comfortable status as an expatriate worker for several years, which allowed him to invest larger sums than the average.

Diverse profiles

The movement is composed of heterogeneous profiles, some are minimalists and save every cent to invest it. Extreme cases, but all of them indicate to have reduced their costs and especially to have reviewed their priorities. Jonathan, for example, is not a homeowner: "Investing in your home is what most people do, but it's not necessarily a good idea. The stock market is scary, and I am aware that I make different choices than others." He shares his experience in a blog and a podcast in order to distill his tips and tricks to achieve financial independence. His ambition is also to federate a community in Luxembourg via a Facebook group that he has just started.

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J'ai deux mots à vous rire - Tout l'univers ou tout nu l'hiver ?