In this edition of Motley Fool Answers, host Alison Southwick and Personal Finance Expert Robert Brokamp welcome Diania Merriam, founder of the EconoMe Conference and host of the Optimal Finance Daily podcast. Diania debunks common misconceptions about the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement.
To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool’s free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks. A full transcript follows the video.
The $16,728 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook
If you’re like most Americans, you’re a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known “Social Security secrets” could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $16,728 more… each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we’re all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.
This video was recorded on June 1, 2021.
Alison Southwick: This is Motley Fool Answers. I’m Alison Southwick and I’m joined, as always, by Robert go broke or go-home –Kamp, Personal Finance Expert here at The Motley Fool. Hey, Bro.
Robert Brokamp: Hey, Alison.
Southwick: I can hear the enthusiasm all the way here, 20 miles away from you. Well, this week we’re joined by Diania Merriam, she’s the Founder of the Economy Conference and the host of the Optimal Finance daily podcast. She’s going to share with us six myths of the FIRE movement. All that and more, on this week’s episode of Motley Fool Answers.
Brokamp: Alison, what’s up? How was that? Is that more enthusiasm for you?
Southwick: That was. Thank you and it felt really earnest. I appreciate that.
Brokamp: Very genuine.
Southwick: Bro, houses are the new toilet paper? Low inventory and high demand is creating a buying frenzy across the country. How bad is it? Well, let’s explore. America has a record low number of homes available for sale, just over 1 million compared to a peak of more than 4 million at the height of the last housing bubble in July of 2007. According to Redfin, half of all homes are selling for above asking price and in their annual survey of nearly 2,000 home buyers, 63% reported having bid on a home they hadn’t seen in person.
Southwick: Yeah, yikes. If there’s that much demand for so few houses, how much is that driving up prices? Well, the National Association of Realtors says the median sales price for existing homes rose by 19% year-over-year in April to $341,600. But of course, depending on where you live, it could be much more expensive in Austin, Texas, a perennial favorite on all of the hottest places to live list. The medium listing price has risen 40% in one year to $520,000. Who’s to blame? Well, there’s plenty of blame to go around. If you read the headlines, which I did. A lot of them. Let’s go, here come the numbers. Let’s blame low inventory. According to realtor.com, housing inventory declined 39.6% on a national level in 2020, making 2020 the lowest housing inventory year on record. According to Jefferies, the financial research group, the housing shortage now stands at 2.5 million homes. One reason for the low inventory is that builders arguably haven’t been producing enough homes since the Great Recession. New construction then installed during the pandemic and even though we’re emerging from the pandemic U.S. home construction fell by 9.5% in April, with the blame for that going toward rising cost of lumber, which is up something like 300%. I’m about to go chop down the trees in my yard just to make some quick cash. Money does grow on trees. That seems like the lowest hanging fruit of jokes there.
Brokamp: Yes, that was good. Outstanding.
Southwick: So many tree puns in such a short amount of time. All right, the price of lumber alone has added almost $36,000 to the price of an average single-family home. That’s according to the National Association of Home builders. Another reason for low inventories, says our friends over at Millionacres, is that current homeowners are a little uncertain on what to do. Yes, they could sell, but would they be able to afford anything better? They’re just sitting tight. A third reason experts point to low inventory is because of COVID assistance programs like mortgage loan forbearance that have helped prevent people from getting foreclosed on and evicted. Hey, let’s blame interest rates. I swear it has been over a decade of people saying interest rates won’t get any lower, but here we are.
Low interest rates make buying a home much more attractive and accessible. How low are they? Well, interest rates reached their highest point in modern history in 1981, when the annual average was 16.63% for a 30-year fix. That’s according to Freddie Mac. Now the average is closer to 3.5%. Let’s do some really lousy back-of-the-envelope math here. Okay, what do we say? The median home prices around $350,000 in the U.S. let’s say you magically didn’t have to put a down payment on it. Okay, so $350,000 at 3.5%, 30-year fixed, you are looking at the total cost of the mortgage being about $565,000 with a monthly payment of about $1,600, let’s say. But let’s say we’re looking at 1981 rates at 16.6% interest, the total cost of the mortgage goes up to almost $1.8 million. You’re looking at a monthly payment of almost $5,000. The lower the interest rate, the cheaper a house sure seems. Of course, the median average price of a home in 1981 was, do you want to guess, Bro?
Southwick: It’s about $69,000, but still pretty cheap. A lot has changed in 40 years. Let’s blame millennials. Because of course, happy birthday millennials, roughly 4.8 million of you are turning the dirty 30 in 2021 alone. By dirty we mean rolling up your sleeves and sucker punching your peers at open houses because fun fact, it just so happens that the typical first-time home buyer in the U.S. is in their early 30s. Millennials are adulting hard and are hitting those prime home buying years. That’s great, good for them. However, Jefferies writes that the 20-35 year-old population is nine% larger than the 35-44 year old population. Millennials are set to continue this increased demand on houses for years to come. But of course, we can also blame the pandemic here. According to Business Insider, 30% of millennials said in a recent survey by Clever Real Estate, that the pandemic pushed them to home hunting earlier than planned. Actually, maybe we should feel sorry for millennials. How bad is it for them to buy their first home? According to realtor.com, 43% of first-time millennial home buyers have been looking for more than a year and 34% say they can’t find a house in their budget. Let’s blame remote work.
As the story goes, wealthier people have now increased mobility to work and live wherever they want. They’re moving to cheaper locations where they can get a lot more houses, driving up the prices for locals. Home prices in Boise, for example, are up 33% in the last year. As someone who grew up in Boise, I can tell you that the locals have been complaining about Californians moving in for decades now. Oddly enough, it takes a Californian about five minutes to start complaining about other Californians moving into Boise and ruining it for everyone, but whatever. Another example, as Redfin CEO tweeted last week, the average housing budget for out of towners moving to Nashville was 720,000 and that’s about 50% higher than what locals budget for. One very specific example of this is a local business owner in Bozeman, Montana. By the way, there’s a fantastic breakfast place there called Jam. Anyway and yes, there is an exclamation point of it. Anyway, this guy was so desperate to get a house, after he was getting outbid, he got outbid on 18 offers in six months. He started walking around town wearing cardboard signs that said, “Please sell me a home.” He listed his financial credentials and that his wife was pregnant on the sign. Apparently it worked because someone drove by and sold him a house.
All right, the final blame that I will call out, although there is apparently much more to go around, but the final blame I will call out goes to hedge funds and real estate investors. As the Wall Street Journal writes, from individuals with smartphones and a few thousand dollars to pensions and private equity firms with billions, yield chasing investors are snapping up single family homes to rent or flip. They go on to interview the John Burns research group who say that over 200 companies and investment firms are in the house hunt, and this includes big names like BlackRock, JPMorgan, as well as crowdfunding sites like FundRazr and Roofstock. It’s so bad that in Houston they estimate that roughly a quarter of the homes purchased are by investors, not families looking to live in them. Speculators and investors aren’t just looking at big cities either. As the article points out, even places like Bethlehem and Allentown, Pennsylvania are being targeted by big money, which is driving up the prices for locals. It’s not just here in the U.S. other countries are also seeing the same panic in the “Race for Space” as CNN put it. They went on to quote Henry Pryor, a U.K. buying agent. Here we go, Bro, it’s been a while since I’ve done this, so enjoy this.
Brokamp: Are we going to get an Alison accent?
Southwick: Here we go.
Southwick: “In the 38 years of buying and selling homes, I haven’t witnessed a market like it. There have been stories of buyers paying £10,000+ just to be able to view a property.” End scene. Thank you very much. That translates to Brits paying roughly $14,000 just to look at a house. In closing, if you can live there, you can read an article about the local frenzy of residential real estate, Oklahoma City, Wilmington, Spokane, Cincinnati, El Paso, Albuquerque but let’s close on a story that’s a little closer to home for us here on Answers. According to CNN, a fixer-upper in Suburban Washington, DC, Silver Spring, Maryland to be exact, was listed for $275,000 on a Thursday. They call it a fixer-upper but I saw pictures, it’s a good job. By Sunday evening, it had 88 offers, 76 of those were all cash. The four bedroom, 1,800 square-foot home sold for $460,000, nearly a 70% increase from the asking price. Bro, home prices, that’s what’s up.[…]
Brokamp: FIRE, which stands for financial independence and retire early. If you’ve looked into this movement, you may have come away with the impression that they’re just a bunch of young, childless techies living in small houses in the middle of nowhere and counting their pennies while they dine on ramen noodles. But is that the reality? Well, here to answer that question is Diania Merriam, the host of the Optimal Finance Daily podcast, founder of the EconoMe Conference, and she’s someone who saves 60% of her income with the goal of being financially independent by age 40. Diana, welcome to Motley Fool Answers.
Diania Merriam: Well, thanks so much for having me.
Brokamp: Let’s start with your story. When and how did you catch FIRE?
Merriam: It was the fall of 2015. I’m living in New York City, I’m 28 years old, and I knew I had debt but I really didn’t know collectively how much debt I had. I think my mindset in my 20s was, “I’ll figure this out later when I’m making my millions.” I ended up running a credit report on myself so I could see my debt collectively. I realized that it was 30 grand in debt for literally no good reason. I was simply living outside my means. I’m 28, the age 30 is looming. I think it’s a very reflective birthday, where you start to ask yourself, what I’m I doing with my life? I had this goal where I wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago, which is a 500 mile trek across Spain. I needed to take off two months of work to do that or leave my job if they weren’t going to give me the time off. I knew I needed to get out of debt and I needed to save a lot of money. That led me to stumble upon the FIRE movement. The first blog that I found was Mr. Money Mustache. I like to describe it like a refreshing punch in the face because honestly, I had never heard anyone talk about money the way that he did. It was just like this complete 180, I got out the 30 grand of debt in 11 months. From there, I started saving about 60% of my income and it just opened up a world of options that I didn’t know were even possible.
Brokamp: One of the things you did is that you moved from New York City to Cincinnati, which many people in the FIRE movement do, because housing is the biggest expense, it accounts for about a third of the typical American’s budget. I looked at bestplaces.net, which is a great resource for comparing cost of living and lots of other things from one city to another. You basically can cut your expenses by almost 60% by moving from New York City to Cincinnati.
Merriam: Absolutely, yeah. I think I was paying $1,800 a month for a cockroach infested apartment in the bowels of Brooklyn. I went from that to a $600 a month mortgage. Yeah, [laughs] I definitely did go to that area.
Brokamp: Yes. One of the things you do now is the Optimal Finance daily podcasts. Tell us a little bit about that because I think it’s important for folks to know that you’ve read a lot of articles written by and about people who are working toward financial independence.
Merriam: Absolutely. Optimal Finance Daily has actually been around for about five years. It is part of a network of podcasts called Optimal Living Daily, where we’re basically a narration style show. I’m reading articles from a variety of personal finance bloggers and then offering some commentary on it. I’ve been the new host of the show since October. I’m over 200 episodes in. I like to say that these amazing bloggers wrote these great songs and I get to perform the covers.
Brokamp: Since I was on one of those ones, I’ll tell my kids today that you consider me a great musician. You could see the guitar behind me. I know like […].
Merriam: Love it.
Brokamp: Tell us a little bit about the EconoMe Conference.
Merriam: Yeah, the EconoMe Conference originated from me asking myself the question, well, what would I do if I no longer had to work for money? Because I’m not going to sit around and do nothing if I reach financial independence. What would I want to do with my time? What do I want to create? I decided I wanted to create this party about money, because I saw this huge opportunity for like-minded people to get together and nerd out about a lot of these topics. There’s so much opportunity to do that online, on different forums and Facebook groups. But I’m the kind of person where I love to meet face-to-face and have conversations. I’m a little bit of an introvert when it comes to interacting online, much more of an extrovert in-person. I saw an opportunity for an in-person event. It really was inspired by this other event that I go to, called the World Domination Summit. That sounds crazy, who produces that pinkie in the brain? But it’s actually an event where people are talking about the unconventional ways that they’ve built their lives. Mr. Money Mustache actually spoke there one year. That’s how I found out about it. Every year that I go, I end up leaving that event with this feeling that my life is so full of possibility. I just thought it’d be so cool to create eight an event where people feel that way about their money. That’s how the EconoMe Conference originated.
Brokamp: I can’t remember if I’ve ever heard anyone consider themselves an online introvert. But I’m going to coin a term introvert, I don’t know if it’s been used before but I’m claiming it.
Merriam: Why don’t you say “a much more of a talker than a typer?”
Brokamp: I should add that The Motley Fool is sponsor of the EconoMe Conference, which is how we connected.
Merriam: Absolutely. I appreciate the support from The Motley Fool. I think they see the vision and they see the opportunity here, and I couldn’t be happier to have you guys onboard.
Brokamp: You’ve read a lot about the FIRE folks, you’ve organized conferences about the FIRE folks, so you know a good bit about what FIRE is about. It’s why we’ve asked you here today to talk about some of the misconceptions. Are you ready to go?
Brokamp: Here we are. Six myths of the FIRE movement. Myth No. 1, FIRE relies on extreme frugality.
Merriam: Yeah. I do want to start off by saying that some of these myths are really driven by what people see online. There’s like a tiny element of truth in every myth, but I don’t feel like it’s the whole story. I just wanted to offer a broader perspective about some of the stuff. When it comes to extreme frugality, I wanted to point out that there’s a lot of different flavors of FIRE. There’s barista FIRE, where people are still working to cover some of their expenses, but they’re also drawing down from their nest egg. There’s coast FIRE, where people save for traditional retirement very earlier in their careers, and then they take their foot off the gas and just cover their expenses until they coast ’till 60. There’s something called Fat Fire. That is when people are not really focused on the frugality side of things, they have expenses of $100,000 a year or more, and so they’re saving for that flavor of FIRE. I wouldn’t say that it’s a requirement for extreme frugality. I think what matters a lot more is the gap between your income and your expenses, the gap is really where the magic is.
Reducing expenses is one part of that formula, and I think it gets a lot of attention because it’s the easiest thing to do. It’s a lot easier to reduce your expenses to a certain point than it is to increase your income in some cases. I also think it’s a really attractive part of the formula because it’s considered what a lot of us call the double whammy, where you’re reducing your expenses so now you have more money to throw at your investments, and that can shorten your timeline to reach financial independence. But the double whammy side of it is your yearly expenses, because you’re shooting for 25 times your yearly expenses. If your yearly expenses are lower, it’s just an easier number to hit. I personally like the reducing expenses side of it because to me, what I learned in my journey is that frugality is seen as you have to deprive yourself and eat rice and beans, and it’s seen as this miserably way to go about life. But I’ve discovered in my own life that it is actually by intentionally and voluntarily reducing my expenses, I opened up a level of resourcefulness and creativity that I didn’t even know I had. I think that can be satisfying in its own right aside from just saving money.
Brokamp: 25 times by the way is the mathematical reciprocal of the 4% rule, which we’ve talked about in the show before. There’s some debate about whether that’s appropriate nowadays in a low interest rate environment, but just to explain a little bit where that guideline comes from. It’s also important to know that these people are doing this before you get Social Security. Whereas, if you wait until your 60s, you probably only need 12 or so times your income, which is something else we’ve talked about in the show, just to make that clear for everyone. It is interesting though that the part about being resourceful in creativity, because I’ve found this as well. Once you start to get on this kick where you’re going to try to save money, it gets the juices flowing, and it’s like small victories every day when you find a way to get the same thing, but you spend less for it.
Southwick: Absolutely. In some instances, it could be even far superior than the easy swiping of a credit card. I will give you a quick example. When I was getting out of that 30 grand of debt in 11 months, I didn’t want to buy any clothing. Obviously, I still have clothing needs. What I ended up doing is I started hosting these clothing exchanges with my friends. We’d all clear out our closets, we’d come to my apartment for an afternoon of music and mimosas, and we’d all try on each other’s clothes, and I walked away from those experiences with a closet full of more fashionable clothes than I would’ve bought on my own thanks to my fashionable friends. That was not only saving money, but I actually looked at it as a far superior way to get that clothing need met, because it was a lot more fun, and I got to have the benefit of human connection, and just being really resourceful with my time.
Brokamp: Let’s go on to myth No. 2, FIRE is impossible if you have kids.
Southwick: Yeah. I think that’s a common thing that I hear from people, because I have been blessed with no children. A lot of times when I tell people that I’m pursuing FIRE, they’re like, ”Oh, yeah. Well, you can do that because you don’t have kids.” But I actually think that I am the exception and not the rule within the FIRE movement. Most people that I know in the FIRE movement are actually pursuing it because of either their desire to have kids or the desire to spend more time with the kids that they have. I actually think it’s one of the key motivators for why people want to pursue FIRE. I look at the decision to have children as just any other lifestyle decision of if you’re going to buy a house, or where you’re going to live, or if you’re going to travel, or if you are going to start a business, all of these things cost money. I don’t think that the pursuit of FIRE is about not spending any money, and therefore, not [laughs] having kids. I think it’s aligning your money with your values, and really having priorities there of what’s really important to you. I find that I’m an exception in the FIRE movement. The reason why I think that this is a misconception is because the people that are raising their kids are not blogging about it. For the most part, they’re busy with their families.
Brokamp: They have no time.
Southwick: Yeah. They don’t get as much attention online as some of the big bloggers within the FIRE movement, but they absolutely exist.
Brokamp: I often say that many of the principles of the FIRE movement can be used by people with all kinds of financial goals. For example, maybe you are married, you have kids, and your goal is not to retire early, but your goal is to have one of the parents stay home with the kids. You can use all of these same principles to build up those savings so that you can afford to do that.
Southwick: Absolutely. Yeah. There’s so many different ways to pursue FIRE. I think the only thing that we all agree on is to live below your means. You could save 10% of your income, you can save 60% of your income, but it’s the basis of personal finance, it’s not unique to the FIRE movement.
Brokamp: Let’s move on to the myth No. 3, FIRE is only for people with high incomes.
Southwick: Again, grain of truth here. I think it’s a lot easier to increase that gap between your incoming and your expenses if you’re high-income. Again, a lot of the most popular bloggers in this movement are high-income, so that’s the example that we see a lot of the time. I’ll give you a few examples from the EconoMe Conference, three of our speakers reached financial independence never making six-figures. I’ve met so many people in the FIRE movement that fit that mold where they’re not incredibly high-earners, but they’ve focused on side-hustles, they’ve focused on decreasing their expenses. It’s really the key money management of increasing that gap between your income and your expenses, and investing the difference that I think is the true driver of the pursuit of FIRE. Even in one example, Lynn Frair was a speaker, she had a brain tumor at 28 that completely wiped out all of her money. This was before there were out-of-pocket maxes on health insurance, and so it completely wiped her out. But she rebuilt it over the course of 10 years and still retired before 40 with two children. Same thing with Jillian Johnsrud, was the speaker at the EconoMe Conference, she reached financial independence in her early 30s with six kids. Again, never approaching six figures. I do think that there’s pressure to really focus on the expense side of things when you’re not a high-earner, but the point is that it’s not impossible.
Brokamp: One of the biggest expenses for anyone, particularly someone with a family, is going to be healthcare. In this country, healthcare is very closely tied to your job. Let’s move onto the next myth, “Healthcare expenses can undermine your goals to retire early.”
Merriam: I think that the healthcare concern is the No. 1 reason why financially independent people may not retire earlier or leave their job because they’re so worried about the healthcare piece of it. There’s a lot of truth to that. Healthcare can be a big unknown. When it comes to that 25 times your yearly expenses number that we’re all shooting for, I think the thing that’s not talked about enough is that that number is based on a lot of assumptions of what you think your expenses might be. The math works but it’s dependent on you really being, like, how strong your assumptions are, and healthcare can be a really big unknown. I actually just quit my job earlier this year in January, and so I needed to go out and buy my own healthcare and I thought that it was going to be prohibitively expensive. It actually wasn’t. I went onto healthcare.gov and I’m paying $285 a month for my healthcare.
Now, that’s based on the fact that I live in Ohio and then I was willing to take on a high deductible and high out-of-pocket max plan because I have a strong amount of money in my HSA, so that led me to make that decision. But I think that a lot of people that I hear when they actually take the time to look, just go run some numbers of what is available to you today, it might actually not be as bad as you think. There is also another resource called fihealthcare.com that’s actually run by Lynn Frair, who I talked about earlier, and she comes from the medical community, she was an RN for many years. She did a ton of research for her own family when she decided to leave her job at 39, and so she compiled the database that is constantly being updated by the community of all the options that you have for healthcare. I would encourage people to take a look at that and run some numbers and see if it’s really as bad as you think.
Brokamp: On the show, we’ve talked a lot about the connection between health and wealth. Wealthier people tend to be healthier, but also healthier people tend to be wealthier. Certainly, one thing you do is just try to maintain your health. […] a little bit in the FIRE movement, people giving up cars to ride bikes, for example, because it’s another way to stay healthy.
Merriam: Absolutely. I think that one of the things that’s not talked about enough because we’re so concerned about health insurance, but what if something happened and you get a big medical bill? Medical billing fraud is an $80 billion problem that I don’t see a lot of people talking about in the FIRE movement. Actually, one of our speakers, this coming November at the next economy conference, that’s what she specializes in. She helps people be better consumers of healthcare, and she helps you analyze your medical bills to make sure that there aren’t mistakes on them, and she trains you how to ask the right questions and negotiate. I think that we can tackle this problem from multiple angles, first, where you get the health insurance, and then also, what do you do when you get the big bill.
Brokamp: I was reading her profile, and if I remember it correctly, I think that she claims that as many as nine out of 10 bills have some error involved, if not outright fraud.
Merriam: Absolutely. Her name is Angel Cellucci, and I actually did a webinar with her. If you go to the EconoMe Conference YouTube channel, you can check out one of the most recent videos and she talks about this issue of medical billing fraud.
Brokamp: Let’s move on to myth No. 5, “Society will collapse if all the young folks stop working.”
Merriam: This made me laugh when I saw this on your list. What I would say to this is, I don’t necessarily think that reaching financial independence means that you just check out from the workforce, I think it means that you approach work differently. Most people that I know that retire early are actually retiring from the requirement to work from 9:00-5:00. They’re typically still working in some capacity because we’ve got to do something with our time. Even if you retire at 65, a lot of people will continue on passion projects and hobby-type work because you have to fill your time somehow. When I first read this statement, I thought, well, what happens if we all start eating really healthy and not eating processed foods and working out on our own, like the whole fitness industry would collapse and the whole processed food industry would collapse. Is that necessarily a bad thing? We live in a very consumerist culture. I think if that dynamic shifts over time, we adapt over time. I just can’t, honestly, see that happening. Everything is collapsing because people are retiring early. I also think that this movement is extremely niche. Most people that I talked to are very dismissive of it. For someone to pursue this, I think it’s just a different mentality than most people are going to have, so I don’t see it as a huge risk.
Brokamp: When I’ve seen these types of criticisms, I’ll say, first of all, they often come from older folks and there might be a little bit of resentment, like secretly in the back of their mind they are like, “I wish I knew about the FIRE movement when I was young. I would have done that too.” I think there also is this misconception that FIRE means never working and being lazy. But as you point out, most people are doing something else. They’re just doing something that they enjoy. It’s also to get your expenses, to save half of your income, that’s a lot of work. It’s not easy at all. Whenever I see someone say, the FIRE movement is full of lazy people, I’m like, “You don’t know what it takes to save 50% of your income and figure out everything you need to do to be able to be financially independent by your 40s or so.”
Merriam: Honestly, everyone was in a financial position where they didn’t technically have to work, I think it would put pressure on employees to make the world more attractive with flexible hours. A lot of people in the FIRE movement are really going for autonomy over their time, and they want to have flexibility in their work that they can’t have with a typical 9:00-5:00. I think those opportunities, and we’re even seeing it with the pandemic and remote work, that’s becoming much more of a norm, and I think we’ll be seeing those kinds of shifts if the FIRE movement takes off and everyone decides that they want to reach financial independence very early. It would put pressure on seeing some of these changes.
Brokamp: Let’s move on to our last myth, myth No. 6, “FIRE is only for young people.”
Merriam: Honestly, I thought this too when I first got into this. I thought that it was most appealing to young people. What really surprised me about the EconoMe Conference is that 20% of our audience is over 50. When I thought about it more and I started talking to some of the attendees, and the attendees over 50, I would say, were the most enthusiastic ones. What I see the reason for that is if you didn’t start saving for retirement until you’re 40s and 50s, you actually have a need for aggressiveness and FIRE typically is pretty aggressive in the savings rate and that’s exactly what you need. It makes a lot of sense for me, whether you’re young or old, if you’re looking to shorten your timeframe, FIRE is going to appeal to you.
Brokamp: We made this point last week in our episode on Rescuing Your Retirement. If you have reached your 50s and you’re behind, one thing to do is to pay attention to the FIRE movement because it’s just full of tips on ways to cut your expenses and boost your savings. If you read some articles about the FIRE movement, including from Mr. Money Mustache, you’ll see guidelines essentially, like, how long you’re going to have to work depending on your savings rate. I’ll just read a couple of back of the envelope estimates that came from Mr. Money Mustache. If you save 10% of your income, you’re going to have to work about 50 years. If you could boost it to 30%, you only have to work 30 years. If you could boost it to 50%, you only have to work 17 years. It really does show that it may not be too late for some people if they’re behind, if they can really ramp up their savings.
Merriam: Absolutely. There’s a great blog called Started At 50 and it’s about a couple who are bankrupt at 50 years old and they retired at 60, based on what they learned from the FIRE movement. If anyone is in that situation, I recommend heading over to that blog because it’s really inspiring.
Brokamp: Well, that’s great. Those are the six myths. Diania, tell us where people can go to learn more about the EconoMe Conference.
Merriam: Sure. If you go to economeconference.com and that’s EconoMe with an M-E not an M-Y, a little obnoxious, but if you take a look at the spelling of my first name, you could see that I really appreciate misspelled words. Economeonference.com, there you can read about all the speakers. You can head over to our YouTube channel to check out all the speaker videos from last year and learn about the event, and tickets are on sale now. The event is happening at the University of Cincinnati on November 13th and 14th of this year.
Brokamp: Well, it sounds excellent. Thank you for joining us. Good luck on the conference, and thanks for stopping by.
Merriam: Thanks so much.
Southwick: Well, that’s the show. Thanks to Austin Morgan for helping us tape the show this week. It’s still edited fixer-uppingly by Rick Engdahl. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org. For Robert Brokamp, I’m Alison Southwick. Stay Foolish everybody.
JPMorgan Chase is an advertising partner of The Ascent, a Motley Fool company. Alison Southwick has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Robert Brokamp, CFP has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Redfin. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: short August 2021 $65 puts on Redfin. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.