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Creating Freedom Through Financial Independence

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Is Financial Independence Immoral?

August 28, 2023


Imagine you left your full-time job.

After working for ten solid years, saving and investing aggressively, you get to a point where you no longer have to work.

You’re free!

It dawns on you that what you’ve achieved is exceedingly uncommon, so you decide to start sharing what you’ve learned with others, the principles you followed, the traps you avoided, and how you went about it.

Your goal is to inspire people to realise there’s another option besides working for 40+ years, just so they can pay bills and continue existing.  That it’s actually possible to start managing money in a smarter, more thoughtful way.  And with enough effort and time, the average person can become financially independent enough to gain complete control over their time and how they spend their one life.

Some people embrace your message with open arms, while others decide it’s not really for them.  All good, it’s a free country after all.

Either way, it’s a positive message, done for the greater good and in the spirit of helping others.   Then one day you get an email…

“I saw a recent interview of yours and went to your website. I think there is something fundamentally wrong with what you are doing and not doing and promoting.  It is this…

You and I have a stratospheric level of prosperity due to the luck of being born in Australia at the time we were.  You did not fight in any wars, sweat in dangerous construction jobs, or go broke trying to make a farm productive. 

Essentially it all has fallen in your lap.  Like so many other Australians.  And with this comes a responsibility to contribute, beyond looking after a few turtles.  I hope you will give this some thought because what you are espousing is neither ultimately good for yourself, the community or the country.”

 

How do you respond?

OK, we’re not in hypothetical land – this actually happened recently.  The rest of this article is the email chain that followed, along with my initial thoughts, reaction, and some important points this brings up.

Just so you know, the correspondence has been lightly edited for readability.  Also, some of the comments seem annoying (like a child poking you in the ribs with their finger), but stick it out so you can see my reply and address the broader points raised.  Well, that sounds more mature than what really happens – I destroy the crippled logic used against me.

Anyway, my initial reaction upon reading the email was something like this:

Umm… what?  Is this dude for real?  Initially, I thought it was just a troll.  It’s a strongly worded email that is quite ‘high horsey’.

But for some reason I was also curious.  Possibly because they at least had the awareness that we’re all lucky to live in this country.  Usually, trolls are ingrateful complainers who can’t see positive in anything, so they’re easily dismissed as miserable people.

But this was a slightly different vibe.  “Okay, I’ll bite.”

My reply:

I totally agree with your initial comments about being incredibly lucky to live in Australia.  For the record, I wasn’t born here – my parents moved here from Scotland when I was young – but the point is valid.

I’m not sure of your conclusion though, that what I’m espousing isn’t good for anybody.  You hope I’ll think about it?  You haven’t given me anything to think about because you haven’t really said anything, other than being critical and point out good fortune we all share.

You’ve offered zero suggestions for improvements.  You’ve simply said: what I’m not doing is bad, what I am doing is bad, and what I’m teaching is bad.  Explain why none of this is good for me, the community, or the country.  And what your magical solution is.

Unless you’re stating that the only meaningful activities are fighting in wars, farming and construction?

 

The follow up

He responds:

“I understand like all of us who think more than the average Joe Blow, you are trying to make some sense of life and existence.  And that is a good thing.
This is a very personal thing, but I do look at our ancestors who were bayoneted and shot, who went broke trying to make a go of things in marginal businesses, worked in tough and dangerous occupations, suffered early deaths, and think “well haven’t I had it good?”

I turn on the tap and there is fresh water, I break a bone and there is a free hospital to heal me, I walk the streets that are free of violence and crime, I have a full belly.  What got us here?  Well, it was the diligence and efforts of many.

The flip side is, I cannot sit back and take a cruisey path through life and just take all these benefits.  I have an obligation to work diligently at my occupation and in doing so make a decent (or as decent as I can), contribution to society.  I mean just because freedoms offered by Australian society allow us to do most anything, does not mean we should.  If a store has no security camera does that mean we should thieve from it because we can?  There is a moral dimension to all this.

The other part of the story from an individual perspective is to try and be everything you can be in life.  That takes dedication and effort.   I think that is the way to fulfilment.”

Well, that high horse just got a little higher.  Seems like we’ve got ourselves an armchair expert (I think he was sufficiently disrespectful and closed minded enough to earn that label).

At this point I’m a little annoyed and disappointed.  I clearly gave him a free swing to back up his initial claims and offer some solutions… but all I got was more of the same.

Like most armchair experts, the message is heavy on criticism and guilt tripping, light on perspective and useful suggestions.  But let’s continue.

 

My (slightly ranty) reply:

I share in your gratitude for our situation, something I think is largely forgotten today.  If you read my writing for any length of time, you’d know I’m big on pointing out how good we have it, and how amazingly cushy life has become.

Where we separate is that you think doing your full-time job is a noble and greater contribution to society than something else.  Maybe, maybe not.  There’s nothing inherently more meaningful about working a full-time job than doing something else.  You’d acknowledge that probably 80% of jobs are not contributing to a better world in any meaningful way.  They’re simply part of society functioning, not becoming better.

As for me, it’s worth remembering that I’ve only just started this ‘retirement’ thing in a sense, so I have many decades of time ahead of me to hopefully contribute a lot to society.  One of those ways right now is helping improve the financial wellbeing of other Aussies.  With greater money and time, people are able to contribute more of both to important causes of their own choosing.

The whole point is empowering people to be able to contribute in their own way, not just work a full-time job their whole lives because they think they have to (and assuming that’s the optimal way to fulfilment).

For example, if I stayed working in a factory and spent my money on nonsense like everyone else, is that a greater contribution to society than what I’m doing now?

I took a different path, and now have more time, money and have already impacted thousands of people’s lives, while being able to directly fund charities and things I care about (yes, including ‘helping a few turtles’ and revegetating the local wetland).  The idea that the worker-drone path is a far  greater contribution to society than what I’m doing now, or what I could do over the next 50 years, or what I promote in my writing, is laughable.

Also, you’ve greatly misunderstood what myself and my readers are about.  We are largely a group of people who are very interested in bigger causes, and solving the financial side of our lives enables us to improve our personal wellbeing first, our family lives, and then outward to improving the community through volunteering, starting a business, solving some type of problem, or whatever it might be.

These are not your everyday people.  They’re people who are genuinely looking to have meaningful lives, not just make it to the next payday and watch Netflix.  My writing and message is not about piling up money so you can do nothing – it’s about living a more deliberate life, using money to create freedom, and using that freedom to create meaning.  Which undoubtedly involves contributing and helping others.

As for “being everything you can be” and creating fulfilment, why can this only mean working a full time job?  Again, such a sad and narrow way to perceive the purpose of a human, assuming we can only achieve that through some arbitrary 40-50 hour workweek.

Somehow you’re happy to state that your approach is fundamentally correct, and mine fundamentally wrong.  Even though we may not agree on how one should spend their time, you’ve been far too quick to assume what I’m about and what is a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ way to live.

 

Honour, contribution and meaning

Alright, so the conversation didn’t go much further than that.  But there’s plenty more to say on the topic that I want to flesh out here.

Our emailer made the important comment about what our ancestors and people of this country sacrificed for us.  But how we go about honouring that is where we disagree.

I think our ancestors would be incredibly pleased to see people making the most of modern day incomes to create wealth and freedom to have more time for their family.  After all, THEY DIED FOR THEIR FAMILES, and the freedoms of this country.  The values couldn’t be more perfectly aligned!

I mean, come on – they’d be thrilled to see that a few generations later, average people can become wealthy enough to spend more time with loved ones, enjoy their hobbies, volunteer, give to charities, focus on their health, and appreciate living in general.  All in greater quantities than they otherwise could before.  And certainly in greater amounts than those who stay in a full-time job as a way to ‘contribute’.

The idea that a job is the best possible contribution one could make to society is simply a story that resides in your mind.  How doing X job is such a great and noble way to spend our years on earth.  “Doot de doo, I’m such a good person helping out society like this, wow what a great guy I am – my ancestors sure would be proud of me, doot de doo…”

Realise, this is just a made up story to make you feel good about what we’re doing.

You’ll notice I don’t speak in black-and-white most of the time.  X is good, Y is bad.  Because most things in life are just a bunch of arbitrary shit we’ve decided gives our lives meaning and alleviates some of the uncertainty of what the hell life is about.

All this happens subconsciously of course.

The essence of the argument seems to be this:  contribute to something greater than yourself.  To which I agree, this is a fantastic and meaningful way to spend our lives.

But how each of us go about that can be very different.  So then we’re simply arguing over what causes are worthwhile and what’s not.  I think each person has a right to choose their own ’cause’ and what’s worthwhile spending their one life on.

We can each use our own skills, passions, and what we’re good at to find a way to make the world better in our own way.  But who’s to say that’s in employment, or anything with the economy at all?

Why couldn’t it also mean volunteering, mentoring others, or raising fantastic children, teaching them about ethics and morals, history, life principles, how to solve problems and how to think like a sensible and broad-minded individual?

Now let’s address some of the clumsier and intellectually lazy assertions…

 

“You very, very, bad man!”

Very Bad Man Seinfeld GIFs | Tenor

What I’m doing and promoting is fundamentally wrong? And it’s not good for me, the community, or the country in general?

Well, where do we even start 😅

First, committing myself to achieving FI was the best decision of my life.  It’s now been 6 years of ‘retirement’, and while I’m not being hyper-productive in the traditional sense, the experience has been incredible.  So good that I have great trouble imagining myself at 80 years old regretting this decision.

I’m leading a happier and healthier lifestyle.  My life has greater satisfaction.  I’m working on things that are meaningful to me.  I’ve been able to help others and causes I care about.  Sure as hell beats driving pallets of milk around a warehouse.

But that’s all pretty ‘selfish’ – how is it good for the community or the country?

Well, I encourage everyone in this space to find ways to help their community as they see fit.  FI simply gives people more time and flexibility to live in a more natural way.

The community benefits by having more people with time to dedicate to local matters, helping friends and neighbours and mentoring the next generation.  Everyone else is generally too busy working and running their lives for that.

Looking further out, how could we possibly argue that having thousands more Aussies with stronger finances, less stress, and more freedom isn’t good.? Because having them all remain mindless worker slaves is so much better!

Yeah… lets have them trapped in debt, not thinking for themselves, so they can remain stuck in a meaningless job, unable to spend their time on more important things because their finances are so fucked they have no other option.  And their minds are so broken they just buy whatever product and believe whatever message they see on social media and tv, because all they want to do is zone out and numb themselves after work.

Or, we could in fact accept that one way to improve a country is to have its citizens wake up from this ridiculous zombie slumber, get them empowered and believing in a better future.  Let’s arm them with information where they can see light at the end of the tunnel, as they make one improvement after another, wiping away the fog from their eyes, and realise that life can be so much more than work/spend/sleep/repeat/die.

This website is my attempt at trying to help people wake up and become wealthy and free.  But what about after that?

 

Freedom to choose

Once work becomes more optional, everyone is free to use their time for anything they like.

Clearly, I can’t force people to do anything.  I can mention contribution, helping others, and so on, but ultimately, it’s on each of us to build the life we want.

Luckily, most people in this community are interested in doing useful things after reaching FI.  That could be paid or unpaid work.  This community seems to attract a large percentage of thoughtful people.  And with that thoughtfulness often comes a desire to consider things bigger than themselves, which undoubtedly leads to action, contribution, and energy used for good, creating a positive flow-on effect.

Now, let me be clear, unlike our emailer, I don’t think you’re obliged to do anything.  It’s not immoral to live a life you want that doesn’t make any grand achievements toward some external cause.  You get to choose what a meaningful life looks like to you.  Among the other points here, that’s what our friend is not quite grasping.  Otherwise this is just someone projecting how everyone else should live.  But that’s essentially slavery and dictatorship.

“No, that’s not a meaningful way to spend your time, this is.”  Then we’re just arguing about nonsense – playing a silly game of moral superiority.  There’s enough of that garbage going on in society today.

But anyway, is all this good or bad?

Well, how much does the average person contribute towards a better society now?  Or are they generally too tired, busy, stressed and preoccupied to think about bigger causes?  Finally, is their ability to contribute helped or hindered by having more freedom and more money?

Exactly.  This shit is not complicated.

 

The value of human life

Is freedom good or bad?  Well, the opposite is slavery.

Is wealth good or bad?  Well, the opposite is poverty.

See, the contrast helps highlight the absurdity of it all.

And what about our moral obligations?  Some people suggest that if you become financially independent you are morally obligated to keep working even if you don’t need to.  Okay.  But then are those people still free, or are we measuring their lives by someone else’s ideals?

And if they should keep working regardless of other desires, should they continue working the same job which might ‘maximise’ the usage of their skills, or should they get to choose?  The same hours, or as many as they like?  What if their free time lets them develop new skills that are more valuable to society?  We’d never get that value without them leaving work to enjoy their freedom and pursue their own innate interests and curiosity.

In any case, to say we’re obligated to keep working just the same is to suggest we’re only valuable for what we produce.  Like it’s our duty to work every hour possible, and pay as much tax as possible into the system.  But should this be our goal?   Are we human beings, or human doings?

You either think society and the economy exists to serve humans, or humans exist to serve the system.  We’re either the slaves of the system or the masters – we can’t be both.

 

Final thoughts

Well, there you go.  An interesting discussion I think, even though it came from a strange place.

It’s worth mentioning that the emailer did later walk back how they handled the initial interactions.  None of the responses suggested they had changed their views despite having the right information.  Which is kind of strange, but not unexpected.  It’s the internet after all and people are notorious for being wedded to their beliefs (in a till-death-do-us-part kind of way).

Anyway, maybe I’m off base.  Maybe what I am doing is questionable.  Maybe I should go back and get a full-time job, pay more taxes, consume more, have less free time, and help some company achieve its objectives instead.  Maybe that would be a greater contribution to society… a morally superior way to spend my time.

Is financial independence a selfish and lazy way to approach life?  Are we living with questionable morals?  Should we go back to being good little worker bees and consumer slaves?

Or maybe, just maybe, we’re actually onto something here.  A far more empowered, free, and satisfying foundation from which to build a meaningful and healthy life.

Let me know what you think in the comments.


92 Comments

92 Replies to “Is Financial Independence Immoral?”

  1. Dave, I’m on the verge of semi-retirement, and I couldn’t be happier. The discipline, commitment, and routines you ‘espouse’, have benefited me in ways that you (and even I) will probably never even know! I’m about to have increased spare time, during which I plan to work on a reduced basis, and in a capacity that I think is valuable (through what I do best – music). Helping kids to learn an instrument, and to sing. My future students, will be your turtles.

    You (and any number of the FIRE motivators) I’ve read/experienced, are to thank for all of this. The countless hours of reading/watching/researching, living a life of genuine happiness (not of ridiculous over-expensive consumerism), and seeing value in what’s genuinely important in life, are why I’m so close. You, like all of them, have helped me, and you’ve helped a tonne of others too! I’m glad that you can see that.

    I think your responses were bang on. I’ll admit that I have questioned whether or not the FIRE concept is moral/immoral/amoral, but I don’t believe it is. In fact, if everyone learnt to live off less (which as you know, is one of the major factors in saving more) there’d be less demand on the environment. I believe FIRE is sustainable, not just through dividend/rent/4% rule to our investment balances, but to our environment and to society as a whole.

    Keep doing what you’re doing. Continue to be respectful in your replies to this person. And keep educating others. Love your work!

  2. Wow. Just wow!

    The emailer is definitely entitled to their own beliefs and values, but why criticise others? Is it just judgement, resentment, or downright jealousy? Are they expecting you’ll suddenly offload your portfolio and start Workin’ For the Man?

    FI is about the freedom to choose – paid work or other. Are your investments not contributing to society, either directly or indirectly? Are you not a consumer in your own right, creating demand for the goods and services you consume? You might also be contributing in other ways, such as volunteering.

    It’s clear that the Protestant Work Ethic is still alive and well among some folks – that there is value and virtue in hard work (it also advocates thrift…LOL) This way of thinking, combined with blatant consumerism, is creating a vicious spiral of work-to-spend, with no let up. Really not something to aspire to!

    And thank you – FI presents a different path to which we can aspire and achieve. Careers and jobs can be awesome, but that awesomeness can disappear in a flash. FI provides a much-needed buffer when that happens!

    1. Well written Dave!

      I believe that only once we reach a level of financial independence, that not working a 9-5, 5 days a week.

      Can we honestly sit back with the time and truely slow down and do what we are passionate about, not because it’s “paying the bills” but because we get a level of fulfilment out of it.

      To me this is the true benefit of financial independence. A real perspective of whats important to me and the available time to commit to it.

  3. Dave, “You very, very, bad man!” for getting off the hedonistic treadmill! Think of all the mindless consumer products you’ve forsaken, that would’ve ended up in landfill and contributed towards our impending climate disaster.

    On a more serious note, I feel slightly guilty of paying so little tax whilst still enjoying so many benefits of living in Australia. Now that I have kids I feel like there are so many benefits like Medicare, free schooling, subsidised childcare etc. that I’m more of a drain on the public purse than I contribute. Have you ever felt this way Dave?

    1. On the tax/benefits thing… I think we need to consider it holistically across the course of our lives.

      There may be a few years where you are in a low tax environment where you’re also receiving family benefits. But there have probably already been a good decade or two of paying shitloads of tax while you were working to build wealth. And even after reaching FI most people will probably keep earning and paying tax in some form. This combined with their increasing wealth (very likely) will mean increasing taxes paid over the remainder of their lives. So I do think that the most likely outcome is that the majority of us are still a net positive for the tax base overall.

      Personally, we don’t get any family tax benefits/free school due to no kids, and fortunately haven’t had to use the Medicare system much.

    2. If you feel strongly this way, just donate more (money or time) to causes that help society and the environment. Schools often have fundraisers for future resources such as buildings or library books, hospitals also accept donations, as do charities.
      Even donating blood or plasma at the blood bank is a simple way to contribute.

  4. Probably just a wind up. Not much cognition supporting their criticisms. Thank you for your contribution to community and your generosity of spirit in sharing your strategies that have worked for you. Anyway, the email provided a great platform to profile your alignment with higher order thinking about life vs servitude.

  5. Great article. I’m glad you’re addressing this as I suspect many doubters would say something similar.

    I agree with your point-of-view. But if I can play devil’s advocate, I think there’s an argument you didn’t really address:

    What if everyone did what you’re doing? Who would do the farming? Who would be in the military? Is it possible to make this fair, or is it fundamentally a two-tier way of life?

    I’m interested to hear thoughts on this.

    1. I’ve had this question in person a few times, and in theory it could pose a problem if it happened quickly.

      In reality though, it’s like saying what if we all became super healthy, all the fast food places would close down. The idea of that being remotely possible is almost absurd. Human nature and our short-term focused instincts always get in the way. So that’s just not gonna happen, no matter how much people espouse the benefits of what good health and avoiding bad food can do for you.

      On the other hand, if it happened slowly and more people opted to work towards FI, then the economy would simply adapt just as it does to changing consumer tastes of all kinds. Yes it may mean less growth or less profits for certain businesses, but overall we don’t actually need all that much in the way of income per person to live well.

      Bottom line: unbelievably unlikely, would probably bet my life on it not happening (lol) and if it was to occur it would likely happen quite slowly rather than overnight, making it far more manageable/less problematic.

      1. I think though, the point might be that if everyone was FI many people would still choose to work in an area that they were passionate about. I think you would find that you would still have health care workers, and teachers, and chefs in restaurants,and artists, and people creating new things. Maybe they would work less and have more balanced, happier lives.

        1. I agree with this, thanks for sharing Simone. There’d be plenty of crappy jobs that many wouldn’t want to do, but overall I do think that’s a fair idea. It’s a pretty extreme hypothetical situation anyway so I don’t think we’ll have to worry about it anytime soon!

    2. It’s not really possible for everyone to be FI. Unless you are a trust fund baby, you need to work to survive – at least when you are starting out. Even those trust fund babies burn through their wealth and it is all gone within a generation or two. Their descendants will need to work. As to who will farm or join the military, it is like every other job. If people are reluctant to do it, the reward given to those who are willing to do it will keep going up until there are enough workers. We’ve all seen the price of food lately. Yes, I realize not all of this increase goes to the farmers.
      Much of the discussion around this topic has to do with the value of a person’s life being determined by what they are contributing through work. I know this wasn’t your point, so this part is just to add to the discussion. It’s funny the two occupations you mentioned. The farmers where I live only work 2/3 of the year because it is winter for the other 1/3. Must they work at a different job for this 1/3 or is it okay to snowmobile and take trips to Mexico instead? My friends in the military retired in their late 40s – almost 2 decades earlier than most people. Have they lost value because they are not working? On a final note, I’ve worked for 30 years with people wo have special needs. Many cannot work. Are they still valuable as human beings?

  6. I’m more torn by this than I expected to be. Sure there are some parts that are a bit troll-y, but I do also think there’s some merit to the argument…
    You see, those who have FIRE’d aren’t very often completely financially independent – They’re also receiving benefits and services which come at a cost which is funded by other taxpayers, such as health care, subsidised care and (nearly) free education for their kids (I know you don’t have any), use of roads, other public services etc. Usually while paying minimal tax.
    The full actual cost of their lifestyle is not actually covered by their own income and assets, and they’re now contributing less to the pool of public funds than someone who was still working.
    If everyone in Australia was inspired by your blog and aimed to do the same, our society would likely cease to function as it does as there just wouldn’t be enough public money, or enough overall consumption to fund the investment income you live off. So there’s definitely some privilege there in being one of the few who can have the choice to live the FI lifestyle (and it is a choice thats enabled by privilege), while being subsidised by those who can’t or choose not to.

    I’m not saying that makes it morally wrong or that I agree with this particular reader, or that I wont continue to work towards FI myself, just something to ponder I suppose.

    1. Fair points Christie.

      You’ll also notice though that many of the FIRE people who have left work went on to do other things. As a result they end up earning income and paying tax once again, while their wealth continues to grow. So when looked at across their lives as a whole, rather than say the first few years of early retirement where they don’t earn much personal income, I do think the majority of us would comfortably be a net payer into the tax base.

      From experience, I’d say 9 out of every 10 people who are wealthy enough to retire early end up being productive in other ways, whether it’s starting a business or simply going back to work part time (and attract more taxes as mentioned above).

      The ‘what if everyone did it’ question I’ve answered to DT (above or below) this comment 🙂

      1. Some great points to consider. But I think we often focus on only income tax and forget about GST when we talk taxes. We are all still paying tax every time we buy groceries, pay a bill or pay insurance. I get FIRE peeps are spending less so less GST potentially but still contributing through taxes

        1. That’s a good reminder. There are countless other taxes we’re paying every year…easy to forget about those 😉

    2. If we believe in the market, more people retiring early would push wages higher to the working people. The RE peeps would need to adjust their demand for goods and services as prices go up, or some go back to work. Society and economy would move to some new equilibrium. No need to worry much about.

  7. I suspect that your emailer thinks that the world operates as a zero sum game. If you have it someone else has to go without. But what you suggest does not take away from anyone else. If you were running a ponzy scheme where you got rich at the expense of everyone else, that would be immoral. You are sharing a way that most people can escape the hamster wheel if they are willing think, question, delay or reject shiny object gratification. Keep up the good work.

  8. Does the emailer know that the way to FI is through investments. Investing our money in local or global businesses that are solving problems for humanity to help our existence. Or investing in housing. Before we can afford to buy a house we need to rent one. Somebody must own that house. Is that not contributing to society?

    1. I think you’ll find that in the current environment landlords are considered an evil mob of racketeers and instead the government should provide the housing 🤷‍♂️

      1. I know right? I think that it has influenced me and othersto get out of investing in property… so can’t see rental market improving any time soon.

  9. Hi Dave, sometimes we need a misguided comment from someone else to get us to think hard about what we do believe in, and what our contribution is. You wrote a very well reasoned response, and I think it probably helped you align even more your values and beliefs.
    Having met you (and isn’t it about time for another Kings Park meetup?) and been a reader of your newsletters for over a year, you are a very caring and thoughtful individual; hats off to you for your insights and helping hand.

    1. Thanks Brent.

      You’re right it is good to be pushed to reconsider things from comments like that. Overall it’s created a great discussion.

      Last one was only a month ago mate 😉 I’m heading to Vic soon to visit family, I’ll have to start planning another one when I get back.

  10. Yes, I fully support your financial independence work Dave, but sadly there is a lot of mindless group-think about, which I suggest is because most people don’t have the strength of will to break away from the status quo and take on the adult role of creating a meaningful life for themselves, requiring endless support structures, and perhaps this leads to fear. Thomas Carlyle the politician is still getting plenty of attention 200 years after the work ethic idea he created in his speeches in British parliament, and many see it now for what it was, a manipulation of the working majority, to enable the Industrial Revolution. Moving to today, the highest paid jobs mostly have a poor record of caring or humanity as core values, and the system perpetuates this, and also that I think is a bad example for a rich country to set for the majority developing nations. By using our talents and money to hopefully volunteer and support in a rapidly changing environment and economy, this should be seen as one of the most positive and accessible things all of us can do.

    1. Good points DS. The one on breaking away – I guess if you do something different your approach is going to be criticised for various reasons.

      And on the economy rewarding roles which aren’t necessarily valuable for humanity – it’s an interesting conundrum. Most people will say that’s why capitalism is evil etc, which is a tad simplistic.

      I agree with your final statement too. The tricky thing is that many humans will often still use their efforts to continue acquiring greater status. But I think this community tilts heavily towards thoughtful and caring people, so I do have optimism that additional time/money will be used well overall.

  11. Excellent comments from JC also.
    Consumerism and consumption along with lifestyle creep have created many environmental problems for this planet. Getting back to basics is not only good for our finances but also health, stress and relationships. I don’t see any downside to financial independence.

  12. Interesting! Perhaps this is still a common opinion. Holding on to values based on the Protestant work ethic, a good day’s labour for a decent wage etc. may be a justification for having to do a job you hate and a resentment of those who escape. Perhaps they believe there is more more work for everyone else to do. Like someone not doing the dishes. There is no questioning whether you actually need dishes or how much water is wasted, how the detergent is destroying the planet! Okay maybe have got a bit carried away with this metaphor!

    1. Ahh no that’s actually an interesting way to think about it. That could be perhaps how the commenter is viewing things.

  13. Oh man, I’m surprised you replied.

    Sometimes dissenting emails / comments can be good to get people to look at things from another perspective… but it seems like all the emailer wanted to do was be preachy and not much else. Reminded me instantly of my cousin who went on to become a priest.

    Life is short, and until very recently, it was also cheap. We are in a privileged position, no doubt… and gratitude needs to be paid to our ancestors who were mercilessly and relentlessly culled by war, disease and hard labour for getting us all to this privileged position. But I’ve never known Dave or anyone else in the FI community to not acknowledge that and express their gratitude in their message. To sacrifice your own life for someone else’s version of a life worth living seems like something better suited to an automaton than a person.

    To each their own, and to anyone else who judges or devalues someone because it doesn’t align with their own beliefs or values, I say: “Have a nice life” before quietly moving on.

    I never really spent any time with my Dad growing up, as he dedicated his life to his job. Now he’s too old and feeble to work… his kids and grandkids still call him and spend time with him, though his former employer never does. I doubt they even remember him, much less give a shit about all the hours of unpaid overtime he gave them and quality family time he sacrificed for them.

    FI has allowed me to partially retire and spend less time serving an insatiable employer and more time volunteering at my kids’ school, attend their sporting events and music performances, and taking them places on weekends to inspire them and teach them about the world around them. Stuff my Dad never did with me because of his unrelenting (and ultimately misplaced) dedication to the almighty rat race.

    Life is about choices. Choose wisely, emailer.

    1. Haha yeah I thought I’d give it a shot, did seem different from a troller.

      Well said Chris. I think a fundamental part of even beginning down the FI road is to realise, believe, and be grateful, that you already have it so good that there must be plenty of surplus to do something useful with.

      Appreciate you sharing your personal experiences here too and what you’re choosing to do differently – beautiful.

  14. Being able to reach a level of independence and self-reliance, as far as is practical (as ultimately we are social beings) is imho a good thing. However, each to their own and on reflection it is not clear that the emailer understands that, instead being focused perhaps on projecting what they think people should do – essentially live to their standards.

    1. That was my interpretation too Sean, hardly an imaginative way for someone to view things.

      Self reliance is also a thing to point out. A lot of my writing is written from that angle, so hopefully that’s the flavour that comes across.

      1. Yeah, the “why can’t someone do something about how useless I am!?” message needs to be kicked to the curb, permanently. Unfortunately, it’s the philosophy soooooo many people live their lives by, and one the mainstream media is ever eager to perpetuate. I always love it when Dave shines a light on how ludicrous this thinking is.

  15. Interesting take on life work your self to death in honour of the ancestors! I had the same type of argument put to me by an employer when working as a union organiser, he told me I was amoral asking for a improvement in the redundancy package I could never work out how anyone could come to that view, never heard that from anyone else in twenty years.

  16. Your Emailer appears to have found your website, that’s interesting in itself. I assume maybe looking and searching for something better in ones life, another way perhaps. Once the person/emailer looked around your site and read a few blogs and got the FIRE vibe, I can only assume the emailer must have thought, it all sounds to hard and seems to have unfortunately lacked the confidence in oneself to take on the challenge to succeed at the FIRE journey. Many people face a fear of if they are good enough and if they could achieve great things in life. Most unfortunately seem to settle for the path of least resistance. Yes it is hard to achieve FIRE, but its possible and many have proven it can be done. It is very hard to create wealth, no one said it would be easy. One needs to become the new person it takes to achieve such a goal, ie: gather and retain the knowledge from books and websites like yours, develop skill, disciplines, dedicated time and enormous effort to be able to reach the FIRE goal. It is this great country that allows this freedom to choose and i think we are all grateful of the ones before us that may have had to fight to give us this freedom, they did that so we could take it with open arms.

    1. The one and only MND!

      I’m not even sure if he read any of the site to be honest. But you’re right – it is easier to throw stones or tear others down rather than try to understand what they’re doing and why.

      And yes, we’re very lucky 🙏

  17. I agree with everything you said, Dave. From what your e mailer said, what I take most issue with is, “Essentially, it has all fallen in your lap.” I’ve had that said to me, after I retired 6 years ago and live comfortably doing what I want to do, even if it’s not what I “should” be doing. Financial Independence doesn’t just “fall in your lap”; it’s a result of hard work, almost always. I’m glad I don’t have to constantly work 55 hour weeks any more. I’m sure you didn’t have all those dollars appear in your bank by sitting around twiddling your thumbs.

    1. Cheers Paul 🙂

      Yeah I chose to ignore that part of it even though it’s also nonsense as you say. I’ve read that in so many places: accomplished person in health/finance/career has friends say “oh you’re so lucky” 😅 Like what… where were you for those early morning workouts… or those overtime shifts… or insert example here.

      1. 3 years ago I was forced into semi-retirement at 43 due to an awful back injury, the 6 months I spent recovering (and living off my investments) gave me a good idea of what it’s like to be fully retired and I found it wasn’t for me in all honestly, (admittedly there wasn’t a lot to do as we were locked down at the time here in Melbourne of course!)

        Since graduating university I have worked over 20 years in a profession that I’ve always wanted to work in since I was a kid and I am very fortunate to be one of those rare and few people I know that actually really enjoys their occupation.

        That said, due to my injury, I am now limited to working half days, the rest of the day that I have to myself I spend resting and recovering, or in nature, either walking, cycling, exercising, or giving back to my local community through volunteering, in some ways the injury has been a blessing in disguise because I’ve always known since I graduated that in order to make ends meet, I never needed to work those 8 hours a day to begin with, I just felt compelled to work 8 hours, because, well, everyone else does, and you are supposedly being lazy if you don’t.

        I grew up in a financially poor household and have always believed in living simply, and not wasting money to buy needless stuff, to impress people that don’t even care, I also think less consumption is better for our planet and the future of humanity as a whole, because through rampant consumerism humans are stuffing up the planet enough as it is, so the more financially independent people there are on this earth, not buying stuff that contributes to the planet’s demise, the better I recon.

        Is FIRE immoral? Absolutely not, I’d argue on the contrary, it’s a good thing for people, communities, and for the planet.

        1. Sounds like you’ve really made the most of an unfortunate situation and have a nice life balance. Appreciate you sharing it, cheers!

  18. Thanks for your Article Dave.

    While somewhat misguided the emailer brings up something interesting. If we take your personal contributions post retirement out of the equation and consider a hypothetical person that just works and saves enough to retire early and then makes no further contribution to society – would that be moral?

    Considering the advantages we enjoy perhaps we should do something more. Certainly most people who reach FIRE do seem to give more but should we feel an obligation to?

    1. Good question Aj.

      Should we feel obligated to? Perhaps a little bit, but not overly so. At that point the person would be a self funded human being. Granted they may (or may not, depending on the situation) be receiving the benefits of society such as free healthcare, family tax benefits, etc. So I guess it depends how much they feel they contributed to society before leaving work.

      Should people who retire earlier than retirement age feel this obligation? Why/why not? And where’s the cutoff… 55? 50? Should traditional age retirees now feel obligated to contribute more now that they get 20+ years of retirement in many cases vs the 0-5 years they used to get, based on life expectancy? After all they’re now taking more from the system relative to those before them.

      Regardless, I think everyone will feel differently about it. And overwhelmingly most people who are FI at a young enough age where they are still energetic and vibrant enough to do other things will absolutely do it. And they’ll do it simply because that’ll be the most satisfying option for their own lives in most cases. Nobody really wants to sit around for extended periods not being useful, so I’m very optimistic that this community will not ‘waste’ their freedom and good position.

      What do you think?

  19. Wow. This dude just clearly thinks the only type of meaningful life is one that is economically productive to fill the tax coffers of whatever government happens to be in power at that time — while also completely disregarding the fact that AI will probably take the majority of those jobs in the coming years, and that our capitalist economic structures will crumble unless we have the community based supports that the neoliberal hierarchy have gutted in the last 40 years.
    Someone is in for a rude shock, and it’s sure AF not the FI community!

  20. Mate, you have more patience than me . Your reply was considered and well thought out…and made sense, at least to people like me. I am retired but not and FI so to speak. I mean I I I I did the40year thing, enjoyed every minute of it and was able to give my family a great life and my kids a great education. But that was not the driving force , I simply loved getting up every day to go to work with wonderful people. The bonus was that I achieved FI but much later in life,but that was more by default then anything else. So at 73, a happy camper, my journey was just different to the FI journey you talk about and I admire. But it is probably not for every one and is in its self another good thing about this wonderful country…we have the choice and the option to do what we want without hurting our fellow Aussies. The job, an FI practitioner moves away from is one invariably filled by someone else. Another opportunity created… win/win. The thing that strikes me about your emailer is that he and you have failed to recognise the real good that FI people do. They invest in big public companies. Those companies pay taxes, employ people, generally contribute in a very tangible way to society, to Australia and or world wide competitiveness. We certainly punch way above our weight on a global basis. Your followers are doing great good by organising their lives too invest in some of the worlds’ best companies. That is their real contribution. Those companies could not do that without those investments. Keep on keeping on bro! Your on a winner.

    1. Haha, thank you Bob!

      Fantastic to hear mate. And well said, the freedom to choose our own path is the best part and what makes life worth living. If we’re all supposed to do some pre-determined thing then that’s a pretty sad existence right?

      Thanks for your contribution and support.

  21. Good article, and I like that you are willing to consider the viewpoints of others. To me it comes down to something very simple. You were able to achieve financial independence largely because of your decision to CONSUME LESS. This is a very important point (which you cover in your response). If the issue is morality, then the right thing for EVERY one of us to do (whether we are following FIRE or not) is to reduce our consumption and consequently reduce our environmental footprint.

    Your other points are also very valid – you now have the ability to pursue causes which are important to you, be that helping with turtles, or sharing your knowledge, or giving your time to any other activity you care about. For parents, this freedom would allow them to spend more time with their young children, helping them develop and grow. For others, it may be the ability to help family or neighbours more than if they were working full time.

  22. I believe that there probably are only a small percentage of occupations that are truly beneficial to society. Doctors, nurses, police, fire-fighters, charity workers etc. The others working to increase the profits of a business or to use the earth’s limited resources maybe not.
    Thanks for another great thought provoking article.

    1. Thanks for reading Paul. I guess it depends how we define ‘beneficial’.

      But it’s true – most of the work we do nowadays isn’t really necessary. It’s just something we’ve built an economy around, which is kind of weird when you think about it.

  23. Hi Dave,

    The Emailer seems either to be someone who is envious of something that he/she cannot achieve or that they’re speaking from a conservative/religious perspective.

    I think we hear this sort of talks very much from the extreme right of politics.

    To people who thinks that achieving FI and working less or not at all means other parts of society are supporting/subsidising us, I’ll like to put this question to them.

    We’re living in an age where automation and artificial intelligence are advancing rapidly. We’ll reach a point where machines can build machines and we might already be there in several areas.

    Under this scenario why is there still a need to constantly strive for full employment hours for everyone? Who benefits from this? Seems like the rich and powerful is driving this agenda so that the masses can continue to be slave to the system. Why can’t more people have more leisure? After all isn’t everyone striving to live a happier, more fulfilling life? As they say, approximately 80% of people works in jobs that they do not enjoy because of the financial burden they carry from the poor decisions they made. How can that be deemed ennobled like the Emailer seems to suggest?

    1. It’s a very interesting discussion mate, bringing up AI. It brings up the topic of creating meaning in our lives.

      If robots can do damn near everything (maybe possible in the future), then how will we fill our time? Will we just create new jobs like we have in the past, doing things we can’t even comprehend right now? Quite possible. Or do we look for ways to find meaning without jobs? I find that less likely. Too mind-bending of a concept for the average person to accept I think.

      Dunno… it’s going to be a fascinating 10-20 years 🙂

  24. Hmmm two thoughts on this:
    Most people who aren’t planning to FIRE aren’t making a conscious decision to keep working for the good of the country…they feel they have no choice or don’t want to give up rampant consumption ( enough said about morality of that!)
    And many people who have free time and could start giving back don’t….. this includes many unemployed, pensioners etc who are actually relying on taxpayer $ to survive.
    So people who retire early and often do contribute in other ways are not the problem, don’t claim moral superiority when that’s not why you keep working and then when you have the chance give nothing back..expecting others to pick up the load.
    People who are givers give throughout their life in whatever capacity they can and has little to do with whether you’re in paid work or not.

  25. Hi Dave,

    I really appreciate your thoughtful response and the way you’ve laid out your perspective.

    Contemplating the morality of the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) concept has concerned me at times. It’s intriguing to consider how deeply ingrained the notion of work as the central narrative of our lives is, something that’s essentially imprinted in us from childhood. Think about it—adults often ask kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and as we become adults, the question just shifts tense to “What do you do?”

    It’s almost as if the system, whether intentionally designed or emergent, excels at ensnaring the majority of individuals during their productive years—be it in the pursuit of survival, status, or, in this case, even a sense of mortality.

    Embracing early retirement goes against several grains of our societal conditioning and challenges fundamental aspects of human nature:

    It goes against the idea that work is paramount.
    It advocates for consuming less than what one can afford.
    It entails self-direction rather than being dictated by market trends or external influences.
    It rejects the pursuit of status symbols like lavish houses, fast cars, and extravagant experiences.

    When faced with motivations I don’t immediately comprehend, I often ask myself, “Who stands to gain?” FIRE, by its very essence, poses a potential threat to the established system. Yet, our capitalist framework doesn’t seem to be overly concerned. Unlike similar movements like China’s “lying flat” movement were suppressed due to their potential impact, our authorities seem less concerned. They appear to anticipate that our growing dissatisfaction will eventually propel us to take action.

    This is why I find individuals like yourself who continue to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle to be incredibly valuable as ongoing sources of inspiration.

  26. Dave – as always, interesting thoughts and discussion.

    Two suggestions / requests for future posts:

    1. You state – “On the tax/benefits thing… I think we need to consider it holistically across the course of our lives. … So I do think that the most likely outcome is that the majority of us are still a net positive for the tax base overall.” It would be interesting to see quantitatively under what conditions this statement is true. Obviously, it will depend on several assumptions, but there are models for many of these issues (e.g. healthcare over lifetime, life expectancy, etc.). Not that this is the end-all answer, as you state contributions to society are not fully captured in financial terms. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to know.

    2. FI and its relationship / dependency on global competition, say China. How does FI adjust, if at all, in the face of China’s work ethic, which may threaten the stability and affordability of the Australian economic system.

    3. (A third one, if you are looking for challenge) What is the impact of AI on FI – both how do we take advantage AI; and how does AI challenge the FI lifestyle?

    1. In my entire life, I’ll probably pay enough tax to put a few air conditioners in school classrooms and pave one square metre of a highway. It’s a depressing thought when life is broken down like that, and I don’t know why anyone would think this was a valuable exercise to do it. I shudder to think how meaningless my existence will be to this planet 6 weeks after I’m dead, let alone while I’m still alive.

      1. He could be trying to figure out whether we’re giving or taking from society from a tax lens. But I would say that as this community skews towards solid earners and long term investors who will amass quite a bit of wealth over their lives, we’re overwhelmingly a net payer into the tax system. After all there are millions of people out there who are receiving more than they pay (unemployed, family tax benefits, pensions, disability, etc).

        Now there’s nothing wrong with any of these situations (these people aren’t less valuable, the payments are valid for many reasons), but if we’re looking at who pays vs who receives, I’d say we’re on the payer side of that ledger most of the time.

    2. Thanks Joe. All of those are damn near unanswerable questions, so I’ll leave that to people smarter than I 🙂

  27. This made me think of this poem and the question it asks at the end -http://www.phys.unm.edu/~tw/fas/yits/archive/oliver_thesummerday.html

    I retired early(ish) at the end of 2020, then in 2022 I went back to part-time work as a teacher as the school I worked at was desperate for casual relief teachers. Now, 18 months later, I’ve decided to pull the pin again. The teacher shortage isn’t going to end any time soon and I feel that I’ve done my bit to support the school so far in its hour of need. I’ve used to money I’ve earned to help my adult children and to pay for my upcoming 5 week trip to the Uk (I leave in 4 days!!!) so I haven’t frittered it mindlessly away.

    But I’m turning 60 next week. I want my wild and precious life to now be spent doing things that I want to do – not being shut in a classroom telling kids where to stick their apostrophes. I think I’ve earned that right.

  28. Thank you Dave for the koan “Are we human beings or human doings ?”

    And thank you Frogdancer Jones for your poet tree (link) that helped me find Seamus Heaney‘s song
    “And that moment when the bird sings very close
    To the music of what happens”

  29. Sadly, I think this is a pretty common reaction among the general population. I recently told a close relative that I plan to retire at 55, 3.5 years away. I was gobsmacked by his reaction – ‘What?! You still have at least a good 15 years to contribute to society!’ Imagine if I’d been younger & plan to retire at 30! I can contribute to society without working a full time job but it’s pointless to try arguing with someone who is close minded about it.

    1. Haha wow. It’s quite strange that contribution can seemingly only take one form. As if our normal jobs are such a great contribution. It’s almost like we’re overestimating our own importance in society and the world at large 😉

      You’re right though, these people often see things only from one specific angle. Their own internal rulebook of the way society functions and their role in it (important or not) is what gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

      1. This brings me back to my last job! I was paid well and I tried very hard to make everything more efficient. I can probably output 3 times as much if the system let me but I’m constantly stopped by the system administer by administrators who called themselves managers!

        How can sticking to unrealised full potential work for as long as you can just to milk the system be deemed as contributing to society? I believe I can achieve much more without the often unnecessary constraints placed by a bureaucratic organisation.

  30. A comment on two elements that pop out in this post and subsequent conversation – society and tax:

    I get the impression that when people talk about contributing to society, they actually mean contributing to an economic system. After all, the majority spend most of their lives working for a private corporation, participating in an economic system with little time devoted to family or community. That’s not society in my mind. Or do they mean working for the State? So is the State our society? The State certainly manages the economics of a country via taxes and employs members of society to carry out its services.

    So what do people mean by society? Isn’t it each and every one of us? Family, community, a collection of individuals of varying scales. Don’t we all make up society just by being ourselves, and our unique contributions, whatever they may be? And who gets to decide or judge which contribution is superior or inferior to another? Who decided economic contribution has more value than, say, time or attention or care, or creation?

    As for tax, people like your emailer like to claim FIers pay less tax than they receive in benefits and privileges, but I think they must only be talking about income tax. Any one who uses dollars pays tax one way or another. Others have mentioned how investing our after-tax dollars in businesses leads to those businesses paying corporate tax, plus any tax we pay on dividends, capital gains, etc.

    What about all the other stealth taxes that are impossible to avoid? Every dollar that changes hands is taxed. Whenever we spend, save or invest dollars we are contributing to the tax base and the economic system. Even those who live off benefits have to spend it somewhere back in the taxed economic system. How much of petrol is tax? and alcohol? Car registration is a tax that goes towards our road system, so we are not getting that for “free” (not to mention speeding tickets, etc). GST? What about when we pay for parking? to visit national parks? or house rates? licences to work? and then there’s inflation itself, which is yet another form of stealth tax. That’s just off the top of my head, and I’m sure there are many more.

    Always enjoy reading your posts, and have benefited enormously from the information you have shared. Thank you, Dave.

  31. Thanks for sharing this article and the comment section has been even more interesting! I must say I was intrigued by my own response to the issue.

    I’m a medical doctor and there would be plenty of my colleagues who, if they wanted to, could pursue FIRE (and reach it easier than the average person I would think). How would that impact on society if a significant proportion of highly trained specialists decide to cut back their working lives because of FIRE? Same for outwardly other “serving” professions – nurses, teachers, policemen.

    The other thing that I wanted to say was that the tone of the article and commenters in general is one of an echo chamber. I’m surprised by how defensive your tone is and to me it seems like it’s hit a sore spot. That’s always worth examining.

    1. Appreciate the comment Nancy.

      There wasn’t really much to defend against as there wasn’t any ideas posed… simply an overall critique it seems. I thought I at least considered the issue rather than making assumptions as the emailer did? But maybe you don’t agree, that’s alright.

      It’s true, if in some magical world a large percentage of people managed to become FI, it would lead to less people in important jobs, or less hours worked overall. But that conversation is already part of a fantasy land that is wildly unlikely to ever occur, for many reasons, most of them related to our human nature rather than finances. I may flesh this out in a future article since it is worth discussing, even if it is not very practical and largely a daydreaming exercise rather than a realistic concern.

      The other thing worth noting is the level of crime and disease would be lower in such a world, given the abundance of finances, lower stress, and time available for healthy living. Teaching also doesn’t have to be done by actual teachers in all cases, but a collective group of individuals among the community, plus online education on any topic is now freely available.

  32. Thanks Dave for the interesting post. I have personally been on the Journey for some time now and am about to hit my Fire number. I started with Rental Properties and then moved into ETFs as my Asset class. I have 3 rental properties and I just let them do there thing. This sort of hate or feedback you mention is just part of the journey. However the hate you get being a landlord and choosing this asset class is just out of control. I don’t brag about it, rarely mention it and honesty the ETFs have done better. My houses were purchased between 2009 and 2013 which was a very different time. Most people hating are not interested in the real facts and I cop. e.g You are stealing from hard working people by negative gearing (Houses are positively geared), You are causing homeless by having these houses (The homes have had around 98% occupancy during my ownership and I have not tried to keep vacant). You are charging rents that can’t low income people cant afford (Home are all larger places with 4 bedrooms and yards, which are not the same as community housing) . It just goes on and on. I would love you to be be controversial and your give feedback on landlord bashing. If you need help with the arguments just spend 2 minutes on Reddit.

    1. Wow, those conversations are more extreme than I imagined. I don’t really have any interest in a pushback article to that, as I think most sensible people realise there’s more to the story, especially in this community. Not sure about Reddit tho as I don’t spend any time on there, but if the broader collective opinion becomes one that is clearly nonsense then I would probably write about it.

      So much hatred for capitalism these days. It seems we want all the best parts of it without any side effects or downside.

  33. Dave, my only gripe with fire is folks expecting to be able to fall back on the pension post 67(or at least working it into their calculations). Dropping out of the rat race early and putting your feet up is cool but having the expectation to fall back on the tax payer in later years less so.

    1. Yeah I do think there is a fair question to be had there about how ethical that is. And it depends on how much one is relying on it. But then on the other hand, there’s a large percentage of the population who spends most of their money throughout their life because they know they’ll get the pension later on. If the pension didn’t exist, people would be forced to wise up a bit. But human nature being what it is, most will simply rely on whatever is in place and go with the most appealing path.

  34. Loved this line: One way to improve a country is to have its citizens wake up from this ridiculous zombie slumber, get them empowered and believing in a better future.

    On another note, this blog would have made such a contribution to so many people. It was the catalyst for me to get over the analysis paralysis and create my financial future, but whos to say it hasn’t helped someone else to be FI and then use their time to volunteer or start some small business that helps thousands of people. Couldn’t it then be said that you are the guru or catalyst that has enabled all that positive change in the world?

    1. Cheers Brenda! I’m with you on that one – it’s really unknowable what kind of impact FI blogs have had over the last ten years… almost all of it would be highly positive.

  35. I have mixed feelings about this topic. On one hand, I’m very drawn to the idea of achieving FIRE, which promises personal freedom. However, I often find myself grappling with the ethical responsibility I have towards society. While charitable work is one way to give back, it’s crucial to consider the broader impact of early retirement on society as a whole. For instance, envision a world where exceptional individuals like LeBron James chose to retire early after achieving financial freedom; it would deprive us of their greatness. Similarly, if doctors opted for early retirement, we’d lack the specialized expertise they provide. Striking a balance between personal aspirations and societal contributions is a complex challenge.

    1. You’re right it would deprive us of a LeBron’s insane talents. But who’s to say what else he might use that time for? And shouldn’t he be allowed to do whatever he wants, rather than be a slave to his skills for the entertainment or ‘benefit’ of others. Maybe he could impact society in a more powerful way than he can through basketball? As far as I know, before Kobe tragically died he had written books, done speaking, and started sports academies for young athletes in his short few years of retirement.

      I get what you’re saying, but there’s a hidden form of slavery in this type of thinking which directly takes away from freedom, which I am absolutely not a fan of. You’re talking big picture broad scale of course, which is where it gets into the weeds because FI simply would never happen on a broad scale, like perfect health. But if doctors retired early and the world became starved of their skills I would bet a bunch of them would come out of retirement to help out just for the fulfilment from helping others in a time of need rather than a love of the occupation. So I think all these things are not either/or, they’d fluctuate and react to each other as the times/circumstances changed.

      1. Great response Dave. Appreciate the considered reply. I guess what is influencing my thinking at the moment is that I am sitting in hospital watching these amazing hospital staff do amazing things and I am questioning my contributions to society!

  36. But Dave, you do pay tax!
    Any purchase you make with a GST.
    Any business you support, may pay company tax on profits (ok, some manage to avoid)
    Any business you support pays their workers, who pay tax.
    And govt employees pay tax (from your tax). And on it goes…
    The economy, and tax, is circular.

    1. There you go 🙂
      It’s easy to just focus on income tax and forget all the other ways money and taxes are circulating through the economy, whether one is working or not.
      Thanks for the reminder!

  37. I think he’s just angry because he’s guilty of pissing all his money up the wall on frivolous shit, like most sheep.
    We can blame advertising and peer pressure, so not all their fault …

  38. I think there is a misinformed idea about the notion of retirement as the absence of work and therefore embracing an absence of work is perceived as lazy. in Christian theology work is actually part of Eden. The curse of work follows after choosing to ignore God’s word. So we’re made to work. I’ve stopped using the word retirement and am now using Financially independent. I’m currently still in a vocational job but one day this will stop. When I then step into FI I will continue to work and enjoy it. Precisely the nature of the work is yet to be realised. Taking responsibility for your life is a great message that Fi advocates. Keep it up Dave. I had to laugh when I read of your Scottish roots. I’m a canny Scot too:)

    1. I think you’re definitely right about that. The idea of proper freedom is so foreign we aren’t quite sure what to make of it, so fall back on assumptions. Hopefully we can redefine what FI and retirement mean as the community continues to grow, with Scots leading the way 😂

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