The 4 Flavors of Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE)

We all know what traditional retirement is and how it works.  Basically, we go to college, get a 4-year degree then work for the next 30, 40 or even 50 years until we reach “retirement age” where we can stop working… or at least we hope.

Back in the day this worked out just fine… after all, companies took care of their employees in the form of a pension and Social Security covered a lot more than groceries (slight exaggeration).

Today, who thinks about preparing for retirement when in their 20's or 30's … and for some, their 40's?  Retirement.  It just sounds far away and something we can concentrate on tomorrow.  Today, the dog needs to go to the vet, the kids have a project due and work has an unrealistic list of deadlines to deal with.

Then, one day, we wake up and wonder where did all the time go?  How is retirement only a few years away?

In 1992, Vicki Robin published, what I would consider, the first Financial Independence, Retire Early, FIRE, book, entitled, Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence.  It was a whole new way of thinking about retirement.

In today's world, we are living longer, pensions are few and far in between and social security isn't what it used to be.  We need to learn to fund our own retirement… but where to start?  Vicki saw this as an opportunity and so the FIRE movement began into what it is today.

Since then, the movement has exploded into all kinds of amazing blogs, podcasts and vlogs, regaling rags to riches stories and financial conquests.  A community started to form, supporting each other in the various ways to build passive income.

Today we have all kinds of financial conferences that cover all kinds of FIRE niches so we (the FIRE brothers and sisters) in the FIRE movement can finally meet face to face long time virtual friends.

In reading and researching the evolution of the FIRE movement …  I discovered something I didn't expect…  FIRE comes in different flavors.  I am not talking about the niches (single moms, GenX, GenY, Late Starters, etc…) but the ways in which FIRE is achieved.

Of course, thinking back on it… it totally makes sense.  I mean, after all, there are literally hundreds of ways to create passive income streams… we really only need to pick 3-5 to make financial independence a reality in our lives…  Simple math shows thousands of combinations that can fit our lifestyle.  So why not have flavors of FIRE to do the same?

OK, enough with the drum role chit-chat…  Here are the 4 flavors of FIRE…  which one are you?  🙂

Barista FIRE

These accomplished FIRE folks have retired before 60 but with a part-time job to cover benefits like healthcare (which continues to be the one sore spot for many).  Though I don't have evidence, I suspect it got its name from FIRE folks working at Starbucks.  Starbucks provides healthcare to part-time as well as full time employees.  As a matter of fact they look to customize their benefits to fit your lifestyle.  Pretty slick idea.


“Fat” people are those needing more than $40,000/year to achive early retirement.  Needing more than $40,000/annually means they would need more than $1,000,000 in investments.  How much more depends on the individual.  Nothing wrong with wanting to live large…  you know and prepare!  My hat is off to you!


“Lean” people are those whose lifestyle can be covered with $40,000 or less per year to achieve early retirement.  Of course if they need $40,000 or less then they would need $1,000,000 or less in investments.

Remember, the rule of thumb is, for every $250,000 in investments can generate $1,000 per month, based on the 4% rule.

Coast FIRE

“Coast” people are those that have a comfortable withdrawal rate at age 65 (based on expected returns).  To me this sounds like the most vanilla of the four.  I suspect these are the folks who love their jobs and would continue to do it even if they didn't get paid.  I completely get it…  and love that there are people out there who are fortunate enough to have such a job.

There you have it… the four flavors of FIRE.  How many could you name?  Which one are you?

I can already tell you, I am a Barista FIRE person…  Not just for the health benefits but because I have been working since I was 15, I can't imagine not working anymore.  Even with this blog and my rental properties, I would still find a part-time gig just to be social and get out of the house.  🙂

So keep those emails coming…  I love hearing from you.  As a matter of fact, moving forward I am going to start sharing some of these emails (for those that are ok with it).

Until next week, stay the course and keep on hustling…  its not about the goal but this fabulous journey we are all on.