Optimizing for joy

Who coined the time period FI/RE (financially-independent, retired early)?


It’s at all times enjoyable to unearth some esoteric piece of private finance historical past. I do know there are only some nerds on the market who care (whats up, Grant Sabatier!), however these of us who care actually care.

Two years in the past, I printed an article exploring the historical past of monetary independence wherein I famous that the earliest reference I can discover to the notion of monetary independence comes from an 1872 e-book referred to as Cash and Make It by H. L. Reade. And it wasn’t till the Nineteen Fifties that the idea of early retirement (a minimum of within the sense we imply it right this moment) gained traction. However regardless of my analysis, I nonetheless have questions, similar to: What’s the supply of the trendy FIRE motion?

Who Coined the Time period FIRE?

Lately at The Retire Early Dwelling Web page — a web site so outdated that it existed (and nonetheless exists) on the daybreak of the net — John P. Greaney answered the query: Who coined the time period FIRE?

For those who’ve by no means visited The Retire Early Dwelling Web page, you must. I’m sure that it’s the oldest FIRE web site on the net. It’s fairly doable it’s the oldest basic private finance web site too. Greaney has been publishing quarterly updates since 01 April 1996!

Greaney gives a little bit of context and historical past, writing:

In Could 1999 the “Retire Early Dwelling Web page” dialogue board appeared on The Motley Idiot web site, and a vibrant dialog on early retirement subjects ensued. Earlier than The Motley Idiot shut the board down in Could 2022 (and transformed it to “read-only” standing) it had accrued nearly 900,000 posts. […]

One early subject of debate was the definition of “early retirement” — and the consensus was that some type of monetary independence was a prerequisite. Quitting your job with an inadequate nestegg, and risking an early return to paid employment, was extra of a “job change” than early retirement.

In response to Greaney, on 23 August 2000 a Motley Idiot discussion board member with the deal with “fzabaly” was the primary to shorten “financially-independent, retired early” to FI/RE in this board submit:

One non-monetary choice that has helped me line up FI/RE is attaining a graduate diploma (in ComputerScience) whereas working. Together with the higher pay got here a better confidence re: employment that allowed me to develop into a ‘Reasonably Aggressive Investor’ (70% stks/Mfunds) from a Conservative Investor (50% stks/Mfunds).

And, says Greaney, the primary particular person to maneuver this abbreviation from FI/RE to FIRE was a board member going by the deal with “wanderer0692”. On 19 January 2001, wanderer0692 made a terrific (and lengthy) submit entitled “Issues That Are Stronger than Loss of life and Concern”. (The submit is price studying even right this moment, 21 years later.)

“That is the essence of FI/RE,” writes wanderer0692. “Freedom from monetary need. It’s a tribute, in our case, to luck and a bull market, and to our adherence to what we check with because the six elementary ideas of FI/RE.”

These six fundamentals of FI/RE are:

  • Have a motivating objective.
  • Take a high-paying job.
  • Reside under your means.
  • Slash your taxes.
  • Follow geo-arbitrage.
  • Spend money on low-cost index funds.

The basics of the FIRE motion haven’t modified a lot since 2001, have they? These are nonetheless the fundamentals that almost all of individuals preach and observe right this moment.

“A Fireplace That Burns in Me”

Anyhow, as a type of addendum to his glorious submit, wanderer0692 makes an statement:

Has anybody else observed how “FI/RE” appears just like the phrase “fireplace”? I bear in mind attending church (an extended, very long time in the past) and, in the course of the benediction, the preacher saying, “Take our minds and suppose via them. Take our eyes and see via them. Take our hearts and set them on fireplace.” I at all times favored that flip of phrase.

I’m not a lot for faith, however I do imagine within the sanctity of the human spirit. FI/RE is a hearth that burns in me. Possibly it consumes me, however I prefer to suppose I’m that phoenix, rising from the ashes, to satisfy his particular mission of realizing his true potential.

So, any further, I’m gonna drop the slash. A “FIRE” it’s. Could or not it’s ever thus.

And so it has been ever thus.

So, there you’ve gotten it. Till someone offers proof in any other case, I’m prepared to just accept Greaney’s model of early FIRE historical past. The dude has been writing about these items on-line since 1996, in any case. He is aware of his stuff.

There’s one other fascinating perception from this FIRE origin story. Right this moment, most individuals (together with me) imagine that the FIRE acronym stands for “Monetary Independence/Retire Early”. That’s fairly rattling clumsy, and everyone knows it. In fact, the FIRE acronym initially stood for “Monetaryly Independent, Retired Early”. That makes much more sense!

That stated, I do know it’s a shedding battle to attempt to persuade those that we’re mis-labelling what FIRE stands for. Hell, I’ve spent two years making an attempt to get individuals to cease saying “financial savings price” once they imply “saving price” and I appear to have made zero measurable distinction. I suppose I’ll should resign myself to failure on this one too.

Additional Studying

Need to learn extra in regards to the historical past of private finance and monetary independence? Effectively then, you’re a nerd. That’s okay. I’m a nerd too. Listed here are a number of pages that may curiosity you, weird-o:

And please, if of another fascinating books or articles in regards to the historical past of monetary independence (and/or private finance), please let me know. I need to learn them.


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