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Shanna Due, financial planner at District Capital Management in Washington DC, says about 10% of her clients ask about the “Financial Independence, Early Retirement” or FIRE movement. Most want to retire before age 50, she says, or they want financial independence so they aren’t tied to just one career.

“They want to have the financial flexibility to follow a new path if they want to,” she said.

FIRE strategies generally require a lot of discipline and are not suitable for everyone. Fans aggressively save and live well below their means in the hopes of gaining financial flexibility and retiring years ago.

People who want to retire at age 50 may need to accumulate 75% of their current annual income for each year they expect to retire, Due explains. So, if a worker has a current income of $ 100,000 per year and is considering retirement for 35 years, he would need more than $ 2.6 million at age 50.

The only way to raise that much money is to save a lot up front. A 30-year-old with $ 50,000 in savings would likely save 50% or more of their paycheck over the next 20 years to achieve this goal.

Before embarking on an aggressive strategy like this, Due cautions its clients to carefully consider three factors.

Understand your motivations

A FIRE strategy works best when you have a clearly defined reason for wanting to retire early and achieve financial independence. It’s different for different people. For some, their goal is to travel full time, while others want to quit a job they don’t like while still maintaining their current lifestyle. Without clear direction, it can be difficult to apply the discipline necessary to aggressively save and live sparingly.

“If you go with a FIRE plan, you have to make sacrifices along the way,” explains Due. “Say you’re 25 and all your friends want to backpack summer across Europe, if you’ve already established your reasoning as to why you want to have $ 1.4 million in the bank. 40 years here, it’s easy to say ‘no’ because you have a clearly defined goal. “

Know what retirement means to you

Many people don’t have a clear idea of ​​what their retirement will look like, which can make planning difficult. “If your goal is to retire early, then what? ”Due asks. “Will you be sitting at home all day, or does that mean that instead of working in your current engineering company, you are working for Habitat for Humanity building houses? “

Thinking deeply about what you want to accomplish can help you determine how aggressively to pursue a FIRE strategy. “For example, I find most people just want financial flexibility,” Due says, allowing them to work in jobs they are more passionate about. It doesn’t necessarily require the strict savings and frugality needed to retire decades earlier. Establishing your plans can help you understand which FIRE strategies are needed. Once you identify them, you can decide if they are achievable.

Consider future life changes

When considering a long-term FIRE strategy, it’s important to take into account future events, planned and unplanned, explains Due.

An emergency fund covering a year or more of expenses can help cover catastrophic unforeseen events like illness or layoff.

But what about other life events? For example, if you have children, or want to have children in the future, will the cost of child care or college savings allow you to meet FIRE goals? Likewise, if you are considering caring for aging parents, will the cost of caring cause early retirement to be postponed?

“It’s important to remember that without proper planning, you could spend your 20s and 30s making sacrifices and not reaping the benefits. »Had said. “You need to be strong in your reasoning and make sure you understand what happiness means to you. ”