FIRE (Financially Independent, Retired Early)https://www.outsideonline.com/culture/
Embrace Your Inner Dirtbag
Personal-finance guru Mr. Money Mustache breaks down how Outside readers can stop wasting hard-earned cash on expensive gear and trips and start putting it toward real freedom: the financial kind
It was 2011, and Pete Adeney was fed up. Not with his own life in Longmont, Colorado—that was going great. The former software engineer had retired six years before at the tender age of 30, thanks to the savings he’d accrued through the extremely frugal lifestyle he and his wife at the time had adhered to, as well as some smart investing. No, Adeney was frustrated by the conversations he kept having with friends and acquaintances who would say they wanted to leave the grind, too, but felt perpetually cash-strapped despite making decent salaries. As he tells it, “These comments were generally made over expensive pints of microbrew at a restaurant, or on Facebook between announcements regarding the purchase of brand-new dealer-financed Subarus, snowboarding trips, and road-biking equipment.”
So Adeney started a blog. Adopting the alias Mr. Money Mustache, he began dishing advice about how to live in a nontraditional, low-cost way to achieve what he calls “a frugal yet Badass life of leisure.” Over the next decade, the blog would be read by millions of people worldwide, and Adeney would become a leading voice in a movement referred to as FIRE—financial independence, retire early—which was then gaining traction among millennials in particular, who were learning these personal-finance tactics primarily through online resources.
Key to the FIRE approach is slashing expenses in order to generate savings that can then be invested, with the ultimate goal of retiring from full-time salaried work by your thirties or forties. But that mentality can often run counter to the expensive gear purchases and epic trips that seem core to the outdoor lifestyle. In an email interview, Adeney, now 46, shared his thoughts on how Outside readers can make better financial decisions and achieve the long-term freedom we all really want.
Outside: It seems that a lot of us outdoorsy types are bad with money. Why do you think that is?
Adeney: It’s not just outdoorsy types, really, it’s almost everyone in our rich but spendy country.
I think it boils down to a few behaviors that are innate to us as a species—social and status cues, herd mentality, and some of our irrational decision-making tendencies, known as cognitive biases. When you start with these natural weaknesses, and then nurture them with lots of persuasive marketing, you end up with people who buy just a bit more than they can afford, year after year. We end up spending most of our lives in debt while considering it normal, which is pretty much the definition of being bad with money.
A quick example: About 85 percent of cars in the U.S. are bought with some form of financing. Cars depreciate, so the last thing you should ever do is spend all your money on one, let alone go even further and spend more than all your money. We do it because we see other people doing it—that’s the herd mentality at work.
Then we’re programmed with all sorts of excuses as to why we should do this: “I need an SUV to carry my two tiny children safely,” “I’m an outdoorsperson, so I need high ground clearance and four-wheel drive.” These justifications, which are actually pretty feeble from an engineering standpoint, are fed into our brains from that big marketing program.
We pay lots of money for little conveniences and luxuries, which may be a fine strategy for a multimillionaire. But if you have any other possible use for money, you should give it another thought.