Why “financial independence” motivates me more than “retirement”

When I think about retirement, it’s not the idea of leaving my job that appeals to me. It’s the idea of having financial independence. I’m fortunate. I love my job. It motivates, inspires, and challenges me.

So instead of focusing on “retirement,” I focus on being able to weather ups and downs, to help family members, and to take time off if I need to. Seeing the economic consequences of the pandemic has driven home the need for this security even more.

I’m not alone. Many investors are more inspired by “financial independence” than “retirement.” That’s one reason the FIRE movement—Financial Independence Retire Early—has grown from a niche investing approach to become more mainstream. FIRE helps investors set goals that are more inspiring than retirement. And for many FIRE followers, achieving those goals doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the workforce forever. Instead, it’s about having enough invested to gain flexibility and freedom.

As an investment strategy analyst, I’ve studied different investment approaches and drivers. FIRE may not be for everyone, especially the idea of retiring early. But many of the FIRE investing strategies are similar to those recommended by Vanguard. Here are 3 key lessons I’ve embraced from both Vanguard and FIRE investors.

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