Weekend reading: Frugality out, FatFIRE in

What caught my eye this week.

Articles in the mainstream media about what only the mainstream media calls ‘the FIRE movement’ are a staple nowadays.

And some of them have been kinder – or flat-out more accurate – than others.

Lingering recollections of the worst can have you reading the first few lines of a new take on ‘Those Wacky Folk Who Don’t Want To Work For The Man Forever To Buy Stuff They Don’t Need’ through your fingers.

But by any standard, The New York Times’ latest encounter in the wild with FIRE practitioners – which we can all read for free thanks to a gift link from the ever-vital Abnormal Returns – is one of the better ones.

At least it is once you get past the headline: Your Neighbors Are Retiring in Their 30s. Why Can’t You?

Hard bargaining

This time the focus is on FatFIRE. That is, retiring early because you can retire early because you’re loaded.

Once the preserve of rock stars, footballers, bankers, and criminals who really did manage to pull off one last job, FatFIRE is now a realistic prospect for anybody who can hold down a job with one of The Magnificent Seven tech giants for a decade.

But beware!

The New York Times’ article notes that:

“…while most other FIRE communities steer toward the friendly and pragmatic, FatFIRE’s adherents tend to be jaded, brusque, laser-focused. They hunt for the ‘exit’, in the tech-world manner of speaking: a fast, lucrative way out. On the r/FatFIRE subreddit, aspirants ogle severance packages, geo-arbitrage, REIT, tax loopholes, high-risk options straddles and potential business moonshots.”

The article’s author Amy Wang does a nice job contrasting these FIRE stormtroopers with the ‘stoic ultraminimalists living off beans’ of yesteryear – and she makes me feel ancient by doing so.

Then again, it was only a few weeks ago I republished Jacob Fisker’s extreme frugality pieces on Monevator myself – almost as a hymn to that lost era.

I guess there’s something in the air.


It’s true our kind of blog has attracted a broader range of readers over the years.

With respect to Monevator this definitely includes a sizeable cohort who’d either be deemed FatFIRE or wanting to go that way.

Much more so than in the old days, I reckon. I wonder why that is?

Has modern work – even sexy make-a-packet work – become so dispiriting that even the high-fliers want to fly away?

Is it Instagram filling our heads with dreams about what, where, and who we could be doing instead?

Or is it – whisper it – the invisible hand of capitalism fingering its way into our secret plans for financial independence, to make sure that if we’re going to do it then at least we’ll buy all the mod cons first?

Perhaps everyone always had a bit of FIRE in them. A decade of these articles has simply brought it to the surface.

More darkly though, I wonder whether a few years into a cost-of-living crisis ‘living off beans’ just doesn’t seem so newsworthy anymore.

Have a great weekend. Enjoy the sun!

From Monevator

Scrimping and saving to start your snowball rolling – Monevator

From the archive-ator: Fixing your financial posture – Monevator


Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view click through to read the article. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing to sites you visit a lot.

Bank of England holds rates at 5.25% for sixth consecutive month – Sky

House prices to rise by average £61,500 over next five years – This Is Money 

Legal & General boss calls for fewer ‘unscrupulous’ BTL landlords – CityAM

Remittances to developing nations overtakes foreign direct investment – Guardian

Chinese women are teaming up with strangers to save money – BBC

Asset management industry ‘under pressure’ as costs rocket – CityAM via Yahoo

Chinese network behind one of the world’s ‘largest online scams’ – Guardian

Youngest self-made billionaire chooses London for European HQ – CityAM

One million families with two retired generations in a decade – This Is Money

UK has moved out of recession, official figures show – Guardian

Products and services

How deep are the problems at St James’s Place? [Search result]FT

First Direct lifts bank account switch bonus to £175 – Be Clever With Your Cash

Tesco is gamifying Clubcard reward points – This Is Money

Transfer your ISA to InvestEngine by 31 May and you could get up to £2,500 as a cashback bonus (T&Cs apply. Capital at risk) – InvestEngine

What’s happening with buy-to-let mortgage rates? – Which

Fraud rife on marketplaces Depop, Preloved, and Shpock – Guardian

Used car sales hit a five-year high as prices drop – This Is Money

Get £200 cashback with an Interactive Investor SIPP. New customers only. Minimum £15,000 account size. Terms apply – Interactive Investor

Vomiting frogs and other ‘dust’ vex US bitcoin ETFs [Search result]FT

The cheapest and most expensive cars to insure in 2024 – Which

Georgian homes for sale for Bridgerton fans, in pictures – Guardian

Comment and opinion

Temper FOMO and regret by owning the market – The Financial Bodyguard

Pension savers warned of new tax-free lump sum cap [Search result]FT

Long odds – Humble Dollar

The worst bond market ever marches on [US but relevant]A.W.O.C.S.

Larry Swedroe on why you shouldn’t pick stocks [Podcast]At The Money

Is the 4% rule too safe? [Note: US data]Think Advisor

The sweet spot principle – Mr Stingy

How to avoid your wealth robbing your kids of purpose [Podcast]Money Wise

Buffett minus Munger mini-special

How would Warren spend one more day with Charlie? [Video]Via X

How to find a partner like Charlie Munger – The Alchemy of Money

Lessons learned from Charlie Munger – Davis Funds

The religiosity of the Berkshire AGM – Flyover Stocks

Naughty corner: Active antics

Big tech’s big spending will crimp returns – Base Hit Investing

Is it time to look again at China? – Sherwood

Choosing the right counterparty – Capital Gains

The FTSE 100: bubble or a new bull market? – UK Dividend Stocks

American endowments’ love affair with private equity [Search result]FT

Bill Gross thinks bonds are still not yielding enough – Morningstar

Gold is overvalued – MarketWatch [Also: Research]

Kindle book bargains

How to Own the World by Andrew Craig – £0.99 on Kindle

The Great Post Office Scandal by Nick Wallis – £0.99 on Kindle

Number Go Up by Zeke Faux – £0.99 on Kindle

Chums: How a Tiny Caste of Oxford Tories Took Over the UK by Simon Kuper – £2.89 on Kindle

Global warming mini-special

World’s oceans suffer from record-breaking year of heat – BBC

Climate scientists are in despair about the future of the planet… – Guardian

…and coral scientists are gloomy after unprecedented bleaching – Guardian

The ‘world’s largest’ vacuum to suck carbon out of the air – CNN

Venezuela may be the first nation to lose all its glaciers – BBC

Robot overlord roundup

Ways to think about AGI – Benedict Evans

Environmental factors

Environment groups call for urgent action on UK sewage spills – BBC

The deep ocean photographer that captured a ‘living fossil’ – BBC

“I’m a blue whale, I’m here”Guardian

Off our beat

Plonker, prat, and numpty: study shows classic British insults dying out – ITV

How coffee became a joke – The Honest Broker

Saudi forces “told to kill” to clear land for eco-city Neom – BBC

The real science behind the billionaire pursuit of immortality – Vox

“I have no children and have started to fear for my legacy…”Guardian

Google briefly lost the Google domain after selling it for $12 – Yahoo Finance

And finally…

“Investing is a simple activity, which an entire industry strives to make complicated to justify its existence.”
– Nicolas Bérubé, From Zero to Millionaire

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The post Weekend reading: Frugality out, FatFIRE in appeared first on Monevator.

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