I’ve seen a few articles like this one that are pushing FIRE and retiring early as an aspirational lifestyle for the current millennial generation to pursue. It got me wondering why this generation might be more attracted to and more able achieve super early retirement than others.
First off I should add that for every article pushing FIRE to younger people there are probably 10 saying how millennials are not saving enough and will be working until they are 75. So it isn’t cut and dried.
So despite that what advantages do twenty somethings have in today’s workforce?
Firstly the days of everyone working in one job and retiring at 65 with a clock are long gone. People entering the workforce today are more than likely going to work for multiple companies in multiple positions. So based on that why wouldn’t they chase the jobs that will maximize money and flexibility?
Secondly very few jobs offer pensions any more, plus the fact that if you work for many companies chances are you wouldn’t be vested anyway. So in that case there is much more incentive to start saving on their own early. On top of that there are plenty of stories of Social Security going bankrupt long before they retire.
Another factor is the prevalence of the gig economy and access to tools and system to make entrepreneurship or running your own business easier than ever before. If you have a good idea it’s relatively straightforward to sell your service or business on the internet. If you are creative there are places like Etsy, Kickstarter and Redbubble each which will allow you to showcase your product. These all provide great routes to push for early retirement.
Finally I think this is the first full generation where dual career for those in partnerships is considered the norm. If you have two incomes coming in (or one income and one starting a business) then you can accelerate your savings. Live off one income and save the other – immediate 50% savings rate.
I think millennials are a lot more attracted to a non traditional lifestyle than generations before; they marry and have kids later (if at all) and I think that FIRE is the ultimate non traditional lifestyle. I joke that it’s also a hipster lifestyle but what is the stereotype of hipster but people who follow their dreams to do what they want?
The flexibility of a non traditional workforce could well define the social dynamics of the next decade. Companies that adapt to this will do well (flexible work hours, parental and maternity facilities, educational and developmental leave and a dynamic corporate structure). Those that hold to the more traditional paradigm may struggle to recruit the best talent out of universities.