The Day Jordan Peterson Schooled the FIRE Community

The day Jordan Peterson schooled the early retirement community. Follow your dreams, but beware the world's advice to check out. Life isn't travel and sleeping on the beach. #FIRE #jordanpeterson #planning #changing #livingright #dreamjobMost people familiar with Jordan Peterson and his work comes from the litany of YouTube videos. From college classroom lectures to podcasts to interviews, Peterson has covered a wide variety of topics. Sometimes he is controversial in his stance, bringing him viral traffic. Most of the time his presentations are extraordinarily deep probes of the human psyche.

Whether you love or hate him, the one thing we should all agree on is that he makes us think. His latest book (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos) is must-read material. Unlike most books, this one you must own. A library copy will not be enough. You will read and re-read this material again. The message is so deep that one reading only scratches the surface. As I read Peterson’s book I could rarely finish a page without stopping to think about what I just read. Sometime I had to walk away and make sense of what I was just presented. By far, this is the slowest reading of a book for me in over a decade.

For over 730,000 words I’ve been trying to convey a message with this blog. While reading 12 Rules I discovered Peterson said more clearly what I intended in only 500 words. (Yeah, I feel exactly how you would expect.)

For home-gamers following along, we will be discussing pages 210 and 211 of the hardcover edition. Jordan Peterson put into perfect format the essence of the early retirement and financial independence movement (FIRE). In effect, he schooled all of us and if we are smart we would listen.

When I read the two pages listed I was so moved by it I had to take a walk around the block to work it off. It was 11:30 at night and here in the boondocks of Wisconsin a walk around the block is 4.85 miles. When I finished my walk I wasn’t’ done talking it trough with myself so I turned around and walked back. By the time I stopped walking around the block and around the back acres of the farm the eastern horizon was beginning to brighten.

Do You Really Want That?

The issues at hand come under Rule #8: Tell the Truth—Or at Least Don’t Lie. Of all the lessons in the book this was the hardest to internalize. I consider myself an honest person, but Peterson quickly pointed out how I might be deluding myself. Then it got personal. Peterson writes:

I have seen people define their utopia and then bend their lives into knots trying to make it reality.

The yellow highlighter came out. This was important and I knew it. Not only am I guilty of this periodically, but I see it abundantly within the FIRE community. Bloggers and readers alike build this mental idea of what life should be like. Financial independence isn’t enough. Early retirement is the only badge of respect.

Time to stop crying and complaining about all the things wrong with your life. Reach financial independence,. Live your life on your terms. #stepforward #jordanpeterson #earlyretirement #retirement #newjob #sidegig #sidehustleI’ve preached a different story from the first day of this blog. Retirement is a trap! This idea of you are a failure if you haven’t retired by age 30 is insane. Yes, Mr. Money Mustache did it. As much as it hurts to say it, he isn’t the gold standard. Early retirement isn’t for everyone! I’ve toyed with quitting for decades and every time I think of it I changed my mind. I’m doing what I want to do and gain tremendous pleasure from my work. I might change gears, but formal retirement isn’t in the cards. (Disclaimer: Mr. Money Mustache is my client.)

This whole concept of retiring as early as possible and traveling the world seems silly to me. I tend to avoid travel whenever possible. Business will get me on a plane. I’ve also been known to travel for pleasure. But in the end it feels best when I’m in familiar surroundings doing what I do best: working with clients and writing.

Here are Peterson’s words that hit me between the eyes:

An eighteen-year–old decides, arbitrarily, that she wants to retire at fifty-two. She works for three decades to make that happen, failing to notice that she made that decision when she was little more than a child. (Emphasis mine.) What did she know about her fifty-two-year-old self, when still a teenager? Even now, many years later, she has only the vaguest, low-resolution idea of her post-work Eden. She refuses to notice. What did her life mean, if that initial goal was wrong?

This encapsulates a lot of what I see in the FIRE community. People setting immutable goals at an early age and feeling disappointed when things don’t work exactly as planned. The real goal seems to be retirement. For some reason the community I firmly reside in has a central tenant of not working. But then what? If the goal is to not work, what will you fill your days with? Idle chit-chat with friends and neighbors?

Reality Check

I’ve been preaching the gospel for some time now. The goal of financial independence is something I understand. Having the financial resources to pursue the path in life that most enlightens you is a worthy goal. Travel is fine. Time off to recharge is also part of a responsible lifestyle. Peterson again:

A naively formulated goal transmutes, with time, into the sinister form of the life-lie.

And this is where I felt the stab of truth pierce deep. How often have we subverted our own desires to satisfy the demands of family or a friend? I was lucky in breaking away from the family business to follow my dream. But I didn’t avoid the entire life-lie! Sometimes I took a path in my business that went against my personal agenda. I did what I thought others wanted me to do. Every time I took such a path I was disappointed. Worse, my performance was subpar and I wasted a portion of my life, a portion I can never get back.

It would be easy to tell you how easy it was for me to follow my path. It wasn’t. I fought hard to find my true meaning in life. I experimented often. People accused me of changing my mind a lot. Well, I did! I evolved and quickly. If I examined a course and discovered it to be wanting I moved on. Even today I am still growing and evolving. What tickles my fancy as we speak might be drudgery in the future. I have the right, no, actually, the obligation to change when reason dictates. More money can’t be the driving force once a reasonable level of wealth is accumulated. Afterwards, my work better do more than add to an already bloated pile of financial largess.

Peterson continues:

One forty-something client told me his vision, formulated by his younger self: “I see myself retired, sitting on a tropical beach, drinking margaritas in the sunshine.” That’s not a plan. That’s a travel poster.

If you are honest you see this attitude writ large in the FIRE community. The desire to check out is high. The idea is to travel to exotic places while sharing on social media so anyone you have ever known is jealous able to enjoy your good fortune. It also serves to pay forward to delusion life is only an ass planted in the beach sucking down sweet drinks.

But Peterson gets more brutal:

After eight margaritas, you’re fit only to await the hangover. After three weeks of margarita-filled days, if you have any sense, you’re bored stiff and self-disgusted. In a year, or less, you’re pathetic. It’s just not a sustainable approach to later life. This kind of oversimplification and falsification is particularly typical of ideologues.

Can Peterson be more graphic? His point is clear and dead-on. The goal to checking out is not conducive to a fulfilling life. Travel is wonderful in moderate doses. Some people travel better than others. Forcing yourself to travel to satisfy a group is over the line into the realm of insanity.

Sustainable Approach to Life

Peterson’s words probably hit you as hard as they smacked me. If the general goals of the FIRE community are short-sighted, then what should we do? This is what I had to think about as I walked around the long rural block and back. Financial independence is an honorable goal and Peterson did nothing to dissuade my opinion in that matter.

You're not married to decisions you made in youth. You can change, evolve, into something better. Live the life you want, not the life others expect of you. Jordan Peterson teaches you how to live your life. #jordanpeterson #millennials #goals #financialplansI already knew there was something wrong with this early retirement idea, but didn’t know out to clearly communicate the message. Peterson put it into focus. It took hours of self-debate to reach a coherent meaning on the issue.

Checking out as soon as you can is a meaningless life. If you don’t do something productive and constructive on a regular basis you will lose meaning in your life. Human beings are social creatures. We need to interact and create. When we work, as much as some jobs are drudgery, we produce something of value. Nothing is worse than a dead-end job with days filled with meaningless activities, or worse, no activity at all.

Financial independence gives you additional options. Jumping ship the first chance you get seems foolish to this country accountant. Quitting your job should only happen after you have seriously reviewed why you want to quit. If you hate your job, you need to ask: What would make my job more nurturing? If you have valid reasons for quitting (bad boss, not the kind of work you want to do, only took the job for money), then quit. But don’t bow out. Instead, move up. Find the job that will cause you to jump out of bed each morning excited to be alive. Or, start the business you always wanted to.

Remember, your dreams are not immutable. If you don’t change, evolve, you will decay. Once upon a time I thought it a good idea to own lots of real estate. It was somebody else’s idea of what I should do. I did it for money and hated every step. You may love investment properties. Excellent! Somebody has to do it so it may as well be you. If I ever dip my toe back into investment properties it will be as a buyer only. All the management will be performed by managers.

What you thought was a good idea yesterday can change today. Changing your career path is the right thing to do when you discover you're no longer interested in your current path. #jordanpeterson #college #career #quitjobYour work should have meaning for you. Growing up on a farm I hated cleaning the barn. Pushing manure around for hours wasn’t the highlight of my life. After the family farm dissolved I moved away and started my practice. They say you can take the boy from the country, but you can’t take the country from the boy. Truer words were never spoken. Years later I bought a small farm and raised beef. Then, after a couple decades of cow punching, it was time to evolve. I miss my boys and loved the work. But it was time to move on.

I will always have the memories of each step of my evolution. Plenty of mistakes were made along the way. The mistakes taught me valuable lessons I could apply as I evolved to the next level. (Notice I didn’t say higher level. The next level isn’t always higher. Sometimes a step down is needed to grow to new heights.)

In conclusion, I strongly encourage purchase of Jordan Peterson’s book. It really is that good. Don’t get hung up on dreams you had as a child. Not every dream should be realized. Not every dream will deliver the pleasure you think when you walk the steps in real life.

Find meaningful activities to you. Don’t let anyone dictate how you should live your life. As long as you pursue a legal, moral and ethical path you have my blessing. Meaningful work, meaningful activities, lead to a productive, happy and joyful life. And I think that’s a rule even Jordan Peterson would appreciate.


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Keith Taxguy, EA

Keith started his tax practice in 1982 and went full-time in 1989. An enrolled agent (licensed tax professional) since 1992, Keith has focuses on helping businesses and individuals pay the least amount of tax allowed by law.


  1. Guy M. on August 13, 2018 at 8:00 am

    I greatly value listening to Jordan Peterson being interviewed by Joe Rogan. I wish I had heard his insights years ago. I find Jordan Peterson intellectually very powerful, far more powerful than my own intellect , and hence I am not able to find much or any fault with him.

    Recently I heard a a podcast review of Jordan Peterson’s chapter on raising children. The Voluntary Life episode 336. I value this review because it’s supplied some insights that I was not capable of myself. I don’t agree with all of Jake’s comments.

    I do recommend that people listen to Jordan Peterson either through his podcast or YouTube videos.
    Thank you Keith. Please keep writing and be well.

    • Keith Taxguy on August 13, 2018 at 2:11 pm

      Thank you, guy. Peterson is one of the most profound thinkers of the last 100 years, maybe longer. It will take a lifetime to even grasp a portion of what he offers. We are truly blessed.

      • Maria on May 22, 2019 at 5:15 pm

        Have you seen his visits to Under the Skin with Russell Brand? It’s intense and they don’t agree on a lot of things. Brand really does an amazing job interviewing him.

        • Keith Taxguy on May 22, 2019 at 7:42 pm

          I have.

          Note that I don’t always agree with Peterson. What I enjoy most is that he gets me thinking about things I normally would not. But I agree with Peterson a lot on this podcast.

  2. Matt on August 13, 2018 at 8:16 am

    “By far, this is the slowest reading of a book for me in over a decade”.

    THANK YOU. I thought there was something wrong with me while reading this book because it took me twice as long as I kept re-reading passages.

    Now I’ll sit back and wait for the criticism of how you do not understand what the FIre is all about ha!

    • Keith Taxguy on August 13, 2018 at 2:13 pm

      So far Matt I haven’t heard any vitriol. Could be the calm before the storm.

      Yeah, the re-reading of passages. You can’t power-read through 12 Rules.A slow, considerate rate is best to absorb the most information as possible. Nothing wrong with you, Matt. 12 Rules is just a book with nothing but solid meat.

  3. John on August 13, 2018 at 8:26 am

    I couldn’t have imagine better timing for this article. I am sitting at a crossroads in my life. Finally admitting that maybe I was never meant to be an engineer or moving on with what my career is throwing at me. I took a job over 11 years at this company as an engineer. Four years into it I was offered an opportunity to be promoted and do something a little different. I excel at the job but it has left me yearning to do engineering stuff every since. As I type this I am staring at 2 offers, one to be promoted again (not engineering) and another to go back to being an engineer. To be the engineer will require so many sacrifices of myself and my family both time and money-wise.
    The sentence “I have seen people define their utopia and then bend their lives into knots trying to make it reality” just sent shock waves through me. That is exactly what I am doing. The path that I have ended up on, while not being an engineer, offers me and my family so much time, security and money. I am not sure why I fight it so much. I guess its just not what I have envisioned for myself. I think I have to quit fighting it and just go with the flow because it is my new reality.

    • Keith Taxguy on August 13, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      They say when the student is ready the teacher will appear. If I have unwittingly played such a role, I am honored.

  4. planedoc on August 13, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Yes! I bought this book a few weeks ago…and it’s slow reading…but highly meaningful. You did a great job of distilling some insights from it.

    (you also helped me understand how to explain why I have done so many things along life’s way…I’ve been growing!)

    thanks Taxman…

    • Keith Taxguy on August 13, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      I recommend a slow, methodical reading of the text. It may take several readings over time. Each reading reveals more. Heck, when I wrote this post I was gaining more insight as I read and copied the material.

  5. Brian McMan on August 13, 2018 at 8:48 am

    Passable character demands I remain true to the pronouncements of my teenage self. To make of me a liar after experience has fixed my ignorance is to cheapen my character and bring my future life to naught.

    What kind of life might a man have if by his action he proves himself to be an ignorant liar?

    That’s why the forty year old virgin, who decided to remain celebrate until marriage, is in fact a hero regardless of regretting his decision. What else could I believe?

    With regards to the FIRE movement.

    Financial Independence provides money to pursue your life priorities, early retirement provides time.

    Ya need all three to succeed.

    As a single obese man you could say I have skin in this game.

    If I only work 13 hours in a day and sleep for 9 that leaves 2 hours in a day for everything else.

    Why wouldn’t I want to retire and exercise down at the gym? Or go to the singles bar?

    They are priorities after all.

  6. Lissette on August 13, 2018 at 9:10 am

    Thank you so much for this. I have been struggling with the “RE” part of “FI/RE” for a while and you just clarified it for me. I have found the FI/RE blogs and podcasts to be very interesting and thank them for recharging a longstanding interest in personal finance. However, as a non-Millennial that has been living below my means and investing the difference since my early twenties, the often implied notion that it is a failure to not retire by 35 has been limiting and a bit of a kill-joy. My career has afforded me the chance to travel around the world, meet amazing individuals and contribute my efforts to organizations’ whose mission I found worthwhile. It has allowed me to support my family and ensure that both my daughter and son see women in the workplace and in positions of leadership as the norm. I look forward to retiring with the satisfaction of all that my 35+ years in the workplace have allowed me to learn about myself and others. Again, thanks for this.

    • Keith Taxguy on August 13, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      Lissette, I’ve been an apologist for the community from the beginning. I too struggle with the RE part of the equation. The good news is that people are starting to come along. My work isn’t done, but is that a flicker of light I see in the tunnel ahead?

  7. JD@WealthNotRetirement on August 13, 2018 at 9:14 am

    I highly recommend the audio book on Audible.Com (read by Jordan Peterson).

  8. Helen on August 13, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Well stated, Keith! I am striving for FI and not RE, because I truly love my eBay business. I am planning to work as long as I am physically and mentally able to work.
    I have changed my life goals repeatedly in the last decades. Early retirement and sitting at a tropical beach never was a goal. It is nice for a couple of days, but then it gets boring. During my couple of weeks at tropical beaches, I spent most of my time fishing and identifying flora and fauna.

  9. Debt Free Dr. on August 13, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Keith, your writing continues to inspire me. Keep it up!

    I’m actually on Rule 9 in his book. The rule that hit me the most was regarding raising respectable kids. Both my wife and I are going to reread it until we both get on the same page of raising our boys in this cruel world.

    Regarding Rule 8 (your discussion), you hit the FIRE community spot on. We took an Adventures by Disney trip for a full week recently to Montana (I couldn’t recommend them more.) Yes, spending a week with the family was awesome and many memorable memories were made (say that fast 3x)…but, there is something to having work to go to that provides not only meaning but structure in our lives.

    I couldn’t imagine NOT doing some type of work for the rest of my life. I’m not saying I’m going to say I’m still going to be treating patients, but I’ll have my hand in something.

    • Keith Taxguy on August 13, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      I know 12 Rules is a slow read, Debt Free Dr. Keep the faith. There is a lot to digest. I too was moved by Peterson’s advice on raising kids. My children are adults, but a parent’s work is never done (at least the worrying part).

  10. Dustin Stout on August 13, 2018 at 10:29 am

    Thanks, I’ll dive into this book. I’ve greatly enjoyed listening to the debates of the “intellectual dark web” (which Jordan Peterson is part of). It’s refreshing to see a community of deep thinkers of differing opinions able to have real conversations in long format about tough topics. With everyone now ingrained in identity politics and tribalism, it seems these real conversations are rare.

    • Keith Taxguy on August 13, 2018 at 2:22 pm

      If we can reignite the conversation, Dustin, we can change the world. Identity politics is meant to divide and distract. Stay the course.

  11. A Millionaire Next Door on August 13, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    I enjoyed the message of this post. I don’t get the “FIRE” movement. I get the FI but not the RE. When I was 19, I set a goal to be a millionaire by 30, retired by 40. As noted in the article, I was just a young teen at that time. I am now 47. By the time I reached FI wealth level in my early 40s, I had no desire to retire. I enjoy what I do – a reason I have been financially successful. I actually work harder now because I don’t have to, just building a legacy for my family. If and when I no longer enjoy what I do, I’ll just find different meaningful work. I did have a friend who retired at 40 after reaching FI. By 42, he was back to work. He said it was extremely boring as no one his age is at home during the day! He said day trading, fishing, and golfing (mostly alone or with people much older) became mind numbing.

    • Keith Taxguy on August 13, 2018 at 2:26 pm

      My early goal was to be rich. Once I accumulated wealth I learned it was a straw man. Wealth didn’t change anything. I was still me. I felt the same, thought the same, had the same interests. I changed my mind often when it came to selling the business or retiring. Thankfully, in the end, I came to my senses. The true meaning of life is meaningful activity, helping others, working to end needless suffering (Jordan Peterson’s words).

  12. Joey Graziano on August 13, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    As a soon to be father, fate would have it that I received this book a few months ago. I have read it twice (digitally) and purchased the physical copy so that I can one day give it away to a person in need.

    As a frugal thrifty person, I started to have lots of anxiety about becoming a parent. And I can tell you this, the book vindicated me on some things that I was feeling and others it stopped me dead in my tacks. I agree I am often re-reading my books notes and applying the lessons as I get my head wrapped around everything. If people tell you this books is “common sense”, they are not getting it. This book is deep. And if one slows down and contemplates some of the radical ideas, they will find themselves faced with a clear path forward. Or in my case, a solid reason.

    The concepts behind, “Pursue what is meaningful”. Have truly inspired me to continue my quest for FI while creating a non-profit and working full time. All this while being a new dad in November. I feel relief and clarity to pursue what I feel is right and noble for once in my life. I have intent.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Keith Taxguy on August 13, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      Congratulations, Joey. You will make an awesome dad!

      • saysjoeygraziano on August 13, 2018 at 6:28 pm

        Thanks Keith! You have shared lots of great posts that have helped me fiscally and fatherly. Please keep up the good work! 🙂

  13. Lynn on August 13, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    I’m having trouble finding books that aren’t the same old advice – ordered this immediately. Been reading your blog for a while and if it made you think then it’s a good one. Thanks for the recommendation!

  14. Nick True on August 14, 2018 at 12:10 am

    Love this post Keith! Been following Peterson for a while. Big fan here. I’ve also struggled with the RE in FIRE. I’ve struggled for a while but been hesitant to voice my concerns and opinions due to fear of getting blasted. But deep down in my core, I believe you have to have a sense of purpose much bigger than your short-term desires. Most often (especially from others perspective) that purpose looks a lot like work.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    • Keith Taxguy on August 14, 2018 at 7:51 am

      If not work, then what, Nick? Meaningful activity, or work, provides value and meaning to life. Don’t worry about getting blasted. I’ll take the heat for y’all. The good news is I’ve seen no negative reviews on the net yet. That tells me there has been a major ground swell away from early retirement and toward meaningful activity. Time will tell.

      • Nick True on August 14, 2018 at 8:52 am

        Absolutely! Reading this has definitely given me more confidence to speak my mind. I do think you’re right about there being a groundswell away from the RE and towards meaningful activity. When I think about a great day, snowboarding all day, and a log cabin by the fire at night sounds great. But when I’m honest, I’d be over it in about 2 weeks and ready to get back to work.

  15. Freedom 40 Plan on August 14, 2018 at 8:12 am

    This is one of the most thoughtful articles I’ve read in the FI blogosphere in quite some time. Thanks for the great review and the incorporation of your own thoughts. As someone who just “retired” at 40 – this is a particularly poignant topic. Hopefully I’m on the right path. So far, I’ve been focused on writing and enjoying life. Don’t think I’ve had any margaritas yet 🙂

  16. Mimoza on August 14, 2018 at 10:21 am

    Thanks for the post. I’ll check this guy Peterson. Never heard of him before. I don’t know if my brain will be too squeamish to digest this content. I might read a bit and then put down for a while and return to it. I’ll try a copy from the library first because I might be afraid to leave to collect dust.

    I didn’t read everything. I read half of it and then skimmed here and there the rest.
    I think it depends on the person who reads the material and how s/he interprets. When it comes to things that are not absolute and cannot be proven by facts (like 2+3=5 or that Washington D.C. in on the East Coast, etc.) it’s completely different for each human being. Yes, there will be a group of people who think alike and so they will bond and interpret that written material their way and think they’re right and the rest of universe are dumb. This is something that applies to MMM’s cult. There were things that was kind of interesting to read once in a while, but that wore off. Now, the same can be said for Keith and a group of people who think similar to him. So, this group states that unless you work and create something you’re also dumb because they hate traveling. Well, funny, there’s another group of people who enjoy doing just that. I think it’s not right to project your thoughts and emotions onto others because we grasp things differently. Since I want a little bit of distraction, I think Peterson will be good for me to check out and you never know maybe I’ll discover a new truth to this universe LOL.

    • Keith Taxguy on August 14, 2018 at 12:34 pm

      You always learn something, Mimoza. The whole book, and hopefully this blog, cause you to think. I can’t tell you what to do, but I can carefully observe. My observations are what I share.

  17. Ally on August 14, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Well, you mentioned in another comment that you haven’t gotten any complaints yet, so here’s one.

    While many people on here seem to be having lightbulb moments in their head over what you’ve written, I am just confused, because if you spend any amount of time on the FIRE subreddit you’ll know the vast majority of us aren’t in this to “check out”. Financial independence means being independent of the need to work for money. Aka you can do whatever you want with your time. I feel sorry for anyone who can’t come up with a fulfilling way to spend their time if it doesn’t make them money. Ever thought of volunteering? Doing pro bono work for the poor? Reading books, going to the gym, learning a new skill, cooking gourmet food? Working a FUN lower paying job instead of a higher paying corporate gig that leaves you stressed and emotionally drained? OP, you may be lucky in having a job you love that pays well but take a look at the majority of America. We’re overworked and underpaid. We need to stop tying money to our time, and that’s exactly what FI is about. I’m not planning on sucking down sugary drinks on the beach, I’m just planning on spending my time exactly how I like it.

    • Keith Taxguy on August 14, 2018 at 5:04 pm

      Ally, since the previous comment on not receiving any complaints things have changed. Reddit has a short thread with sharpened hatchets. Comes with the territory. I lost a toe and three fingers since I said the sky was blue. It seems the biggest complaint is the title and the word “schooled”. Readers might recall Peterson is a college professor so my term was a twist of words I found slightly humorous. Of course, now somebody will tell me I’m not funny either.

      Let me complain about your complaint. You say: We’re overworked and underpaid. I disagree. Even a casual read of history tells you how lucky we all are. We get more bang for our money than anytime since humans walked the blue planet. Machine do most of our hard work and computers do most of our rote mental tasks. What we have is too many people complaining about how hard they work. I can even prove people want to work more, not less. When was the last politician elected to office that promised fewer jobs? Never happened. The majority continue to vote into office people who promise to work them harder. Can anyone explain that to this county accountant?

      Ally, I think you missed the point of this post. I used Peterson’s work because he “articulated” (his favorite word) so well. Not everyone plans to sit on the beach all day. We all have our vision of retirement and some of us handle it better than others. I am 100% FOR financial independence and the freedom it brings. My argument at the end of the post is correct: find meaningful activity to fill your days whether it be traditional work, a side gig, business or the list of activities you suggested. I think another read will reveal what I said is a version of what you suggest: read, gym, volunteer; just do something meaningful.

      • Ally on August 15, 2018 at 2:11 pm

        Keith, the point isn’t how many machines and computers we have to do jobs humans used to have to do (not to mention that as an accountant, you benefit much more from this development than I do as a member of the arts industry). The point is that the richest 1% in the USA hold about 38% of all privately held wealth, and the bottom 90% hold 73% of all debt. Arts and education aren’t properly funded. Teachers are on food stamps and student loans hover over people for decades. People don’t take their allotted two weeks off because they feel like they “should” be working and those that don’t get vacation time, lose money for wanting to take time off. This looks okay to you?

        Direct quote from your post: “But then what? If the goal is to not work, what will you fill your days with? Idle chit-chat with friends and neighbors?” How do you propose that you’re for financial independence, if these are the kinds of things you say? That is what I’m responding to in my original comment: there are SO many meaningful things you can do with your time that are not “work”. You seem to veer towards this point in the very end of your conclusion, but the post is inconsistent because you spend so much time before that bashing people who don’t want to be beholden to a salaried job.

        You state that you evolved and changed as a human many times as you were growing up. Why would you then generalize an entire subset of people by saying we make plans when we’re 18 and then spend our whole lives lying to ourselves about what we really want? I personally change my mind once a week. I don’t owe it to anyone to keep my plan the same. Check the FIRE sub today: there’s a post from someone who just recently decided early retirement is not for them, and they will keep working as long as they enjoy their job. Great for them.

        Maybe there are some people who somehow delude themselves into a life plan they never wanted. I hope those people realize that they’re in charge of their own decisions. I fail to understand how that translates to FIRE being an excuse “to travel to exotic places while sharing on social media so anyone you have ever known is jealous.”

        • Mick Jones on August 27, 2018 at 7:31 pm

          I agree with Ally. The original post seems to generalize FIRE’s goal as sitting on the beach sipping margaritas. I challenge the blogger to provide his sources to prove this perception (beyond a few anecdotal posts) as well as social media selfies to create jealousy. I started reading this blog post and was interested but was let down at the end and finally inspired by Ally.

  18. Rob L on August 16, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Nice article, though I confess I didn’t read all of it. I think a lot about this concept, and for some people, I have seen them FI and they aren’t really that happy. I had one uncle who had 10 million, but this enabled him to be an alcoholic. The freedom can be bad.

    I think about this a lot and think about why I want FI. But many of the things I want, I can actually do now if I apply myself. I am going to download and read the book.

    I am debt free, but still working on building up investments. I keep trying different things.

  19. Accidental FIRE on August 16, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    I still don’t see hardly anyone in the FIRE community striving to sit on a beach and suck down drinks when they get out. There are tons of articles claiming this and I don’t see it. I see people who want to ditch their W2 jobs working for someone else to do the WORK they want to do. Key word “work.” The work is great when it’s what you want to do and you also don’t really need the money.

  20. James on August 17, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    Peterson is an interesting guy.

    One wonders if he isn’t too much of a traditionalist to have widespread acceptance of his views. For example, if you say that men and women are inherently biologically different, as Peterson does, then you’ll probably also accept biological differences between the races.

    Food for thought.

    • Keith Taxguy on August 17, 2018 at 9:25 pm

      Well there are differences, James. Women can get pregnant; men cannot. Skin color is a difference. Certain medical issues affect some races and not others. These are not bad things!

      Remember the original Star Trek television series? Spock (Vulcans, actually) had a saying: Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC). According to the story, Vulcans felt the greater the diversity, the more vibrant and stable the society. It’s the differences which make us strong.

  21. […] struck a cord in our world of identity politics and constant offense at every action. I’ve written on Peterson’s work before. And here. And ended up with endless grief. People either love his work or hate it. Those who hate […]

  22. Why the FIRE Movement Will Never Die on January 21, 2019 at 6:45 am

    […] is true the market could once again turn lower and inflict pain on the foolish. It is also true I’ve been critical of the FIRE community myself a time or three. And don’t think for a minute I didn’t catch hell for it too, only on a […]

  23. Sebastien on February 23, 2019 at 5:49 am

    Hi Keith,

    Nice article. Definitely a message more people in the FI community should hear. Money is only a tool for a better life and retirement definitely does not equal a better life. Jordan Peterson also talks a lot about how we should aim to increase our responsibilities to become more fulfilled and I find that sometimes the FI community is trying to get rid of responsibilities all together.

    From my perspective FI is only the start of much more interesting journey, one that let’s us do things beyond just taking care of ourselves. I see FI as a superpower. We can spend time on anything, learn any skills, and decide to solve any problem. It’s not about quitting life it’s about embracing life. And in particular I see that for me that means I can work on doing good around me and on having a positive impact. This is something we dont speak about enough. We’re in such a unique position to do good and we have such incredible potential. As a community we could working on making things better around us or we could also decide to tackle some of the biggest challenges of humanity. We can make a difference.
    I say we should use FI to have a positive impact and would like people to consider not just FI but #FIforImpact.

    What do you think?


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