Another Way to Think About FIRE: Freedom, Intellect, Resourcefulness, Enough.

Heyo! It’s my birthday! Let’s sing me a song!


Happy birthday, to me! Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday dear J. Moooooooooney, happy birthday to me! (Woo!)

Thanks – that felt good :) Unlike all this cake I’m about to shove down my throat later and then feel horrible about, haha… but hey, it’s my birthday and I can do as I please!

And another thing I very much want to do, please? Share a comment that Primal Prosperity left here on her version of “FIRE” that’s really been sticking in my head… Especially as I contemplate the meaning of life and my career, finances, and just general state of affairs as I inch closer to that unavoidable 4-0.

As most of you know, FIRE typically stands for “Financial Independence Retire Early.” Pretty explanatory, and pretty AWESOME for all those who manage to achieve it (shout out to my man Steve Adcock who just hit it at 35 last week! Baller!). But there’s a trend lately going on with the R in FIRE (“retire”), and Primal Prosperity expresses it pretty well.

Check it:

I’ve never been a fan of the term ‘retirement’ at all. On my website, I refer to being FIRE’d up in a different sense: Freedom, Intellect, Resourcefulness, Enough.

Freedom: This is more than just financial freedom. This is freedom from physical attachments and emotional limitations. Freedom from societal expectations. Freedom from needing external rewards and validation. Freedom from needing titles and labels. Freedom to be authentic.

Intellect: Most people who have high intellects crave autonomy and creative freedom. Intellects never “retire”, but rather they want the option to reduce the “busy-ness” of their careers and be able to have time to amuse their curiosities and ponder… which is essential to create meaningful outcomes.

Resourcefulness: Resourceful people are creative. They get more satisfaction out of what they have done, rather than what they bought. This is not really being frugal, but rather this is being self-reliant…. resilient…. sustainable…. self-actualized.

Enough: This story sums it up… At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut tells his friend, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history. Heller said, “Yes, but I have something he will never have: Enough.”

Dayyyyyum! Preach!

It’s so true though, isn’t it? the fact that most people who have figured out how to “retire early” aren’t the same people that would then just waste away doing nothing in retirement? All the people I know who are financially free at least are always working on projects or goals/dreams of theirs. It’s just now they’re “working” out of passion vs having to do it for a paycheck.

Personally, I don’t hate the word “retirement” because it easily gets the point across as to what it means, but I do hate that people automatically assume you can’t reach it until you’re 60+ years old and therefore throw out all the excuses as to why early retirement isn’t for them.

You can probably guess the top three :)

  1. “Not even possible, why try?”
  2. “Who wants to live a boring frugal life like that??”
  3.  And the worst of ’em which we’ve already covered, “What would you do with all that free time?”

If you don’t know how you would spend time in leisure, I think there are bigger problems at hand, haha…

Anyways, good stuff to marinate on as we bring in the new year, and we’ll get back to the “how” parts of the equation again here shortly.

In the meantime, really think about what “retirement” or “FIRE” means to you and your family, because without that purpose and drive there’s no hitting it anytime soon anyways. You really gotta WANT this stuff and know why as it’s no easy feat. But for those of us who power through, there is gold at the end of the tunnel! And then you get to have your cake and eat it too. Just like it was your own birthday, every single day :)

But today’s birthday is taken, sorry. I’ll share my cake with you tomorrow!

PS: For a list of my favorite FIRE blogs, click here.
PPS: For a spreadsheet I use to track my own FIRE journey, click here.

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  1. Kate @ Cashville Skyline December 26, 2016 at 6:16 AM

    Happy birthday, Jay! I love that story with Joseph Heller. We all should strive to figure out our level of enough, get there as fast as possible, and aggressively save the difference.

  2. Cathlene December 26, 2016 at 7:19 AM

    Happy Happy! Enjoy your day.

  3. Full Time Finance December 26, 2016 at 7:25 AM

    Count me as another person who drops the retirement from the whole thing. In fact I kind of prefer the financially independent on its own. It’s about options to me. Choosing to work, take more risk with your career, go do the job you’ve always wanted to do, drive around in an air stream trailer, sit on a beach and during mohitos all day, or something else. Financial independence lets you decide.

    1. J. Money December 26, 2016 at 11:29 AM

      Agreed :)

  4. The Green Swan December 26, 2016 at 7:31 AM

    Happy birthday, J! Enjoy that cake.

    Knowing when enough is enough is important but can be hard to get comfortable with. I want to make sure I don’t regret entering retirement too soon, especially considering that would be during my prime earning years. Tough to know, but I completely agree it’s important!

  5. whiskey December 26, 2016 at 8:18 AM

    40? Ezzy-Pezzy… Post again when you start nearing 50… lol

    And I like the article. Self reliance has been a theme throughout my life. Course being in the South we say, “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps”.

  6. still pedaling December 26, 2016 at 8:21 AM

    From your oldest fan (87 yrs):
    Another interesting article. Perhaps why I NEEDED the challenge of genealogy. I had not planned on retiring; I enjoyed my job when I worked at the CPA office. But then there were greater needs at home so I just changed jobs; caretaker. When that was over, I needed something else. I’ve often said watching daytime TV would drive me bananas!! I discovered genealogy and have been happily working at it for 12 years. This genealogy puzzle has multiple trails and never stops. I get up every morning with a project to work on. But the pay is nonexistant, so one does need FIRE.

    1. J. Money December 26, 2016 at 11:31 AM

      Oooooooh yes!!! All that stuff is so fascinating AND can be left for your family to take over and continue the good hunt too! Not to mention having a better understanding of their own histories. Thanks for stopping by :) I had no idea you were 87 either – love it!

  7. Miss Mazuma December 26, 2016 at 8:24 AM

    Happy Birthday!! Is it today or was it the 24th?

    Some great thoughts going into the new year, indeed. That Primal Prosperity is a smart cookie! :) I truly believe intellect and resourcefulness will lead you to whatever life you aim for. It’s amazing the ideas you can come up with when you have to make a decision and you are able to think outside the box. I have managed to accomplish a few things beyond my wildest dreams (without a college degree) just by being scrappy and resourceful. This is a great reminder to go big or go home!! ;)

    1. J. Money December 26, 2016 at 11:33 AM

      My birthday’s today :)

      We’re messing around with some tech stuff behind the scene and it might get wonky for a bit, haha.. (and really, does that stuff ever stop being so?)

  8. Josh December 26, 2016 at 8:27 AM

    Wait. Is your birthday the 24th or the 26th? According to the site, this was “last updated” on the 24th, but it’s only now showing up on the 26th.

    My mother and I are fellow Christmas time birthdayers. I’m the 23rd, and my mom’s is the 24th. No kidding. So Happy Birthday to a fellow Christmas time birthdayer!!!! :D

    1. J. Money December 26, 2016 at 11:34 AM

      SO MAGICAL!!! HAHA….

      And yup – it’s today. See note above to Miss Mazuma.

  9. Mr Crazy Kicks December 26, 2016 at 8:29 AM

    Happy Bday, J!

    You’re absolutely right about being FIREd up, I have trouble slowing down, and have been busier than ever with projects since quitting my job. But I’m working hard on slowing down ;)

    Hope you’re enjoying the holidays, and best of luck in the new year!

  10. Jon @ Be Net Worthy December 26, 2016 at 8:55 AM

    Happy b-day and I love that J. Heller quote. That’s really the key. Knowing how much is enough and then realizing once you are already there. The rest is just math!

  11. Mrs. Picky Pincher December 26, 2016 at 9:09 AM

    Happy birthday, J$! Ack, sorry your birthday is the day after Christmas. That had to be a little rough as a kid. My niece’s birthday is on December 28 and I try to be mindful about celebrating just her birthday on that day and not looping it in with Christmas.

    I’m on track to retire by age 35, which is a little over ten years away for me. We still have to get out of debt and build net worth, so we’ve got a few obstacles to tackle in those ten years!

    In the last two weeks I’ve been on a flex schedule for work where I can stay at home and just be on call. It’s been a taste of early retirement and I love it!! I still wake up early and I’m able to get so much more completed around the house, run necessary errands, work on the blog a lot more, and have a good dinner on the table. And that’s without feeling like I’m going to keel over from exhaustion after working all day, which is liberating.

    For me, I’m going to do all of the things I currently do when I’m FI. I’ll just eliminate unnecessary work out of my life. I’ll work if I want to, but it’ll be about completing the things I want to do and not feeling stressed all the time.

    1. J. Money December 26, 2016 at 11:41 AM

      Woahhhhh you’re 25 right now and already have a plan by 35?? That’s incredible! I wish I had worked faster and figured stuff out sooner like that :)

      And I’m sure your niece appreciates her keeping her special day like that, haha… I used to celebrate mine a month earlier so I could have a party and still get the same amount of presents (back when I cared about that stuff :)), but now I actually LOVE being so close to the holidays cuz I’m always around family and it’s all so magical and relaxing usually. My day does get mixed in now, but it’s all good. There could be worse people to share a birthday with ;)

  12. Go Finance Yourself! December 26, 2016 at 9:35 AM

    Happy birthday, J$. I’m in agreement with hating the excuses people make for not being able to achieve early retirement. Life is a series of choices. Sure, some of us have an easier start than others, but we all reap what we sow.

  13. Financial Samurai December 26, 2016 at 10:16 AM

    Happy birthday my man!

    Nothing more sexy than someone with good INTELLECT! People who surprise and educate are the best. I just gravitate towards them, wanting to listen and learn more!

    FIRE ON!


  14. Apathy Ends December 26, 2016 at 10:16 AM

    Happy birthday!

    For me Freedom sums up my FIRE goal. I don’t necessarily need to be done earning or “retired” – just want to choose what I do. Definitely not worried about what I am going to do with all my time – probably still won’t have “enough” of that.

  15. Joe December 26, 2016 at 10:33 AM

    Happy Birthday Jay!
    That’s a great way to look at FIRE. A lot of people just don’t understand Enough. The more money they make, the more they want to spend. My birthday is next week. :)

    1. J. Money December 26, 2016 at 11:42 AM

      Happy early birthday :)

  16. Justin December 26, 2016 at 10:39 AM

    Yes! That’s exactly what FIRE is all about once you get past the numbers of 25x, 4%, dividend yield, marginal tax rates, etc.

    It’s all about freedom, autonomy, and having “enough”. Once you get to that point, life is pretty good. :)

    J$, I can see you never retiring even if you had mega millions, but you’ll probably have your fingers on a few different (ad)ventures at a time.

  17. Freedom 40 Guy December 26, 2016 at 10:39 AM

    Happy birthday J$! Hope you have a great one. Interesting new take on the term FIRE. I know in my case it all makes a lot of sense. Heck – I’m sitting here on vacation but instead of playing video games or watching TV, I’m busy working on new blog posts and trying to learn more by reading great blogs like yours.

    1. J. Money December 26, 2016 at 11:43 AM

      Hah! Love it.

  18. Primal Prosperity December 26, 2016 at 11:30 AM

    Happy Birthday!!!! We’re signing along with you. :)

    Thanks for the link. I figured that if FIRE can be redefined, then more people can achieve it much earlier. :)

    1. J. Money December 26, 2016 at 11:43 AM

      Thanks for my birthday present of smarts :)

      1. Primal Prosperity December 26, 2016 at 3:24 PM

        This got me thinking, so, I thought I would continue the ‘conversation’, since I love playing around with acronyms… :)

        I once read that “we can fear the fire, or become the fire.”

        Those who fear the FIRE have a fear of…

        … failure. They are afraid that they might make mistakes without a formal corporate structure. They are afraid of setbacks and that their colleagues may surpass them.

        … insecurity. They are accustomed to steady paychecks and the thought of alternative means of making money scares them. They fear how they will ‘explain’ to society ‘what they do for a living’, if they don’t have a fancy title.

        … restriction. They think that to have ‘enough’ and to live simply, means they will live in depravation. They don’t understand that chasing more than they really need, can restrict their creative freedom, and sometimes even restrict their happiness.

        … escaping. Yes, crazy as it sounds, some people are afraid of escaping. They fear not knowing what they will do with their newfound freedom. They fear that society will think that they are ‘running away’ from being a ‘responsible’ adult, even if the stress is hurting them both physically and emotionally.

        1. J. Money December 28, 2016 at 6:32 AM

          Well aren’t you just clever these days! Haha… Love the way your brain works so much. Thanks for inspiring all of this :)

  19. Dottie December 26, 2016 at 11:50 AM

    Happy birthday, J! Found your blog about a year ago and love reading it. Im so happy that you decided to stay with it. I’m “retired” from my 9 to 5 and nlam now FIRE’d to do projects that interest me and are fun, like making jewelry. So glad that you got your passion back for inspiring old farts like me.

    1. J. Money December 28, 2016 at 6:35 AM

      Heyyy!! Very cooll, Dottie – thanks for reading, and an even bigger CONGRATS for being FIRE’d! :) Thanks for stopping by!

  20. Chris @ Keep Thrifty December 26, 2016 at 12:07 PM

    Happy birthday J$!

    I really like this take on FIRE – it aligns much better with my hopes and goals. It’s not about “not working” – it’s about eliminating money as a factor in what I work on and how I do that work.

  21. TJ December 26, 2016 at 12:11 PM

    I definitely like Primal’s new version of the acronym! For one, it throws all the traditional fiscal rules out the window…..if you’re intelligent and resourceful, you can probably figure out how to bridge the $$$ gap to fund the ‘freedom’ and ‘enough’ part between whatever it is that you have and wherever you “need to be”. :)

    The last time I checked I was a little over 8 years from FIRE, but then I donated a not small chunk into a DAF. I’m not going to wait 8 years to start living. I might even work longer than 8 years. It’s all good. =)

    1. J. Money December 28, 2016 at 6:34 AM

      Good for you man! I keep reading about DAFs and love the concept of them, but would love them even more if it allowed people to give directly to others one-on-one which I enjoy doing vs organizations :( Still – the world needs as much love as we can give it so I admire those of you going way out of their way to help provide some. Even at the “cost” of delayed retirement! (which I totally agree on – def. gotta live today as much as you can while our bodies and minds are sharp :))

  22. Ty December 26, 2016 at 3:07 PM

    Happy birthday my fellow Sagittarius!

    For me I’ll ‘retire’ from being a slave wage. Of course I’ll keep working, but I won’t give a rip if my efforts earn money or not because I’ll be FI.

  23. Physician On FIRE December 26, 2016 at 4:08 PM

    I love the other FIRE acronym! Strong work, Primal Prosperity. I’m not sure I have the intellect or resourcefulness to come with anything nearly that clever.

    Oh, and Happy Birthday, J$! Christmas dinner leftovers and cake? I feel for you, man.


  24. Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes December 26, 2016 at 9:13 PM

    Happy B-day J$!

    I’ve always thought of Financial Independence as a stepping stone to the next stage in life…one where money doesn’t drive your decisions in life.

    Retirement is just a word! I prefer not to use it where possible, but financial independence is far less commonly used.

  25. Sarah L December 26, 2016 at 10:20 PM

    Happy birthday! Now I wonder if all those post holiday sales I hit were really celebration day sales!! I hope the cake was awesome!

    1. J. Money December 28, 2016 at 6:22 AM

      That’s what I always used to pretend when I shopped every year :)

  26. Slow Dad December 28, 2016 at 4:29 PM

    Happy birthday J$. Hope the next lap around the sun is even more successful than the one you’ve just completed.

  27. Vanessa @ Achieving Freedom December 29, 2016 at 2:38 AM

    Happy birthday! I hope that you had an awesome day full of cake and beer!

    I think the idea of enough is something that hits us FIRE-fanatics way earlier than when “retirement” actually happens. Because we feel that our frugal lifestyle is enough, we end up achieving our goals by being satisfied with restraint.

  28. EL December 29, 2016 at 11:55 AM

    Hey J yes I like all the versions of FIRE ive come across over the last few years. I wrote a post about when enough is enough just as the heller story mentioned. see here –
    Anyhow its a good thing to be free as we all have been somewhat hostage to a system since school days.

    1. J. Money December 30, 2016 at 11:17 AM

      Agreed :)

  29. Kim December 30, 2016 at 6:24 PM

    Happy belated Birthday! I just wanted to say that. I’m sick as a DOG right now so the only fire I’m thinking about is the one in my throat. LOL

  30. Fiscally Free December 30, 2016 at 6:29 PM

    Woah; apparently we share a birthday. Pretty freaky.
    I think I gave myself the best present of all for my 30th, “retirement.” I have taken the plunge and it feels pretty weird.

    I like this definition of FIRE. Every part of it hits home for me. There’s a reason I always put the word “retirement” or “retired” in quotes, and that’s because I will never stop doing, building, and creating. Some people might get bent out of shape and call that work, but if it’s work I want to do, when I want to do it, it’s not really work at all. It’s more like a hobby, and we all need hobbies, right?

    1. J. Money January 1, 2017 at 3:52 PM


      Happy birthday, fellow friend :)

  31. Mariana December 31, 2016 at 10:01 AM

    Happy belated Birthday J.Money. I surely am happy to see you back ‘at work’ after your sabbatical. FIRE is all about freedom to me too. Not necessarily from work but a way to work on things I enjoy and want to be doing.
    I am still a WAY away from that dream but since we starting tracking our net worth I know we have saved much more than what we would have without tracking. Seeing the money grow is so motivating.
    Happy New Year J. Money! Appreciate you and your blog

    1. J. Money January 1, 2017 at 3:53 PM

      Thank you Mariana – I very much appreciate you reading my blog :)

  32. ZJ Thorne January 1, 2017 at 5:47 PM

    Happy belated! Enough and knowing how to enjoy your leisure are vital concepts. Hopefully more folks get there soon.

  33. the Roamer January 5, 2017 at 6:14 PM

    hahaha love the intro to this post.

    your persona just burst off this page. I don’t know how you do it but I love it and it makes me smile. Happy Belated birthday Jay.

    Thanks for sharing that comment, I like what he said, specially about having enough

    1. J. Money January 6, 2017 at 7:15 AM

      Thanks Roamer – that made me feel good :)

  34. Chad Carson February 12, 2017 at 12:36 AM

    We have the same birthday, J! How’d I miss this article earlier. Ha, ha. What year were you born? I am 1979. That would be too weird.

    1. J. Money February 23, 2017 at 2:51 PM

      Woahhh that’s cool! Had no idea! :)