The FIRE Insights Survey
Welcome to the ninth FIRE Insights Survey!
The last survey in September was fun to put together and for Q4 we again received a great response!
The goal of the survey is to measure interest and creator sentiment in various asset classes over time, highlight great content, and source FIRE advice/recommendations.
For this survey, I sourced 350+ of the best Personal Finance Content Creators (Bloggers, Podcasters, Youtubers, etc.) and sent out the survey.
A special thanks again to Mr. Chaos from Cutting Through Chaos for helping to brainstorm, edit, and test out the survey!
If you are a PF content creator and would like to participate in future FIRE Insights Surveys, please sign up here.
Section 1 – Starter Questions
What is more important to an early retirement: cash flow or the 4% rule?
By a wide margin, 62.9% of those those surveyed felt that Cash Flow is more important than the 4% rule (only 20% selected).
We also had several who wrote in the most important part of an early retirement is flexibility.
And a few like Financial Samurai who recommends his own Financial Samurai Dynamic Safe Withdrawal Rate.
But if there is one person I’d listen to here…it would be Karsten @ Early Retirement Now who has written extensively (classic understatement) on the topic. He says “a personalized withdrawal strategy” is best.
Are you bullish, neutral, or bearish on the economy?
Is that movement I see? Are we becoming slightly more bullish on the economy again?
There is definitely some slight movement to Bullish (up to 22.9%)…Neutral remained at exactly the same percentage (48.6%)…but hey, we did manage to flip a few from the Bearish camp which moves down ever so slightly to 28.6%.
Have you reached Financial Independence?
This one was a simple question to sort out who will answer the next section. It’s a near split though!
Section 2 – FIRE Questions (For those who have NOT reached FI)
If you’ve already reached FI, you did not get to answer these questions…but the 45.7% who haven’t reached FI did:
Do you plan on retiring early?
The overwhelming majority said yes (68.8%). This makes sense given we are surveying personal finance content creators, but we still had a decent amount of folks who said “no” and/or “maybe.”
How are you planning on achieving financial independence?
The majority of those who haven’t reached FI plan on achieving it via their regular 9-5 job (62.5%).
As I have been saying all along, it doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you have a plan and can stick to that plan.
But where this gets interesting is that a nearly an identical percentage of folks from BOTH surveys plan on reaching (or have reached) FI via their 9 to 5 and/or Entrepreneurship. Do not underestimate the power of the 9-5!
Is your spouse onboard with your plan?
Overwhelmingly yes. I think that is critical. It’s pretty hard to get anywhere financially without your spouse onboard in at least some way.
Section 3 – Features of the Month
What did you think was the best piece of FI/FIRE content of the quarter (that was not yours)?
- Joel @ 5AmJoel shared the epic How I turned $15,000 into $1.2m during the pandemic – then lost it all from The Guardian’s Alexander Hurst
- Tyler @ FreshLifeAdvice recommended Rich Frugal Life’s Charitable Giving Donor-Advised Fund: Give More Money…For Less
- Impersonal Finance liked Budgets are Sexy’s WifeFI Status Activated ⚡
- Landshark shared over Mr. Money Mustache’s The California Effect
- Both Michael @ Financially Alert and Linda @The Cents of Money shared Gen Y Finance Guy’s Hello $10,000,000!
- Chris @ Can I Retire Yet enjoyed Retire Before Dad’s How Our Perceptions of Time and Money Change as We Age
- Mark @ My Own Advisor shared Eat Sleep Breathe FI’s One Year of Fire: Ask Me (Almost) Anything – Part I
- And lastly, Jess and Corey @ The Fioneers sent over Coast FI is More Than Just a Milestone from The Coast FI Guy
How much money would you pay to extend your life for an extra 5 years? (via Richard G)
An Infinite Amount:
- “All of it, probably” – Joel @ 5amJoel
- “Infinite” – Jim @ Wallet Hacks
- “$0 to extend lifespan. Every last penny in the bank to extend healthspan.” – Sam @ Government Worker FI
- “…an infinite amount, right? Because the other way of asking this question is, “How much money are you willing to die with today, rather than die broke in 5 years?” “I’d rather die today with $100M than die broke in 5 years.” Oh really?!” – Jesse @ The Best Interest
- “If I was on my deathbed, 100% of my net worth.” – Impersonal Finance
- “Priceless, so I can’t put a number on it.” – Linda @ The Cents of Money
- “If we could buy 5 additional high-quality years (healthy and physically/mentally capable), we’d consider paying as much as 100% of our present net worth to get them. We could probably save all the way back up to FIRE from $0 in 5 years, and have some additional fun along the way.” – Lauren @ Trip of a Lifestyle
Still a lot:
- “$5 million.” – Financial Samurai
- “$1m” – Karsten @ Early Retirement Now, Stop Ironing Shirts
- “Depends how old I was! If I was under 80, I’d pay $100,000–$300,000 (more if I was younger, less if I was older). If I was over 80 years old, I would feel I’d lived long enough, so I wouldn’t want to pay anything to extend my life (I’d prefer to leave more to my children).” – Chrissy @ Eat Sleep Breathe FI
- “A lot depends on the quality of life for those extra 5 years. If it means living on the breadline in poor health, then no thanks.” – Mr. Chaos @ Cutting Through Chaos
- “Depends on when I would die and the quality of life I’d be living” – Michael @ Financially Alert
- “It depends on how I’d be able to spend the 5 years. $0 if I’m old and unable to do much. $10,000,000+ if I’m still able to be reasonably active” – Joseph @ Hadaway Financial
- “Depends on the quality of life of those 5 years” – The Fioneers
- “$0.00 for what it’s worth, I’ve already lived an enriching life.” – Lawrence @ The Neighborhood Finance Guy
- “$0” – Blind Luck Project, Landshark
- “$0 When it’s time, it’s time.” – Fritz @ Retirement Manifesto
- “Not interested in an extension. That is for taxes. My plan is to get it right the first time by living life on my terms, mistakes and all. Extensions lead to sloppy behavior.” – Keith @ The Wealthy Accountant
- “I’d pay/invest to make the most of life right now, rather than trying to add 5 years at the end” – David @ iRetiredYoung
- “$0. I fear losing quality of life much more than I fear dying. I don’t get the obsession with trying to live forever. Instead it makes more sense to me to focus on improving the quality of our life now (which tends to result in better relationships, improved health, and more happiness which ironically result in living longer anyway.)” – Chris @ Can I Retire Yet
- “I personally would not pay to extend my life because not knowing the end result of ones life is what makes life worth living.” – Aha Fire
What was your favorite book that you read this year?
Rather than put who recommended what, I am just going to list the books…and this turned out to be an amazing list with many that I will be adding to my reading list for 2023:
- Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
- The Lion Trackers Guide to Life by Boyd Varty
- The Autobiography of Gucci Mane
- More Than You Know by Michael Mauboussin
- Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman
- Die with Zero by Bill Perkins
- The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
- Fooled By Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- Atomic Habits by James Clear (My Review Here)
- Psychology of Money by Morgan House (My Review Here)
- Discipline is Destiny by Ryan Holiday
- What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack
- The Day the World Stops Shopping by J.B. MacKinnon
- Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan
- The Mixer by Michael Cox (I think)
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
- Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose
- Everyday Millionaires by Chris Hogan
- Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson
- Wild by Cheryl Strayed
- The Practice Of Groundedness by Brad Stulberg
- Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
- Grandpa’s Fortune Fables by Will Rainey
- Cashing Out by Julien and Kiersten Saunders
- Friendship in the Age of Loneliness by Adam Smiley Poswolsky
- The Saxon Tales by Bernard Cornwell
Tell us you’re an investor, without telling us you’re an investor…
- “I prefer $SBUX over Starbucks” – Fiona @ The Millennial Money Woman
- “Everyday is a Saturday ;)” – Adam @ Blind Luck Project
- “10% + 10% > 20%” Jesse @ The Best Interest
- “My favorite bulls aren’t at the rodeo” – Joseph @ Hadaway Financial
- “I retired early” – Karsten @ Early Retirement Now
- “Don’t trip over pennies to pickup quarters” – Michael @ Financially Alert
- “I’m not worried about tomorrow” – Mr. Chaos @ Cutting Through Chaos
- “DCA and I’m not talking about the DC airport.” – Lawrence @ The Neighborhood Finance Guy
- “When I hear the word “fire,” I think of FIRE before I think of actual flame. And as a firefighter, that’s saying something.” Sean @ Fighting FIRE with FIRE
- “I haven’t checked my investments in 6+ months and that’s perfectly ok. I know my asset allocation aligns with my goals 😎” – How to FIRE
- “I have a personal finance blog” – Impersonal Finances
- “I reached FIRE at 43.” – Chrissy @ Eat Sleep Breathe FI
- “Don’t look for the needle when you can just get the haystack” – Little Jimster @ Setting the UK On FIRE
- “Getting excited when you add up all the money you saved during the year.” Landshark
- “I retired at age 55.” – Fritz @ The Retirement Manifesto
- “I don’t own any cryptocurrencies. ;)” – Chris @ Can I Retire Yet
- “Play Pickleball from noon to 3 pm most weekdays.” – Financial Samurai
- “I like rising cashflow!” Mark @ My Own Advisor
- “J Pow” – Stop Ironing Shirts
- “The Rule of 72 is actually the Rule of 69 (Natural log of 2)” – Lazy Man @ Lazy Man and Money
- “Throwing 60% of net income to index funds, not even including 401k” – Gary @ Financial Fives
Section 4 – Happiness
On a scale of 1-10 how strongly do you feel about the following statement
1 being the lowest | 10 being the highest
How do you rate your current happiness?
Great to see, that generally our community is quite happy, and 15% have even found their way to a 10, which is awesome!
In the past year, how did your personal finances contribute to your happiness?
Given the group we are surveying, this makes total sense. But I suspect if we asked this same question to non-personal finance folks we might see the opposite graph.
In the past year, how did your relationships contribute to your happiness?
Ding, ding, ding. This is what we have been saying all along. Relationships matter. They are critically important to your happiness. They aren’t everything, but they are a lot.
In the past year, how did politics contribute to your happiness?
No surprises here…
In the past year, how did world events contribute to your happiness?
Largely neutral to negative, which makes sense. Tracking the news day today is a surefire way to become unhappy. I like to keep tabs on world events, but frankly they are out of my control.
In the past year, how did your work contribute to your happiness?
This one is interesting. It’s split. While largely positive, it is also a non-factor for some, and a negatively for less than I would have thought. BUT – this is also one that I think the general population would have a different answer for.
In the past year, how did your hobbies contribute to your happiness?
As expected. Having hobbies positively effects your happiness.
In the past year, how did your health contribute to your happiness?
Positive. I like this!
In the past year, how did your spirituality contribute to your happiness?
Mostly neutral, but otherwise leaning positive.
In the past year, how did your vacations contribute to your happiness?
Largely positive as expected.
Any suggestions for next time?
Thanks to all who participated! I appreciate your time, and your insights.
If you are a PF creator and would like to participate in the survey next month, please sign up here.
Lastly, let me know what you liked, what I missed, AND what you’d like me to survey next month!
Whenever my friends that love to talk about politics and world news wonder why they are so unhappy, I’m just going to point them to the results of these surveys! As always, thanks for polling the PF community! It’s so interesting to see what the general consensus is.