Though I am relatively new to the personal finance blogging community, it’s been very eye opening to see that while most everyone is aiming for Financial Independence in some way, there are innumerable ways to pursue it.
You’ve got Fat FIRE to Barista FIRE, you’ve got I’ve already hit FI, to I just started working on FI, etc. There are just so many different ways to go about it, and differing opinions. How can we all make sense of this?
And that is when it occurred to me, that if I want to get a real pulse of the entire PF Blogger community, I should survey them.
The FIRE Insights Blogger Survey
The goal of the survey is to measure interest/blogger sentiment in various asset classes over time, highlight great content, and source advice/recommendations for our community of readers.
I sourced 200+ of the best PF Bloggers and sent out the survey. 25% responded to the inaugural survey. If you are a blogger and would like to participate in future FIRE Insights Surveys, please sign up here.
Section 1 – Starter Questions
What do you feel is the MOST important part of the journey to FI?
This one is more interesting than it looks. While the overwhelming majority favor investing over earning or saving, 21% of the bloggers surveyed wrote in their own responses. Here are some of them:
- “Learning how to balance your saving and spending to live for today while moving towards your FI goals.” – Emily @ Firebird Finance
- “The most important part is to enjoy it. You need to play to your strengths – earning more was easier for me. All three are required to achieve FI” – Michelle @ Fire and Wide
- “Personal profit margin (saving rate)” Nick @ Side Hustle Nation
So clearly, there is no “right” answer here. Your journey to FI is your journey and I agree, the most important part is to enjoy it.
But clearly to become Financially Independent, you need a combination of Earning, Investing or Saving to be successful. You can’t earn your way to FI without Saving, and you can’t Save your way to FI without Investing. Create your own unique combination.
Are you bullish, neutral, or bearish on the economy?
With all of the doom and gloom prophasizing about a potential bear market, 46.8% of those bloggers surveyed are Bullish on the economy. Another 42.6% are neutral. So only a small fraction are Bearish on the economy as a whole.
Perhaps PF bloggers are optimists by nature, but this will be interesting to see how this changes over time (I’ll include it in every survey).
Section 2 – Features of the Month
What did you think was the best piece of FI/FIRE content of the month (that was not yours)?
- Four bloggers highlighted Living a FI’s The 2021 Early-Retirement Update
- Zach @ Pineapple Money highlighted Financial Samurai’s Why The Housing Market Won’t Crash Any Time Soon
- Chrissy at Eat Sleep Breathe FI selected this awesome infographic
- The Fioneers called out All About Your Benjamin’s You Are Your Life’s Creative Director
- Meanwhile Frank on FIRE says “The Fioneers keep coming up with the goods and inspiring my own journey every day”
- Tyler @ Fresh Life Advice goes with A Wealth of Common Sense’s The U.S. Stock Market SHOULD Be In a Bubble
- A Dime Saved gets sentimental with The Cents of Money’s Money Lessons My Mom Taught Me
- Two bloggers selected JL Collin’s The Alfred Hitchcock Path to FI
- Kat @ A Chat with Kat recommends Banker on FIRE’s The Biggest Investor Mistakes In Today’s Market
- Mr. Tako Escapes’ Financial Independence Happens Faster Than You Think as selected by Jenni & Chris from TicTocLife
- Impersonal Finances goes with Budgets are Sexy’s Volunteering Sucks. But It’s Also Kind of Awesome.
- Michael @ Financially Alert highlights ESI’s Why and How I Sold Most of My Rental Properties
- Jim @ Wallet Hacks selects Humble Dollar’s Secret Sauce
And there were plenty more! Great content all around.
What advice did YOU need to hear 5 years ago?
I think this question was probably my favorite. There is so much good advice, it was hard to cut any of the responses:
- “Slow down. FIRE is not a race.” – Joel @ Budgets Are Sexy
- “Be sure you have enough to keep you busy during retirement because the world will change and you will not be able to do most of the things you intended to do during retirement.” – Charles @ Financial Freedom is a Journey
- “It’s overwhelming to learn how to DIY invest, but just keep going—it’ll become second-nature before you realize it.” Chrissy @ Eat Sleep Breathe FI
- “Investing is the only way to achieve financial freedom” – Blake & Allanah @ FIRE with a Family
- “Keep working hard no matter what progress you are seeing now. A career change is in your future and you will finally start to see some results from all that hard work.” – Andrea @ Saving Joyfully
- “The best investment you can make is to learn more about investing. Seriously girl, put down the Harry Potter DVDS, and go read a damn investment book.” – Budget Life List
- “Playtest ideas before implementing. I thought that I’d love nomad life. While it was fun for several months, I’m glad to be in single spot again.” Joe @ Stacking Benjamins
- “Be patient. FIRE doesn’t happen overnight, but you’ll be amazed at where you’ll be in 5 years if you keep at it.” – Financial Chain Breakers
- “You have more control over growing your income (career) than you realize” – Mr. NMW @ No More Weekdays
- “Life has hills and valleys. Plan for the future, but enjoy the journey.” Derek @ Life and My Finances
- “Prepare for the non-financial aspects of the transition to retirement.” Fritz @ The Retirement Manifesto
- “Implement any changes you’re putting off until you’re FI right now.” Adam @ Minafi
- “Develop a morning routine that supports: growth, gratitude, and giving” Michael Quan @ Financially Alert
- “It’s OK to not work yourself as hard as you think you need to.” Jim @ Wallet Hacks
- “Stop obsessing over details, and let compounding do its thing” – Adam @ Brewing Fire
- “The world is full of possibilities, don’t limit yourself.” – One Frugal Girl
- “Working after retirement is a good thing” – Charlie @ Dog Investor
- “Start practicing work-life balance now” – Emily @ FireBird Finance
- “Use your vacation days” – Impersonal Finances
- “Relax” – Keith @ The Wealthy Accountant
- “Focusing on your day job is as important, if not more important, as hustling” – Erik @ The Mastermind Within
“Perhaps a constant thing during much of my life rather than five years…things are rarely as bad as you imagine” – David @ iRetiredYoung
If you had to pick only one book to recommend to your audience, what would it be?
- Dads & Dollar$ and 5 others went with The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko
- Dom @ Gen Y Finance Guy and one other vote for The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
- 2 recommend Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez
- The Magus by John Fowles – David @ FiPhysician
- Adam @ Minafi and suggests The F.I.R.E. Planner by Michael Quan
- And Michael Quan goes with Rich Dad Poor Dad Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki
- Charlie @ Dog Investor picks Warren Buffett’s annual shareholder letters
- Zach @ Pineapple Money says Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat: The BRRRR Rental Property Investment Strategy Made Simple By David Greene
- “This book has changed my life for the better. I wish I had read it years ago instead of during the pandemic. I now have such a different outlook on investing, and how to grow your wealth.”
- Burning Desire for Fire suggests There should be more dancing by Rosalie Ham.
- Keys To A Successful Retirement by Fritz Gilbert…suggested by Fritz himself 🙂
- Jenni & Chris from TicTocLife recommend A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine
- The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
- Plant the Money Seeds recommends I will teach you to be rich by Ramit Sethi
- The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy as recommended by The Neighborhood Finance Guy
- The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins – The Wealthy Accountant
- Derek @ Life and My Finances – Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason
- Mark @ Financial Pilgrimage suggests Lifeonaire by Steve Cook
If I didn’t have to do it perfectly I would try…
- “You don’t have to do anything perfectly. Just start – who cares if you suck?” – Melanie @ Partners in FIRE
- “Cooking” – Harry @ The Finance Buff
- “Surfing” – Impersonal Finances
- “I’m way past my FI number.” Steve @ Steveark
- “Sailing” – Charlie @ Dog Investor
- “Sky Diving” – Frogdancer Jones @ Burning Desire for Fire
- “Owning property” Kat @ A Chat with Kat
- “Taking a break from work, before reaching FIRE, to travel for a few years.” Financial Chain Breakers
- “Striking out on the world as a solo female traveler.” – Budget Life List
- “Quitting my job to start a business.” David @ Filled with Money
- “Producing a Hollywood Feature Film” Michael Quan @ Financially Alert
- “Investing more aggressively” Robyn @ A Dime Saved
- “Making Sourdough Bread” Chrissy @ Eat Sleep Breath FI
- “Owning Real Estate” Jenni & Chris @ TicTocLife
- “Writing a Book” – One Frugal Girl
Section 3 – Blogger Sentiment
On a scale of 1-10 how strongly do you feel about the following
1 being the lowest | 10 being the highest
Clearly there is a decent amount of concerns within the community, though the majority seem to be only moderately concerned in the 5-7 range.
We are a bit all over the place here. We have some bloggers that love Crypto, but most seem to be firmly against it at the moment, with a few others in between.
Clearly the one thing thus far that all of us bloggers can agree on is investing in Index Funds. Near 50% rated it a 10 and over 75% of rated Index Funds at an 8 or higher.
Meanwhile, Active Investing while not 100% opposed, is clearly disfavored. But we did have about 20% who rated Active Investing as a 7 or 8.
Dividend Investing has some favorable ratings. Clearly some folks love it, some dislike it, but overall, the majority aren’t hating on the dividend.
Individual Stock Picking
This one lines up somewhat with Active Investing. A majority are OK with picking individual stocks, but we have another 30-40% who are fairly against it. But this makes sense seeing how most of us are favoring a more passive approach. Yet even those who have a portfolio of 99% index funds, may dabble in Individual Stock picking for the remaining 1% of their portfolio.
I am not surprised given the poor returns this year, but a majority are hating on Bonds which was a bit surprising.
The Gold and Bonds charts are looking awfully similar.
Real Estate, REITs, and Syndication
I think this speaks volumes to the love/hate relationship that many of us have with Real Estate. While it is a great builder of wealth, so is the stock market. So we are seeing the majority feel pretty solidly in the middle.
But not everyone feels the same way about Real Estate Syndications. At the moment at least, the large majority has not rated syndications well.
This is not a surprise, but there are not a lot of Peer-to-Peer lending fans out there at the moment. It is probably too new of an asset class and without stable enough returns to offset the risk.
Suggestions for next time
Thanks to all who participated! I appreciate your time, and your insights.
If you are a blogger 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!
Thanks for pulling this together Accidentally Retired. Great links from everyone.
Thanks for doing this great survey, I loved reading through the results here!
Also, thanks for including me!
I’m excited for next month!
I’ve never seen this done before! Such a creative concept. You successfully polled the financial bloggers across the web! It was fun to predict what the results would be. If this doesn’t convince readers to use index funds, I don’t know what will! Thank you so much for including me – I’m already looking forward to future results!
Thanks! We may be all over the place on some other assets, but clearly NOT on Index Funds. There is just no easier, safer, more diversified way to invest.
Fun and informative rundown, AR!
Some good books to look into there. The money priorities survey matched up with what I expected (e.g. yay index funds). I like the short snippets of advice section.
And of course, thanks for including us. 🙂
Thanks for participating! And yeah my book list keeps getting longer and longer…
This was awesome–thanks for allowing me to participate. Super fun and interesting–and I look forward to seeing how some of this sentiment evolves over time!
Definitely. I am thinking that I’ll update the sentiment on the individual assets each quarter, but we’ll track Bullish/Bearish/Neutral monthly.
Really great idea doing this survey! One thing I would suggest as a possibility: Yearly income. My whole blog is based on the premise that FIRE/financial independence principles apply even if you don’t earn a software engineer’s salary. Since the data portion of the survey is anonymous, I would think (but maybe not!) most people would be comfortable with that. Anyway, just a suggestion, love this idea!
Yeah, I agree that the principles apply no matter what your salary is. I’d venture to guess that those who make more typically see more lifestyle inflation too. I think the only catch would be that I’d have to figure out how to truly anonymize the data for everyone to feel comfortable. But I am sure there is some sort of way to do it.
Great survey with insightful results. Will be adding some reads to my bookshelf. Surprised that REITs aren’t ranked more favorably given the fear of inflation. Lots of fun and learning here.
Thanks Linda. I for one am Bullish on REITs right now. I don’t want the hassle of investing in Real Estate and competing for properties in this hot market, but do want to get some Real Estate exposure outside of my primary home.
The survey is a great idea, and interesting to see the responses you received.
Re future question ideas, I’d be interested in what FIRE people want to see their FIRE life looking like. I haven’t given this much thought, but I’m thinking in terms of whether they’re expecting a life of relaxation, adventures, travel, a chance to volunteer, or continue to work etc. For me, I have the feeling that I’m lucky to have the opportunity and therefore don’t want to waste it, need to do some notable things or have adventures (at least by my definition…I used to be an accountant so my definition of adventure or excitement might be different to others!), but I’m not sure this is normal, sensible or something else. I guess it’s looking at the non monetary side of FIRE.
Thanks David – I agree. I definitely want to look at the non-monetary side of FIRE as well. Will work it in!
The survey was fun which sounded better in my head than on black and white.
Thank you for the invite!
Thanks for participating. I loved your take on putting down the DVDs to read an investment book. Mine would have been. Put down the Game of Thrones books…
This was a great idea! I loved seeing the results from the survey. No real surprises there, which was cool. Thanks so much for including me!
Thanks for participating Chrissy! I think you should give making sourdough bread a try!
Great idea to run a survey! Thanks for including me 🙂
If you had to distill the responses down to just one thing, what would be your biggest takeaway or biggest surprise?
Overall, I was kind of shocked how all over the board some of the ratings were. The community as a whole doesn’t agree on the finer details. But I think they do in terms of the larger bigger picture of FI and life. There certainly will be more to hone in on for next month.
I most enjoyed the “What advice did YOU need to hear 5 years ago?” I thought that the nuggets in there are some of the the things that we all need to hear from time to time.
I love your innovative approach to getting a pulse on the diverse FI community. Not bad for a rookie. Wink. (BTW, rookies are always welcomed in this community, we love to see as many folks as possible jumping on board!)
Thanks Fritz. I appreciate the kind words. I wouldn’t be doing this if there wasn’t such a great community of diverse, yet like-minded folks!
Love the insights here, AR! It’s always nice to see what the general consensus is within the FIRE community. Lots of great wisdom nuggets and as always – more books to read.
Thanks! And yeah, so many more books. I was surprised by the amount that I haven’t yet read. I’ll have to get on it.