The FIRE Insights Survey
Welcome to the fifth FIRE Insights Survey!
Last month’s survey was really fun to put together and again received a great response.
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.
This month, I sourced 300+ of the best Personal Finance Content Creators (Bloggers, Podcasters, Youtubers, etc.) and sent out the survey.
A special thanks to Mr. Chaos from Cutting Through Chaos for helping to edit and build out the final section of the survey this month!
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
Where does a majority of your income come from?
Not surprisingly, 54.5% of our income comes from W2 employment, with another 16% coming from self employment.
Then about 25% of us receive most of our income from Investments of some kind between Dividends, Capital Gains, Rental Property Cash flow, etc.
So as you can see, PF content creators can and do put their money where their mouth is.
Are you married?
The overwhelming majority are married. I don’t really have much commentary here, as your relationship status shouldn’t have too much bearing on your potential financial situation.
However, I will say in my house, it has been a team effort. There were years when I worked for startups and made little money. My wife’s job gave us stability and benefits. Then later on, I was able to provide stability after we sold our company and my wife was able to stay-at-home.
I think the most important part, is simply working together and making sure you are on the same page as much as possible.
How many kids do you have?
54.5% of us have kids, but the quantity varies widely. Some have two like myself, but others have one and some even have four!
Are you bullish, neutral, or bearish on the economy?
Wow, the Bullish group shrank down from 47.9% to 38.6% percent. Ouch! The Bearish group is at its highest level since May.
Not only that, but this survey was partially conducted the week of Thanksgiving, so it is likely that some folks are even more Bearish now.
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)?
- Lauren @ cFIREsim shared Modest Millionaire’s I Am Semi-Retired – I particularly enjoyed seeing someone with a very similar schedule to mine.
- FI for the People congratulated Kitty @ Bitches Get Riches’ Your Girl Is Officially Retiring at 35 Years Old
- Karsten aka Big Ern @ Early Retirement Now highlighted Fritz from The Retirement Manifesto’s Rethinking the 4% Safe Withdrawal Rule
- Mr. Chaos @ Cutting the Chaos selected The Most Important Chart In Investing by Damian @ Banker on FIRE
- Family Wealth and Happiness: 10 Steps to a Better Tomorrow (Today) by Marriage Kids and Money was recommended to us by Lawrence @ The Neighborhood Finance Guy
- Dads and Dollar$ enjoyed A Purple Life’s $5K to Retirement In 9 Years: Year 1 “Is This Adulting?” and she has since continued through her journey…Marjolein @ Radical FIRE shared Year 3 “Discovering FIRE…And Ignoring It”
- Keith @ The Wealthy Accountant selected a truly great one in One thing to my people (A prayer of thanksgiving) from J.D. Roth @ Get Rich Slowly.
- Impersonal Finances enjoyed my guest post on Budgets are Sexy Problems Come, and Problems Go (Even in FIRE)
- LadyFIRE @ Money Savvy Ladies shared More to That’s excellent The Nothingness of Money
- Mr. NMW @ No More Weekdays enjoyed Stop Ironing Shirt’s Do You Harbor Any Regret About Retiring Early?
- One Frugal Girl loved Becoming Minimalists’ You Already Have Enough. Let It Change Your Life.
- Sean @ Fight FIRE with FIRE liked JL Collins’ Are Bonds Done?
- BuLL@ Budget Life List highlighted The Fioneer’s To Downshift, You Must Overcome Your Scarcity Mindset
- Joel @ Budgets are Sexy shared Does inflation matter if you’re frugal? by Government Worker FI
- Leif @ Physician on FIRE liked Apex Money’s roundup Ever wonder what hectamillionaires worry about?
- Jesse @ The Best Interest highlighted The Reformed Broker’s No More Side Quests
- Chris @ Can I Retire Yet? shared Allan Roth’s ETF.com Preparing For The Grizzly Bear saying “Not FIRE specific, but a pretty important reminder of what can happen”
- Lastly, John Stoj @ Verbatim Financial reminds us not to forget our year end tax planning with The FI Tax Guy’s 2021 Year-end Tax Planning
And there were plenty more! Great content all around.
What is the weirdest thing you’ve done to save money? (BuLL @ Budget Life List)
This was probably one of my favorite questions of our entire survey. It is wild what we all do to save money!
- “Take a girl on a date to McDonald’s, because I had coupons.” – Liquid @ Freedom 35 Blog
- “Building a campfire in the front yard with marshmallows to burn a stump, because only cook fires were allowed. The neighbors actually stopped by and commented on it.” – Jackie @ The Debt Myth
- “Buy dented appliance for 40% discount. (oven, refrigerator etc) works fine but stores can’t sell damaged goods very easily.” – Adam @ Blind Luck Project
- “I bought 8 Liters of sunscreen (about 2 Gal) in Australia when I was visiting and flew it home with me to the US. It’s so much cheaper over there, and I use a LOT cause I’m pasty white.” – Joel @ Budgets are Sexy
- “Googling promo codes for any online shopping. Sending flowers for mother’s day? There’s usually an extra 10% off code to be found somewhere.” – Impersonal Finances
- “I installed a bidet last year and I can confirm it has not been a crappy investment” – Mr. NMW @ No More Weekdays
- “I’ve driven a package I sold on eBay directly to someones house (who lived a few miles away) to save $5 on shipping.” – AR @ Accidentally Retired
- “Moved 6000km from home” – Bear Money
- “Sold a household worth of possessions on ebay” – Landshark
- “In college, I became friends with multiple Papa Johns delivery guys. Drunk students would order pizza then forget about their orders. Those pizzas were ultimately thrown out if nobody came to collect them. If I hung out in the lobby at the right time on a Friday or Saturday night the delivery guys would give them to me instead of tossing them. I ate a lot of free pizza that year.” – One Frugal Girl
- “Continued using a grill with a broken starter…which involved me sticking my arm into the grill top and quickly removing it when the ball of fire came at me…” – Derek @ Life and my Finances
- “Reusing the cotton fluff in pill containers.” – BuLL @ Budget Life List
- “Cut and burn fire wood for heat. Or mostly just wear coats and hats inside if you ask my wife…” – David @ FI Physician
- “Cut my own hair – it got better once I used a mirror! Ha.” – Mark @ My Own Advisor
- “Sleep in airport and train stations while living in Europe” – Bob @ Tawcan
- “Bought a $45k car in the hopes that electricity and maintenance is less than a gas car :)” – Lauren @ cFIREsim
- “People think that packing a sleeping pad to sleep in airports in order to get cheaper flights and more time at nice centurion lounges is weird but I love it” – Justin @ Saving Sherpa
- “I redeem credit card points ONLY for gasoline gift cards. And I think I have a great (potentially weird) reason. It deserves its own blog post.” – Jesse @ The Best Interest
- “Intentionally charged my phone at work to save electricity and went to restrooms at university to save money on toiletries as a college student.” – David @ Filled with Money
- “Buying a sawmill to mill my own clapboard siding from trees on my property to repair my barn. It was cheaper than getting it resided by a professional or buying premade siding and installing it myself.” – Vicky @ Saving Advice
- “I’ve skipped meals to save on money. Lesson learned: Don’t compromise on your health!” – Tyler @ Fresh Life Advice
- “Bought a van to sleep in.” – Littlejimster @ Setting the UK on FIRE
How much cash (exactly, to the penny) do you have in your checking account right now? (Joel @ Budgets are Sexy)
This is where personal finance really does get personal! While the far majority of the participants had between $2,000-6,000, with a median of $4,721, it really was ALL OVER THE PLACE. We had a few folks sitting on a lot of cash, with one at $109K, and a couple in the $60K range, but as you can see, it varies!
What is your favorite holiday memory?
- “Basketball hoop under the Christmas tree, even though it took up half of the living room” – Josh Overmyer
- “Playing football on Thanksgiving with my cousins / Throwing oatmeal on the front lawn on Christmas Eve to simulate feeding Reindeer.” – Tyler @ Fresh Life Advice
- “Driving into NYC with my family as a child to go to midnight mass and look at all the lights and department store window displays.” – Vicky @ Saving Advice
- “Christmas tree lighting in Vail on a ski trip with my parents” – Tommy @ Wander Wealth
- “The first Halloween I went to. I didn’t know what the tradition was and there were no problems getting candy from the houses before. The last house that I knocked on, they asked, “what do you say?” and I froze and had no clue what I was supposed to say. Then they clarified, “you say trick or treat!”. I still remember it to this day.” – David @ Filled with Money
- “Favorite memory as an adult pre-kids: walking of the veranda of our chalet in the maldives into the crystal clear water and snorkelling 20 yards to the drop off
Favorite memory as an adult post-kids: anytime you get to see your kids experience something for the first time and blow their minds. Like a sunset cruise on the zambezi river whilst staying clear of the hippos and crocs.” – Mr. Chaos @ Cutting Through Chaos
- “The daily excitement of watching our daughter find her elf on the shelf each morning.” – Chris @ Can I Retire Yet?
- “Time with my Dad before he passed.” Theresa @ In The Game
- “My favorite is probably the time we went to Williamsburg for the day during Thanksgiving week. We ate some fried chicken that perhaps came from colonial times. I was wretchedly sick the entire rest of the day and had a “fun time” vomiting all over Williamsburg. Meanwhile the family degraded into a screaming match and eff bombs. But yet, we all remember this fondly as it gives us a good laugh every year. The time that AR threw up EVERYWHERE. Sometimes some of the worst days make the best memories!” – AR @ Accidentally Retired
- “New bicycle as a kid.” – Steve @ Slightly Early Retirement
- “Christmas with the cousins, got a mini frogger game and played 24/7 for weeks” – David @ FI Physician
- “Reading “The Night Before Christmas” with our kids.” – Sean @ Fight FIRE with FIRE
- “Driving around to look at Christmas lights with the family.” – Ms. FOGA @ From One Geek to Another
- “Gosh, probably when I got my first bike at Christmas. Best. Christmas. Ever!” – Mark @ My Own Advisor
- “Going with my grandpa to buy fireworks, and getting a ridiculous amount. Then making homemade ice cream with my grandma to have with the fireworks.” Jackie @ The Debt Myth
- “You really don’t want to know.” – Keith @ The Wealthy Accountant
- “Doing things with my family and watching their smiles” – David @ i Retired Young
- “Fourth of July celebration in the large Midwest city I used to live in. In the early afternoon, I and a group of friends would go to a certain primo spot to watch the (free) fireworks show that’d start after sundown. We’d have a picnic, throw a ball around, and have a great time over the course of about 10 hours. And, as I like to say, the price was right.” – FI For the People
- “Probably the first Christmas after our son was born. He was just over a month old and everything was so surreal.” – RV on FIRE
- “Getting a lava lamp for Christmas, I’d asked for 4 years in a row and finally got one! used it for 15 years.” – Adam @ Blind Luck Project
- “4th of July, 2010… My wife and I grabbed 2 surf boards, went to Waikiki beach and paddled out as far as we could… Out there in the ocean we found a massive, floating party called: FLOATILLA. Y’all should go some time, it’s nuts.” – Joel @ Budgets are Sexy
- “Traveling…anywhere” – Dragon Gal and Dragon Guy @ The Dragons on FIRE
- “Opening stockings Christmas morning.” – Leif @ Physician on FIRE
Section 3 – Happiness Sentiment
How important are the following to your happiness?
Health & Fitness
A Sense of Purpose
I really enjoyed seeing the responses here. A lot of this was what I would expect in that Friends, Family, Health and Financial Security very highly.
Work and Spirituality were more evenly spread out, in that some of us valued them greatly, while others are firmly against Work or Spirituality as a measure of happiness.
Play, Romance, and A Sense of Purpose all had very strong ratings, but not quite as uniformly popular as Friends, Family, Health and Finances.
I’ve written a decent amount on Happiness, and while still trying to figure it all out myself, I believe that balance is key. You can have all the financial security in the world, but it makes no matter if you haven’t curated other sources of happiness into your life.
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!