FIREd Up Millennials

Everyone has that Facebook friend who moved away, disappeared for a bit, and is now working at Google. Or replace Google with another high-growth company such as Amazon, Facebook or Apple — each is attracting millennials with high-salary, entry-level jobs. If you’re like me, you’re creepin’ on these friends. They post beautiful sunset photos on Instagram, but they aren’t driving expensive cars, buying mansions or traveling the world. It took me a while to solve this mystery — a mystery that wasn’t my business, but could soon become everyone else’s business.

An underground world of frugal millennials exists, and they use a specific model to save money to retire by their thirties. These millennials are not spending $5 a day on trendy coffee, subscribing to every meal/book/toy/razor of the month club, jet setting to Iceland over the weekend, and probably don’t even have Netflix. Instead, they live by FIRE — “financially independent, retiring early.”

In a recent Money article, a young Seattle couple explained that they will retire by 2029 by saving $150,000 a year. As a 28-year-old, I’m scratching my head. That is three times the average salary for someone in their twenties. But through early investment education, strong 401(k) planning, riding the bus rather than owning a car, staying in Airbnb shared rooms when they do travel, eating simple meals like rice and chicken, and enjoying free entertainment, they are on track to reach their goal.

According to a 2017 New York Times article, 35 percent of millennials grew up with divorced parents.

But why? Millennials grew up surrounded by drama. According to a 2017 New York Times article, 35 percent of millennials grew up with divorced parents. They saw the effects of the 2008 economic crisis on their families. They see older co-workers struggling to pay college tuition, clocking in 60+ hours a week. Many lack confidence in the current political environment to provide them with any stability. As one of the most entrepreneurial generations, they are determining their own success instead of trusting others to create it for them. They perceive the value of happiness outside the traditional work model.

And why should we care? Because this group will become a sought-after resource for a variety of industries, especially the civic sphere. For nonprofits, FIREd millennials should be your best bet. These individuals will bring a unique perspective to the board room. Unlike your traditional CEO constituents, they will have the appropriate time to dedicate themselves to the mission at hand. For schools, FIREd millennials might be your cheapest consultant. With operational skills and a proven track record of cutting costs, they may be able to help train leadership with a unique skill set. And for communities, I see FIREd millennials reinvesting their time to serve their local economies more than ever before.

It’s never too late to become smarter with your money. The FIRE methodology is available to anyone, at any age.

First step? Ask yourself if you can give up luxuries in exchange for memories. This one is both the hardest and easiest. You’ll have FOMO. Accept it.

Then do your research. Take advantage of free tools that help you learn smart investing and money management. Robinhood, for example, is a mobile app that allows individuals to invest in publicly traded companies and exchange-traded funds listed on U.S. stock exchanges without paying a commission.

Have a plan and be consistent. FIRE doesn’t say you can’t have kids or have your mother live with you. But it does require you to have a plan to limit spending on these factors every day. Go retro and cut coupons, buy in bulk, and take advantage of free community services for child care and senior living alternatives. When’s the last time you went to the public library? Just saying.

Finally, determine what you want. Let’s say you successfully reach retirement early. What’s next? Spend time thinking about your life after the 9-to-5 grind. Write your aspirations down and change them often. Finally, determine what you want. Let’s say you successfully reach retirement early. What’s next? Spend time thinking about your life after the 9-to-5 grind. Write your aspirations down and change them often. If the limits are ending, think big. Do you see yourself traveling, volunteering, joining the Peace Corps, living overseas, owning your own business, or getting another degree? You’ve worked hard and made sacrifices to retire early – which means you’ve earned the right to FIRE up the next phase of life doing exactly what you want to be doing.

Lauren Ziegler

Lauren Ziegler

Community Outreach Manager at VML
As VML Community Outreach Manager, Lauren coordinates the VML Foundation's membership and benefits program, pro bono administration, community leadership and volunteer opportunities. She also manages VML Momentum publishing, the Plug-In lunch & learn program, is a member of the TEDxKC core planning team, and assists with various internal marketing projects and events. Lauren joined VML in 2012. Lauren received her undergraduate degree at Saint Louis University, and a MBA Certificate at Rockhurst University with a focus in Nonprofit Leadership. Lauren previously worked for the Head for the Cure Foundation as an event coordinator. Outside of VML, Lauren volunteers with Nonprofit Connect, Cultivate KC, Girls on the Run, Children's Mercy Hospital and SIDS Resources.
Lauren Ziegler

Latest posts by Lauren Ziegler (see all)

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.