★ The History of F.I.R.E


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Last modified: April 24, 2019

37 Responses to :
★ The History of F.I.R.E

  1. Thanks for putting this together! It’s crazy how such a seemingly revolutionary idea has been around for decades. I love that the internet has brought such a loyal following to the FIRE movement. :)

    1. You’re welcome! Hard not to be loyal to the FI/ER movement after you’ve discovered it and realized how much it can change your life.

  2. This an amazing time line of the history of FI. It is so inspiring to see that we are basically in the golden-age of early retirement with all the chances on our side. With all the resources we have at a click away, even the little guys have a chance!

    1. >With all the resources we have at a click away, even the little guys have a chance!

      Exactly right. More so than ever before. And the effect ripples out from the movement itself to people who aren’t involved.

  3. Woah. Nice history. I am pretty sure this could be a thesis piece for someone’s degree…

    Every generation works hard for their kids. You did it in your own way. By getting to FIRE, you are able to show your kid that hard work early on can lead to a lifetime of freedom and joy. I always tell my wife that I want my kid to learn to save so that by 30 or 35, if he wants to go be an artist or a musician then he can do it and not hurt his families future.

    1. >if he wants to go be an artist or a musician then he can do it and not hurt his families future

      I agree with you. It’s sad when kids get told, “No, not art school…go study mechanical engineering so you’ll have something to fall back on,” as if there’s only one path through life. Not so…it’s just that people are ill-equipped to see financial independence as even being an option.

      (Which is not to pick on mechanical engineering–it can be breathtakingly artistic.)

  4. Dave says:

    Super interesting article. I was surprised that Billy and Akaisha Kaderli of Retire Early Lifestyle weren’t mentioned. They were the first ones to put FIRE on my radar back in the early 2000s. Maybe they didn’t get the widespread exposure of the others mentioned.

    1. Thanks!

      I see this as a living article, for sure. By having to pick and choose for the sake of space, I’ve done an injustice to many of the early gurus. This thing as drafted was in the vicinity of 6,500 words, and it could just as easily have been double that.

  5. ERD,

    Great write-up of the history of FIRE, and where we stand today! I’m sure there are a million tangents and directions you could’ve taken us down, but your choices were apt and succint!



    1. Much obliged…glad you enjoyed it!

  6. What a fabulous writeup. Thanks for putting this together, I learned a lot from this post.
    My own history starts with Dacyczyn and Robin/Dominguez, whom I discovered way later than most.
    Your Gordon Gecko reference made me chuckle. I got my MBA 95/96 and at that time, they had recycled that content into Business Ethics courses ;)

    1. >Business Ethics

      Now I’m the one laughing. You’re exactly right.

  7. Tawcan says:

    Great write up, really enjoyed reading it. Loving how the FIRE movement is spreading and getting more and more popular.

  8. Really great to see complete history of FI/ER,never thought it existed 800 years ago.I first got in touch with this concept 3 years ago,it changed the way i invest and save .

    1. Definitely more in the public eye than when I got started.

  9. Dave says:

    That was a great article. It reminded me of the beginning credits to the show “the big bang theory”. I really enjoyed your insights from your experience with (FI) and (FIRE). It is amazing how this movement has grown.

  10. I love the history take. I knew a bit of it but not all. A slight correction, Compuserve was old by the 90s. It started in 1969. My father used it via dial up in the early 80s, long before AOL.

    Great write up.

  11. This is freaking fantastic. Really puts into perspective how lucky we are to be here today, at this point in human history, in places with internet access. I feel lucky every time I turn on my computer and see the wealth of information and, well, literal wealth available to me just by the click of a button.

    Thank you for taking the time to put this together!

    1. I’m freaking glad you freaking like it. :)

  12. I graduated from College in 1999. So I also lived through much of this era. I think the internet is great for many reasons. however, I also think the internet makes people think the FIRE movement is mainstream, it isn’t. It just isn’t on paper anymore and it’s easier to read about it.

    However, when I talk to people in daily life, not one person wishes to retire anytime before 60. I mean, they do wish to retire a bit earlier, but all assume they will work until that old. This is the same whether here at work, with our families, or in our neighborhood.

    They all believe work until you die is just what you do. I FIRE on July 5th, and at age 18 and working at McDonald’s, my head manager there shared a financial independence pamphlet with me and he talked about all his investing, including $100/check in mcD stock. So the FI movement certainly was around back then and publications already existed.

    1. >They all believe work until you die is just what you do

      As you allude to, I don’t think the average American worker is even equipped to conceive of early retirement as an option. Certainly FI/ER isn’t taught by parents or in schools, even though some of its individual components may be.

      I’d be so interested to see that financial independence pamphlet you mentioned. Do you still have it? And do you know whatever became of that Mickey D’s manager?

      1. J. Money says:

        I’d love to see that pamphlet too!

  13. Mr. Tako says:

    Great write-up ERD!

    The internet has certainly helped a lot of these FI/ER ideas spread to the little guy. Whether he can achieve it or not is another story, but at least the knowledge is there and easily accessible.

  14. Team CF says:

    Very, very cool. Always wondered what set off the whole avalanche in early retirement and personal finance blogs. We ourselves actually started after we saw an article in moneysense about ERE. Via Jacobs blog we ran into MMM and onwards to go curry cracker, root of good and many more. It only went downhill after that as we started ourselves as well ;-)
    Thanks for the history lesson!

    1. J. Money says:

      We need all the help we can get spreading the good word ;)

  15. Great post! I love the FIRE initiative and love that it’s becoming more common! You’re creating a movement haha

  16. Super thorough post! I’m early into my own FI/ER journey, can’t wait till it all comes together :)

    1. J. Money says:

      Welcome to the fun :)

  17. Stacy says:

    I truly enjoyed your historical chronology of the Financial Independence movement. In my short lifetime I have been lucky to live through the first man on the moon, Lotus 1-2-3, the Information Age of the Internet and the personal computer in your palm that also cries phone calls. I agree that Google has had an enormous impact and will continue to accelerate the FI/RE community growth.

    1. J. Money says:

      Pretty mind blowing when you look back at it all, isn’t it? Just think what the next 30-40 years will bring!

      1. Redfish says:

        Just awesome and “pretty mind blowing”. The Adam and Eve comment was great! Will the current generation of youngsters grow up “soft”? Everything they need to know about FI/RE is available to them at the click of a button, 24/7, with almost no research effort.

        Imagine trying to develop a FI/RE and investment plan before you are 30 during the early 1970s. It wasn’t so easy! (I know…., it was so bad I had to walk 5 miles to school and back uphill both ways, in 4 feet of snow). That’s where I came from and the process didn’t have a name. If you not RI/REd yet, it is well worth the journey.

        1. J. Money says:

          Haha… glad you enjoyed it my man ;) I’ll be sure to come back in 15 years when my two little kid at home are adult age and we’ll see if they’ve reached FIRE yet for themselves – hah. Lord knows they’re not going to listen to their dad and will have to figure it out for themselves! (Though it won’t stop me from trying to drill it into their heads, of course)

  18. Great work ERD! Somewhere in this awesome history Clark Howard and Thomas Stanley need a place.

    Before Clark Howard was a consumer advocate on WSB in 1991, he sold his company at 35 and retired to Florida for a few years. I found his message boards in the early 2000s and it helped me. Clark was always ranting against variable annuities and full cost investment advisers while pushing Vanguard.

    Dr. Stanley really opened my eyes with The Millionaire Next Door, which I didn’t get hold of until being almost out of college in 2002.

    1. J. Money says:

      Interesting about Clark! Didn’t know that… Agreed Millionaire Next Door helped bring a lot of this stuff to the mainstream too. Super powerful book. It actually took the #1 slot of the most recommended when we polled 200 $$ bloggers on their favorite books! https://rockstarfinance.com/best-financial-books-ranked-by-personal-finance-bloggers/

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