What the naysayers are missing

Recently, some of my friends enjoyed a bit major media coverage.


Kristy and Bruce

of Millennial Revolution were interviewed on TV and I love their last line:

“If you figure out money, life is incredibly easy. If you don’t, life is insanely hard.”

I like it so much it is now part of I could not have said it better myself.

Carl & Mindy

Mindy and Carl

 of 1500 Days were featured on the front page of Yahoo: How one couple saved $1,000,000

Predictably, the comment sections promptly filled up with vicious attacks and blind outrage. I say “predictably” as I’ve seen this happen every time to everybody who has shared their FI success story on an outlet that reaches the masses. Read a few and, like me, you’ll probably feel the need for a shower.

Every now and again I am asked what would happen if everybody followed the ideas in my blog, and others, became financially independent and stopped working at unfulfilling jobs. Wouldn’t the economy grind to a halt?


But a quick read thru those comments shows why I’m not worried about it. The vast majority of people are so used to their chains they refuse to even see them. The concept is outrageous and the idea that someone else has figured out how to throw them off, appalling.

Broadly speaking, the objections fall mostly into one of three categories: The media outlet is promoting a scam, they had unique advantages or they are lying.

The media outlet is promoting a scam

This, frankly, baffles me. What possible reason would there be? Instead, what amazes me is that these media run such stories at all.

Their revenue is based on advertising and following this FI path means for the most part rejecting tradional consumer spending. Not only is there no money to be made promoting these stories, there is money to be lost.

Show me a story on why everyone should buy a house, and I can point to scores of potential advertisers who will make money if you do.

Show me the stories on market trading strategies and the latest hot mutual fund, and I can show you the same.

But show me a story about people who save their money, invest in low-cost index funds and drop out to travel the world? Please.

Travel companies? Not hardly. They make far more promoting high-cost week long package vacations.

Airlines? Hotels? The big money for them is in business travellers. You know, those folks who keep working away at their jobs.

They had unique advantages

Otherwise known as “poor me.”

“These people made more money, had better educations, didn’t have kids, don’t have my expensive lifestyle, got lucky with investments, plus it won’t last for them anyway and they’ll be left ruined (I hope!).”

Tragically, this gut reaction stops the thought process when a little further reading would have begun to reveal the path more clearly. Stories of people who’ve done it on less money, with kids and with remarkably simple investments.

Just before Christmas in, I think, 1993, I had lunch with Ken, an old friend. He had just cashed his yearly bonus check of $800,000. Wanna know what we talked about? How you just can’t live on $800,000.

You know what? He was right.

Listening to him total up his expenses for the multiple houses, cars, private schools, boats, divorces; $800,000 fell short. Barring some major lifestyle adjustments, Ken will never be financially independent.

I have another friend though, who is. He put two boys thru college, owns his house mortgage free and has never made more than $40,000 a year. While not specific to him, in Can Everyone Really Retire a Millionaire, I’ve written about how the math works.

Financial independence has two aspects: How much you have and how much you need. Once that is understood, it becomes clear why not all those with big incomes succeed and how those with small incomes can.

Perhaps those commenting on these articles genuinely have less than those being written about. Too bad it stops them from looking deeper. Because this, too, is true:

“But there’s also no doubt that many people, with fewer advantages than you, have overcome them to achieve much greater things”

— Mr. Money Mustache

They are lying

Of course, in that these are people I know personally, I have the advantage of knowing their stories are true. Through my own blog and at our Chautauquas, I have met scores of others who’ve done it or who are well on their way.

But if I didn’t?

I’m a very skeptical guy and I admire skepticism in others. There is a ton of horse-hockey and bull-pucky out there in the world of investing. That, however, is not at odds with being open to new ideas.

Coming on this whole FIRE concept for the first time and with no prior exposure, my alarm bells would definitely be set off. But I like to think I’d be intrigued enough to explore further. Maybe read their blogs and some of the others those lead me to. Investigate the details, and then decide.

Especially if I were in a soul-crushing job or just had ideas for better ways to spend my limited time on this planet.

Some I’ve missed

I’m sure there are other objections buried in those comments that don’t fit my arbitrary categories. As I say, I can only read so many before starting to feel soiled. If you care to, point out those others you’ve noticed and how you’d respond in the comments below.

These articles in the larger media are great fun to read. But they cannot, and should not be expected to, provide the answer to every possible objection. Instead, they can offer a glimpse into a world of other possibilities. Most who read them will stay in their chains, smug in believing their hostile comments protect them from the better option passing them by. But a few will look deeper, and some of those will take the steps.

We’ll be waiting with congratulations and open arms.

On another subject or three…

A book

Just about the time I released The Simple Path to Wealthmy pal Darrow released his second:

I’ve mentioned it in passing a couple of times already, but have been too busy to say much about it. During our summer travels, I threw my copy in my bag and had the chance to give it a nice, solid, leisurely read. Darrow does not disappoint.

To those who obsess over the slight potential failure rate of any given strategy:

“…complete financial failure is unlikely if the analysis shows a relatively low probability. Why? Because most sensible people are going to modify their lifestyle if the numbers start heading in the wrong direction. So the failure rate associated with a probability-based analysis is more a metric for the likelihood and severity of having to adjust your lifestyle, than it is a prediction for the odds of eating cat food later in retirement.” (italics mine)

Clear-eyed and on point.

Darrow and I don’t agree on everything. He holds gold and international stocks in his portfolio, I see the need for neither. He makes a case for annuities in some situations. I wouldn’t touch them. But this doesn’t matter.

What matters is, in each case and for every point in his book, he presents a well-considered and logical rational. In the end, should you choose to invest in, say, an annuity, you will have a very sound understanding of what they are, the many types you must absolutely avoid, the one type to consider and its shortcomings along with the roll you can expect it to play.

If you go to the Amazon page for my book, you’ll see that Can I Retire Yet is one frequently bought with it. For good reason, I’d say.

If you are retired, or thinking about retiring, trite though saying it may be, this is a must read.

Another book and a short video


Human Origin Video

How we humans came to be what we are is endlessly interesting to me. So when I came across this charming short video above, I immediately watched. Turns out it is based on one of my most favorite recent reads:

Another book and a short video (courtesy of Done by Forty in the comments below)

 It is well known that the European arrival in the Americas brought diseases that decimated some 90% of the native populations. But why didn’t it work the other way, too? This short film illustrates

Why there were no American plagues to infect the Europeans

Here’s a great book that further explores this and other issues as to how and why history has unfolded as it has:


Most evenings I take the dog down by the river for a walk. Other than us, there are usually only the lovers, muggers and thieves; and few of them at that.

More recently, the park has been thick with zombies staggering about or standing in clumps slack-jawed and staring down at their mobile phones, the light of which reflects eerily up thru the dark and on to their vacant eyes and dead features.

I may have to start carrying a machete…

Addendum 1: From JD Roth over at Money Boss:

Haters gonna hate, hate, hate. Shake it off

Addendum 2: Finally! Mr. 1500 comes clean:

 1500 Days: Bringing out the worst in people since 2013

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Important Resources

  • Talent Stacker is a resource that I learned about through my work with Jonathan and Brad at ChooseFI, and first heard about Salesforce as a career option in an episode where they featured Bradley Rice on the Podcast. In that episode, Bradley shared how he reached FI quickly thanks to his huge paychecks and discipline in keeping his expenses low. Jonathan teamed up with Bradley to build Talent Stacker, and they have helped more than 1,000 students from all walks of life complete the program and land jobs like clockwork, earning double or even triple their old salaries using a Salesforce certification to break into a no-code tech career.
  • Credit Cards are like chain saws. Incredibly useful. Incredibly dangerous. Resolve to pay in full each month and never carry a balance. Do that and they can be great tools. Here are some of the very best for travel hacking, cash back and small business rewards.
  • Empower is a free tool to manage and evaluate your investments. With great visuals you can track your net worth, asset allocation, and portfolio performance, including costs. At a glance you'll see what's working and what you might want to change. Here's my full review.
  • Betterment is my recommendation for hands-off investors who prefer a DIFM (Do It For Me) approach. It is also a great tool for reaching short-term savings goals. Here is my Betterment Review
  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.
  • Vanguard.com


  1. Physician on FIRE says

    Thanks for sharing the articles, Jim! I was aware of the Millenial Revolution feature on CNBC. I somehow missed the article on the 1500s. 1284 comments and counting!

    You’ll find plenty of Yeasayers here on your blog, but the mainstream commenters are 99% naysayers. Wow!

    Here’s an excerpt: “If it is true, then they were extremely lucky to hold on to their jobs for ten years or more, during the worst recession in 50 years, in this day and age when the economy and job market is so volatile. In any case, here are some holes: This is the 8th or 9th similar ‘story’ in the last two months. Really yahoo? Are we to believe all this BS?

    First, this is nothing but an advert for investment companies.

    Second, -if this fairy tale is real- “putting $2,000 a month toward their investments, which stood at $570,000 when they started,” Here we have it…” -Antichiterra

    Lots of people are picking on the starting point. They “started” with $570,000 and a lake home (in their late thirties). As if they did nothing for fifteen years and were gifted these things.

    The article has many link back to their blog, 1500 Days, but how many of the commenters clicked on them to test their theories that the story is full of holes the size of boulders? Apparently next to none.

    I first learned about the FIRE concept from a similar Marketwatch article on Mr. Money Mustache. Was I skeptical? Yes. Curious? Absolutely. I satisfied my curiosity by visiting the site and learning a whole lot. What I learned more than validated what was written in that story, and the two stories highlighted above.

    Some 20 months later, I have gone so far down the rabbit hole, I have a blog of my own, and friends like you and the 1500s. And I know all these FIRE dreams are possible and have been realized by others who are now living the dream.

    Cheers! And welcome back to the blog!
    -Physician on FIRE

    • Mr. 1500 says

      And it’s a wonderful rabbit hole to go down!

      Here is my theory on the nasty people:

      Nasty guy reads the post and has two choices:
      1) He could work his ass, putting in hundreds or even thousands of hours hustling and investing.
      2) He could make nasty excuses for why he can’t mimic the success of the internet guy.

      Choice 2 is always easier.

      I agree with the skepticism though too. I was skeptical of MMM too, but I was willing to give him a chance. When I couldn’t poke any holes in his story, I knew he was the real deal.

      All of those trolls are more than balanced by all of the nice emails people have sent me about the article and my story. The trolls outnumber the nice people by 20-1 at least, but the goodness I hear is 1,000,000 stronger than the nastiness.

      • Michael Melissinos says

        If trolls outnumber nice people by 20-1, then the trolls represent 95% of society. Due to preferring choice #2 and making similar decisions in other areas of life, they end up poor and unhappy and, well, trolls.

        Your example seems consistent with Pareto’s Principle and other similar distributions of the have’s and have not’s.

        If people want to move to a higher financial status, they may no choice but to pick option #1 regardless of how it makes them feel or how hard they think it may be to achieve their goals.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hey PonF…

      “Was I skeptical? Yes. Curious? Absolutely.”

      And unafraid. That’s the key, I think.

      Those that just don’t believe it, likely roll their eyes and move on.

      To react with such venom, those folks must be terrified of what they might learn.

      Yeah, I didn’t plan to start posting so soon, or with this one. But those were two great stories I wanted to share with my readers and the chance to climb up on my soapbox was more than I could resist. 🙂

      • Mr. 1500 says

        Jim, I forgot to thank you for this. Much appreciated. I love our little FI community. As I’ve said many times, I’d like nothing better for all of you live on my street.

        • Fervent Finance says

          But if that was the case, we wouldn’t have neighbors who would invite us to swim in their sick in-ground pool or on rides in their boats that cost a year’s salary! 🙂

          Obviously some people have a leg up on others, but a lot of the time hard work will distance that gap quite quickly. It’s just a shame that more people don’t realize that.

    • Sandy says

      Yes, but the article headline clearly states something along the lines of “How these people saved 1 million dollars in 4 years”. To most people, the implication is that they somehow saved $250,000 a year (which is possible of course) …. when they didn’t. Yes, they began with $570k and that makes a MASSIVE difference to the allusion of the article’s headline. Many people will never see $570k in their lifetimes, yet alone ‘saving’ 1 million in 4 years. The reason for the vitriol is that Mindy and Carl didn’t do anything special at all. They just did what the rest of us are doing. However, for the minions tied up in mortgages, loans and other debt and looking for the way out, this article providing NOTHING of value to them. It just came off as pointless and SMUG. A fail in other words to those people who thought they were going to learn something.

      PS. Dont think I’m mad/bitter/angry like some of those who left nasty comments on this article. I am financially independent already.

      • Julie and Will says

        You make an interesting point. We came across a similar headline (and maybe it’s the same one you are talking about) and didn’t click on it because it seemed like a clear click-bait headline.

        Most likely “Work hard, live frugally, save aggressively, invest smartly, and be patient” probably isn’t considered as eye-catching a title (though much more realistic…).

    • Johnny D says

      jlcollinsnh and Mr 1500,

      I have to agree with Sandy’s comment. I read the article on Yahoo, and the title was, “How one couple saved $1 million in 4 years to retire by age 43”. I found that most of the negative comments were directed at the author of the article for the inaccuracy of the title. If the title was “How one couple had $570K and grew that into $1 million in 4 years to retire by age 43” I think there would have been less negative feedback

      I do understand that Mr. 1500 probably had no control over the title of the article so this is certainly not his fault.

      For the record, I fully believe and follow a lifestyle geared towards FI. If someone wrote an article about me it would be titled, “How one couple saved $1 million in by age 49” It is possible, and I am sure Mr 1500 has achieved what the article claims, as many other people have as well. Congratulations to us all! 😉

      Mr. jlcollinsnh, I think you should acknowledge the title of the article and the fact that most of the negative comments were about that. The link you include takes you right to the article with this title.

      • jlcollinsnh says

        Hi Johnny…

        I’m not sure the title needs acknowledgement from me. As you say, it is right there following the link.

        That said, using the unfortunate title as an excuse to unleash such blistering hostility toward the concept seems unproductive. A more helpful approach would be to say, “Well, that title was off base, but are there interesting and perhaps valuable insights here for me?”

        Were other articles about FI more graciously received, I’d be more inclined to place the blame for the reaction to this one as you suggest.

        But in fact, as I point out in my post, every article of this nature produces the same sort of venomous comments, regardless of title or the quality of writing.

        The point of my post wasn’t that this one article was attacked, it is that this concept of FI is always attacked. The most artful title would not have changed that.

        • Johnny D says

          I think I did not explain myself clearly. Most of the negative comments towards the article were about the inaccuracy of the title, as I stated in my comment. You do not mention that in your post. I think you should have.

          I agree with your point about the other categories of comments to these types of articles and the points you raised about those.

          The point of your post may not have been that this one article was attacked, but you used it as an example. You may want to consider that referencing a flawed article weakens the point of your post.

          If the article had a more artful title then I would bet that the majority of comments to it would have been focus on the areas you suggest. It is just easier for some people to say something can’t be done than to put the effort in to achieve it. I am not one of those, and I bet neither are you, or most people that achieve any level of success, in whatever way they define that.

          Again, I agree with your points, I just think the original post would have given a more complete picture if it also referenced the inaccurate title of the article and that the majority of the negative feedback was towards that.

  2. Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions says

    I think some commenters just skip the objections and jump straight to judgments – including that people like the 1500’s are just stupid and suck at math. Your comment that “I like to think I’d be intrigued enough to explore further” is something I thought of immediately too. But as an educator this is also very scary. Many schools have moved away from using inquiry-based instruction (asking how and why, seeking evidence and exploring) to simply focus on high stakes testing and getting a passing score. Sadly, being intrigued is being replaced with tell me what to do and how to do it…or simply – it can’t be done.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Great points, Vicki…

      …more and more it seems fact-based evidence seeking is rejected in favor of “well, this is just what I believe” or “this is what I was told.”

      The scientific method of seeking information and answers simply works. It is why we have electricity, computers, cars, bicycles, airplanes, space ships, cities, medicines and everything else we use daily.

      Given the choice, I’ll opt for what works. 😉

      • Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions says

        You can add “or this is what I read online (somewhere)” to those rejecting fact-based evidence…
        The Common Core actually pushes some inquiry and the Next Generation Science Standards certainly do – but the laser intense focus on standardized testing takes the front seat and negates a lot of what is good in the curricula. Some serious damage has been done & if we want kids to learn and question things, tests can’t be all that matter. (I’ll stand next to ya on a different soapbox! Just went back to work temporarily at a school this week – pretty fresh on my mind!)

    • Michael Melissinos says

      As a society, we may have our feelings about exploration and research in knots – meaning that we don’t like the feelings that come up during the process of exploring and researching.

      If we suppress our feelings about challenging our current beliefs, “facts” and methods of doing things, then we inhibit our ability to progress. I believe humans, in general, prefer to suppress feelings (and medicate them) rather than deal with them and get to work. Think about how many people you’ve come across in your life that welcome and enjoy having their beliefs and methods challenged; my guess is not many like that.

      In schools, textbooks may have to be written and re-written far more often if we have a society that loves exploring and researching. In the event(s) of new findings, books must be re-written, lessons plans changed and beliefs reshaped. This becomes a lot of work logistically and psychologically, especially if there are many new discoveries every few years or something.

      I just don’t believe many people are ever going to want to adapt a culture like this. They want to take it easy, relax and maintain the status quo.

  3. G-dog says

    I became aware of MMM in 2014 at 54 yo. From there I checked out Bogleheads and jlcollinsnh (the stock series).
    I wanted to leave my job, oh so bad. The time was exactly right for me. I can’t say whether I would have scoffed at this same information 30 years ago, but I was motivated now!
    I did so many things wrong earlier, but had, almost accidentally done so many things right. I took advantage of 403(b) or 401(k) programs when available, but I was lazy. As I got older, I increased my contributions. I didn’t succumb to as much lifestyle inflation as many others had. During the remainder of 2014 I tracked my expenses. This was the data I was missing.
    In 2015 I retired! (FIREd). Look, I didn’t know what I was doing, my parents were lower middle class to poor, but they taught me to save and avoid debt. People their age didn’t have 401k or index funds or IRAs or Roths, and people in their economic group did not have easy access to buying stocks. But they had the fundamentals – don’t spend more than you make, and save for a rainy day.
    I guess I am an example of “when the student is ready, the teacher will come”

    • Julie and Will says

      We are following very similar timeline trajectories as you did. We became aware of MMM and Can I Retire Yet in January 2015 and then found jlcollinsnh, Go Curry Cracker, etc. through the original two we started reading. It took just a couple of weeks to decide that we needed to jump on this FIRE wagon. We decided on Jan. 2018 for our FIRE date, but we might make it a year early (though we still need to decide whether or not to take that leap early). All from a little bit of planning–and these wonderful blogs!

      We completely agree that the student has to be ready–and wish that we’d been ready twenty years ago…

      • g-dog says

        Congratulations! I think a lot of us over save, we want to be able to weather the unforeseen catastrophe. So, you could likely FIRE now.
        I failed to give credit to the 1500s and Dr. Doom at LivingAFI – coupled with Jim and MMM, these all helped reassure me that my calculations and what-ifs all pointed to FIRE. Turns out Bogleheads wasn’t the right fit for me at the time, but it is a good resource.
        It is so good to no longer be a salary slave! Better than I could have imagined. Your FIRE will be wonderful!

  4. Kevin says

    The thing is, from our earliest days in school, we are told to: 1) follow the rules and 2) believe what the experts tell us. Well, as we get older, following the rules becomes follow the masses. The experts all make money selling us bigger houses with bigger mortgages, cars, the newest technology, etc. They are also the ones trying to get us to pay more taxes, pay into SS for longer, etc. It is no wonder mainstream people are so offended when they see an awesome story like this one. It goes against everything they have been told to believe.

  5. greg says

    these things make me think of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, especially this point after one escapes to “see the light” in a very literal sense:

    “Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death. ”


  6. Mr. PIE says

    Spot on Mr. Collins. Simply spot on.

    Ben Carlson over at A Wealth of Common Sense ( a great financial blog by the way) also had a very good post today on these fine people.

    He spoke of the desire of many to take the shortcuts in life. They are afraid of the hard work and use of their brain (who knew- we have to use that ??!) that is required to win financial freedom. And used the 15oo folks and Millennial Revolution folks as great examples of people who worked hard and saved and were smart.

    That is what is completely lost on the naysayers – the importance of hard work, of using a bunch of smarts. It is amazing what can actually be done with a rinse , repeat application of these basic principles.

    Well done for calling out these naysayers – or “chickens of doom ” as Mrs. PIE calls them.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thank you, Mr. Pie.

      Please provide a link to Ben’s post, if you care to.

      Do you and Mrs. Pie ever enjoy “chicken pot pie of doom”?

        • TheMoneyMine says

          I was going to leave the same comment, but Mr PIE beat me to it 🙂
          What I find interesting, is that with so many of these stories making the news regularly, you could be skeptical the first time you read one of them, but after you’ve read 2 or 3 or more, you would surely have to wonder how the heck these people are doing it and trying to understand yourself, no?

          On a similar note, I read the other day that most Americans do not eat healthy (not new) and some areas are even called ‘food deserts’ because there’s no groceries store close to where they live. In an experiment, they did open a grocery store in one of these ‘food deserts’. People went to the grocery store, but didn’t eat healthier. Why? According to a survey, they just didn’t know how to. And because no-one in their community was eating healthy, there was no example to follow and they didn’t know how to change their habits.
          The naysayers of these FIRE stories are probably still buying frozen pizza at their grocery store too.

  7. John says

    Some of the negative reaction can be blamed on the title: “How one couple saved $1 million in 4 years to retire by age 43”. I think a better title might be “You’ve saved for a decade or two and retirement still seems out of reach, this couple doubled their net worth in 5 years and retired in their 40s”. It’s obviously still too long a headline and will still get comments like: “…My net worth is -20k, not sure how doubling it is going to help me retire, idiots…”. But the clickbait titles really don’t help people find content that might help them and if the title increases the comments even if they are as vitriolic as some of those Yahoo comments, then it probably serves its purpose.

    As someone in their 40s with a few hundred thousand in savings and a good income. Mr. 1500’s story is helpful inspiration, but I wouldn’t necessarily be in the mood to hear it given the headline.

    • Physician on FIRE says

      Good point. The headline was really inaccurate.

      Reader is impressed by headline. Reader is genuinely interested in how it happened. Reader reads article. Reader realizes it didn’t actually happen in four years. Reader is angry he wasted his time. Reader misdirects his vitriol towards the subject of the article. Reader wastes more time spewing hatred towards author of article (who did not write headline) and subjects of article. Reader moves on, looking for something else to be mad at.

    • Gwen @ Fiery Millennials says

      That was my issue with the article. I think Carl and Mindy have done an outstanding job these last four years. But they didn’t save $1 million. They saved just shy of half that. The headline sets up unreal expectations, and then the trolls get mad when they do the math. However, those rare unicorns- the rational readers- would click the links and not only find lots of fun dinosaur pictures but tons of helpful hints and tips to start their own FIRE journey like we did.

    • Mr. 1500 says

      I cringed when I saw the headline. In my mind’s eye, I could see the shit start to fly immediately. The article went on to clarify, but with a headline like that, the damage was already done.

      I really wish us bloggers had some control over these stories. I would have never let the story go out like that if I had anything to do with it. I’m going to be much more cautious in the future.

  8. Elephant Eater says

    Spot on post. I personally feel that the internet is both the best and worst invention of all time simultaneously. On the positive side, it has made everything from education, social networking, and investing accessible and affordable to the masses. On the negative side, the comments sections of internet articles have provided an anonymous forum for the cesspool of our society to spout their ignorant views which are unfortunately given an undeserving voice.

    It is of little surprise that people have such strong negative emotions to FIRE stories. If you think the negativity here is bad, look at the comments on any story involving Black Lives Matter. 50% of the people are spewing vile racist comments and think Obama is the cause of every problem in American history (um, I’m pretty sure he’s only been the president for 8 years and we had a few problems before him) and the other 50% think that all police are evil and choose the career to act out their racism (um, maybe it’s not that great a job to put your life at risk every day for crappy pay and they are mostly true public servants doing amazing things daily). Comments on political articles are even worse as people are waiting for Hillary or Trump to come save them and are convinced that the other wants to bring down the USA.

    At the end of the day, it is far easier to sit back and blame others for your problems and make excuses than it is to take control of your situation. I love the MMM quote!

    These mainstream articles are great to shed light on FIRE for the few people who are actually looking for a different way. However, there are many people who can not be helped b/c they are not looking for help, only another target for their negativity.

  9. FIRECracker says

    Thanks for this post, Jim! It’s so predictable what the haters are going to say at this point, I find their comments laughable. We should make it into a drinking game 😉 Every time they accuse you of accepting money from your parents, drink. Every time they say you’re going to run out of money, drink. We would get SO wasted.

    Having haters is a badge of honour, and I’m actually pretty grateful to them, because they drove the comments to well over 1000. HA HA, thanks idiots!

    Like they say, “if you aren’t pissing people off, what you’re doing isn’t important enough”. Bring on the hate!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      I also like your idea of making it a Jimmy Kimmel-type bit where we dead-pan read the hate comments about us.

      Wish I’d thought to collect mine.

      My favorite on my blog, don’t remember which post, was:

      “I don’t know if you care, but the gurus on Reddit think you’re a moron.”

      Along with a link to Reddit where, sure enough, there was a lively discussion regarding what a moron I am.

      I’ve never been able to decide if this was a heads-up from a friend or someone putting a stick in my eye.

      But then, I’m a moron. 😉

      • FIRECracker says

        We should totally do the Kimmel bit! Just give me sometime to I dig myself out of my MASSIVE e-mail pile first.

        And don’t worry, I have plenty of hate mail/comments for the both of us. It’s a never-ending, renewable resource 🙂

        HA HA! Consider being called a “moron” by the internet a badge of honour and rite of passage. I’m endlessly amused by people with no money calling millionaires “morons” and trying to give financial advice. I’m like “Dude, step AWAY from your e-trade account before you hurt yourself.”

      • Gary says

        When I informed my brother of what MMM advocates, he called him a moron. This, coming from a guy with 2 large SUVs in his driveway and 8 (!) TVs in is house.

      • stephen masse says

        Remember Jim, From your book you posit a response to what eefect it would have on the US economy if EVERYONE did as the book suggests..or even 66% of them…you said probably wouldn’t be good…you are correct: look at Japan to see a lost decade or two where people consume less than they earn out of fear or other reasons. If my friend the money manage for teacher retirements lost his job to VTSAX, his two kids would not go to college, he would lose his decent but expensive home and cars, he may even become somewhat of a drag on the gov’t. via welfare needed for a time. No Jim. You don’t want EVERYONE or even 20% to live/earn/save this way…for the good of the economy…just us smart-asses!!:):)

        • jlcollinsnh says

          reading through those comments, pretty clearly of all the things I might worry about, everyone following the tenets of my book is right there at the bottom. 🙂

          • stephen masse says

            Don’t be so sure of that JL…..a movement has been started…and maybe your tenents WILL become vogue to the next generation…i know I will be lending my copy to several close friends with instructions that they FORCE FEED every page to their moody dam teenage kids!!!:):) only HALF kidding:):)

  10. stephen masse says

    JL, aka Jim….Literally, I just got done sitting on my paid-for-home’s front porch in a beautiful, non-humid breeze, finishing your book!!! I LOVE “Simple”…and this book and philosophy is IT! My main question to you is, how can you make this book, this philosophy available to ALL high school seniors as a pre-requisite to graduating?
    I know it sounds bold, but think of it…NO ONE in my Mass. school system is required to have ANY level of knowledge about how to manage and invest their OWN hard-earned money after school!! Again, in my opinion, an area where our elected officials(mainly liberal Democrats here in Mass.) have AGAIN failed future generations of kids! What can be done to change this?

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Back in Ohio, our house had a front porch and I love sitting out there on a nice summer day watching the world go by.

      If I ever buy a house again, a front porch will be at the top of my wish list.

      I’m afraid, making “this philosophy available to ALL high school seniors as a pre-requisite to graduating” is beyond my powers. 😉

      Besides, didn’t you just suggest above that everyone following this path would be a bad thing? 🙂

      Personally, I think my book should be required reading for everyone and issued at birth. Shockingly, this is not a part of either party’s platform.

      • stephen masse says

        WELL, you know what?…if I can get Trumps ear (as HE ALONE is the only chance for any REAL change of the status quo….I WILL strongly suggest your book be issued with EVERY baby’s birth..or at least…as pre-req. for ANY graduating higher school SENIOR or perhaps issuance of ANY license to drive issued by the DMV….helpful??..or MAYBE those who achieve FY money…can use their TIME to petition their high schools to accept a free course taught over several weeks on your Rules to getting their OWN FY money…I once had a prof. at Umass Lowell (then called Ulowell) who owned a chain of car washes in the Boston area. He said he sat down and figured the wealth in America divided by the population and it was about $250,000(1983 dollars)..He said he asked himself, ” Do I have $250,000 Freaking dollars in my account?” and then Answered, “Hell NO!”…so he said he started out to “Git” himself his own fair share!!!..Well, I want MY fair share and every other less knowledgeable persons fair share also… I figure about $3-5 million should be sufficient!!:):)

  11. Robert Finch (85) says

    I agree with you. I am 85 and obviously retired but still maintain my life style by
    investing in the Canadian stock maket Blue chips only for the $ increase and the dividends which are used to supplement pensions. Bob F.

  12. Jason says

    I know it makes no difference, but I did comment and basically castigated all of the naysayers crapping on the 1500s. I don’t know why it chaps my hide so much, but people hating on them are just plain stupid.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Probably not, Jason…

      …clearly it is a message not everyone is ready to hear. 😉

      I think Mrs. Paradise above has the right idea.

  13. Luis del Valle says


    Welcome back and great post. I read about Mr. & Mrs. 1500 and then some of the comments and you were spot on by writing “Read a few and, like me, you’ll probably feel the need for a shower.” I too felt soiled.

    When you read about other individuals competitive advantage, it helps you maximize the same. What a shame that people do not take advantage and learn from others.

    I look forward to your next post.

    Semper Fi,


    • jlcollinsnh says


      I’ll bet the Marines are real fond of the “those guys have an unfair advantage so of course we are not going to try” approach. 🙂

  14. Done by Forty says

    The comments sections on those stories are fairly predictable. I’m so glad you categorized the whining…easier to take it in when you understand that you’re dealing with a type.

    Way back when the blog was initially popular, I was interviewed by a major outlet…then immediately begged the reporter not to publish the story. I realized it was not going to be a good thing for me, sensitive extrovert that I am, to have hundreds or thousands of strangers calling me a lying, entitled, charlatan. Wait, they would never call me that. They’d call me a *%$^ing…

    Here’s another fun human history video you might like. Okay, it’s not fun at all, but you might like it.


    • jlcollinsnh says

      Very interesting, and likely a good call.

      I’ve never been approached by the major media and don’t expect to be. But if I were, I think I might well take a pass, for the reasons you suggest.

      Seems pointless to try to talk to people with no frame of reference and who are likely to be hostile.

      Very cool video, concepts I first came across in the book “Guns, Germs and Steel” Great read!

      I just added both to the post. 🙂

  15. JC says

    “But show me a story about people who save their money, invest in low-cost index funds and drop out to travel the world? Please.”

    How about a story about people who save their money, invest in low-cost index funds, and after they achieve financial independence decide to work for an extra year or two to donate the funds to effective non-profits?

    I’m always puzzled at how the FI/RE community’s financial strategy seems so compatible with “earning to give”, and yet the two communities never really seem to cross paths.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi JC…

      I agree, the two are very compatible and FI people tend to be remarkably generous.

      In my experience, reaching FI rarely means retiring to do nothing. Most often it is a gateway to doing more meaningful things, sometimes for non-profits.

      That said, asking others to continue working solely to give the money away to even a worthy cause, is asking a lot.

      As I say in my Manifesto:
      “While giving is a fine and pleasant thing, no one has an obligation to do so. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something, most likely the idea of giving to them and/or their pet project.”


      Are you doing this yourself at the moment, or is it your plan? Do you have a specific non-profit(s) in mind?

      I’d love to hear more!

      • JC says

        Thanks for responding! I totally agree that people use FI as a means for doing something they’re passionate about. I have no shortage of ideas on that front! Some of those ideas are more meaningful than others.

        When it comes to non-profits, I’ve enjoyed volunteering some in the past, but I honestly don’t think I do much good. Swinging a hammer at a Habitat for Humanity site, I am maybe 10% as productive as a normal tradesman with a pneumatic nailer, so my whole day of work might be worth $15. If I spend a bunch of time volunteering after FIRE, the charities I volunteer for would probably rather me just have worked an extra year or two in my day job and given them some money to support their operations (even if they’re too polite to tell me).

        As a result, I’m tentatively planning to do just that. My money will go to whatever charity I think will do the most good in the world at the time — likely an international organization focused on poverty alleviation, global health, or education in extremely poor areas of the world. I like the approach of the Effective Altruist movement and related research organizations (i.e. givewell.org), but they are still brand new in the scheme of things, and have a great deal of room to improve. I hope they are much better when I am making my large donation decisions. I do donate some money currently. I would currently advocate Doctors Without Borders, the Against Malaria Foundation, and GiveDirectly.

        I’m still honing my strategy, but there are great synergies. Donor advised funds allow me to shift tax benefits into the most advantageous years (much like your foundation approach). Earning to give for a couple of years and allowing myself more flexibility in case of a recession/depression near my FIRE date confers lots of benefits that suck people into “one more year” syndrome. Also, many wannabe early retirees have a problem with fulfillment/motivation at work, and this extra purposefulness with money helps me put my nose to the grindstone day in and day out.

  16. TheManInCubicle118E says

    Graduated right after the great recession (BS 2008 and MS 2010).
    Started off with 80k student loans and no job for half a year.
    Bad Credit from late student loan payments (120+ days late).
    First job was pushing a cart around in a factory on night shift. $8.75/hr.
    Finally found an engineering job 1+ yr after graduation. Laid off after two years.
    Found another job, factory closed down two years later.
    Transferred within company in another state and that’s where I’m at currently.
    Never made 6 figures… likely never will. At best 80k/yr by the time I “retire”?

    I have 50k+ net worth right now, and 100k+ in assets (Cash, 401k, Trad/Roth IRA)
    I’ll have a paid off home and expect to reach FI by my late thirties, 40 at the latest.
    Can retire even earlier if I forgo the house to travel the world instead.

    Haters can hate all they want! 😛

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Ya know, 118E….

      ….if you’d just taken the time to read some of those comments, you’d know none of what you’ve done is possible. 😉

      • TheManInCubicle118E says

        Hahaha… I’ve been told that enough face-to-face… no need to read more of the same attitude! 😛

        BTW, I’m a long time blog stalker, first time commenter. I will say, it is * an honor * that you responded to my comment! Sometime during the pushing-a-cart-in-a-factory job, I discovered both you and Mr. MM. Y’all two truly are the seeds of what I’ve achieved thus far! I’ve been doing my part to help others see the light. Your Stock Series is a godsend and my financial compass. I cannot say enough, THANK YOU! 😀

  17. TJ says

    I can only assume that articles like the ones linked become clickbait to generate ads targeting the folks who are against the message….

  18. Stacie says

    I just want to point out – As I spend all that time, staring at my phone, milling around the park is time I’m not spending money doing some other form of entertainment.

    Your blog has been invaluable to me (I actually feel secure about my future!), but give me my free game (that tricks me into walking 2-3 miles every day!) 🙂

    • jlcollinsnh says


      It does, at least, get people out and about, just like my dog does for me. 😉

      But at dusk, it looks just like a scene from The Walking Dead. 🙂 🙂

  19. Sandy says

    Look, I read the story about Mindy and Carl on Yahoo. Usually I really enjoy these stories, I find them inspiring but, in this case IMO, the story was very misleading. They DIDN’T save a million bucks in 4 years, which is what the headline stated. As is typical for these articles, they play fast and loose with the truth. Let’s do the math, shall we? “How One Couple Saved $1 Million in 4 Years to Retire by Age 43” is a lie because they started that 4-year period with $570,000 in investments. So they “saved” $430,000, not $1 million, in four years, right? WRONG. They set aside a puny $2,000 per month. That’s what they ACTUALLY SAVED, which amounts to $96,000 in four years. Adding $2,000 per month to their existing investments AND getting an annual return of 10.6% consistently, month after month, gives them a million dollar portfolio at the end of four years. Of that million dollars, their $2,000 per month savings over four years PLUS 10.6% annual return on those savings only amounts to $123,045.43. The rest of their “savings” of $877,000 comes from a 10.6% annual return on their EXISTING INVESTMENT and has nothing to do with their savings. Click bait! And this is why people get mad.

  20. Ten Factorial Rocks says

    Great post JIM. What the mainstream naysayers are missing when they see real FI people like us or read about us in our blog or other websites, is they automatically assume we are faking it. Those who believe us still think we won the lottery or made it to 7 figures through stock option riches. They just can’t believe that working as an employee and living with a sensibly frugal mindset can make this possible. Most people think if they couldn’t do something, others can’t do either! Tragedy of the commons?

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Very true, and nothing like a read thru the comments on one of those mainstream posts to realize just how much we are “the odd ones out” 🙂

      BTW, I like your ten factors and this one especially resonates:

      “Thrive in, but rise above, the corporate world”

      I was a corporate guy, too, and thriving in that world while still holding at arm’s length made all the difference.

  21. Tracyl-5 says

    I, for one, am happy Yahoo runs these articles. The article they posted a couple of years ago introduced me to Go Curry Cracker! and in turn, JL Collins Stock Series, Mr. Money Mustache, and 1500 Days. Many others too! I’m one of the few, I guess, who actually researches what I am skeptical about. I was already doing pretty good saving in my retirement accounts, but reading these blogs gave me the confidence to open up my own investing accounts and start putting all the cash I could into those. AND it gave me the ammunition I needed to get my husband to start saving more as well. We have some work to do, but we’re well on our way to FI and early retirement now. I don’t think we would be there without Yahoo introducing us to this world. Thank you all!

    Oh, hope you had a blast in Maui, Jim! Sorry I couldn’t get over there…

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi T-5…

      Thanks for your perspective.

      As distressing as all the nastiness in the comments is, the fact that a few people like yourself are openminded enough to consider the ideas, and benefit from them, makes these articles worthwhile. Even on the occasions when the headlines are misleading and the content falls short of what it should have been.

      So I applaud MMM, GCC, 1500 Days, MR and the others who have put themselves out there and endured the abuse that always follows.

      As it happens, I was unable to make the trip to Maui. But my wife and daughter had a blast there, and I got to hear the stories. 😉

  22. apoorplayer says

    I am 64 years old and retiring in December, so I don’t qualify as a FIRE guy. Went the very traditional route, and was most fortunate not to have a soul-sucking job, but one I truly enjoyed and happily stuck with. I do not find fault with the FIRE community and their methodologies as such, as I read a lot of their blogs and get a great deal of good information even for a traditional retiree like myself. I have been trying to pass on this information to my children, but have yet to get it to stick with them. So I don’t come at this issue from a negative impression of FIRE. And yet….

    If there is one thing that does get me about the FIRE community, it is the underlying tone of smugness I often feel when I read these blogs. There seems to be a subtextual message in much of what I read that FIRE is so easy anyone can do it, and if you can’t, or won’t, then you’re either just flat-out obstinate, dumb, or to quote MMM, a “complainypants” incapable of badassity. The comments on the Yahoo! site seem to reflect as much an unspoken reaction to this attitude of smugness as much as anything else. Commenter Sandy above reveals how misleading the Yahoo! article was by breaking down the actual math, and thus also revealing the basic dishonesty of the subjects of the article, the Yahoo! writer, or perhaps both. When one is playing a little fast and loose with the truth, that’s a fairly good sign of smugness on someone’s part.

    It seems that, in this culture, when someone latches onto an idea or concept they believe is revolutionary, the temptation to evangelize becomes irresistible. I trace this phenomenon back to the invention of the Macintosh and its culture of fanaticism for all things Apple. Steve Jobs created a fantastic product, to be sure, but the smugness that came with it was a bit intolerable to those of us without the means to purchase a $5K computer as opposed to a $1K PC back in 1984.

    You can see this in other types of alternative phenomenon. The tiny house movement? Smug. Cheap living in a van? Smug. Organic foods? Smug. Fancy coffee? Smug. FIRE? Sorry, but smug. Is this to say that any of these things are bad as such? Absolutely not. You can live pretty well in a van. A good coffee is a delight. FIRE can work. But why, oh why do people who write on these subjects have to give off the impression that somehow they are so much better off than you because they have this wonderful approach to something and you don’t (and you’d certainly be better off if you did)? It is, in many ways, a terribly insensitive way to approach what are probably very real concerns to the average worried American out there. And aren’t we just a little aware that FIRE is primarily a middle-class, white, well-educated phenomenon? I am not aware of any FIRE blog written by an African-American mother of three who, by saving 30% of her two minimum-wage service sector jobs and investing wisely, was able to achieve financial independence at 45 through badassity.

    Openness is a two-way street. If we want those commentators who appear fiercely against FIRE and express negativity towards the subject to approach FIRE with more openness, then perhaps the FIRE community should listen a bit more and become more sensitive to their beliefs and concerns. The Republican Party for years ignored and lied to the average working person as they expressed their concerns, and the result is Donald Trump – smugness personified. The average American today is losing the fight against the American oligarchy, and losing badly. The FIRE community can be much more helpful if it would tamp down the smugness just a bit. Thanks for listening.

    • Shane says

      APP, you’re right. It’s possible some of us come off as smug when we talk about FIRE, which is counter productive. All of us can benefit from being more humble. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Johnny D says

      JL and Mr 1500, I think APP deserves a reply.

      APP, I don’t know if I agree with the term smug, but I do think you have a valid point. We tell these stories (Mine included) as if anyone can achieve this, but until you have actually walking a mile in someone else’s shoes you cannot make that assumption.

      I don’t have an answer for the single mother of three with two middle wage jobs. I have no clue what that life is like. However, I would love to help give that person guidance to save more than they already are.

      Perhaps everyone cannot wave enough to achieve FIRE, but I do think everyone could make choice that improves their financial life.

    • TiredOfPeoplesPoorChoices says

      >>mother of three who, by saving 30% of her two minimum-wage service sector jobs

      This is the problem with your point. You have to make better decisions than this. I completely agree if you have 3 children with no financial plan, you are screwed. Don’t have kids. Don’t take on a spouse. Don’t do anything until you have a good plan in life. The example you post will have a very hard time turning that life around.

      Consider though the same scenario with no kids and no other responsibilities. $7.25 * 80 hours = $580/week. That’s $2000+ month. If you live with a roommate, you can easily live on half of that amount and save the other $1000 per month. After 10 years at a 7% return, you would have $170,000! A 4% withdrawl on that is $7000 a year. And that’s working 80 hours/week of minimum wage for 10 years, never getting a raise. You could stop the 2nd 40/hour a week minimum wage job and almost make up for it with the 4% withdrawl.

      Have a plan before you have kids. Kids don’t magically happen.

    • Ten Factorial Rocks says

      Mr. APP, Your comment is articulate and you have raised an important point. While I am not African American, I do come from a ‘minority gene’ but worked my way through graduate school in Engineering and MBA from a top business school. Never played the minority card even once in my life, actually never had to, as opportunities came to me after I demonstrated my capabilities.

      Your example of AA mother of 3 kids with a minimum wage job is a poignant reminder of why most Americans are struggling. It is indeed a challenging example but that doesn’t mean that person cannot work to improve their situation and at least try for a decent normal retirement. FIRE is not a must-do or achievable target for everyone. I can’t speak for the entire FIRE community but I do have my own website where I share my knowledge of what I have learned and help people not fall for the many pitfalls in the journey to FI. Smugness is an individual characteristic and it has nothing to do with a broad community drawn together only by a deep desire for financial independence. I understand how you get the impression some FIRE bloggers are smug but that’s not a defining characteristic of the entire community. I would encourage you to visit my website and let me know if you detect smugness. My intention is to help by sharing what I have learned and I believe so is that of many other bloggers. FIRE is a goal for many of us, just like owning a home or maybe getting out of debt is a goal for others. Having a worthy goal that improves your present condition is far more important than sweeping judgments of which goal is superior.

  23. Rick Longsworth says

    Your statement “The vast majority of people are so used to their chains they refuse to even see them” reminded me of a lyric in one of my favorite Eagles songs, Already Gone, written by Tempchin and Strandlund.
    “So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
    And we never even know we have the key”

  24. FinancialFreedom says

    I think for some reason people begin to feel threatened when they see someone going against the status quo. Tell married people you don’t want to get married and they think it’s an attack on marriage. Tell people if they only save up money, live frugally and they can retire early then they challenge you and only tell you it isn’t possible. I think my favorite comment from the Yahoo article is the one below. People have to much time on their hands! Maybe they should be figuring out how they can make this happen for them.

    Also…I love your stock series! Should be a must read for all.

    “I hope they retire soon, then they can hang around together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They will get sick of looking at each other then start bickering and arguing over small stuff. She will get mad and out of spite, bone the neighbor who is unemployed. The husband will find out about his wife so he thinks it is OK to date and bone some low class strippers then he gets one of the strippers pregnant. The couple divorce, splitting what little is left after the lawyers take a huge chunk. The guy has to pay huge child support payments to the stripper for the next 18 years and the ex-wife forgot to buy medical insurance then finds out she caught an STD from the unemployed neighbor. Yep, they will be happily retired at a young age.”

    • jlcollinsnh says


      And just try telling people buying a house isn’t always the best possible option. That’s treading on the true American, and evidently Canadian, religion(s) 🙂

      I missed that comment. Thanks for sharing. Too funny. If only the article had had a better title. 😉

  25. Johnny D says

    Do we in the FIRE community come across as SMUG?

    There was a comment above to this post by a “apoorplayer” that really hit a nerve for me. He pointed out:

    “If there is one thing that does get me about the FIRE community, it is the underlying tone of smugness I often feel when I read these blogs. There seems to be a sub-textual message in much of what I read that FIRE is so easy anyone can do it, and if you can’t, or won’t, then you’re either just flat-out obstinate, dumb, or to quote MMM, a “complainypants” incapable of badassity.”

    He went on to point out:

    “But why, oh why do people who write on these subjects have to give off the impression that somehow they are so much better off than you because they have this wonderful approach to something and you don’t (and you’d certainly be better off if you did)? It is, in many ways, a terribly insensitive way to approach what are probably very real concerns to the average worried American out there. And aren’t we just a little aware that FIRE is primarily a middle-class, white, well-educated phenomenon? I am not aware of any FIRE blog written by an African-American mother of three who, by saving 30% of her two minimum-wage service sector jobs and investing wisely, was able to achieve financial independence at 45 through badassity.

    Openness is a two-way street. If we want those commentators who appear fiercely against FIRE and express negativity towards the subject to approach FIRE with more openness, then perhaps the FIRE community should listen a bit more and become more sensitive to their beliefs and concerns.”

    Smug, me? I don’t think I am smug, I don’t mean to come across as smug. However when talking about my own experience with other people I do present it as anyone can do this, and that you would be better off if you did. Wow, maybe I am smug.

    Then I began to think about that single parent with 2-3 kids, and 2 minimum-wage jobs trying to hold things together. What would I tell them to do? Never having been in that situation, or even knowing someone how is, can I really even begin to understand what options that person has available to them?

    What about the family that has a child with a chronic disease, that requires expensive medical care, is there a way to make it work for them?

    What about the family that just found out Dad, at 40, has cancer and has 6 months to live? What do we tell them?
    So perhaps there is not one right answer. I think all of us in the FIRE community would acknowledge that, since we all took different paths to get to FIRE.

    What about the complaints JL Collins points out:

    “It’s a scam”

    Ya know what, sometimes it is a scam. Not often, not with vast majority of the stories I read. However, sometimes it is a scan. As an example I remember one about three or four years back on Yahoo where an article was about how a guy who worked hard since high school and achieved a net worth of over 1 million dollars before 30. The facts seemed fishy, and the numbers did not add up. People started to question things. Within two weeks Yahoo posted a retraction, yes an actual retraction, because it turn out they guy’s story was false, he had inherited his wealth when his parents passed away in his 20’s, and he was trying to promote his ‘services’ through his blog. So guess what, sometimes it is a scam, rarely, but sometimes.

    “They are lying”

    The example above was a lie. However, in many articles details are left out. I understand there are good reasons for leaving details out (an article can only be so long, people may be uncomfortable with reveling details like their salary, etc). Technically leaving out details is not lying, but to the reader it appears they are not being told the entire truth. If we are not comfortable with telling all the details then perhaps we should not be telling our story. Now let me point out that again I find the majority of FIRE stories contain tons of details, and these stories are great and really educational for me.

    “They had unique advantages”

    I never felt like I had unique advantages. However, I think we would all acknowledge that each of our stories are somewhat unique, and that we did have some things go right for us that the next person cannot assume will go right for them. If I look back I can certainly point out a few “right place at the right time” moments in my working career, and some stock investments that just seemed “sound” when I made them and then turned out to be 10 times better than I ever expected. I remember something my boss said to me when I had just “saved the day” again and I told him “I think I just got lucky on that one”. He said, “You make your own luck.” I guess what I would tell people is what I have told my kids, you cannot recreated my story, but if you try hard, stick to a plan, and overcome the challenges that come your way then your “unique advantages” will should up as you write your story.

    So what is my point? (thank goodness he is finally getting to the point!) I think to dismiss these complaints outright is a mistake, and does everyone a disservice. Instead maybe it would be better to acknowledge them, and offer help. From what I have read RoofOfGood is attempting to do just that, offering some very inexpensive consulting for anyone who wants it. (NOTE: not a plug for RootOfGood, just another site I visit, and the only one I know of doing this, but I am sure there are others)

    So I guess when people complain, or question the validity of our stories, don’t complain back, don’t tell them they made bad choices, or that they just don’t get it. Because when we do it may only result in confirming that we are SMUG.

  26. Dividend Growth Investor says

    Unfortunately, people do not like to have others challenge their lifestyles. You also have envy, which is a very powerful emotion. Skepticism is fine, as there are a lot of snake-oil salespeople out there. But if these people had done some research, they would have found out that Carl’s story checks out ( I am still reading the story about the Canadian couple, but I am sure it checks )

    I think that your friend Pete had a great post about stoicism, which is something I am trying to learn (as I get insults a lot for whatever reason by anonymous people):

    “When we encounter insults from other people, we must deal with them with reason rather than anger. Either the insult is true, in which case we should be grateful for the insulter for pointing out this area in which we could improve, or it is false, in which case we should pity the insulter for his lack of accurate perception. Either way, an insult is nothing to get upset about. In the case of a True Fucktard who not only insults us, but manages to commit major injustices to us, the best revenge is simply to live an even better life while refusing to be like that person. “

  27. Stefan says

    With the risk of being called a hater – a somewhat different opinion.

    I have not read the referenced articles. Stumbled upon Firecracker’s blog some time ago and left quickly, with the impression that they are copycats. I find most financial independence (early retirement) blogs irritating (this one is an exception to some degree because I like Jim’s writing style). Two of the reasons are:

    1. These bloggers are usually being congratulated (self and by others) as though they have discovered America. However, in my eyes they are just rediscovering the wheel.

    2. The investment advice and projections being given are usually not good. They may be better than the stupid things many people do with their money, but are nevertheless quite naive overall.

    • PinchThePennies says

      Hi Stefan,
      If the advice and projections are generally quite naive – care to show us how it’s done right then?

      Share a few words maybe?

      • Stefan says

        Show you how it is done right? That would be too time consuming. Furthermore, there is plenty of academic literature on the subject. It would presumptuous of me to think that I can do a better job in a blog forum, and against the spirit of my comment above (item 1).

  28. bifocal says

    I am completely sold on financial independence, but I always though it as a springboard for some purposeful and satisfying life like seeking higher knowledge, helping others, etc. what ever makes a meaningful and content life. Most of the stories I read is ” retired young and traveling the world “. I think this will likely lead to confusion and boredom. Traveling will get boring after a while. What I am trying to say is financial independence is not an end in itself but a means for a higher and meaningful life.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi bifocal…

      If we agree that what is “purposeful and satisfying” is entirely up to the person living the life, I’m on board. I get a little itchy when people proclaim (not that you are) what is or should be purposeful and satisfying for others.

      The whole point, in my mind, of FI is to have options and having those options allows for far more freedom in choosing one’s path.

      That path doesn’t have to remain the same as the years roll on. Mine certainly hasn’t. Should travel start to lead to “confusion and boredom” it is easy enough to shift gears and settle in somewhere. Certainly all that travel will have uncovered many attractive options and doing so will be a lot easier than leaving an unrewarding job for those living paycheck to paycheck.

      I know a fair number of FI folks traveling full time just now, and that is what they would do. Meanwhile, as far as I can tell, they are enjoying the hell out of it.

      Just curious, if you are FI or when you become so, what does your higher and meaningful life look like? And do you expect that to remain unchanged as the years roll on?

      • bifocal says

        I agree with you that traveling is enjoyable, and I love it, but may lose its luster after a while (obviously this is personal opinion).

        I am close to being financially independent. I see myself doing more volunteer work in Africa or other countries where I may be more useful. Hopefully combine the joy of traveling and meeting new people with some service that can keep me engaged either mentally or physically. Obviously I don’t have the crystal ball myself, just thinking aloud!

        Thanks for this outstanding blog by the way. I have learned a lot from it.

        • jlcollinsnh says

          Given enough time, most anything can lose its luster. 🙂

          Sounds like you are already/have already worked in Africa?

          Not sure if you are a US citizen, but if you are perhaps the Peace Corps is an option. My daughter is about halfway thru her service. “toughest job you’ll ever love,” as they say.

          Thanks for the kind words!

  29. Financial Samurai says

    I’m happy for everyone who has achieved financial independence. It’s a good place to be. And I can understand the anger from the mass public as well. If someone is average or struggling and an article is put in front of their faces that a couple is all smiley and rich, well the of course those who don’t have what they have won’t be too pleased.

    There is a widening wealth gap that can’t be fixed in the short-term, especially given we are in a bull market. Therefore, I strongly believe it’s better to stay low key and enjoy one’s success in private. If everybody is doing well, then it’s a different story.

    But for now, I know who’ll be buying drinks at Fincon! 🙂


    • jlcollinsnh says

      “I strongly believe it’s better to stay low key and enjoy one’s success in private.” Ah-men!

      Even with my blog, here in NH I’m almost entirely anonymous and always have been. As my pappy used to say, “Never talk about what money you have. Those who have more won’t be impressed. Those who have less will be envious.” No upside there.

      With my book out, this is beginning to change a bit. Leaving my building the other day, a casual acquaintance said, “Hey! Congratulations on the book!” I was shocked, flattered and dismayed all at once.

      If you’re buying, I’ll be there! 😉

  30. ZJ Thorne says

    It always worries me when people reject things outright without thinking. I’m an activist in one version of my life, and I worry about the knee-jerk responses many of my compatriots have to any bit of news. Strategy cannot be built on feeling alone. It needs to be rooted in structures and processes that work. Rejecting the “other” side based on their side and not based on them being right or wrong is counterproductive. Like early retirement, if you invest wisely, reduce your costs, and let the market grow for you, you’ll get so much more accomplished.

  31. Jennifer says

    In the past it was called criticism now it’s called being a naysayer or hater. I read the 1500 story and have no problems with that family. That’s great they made it work. I personally have no problem with people who are living their dreams whatsoever. It’s wonderful to see happy people. Many of those 1400 comments pointed out the inaccuracies.

    As for the Millennial Revolution I have made comments to them and been labeled a “hater” or “troll”. No, being a critical thinker is not being a hater. I came here from their blog which I’m just lurking on for now because they don’t like any criticism so there is no point in saying things.

    My problem with them is their negativity. In addition, it’s how they keep labeling ANY and ALL mortgages as soul crushing vessels that do not allow you to save and are a big anchor. Actually, to them, any and all real estate even paid for in cash real estate is bad. This just isn’t true. What is true is being smart when purchasing a home, being smart about how much of your money it uses and what the price to rent ratios are in your area, and purchasing at the right time. Also, only purchasing if it is something you want. There is nothing wrong with renting, there never has been, but there are also benefits to owning especially if you plan to stay somewhere for a long time and do not like dealing with landlords. Or, if you worry about getting renovicted (this is happening here a lot) or enjoy having pets which drastically reduces the rental pool, or things like that.

    They also attack all baby boomers in broad statements. How does this get anyone pumped (I’m Gen X)? The core of their message has been stated for decades by many, other than the housing hatred which many have had since the American housing crash.

    On another note the story of the bad condo purchase was fascinating and a had great writing style.

  32. MyMoneyDesign says

    I remember years ago seeing the MMM “How I Retired At 30” article on MSN and being absolutely mind blown by the comments. The mass media just simply isn’t the right place to perpetuate mantras of FI. The patterns and roots of consumerism are just too far ingrained.
    I love the quote from Millennial Revolution. Figuring out money has been one the biggest centers of peace I’ve ever discovered.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      “The mass media just simply isn’t the right place to perpetuate mantras of FI.”

      Spot on MMD, and one of the reasons I have avoided trying to present my own message there. Although I am glad others are willing to do so and suffer the abuse. 😉

  33. Joel says

    Adulthood used to be so disillusioning because I had just presumed that one had to work continuously until they were 70 in order to have a decent life. But your teachings have shattered that notion.

    When I married my wife 4 years ago, she had an incredible amount of high-interest debt from years of bad money-management and putting degrees on credit cards. No one had taught her how to approach money. We went into chapter 13 with 90 grand of high-interest debt. Not an ideal start to a marriage. We started paying that debt down on a plan and fortuitously, 2 years later, she inherited enough money from a parent to destroy that debt completely and start a seed for our investing future. Even more fortuitously, I stumbled onto your blog last year and in no small terms, it helped change the course of our lives. Finally, I have a no-nonsense guide to secure a bright future for us and our daughter.

    Now, we have zero debt, six figures of wealth growing in VTSAX and Vanguard 401Ks and are on track to be completely financially independent within 7 to 9 years. And my wife doesn’t even have to work right now, she’s staying home with the kid. That’s the freedom some FU money can provide. I can look forward to life filled with writing music, travel, and fostering our important relationships.

    I think what the ‘naysayers’ are missing from these fairly elementary concepts is yes, anyone who became FI had certain advantages. For one, they live in the wealthiest country with a nice stock system. They speak English, which currently the most important language to speak around the world. They may have had decent parents and went to decent school and were able to find decent paying jobs without great difficulty.

    But, there are also a lot of people are born into even better situations with even greater advantages, who make terrible financial decisions that enslave them to their jobs forever and never allow their wealth to grow. If you’re earning money as an adult, you can make decisions that bring you to financial independence. And it usually won’t take 5 years, but it could easily happen in 10 if you save 50% of your income. Can’t do that? Try saving 40% and you can do it in about 15. How empowering as hell is that?

    You made me realize the following tenet: The mistakes we made in our past matter little compared to the decisions we make now for our future.

    I would have written off a thought like that as saccharine and inane a few years ago, but now I realize how empowering it is.

    Thank you kindly for your guidance and your humor.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Joel…

      You made my evening!

      It is, of course, always gratifying when people take the time to tell me my writings have had a positive impact in their lives.

      But I also appreciate hearing a bit of your story and your take on those who reach FI and those who never will.

      All the best and enjoy your journey!

  34. blindsquirrel says

    Wow, I read the comments on the Yahoo article and haters are going to hate. I am not sure why there is so much venom on this issue but there is an out sized amount directed at some random on the internet who has their financial life in good order. We are not “retired” and we both work full time jobs. However, we are financially independent by any measure at 48 and working is a choice we have made in the short term. It will probably only last another 15-18 months at the most at least for me. I have found your writings and those of Mr. Money Mustache to be very helpful, though I came to the philosophy rather a long time ago reading “Your Money or your Life” and “Millionaire Next Door”. It is quite possible to retire young, and if you wish, anywhere between having enough to extremely wealthy. Spend less than you earn and invest the difference in something that goes up in value. Considering the leg up that the folks reading such things and then trolling in the comments have on several billion of their fellow human beings in that they can read and access the internet, ( a billion folks or so in the world can’t) a large number of trolls really, need to take a dose of gratitude and get to work setting their own house in order. I do enjoy your writings a fair bit. Cheers
    P.S If you do not get your finances in order to purchase your freedom, get your finances together just for the joy of having FU money. It really is nice. 🙂

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Well said, B. Squirrel…

      Just because you are FI doesn’t mean you have to retire. It means you can do whatever you please. Hard to see a downside to that. 😉

      Thanks for the kind words on my writings!

  35. The Universe Guru says

    I read this story and the comments (and several others like it) and my first gut reaction was of fear. We are a family of 5 and a few years away from FI. My 12 year old son has already mentioned being bullied at school when he mentions our plans to retire or that we are minimalists. What scares me about the hate and ignorance is what my children and family has a whole is up against in society for being different.

    On a more positive note, we have already changed our children’s legacy by teaching them some of the most important lessons in life. Namely, how to stand up for what you believe, even if it goes against the basic norms of society.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi UG…

      It is a shame that the FI path seems to engender such hostility in some quarters. Personally, I have always tried to fly under the radar as much as possible. Many, if not most, FIers I’ve met try to do the same. The hassle otherwise isn’t worth it.

      That said, when push comes to shove, it is critical to stand up for what you believe and damn the torpedoes!

      All the best to you and your children. Enjoy the journey!

  36. Bruce says

    Hi Jim. I first heard of you through the Millennial Revolution blog ran by FireCracker and Wanderer. They call you the Godfather. I purchased your book late Nov 2016 and have two chapters to go. I like your blog as well. Is it wise to start the VTSAX and just grow it in the Ordinary Bucket?

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Welcome Bruce…

      I hold VTSAX in both my IRA and Ordinary buckets.

      But if you have access to tax-advantaged accounts, I’d fund those first.

  37. kindoflost says

    About the naysayers, another quote for your quotes hall of fame:
    “…most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”
    (Morpheus in “The matrix”, 1999)

  38. Finances with Purpose says

    For what it’s worth, I read a story in the news a while back like this…about a friend who reached FI and was traveling the world. That’s what inspired me to jump on the challenge. I had attacked student loans with the same gusto, so why not apply it to the rest of our finances? I didn’t leave any comments on any news pieces, though. 🙂

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