Case Study: Creating a FI-lexible Lifestyle

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Many of us romanticize retirement as a time when we can finally be free. Free of work. Free of worrying about money. We can ditch the alarm clock and do whatever we want!

Diania Merriman speaking at EconoMe conference

Then reality hits. We still have obligations. There is the creeping doubt about whether we truly have enough money. We lose the identity, purpose, income, health insurance, and other benefits derived from a job.

The retirement model is broken. I recognized this and started thinking and writing about and planning for it before leaving my career. Still, the first year after retiring was one of the hardest of my life. Three years in, I continue to experience challenges and struggles.

So I’m fascinated by other people who are finding ways to live their best life while still saving aggressively towards financial independence. I recently had the pleasure of meeting one such person, Diania Merriam.

I invited her to do a Q&A to share what she’s doing, how she’s doing it, and what she’s learned so far. Read to the end for a special offer to blog readers…

Welcome Diania. Tell us a little about yourself, how and when you found the idea of financial independence and retiring early (FIRE), and the first steps you took to start changing your life.

Thanks Chris! I’m almost 34 now, but my financial journey started back in the fall of 2015. I was in my late 20’s, living in NYC, and in $30k of debt. I felt a sense of urgency to get out of this debt and save as much as I could because I wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago for my 30th birthday. The trip completely intimidated me. Figuring out my finances to make it happen was also way outside my comfort zone.  

My debt accumulated largely from me just not paying attention. Half of my debt was from student loans. That doesn’t sound too bad until you consider that I went to college on a full academic scholarship! 

I took out loans for living expenses, which in retrospect, was a dumb move. But the money was available to me so I didn’t think much of it. The other half of my debt was high interest credit card debt solely from living outside my means. My attitude in my 20’s was that I’d figure out my debt later, when I’m “making my millions.” Needless to say, it was not a great strategy and definitely caught up with me. Fortunately, I stumbled upon the Mr. Money Mustache blog, when I was coming up with a plan to get out of debt. I read every article and admittedly became a little obsessed. I had never heard anyone talk about money this way, and it ignited the desire to learn more. After originally thinking it would take me 2 years to get out of $30k of debt, I crushed it in just 11 months.

I had a similar experience when finding FIRE blogs. What was different for you about this messaging than personal finance advice you ignored in the past.

It was incredibly satisfying to pay off my debt. The process helped me tap into a level of creativity and resourcefulness I didn’t know I had. 

Through cooking all my meals, I became very skilled in the kitchen. Treating myself to gourmet meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on $40 per week became a skill set that now feels like second nature. Since I was going out less, I learned to become “the hostess with the mostest,” and often held elaborate dinner parties in my one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment.

I hosted and attended clothing swaps and ended up with a closet full of fashionable and free hand me downs from my friends. My downstairs neighbors and I shared internet and cut that bill in half. I built a sharing community in my apartment building so that we all had a network of convenient people to call on when we needed to borrow a hammer, a cup of sugar, or whatever need happened to arise. I learned to make my own laundry detergent, stopped wearing makeup and became comfortable with what my face looks like, spent more time reading, journaling, and working out. 

Self-imposed restriction and frugality led me to a whole lot of self improvement. It is laughable to me that there were people around me who felt sorry for me. They assumed I felt the need to “deprive” myself. Deprivation is definitely not the word that I would use to describe this period of self discovery.

What came next after you were debt free?

I started saving about 60% of my income after getting out of debt. While I was living frugally, my income was also increasing at a steady rate. By not allowing lifestyle inflation to creep in, I was able to save money quickly and build a level of confidence that would help me focus on what I realized was more important than more money- time and freedom. 

I convinced my employer to allow me to work remotely so I could give midwest living a try. This enabled moving to Cincinnati (hello lower cost of living!) about 4 years ago. I also took a 2 month unpaid sabbatical so that I could walk the Camino in 2017. It took me 38 days to walk 500 miles across Spain!  

After I got back from the Camino, I adopted a dog, bought a house, found myself a midwestern gentleman, and started my own business… more on that later!  Most recently, I quit my full time job and walked away from a 6 figure salary all while I’m not yet financially independent. I’m taking the next year to flirt with self employment.

I know we share a similar love-hate relationship with the concept of FIRE. Describe the concept of FI-lexibility you created as an alternative to rushing to financial independence to retire as soon as possible.

I like to define “Fi-lexibility” as follows: 

  1. A mindset of elasticity amid the obstacles and opportunities that present themselves on the path to financial independence.
  2. A concept I made up to make myself feel better about not being financially independent.

This concept is about recognizing that pursuing financial independence is about so much more than actually reaching financial independence. If reaching FI is about opening up options, fi-lexibility is about seeing the options you have now, while you’re on the way to even more options.  

For example, my work situation changed drastically with my employer of 9 years and it became very clear that I was no longer valued. This was an obstacle on my path to FI. Because I’m now Coast FI and I have 2 years of living expenses liquid, I was able to seize the opportunity to take a big bet on myself. I left a toxic environment and have the financial bandwidth to pursue self employment with 14 different income streams that I’m really excited about.

If I was solely focused on reaching FI as quickly as possible, I’d probably keep my head down and tolerate the misery in exchange for the 6 figure salary that would have gotten me to FI in 6 years. But I’ve chosen to live in the uncertainty. I could either reach my FI goal much faster or slower based on my decision to work for myself. And the best part of this uncertainty is realizing that it doesn’t matter. Here’s an oxymoron for you: I’m simultaneously pursuing FI and creating a life that makes it irrelevant if I ever reach FI.

Your second definition made me laugh. But on a serious note, the math of financial independence is pretty simple. It’s the mental and emotional aspects of making behavioral changes and following through that are hard. Can you share more about the idea of making yourself feel better about not being financially independent yet?

When I say it’s a concept that makes me feel better about not being FI, it’s because I notice this attitude in the FIRE community that if you’re not financially independent, you should be constantly optimizing to reach it faster. When I was getting out of debt, I had a real sense of urgency. That worked well for me for those 11 months, but I don’t see that carrying me through my whole journey.   

This idea I’m calling “fi-lexibility” stems from me seeing my mindset around money continually evolve. It’s often been said that personal finance is much more about mindset than the numbers. As I reach more milestones in my financial journey, I see my relationship with money and the role it plays in my life continue to change. 

I think of fi-lexibility as a tool I’m using while internalizing my goals. One of my big goals is to reach financial independence by the time I’m 40, but I’m being “fi-lexible” about this time frame.

What has been the biggest benefit of designing your own unique path through life? Why do you think that is better for most people than following preset all-or-nothing models of a standard consumer lifestyle to traditional retirement in your 60s or 70s vs. the fastest track to early retirement possible as commonly advocated by FIRE enthusiasts?

Hands down the biggest benefit to designing my own path has been all that I’ve been able to learn about myself. What kind of person do I want to be? What do I value? How do I want to do spend my time? It requires a lot of experimentation and testing of assumptions, and willingness to be wrong.

I’ve learned that I’m simply incorrect about many of the things I think I want to do. I make incorrect assumptions about how those things will make me feel. For example, I used to do stand up comedy, I played in a drum and bugle corps for a couple years, and most recently, I completed a 4 month School of Rock program and sang in a band. 

I’ve always had this desire to perform in some way. All these experiments were in search of the right outlet for that. But whenever I was on those stages, I never felt how I thought I would feel.

This to me is the danger of pursuing FIRE so that one day in the future, you can quit your job and do what you want. 

  • What if you don’t know what you want?
  • What if you never test the assumptions of what you think you want?  

Then you retire and realize that you were wrong about what you thought you wanted to do with your time. That’s just as bad as the standard consumer lifestyle. Many of us are conditioned to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like because we make assumptions about how it will make us feel. While this pursuit of FIRE helps us test those consumerist assumptions, it also comes packaged in a whole other set of assumptions that need to be tested as well.

Any time you choose to go against the grain of the culture around you, there are bound to be conflicts and challenges. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced since deciding to take control of your finances and pursue a more FI-lexibile lifestyle?

We’ve been conditioned since birth to be good consumers and follow the standard narrative of society. I’ve found that when I push against that for myself, others may consider it a judgement on their choice to live a conventional life. The reality is, what other people do with their money is none of my business. I don’t talk about this stuff to try and change their minds or sell them on the idea of FIRE.

I talk about it because I know there are people out there like me, that when they hear my story, they will react the way I did when I read the Mr. Money Mustache blog. Getting control of my finances completely improved my life and allowed me to see myself at my full potential. It’s an incredible experience I wish for others. And sharing my story has the potential to help other people improve their lives if they are receptive to the message.  

But it can be uncomfortable when I’m faced with a naysayer who wants to convince me that my frugality is deprivation and my 60% savings rate is so unrealistic that it’s offensive to talk about.  I’ve also gotten a lot of criticism for choosing to start a business that I don’t monetarily profit from. Many people assume it’s because I don’t value my time, or I have self worth issues.

It’s difficult for me to explain sometimes that being generous with my time and energy makes me feel wealthy. I’m in a fortunate financial position that I don’t need to be paid for all the work I do, even though I’m not yet financially independent.

Tell readers what this business is and why you started this project. What need are you trying to fill? Why did you decide to do it when you did?

The EconoMe Conference is an annual large scale event that I produce at The University of Cincinnati. It’s been called the “Ted Talks” of the FIRE movement. One attendee last year even referred to it as “a party about money”. We bring together thought leaders to help guide us in questioning our assumptions about happiness, freedom, and prosperity through the lens of personal finance.   

When I thought about becoming financially independent, the biggest benefit I could imagine was creating what I wanted to see in the world without any concern for making an income from it.  I’m the most extroverted person I know and absolutely love attending events/conferences and surrounding myself with people who have similar interests. 

One of my favorite events is called the World Domination Summit. Every time I go to this event, I leave feeling like my life is so full of possibility. I wanted to replicate this feeling for other people on the FIRE path. This is what drove me to launch EconoMe. This was supposed to be my eventual “retirement project”, but I got so excited about it, I couldn’t wait! 

When I think about the things that contribute most to my happiness, it’s pretty simple- relationships/community, creative expression, and autonomy over my time.  Many people talk about FIRE being a lonely path. So I felt that I could help fill this need by creating an opportunity to surround ourselves with an engaged community of people who are doing incredible things with their finances.

The core message and theme of this blog targets people already on the path to financial independence and contemplating the retirement decision or currently making the transition away from traditional careers to retirement or other more fulfilling work. We also have long-time readers who have been retired for a decade or more. New readers may have only recently found the concept of financial independence. Who would benefit from attending EconoMe and why?

I originally thought EconoMe was going to be more for people like me- who are in the accumulation stage and looking for community and inspiration to “fuel the FIRE”. But I was really surprised how many early retirees came to the first event! I think it’s because when you figure it out for yourself, there is an overwhelming desire to help other people. I’ve found the FIRE community very generous in that regard. The early retirees who shared their knowledge in breakout sessions, sponsored student tickets, and just came to cheer the rest of us on was really nice to see.

The content is also a great mix of inspirational and tactical information. Wherever you are on your journey, you are bound to get something out of EconoMe. 

For example, Travis Hornsby did a speech on student loan debt last year. Most people in the audience revealed in a survey during that speech that they didn’t have any student loan debt. The speech was still very well received by that audience because the content was surprising and most of us just like to nerd out on money matters. And now whenever attendees are helping their kids or others looking to avoid or get out of debt, they can provide a resource by sharing that speech.

There are other speeches that are purely inspirational, no matter where you are on your journey.  For example, Rose Lounsbury did a speech called The Journey to Enough. She not only questions how much is enough money, but also, how much is enough stuff, friends, or success? 

I think one of the best parts of reaching FI or even being on the path is that it opens up the bandwidth to start asking bigger questions. We look to facilitate that kind of dialogue at EconoMe.

The first time we talked you introduced me to Cal Newport’s book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You. In it, Newport rails against the “passion hypothesis” and “courage culture.” These ideas tell us that we should follow our passion and that we “just need the courage to step away from ‘other people’s definition of success’ and to follow your dream.”

How do you think Newport would view things like this exchange of ideas or the talks presented at the EconoMe conference? Do we fall into these narratives of selling an unrealistic dream that set people up for disappointment? If not, how are we different?

In addition to Cal’s points, I think the trouble with following your passion is the likelihood that you are wrong about what that “passion” is. Furthermore, just like people think “following their passion” will make them happy, many people in the FIRE community believe that retiring early will make them happy. It’s simply not true. I think you, Cal, and I would agree that people who believe this narrative are in for a rude awakening.

If you want to retire early just to get away from a job you don’t like, your motivations might not serve you all that well. I think the FIRE path is about opening up options, having more control/autonomy, and very much about self discovery in how you want to use your time. It’s not necessarily about not working. Effort after all is the spice of life.

Cal talks about how happiness at work is driven more by the people you surround yourself with, being good at what you do, and autonomy over your time. So the whole idea is to build up career capital to ultimately trade it for more autonomy.

In a sense, people in the FIRE movement are following a similar path. They are building up financial capital to trade for more autonomy. But perhaps they’re missing some of the other key building blocks of happiness when they think freedom from needing paid work is all they need.

Ultimately I think everyone is responsible for their own happiness. Disappointment in an unrealistic dream might come from trying to copy the path of the stories they read online.

I used to try to live like Mr. Money Mustache, until I realized that I don’t want to be him. I want to be me! 

And there is a level of financial freedom that only I can create with my unique circumstances, preferences, and skills. If we can start reading FIRE content with the understanding that people are sharing their stories as food for thought on what worked for them, we can start to get creative on what might work for us. But if we try to copy their stories, then we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment because we’re robbing ourselves of the joy that comes with writing our own. 

Do you have anything else you’re dying to share with our audience that I didn’t ask you about?

If people want to hear more from me, I’m also the host of the Optimal Finance Daily podcast.  This is a daily narration style podcast where I read from some of the best blogs on personal finance, with the author’s permission of course! (And Can I Retire Yet? is a contributor! I haven’t read from Chris yet, but there are 4 episodes that I’ve read from Darrow). I also offer commentary on each of the articles and occasionally do Q&A episodes. 

Summing Up

Diania and I recently connected at an online conference and later had a long one-on-one Zoom call. I couldn’t help but to love her attitude, humor, enthusiasm and notice her wisdom beyond her years. So I wanted her to share her story on the blog. I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I did putting it together.

I agree with Diania that people who aggressively pursue a path to financial independence and early retirement (or whatever else may follow) are generally misfits in our society that is driven by consumerism. There is great value in connecting with other people with similar mindsets in order to support and learn from one another. I’ve written about how valuable it has been for Kim and I to be part of a mastermind group of likeminded couples and find the right community when we relocated that includes our Choose FI local group. I was scheduled to speak at a Camp FI event in Joshua Tree last fall where I was hoping to grow my social network, before it was unfortunately cancelled due to Covid 19 restrictions.

I wholeheartedly support Diania’s efforts to develop another avenue for like minded people to connect through the EconoMe Conference.

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[Chris Mamula used principles of traditional retirement planning, combined with creative lifestyle design, to retire from a career as a physical therapist at age 41. After poor experiences with the financial industry early in his professional life, he educated himself on investing and tax planning. After achieving financial independence, Chris began writing about wealth building, DIY investing, financial planning, early retirement, and lifestyle design at Can I Retire Yet? He is also the primary author of the book Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence. Chris also does financial planning with individuals and couples at Abundo Wealth, a low-cost, advice-only financial planning firm with the mission of making quality financial advice available to populations for whom it was previously inaccessible. Chris has been featured on MarketWatch, Morningstar, U.S. News & World Report, and Business Insider. He has spoken at events including the Bogleheads and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants annual conferences. Blog inquiries can be sent to Financial planning inquiries can be sent to]

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  1. Chris, I’d love a chance to win the tickets to attend EconMe this fall. It’s being held right down the road from me here in Ohio. Also, as you may remember, I just retired early at the end of February. You could make my 58th birthday on March 29th super special by letting me know I won the tickets! Thanks so much, keep up the great work!

    1. Barak,

      It’s great to hear from you. Congrats on your early retirement and good luck on the tickets!


  2. Interesting case study Chris, thank you. “…Free from worrying about money.” I don’t think I will ever reach that point, regardless of my balance sheet, thanks to the role of random luck in our current retirement “system,” sequence of returns risks, etc., and the absence of an adequate social safety net for retirees in the U.S.
    Five years in for me and I too continue to experience struggles and challenges. Don’t expect that will ever change until I’ve become food for worms. But I would not go back.

  3. We already have our EconoMe tickets. Just wanted to chime in that Diania is amazing and you all should come to Cincinnati in November if you can!

    1. Thanks for the endorsement Frank. I was hesitant when Diania reached out to chat, b/c I’m frequently pitched different things that I have a hard time getting behind. In this case, the more I got to know her, the more I wanted to help her out b/c she is such a genuine and good person and I’m genuinely excited for her and want to see her succeed.


  4. Great interview Chris! I knew she was a kindred spirit when she said, “when you figure it out for yourself, there is an overwhelming desire to help other people.”

  5. Hello. I’d love to attend this conference. I am pretty far down the FIRE path but am having a hard time figuring out how to move from the accumulation phase to whatever is next! I think I have a few options for the next chapter. I would love to be immersed in an event like this to see if I can come up with a plan or get some inspiration on where to go next. Thanks!

  6. I’d love to win the tickets as a gift for a young couple I’ve been coaching on FIRE over the pandemic. Myself, I’m retired and a global nomad, which was my dream. So, I’ve won the game at a level I am satisfied at. But my mentees live in Milwaukee, and could benefit from the chance to meet others on the journey and get recharged on the value of FI.

  7. Chris – thanks for today’s post! I actually live here in Cincinnati and enjoy the lower cost of living benefits that Diania expressed in your Q&A. I would love to attend the EconoMe event as I enjoy the opportunity to learn from others that are blazing the path! Thanks for your consideration!

  8. FI-lexibile is perfect for the period that I am in now. Not 100% retired, but also have put myself in a position that I can be flexible in order to fully reach FI. I don’t have to work in a job just for the money. I can experiment and try new things. So thank you for the lexicon!

  9. Hello Chris, I would love to have the tickets and gift one to my son who is interested in financial matters and considering a career there. This was an interesting read. Thanks.

  10. Hi Chris, thanks for introducing me to the concept of FI-lexibilty and the EconoMe Conference. I’d love to win the tickets and take my husband. We have recently declared ourselves to be “FIRE’d” and are working through the “what next?” phase. I’ve always been the driver on the FIRE front and my husband sort of came along for the ride, but I think it would be great for him to hear from some other FI-minded people so he can find his own passion for the FI life.

  11. We are still relatively early in our FI journey and are rapidly absorbing every resource available. An entire conference sounds like a dream come true! My husband and I would love the opportunity to attend.

  12. Wow! This article met me at a whole new place. I am Goal oriented, and find myself struggling because I am simply trying to get from point A (accumulation of wealth to be able to retire) to point B (FIRE). I felt relief in reading this post. Thank you! I know I am on the right path! I hope to find a way to attend EconMe.

  13. “Effort after all is the spice of life.” I really enjoyed this article. My husband and I can see the flag on the screen of our FI destination map. We are so knee deep in spreadsheets. Though I know we need a reasonable number, I don’t want that number to be the ‘goal’. I would love for us to be able to attend this conference to meet others and learn from them.

    1. Ha! Yes Diania has a great presentation and is able to make these topics light and fun, yet behind that there is a lot of depth.

      Thanks for reading and glad this brought a smile to your face.


  14. Strike 1 ! I have been following “Can I Retire Yet dot com” for over 10 years. I retired 5 years ago at age 59. The information I learned has been invaluable, not to mention I love following it. The article today is NOT what this web site used to be about. it should focus on retiring early, not just FIRE. There are enough web sites doing just that (FIRE). I like Mr. Money Mustache, but followed Darrow for a different reason. Please go back to the original intent of the web site. Just some constructive criticism.

    1. Dale,

      I appreciate constructive feedback. I’m always open to suggestions on topics that readers are interested in.

      That said, I also know that we need to cover topics that interest us at this stage in life to avoid getting bored. This site will always have in depth analysis of financial topics like Darrow’s post on housing last week and my most recent post on analyzing high costs of 401(k) plans vs. the benefits of participating. However, I think there’s more to a successful and fulfilling retirement than money and the majority of comments reflect that many readers share that sentiment.


  15. I would love to win the tickets to EconMe. I’ve been furloughed and looking for a new job for the last 10 months and I have been picky in that pursuit because I believe that my wife and I have reached FI. I hadn’t retired earlier due to some of the concerns Diania expressed. I began working on what I want to do prior to my furlough and think I have found several things to keep me busy and happy. I would love the opportunity to learn from others who have gone down the path, especially learning what I don’t know that I don’t know. Thanks for the article.

  16. As a life long engineer, I excel at problem solving. Given a well defined problem i.e. income needed to match expenses in early retirement, and I can successfully executing a plan to get there. For me FI was all about the numbers and little to no thought about the mindset, satisfaction which yield purpose and meaning. Chris and Darrow have kept me grounded with pulling the right levers and turning the right knobs on finances, what I need is Diania and EconoMe to show me how to avoid a disappointment in “all dressed up and no where to go” . I found the provocative article liberating.

  17. What a great article. We live pretty close to Cincinnati and I love to win these tickets. (Will the world be somewhat normal by then?) We’re pretty far down the FIRE path but now looking at what our options are — Coast FIRE, Lean FIRE etc. It’s scary thinking about moving from having all our time taken up by work and hoarding half our money… to having all the time in the world, and saving nothing. Eek.

  18. Great interview, thanks for sharing. Many important thoughts on the benefits of a middle or different path that can benefit a wide range of ages/situations!
    We are interested in the conference for a large family group so we’ll go to the web site. Thanks for introducing us to EconoMe!
    We don’t need to be considered for the tickets.

  19. Wow, what a fantastic column. I’m not going to start making my own laundry detergent but I do want to walk the Camino de Santiago. Yes there are obligations when you FIRE. My approach, which I learned from my sister, is if you are not doing it now, you won’t when you don’t work. I keep looking for nuggets of value. I’m finding fewer and fewer as i go along. Mostly I find that I’m within the guidelines that this column expressed. Thank you for the interview.

  20. Enjoyed hearing Diania’s story and agree with her viewpoints. The rush to get to FI to quit your job and not have to do anything can have quite a few downsides that arent always as obvious. Since my layoff a few years ago I’ve just been working on my side hustle that I enjoy and have already been doing for over 20 years. Even though now at 52 I could really be “retired” (thanks stock market rally(s) if I wanted to, I enjoy what I do and having some income coming in feels good too. I dont mind working as long as I have at least some flexibility over my time. I may try going back to work full time and see what happens but its good to know I dont have to stay just for the paycheck if things dont work out. I enjoy reading all the FI blogs and have got many good ideas and viewpoints from them. But ultimately you have to find what works for you. You dont have to live as cheap as possible just to save a few extra dollars, but also I’ve found that you dont really need all this stuff that we have been led to believe will make you happy. Dont fall for all the advertising that companies try to use to manipulate you.

  21. I like your articles, they’re always comprehensive and well laid out. I seek out FI blogs all the time. I ruthlessly weed them out too. Your top notch Blog is one of 3 that I have continued to follow.

    I do find the interview format to be ponderous though. I’m lazy and dislike sifting through the excess wording inherent in the interview form. It’s a pleasure when you have done all the work for us. You do the research and pondering, then you efficiently lay it out in a post.

    1. Thanks for reading. I appreciate the feedback Fred.

      I’m experimenting with ways to keep things interesting for myself by connecting with others and hopefully giving a wider variety of viewpoints and experiences that more readers can relate to. I plan to do one guest post or interview each month this year, and I’ll see where we take things from there. So far, these different perspectives have been well received by most readers based on feedback in comments and traffic.


  22. Hello,

    I agree wholeheartedly with FI being a journey with so many learning possibilities along the way. I really enjoy Diania’s energy and life view. Thank you for sharing!

    I am also curious about the EconoMe Conference and will look into this World Domination Summit. Sounds fun!

  23. Hi! I would love a chance to win those tickets for three reasons:
    1. I live about an hour away from Cincy, and it feels like I’m in the desolate wasteland of FI minded people. I’d love a chance to meet some people close by that are also on this path.
    2. At work we have a monthly financial literacy class; my small slice of that is a presentation on what the heck the FIRE movement is (trying to pay it forward). It’d be great to hear much more professionalish people talk on the subject so I can take their perspectives back to my coworkers.
    3. I’m at FI, and I’m still working a job. I’m not sure why I’m still there, other than fear of the unknown and not really knowing what to do next. It’d be nice to talk to some people post FI and hear about their lives instead of getting the condensed two dimensional version from the interwebs. I’m sure that wouldn’t be a panacea, but I feel like that could help me figure some stuff out.
    Thanks for the consideration!

  24. Chris,
    I would so appreciate being able to attend the ECONOME conference to explore different FI topics, meet like-minded folks, and maybe even gain a little peace of mind. We are working overseas in very stable jobs but are about to pull the FIRE cord and relocate/retire to the Midwest. The isolation and devastation from COVID has made us value being present for relatives and friends in need more than having an excess financial cushion each month. However, I am struggling with guilt for giving up solid employment when so many have been forced out of the workplace this past year. And, I’ve never had much free time for hobbies, as we’ve spent our “free” time on managing and fixing up rentals. We hope this conference may enlighten us on how people take the leap into retirement and find fulfilling endeavors. Thanks to you and Darrow for a wonderful Blog – we appreciate your efforts!

  25. My husband and I have always called ourselves “weird”. During our 30 year marriage we watched our peers going out and spending money on lots of consumer items. My husband and I found happiness in other ways while saving a good portion of our earnings. Our two sons have both graduated college debt free due to our savings and their hard work.
    I have started to read this blog and other FIRE resources since my 24 year old son recommended this site (so glad the kids are adopting our lifestyle).
    We now find ourselves in our mid-50s and exploring the idea of retiring early. I am struggling with idea of giving up a stream of income (although I know just because you have a job today doesn’t mean you will have one tomorrow). My husband would be willing to retire tomorrow.
    Even if I don’t win these tickets we will always be happy and frugal.

  26. I loved this interview! I guess I’m also living a life of FI-lexibility but I’m at a confused place. We’re definitely at Coast FI so last year I quit my job to try my hand at the part she mentions about “simultaneously pursuing FI and creating a life that makes FI irrelevant”. I quit intending to become an entrepreneur. But then, pandemic…. As we come out of the pandemic, we’re more committed to the concept of living this one life wee have but also more attracted to doing something that matters in a way t potentially help right the many social wrongs that have become even more evident.

    Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that being around like minded people would be a great help as we design our life going forward!

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