What's in a name? Coast-FI, FIRE glide path, or FIRE fattening?

CO-guy

Recycles dryer sheets
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There are many opinions on what qualifies as FIRE'd. It seems there's more agreement on FI, so the RE part is where folks disagree. Friends and family that are just discovering the FIRE movement keep trying to tell me what I'm doing. So what would you call our situation?

I'm 53, left the full-time a year ago, and have a little over $2M in assets ($600k in 401K/IRA, $150k in savings and $1.5M in home equity). My better-half is nearly 9 years younger than me, has only recently entered her stride in her career, and has another 7 years before she's pension eligible, which is her planned RE date. That's also when we plan to sell our home and relocate. Until then, we get health insurance through her employer and I've been consulting part-time, at least for now.

Our home has multiple rental units, and the rent more than covers the small mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance. That leaves my better-half's salary to spend on 'whatever' and my part-time consulting brings in even more than her salary. In the year since leaving the full-time, we've traveled extensively, increased our charitable giving, and are still on track to continue saving over $50k/year even after maxing out Roth.

During our planning, we referred to this time between my RE and her RE as my "glide path" since it's a period where I step away from my career and wind down my consulting business. At this point though, I could quit consulting entirely, let the better-half be the sole breadwinner for the next 7 years, and I'm confident that we'll still hit our target number in 2031 for 100% FIRE success. So am I just fattening the FIRE? The only current benefit is that we're less concerned about the money we spend on travel, and we're being more charitable (we leveled-up in our silent auction game). Our neighbors are retired, but have a part-time gig at the ski resort. When I told them I was applying to be a resort host this winter, they said, "Oh, so you're 'Barista-FIREing' like us?" My only response was, "Am I?"
 
There are a lot of words I have seen used to describe different kinds of FIRE. To me, they are all mostly irrelevant.

I would call your situation "Doing whatever you want."
 
Call it what ever you wish!
If you have the money to pay bills without any work needed, then you are able to retire from the working world.
Some folks choose to work part time, some don't.
I would say since you are calling it your "glide path", that you don't consider yourself fully retired yet.
The traditional "retired" would mean no work. Nowadays, I think it means whatever people want to call it for themselves
 
Yep. Doing what you want - even if you get a pay check for it can still be called FIRE in my thinking but YMMV.
 
I'm in a very similar situation. I retired from megacorp in 2017 the week I turned 55. I have a plaque, a retirement dinner at Landry's, and another watch to prove it. I planned to do a little consulting to stay engaged. I did none to speak of in 2017 and 2018. Then in 2019 it ramped up and has averaged 1/3 time ever since. I'm targeting ramping down next year as a long-term project I've been working ends, and to avoid IRMAA (I'll be 63). Ideally, I'll make enough to pay for ACA, HSA, Roth i401(k) contribution, and a little play money.

Anyway, when people ask I tell them I retired from mega and do some part time consulting. The RE part is cool, but the FI part is what's important.
 
There are many opinions on what qualifies as FIRE'd. It seems there's more agreement on FI, so the RE part is where folks disagree. Friends and family that are just discovering the FIRE movement keep trying to tell me what I'm doing. So what would you call our situation?
Well, since you asked, I would say you are neither completely FI nor completely RE'd. Your investable net worth is $750k, although you are getting substantial income from renting out parts of your $1.5MM home. So I suppose there are some who would say you can/should count that as part of your investable NW.

Once you hit your full FIRE target number and you no longer do part-time consulting or "landlording", then I'd say you'll be fully FIREd. What is your target number, if you don't mind my asking? If it's $10MM, and you hit it, then you'll probably be solidly in FatFIRE territory (unless you live in the Bay Area or Manhattan, etc.). If it's $5MM, on the other hand, you'll most likely be in the ChubbyFIRE club. Of course, these are all just labels, and as such, there's a lot of disagreement on what exactly differentiates "chubby" from "fat". And then there's LeanFIRE, BaristaFIRE, and just plain ol' middle-of-the-road FIRE.

FWIW, here's some verbiage from a post in the ChubbyFIRE sub-forum on Reddit that attempts to define some of the more widely-known types of FIRE:
LeanFIRE: I define LeanFIRE as getting out of the rat race at the 25% income percentile. It's lean, but it's still no small achievement. That gives you $36,542 per year in passive income. If you are frugal and have your housing covered, you can make this work and live comfortably. You're making more than 1/4 of the households in the U.S. without working.

FIRE: I define FIRE as making at least the median household income passively. This is a middle-class lifestyle without working. Again, if you have your housing paid off, you're in a sweet spot. By this definition, FIRE begins at $74,202 in passive income annually. You need $1.85MM in investments to do this at a 4% SWR.

ChubbyFIRE: I'm going to say Chubby starts if you are in the top quintile *passively* (80th percentile). This corresponds to the idea of splitting society into three classes (lower is bottom quintile, middle is the middle three quintiles, and upper is the uppermost quintile). That's $153,008 per year. You're not living the lifestyle of the rich and famous, but you're a good example of the Millionaire Next Door. If you are pulling from investments at a 4% SWR you are sitting on over $3.8MM.

FatFIRE: If you are in the top 10% of households by income and getting that PASSIVELY... you're FatFIRE. That's $216,056 per year in passive income. You need a portfolio of $5.4MM to *start* at this level. Most Americans would say you are Rich. If you think "Fat" should be higher, check the numbers for 95th and 99th percentiles (below). The difference between rich and very rich is made weird by the way the very, very wealthy are off-the-charts rich (e.g.: the difference between entering the top 10% and top 5% is under $80K, but the difference between entering the top 10% and top 1% is $375K). Break into the top 1% and you STILL likely don’t have your own plane and definitely don’t own a superyacht.
 
There are a lot of words I have seen used to describe different kinds of FIRE. To me, they are all mostly irrelevant.

I would call your situation "Doing whatever you want."
Well, I've been wondering.........
Most of my 35-ish neighbors work from home. (They have to be making really good money to live here)

All day long, they walk the dog, play with their kids, take a swim in their pool and head out for golf in the early afternoon.

How does that work? I imagine they're online for a few hours a day between laps in the pool, or maybe they work all evening, but, wow, I don't see anyone killing themselves with overwork! Talk about "doing whatever you want"! Why bother with saving for retirement, when you're already there?
 
I wouldn't get caught up in labels and specific definitions. You seem to meet the FI part no question, and the RE part is met, even though you choose to keep working.

In my case I consider myself FIRE'd because I have enough to live at my desired std of living and stopped working earlier than the traditional 62-65 age. But I just call myself retired if anybody asks my status.
 
Well, since you asked, I would say you are neither completely FI nor completely RE'd. Your investable net worth is $750k, although you are getting substantial income from renting out parts of your $1.5MM home. So I suppose there are some who would say you can/should count that as part of your investable NW.

Once you hit your full FIRE target number and you no longer do part-time consulting or "landlording", then I'd say you'll be fully FIREd. What is your target number, if you don't mind my asking? If it's $10MM, and you hit it, then you'll probably be solidly in FatFIRE territory (unless you live in the Bay Area or Manhattan, etc.). If it's $5MM, on the other hand, you'll most likely be in the ChubbyFIRE club. Of course, these are all just labels, and as such, there's a lot of disagreement on what exactly differentiates "chubby" from "fat". And then there's LeanFIRE, BaristaFIRE, and just plain ol' middle-of-the-road FIRE.

FWIW, here's some verbiage from a post in the ChubbyFIRE sub-forum on Reddit that attempts to define some of the more widely-known types of FIRE:
Thank you. This is why I asked. There are so many different opinions.

I've been tracking our spending for years and we're pretty consistent in spending ~$4000/mo, which I rounded to $50k/yr for FIRE calculations. My target number to reach in (now) 7 years has been $2M, which would be well above the amount needed based on current calculations. When I originally set our FIRE target, I assumed home equity at $850k, but the market in our area has taken off like a rocket ship. As far as other investments, I expect that they will nearly double over the next 7 years, even with average returns. In addition, my better-half and my in-laws have citizenship in the country where we're planning to relocate once we sell our home, and cost of living there is extremely low (below $2k/month). My better-half and MIL are actually heading there in a few months to look at apartments.

As far as consulting and land-lording; Being a landlord ends when we sell our home, but I'm not sure when I'll stop consulting. The plan is for the consulting to taper off in the next 5 years, but it's almost entirely remote and I only pick up projects when they don't interfere with my own schedule.

If I had to put a label on my FIRE it would be, "Enjoying FI until my better half gets to RE."
 
+1 on FI being the more important half. RE is, imo, doing what you want even if you make dough doing it. I call myself coasting (self employed) until my better half feels comfortable. I do what I enjoy for the most part.

We're @ 2.1 investments & 450 home, living on ~$70k (all in) with corporate insurance though. 53&59...
 
+1 on FI being the more important half. RE is, imo, doing what you want even if you make dough doing it. I call myself coasting (self employed) until my better half feels comfortable. I do what I enjoy for the most part.

We're @ 2.1 investments & 450 home, living on ~$70k (all in) with corporate insurance though. 53&59...
PLUS Social Security and MC waiting in the wings!
 
Well, I've been wondering.........
Most of my 35-ish neighbors work from home. (They have to be making really good money to live here)

All day long, they walk the dog, play with their kids, take a swim in their pool and head out for golf in the early afternoon.

How does that work? I imagine they're online for a few hours a day between laps in the pool, or maybe they work all evening, but, wow, I don't see anyone killing themselves with overwork! Talk about "doing whatever you want"! Why bother with saving for retirement, when you're already there?

DMIL jokingly accused DW and I of that this weekend - sort of already there/gliding. We've spent the last year w*rking remote tech jobs and snowbirding in our cheapo RV. We're inside, online, enough that our boomer retired campground neighbors refer to us as the vampires, but we get our daily walks in. We both hate w*rk at this point but it's not a terrible way to ride out the last of it.
 
Yes the terms don't really matter. Healthy time left in one's life is what really matters, even if one doesn't know that number.
Our close friend is still working at age 70 and always was joking I get SS and my salary.
Well his wife got leukemia. She survived but may not be able to walk again without a walker. At age 70 even if he retired now would not be RE by anyone's definition.
So keep these concepts in mind too.
 
+1 on FI being the more important half. RE is, imo, doing what you want even if you make dough doing it. I call myself coasting (self employed) until my better half feels comfortable. I do what I enjoy for the most part.

We're @ 2.1 investments & 450 home, living on ~$70k (all in) with corporate insurance though. 53&59...
Nice! I thought of myself as gliding, but coasting has a similar sentiment.

Also, one of my neighbors saw me heading out for a mtn bike ride this morning and said, "Remind me again, what is it you do?" I told them, "Currently, mountain biking." When she clarified that she was asking about my occupation, I replied, "Oh, sorry, I'm a consultant."

In the rural area where we live, it still hasn't registered to many folks that someone like me earns more consulting online for a few hours a day than most of the highest salaried positions in our area.
 
As some of the posts above indicate, people have different definitions and are quick to say you're not really retired if the following applies:
* You get rental income
* Your spouse or partner still works
* You work a few hours a week at a hobby job
* You have a blog that generates income
* You have minor kids at home
... The list goes on...

I can people who quickly about this the retirement police.

Your opinion is the only one that matters. Glide path sounds right to me.

But I'm admittedly biased. We have an on-site granny flat that generates income. Our labor is about 20 hours a year... Maybe an extra 20 hours when there is a change in tenant... Last tenant stayed 8 years, current tenant is coming up on 2 years... So we don't do turnovers often. Rent is payed by zelle so I don't even have the labor of cashing checks. There have been statements here that landlords aren't retired.

I've seen it stated that if you have minor kids you are just a stay at home parent, not really retired.

All I know is that when I quit my job as an engineer, ending that career, I considered myself retired, desire having minor kids at the time and having rental income.

Only you know if you're retired.
 
As some of the posts above indicate, people have different definitions and are quick to say you're not really retired if the following applies:
* You get rental income
* Your spouse or partner still works
* You work a few hours a week at a hobby job
* You have a blog that generates income
* You have minor kids at home
... The list goes on...

I can people who quickly about this the retirement police.

Your opinion is the only one that matters. Glide path sounds right to me.

But I'm admittedly biased. We have an on-site granny flat that generates income. Our labor is about 20 hours a year... Maybe an extra 20 hours when there is a change in tenant... Last tenant stayed 8 years, current tenant is coming up on 2 years... So we don't do turnovers often. Rent is payed by zelle so I don't even have the labor of cashing checks. There have been statements here that landlords aren't retired.

I've seen it stated that if you have minor kids you are just a stay at home parent, not really retired.

All I know is that when I quit my job as an engineer, ending that career, I considered myself retired, desire having minor kids at the time and having rental income.

Only you know if you're retired.
Thanks for the encouragement. For what it's worth, while there have been many differences of opinion, my experiences on this site have been overwhelmingly positive. Folks have been quite respectful in sharing their views without judging others, or at least that's how I've perceived the feedback.
 
I tended to refer to myself as "slacking off" or "on cruise control." But that was more with regards with my career path, than retirement itself. Although I guess the two still go hand in hand. About 9 years ago, I hit sort of a sweet spot, where I really didn't care if my career advanced any further. While I wasn't FI (Financially Independent) yet, I still had a pretty good savings/investment balance, and was making enough money to be comfortable, and pretty much buy anything my fairly modest lifestyle desired.

I did fall into the hedonistic creep trap, or whatever they call it, when I bought a new house in 2018. But, my investments were rising fast enough, as well as my income, that I really didn't feel the pinch. I might complain about not wanting to pay it, but it wasn't putting me into the poor house.

I am FI now, and if I was to back test my situation, I probably have been since 2018. At this point, tend to refer to my situation as sort of OMY (One More Year) Syndrome, with a little bit of "In Limbo" thrown in. By that, I mean I feel like I'm sort of stuck in a no-man's land, somewhere between working full-time and retired. I work from home, so not having a commute probably saves me 8-9 hours per week. And the job is flexible with hours, and not all that stressful. As long as my timesheet comes out to 80 hours every two weeks, between actual work and paid time off, with an occasional holiday thrown in, they're not too picky about a rigid schedule.

But, to the original poster, I'd say call yourself whatever you want. It really can be hard to put a label on these things. About the only label I might put on you is you're "DF" (Doing Fine!)
 
My personal view has always been that you are FIREd if you can choose whether or not to work for income, and if that loss of chosen work income does not impact your FI.

The example I always use is during the pandemic, I observed some people who claimed they had FIREd lost their chosen work/side gig, and that put them in a financial panic and had them looking for other jobs.

After I retired my wife continued to work, but I always told her "your income is not required for us to live the retirement life we desire, so you choose when you want to stop". After 3 years she decided I was having too much fun and retired herself.

But again, my personal view, not one I need to press upon the masses :) .
 
My personal view has always been that you are FIREd if you can choose whether or not to work for income, and if that loss of chosen work income does not impact your FI.

The example I always use is during the pandemic, I observed some people who claimed they had FIREd lost their chosen work/side gig, and that put them in a financial panic and had them looking for other jobs.
I wonder how many people went ahead and retired right before the pandemic, but then panicked once everything crashed and went back to work, only to realize a few months later, when things recovered, that it was just a momentary blip in the overall scheme of things, they were just fine, and then went ahead and re-retired?

I was in a somewhat similar situation around that time. When 2020 rolled around, I really started thinking seriously about retiring, and was planning to do it in April, as a 50th birthday present to myself. But then from 2/19 to 3/23, peak-to-trough, was down about 35%! That took away any early retirement aspirations pretty quickly. Plus, my company made me start working from home, so that took away a good deal of the job annoyance. I ended up hitting new financial highs again by August of 2020, and finished the year up about 13.2%.

While I kept working through that period, and am still working, I could see myself getting into a situation like that if I had retired right before the crash. I would have probably started worrying, and looking for a job again. But, I could see a situation where I was unable to find a job, because there were a ton of others out of work. And then, as my financial situation improved, I would have just given up on looking for work, and admitting I really was retired.

So looking back, that tells me that even if I was financially prepared back in 2020 for retirement, I wasn't mentally prepared. I went through a similar situation at the end of 2021. I was hitting new highs again, figured it was more than enough, and figured I'd give myself the gift of retirement for my 52nd birthday in April of 2022. But, the same thing happened. By the time my birthday rolled around, my portfolio was down a bit, although not nearly as bad as the 2020 drop. However, inflation was really starting to ramp up, and I figured eh, the job's still not that annoying, so I'll just hang on. That time, however, I think if I had gone ahead and retired, once things started to drop, I'd just ride it out. During that 2022 slump, I think I bottomed out down around 24-25% off my peak in late September. I finished the year with a loss of around 20.5%, but since it was on the mend by then, it didn't seem so bad.

And today, I'm recovered enough that if I was retired, and we had a repeat of 2020, I could take an instant 35% hit, and withstand it without having to go back to work. Plus, in addition to having more money, I don't have as many years ahead of me to plan for!
 
I wonder how many people went ahead and retired right before the pandemic, but then panicked once everything crashed and went back to work, only to realize a few months later, when things recovered, that it was just a momentary blip in the overall scheme of things, they were just fine, and then went ahead and re-retired?

I can many people in that situation, and similar to what you mentioned in the rest of your post. I was more thinking of folks who had FIREd for several years, some even writing and blogging about it - then comes the pandemic, and now they were writing and blogging about how they were running out of money and needed to find jobs - in their case, FIRE was more "I left a job I did not want for a self-employment gig that I enjoy" that actual retirement, in my view.

I took a different approach when thinking about market crashes before I retired (not better - just different, and one that my pension provided flexibility for). After I hit my FI "number", I started analyzing "what would that number look like if the market fell 50% and I was not working"? I did not like the answer. However, I also considered "those loses only will impact us if we need to see equities when things are that down" - which led to my RE "glide path" strategy of building up enough cash so that I could still choose not to work, but not be forced to sell equities in a down market. In my case, I decided, based on our situation, that 5 years of cash on hand, to cover planned expenses beyond what my pension would cover, was a good target. So I kept working until I pass that milestone. The other change I made was, in the beginning of the year I retired (2018), was to move my AA to 40% stock. Only after those were achieved did I retire and feel FIREd.

Those two items provided my "sleep well at night regardless of the what the market is doing" foundation :) . So, when the pandemic hit, it was not a financial worry for us. In fact, we were among the folks who gained a long term benefit from the pandemic - we had enough "excess" cash that we could not spend with things shutdown/limited that we were able to pay off our mortgage, help family, and invest in the market, as it turned out, near its lows - all of which has been beneficial for the long run.
 
I took a different approach when thinking about market crashes before I retired (not better - just different, and one that my pension provided flexibility for). After I hit my FI "number", I started analyzing "what would that number look like if the market fell 50% and I was not working"? I did not like the answer. However, I also considered "those loses only will impact us if we need to see equities when things are that down" - which led to my RE "glide path" strategy of building up enough cash so that I could still choose not to work, but not be forced to sell equities in a down market. In my case, I decided, based on our situation, that 5 years of cash on hand, to cover planned expenses beyond what my pension would cover, was a good target. So I kept working until I pass that milestone. The other change I made was, in the beginning of the year I retired (2018), was to move my AA to 40% stock. Only after those were achieved did I retire and feel FIREd.
I think the first thing I need to do, is stop trying to turn early retirement into a birthday present for myself! That's managed to backfire on me, twice now! (April 2020 and April 2022). I have about 4 years worth of expenses in MMA accounts, so that should be enough, I'm thinking, to ride out most downturns. And while the rest of it is invested somewhat aggressively, I feel like even during a long downturn, there will still be enough peaks and valleys in there to present rebalancing opportunities. For instance, while the only time I "lost" money 3 years in a row was 2000, 2001, and 2002, that's only because I'm counting the year-end balances. I actually saw some new milestones in 2000 and 2001; it's just that by year-end, the overall years had gone negative. Now 2002 was just bad, period. But even there, by the end of the year, I was up pretty substantially from my low point over the summer.
 
My personal view has always been that you are FIREd if you can choose whether or not to work for income, and if that loss of chosen work income does not impact your FI.

The example I always use is during the pandemic, I observed some people who claimed they had FIREd lost their chosen work/side gig, and that put them in a financial panic and had them looking for other jobs.

After I retired my wife continued to work, but I always told her "your income is not required for us to live the retirement life we desire, so you choose when you want to stop". After 3 years she decided I was having too much fun and retired herself.

But again, my personal view, not one I need to press upon the masses :) .
Ditto! I am FI because I can stop consulting today and it would not cause any financial concern. My better-half is younger than me and is mid-career. She knows she can stop whenever she wants. While the added income is nice, it's not necessary.

Also, the pandemic supercharged my consulting business, which has continued to pay dividends in "FI fattening." Living in an isolated area made it difficult to pick up consulting projects that overwhelmingly involved site visits prior to 2020. Since 2020, everything has been remote, which leveled the playing field for me. Even better, many of the folks that were used to doing everything on-site, left the field entirely, so I can pick and choose whatever projects I want now.
 
"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
-- William Shakespeare

Doesn't matter what you call it. If I can make it through the rest of my life without working for the man, I call it good.
 
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"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. "
-- William Shakespeare

Doesn't matter what you call it. If I can make it through the rest of my life without working for the man, I call it good.
The only person I work for is myself.
 
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