Is there such thing as enough money? Is it important to think about what that would be for ourselves? Last weekend I found myself immersed in a group of people at various stages of defining and living out such a notion and think many are worthy of passing along.
Last weekend I attended the EconoMe conference in Cincinnati. The conference brings together thought leaders who question assumptions about happiness, freedom and prosperity through the lens of personal finance. I didn’t know what to expect, but what I found was a room full of 400 people from various stages of early retirement in their 40s to those questioning whether they really wanted to jump into the FIRE movement (Financial Independence Retire Early).
What is interesting to me about a conference like this is that it is unlike the traditional conferences I attend for work. First, it looks different. I remember attending a “retirement plan advisor conference” in Chicago and looking around at a room of about 100 attendees and seeing maybe five women advisors. “Financial planning conferences” tend to be a bit more diverse but remember that only about 15% of financial planners are women.
EconoMe had diversity in every sense. Many attendees were self-educated on personal finance topics and had near manifesto level beliefs on topics from savings rates to tax optimization to passive investment strategies to real estate syndications. The rest seemed eager to learn as much as they could. But none of this education was directed at a profession, nor did they want to become financial professionals. It was mostly for personal consumption and to be part of a larger movement crowdsourcing financial advice.
Some have viewed the FIRE movement as a way for spoiled millennials to quit their jobs and binge on Netflix all day. Funny enough, folks at the conference talked about doing just that. They saved most of what they made, walked away from their jobs in the prime of their life but then realized that they had the same level of happiness after they quit than before. They wanted participants to know “FIRE” really can’t be about quitting day jobs.
Their stories were more about what they then did with their lives to find meaning and how financial independence was the vehicle.
I have had readers very kindly argue that not everyone hates their job and wants to stop working. I take their point and appreciate the perspective. The weekend for me clarified more about the FIRE movement.
Speakers challenged us to think about living lives that allow ourselves the freedom to ask very hard questions about the direction of our lives. Perhaps financial independence can neutralize “keeping up with the Joneses” or the golden handcuffs, two common themes I see over and over that hold people back.
But financial independence must be paired with a notion of “…….