Mr. Money Mustache (aka MMM) saved enough money at the beginning of his career, that he was able to retire (very) early at age 30.
What did he do then? He started a blog. He continued to do more carpentry (a passion of his). And he even started a coworking space (for the social side). All of these activities continued to earn him money, even though he had no specific income goals. Nevertheless, his net worth continued to grow. And from what I know of his current life, he doesn’t intend to stop his efforts, as it brings so much meaning to his life.
Liz, of the blog FrugalWoods, decided with her husband and daughters to leave everything in the city of Boston where they lived, to move to a huge 66-acre homestead in the middle of nature in Vermont, USA. She continues to blog (which makes her money), as well as write freelance articles. Her husband also continued his job in IT until recently. He officially retired early in 2021 at age 37, and divides his time between serving on the boards of two non-profit associations, participating in community volunteer projects in his town, parenting, and taking care of their property (making maple syrup, tapping trees, cutting firewood, repairing their many farm machines, mowing their fields, picking berries, etc.)
Like MMM, this couple doesn’t plan on sitting on their porch for 16 hours a day sipping cocktails, and not doing anything of their time.
Closer to you, in Switzerland, there is my long time buddy Mr. RIP who left a huge salary as a software engineer. Almost FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early), he just had a huge need for a change of life, and is still navigating what his future activities will be. But clearly, you won’t find him spending many of his hours on a beach in Costa Rica, but rather making videos on the subject of personal finance on YouTube in Italian! And I can assure you that it takes effort and time.
And then there’s my example: I’m going to switch to 80% in September if all goes well, so I can devote 20% of my time to this blog and its related projects that I love so much. Once FIRE, I’ll certainly continue in this vein with other writing-related projects.
I’ll stop here for the examples, because I could write a book!
Why wait to be FIRE in several years, when you can be an entrepreneur today?
All these life stories lead me to a question: aren’t all of us, Mustachians in search of being FIRE, in the end just repressed and fearful entrepreneurs?
Because, in the end, an entrepreneur is nothing other than a person who acts independently and is not placed under the legal subordination of another person. This is what distinguishes him from an employee.
But being an entrepreneur comes with responsibilities, which some will see as risks, especially financial. Because unlike the employee, the entrepreneur is responsible for creating his own salary. With all the anxieties that go with it. In particular, the fear of not earning enough each month to support their standard of living and pay their bills.
Whereas when you are FIRE, all that fear disappears. Because you know you still have that FIRE cushion that’s there. And so you can go about all sorts of things without worrying about the income it’s going to generate.
But in reality, it is often with this feeling of total freedom and financial security that personal and passion projects quickly bring in a non-negligible cash flow.
The subject of financial independence is therefore much more related to our psychology than to our net worth.
Let’s take the example of an entrepreneur
On the other hand, imagine an entrepreneur in his early twenties, such as Pasquale, the Swiss multi-millionaire who recently shared his adventure with us.
He decided to run his own business before becoming FIRE.
He couldn’t wait for a potential early retirement to live with the freedom that entrepreneurship provides.
He was in vital need of that freedom.
And this need was stronger than any potential financial security (even though he cautiously entered a known field, where there was demand).
This reflection started a few months ago was not meant to become an article, especially since I didn’t know what to conclude.
But the exercise of putting these lines in writing allowed me to see more clearly.
A Mustachian on the road to financial independence (aka FIRE) is a repressed entrepreneur, for whom financial security is more important than freedom. He needs the former to experience the latter.
An entrepreneur, on the other hand, has a greater sensitivity to his freedom, and his psyche will live well (or at least tolerate) the financial insecurity to achieve it.
Choosing the FIRE path over the entrepreneur path is therefore more of a psychological choice than a financial one.
Indeed, even if I had 1.62M Swiss francs of net worth to date (i.e. half the amount needed to declare myself FIRE in Switzerland), I personally could not quit my current job to live only from the blog and other personal projects. Because, psychologically, I would still have this financial insecurity hanging over my head, and would not be able to feel this total freedom. Which is purely a view of the mind, we agree :)
So I assume it: I am a Mustachian, in other words, a repressed and fearful entrepreneur!
And you, what do these cerebral peregrinations inspire you? If you see any links to topics, books, or mental models that I don’t have on my radar, I’d be very grateful if you’d let me know in the comments or by simply sending me an e-mail. Thank you!
Header photo credit: Tatiana Syrikova via Pexels