The demographic of the FI seekers and the privilege of the quest

I am sat here typing away on my laptop, with the cycling tour of the Basque Country on my TV, my smart phone buzzing away with messages from around the country and a cup of tea steaming away.

Life is pretty good.

You wouldn’t think it if you spend much time reading the news.  But it is.

A dreary newspaper

If you stare past the bullshit of consumerism, through the fog of conventional wisdom and the mists of fear you may see, frittering away, the concept of Financial Independence.  Most will pass it off as a mirage, a trick of the mind, something that sure seems nice but can’t be possible in today’s world.  But there is a growing number of us that want more from life than just a 9-5 cubicle job, a few promotions into middle management, a life time of buying tat and then a pension for a few years whilst blaming the government for our situation.

Is there an FI demographic
It does strike me that there are three main professions for which Financial Independence and Early Retirement really appeals;

– Software Engineers/Computer Programmers
– People in Finance
– Aerospace/Aeronautical/Civil etc Engineers

These professions can be well paid, but don’t always provide the satisfaction that people were hoping for.  They all deal in the intangible.  Running models.  Computer coding.  I deal with risk and uncertainty.  Looking into the future at things are not likely to happen, but what could happen if they did.  They all deal with the BullShit of the corporate world.  People in these jobs have what they were told to do, what they thought was “the right things”.  They studied and got good grades at school.  They did a degree and then went on to work in a ‘professional’ job, perhaps even doing further studies or qualifications.  The thing is, a few years later the pay is getting better but ultimately the job’s just not that fulfilling.  Perhaps these jobs pay well because there is some kind of premium in built for the ability to withstand the numb corporate atmosphere.

While this is without a doubt a good problem to have, many seem to plow on regardless, satisfying their unhappiness with spending.  Using their success to purchase goods to prove to the world that they are, in fact, successful.

But a small proportion find the idea of Financial Independence and Early Retirement and embark on the quest.

The privilege of the quest
The very fact that we can entertain the idea of financial independence puts us in a very privileged and enviable position.

To be in a position where we are being paid reasonably well but our jobs aren’t the most satisfying doesn’t make us martyrs.  But to be in a position where, through some relatively simple rearranging, we can be Financially Independent in X years means that life is pretty good.  Sure it will take some ‘sacrifices’ and choices that aren’t inline with the popular consensus, but the rewards are intangible.  Your freedom.

So yeah, life is pretty good.

Is there an FI demographic?  Should we feel privileged to have the choice to pursue FI?

Mr Z

19 thoughts on “The demographic of the FI seekers and the privilege of the quest

  1. Dividend Drive

    I have noticed the large number of engineers (of all ilks) in the FI blogging world. It would be interesting to know whether this high percentage is just in the blogging sphere or in the FI sphere in general.

    I was talking to Miss DD about this recently. We are very, very lucky to be able to even consider saving and investing for FI or security. We live in a country where we get paid more than is needed for living and where our stock market allows a reliable and stable investment vehicle.

    We are so lucky. Just a shame so few seem to realise it! The number does seem to be growing though!

    PS: I am not an engineer myself in case you were wondering!

    Reply
  2. Mr Zombie

    Hi DD,

    That's true, there could also be a correlation with the blogging world as well. It could appeal to the technically minded maybe…

    Exactly, we live in a place where we have consumer spending built into our wages, which is a luxury! And people continue to be miserable… the mind boggles!

    Mr Z

    Reply
  3. weenie

    Hi Mr Z
    As per my tweet, I work in the finance industry but it is shocking how clueless some of my colleagues are regarding their own finances and how they can improve them. I do seriously think that my boss, who is a professional and intelligent guy, hides a stash of money under his mattress as he is so sceptical of the stock market which he thinks is too risky! One time, I asked him about cash ISAs and he replied "Never had one, too complicated…" I was speechless.

    Life has been good for me for the last 5 or 6 years, which coincides with me paying off my debts and which also coincides with a Tory-led government coming into power.

    Hmmmm…..might have to read some manifestos!

    Reply
  4. Dividend Drive

    Quite possibly. There is certainly a logic in that!

    I know. I find it very sad. One of my friends earns a lot of money but he is always short of money. It is crazy really. I genuinely don't know where his money goes!

    Reply
  5. Cerridwen

    Hi Mr Z,

    Well if your demographic is correct I fall firmly outside it – although my job is in IT, it's not programming (system design/development) and, until the last few years, it was highly satisfy with outcomes I could see made a real difference to peoples' lives. All this has changed due to cuts in public services. My quality of life at work (and what I see happening around me) has declined in ways that mean more to me than how much money I have coming in and that is why I'm working towards FI – I don't want to be in the middle of the disintegration for any longer than I have to. Maybe if my job hadn't been so sustaining I might have looked at all this sooner – I am an oldie compared to most FI seekers so I'm not typical from this point of view either. Interesting theory. 🙂

    (btw weenie – you might be interested in looking at this if you're thinking about where to put your vote – http://www.votematch.org)

    Reply
  6. Cerridwen

    Hi weenie – ah we are poles apart 🙂 though I'm sure we'd get on fantastically in "real" live 🙂 – I came out 94% Green which is great news as I'd already pledged to vote that way (not living in one of the marginal seats where my vote really makes any kind of difference – a la George Monbiot ).

    btw Mr Z. – My apologies for carrying out a conversation with weenie in your comments section. Anyone else think we need a forum?

    Reply
  7. Mr Zombie

    Yeah, it's weird that there can be such a divide in working with the finances of a company and your own personal finances. Haha, a cash ISA being too complicated is worrying! I'm all for keeping it simple…but that's a step too far.

    Election time is scarily close. It's a shame the AV voting system never made it!

    Mr Z

    Reply
  8. Mr Zombie

    Hi Cerridwen,

    Good point, it probably is a private sector thing as historically the existence of the DB pension has largely made the choice for the employee!

    Disintegration of services, constant restructures, cost cutting are so demoralising. But I think it's something that is going to increase as organisations become more 'agile' (barf).

    Mr Z

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    Im a computer science graduate about to leave his final year in university and most likely will enter the world of software engineering (although you never know!) and even though i haven't started my career yet, i've been looking around at FIRE type blogs recently and become very interested. I'm not sure if it's a job satisfaction thing that leads an interest into financial independence, but at least for me, the way i became interested was trying to a proactive role in my own personal finances and from there i started to discover about FI. So maybe it's the case that these groups just tend to take a closer look at their own finances and try to make the best of them?

    Reply
  10. Mr Zombie

    That's fine with me! I don't mind.

    I had a look at the vote match and it put Green, Lib Dem and Conservative all within 1% of one another… an enigma

    Mr Z

    Reply
  11. Mr Zombie

    I was an Aerospace Engineer at university and ended up in Finance. Who knew!

    If you crack on with FI straight out of uni you'll be done by 30! Awesome.

    You could be right, I was looking for an idea of how much I needed to save for retirement, being around 60. Then I found http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com and my mind was blown. I suppose if you are taking an interest in your own finances you will come across the concept eventually!

    Mr Z

    Reply
  12. weenie

    Cerridwen, I'm sure we'll get on fantastically in real life – some of my closest friends have totally opposite views to mine, hence politics don't often come up as a topic of conversation!

    Reply
  13. theFIREstarter

    Interesting thoughts here!

    I think a lot of 'us' have chugged along and have done what was asked of us (school/uni/job) only to find out years later that it was all a load of bullshit and we could have just gone out and done our own thing from day 1 if we'd have lived like a true entrepreneur and lived (well) within our means. That's my take on it anyhoo!

    With the corporate thing, I think maybe 90% of people put up with it because they secretly love the chains they are bound by. They love being looked after by a big company, the safety of a regular paycheck… and so on. Let's face it it's not all that bad!

    I also think there are around 40% who genuinely love it. Everything about it… all the buzzword bullshit, pointless meetings. Someone must love it otherwise why on earth would we be doing it!?!?

    Then there are the 50% in the middle who put up with it (but secretly love it, or like certain aspects of it)

    And then there are maybe the ~10% like us who want to escape the horde!

    Agree on the privilege thing! We are very lucky to have the choice, and realise that the choice is actually a feasible one, and then have the balls to actually do this shit. You can blame other people for having lack of vision or motivation or whatever but not everyone has this in their DNA, I genuinely believe that. So yea… we are the lucky ones!

    On Demographics, anyone with an analytical mind and who doesn't mind standing out from the crowd!

    Cheers!

    Reply
  14. Mr Zombie

    Hi TFS,

    I guess there are probably some that love the constraint and the regularity.

    And you are definitely right, some seem to love the whole corporate atmosphere. Comparing hours worked, hours travelled and the time they got up as if there is some secret battle I am unaware of!

    I suppose it does take balls to go for FI, it's against the normal flow. Still, a life of a hard grind for the sake of it is far scarier to me!

    Cheers for the thoughts!

    Mr Z

    Reply
  15. Darren Bull

    Writing this feels a bit like a confession at alcoholics anonymous but here goes… I'm not sure my story is common, but let's see. My name is Darren, I'm 48 and my background is in IT. I'm already a bit old for the 'dream' of a young fancy free lifestyle and at work I'm 'the man'. Ha! I must confess that I quite enjoy work – especially employing a building of bright people and helping them achieve their potential. It's brilliant and thoroughly rewarding. But even so, about 16 months ago I stumbled across the FI scene and became hooked. My real interest is not the retiring early bit but the psychology behind those within the community. In my opinion, just the change in mindset to 'live within your means' seems to be as enlightening as achieving actual independence. As if just the change in mindset seems to increase confidence and bring some purpose and balance to life. This I find fascinating. In watching the community I have also taken charge of my own 'future fund' but for me, this is the last interesting element of the community.

    Thank you all for sharing your own thoughts.

    Reply
  16. Mr Zombie

    Hi Darren,

    Haha, get it all out. We're all friends here.

    I can see what you mean. If it was just freedom from the day job, people could just live off state benefits. But it's much more than that. The change to 'living within your means' does lend itself to a better sense of well-being, but perhaps that's largely the freedom from the orgy that is consumerism!

    Thanks for your comment

    Mr Z

    Reply
  17. Mr C

    Hi Mr Z
    I stumbled over the blog today, some very funny posts …….and some were very dull…… but you are an accountant 🙂
    I loved this post as it really made me actually want to contribute to the 'demographic' – I'm (just) over 40, an accountant, not interested in retiring soon or being frugal, but want to get to the point of understanding what FI would be and trying to work out how much I actually have in all the accumulated pensions/isas etc.

    Good to see you have a healthy goal in cycling, how about an altruistic one like help at a charity using those excel skills, or fund raising on a bike ride challenge?

    Keep up the blog, more metrics on the 10,000 zombie hits please

    Cheers
    Mr C

    Reply
  18. Mr Zombie

    Hey,

    Thanks! I'm hoping as a fellow accountant you enjoyed the dull ones as well 🙂 It get's worse though, I'm training to be an actuary.

    It's funny you mention a more altruistic goal as it's something I have been dwelling on a bit. Last year a group of us cycled lands end to john o'groats for Cancer Research, so I've been keeping my fund raising head down a bit this year! One thing I would like to do is MANGO – https://www.accountancylive.com/mango-accountants-and-international-aid perhaps a bit 'rahrah' but they do some good work. Maybe something more local first!

    Thanks for the comment

    Mr Z

    Reply

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