CoastFIRE first then slowly work towards leanFIRE then FIRE

It’s true, this idea of financial independence, retire early can be such a big idea that we start to shut down cos we get overwhelmed right? Here’s how I do it.

I call it the eat-the-elephant-one-bite-a-time method.

The “normal” FIRE means that you have enough passive income from your passive income investments to cover all your living expenses, and it can take quite a chunk of money and time to get here; but for us who are just beginning, let me introduce you the idea of

CoastFIRE

Yeah, it was nice to find out that there’s different stages of financial independence retire early, which makes sense once you think about it. After all, no one “suddenly” becomes financially independent retire early right?

Lol, so true but I didnt think about it earlier?

So coastFIRE is basically an early stage milestone for financial independence retire early dudes (and dudettes). The goal at this point is so save very, very aggressively as early as possible so that you can invest aggressively such that the compound interest of your investment will carry you all the way towards retirement.

To break down coastFIRE is 3 steps:

  1. is saving to investi as much as possible as early as possible
  2. reinvest the compound interest over a period of time
  3. to achieve financial independence / retirement at a particular time

CoastFIRE calculation example

Say an example of person A, let’s call him Jake. Jake is 24 this year, and he wants the usual:

  • passive income
  • retire early

He calculates and finds that he “just” needs $72,000 a year to retire. In today’s number’s that’s actually decent, around $6,000 per month to spend. Working backwards, assuming a standard 6% return per year, $72,000 / 6% = $1,200,000.00. That’s a big chunk of change, but he knows that he has time on his side, which takes off stress.

Two approaches to coastFIRE

CoastFIRE math

Save like mad and find $279,590 and put into a stable investment that will provide 6% return on investment; and reinvest every year for 25 years.

What I really really like about this approach is that it FRONTLOADS everything: once off $279,590 and let the interest keep compounding and growing by itself. Jake will save like mad and earn as much as he can, then frontload the entire $279,590 ONCE OFF and then just leave it be.

The amount will compound and keep compounding and after 25 years, Jake would 49, and he would have $1.2M in his account.

Every year, he can draw out from the 6% which translates to about $72K/year. If he can draw out less, then more can be compounded for the next year.

During this 25 years, he of course must work to sustain his day to day, but he can look forward for a pay day in 25 years time with confidence. This method frontloads a lot, but at the same time, offloads financial strain from the early stage.

Jake can keep adding to this amount in the meantime to either shave off years needed to hit the coastFIRE amount, or have more than enough at the end of the 25 years.

Risks or downsides to coastFIRE and how to manage

  1. Risk of investment tanking. What if the % returns drop?
  2. What if he loses his job?
  3. Investor as the risk: what if he sells early due to something happening (medical, mental issue, fraud etc)

As you can see, coastFIRE is a very powerful long term stress reliever, but there are a few risk/weak points as I mention above. There are workarounds for these potential risks, as I write in orange.

  1. Risk of investment tanking. What if the % returns drop? Jake should buffer at least 20% in the total invested amount AND instead of fully withdrawing 6% yearly, to instead only draw 3-4% to allow compounding to account for inflation, market downturns and growth. Only invest in very stable asset classes such as global ETFs or index funds
  2. What if he loses his job? This isn’t the biggest issue in my opinion, especially after Jake has front loaded the entire coastFIRE amount needed to grow in X years. Even if he takes a basic job to survive or for less stress, the model will work.
  3. Investor as the risk: what if he sells early due to something happening (medical, mental issue, fraud etc). This is very advanced and much more complex stuff, and I have thought about it, The only workaround for this from my current understanding is to create a trust and place the entire amount with specific instruction and conditions into it. The biggest risk of any investor is himself, and it’s the investor’s responsibility to not only protect his investment from others but also from screwing it up himself. It costs money to create and maintain a trust fund, which will need to be paid from the returns of the investment, so this will need to be computed as well.

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