Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Will FIRE's enemies grow stronger?


It's been a tough stretch and I've not been writing as much as I wanted to. This week, I've been attending training, which has benefited my trainer role. Over the weekend, I've got another run of courses to conduct. Last week, I was fortunate to participate in the Seedly Personal Finance Festival.

I'd just like to pen my thoughts on personal finance because recently, we've seen a few high-profile retirements in Singapore.
  • First is a Rice Media report on 31-year-old Ashish Kumar, a top scholar who quit Ministry work to run his debate coaching business.
  • Next is gold medallist Joseph Schooling retiring from the competitive swimming arena.
  • Finally, my favourite comedian actor, Henry Thia, talked about reducing the number of acting projects and entering retirement mode. 
While I've yet to follow the recording of our Manpower Minister, it seems, from third-party mumblings I have yet to confirm, that Tan See Leng is also suggesting that people find greater meaning in their work instead of doggedly pursuing financial independence. This intrigues me because for a Minister to say something, the scholar machinery needs to come up with and vet the speech's contents.

It points to the possibility that our local elites are becoming more familiar with our subculture.  

Finally, for my own panel on Saturday, we can clearly see that financial institutions are struggling with the idea that FIRE is catching on with Millenials and Gen Z. I can only inform readers to look out for the recording of my session and see the results for themselves. I sense an attempt to paint FIRE as a great sacrifice, and folks who do this are missing out on a lot of fun in life. This conveniently skips the consequences of not at least trying FIRE out, which tends to be the subject of many financial discussions in the past.

So, my question for readers right now is: Is Financial Independence such a dangerous idea that both the public and private sectors are concerned about its adoption among the masses?

I won't comment in detail as I'm waiting for Seedly's recording to come out. I want to hear the speeches myself.

I imagine that if FIRE came under the government's radar, parallels would be drawn with my poet friend Gwee Li Sui's Op-Ed in the New York Times, which drew a rebuke from the PMO for promoting Singlish. 

Finally, I'll share something I decided not to say on the Seedly PFF as it might become misunderstood. Initially, I wanted to paint the FIRE movement like the Fremen in the Dune 2 movie. Many of us are finance fanatics who have truly optimised our financial resources, like the way we recycle water in our stillsuits. 

If you tangle with FIRE, you might be tangling with a bunch of financial zealots. 


  1. Govt, MNCs, bosses aren't against FI --- in fact they'll probably welcome it as it translates to less welfare/subsidies spending & greater discretionary spending for businesses.

    They are just against RE for the masses as it would be suboptimal for the economy .... Less damaging than tang ping / bai lan, but still less than max economic potential if everyone were to remain hungry with spurs up their arses lol.

    1. The irony here is that to FI, you cannot tang ping or bai lan for at least a good 10-20 years of your life. So in essence, the GDP is still getting a boost from you, albeit front loaded.

  2. So the govt that failed to convince ppl to have babies (TFR 0.97) is now gonna convince people there is meaning in working the rest of their lives.

    1. I think with flexible work arrangements and a shift towards a four day week, there might be a chance. But they need to do in a way that will not chase investments away.

  3. You've not met the careerists? They see more meaning in dying as Head of Marketing or Credit Cards or e-Solutions than dying as parents to children.

    1. Careerists die spiritually once they get retrenched.