Our second BE/NL FIRE meet-up is already in the books. Last weekend we came together with 28 other money and PF geeks, to talk about investing & financial independence specifically related to the Dutch and Belgium circumstances. And this time again we’ve had the fortune to be in good company with new but also many familiar faces from the meet-up earlier this year. In short, it was a great success.
During the Meet-Up, I had the pleasure to give a talk about F.I.R.E. in general, and in relation to our situation in Europe. The outcome was that because of some big differences in legislation, the build up in pensions and the closed mindset of Europeans, talking about it and reaching FI is far more difficult than it would be in the US.
Another outcome was that the equivalent of FIRE doesn’t really exist in the EU society, and possible nowhere else as well. Simply because the whole idea of an early retirement doesn’t cover what it actually means. Simply put, we don’t have a word or term for the kind of lifestyle we are creating for ourselves.
But we might have another that comes very, very close!
One of the topics was involving an interesting discussion on why F.I.R.E. isn’t that widespread in the Netherlands, Belgium or in the EU for that matter. One thing that I didn’t cover before, but we did talk about at the meet-up, was the mindset. Which is based on several assumptions we hold on to in our society. For example:
Working hard is the only way
On which I don’t totally disagree, except that most people only think of this when they work for a boss. Having a career is the way you will reach success and it is the logical step to make after graduation. Most people follow an education and are directly passing through into a corporate environment. It’s also easier, most often. You don’t have to think about setting up a business or learning new things anymore.
Talking about money is a no go
We’re pretty closed towards other people regarding a personal situation, and even more when money is involved. I can imagine you don’t lay out possible money problems out in the open. But even when you’re financially aware and making the right steps, why won’t you share this with anybody? People keep things for themselves, just to make sure you don’t overstep any boundaries, getting negative reactions or worse… The social constraint that involves not talking about money also causes that many will not try to improve their own financial situation either.
We’re being reactive, leaving out other options
Our social benefits and pension funds are set up in such a way that we don’t have to make any effort ourselves to make use of it. For example, when you associated with a pension fund (which most often is the case when you have a job), this fund manages all the investments, calculations and payments once you’re eligible. You will get a letter every year with the status, and that’s about the only thing that happens during a lifetime. Same counts for our healthcare, and other social benefits. You have to arrange some small parts with most social benefits, but in the end, you will be taken care of.
These assumptions feed the perception that as long as you have a job (and build up a career), just do you own things and don’t meddle in politics, you will face no problems once you get at the age of retirement. You can live a fairly good life after the age of 65, 68, uhm I mean 71 (in my case at least).
Therefore looking at retirement is just not the same as saying: I want to build up wealth so I can do whatever I want to do. Many will feel like retiring is the same as doing nothing. No working, no networking, no growth. But early retirement has nothing to do with doing nothing. It’s all about having the freedom to choose between options. And many of the already retired PF community members claim they are even working harder after the quit their day job.
One of the participants of the meet-up proposed a new way of thinking to the group. Instead of saying it’s an early retirement and refer to pursuing F.I.R.E, why don’t we use H.O.T instead? Which means the following:
It’s basically covering the real essence of what we set out to be our goals: Being able to choose what you do, whenever you want to do this, in order to have a more meaningful and happy life. It still refers to building up wealth, but not in a way of being prosperous and being money rich. It’s about having the time on your side to choose the opportunities you want to work on. You can put all your energy into the things that give you an equal (or more) amount of energy in return. You will become a happier person, you just never retire. Because in all honestly, who is actually doing nothing once they stepped out of the corporate world…? Exactly, I can’t think of anybody myself.
Of course, pursuing H.O.T. doesn’t sound as fancy as pursuing F.I.R.E. In my opinion, for that matter.
But it might help with explaining it to people who aren’t yet familiar with the term Financial Independence or Early Retirement, to talk about what it is we’re trying to do here. It captures the true concept of the why behind building wealth.
And hopefully sharing the way to F.I.R.E, or H.O.T, will be getting more well known and reaching a bigger audience due to the Meet-Up initiative of Cheesy Finance and AmberTreeLeaves. Every Meet-Up new faces are joining, of which some are bloggers as well. This was the third meeting yet, and already the number of attendees has doubled. If we can keep up with this, the fire will soon be spreading rapidly throughout Belgium and the Netherlands!
Secondly, the Meet-Up fueled up the next project were going to take on with a few PF bloggers. Looking forward to getting to work on this for the coming months. And hopefully, we can share rather soon what’s it all about!
If you want to read some more about what the Meet-Up was all about… LonicaTekst has written a very good summary about it (in Dutch).