The FIRE Planner – A Solid Start in the Quest for FI

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The FIRE Planner – A Solid Start in the Quest for FI

I just finished reading a really good book. It’s called The FIRE Planner and it might be a great asset for those ready to get on the path to financial independence or those who are already on it.

The FIRE Planner was written by a friend of mine named Michael Quan. I met Michael at one of the FinCon money conferences a few years ago (I believe it was the 2017 expo in Dallas). It seems like FinCon events are where the camaraderie with all my other money-nerd friends began!

Michael’s the author of the popular blog, Financially Alert. I think we started our blogs around the same time in 2015 (great minds, right?!).

Since our meeting, he was nice enough to include me in his Finding FI interview series last year. If you aren’t already tired of hearing about me from this site, you can find my interview on his blog here.

Michael’s also a guy who successfully got out of the rat race and retired at age 36. So when he told me he was going to be writing a book to help others on the path to financial independence, I was all ears. Too many folks love to give advice but haven’t accomplished themselves what they’re trying to advise others on. Michael’s someone who’s been there and done that and has some valuable information to share.

Let’s talk about The FIRE Planner and who should be reading it.

The FIRE Planner – what it’s about?

The FIRE Planner Book Cover

The goal of this book is to help you understand FIRE (financial independence, retire early) and to assist you in carving out your path to get there. This doesn’t mean you need to quit your job if you love it, but rather the aim is to reach financial independence so you can then make your own choices. It’s all about freedom.

I like that Michael didn’t just write The Fire Planner as a simple straight-through read. Instead, the aim was to be more interactive – hence the “Planner” part of the title. Throughout the book, you’ll find worksheets, journals, and other tools designed to help you plan your path more efficiently.

Personally, I tend to skip over that kind of stuff but it’s great that it’s included because I know those exercises can be extremely helpful for others.

Another reason I enjoyed this book is that Michael doesn’t try to over-complicate things. Although there are some complex topics in the book, he explains them well in a manner that’s not hard to understand with terms that are over your head. And he does dig into several topics that might not be familiar to you.

The FIRE Planner is just under 200 pages and carries six chapters:

  1. Introduction to FIRE
  2. The FIRE Mindset
  3. Your FIRE Numbers
  4. Ways to Achieve FIRE
  5. Designing Your FIRE Plan
  6. You’re on FIRE – Now What?

Essentially, Michael takes you through understanding what FIRE is, what you need to do to get there, and some thoughts on what to do once you’re there.

What I appreciated about this book is that it’s not pushing a “this is the only way to reach financial independence” agenda. After being a member of the personal-finance community for several years, I can attest to the fact that different strokes for different folks can lead to your desired results.

Some folks aim for regular FIRE while others choose FatFire. Some people want to keep working in some capacity while others want to retire early. Then there are several possible strategies on how to access your retirement funds if needed. In other words, it’s going to be different for each of us. Michael lays out many different options and approaches so you can determine the path that makes the most sense for your situation.

You’ll see a flow to the book that starts with some preliminary subjects such as having a money mindset, eliminating debt, and spending less. Then he moves on to some ideas on possibly bringing in more income through investing (both on your money and in yourself), entrepreneurship, real estate investing, and side hustles.

Michael discusses the numbers side of the equation for reaching financial independence (the 4% rule, 25x your expenses, the magic of compound interest, etc.). But he goes into the mental side of things as well – changing your thoughts on spending, delayed gratification, striking a balance between saving and living for today, and more.

He also goes into some more advanced topics that I honestly didn’t expect to see in the book (but was pleasantly surprised at!). Tax efficiency, asset allocation/rebalancing, retirement account withdrawal strategies for early retirees (Roth IRA conversion ladders, Rule 72t, etc.), and sequence of returns risk are just a few of the more complex topics discussed.

Finally, he delves into the retirement side of things – if you decide to pull the trigger on that. There are a lot of important considerations, particularly mentally, when retiring – whether for early or traditional retirement.

Who should be reading this book?

I really liked this book… but I wouldn’t say I’m his target audience. I’m already early retired (and loving it!!) and the path to FIRE is one that I already spent a lot of time learning to understand and find ways to excel in.

However, there are a lot of folks I talk to who see where we’re at in life and want to know how to do the same. My regular readers know that FIRE isn’t something for only the big income earners or people running their own businesses. I made a pretty good income but nothing crazy. However, we were aggressive savers and made a lot of intentional changes in life to get to where we are today.

That’s possible for many others as well, but they just need to know where to start. They need some guidance on what they should be doing to get themselves on track to reach financial freedom.

If you or someone you know is in this boat, this book is a fantastic start to what you need. It’ll absolutely help get you rolling and pointed in the right direction.

It’s not designed to be an advanced-level book and it’s great for newbies. For those already far along on the journey and close to reaching financial independence, this might not present too much new information (though it’s still a good read!).

But, surprisingly it’s also full of great details for folks already on the right financial track. Michael provides a lot of information and ideas that even those with a plan already in place could find valuable. There are a lot of considerations along the path to FIRE (and after reaching it) and he does a great service by presenting a ton of them.

Is The FIRE Planner worth checking out?

Yes. Michael did a really nice job with The FIRE Planner. I was impressed by how he was able to take so much information and bring it together in an easy-to-read book.

I think the ideal target for this book is someone ready to change their money situation in life but just needs some direction. This could be the eye-opener they need to make that change and get on the path to financial freedom.

I also believe that many folks already on the path to financial independence would benefit from reading this book as well. With as many avenues as Michael touched on in The FIRE Planner, there are likely to be some good takeaways that could benefit you.

Plus, his writing style helps make this book an easy read. You won’t get bored from anything dragging on and he’s particularly good at taking more complex topics and making them simpler to understand.

There wasn’t much not to like about this book. It was written to give you an understanding of FIRE and provide you with some ideas and guidance on how to get there. And with that, Michael delivered.

You’re not going to find the specific steps with how to buy a rental property or run a business, for example, but you shouldn’t expect that here anyway. For each subtopic like these though, he gives you a good understanding of how folks leverage these avenues to help on the path to FI. From there, if you find an area that interests you and could be a good fit for you, you should investigate it further in books specifically written on that subject.

I felt there was a good balance of valuable information on each topic regardless. There should be enough information in the book to get the wheels turning and give you some ideas on areas you could implement in your financial life.

Most importantly, little old me made it into the book – that’s reason alone for you to get it! 😉 Michael dedicated a couple of pages to our story as a case study in understanding the power of geoarbitrage. Cool, right?

If you’re looking for a good read and this book sounds up your alley, consider using my Amazon affiliate link here for your purchase (at no additional cost to you, of course!). Knowledge is power and understanding how to reach financial independence is the first step to making it happen!

As a side note, I was provided a copy of Michael’s book for free. This was not a paid endorsement and you know me – I’ll always give you my honest opinions on whatever the topic on hand is!

Plan well, take action, and live your best life!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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3 thoughts on “The FIRE Planner – A Solid Start in the Quest for FI”

    1. This would have been a good year to attend FinCon since it’ll be in Austin, right around the corner from my brother’s house. Unfortunately, though, the dates this year don’t align well with our travels back and forth from Panama. It’ll be good to get back there eventually though to see some old faces and some new (like yours!).

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