Take one look at the community surrounding the F.I.R.E. movement and you’ll likely notice a trend: most F.I.R.E. followers are white, male, and, well, nerdy.
But men aren’t the only ones who want to retire early. Women want it, too. And, ever since the F.I.R.E. movement took off over a decade ago, many financially savvy women have joined its ranks, helping diversify a movement that was fairly monocultural.
But the F.I.R.E. movement could still use some diversification (racialized Canadians are mostly underrepresented). And, if you’re a woman who feels passionate about money and retiring early, here are three ways you can make the movement your own.
1. Plan for unique challenges
To retire early, you need to save a lot of cash. In fact, many F.I.R.E. followers build their retirement plans around an ambitious savings goal, such as 60% to 70% of their annual income.
Savings 60% of your take-home pay is difficult enough. But, for women, the challenge is even greater: women live longer than men (an average of 3-6 years longer), but they make less money.
For every dollar that a man makes, a woman earns around 89 cents for the same role. For racialized women, the difference is even more severe. Racialized women make 67 cents per dollar that a non-racialized man makes. Again, same role, just a difference in gender and appearance.
Because women live longer (and make less than men), they might want to plan to work longer. Yes, you can still retire early. But pushing your dream retirement age back a few years might give your investments just enough time to grow.
2. Invest aggressively (but wisely, too)
Here’s a fun fact: women are generally better investors than men. Though women investors lack more confidence than men (only 9% think they make better investors than men), they often get better investing returns.
A survey by Fidelity published in 2021 showed that the investment portfolio of a woman outperformed that of a man by .4%. Other surveys found the number to be higher: according to RBC, women saw 0.81% more growth in their investments than men did, and in a six-year study by the University of California, Berkley, women beat men by a whopping 1%.
So it’s clear: women make better investors. And it’s typically because they invest conservatively, preferring low-risk investments, such as funds, and offer higher-risk ones, such as stocks.
Now, I’m all for this approach, especially if it means beating men. But young women, those in their twenties and early thirties, might see greater returns by investing aggressively. For one, since you’re young, you have time to make up for losses, should you choose a losing investment. And two, if you’re going to retire early, you’re going to need all the firepower you can get.
For women who want to retire early, growth stocks might be a wise choice. These stocks are typically young companies with a lot of potential to grow. By identifying great growth stocks, you can “get in early,” helping you get massive returns when the company hits its full potential.
3. Join the F.I.R.E. community
Again, because the first wave of F.I.R.E., was predominately male, many of the most popular F.I.R.E. voices today are those who were popular back then: men.
It doesn’t have to stay that way. In fact, many women have emerged as leading voices in the movement.
Take Tanja Hester, for instance, who, before the pandemic was leading F.I.R.E. workshops for women in Denver (she had plans to expand to Canada in 2020 before COVID-19). Now she has an excellent blog, Our Next Life, which has won several Plutus Awards, including best FIRE blog and overall best blog of the year.
Or consider Chief Mom Officer (Liz Gendreau). She operates a F.I.R.E. blog dedicated to working mothers who are the breadwinners of their families and want advice tailored specifically to the unique challenges facing women.
Or Angela Rozmyn’s blog “Tread Lightly, Retire Early,” which she created during the first wave of F.I.R.E when hardly any attention was given to women bloggers writing on the same topics. In addition to giving money advice, Rozmyn also draws attention to female bloggers on her website, Women’s Personal Finance. Since then, she has highlighted 176 female bloggers (and on counting).
All of this to say, the F.I.R.E. is growing, and the growth is stimulated by savers and investors who aren’t predominately white men in software roles. And you can join this community, too.