The false, persistent myth about FIRE and tech bros // Our Next Life // early retirement, financial independence, adventure, happinesscommunity

The False, Persistent Myth About FIRE and Tech Bros

While he didn’t invent early retirement, it’s certainly true that Pete Adeney, better known as Mr. Money Mustache, created the first high-profile early retirement blog and was the person who drew the most mainstream media attention to the FIRE movement. And Pete has done a ton of good, spreading the idea far and wide that if more stuff doesn’t make you happy, you can save the money you had been spending buying that stuff and instead buy yourself out of work. You’re already reading here, so I know you don’t need convincing.

The problem is what has followed from that: the notion that, because the first big early retired blogger was a white, male, 30s software engineer, he must therefore be the prototype for everyone who does this, an idea that seems to grow more persistent, not less, even as the FIRE blogging community continues to grow and diversify rapidly.

In the recent New York Times piece giving the FIRE movement its 15 minutes of fame, the author Steven Kurutz asserts, “Followers of FIRE tend to be male and work in the tech industry, left-brained engineer-types who geek out on calculating compound interest over 40 years, or the return on investment (R.O.I.) on low-fee index funds versus real estate rentals.” It’s a suspiciously bold claim given that there is zero real data on early retirees as defined by the FIRE movement. The only official statistics give us an unsatisfying level of detail: those who retire at age 50 or younger make up less than 1 percent of the population. (The article also said it was about retiring in your 30s, but focused primarily on our friend Carl, who retired in his 40s. And it went on to talk about a pharmacist, the amazing Vicki Robin, and Scott and Taylor Rieckens, none of whom are in tech, and only our friends Kristy and Bryce who were in tech. But let’s not be bothered by facts.)

Then there was the recent California Sunday Magazine story in which the writer went to a FIRE meetup in San Francisco, a city that’s rapidly pushing out the low-earning artists and nonprofit types in favor of total tech domination, and which has for years been the capital of tech anyway, and therefore concluded that, “The typical FIRE devotee is a young, white male.”

Isn’t that a little like going to a meeting of the high school chess club and proclaiming, “Chess players tend to be high school aged”? Or going to the state fair and concluding, “All foods tend to be fried and served on a stick”?

There’s massive selection bias going on in some of these stories, and they’re perpetuating the false notion that financial independence is only for some people. Or that you must possess certain qualities (mostly nerdy, wealthy ones) to achieve it. And that’s harmful.

Stereotypes like that — especially incorrect ones — wall us off rather than make the movement inclusive, and that’s the exact opposite of what this movement is about. As I said in a recent FIRE story in HowStuffWorks — a story that was much more balanced and not focused solely on the tech bros — the FIRE blogosphere is a beacon of positivity online:

Despite its fair share of spreadsheet geeks, Hester calls the FIRE online community the “most positive place on the internet.”

(I didn’t actually say “despite.” I love the spreadsheet geeks.) ;-)

It’s like when people write to me and say, “Well, I don’t really belong in the FIRE movement because I’m retiring at 52.” Or when I meet people at events who say sheepishly, “I probably don’t belong here because I don’t work in tech…” We are sending a message, intended or not, that some people don’t belong here. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

So how can we kill this myth once and for all?

The false, persistent myth about FIRE and tech bros // Our Next Life // early retirement, financial independence, adventure, happiness

The Implicit Bias In Who Stands for The FIRE Movement

It’s a mistake to assume that FIRE bloggers are a representative sample of FIRE “devotees,” as the breathless tech bro stories like to call us. There’s something slightly twisted and perverse about someone who feels the compulsion to share their inner journey with strangers on the internet (said by someone who shares her inner journey with strangers on the internet), and it would be another case of selection bias to conclude that those of us doing so reflect the demographics, interests and vocations of everyone doing so.

But even if we assume that bloggers do represent the phenomenon well, it’s not even a little bit true that we’re mostly white men working in tech. It’s simply true that a lot of those who got to the table first — especially Brandon at Mad Fientist, Jeremy at Go Curry Cracker and Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme — happen to fit that description.

Angela at Tread Lightly, Retire Early has created an extensive list of women bloggers in the FIRE movement, most of whom do not work in tech. As she wrote in the intro to her list:

A few months ago… I was reading through a list of personal finance bloggers and there was literally one female listed. When someone asked in the comments below, this blogger said he didn’t know any others, which is absolutely crazy, because there are so many fantastic women in this space… There is also a huge list of male financial bloggers, especially, male (software) engineers, starting with the original Mr Money Mustache… When it comes to finance in general, that’s the default expectation across the board.

It’s so true. Like when you ask people to envision a CEO in their minds, most people will picture a 50-something white male. Just because that’s what we’re socialized to believe doesn’t mean that’s actually true, or that that’s the only way it can be. That’s just our implicit bias talking.

But male and tech doesn’t have to be the default setting. J. at Millennial Boss (also of FIRE Drill podcast) put together a rundown of several dozen bloggers who are not male software engineers, which further proves the point.

Uh, Hi. Women Are Here, Too.

It’s worth calling out on its own here, too: the tech point aside, focusing on the male aspect of FIRE completely devalues the work of women — both in earning toward the goal and doing the thinky planning — which is completely counterproductive. Most people you’ve heard of who’ve achieved early retirement did so on two incomes, and those most often weren’t two male incomes.

Women make by far the bulk of household financial decisions (though their male partners do not always acknowledge this), and women are the primary breadwinners in nearly 40 percent of households. Talking as though we are just some mute, one-dimensional characters in the background of the movement is simply wrong.

And it matters because when that’s the story we tell, we’re telling women that they aren’t welcome here. That it’s a boys’ club. 

And let’s be real. Certain parts of the FIRE community online are a boys’ club. The FIRE subreddit is not known to be especially women-friendly, and that’s why a women’s sub split off from it. It’s why the first Cents Positive sold out so quickly. And lots of bloggers, when compiling “best of” lists, leave women off completely or list a single token, because — as Angela noted above — they “don’t know of any women.” The problem isn’t that the women aren’t here, it’s just that those particular bloggers haven’t bothered to look or to examine their own implicit bias.

But that’s not the bulk of the community.

Most of the FIRE community is welcoming, supportive and ready to cheer on anyone willing to live a little differently. That’s the story we should be telling, instead of repeating this dumb lie about young white dudes in tech.

Who Is Welcome In the FIRE Movement

Here’s what we do know to be true: those pursuing early retirement tend to earn more than average (often much more — there is no point in sugar-coating this fact or pretending like we’re all “middle class”), and we tend to be smart. But tech doesn’t have a monopoly on those qualities.

Sure, tech workers tend to earn more than the average, but so do lots of career paths. And plenty of early retired folks have achieved that goal without earning big bucks. There are FIRE bloggers and aspirants whose work had nothing to do with tech, engineering or math (hi!), along with lots of folks in corporate America, publishing, realty, social work, education, academia, nonprofits, health care, finance, government, the military, applied science, consulting and insurance — and that’s just the people I know personally.

Which is to say: everyone is welcome here. Whether you love spreadsheets or not. Whether you enjoy math or not. Whether you love craft beer or not. Whether you’re male, female or nonbinary. Whether you’re financially coupled or financially single. Whether you make a bunch of money or not.

What matters is not your profession or what you majored in in college, but that you’re game to think about your money differently and work hard to achieve a big goal. That’s the only prerequisite.

Let’s Kill This Myth Once and For All

Please share your thoughts! How do we kill off these idea that it’s only men in tech here? What can each of us do to counter this myth when it pops up? How can we counter our own internal bias when it affirms this myth? Let’s all share our ideas in the comments. And those who don’t fit the supposed mold, chime in, too! Let’s build out the list of folks who can prove that the men in tech notion might be a cute story, but it’s not actually representative of the movement as a whole.

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146 replies »

  1. Hi Tanja – thanks for writing this article – it accurately sums up a lot of my thoughts recently.

    I’ve been getting concerned that in the UK in particular, we are sold that FIRE is a pursuit for white men. And it doesn’t help that a lot of the money and investing blogs are written by men and include comments such as including “mistresses” in a list of luxury goods. Sigh.

    I certainly think I need to do more to make sure the movement is more inclusive – but not quite sure what yet.

  2. Good stuff Tanja. I don’t know how we kill off the myth. To me the myth and that article are just another example of tribalism gone mad in America. It’s toxic on so many levels.

    All I know is that when we have FI-blogger meetups here in the D.C. area, women are often the majority, which is great! And I’m sure next week at FINCON it’ll be the same. We know the truth.

    • Gosh yes. So true about the tribalism. It’s disheartening to see tribalism almost imposed upon us when we’re over here doing our own thing, saying, “We’re good!” And yeah, the FinCon FIRE blog crowd is not especially techy or male, so it’s so dissonant to read stories like these that do not reflect reality, or at least not everyone’s reality.

  3. White male engineer here (not software), great piece Tanja! It’s good to point out this bias. FIRE is something for almost everyone, irrespective of where you are coming from or what you do. That’s actually the great thing about FIRE, kind of a universal thing! The principle are the same, so is the attitude to get there. It would be good to make that clear without bias.
    That being said, since I already stopped working, Mrs CF is now the sole bread winner and getting us to FI. I’m just already tasting the RE. She will join me when she feels like it. You have to do what works for you or with your family. As long as you are happy, it’s all good.

  4. Perfectly said. I started writing to give a different perspective as a health care worker, dealing with burn out, having made many financial mistakes, and I don’t even know how to create a spreadsheet.

    One thing I’ve found ironic is that as I’ve tried to be as honest and transparent as possible in my writing, and sharing our unique path to FIRE is that some of my harshest critics are women after I reveal that my wife continues to work after I quit. They imply I’m forcing her to do something she doesn’t want to do and we don’t discuss these things and decide as a family what makes sense for our household as a whole and each of our personal desires and fulfillment individually.

    I think many people from all sides come to the table with their own preconceived notions, no matter what we do, say, or write. However, having more diverse voices will allow those who are truly open minded to find ideas and stories they connect with and that is a great thing as we continue to spread this life changing message.

    • Wait, is that true?! You really don’t know how to create a spreadsheet?! I feel like we need to put out a press release about this. ;-) “FIRE Movement Comes Crashing Down With News That One of Its Leaders Isn’t a Spreadsheet Nerd.” Hahahaha.

      My suspicion on the criticism you’ve received from women is that it’s reflecting the double standard that a man can retire while his wife is still working and get away with calling himself retired while a woman would have a much harder time claiming the same. She’d face an onslaught of, “Oh, come on. You’re just a stay at home mom.” And that’s a frustration I completely understand. That’s not about you, but just about our society’s messed up ideas of gender roles. It may also be that she provides health care, and in some people’s view, that makes you not fully retired. All that actually matters is that you’re transparent about it all, which you are.

      Look forward to seeing you next week!

    • Chris –

      Back in 2005, I tried for three months to talk my hubby into retiring. I don’t know how many times I told him that if either of us was going to retire it should be the person who hates their job the most (that was him) and who makes less money (also him – my salary was about double his salary). Besides, I had a “golden handcuff” pension that would keep me chained to my employer until reaching “magic 75” at age 55, so it was in our best financial interest for me not to retire any sooner than that. Hubby never felt bad about me making more money than him, but he didn’t really like the idea of retiring early while I was still working. I didn’t like the idea of being a young widow due to him not surviving a potential second heart attack (he had a heart attack in 2003 when he was 45). His pointy haired boss finally did something that convinced hubby he just couldn’t work under those circumstances any more. When he told me he wanted to quit his job, I told him “YES!!!” (while jumping up and down for joy inside my head!). He retired about a month before he turned 50, about two months before I turned 47. We both agree that if he had kept working he probably would be dead long before now. So even though he was the beneficiary of not working, I was the beneficiary (???) (LOL!) of still having him around all these years. The eight years until my retirement at 55 (in 2013) went by pretty quickly, and was not a hardship on me. I never was jealous of his not working while I still was. Getting up to go to work every week day was a small price to pay for no longer having the fear of waking up to his cold, dead body beside me due to his dying of a heart attack! (Yes, I honestly really was afraid of that actually happening prior to his retirement.)

      The (very long) point I’m trying to make is your wife is not the only one happily “buying” her husband’s early retirement!

      Besides, he supported me when I was going to school and not working, so he should not feel bad that I was going to support him for a while. ;)

      • Tanja,

        It’s true. My wife creates all our spreadsheets. Even if I tried, she’d just delete mine and start over, so I never learned. I can plug numbers into her spreadsheets like a boss though! ;)


        Very interesting insights and perspective. Like you, we’ve viewed our marriage as an equal partnership, but that doesn’t mean we each are contributing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time (kind of defeats the purpose of having a partner doesn’t it?). My wife supported us for a year while I was finishing my Master’s degree, I paid off her student loans with my part-time income while in grad school and finished off her loans with my first couple of “real” paychecks, we were pretty equal redundant partners for about a decade after debt and before our daughter while both working full-time and saving, she went part-time while I worked full-time for the benefits for 5+ years between the birth of our daughter and my retiring from my physical therapy career last December, now she continues to work part-time after I left my job. Who knows where exactly we’ll be in 5 or 10 years? I don’t know, but I hope we never limit ourselves by what others expect of us. You’re example is a great role model for us to build our best life without being limited by traditional gender roles, definitions of retirement, etc. Thanks for sharing.


      • My husband retired a month ago and already we’re feeling the benefits. We had a similar pay situation to the one you describe, and he had to commute 2 hours a day, while I work at home, so it made sense for him to be the first one to take the leap. He’s loving it, but I think I love it just as much!

        Having more TIME in the family “system” is just awesome – dinners get made, errands get run, the laundry isn’t behind, and we have more time to spend together even though I’m working full-time through the end of this year. His retirement has made both of our lives vastly better already.

  5. I’ve been an active reader in the FIRE community much longer than I’ve been an actual contributor, but my perception in reading for years is that women *tend* to find more enjoyment and passion in their jobs than many men. And I can totally understand that if teaching, or healthcare, or any number of other jobs are your personal calling, but for me, pushing paper in a government office doesn’t fulfill my soul.
    Therefore, I’m a single, white male, striving for FIRE because although I do find some comfort in knowing I’m helping people protect their property investment and save lives during flooding events, the constant arguing with homeowners and contractors just to implement minimum standards in flood-prone areas is mind-numbing.
    The other thing I have noticed from years of reading blogs is that I haven’t necessarily seen women plant their FIRE flag as openly as male bloggers. I may have a perception that someone is in the FIRE space, when they are actually more in the debt-payoff, personal finance or FI space. Some even embrace taking on debt for cars! *Gasp* 😃 So there may be more people or fewer people on the path to FIRE than any of us realize, and that’s ok because we don’t all have to be so open about wanting to opt out of the 9-5 grind.

    • Those are all interesting observations and may very well be true in terms of trends! And your last point is spot-on: there may be more or fewer people on the path to FIRE than we realize. Which means that we shouldn’t pretend like we all know who they are and can sum them up.

  6. I don’t usually comment on any of the many blogs I read but I just want to tell you that I am HERE for the profeminist POV that you and others have been sharing lately. It really lifts my spirit so thank you. Also, yeah, I don’t work in tech and I’m dragging my white partner with me on this journey but he doesn’t work in tech either. He’s patently not a ‘bro’.

  7. I think this is exactly what is needed – hearing more diverse voices. I will be checking out the compilations of women bloggers. There are some terrific podcasts in this space as well. Also, there are some of us out there who aren’t blogging but are FI-curious or FI-inspired. One of the reasons I’m looking forward to Cents Positive!

  8. I wonder if the apparent bias in the articles about FIRE is due to many of the authors being white males? Hmmmm?
    Thanks for writing about this. It’s particularly relevant to me at the moment. As I dust the cobwebs from our little blog and sidle back into the PF and FIRE community, one of my major motivations to begin writing again is to represent the female viewpoint of FIRE with kids. I know that during our journey to early retirement we learned an invaluable amount from the blogging community. But always missing was the blogs about women and families working towards FIRE. I’m here now to represent!

    • Can I just say again that I’m glad you didn’t shut down the blog a while back? ;-) So nice to see you bumping around the community again! And yes, I do think there are trends based on who some of the story authors are, but I’ve also seen women write about the movement as being all guys, so it’s happening on all sides. I’m so glad you’re back and will write more about FIRE with kids from a woman’s perspective. Make sure Angela has you correctly listed on her women in FIRE list, too! :-)

  9. Thanks for this post, and especially for the link to Angela’s list of women finance/FIRE bloggers! I don’t regularly follow a lot of FIRE blogs, but I’m always looking for new perspectives from people I can relate to.

    It would be super interesting to know the stats on the FIRE community, but I can’t think of a reliable way to get good stats. The reddit sub does a survey, but it is obviously skewed towards the white male tech-y reddit community so I’m sure the results follow that (similar to the SF meet up the reporter went to). Stats aside, I love the message that everyone is welcome!

    • You’re so welcome! And yeah, stats are always hard to gather for low-incidence groups, and there will always be self-selection bias if we go to the places where people are gathering. I personally stay far, far away from Reddit based on bad experiences, so I absolutely believe that is a skewed sample. But yes, everyone is welcome! Let’s stop sharing messages that make anyone feel excluded! :-)

  10. Female physician here, getting close to FIRE. Funny to me that while a lot of bloggers I read are male, myself and my physician and non-physician friends pursuing FIRE are almost ALL WOMEN. Some of my friends that have kids work part time or at least did while the kids were young, which may explain why they were able to tolerate working longer in their career. In the physician blogs there is a lot of discussion about how part time work can help stave off the need to quit work entirely in the first 10 years of your career. I think this is more likely true than women *tending* to find more enjoyment in their job compared to men.

    But in general when I read blogs, from men or women, it seems the information provided is fairly gender neutral. The information applies to everyone and I find it useful to apply to my own situation. POF and WCI do a fantastic job and I am so grateful for their contributions to physicians of all genders and races. There are several women physician bloggers coming into their own as well. I don’t currently follow any blogs from white males working in tech, but I am grateful to the ones who started the movement!

    • Yes! So many women are doing this stuff, and the content itself is almost all gender-agnostic and vocation-neutral. That’s perhaps the part that’s most perplexing to me about the myth: what is the point making a big thing about who certain folks THINK the community is when those traits have nothing to do with achieving this stuff?

  11. Articles like this one and Angela’s are a great start to broadening the perspective of who is in the FIRE movement – thank you! I suspect mainstream media latches on to the sensational aspects of those who achieve FIRE comparatively quickly and easily, which are probably the young, white, male engineers. I’m grateful for the diversity that is a real part of this movement – as someone who is in her forties and hopeful for early retirement in her fifties!

    • Not all the media stories are bad, and lots look at the phenomenon in a much more balanced way. This is just about SOME stories as well as the narrative generally that this is for men in tech. And it’s sure not! You absolutely belong here! :-)

  12. I have been to several MMM meetups and the demographic is mostly male and white/Asian. I usually stand out as the only one without a college education. Definitely heavy on STEM and finance. I read the FIRE reddits but I don’t think it is really representative as it skews towards very high salaries and tech fields. I think their is a gap between those on the FIRE path and those who are likely to post or blog. You could be on a Texas oilfield making $150k a year and well on your way to FIRE but unlikely to blog.

    • Such a great example of why we can’t assume that FIRE bloggers are representative of the whole movement! And I’m wondering where you live (obviously you don’t have to share!), because I’ve found that the makeup of careers at meetups is SUPER locality-based. Some places have a lot of tech, some places have almost none at all.

  13. I read the NY Times article yesterday and bristled at that particular statement. But I was glad that he mentioned several female FIRE bloggers like you, Vicki Robin, Mrs. Frugalwoods, and Kristy Shen. I suppose if you’re trying to sum up a grassroots movement like FIRE in a short article, you’re going to make some incorrect generalities, like those pursuing FIRE tend to hate their jobs. I think there may be a small subset of people who dislike their jobs, but in general, that doesn’t feel true. There are a thousand things those reading about FIRE for the first time can point at in order to say, “I could/would never do that.” But that’s just human nature to create a paradigm so it becomes about “us” and “them.”

    • You may have noticed, but I was mentioned as the “husband and wife behind ONL,” LOL. ;-) The hating your job thing almost feels more excusable to me because you ARE trying to leave your job, or at least set yourself up to have the option. Whereas the tech bit is no prerequisite for FIRE at all, so it’s almost a non sequitur. But yeah. Sigh. Us and them. It’s no good. :-(

  14. There are a lot of misconceptions out there. Before Brogammers, people thought the 1% financially free folks were doctors and lawyers. However, people of all professions have been accomplishing what is now termed ‘FIRE’ for decades. I know many people who retired early from all sorts of professions: firefighting, farming, accounting, mechanical engineers, cops, nurses, and yes, teachers.

    For those who haven’t read A Millionaire Next Door or anything written by Jack Bogle, please do so. Yes it’s older, but the concepts are largely the same concepts being pushed by FIRE bloggers today. I wouldn’t even call ‘FIRE’ a movement. Far from. It’s a very old strategy that has been re-branded on Gen X and Millenial blogs that started not even a decade ago.

    My point is that people have been doing this for decades and most professions provide sufficient compensation to attain financial freedom. Financial freedom is a choice. Your own spending habits is the largest hurdle. This has been going on for decades and any and all are welcome.

    • I completely endorse those books. The Millionaire Next Door (definitely dated) has some pretty mind-blowing stuff in it about who actually accumulates wealth, and it’s generally NOT the people in the fancy-sounding professions.

  15. Thank you! I am constantly tempted to hide my true age and the fact that I did not decide to pull the plug until I was 59 and did not walk out the door until just after my 60th birthday. But the fact is in my job people tend to work until at least 67 but more often hang around until 70 or longer. My former boss is 68 and just signed a two year contract with my former employer for example. So in my mind I retired early, much earlier than my peers. But because government and military personnel often can draw pensions in their late 50’s or earlier many people consider 60 to be a conventional retirement age. But it is not for the private, non-pensioned sector and when I retired at 60 it shocked my peers because, it just isn’t done, you’d have to be rich. In fact they finally forced my first boss (same company) to retire at age 74 last year. So in the name of honesty I refer to my journey as Slightly Early Retirement, but even though I’m old I still have the same issues like health insurance, withdrawal strategies, side gigs, and figuring out what to do with the rest of my life that the 30, 40 and 50 somethings have. I think this community is big enough for all of us and celebrate stretching the boundaries not to just include the youngest of us but to include everyone who retires before traditional retirement age for their occupation.

  16. It’s pretty frustrating reading those mainstream articles about FIRE for all those reasons you mentioned. It’s like we all in the FIRE blogging community know how it really is, but now the average person has this perspective shoved in their face and that becomes the reality for them.

    It’s a huge turn off for a lot of people and it probably moves people away from the movement as they don’t identify or think they can’t do this as they aren’t a white male software developer.

    What’s infuriating is when they only talk about the male blogger saving up the money and retiring and acting like there was not a second income from the wife that contributed just as much! It’s just not right.

    • So with you, friend! The “he retired early” narrative totally ignores the role of the partner that’s almost always there, and almost always female. Early retirement is very much a team accomplishment if there’s more than one person in the household, and it’s silly we don’t talk about it that way. And of course agree on all the rest, too. ;-)

  17. I attend a lot of the London FI meet ups and it does generally seem that 75% of everyone who attends is either an accountant or working in a tech company. I’m not sure whether that’s just London or meet ups in general which pull out that crowd. I tend to think there is a skew due to those careers generally being higher paid.

    Yeah, there are obviously people from different fields, like yourself! But, there’s definitely a disproportionate amount, which invokes stereotypes being made.

    With regards to women, I actually follow more women FI bloggers on Twitter and RSS than males! But, there is a stereotype of men. I think this is due to the gender pay gap issues though, and the disproportionate amount of women in tech (1 in 10), which seems to be one of the best careers to earn a lot at a younger age (which is what FI seekers want!)

    Just my two pense, I can’t back anything up with facts, just theorising on the train home!

    By the way I love your blog, it inspired me to start my own :)


    Your average tech guy blogger.

    • It feels like a chicken-or-egg question, and we don’t have enough data to know the answer: do you see mostly tech and accounting folks at the meetups because that’s who’s most interested in FIRE, or because that’s who’s been subtly told they’re welcome at such events? Either could be true, but it’s silly to assert one or the other as fact as the news stories so often do. And you have excellent points on the pay gap and other gender-based economic disparities!

      Thanks for your nice note — that makes my day to know I helped inspire you to start your blog! :-)

      • re: “that’s who’s been subtly told they’re welcome at such events”

        I grew up with three brothers. All of us played chess. So when I started high school (back in 1972), naturally I decided to check out the chess club. Classrooms in my high school each had a window next to the door so you could look inside the room. As I was reaching for the knob to open the door, I looked through the window and noticed there was not even one girl in the room. As I paused, debating whether or not to enter – did I REALLY want to be the only girl in there??? – another girl walked up. WHEW! I thought, at least I won’t be the only girl in the chess club! Imagine my crushed dreams when the other potential female chess club member asked me, “Oh, are you waiting for your boyfriend too?” Um. No. I turned around and walked out of the building. Although I never joined the chess club, I eventually got a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and spent my career at a large aerospace company working as a either a Computer Science Configuration Item (CSCI) Test Engineer or a System Test Engineer. At the time I graduated with my BSCS in 1985, only 10% of engineers were women. Three decades later it’s only 13%. One. Percentage. Point. Per. Decade. *sigh*

        So it’s no wonder women decide not to meet up with a room full of men!

  18. Love the subhead, “Uh, Hi. Women Are Here, Too,” which applies to so many other things too, of course.
    Really great piece. And it’s always so insulting how The NY Times almost turns itself inside out to credit the husband/male first or completely erroneously, as in X and his wife, or, in your case, “husband and wife behind ONL.” What year is this?

    • It sure does apply to many things. ;-) And yeah, Mark was possibly more irritated at that mention than I was, particularly because they were calling out bloggers there, not just early retirees. If it was just people who retired, then “husband and wife,” fine. But he is amazing at giving credit where it’s due and was not okay with being given credit for a blog he doesn’t write. ;-)

  19. Dutch, white, woman, 39 years old. Working in healthcare for a roughly $40k/year posttax salary. Saving 40-50% of that per year (depending on the year). Hoping to retire in two years at the age of 41.

    You’re able to do this if you are able to save a larger percentage of your income for your (early) retirement. That’s it. That’s all that is needed.

  20. It always bugged me that there aren’t nearly enough people in creative industries who talk about money online. It kind of then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that right-brained people are bad at money. Like, I’m in private forums where creative directors talk about money, and I’m like, ughhh, why can’t you start a blog about this stuff to represent???

    Besides the fact that I approached life in a very non-templated way, I also do try to incorporate my husband into my story to show that the female can be the one in the relationship who’s managing the money and calling the shots. Because we all know how tired the trope is of women being bad with money.

    The other thing that bothers me is that all this emphasis on white, tech bros is that people start to think there’s a template to FI. Step 1: Major in STEM degree. I worry that we’re gonna get a lot of engineers who aren’t MEANT to be engineers.

    • So many excellent points here! This is all for sure seeded by that deeper-rooted societal belief that men and especially sciency men are the ones who are best with money, and that amplifies all of this stuff. And yeah, I will always be so grateful that I got to study liberal arts and literature, and didn’t go to college with a total focus on an eventual career. I know that was a massive privilege and not everyone can take that route, but it makes me sad to think about everyone skipping the personal enrichment and going straight to high-paying career majors, especially — as you said — if they are not actually well-suited to that work. The last thing we need is MORE people miserable in their jobs!

      • re: “societal belief that men and especially sciency men are the ones who are best with money”

        When I first started working, I signed up for my company’s contributory retirement plan, which included a “magic 75” provision for early retirement at age 55. A couple years (?) later, the company decided to offer a new non-contributory retirement plan. The hard sell was two-fold: (1) employees would have more take home pay because they would not have to contribute any of their salary towards the plan and (2) the non-contributory plan was the same as the contributory plan*. Me being the stickler to details that I was, noticed the asterisk and wondered, what does this asterisk mean? In tiny, tiny, TINY print (which I had to remove my eyeglasses to barely read) at the very bottom of the explanatory letter I discovered what that asterisk meant: “The company reserves the right to change the plan in the future.” Hmmm … let’s see: the two plans are the same NOW, but what if I didn’t like a future change the company had the right to make??? Needless to say, I did NOT switch to the non-contributory plan stuck with the contributory retirement. A year or two later (?) the company updated the non-contributory plan to REMOVE the “magic 75” provision for early retirement at age 55. I remember it being quite a blow to a male colleague software engineer who had switched over from the contributory plan to the non-contributory plan. Not only did he lose early retirement at age 55, he also lost company service time, since “years of service” meant “number of years in the plan” rather than number of years with the company! Although starting with the company about the same time, and his being three years older than me (which meant he should have obtained “magic 75” prior to me), I was the one who got to retire at age 55 with a full pension due to the “magic 75” provision of my contributory plan. I think he is still working at my former employer.

        This is a case where no math skills were necessary to save the day. My early retirement was saved by two things: (1) If the company is trying to talk their employees into doing something, it’s likely that something is NOT in the best interests of the employee, so do the opposite thing the company wants you to do, and (2) ALWAYS read the fine print, especially when it comes to money matters!

  21. Great post Tanja. FIRE isn’t exclusive to men that work in the tech world. Like you said, everyone’s welcome.

    And I think people need to focus more the fact that FIRE is a team approach (when you’re married or if you have a partner). You won’t be able to achieve FIRE unless both partners are onboard with the idea.

    • Thanks, Bob! And yes, EXACTLY. FIRE is a team approach if you’re in a household of more than one, and it’s a shared team accomplishment when you get there. Both partners have to be on board, but also both contribute massively to achieving the goal.

  22. While it’s true that some sweeping generalities are going to be made when you’re writing a single article, the very subjects of that article should have belied that particular inaccurate generalization they made in that article. And what’s up with people constantly referring to this as the husband and wife blog? It’s all you! :)

    I don’t think it’s coincidence that I didn’t feel all-in with aiming at the RE portion of FIRE until more women showed up on the blogging scene and shared their experiences and strategies. I’m lucky to have been dialed into your blogs early on without waiting for media to highlight your existence and extra lucky that y’all are an amazing supportive smart group of feminists!

    • Oh but didn’t you know that Mark actually writes all the posts because I can’t possibly do it myself? ;-)

      I’m so glad that you shared your evolution on FIRE here, and I hope that lots of people will read it, because THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. When the FIRE world felt like it was all tech bros, you didn’t feel welcome even though you were already extremely knowledgeable about money, and it was only when there was more representation that you could start to see yourself as a part of it. THIS IS WHY THE NARRATIVES MATTER. (Okay, I’ll stop shouting now.) ;-)

  23. It’s definitely much easier for males to reach FI. After all most developed countries pay women still something like 10-27% less for the very same job. In Asia this is generally even worse. So a woman reaching FI is much more impressive than a male in my view. Dudes – you are still impressive just not quite as much. While some countries like Poland enjoy one of the lowest gender pay gaps globally, it’s still 7%! And we all know how much 1% in our networth means converted into days we can live without working, right? Multiply it by 10 and add fourty years of compounding; wow what a huge difference it makes to earn less for the same job. PS: I hate to add to the existing stereotype. I used to be a tech sales professional in my past life *oops*. For Financial Freedom and Living our Dreams.

    • None of this is meant to stop you from telling your story! Tech guys are obviously just as welcome as everyone else. We just shouldn’t be acting like that’s the whole movement. ;-) (Which I know you agree with.)

      And you know I’m totally with you on the wage gap, and that men will generally have an easier time getting to FI. But by age 40, 76% of men in the U.S. are married, so it’s not just about men reaching FI, it’s about a family financial unit reaching FI (which most often includes a woman, though obviously not always in LGBTQ+ households). There are a lot of women behind the FIRE scenes who aren’t getting due credit.

  24. Great post! I particularly liked the “Whether you love craft beer or not” line you slipped in at the end there. I’ve also noticed a significant trend (particularly on Twitter) where many FIRE related meetups and discussions seem to involve fancy beers. I’ve been known to indulge in drinking myself, but it’s weird to me that it’s somehow become a recurring theme in the FIRE space.

    • I’m glad you caught that. ;-) The craft beer thing seems to be a narrative that the movement itself is perpetuating, unaided by sloppily researched media stories. Which is totally fine most of the time — enjoy beer if that’s your thing! When it drives me nuts is when people spend boatloads on craft beer but then judge other people’s spending splurges. How about we each decide for ourselves what to splurge on? ;-) (I know I’m preaching to the choir here.) In any case, I want the non-beer drinkers of the world to know they’re welcome here, too!

  25. I’m also finding that FIRE bloggers tend to be high earners with university (US college?) degrees working in major cities (male or female). One of the reasons I started my blog was to show it was possible to FIRE even if you’ve never paid UK higher tax, earned a six figure income or bought properties very cheaply before housing costs went through the roof. I will retire early at 51 ish which is 16 years early. Not bad for the main breadwinner yet still on a low income!

    It feels like many of the more well known male FIRE bloggers have just been around that bit longer. Angela’s list shows we have made up for it recently though, now we just need to keep waving our flag and making sure our voices are heard. Thanks for a thoughtful and frustrating post!

    • That trend does certainly appear to be true, as best as I can tell from limited data points. In the U.S. especially, the earnings and employment gap between those with a degree and those without one is MASSIVE, so while it’s for sure not impossible to reach FI without a college education, it’s far more of an uphill climb. You can only frugal so far, after all. I love that you’re telling the story of getting to FIRE with a lower income — that’s so important! Lots of stories like yours exist, but they aren’t the ones rising to the top. Let’s work to change that and keep waving that flag!

      • 1st time I’ve ever commented. Loved the article Tanja. My wife and I have retired since June of this year. We are both 59 and neither of us have college degrees. Never had an income (combined) of over $90K. Don’t do spread sheets either. I was a mechanic & she was a courier. I can’t imagine the odd ball looks/questions you and Mark get when you tell people that you are retired already, at 59 we get a few.

      • Thanks for commenting for the first time, Lyndon! :-) And congrats on your recent EARLY retirement! The key to not getting the oddball looks is to say it with so much confidence that no one would dare doubt you or your preparedness. ;-)

  26. Tanja, I always appreciate how you challenge the FIRE community to do better.

    I am a social worker aiming for the option to FIRE at some point. I like my work, but I’m certainly interested in the options of not having to work or being able to offer probono work as I get older. As part of my job, I teach financial literacy. The aspiration to have savings and all that it can provide you is a huge idea, and I’m always trying to figure out better ways of making it more accessible to participants–not because they don’t get it–but because their experiences of life, opportunities, education, etc are often so far removed from what people in the FIRE community know.

    For anyone who’s interested in learning about the racial wealth gap, I highly recommend checking out the organization Prosperity Now!

    • Thanks for that, Mollie! :-) And gosh, YES, the stats on the wealth gap and how actionable certain advice is for folks in different socioeconomic levels is depressing. It’s a big part of why it makes me nuts when people say, “I retired early, and so can you!” because it ignores the multitude of factors that impact a person’s finances and ability to change their situation. For The Fairer Cents, we pulled wealth gap data and saw that for African-American and Latina women, the average net worth is essentially zero. That’s a real thing. That’s not just people who don’t want to change their situations badly enough, or who aren’t hustling hard enough. So yeah, it’s important to educate ourselves about the realities out there for a great many people, and for those of us with means and free time to do what we can to make things better for those who weren’t born as lucky as we were.

    • re: “being able to offer probono work as I get older”

      One of the “typical complaints” about early retirees is that they are selfish, non-productive leeches (well, ok, maybe none of the IRP/trolls actually use the word “leeches”, but that’s the impression I get from some of their comments). But if you have enough money to retire and have the time available, think of how much good you could do for society by offering yourself probono wherever needed. Why wait until you are older with perhaps less energy and/or health issues? FIRE the sooner the better!

      • Great points, Kathy. I already have a long list going of probono and free services I can help with once I have the time and don’t have to worry about income. I can’t afford to go probono at present, but as my career progresses, I definitely want to be able to offer services to those who don’t have the economic means, but certainly have the need.

  27. The best way to show the diversity of FIRE is to share our stories. :) I’m a female marketer who’s a soon-to-be fulltime writer. No coding or tech going on over here. ;) I’ll have paid off $65k of student loans, $14k of credit card debt, and a $16k car note by the end of the year. FIRE comes in many, many flavors. People just need to hear from us more! Ladies, don’t be shy!

  28. I had the same reaction to the same exact sentence in that piece. Where are the women? I know they exist because I’ve met them. I don’t know how to dispel the myth either, but agree that we need to hear from more women speak about their journey. Thanks for addressing this.

  29. The FIRE movement was overrepresented, at least in the blogosphere, by tech bros early on. While their content was just fine, the lack of diversity wasn’t good.

    One thought I had recently was that the FIRE landscape is at a better place now. You, Liz (Frugalwoods), Erin (Broke Millennial) and others are putting out some of the best content and setting an example for everyone. It still isn’t perfect, but we’re getting there…

    • And I never answered your question. Biases are hard. The first step is acknowledging them. And, we all have them. Those who say they aren’t biased are the most biased.

      After that, it takes work. It’s easy to relate to/search our information from folks who look like us. But, that doesn’t do much good. There’s probably a lot of confirmation bias at play. But if you’re mindful, you can seek information from other sources which is a healthy and positive exercise. I have a lot more to learn from the people least like me because they’ve experienced life through a different lens.

      • Let’s print that on a t-shirt: THOSE WHO SAY THEY AREN’T BIASED ARE THE MOST BIASED. Yes yes yes!!! And agree completely with the work we all should do to broaden our perspectives.

        In your case in particular, I’m so glad you share your story because it IS different from a lot of what’s out there. You’re a dude in tech, sure, but you had a really tough upbringing and some money challenges that a lot of people in the community have never considered. We’re all better for getting to learn about your experience.

    • It’s absolutely not a comment on the early content. What Brandon especially has produced is incredible, and I’m grateful for it. But yeah, not enough representation early on, and it’s getting better. I’m touched by your lovely comment, and I love being mentioned in the same sentence as Liz and Erin. But I’m also acutely aware that all three of us are straight, cis-gendered white women from pretty similar socioeconomic backgrounds. So I definitely think we should celebrate the expansion of the FIRE universe to include more women, but we have a long way to go on true diversity. All of which you know. That’s a long way of agreeing with you. ;-)

  30. YES! You hit the nail on the head with this commentary thank you.

    You asked for suggestions… I would really love to see the data of the distribution of FI folks, because I bet it is not what the NYT article suggested. It may be hard to collect – I remember Millenial Revolution had a poll on their blog about this, perhaps you and other amazing FI blogging friends could run them and compare?

    • It’s a great suggestion, and one I’ll have to think more about. Mark was a pollster, so he might have some ideas about how we could get some real data and not have it skew toward those drawn to one particular blog or another. ;-)

      • We could use a simple survey monkey to collect data. I have some decent experience in data collection, analysis, and visualisation. Would be good to see if this really is a movement ;-) i.e. who is FI and who is wanting to become and compare these two populations, or even track them overtime to see progress.

      • Mark was a pollster for 20 years. ;-) The question was not about data collection or analysis (here’s an example of a survey and data analysis we’ve done here before:, but rather about being able to reach enough people doing this to make the sample statistically representative. But we’re doing to do this and enlist as many bloggers as possible to help spread the word. I don’t want it to be just another ONL reader survey, because obviously not everyone is drawn to any one blog. ;-)

      • Well, if you need any help let me know :-) Happy to spread the word. I read through The survey before thanks alot; would be good to survey to asset allocation (most bloggers do Index funds, but is it true for non blogger FI/RE folks?), return on equity/ capital from their investment, which country they are from, where they retire, and average growth of Portfolio post FI/RE (if any?). I know this might sound direct, but it was one of the biggest Things i was missing two years ago when i Tried to figure out if can ‚retire’ (even though i never will stop doing stuff). The other thing was if people are happier post FI, why, and what keeps them busy (especially the non bloggers).

  31. I agree that the myth of the FIRE community being bros in tech is toxic. There is a wealth of diversity in the FIRE community that isn’t celebrated. And it should be celebrated. I would like to help discredit these myths as much as I can. Because my wife is the primary driver in our unique lifestyle (FI / vegan / zero waste), I feature her a ton. She’s a far superior writer than I am and I have encouraged her to contribute articles, but she doesn’t want to. However, I always give her the credit that she deserves when I write.

    I think a great way to help kill the myth is to continue to share great content from women and others with a diverse view point. It’s a societal and systemic problem that women and others who have been traditionally/historically marginalized are not given the full credit that they deserve. Especially relative to their white male counterparts. This bleeds into all parts of society, such as sports, corporate culture, the law and how certain people are unfairly treated under it, and the list goes on. I’m sure you are much more well-versed than me, so I don’t have to tell you :)

    Because white males tend to unfairly get preferential treatment and are likely to be given more credit in society, it also occurs in the FIRE community. The FIRE community is a microcosm of society as a whole. And society needs to change. Killing the myth of FIRE being only for white males is one change. I think we can all do our part to give more credit and praise to the women of FIRE and the diverse voices among the community.

    • You know I agree! :-) I love your sentiment of giving more praise to women and folks with diverse perspectives, but I don’t think it even has to be praise. (Though if praise is being given, it’s good to spread it around, of course!) It’s just about making as many people as possible feel welcome. Keep fighting the good fight! ;-)

  32. I am a 37-year-old white female who FIREd two years ago. Basically no part of my story fits the stereotype. I worked in nonprofits for 10 years, as an editor and editorial manager. I saved enough to *almost* FIRE, and made a career change where I now make $30k a year. My husband stopped working several years ago for health reasons. Our assumption at that point was that my savings would need to support us both, but then some investments he made did well, and now “his” money is the larger part of our portfolio and we have more than enough to officially consider ourselves FIREd. I’m fairly open about my early retirement story, but still most people probably assume we’re struggling financially and that I support my husband, which is true only in that we buy health insurance through my job.

    Oh, and one thing I do have in common with the stereotype is that I have a big dose of white, upper-middle-class privilege. About a third of my net worth is an inheritance. My parents paid for most of my college degree, so I graduated with under $10K of debt, and I have dozens of relatives and friends who would be in a position to help me out if I was ever truly in need of money.

  33. I’m not sure. I’m a single woman in my 30s and seem to be an outlier in the community.

    As a woman, I do feel a bit embarrassed. Women in the personal finance community have been tarnished (in my opinion) by the prevalence of homeschool-mom-10-kids-extreme-couponing blogs. Maybe that’s sexist of me — I’m not sure why it’s a ‘tarnish’ for women to share good ideas, but I think it feels that way because there are so many women operating within that tiny “I must pinch pennies because my husband controls my money” space.

    As a single person, I’ve gotten some eyebrow raises around my cost of housing. I feel judgment in terms of, “If you were really money savvy you’d stop being selfish and get married….”

    But what people don’t realize is that most married people like me just give up on FI. Most people’s spouses aren’t on board, and if one is to stay in the relationship, you either have to 1. split your finances and make a lot of compromises or 2. give up. There must be tens of thousands of people who are thrifty and married yet ended up in #2.

    Anyway. My thought on how to amplify our voices in this space is to create my own blog. And I’ll put in lots of links to other ‘unconventional FI’-type blogs, so we can amplify one another’s voices. Mine is

    Thanks again for writing this.

  34. It does feel like men dominate the FIRE discussion, but we forget that a lot (or probably most) of those men have wives who are also in on the entire strategy. And of course there’s all the female bloggers that we don’t think of because of confirmation bias.

    While I’m not a FIRE person myself, I’m always glad to see the bro thing upended, so good article!

  35. i think a lot of this started with the golden handcuffs of tech. it’s an industry full of dudes and well known to grind employees into dust while paying them well. in that way it is notorious and it’s no wonder lots of those employees had to get the hell out for their sanity. i’m just another white dude with a crappy blog so if i shut it down the proportions would improve.

  36. THANK YOU! I read the same article and thought the same things. Hi! Female breadwinner not working in tech here! Thank you for pointing out FIRE seekers encompass more than just the tech bros.

  37. I think, as I was working on that list with Angela, that some naive part of me thought it might change things. But nope, here we are the better part of a year later and the stereotype is still alive and well! A huge part of the reason why I started my blog was because I didn’t see anyone in the space who looked like me as a single person earning a modest salary in a high COL place. So I decided I’d start telling that story. But I’m white and straight and a cis woman so my general life experiences aren’t what you’d call uncommon, and there are plenty of people in this space who do physically look like me. Yes to more diversity, not just of stories, but also of PEOPLE.

    • Oh you know I’m with you so hard on this. I think of women as just the edge of the frontier. Like, we’re already here, so can we please recognize that? (And by “we” I don’t mean that I want more attention for this blog. I’m good. Just that I want stories told differently so that if a couple achieves FI, the story is told as the couple doing it, not the guy doing it as though he lives in a financial vacuum.) But then YES YES YES to more diversity overall. I’m so glad to see folks like Jamila and Rich & Regular emerge as real voices in the space to help welcome more people in and elevate their stories, too. But bottom line: we have so much work to do!

  38. My wife has always been the breadwinner in our relationship. But neither of us have ever (or will ever) make 6 figures, since we’re retiring next year at ages 42 and 41. So in my viewpoint, it’s those of us who never made big money that are underrepresented in the FIRE circles. Even the non tech bros tend to make $100k, and many times WAY over that.

    I guess I need to start a blog!

  39. I’m so glad you included non-binary folks! It’s so nice to see when spaces continue to grow and learn and USE the knowledge.

    I’m definitely not a tech-bro. I’m a white, non-disabled, atheist, middle-class dyke living in the US. I was a lurker on PF for years and started my own blog when I couldn’t see enough folks like me. My issues and money concerns do not mirror mainstream FIRE concerns. My debt journey must be different because the world treats me differently and I have to be prepared for that.

    • I’m so glad you’re telling your story, friend! The world needs that, and other gay and queer women need to see it especially. It’s incredible how much it helps to know you’re not alone in the world, through something as simple as reading the story of someone who shares something in common with you. That’s truly what this is about: sharing more stories so more people can see themselves as having something in common with someone here. Because as the comments on just this post show, there are so many people who are WAY outside the tech bro stereotype who are very much a part of the movement. xoxoxoxo

  40. Not feeling alone is the best. Thankfully (?) the internet is forever, and folks can come through when they need it.

  41. When we first started on the path to FI we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. My wife and I are children of African immigrants born in the US. The concept of FIRE or even financial literacy was never introduced to us until a couple of years ago after work randomly on the way home when I heard a message about paying off debt fast on the radio. None of my role models or people I looked up to ever talked about personal finances. Mind you, my role models included graduates from Harvard, professional sports players, and even local professionals at church.

    What I’ve learned in life is that stereotypes will always exist, but being a voice and speaking out in your own communities is what will change the landscape and outlook of “who” FIRE is about. Representation matters even when it comes to FIRE. That’s why I focus on helping my community as best I can through the blog.

  42. Great Stuff! While I do fit the white-tech-30’s-male stereotype, I actually find most of the blogs I really enjoy are written by people who don’t fall into that category. Mrs. Frugalwoods, for instance, is probably my favorite FI blogger/author so far. There are so many paths to FI and I think the more different paths we see people take to get there the more achievable it seems for everyone.

  43. I’m a South Asian origin Environmental Scientist working on FI, my wife is in tech though. And yes, in a sea of negativity, FI is superbly positive.

  44. I’m a 36 yr. old woman that’s led the charge on our household finances. I take the lead on budgets, investments, and financial goals. I bring up ideas and explain why I think we should do something and we generally agree on the direction. I drive the financial ‘bus’. My husband’s on board, but is more of a ‘along for the ride’ kind of guy. We’re about two years away from paying off the mortgage and being completely debt free, while still building up our investments. After a net worth review, I usually smile at him and say, “You’re welcome.” He’d be in a completely different situation without me and I like to remind him of how lucky he is! :-)

  45. Right on, Tanja! This may have been covered by others above, but FWIW – I suggest a big contributor to the “tech bro” stereotype with FI is because the people who are most comfortable starting their own blog are those who work in tech or related fields.

    I don’t mean that in a critical or negative way, I simply think its a big contributor to the demographics of the FI blogosphere and therefore the perception the “mainstream” public has of the FI movement.

  46. This article seriously made me reconsider whether I should write about my FIRE journey. I don’t just because my husband isn’t terribly comfortable airing out all our financial stuff out there (which of course I respect) but if more female voices (esp minority ones) is needed to smash the terrible misconceptions of what FIRE really is about, then I’m all for it.

    And I’ve been thinking about the mainstream portrayal of FIRE. I wonder sometimes if some paint a picture that it seems out of reach to everyone on purpose? Not that it’d happen, but what if we all suddenly decided to be frugal and quit our jobs early?

    • Go for it, Sarah!

      Tanja blogged anonymously for a long time, and doesn’t “[air] out all [their] financial stuff” as your husband might not like, but she does provide her spin in a great format for others to share her journey. Although, there was that all-lowercase period on the blog . . . ;)

  47. You go! A good reminder to a 43-year-old who works in event planning and is a single mother to a 4 year old (who’s adopted so very much by choice.) I *may* retire in my mid-to-late 50s (guesstimate as a working plan is not yet mapped out- boo.) And mid-to-late 50s is as old as the hills in much of this sphere. Love it! (PS snort laughed at the craft beer snark.)

  48. I read that article and rolled my eyes because I suppose it does confirm my personal biases about FIRE. As someone who is not white, not male, and not in tech, I do not feel like the FIRE community is for me, even if I find the concepts of financial freedom interesting. While I can’t attribute my feelings to a perception that it’s “just for tech bros,” I do feel that the lifestyle choices espoused by some bloggers and the language they use (ugh “arbitrage”) come across to me as selfish and unhelpful to society as a whole. And let’s be honest, while many careers are high-paying, “tech” is more likely to provide the privilege of activity-based or remote work.

    I don’t feel that way about investing blogs, or forums like Bogleheads, which feel neutral to me.

    Thank you for providing a welcoming, inclusive space here. Honestly, this is the only FIRE blog I read and the only place I comment.

  49. Is it mean that when i read these things about “OMG TECH BROS WINNING” all I can think is:
    Someday, the computers will be smart enough to write program code themselves, and the high paying jobs will be critical thinkers and liberal arts majors instead of coders and maybe then the world will stop worshiping Tech Bros bc they’ve become obsolete…

    Too far?

    But yes, I am so with you on this one. Keep doing the great work, girl!

  50. Great points! This is one of the reason I’ve (F-30) started blogging about my road to FI. There aren’t any women FIRE bloggers from India or at least that I know of. I hope to find my tribe :)

    Having said that I’m a bit conflicted. The company that I work for is a tech company but my job isn’t in coding, do I work still work in tech? I feel guilty when I say I work in tech.

  51. Thank you, thank you! I only discovered FIRE concept a few months ago in my late 40s – one of the reasons I started a blog was there were not many female voices or ‘older’ voices; I’m not male, white, young & do not work in tech & definitely not tech savvy. I am one of those that don’t feel I belong as I’m starting so late in life – feel much better now!

  52. The social norm in America is to spend everything you make. If you deviate from that narrative you get lumped into the frugal weirdo category by mainstream media. Along those same lines, if you are a frugal weirdo, you must be a white male, tech engineer. Slowly the FIRE movement is shifting from this narrative with the assistance of articles like this one. Keep at it. Eventually the media will see the FIRE community is far more diverse that it gets credit for. BTW CONGRATULATIONS on your Plutus Award. Well deserved, to be sure.

  53. I achieved FI in my mid 30’s after working 10 years as a seamstress, albeit a highly paid seamstress for celebrity types. It drives me crazy when people ask me what my husband does for a living, because I feel the assumption is that I couldn’t have contributed financially to our lifestyle. My husband is, however, very good at math and spreadsheets which is a huge help! I am very much looking forward to the NYC meet up in a few months.

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