The Financial Independence Movement Gets Chubby

As the financial independence movement has grown over the last 30 years, different categories of FIRE have emerged. From Coast FIRE to Fat FIRE, people have been trying to develop simple ways to explain their approach to retirement. 

Put simply, Chubby FIRE is the form of financial independence and early retirement pursued by the upper middle class.

Financial Independence, Retired Early

FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retired Early. This movement became very popular over the last decade as people began to weigh:

  1. the benefits of enjoying the time that early retirement provides
  2. the incremental increase in their net worth gained by continuing to work

When doing so, many began to realize that the relatively small increase in their net worth from a few more years in the workforce may not be worth the extra years in the office. Why not retire early if you can afford to?

As more people heard of the FIRE movement, more joined in. Today a simple google search will bring up countless articles, blogs and forums all focused on financial independence and retiring early.


Do you like working? I don’t… Most people don’t. 

About 80% of people in today’s workforce don’t like their jobs and often dream of retiring. Some dream of hitting the lottery. Others save for retirement as if it’s the only reason they’re working to begin with. It’s this unhappiness in the workplace that’s propelled thousands of people to join the FIRE movement.

work vs retirement is a decision that comes from being financially independent


Unfortunately for most, retirement isn’t an option until turning 65 and becoming eligible for both Social Security and Medicare. Even people who “retire early” are usually over 60 before they take the plunge.

Most retirement products are structured for this older crowd too. Social Security doesn’t start until age 62 (and can be delayed until age 70).  You can’t withdraw savings from an IRA before turning 59 ½ without a penalty. Medicare starts at age 65, and this is the only health insurance plan that most retirees have.

The world is not set up for you, me or anyone to retire in their 30s, 40s or even the 50s. This is where FIRE comes in.

FIRE History

Your money or your life is a book that help start the FIRE movement.

The roots of the FIRE movement can be traced back to the 1990s. In 1992, Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez authored the book Your Money or Your Life. This book layed out a simple framework for valuing your money and time, making people realize that changing the way they related to money could substantially improve their lives and happiness. 

Now, 30 years later, the FIRE movement is in full swing. Supported in part by 15 years of strong performance in the stock and real estate markets, many individuals and families have decided to FIRE in order to spend more time doing things they enjoy. 

Types of Financial Independence

Currently five main categories of FIRE exist. They are:

These are widely accepted as the five main types of financial independence, retired early, but other subsets do exist. For example, yacht FIRE is “for those who want to retire on a boat and travel around the world.”

There are also regional FIRE groups. Some are general (Europe FIRE) and others are more specific (Dutch FIRE).

Australia has a very active FIRE group. This isn’t particularly surprising considering their culture.

Getting Chubby

If you’re here, you’re probably interested in Chubby FIRE. You’re not alone! Thousands of upper middle class people reach financial independence every year, and consider retiring. Welcome to the Chubby FIRE movement!

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