The 3 types of FIRE follower

Types of FIRE follower

The popularity of the FIRE movement has spawned all number of variations of achieving financial independence and retiring early.

It’s not a one size fits all approach and is totally flexible to the individual pursuing it, something I have talked about in other posts before, so can be adapted and moulded around each person’s individual circumstances.

Each of the below even has their own, dedicated Reddit forum:


LeanFI – For those who want to FIRE asap by stripping expenses to the bare minimum, rejecting consumerism almost completely and fully adopting a minimalist and frugal mind-set. This group often resort to extreme methods of reducing expenses such as moving abroad for cheaper accommodation.

FatFI – The opposite to Leanfi, these individuals typically have higher earnings (but not always). They aim to achieve early retirement while not limiting their expenditure once they’re there (big holidays, nice cars etc.).

CoastFI – This is where you have essentially already achieved FI, by having more than enough in investment/ retirement accounts, but maintain a job that covers your basic expenses allowing you to leave your investments untouched for the time being.

BaristaFI – Here your investments already cover a percentage of your expenses but you continue work a number of hours (part-time) to cover the remaining shortfall until full retirement. You could also just want to maintain the routine or small, regular work.


Of course, these are just labels with people free to take bits from each and apply them as and when they see fit to their our journeys, but serve as good starting points when trying to explain the flexibility of the various approaches involved in the FIRE movement.

Below I’ve whittled the FIRE community down to my own three fundamental categories:


  1. FI for security

For this group true, early retirement may be unachievable because of low wages and large financial commitments (children, high unavoidable rent etc.). This individual simply wants to use the methods of FIRE to develop a safety net that provides a buffer between themselves and any financial trouble.

  1. FI for options

These peeps use FIRE as a springboard to open up more lifestyle options. Whether that’s to pursue other work projects they’ve always wanted to get involved in but couldn’t due to time constraints while working full-time, or simply having the option to reduce their hours at their existing place of work. This type of individual isn’t too bothered about stopping work completely much earlier than the normal retirement age.

  1. FI for freedom

This group take the methods of the FIRE movement and sticks to them to them like glue. Dead set on achieving an early retirement and never working again, these lot optimise every penny and invest the rest. This category takes incredible long-term dedication and truly allows the individual to never have to rely on their next pay cheque ever again, once their goals are achieved.


Personally, I am aiming for a combination of LeanFI/BaristaFI – an ‘FI for options’ type of guy. I’d like to have enough invested outside of my private pension to be able to move to part-time work by mid/late-50s (BaristaFI) to act as a financial ‘bridge’ until I can withdraw my private pension.

But then we’re all different; the FIRE movement caters for all which is what I enjoy the most about it, and will continue to promote the concept and the principles behind it at every opportunity as a valuable resource to people from all walks of life.

For more information on the FIRE movement, I recommend the excellent ChooseFI podcast, as mentioned in my The Podcasts recommendation page.

2 thoughts on “The 3 types of FIRE follower

  1. As you say, FIRE is not a one size fits all thing and I find that I don’t really fit in any of those categories you mention!

    I’m probably somewhere between LeanFI and FatFI and am probably a less extreme version of FI for freedom. While true that I am dedicated to building a pot which means I never have to rely on a pay cheque again, I can’t say that I optimise every penny, just most pennies! I reckon if there was a dial, I would be at 70-75%, with 100% being someone who follows all the FIRE methods.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could be doing a lot more optimisation than I’m doing tbh and try get myself into that final category, but I refuse to give up my overpriced, hipster IPAs (despite not being able to grow a beard) and my flat whites before work. It’s those small things that satisfy those small consumerist pleasures but prevent me wasting money on big ticket items like car finance or phone upgrades every year.

      Maybe I should change that to ‘every/ or at least most pennies’ :). If I were ‘techy’ I would make an interactive tool for people to determine where they sit on the ‘FIRE scale’ with fun little animations, but those skills are yet to be realised, if they even exist at all haha.

      Liked by 1 person

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