Financial Independence Before Early Retirement

financial independence early retirement

Among friends and family, I’m known for being a vocal advocate for colon health. Maybe this is TMI, but since realizing the benefits of a high-fiber diet, I feel like I know a secret that everyone should be in on.

My penchant for eating fiber was even mocked in the best man speech at my wedding.

This isn’t a diet fad. The benefits of fiber are well documented.

(Bear with me, I promise this is a money article).

Good digestive health leads to better overall health. Fiber makes your movements smoother and more timely and predictable day to day. This leads to easier and cleaner wipes, better rectal health, and less toilet paper needed (saves money, better for environment etc.).

Fiber should be a staple of financial independence!

Bacon, steak, cheese, hot sauce, white bread, cookies, and many foods we love to eat have little or no fiber. I call them anti-fiber. These foods clog the pipes and do a number on your gut… and your butt.

Many people suffer from abnormal and irregular bowels and don’t even know it. Constant diarrhea is not normal. If you’ve never paid attention to your colorectal health, eating more fiber will change your life.

Don’t bother with supplements. Add a little All-Bran Bran Buds(the reviews concur) ** to your cereal or eat some after dinner. A 1/3 cup serving is packed with 13 grams of fiber. That’s half the daily recommend amount. Try that twice a day and YOU WILL understand.

This stuff is the real-life Colon Blow.

Colon Blow

The FIRE Movement

The term FIRE has gained popularity in the financial independence/retire early blogging community. It’s called the FIRE movement because more and more people are learning the benefits of pursuing FIRE every day. Like-minded savers congregate online and share their methods and goals for pursuing this lifestyle where happiness and free time is more important than career, social status, and possessions.

It’s sort of the anti-American dream, where you live in a reasonable home, don’t accumulate material objects, and reject the pursuit of a gold retirement watch. Freedom prevails.

It feels like a tidal wave people are joining the FIRE movement because so many are writing about it online. I follow them all on Twitter so maybe I’m more exposed to it.

In reality, the movement is probably quite small. The big momentum is toward bigger homes and consuming more of everything.

People pursuing financial independence are the weirdos.

The terms financial independence and early retirement are often used interchangeably. But I’ve always considered the phrases to be different.

For me, early retirement means no work at all. My Dad retired early at age 56. He’s 71 now and hasn’t worked one day since. He doesn’t worry about money. He doesn’t run a side business. He does what he wants every day while his savings and pension easily cover his perfect retirement lifestyle.

Financial independence simply means your passive income, or, a safe 4% annual withdrawal rate from savings, covers your expenses. Work is optional.

Most people I know who are financially independent are still working. This is by choice, not out of necessity. They’ve retired from a career but found pleasure, fulfillment, and income from a new work activity.

I guess if someone is tenacious and disciplined enough to reach financial independence and has nerded out on money and math for the previous decade or two, they’re unlikely to sit around and play video games and eat Cheetos for the rest of their lives.

They enjoy earning and saving and probably won’t stop working until they fully retire, early or not.

For example, Troy Aikman retired from NFL football and is surely financially independent. But today he’s working as a television sportscaster. He must enjoy the work or he wouldn’t do it. Continuing to earn for his family, retirement, and favorite charities is a bonus.

The FIBER Movement

The average retirement age is about 62. My primary goal since 2002 is to retire completely at age 55.

But as I learned more about FIRE, I started to understand what it would take for me to reach financial independence sooner. So I declared a new goal and put it on the line. Now, my near-term target is to have the options to quit my full-time career in about five to seven years to free up time for other pursuits.

At that point, I should be financially independent, or close enough, to comfortably support my family with passive income, savings withdrawals, and minimal part-time work on side businesses that I enjoy.

What I’m pursuing is financial independence before early retirement.


When I realized the acronym of my financial goal matched my primary dietary intake goal, I giggled like a 3rd grader.

So I’m starting my own money movement to reach financial independence, then early retirement, and pairing it with a healthy daily intake of 35 grams of fiber. 

I don’t expect the FIBER movement to unseat or dethrone the FIRE movement. Personal finance and your business is personal.

The Rear End

I named this blog Retire Before Dad instead of FI before Dad because I want to fully retire. Then travel extensively in retirement like I did in my 20’s, and play shuffleboard and video games, and take the kids to the pool, and participate in all kinds of activities that require more time.

I won’t be working at age 55. I doubt I’ll even blog about it.

If I have to work a full-time job into my 60’s I’ll be miserable and probably wake up some morning with a Dear John letter from Mrs. RBD.

Someday most of us will fully retire. Even if you reach financial independence early and continue to work, how long do you really want to work? Into your 90’s?

I see older guys like Carl Icahn and Warren Buffett on CNBC working into their 80’s and wonder what drives them. They have all that money but continue to put on a suit and somehow maintain their health to be able to work full-time.

Maintaining health and treating ailments seems like a full-time job once you hit a certain age. Fiber can certainly help.

I don’t get it. But I’m pretty lazy. The very thought of wearing a suit puts me in a bad mood.

But I don’t love my job (NSFW) like Buffett and Icahn must. Why else would they be working? Perhaps power and greed play a part, but these guys seem to love the game.

They reached financial independence long ago. But didn’t retire early. And 35 grams of fiber is a big commitment for anyone. So they aren’t part of the FIBER movement.

** Make sure to get the “Buds”. Original All-Bran is not as effective, but easier to find. Drink plenty of water.
Photo credit: stevepb via Pixabay
Financial independence and early retirement are different in my view. You can reach them both. I'm now pairing my financial success with a healthy daily intake of FIBER.

Favorite tools and investment services right now:

Sure Dividend — Download the free Dividend Kings list, 50+ stocks with 50+ consecutive years of dividend increases. (review)

Fundrise — Simple real estate and venture capital investing for as little as $10. (review)

NewRetirement — Spreadsheets are insufficient. Get serious about planning for retirement. (review)

M1 Finance — A top online broker for long-term investors and dividend reinvestment. (review)

Comments Welcome!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I prefer the term financially independent to early retirement. But i also like FIBER 😉 Some people love what they do, and their identity is wrapped up in this activity – that describes the business owners who work forever.

    To me it is all about having the flexibility to do things in life that you like, rather than to merely pursue a paycheck.

    In my case, while I believe I am close to FI/FIBER ( or dividend crossover point), I will likely continue working for the foreseeable future.

    Good luck in your FIBER journey 😉

    1. DGI,
      My former boss was one of those people. His identity was his business. Took a lot for him to step away, and it was definitely for the better. Even though he didn’t think so at the time.

  2. AdventureRich says:

    I love the idea of FIBER!!! We are pursuing FIRE, but we are no where near retirement and have many variables at play (Dual income right now… will that continue? One kid right now… more to come?). We have been making a concsious effort to live like we are retired in small ways now so we can truly enjoy life at each stage. Sounds like we are on FIBER 😉

    1. AR,
      I hear you. We felt in limbo when we weren’t done having kids. Now that we probably are, it helps plan for the future. An extra kid makes a huge difference!

  3. Dreamer In Chief says:

    “I don’t expect the FIBER movement to unseat or dethrone the FIRE movement.”

    I see what you did there.

    “…and take the kids to the pool …”

    There, too.

    1. DIC,
      Glad I’m not the only 3rd grader that enjoys potty humor. My parents caught some of the jokes so that made me proud. I was a little disappointed I couldn’t come up with more poo puns.

      1. Dreamer In Chief says:

        You could probably squeeze one or two more out, but you’d have to sit there for another hour to do it. 🙂

  4. I think everyone finds their own version of FIRE eventually. Ours was Fully Funded Lifestyle Change (FFLC) which isn’t nearly as clever as your FIBER “movement” but it fit what we were going for. Whether we worked or didn’t we just want a Lifestyle Change and chance to focus more on what’s important to us. Love the acronym though!

  5. I still “work” because it’s fun – now I’m a full-time blogger / internet entrepreneur so I have time flexibility unlike a traditional job. I always have very little “stress,” in the traditional sense, so it’s really like pursing a hobby that pays me money. If you view Warren Buffett as doing the same, that it’s a fun challenge, it’s really no different than retirement.

    1. Hey Jim,
      Good to hear the perspective from a bona fide FIREE. I guess Troy Aikman wasn’t available.

      A lot of us who aspire to retire early assume we won’t want to work. But I bet things change once you get there or some time after. Your guest post on the subject over at Our Next Life was an eye opener for a lot of us.

      Buffett says he was born to do what he does. So I guess that makes sense he is still working.

  6. Physician on FIRE says:

    I hit FI roughly 4 to 5 years before I plan to RE. I guess I’m part of the FIBER movement too, minus the bran buds. Maybe I should give those a try. How much fiber is in beer? 😉


    1. PoF,
      Most people don’t know they need bran buds until they try them. Game changer for your butt.

      No fiber in beer to my knowledge. But it’s been known to move things through the pipeline! Beer is always welcome in my diet.


  7. Love this term. FIBER!!! I guess I’m part of the FIBER movement too.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    This is great. I just realized while reading this that my husband’s colon is a mess and it’s up to me (since I plan our dinners and weekend meals) to get him eating more fiber. I’m sure I could do a better job as well. I eat lots of greens and veggies, but I try to eat few carbs because my body is super sensitive to sugars and readily converts them to fat. Low carb, high fiber diets are tough to implement while leaving enough wiggle room for wine. 🙂

    1. You know, it’s tough at dinner time. Whole grains, veggies, beans etc are OK. Quinoa is a good one for meals. But getting the 35 grams of daily fiber takes a supplement of some kind for me. These Bran Buds pack such a punch that a few handfuls a day make a big difference. Add some to a bowl of cereal. Gives it crunch and tastes pretty good. I usually eat about a quarter cup straight out of a mug after the kids go to sleep. Sometimes I mix it with a sweet cereal. There’s a brownie recipe on our latest box! Water makes it go down much easier. And yes, there’s always room for wine. Seriously, try this stuff for three days. It makes a huge difference.

  9. At 62 (my husband is 63) I consider us both semi-retired. And yes, we could stop working now if we wanted to, but why? If you love what you do, have complete flexibility in your actions and enjoy the ongoing challenge of it, why not continue? Besides, everything I am learning and writing about on my own blog on positive aging suggests that anyone who wants to live vibrantly alive into their double digits needs to be challenged and continue learning. Instead of kicking back as a couch potato, or dulling ourselves by becoming “comfortably numb” just because we don’t need the money, is actually not very strategic for those who plan to be around for a long time. So put us in a new category called FISR (Financially Independent Semi Retired.) Besides, a big part of staying “regular” is getting plenty of activity in your life…fiber works better when you stay active.