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Book Review Financial Planning Post

Book Review: Playing with FIRE

Playing with FIRE, book cover
Playing with FIRE

Playing with FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) is a book by Scott Rieckens. I picked this up over the weekend after looking at the trailer of the documentary of the same name. The book (and the documentary) takes us on the 1st year FIRE journey with Scott and Taylor. It covers their journey from living in California with perks like a BMW and a boat club membership to becoming FIRE ninjas.

I would like to say it is a GREAT read. It is recommended for people who are just getting introduced to the concept of FIRE and aren’t really confident on where it might lead.

The transition of how Scott and Taylor go from expensive life choices to making intentional and conscious life decisions is worth in gold. It also easy to connect with their story, given that they are a normal young family like mine. Additionally, I also found frank confession of fear and struggles of Taylor to buy-in to the whole FIRE concept specially relevant. We find hard to convince ourselves with this kind of a lifestyle choice to gain Financial Independence in-lieu of expensive choices.

The book is an easy read and can be finished over a weekend, and I would highly recommend it. My only gripe with the book is that I would have liked Taylor to give more than just snippets here and become a co-author in the next edition (if there is one), her take is as central as Scott’s.

Finally, some readers might complain that it does not offer specific plans or approaches to Financial Independence. My take here is that specific plans are already available via various blogs including this one (and you start can by visiting I will teach you to be a Millionaire).

How it impacted me?

This booked sparked our first proper conversation as a family about Financial Independence. Not only did this make my spouse curious, we ended up watching news snippets on FIRE community and the trailer of the documentary.

My spouse is on-board with this, and her first comment after viewing the trailer was:

This is all so true, and makes so much sense. We could become financially free and then pursue passions which we like’.

This has been a major WIN for both of us and I’ll write about this in my next post. I sure hope they have the Playing with Fire documentary show planned in Germany.

Highs

  • Easy to read language
  • Easy to connect to their situation
  • Good and simple introduction to FIRE concepts
  • Little Math
  • Helped spark a deep conversation on FI with spouse

Lows

  • Lacks enough takes from Taylor’s perspective
  • May not serve as a blueprint for the readers

If you are interested in buying the book, you can use the link on the right (and I’d get a referral).

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Financial Planning Post

Maserati dreams for Financial Independence dreamers?

Fridays are usually more relaxed than most days, and I often take my toddler to his day care (KiTA), we take a public transport street tram to a stop 12 minutes away, and then depending on his mood and weather, its either a stroller or his laufrad (walking bike) for the last 6-8 minutes.

Last Friday was the laufrad day, and he was loving that last stretch on his bike, giggling as we strolled away to his daycare. After dropping him there, I picked his bike and started to walk back to the tram stop. As I left the daycare, a Maserati Levante rolled up in the parking with another dad dropping his kid.

Breathtaking, isn’t it?

It wasn’t the first time I had seen this one, I have also seen people arriving in Porsche’s here to the daycare. Yet, each time I witness these cars, I am also reminded that I am 35 and I am yet to own a car. It also reminds me that these guys may not be much older than I am, and are possibly so far ahead of me that I might never catch up, they are the Top 1% of this country.

If those cars are a sign of their success and hard work, then is my using public transport frequently in comparison is…a sign of not being successful?

Many years ago, when I was 19, I had declared to a friend that I will own a Mercedes by the time I will be 25. At the time Financial Independence meant that I could spend money the way I wanted. Looking back, it was fine to dream big, but stupid to not have any plan, at 25 I had just about enough money to buy a 400 EUR laptop.

So back to the Maserati, it took me a while to recover from comparing myself with the rich dad, and reevaluate that today even if I cannot get a Maserati, I can very easily get a Mercedes on lease, but do I really need one? For anyone aiming for Financial Independence, one has to be stubborn about making intentional choices and decisions towards your ultimate goal.

Have you ever felt comparing yourself with others, based on their possessions? How did you tame your mind and cope with it?

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How rich or poor are you in Germany?

Yesterday I visited a the website of Der Speigel, this news website has an active finance section, and it has come up with a Survey which allows you to check how rich or poor does your income make you in Germany. This is based on a survey conducted since 1984, with over 14000 households and 38000 participants.

How rich are you in Germany/?

The study has very interesting conclusions which can surprise you, the big takeaways for me were:

  • Average net income (after taxes but including income from all sources) is around 1869 Euros/month.
  • An individual (not household) income of 2805 to 4673 Euros/month puts you into an upper-middle class income bracket.
  • If you earn more than 4673 Euros/month, boy you are rich!

This study is has a few surprises because people do not believe that they are upper middle class or even rich. In order to put more realistic calculations, the researchers have also weighted down incomes into a demand based adjustment, for example, if you are single an income of 3440/month puts you in top 10% while if you have a family with 2 kids, then you need 5160 Euros/month to belong to the same group.

While study only talks of incomes, and wealth distribution in demographic groups, and also mentions risks of poverty for these groups, it does not talk about saving habits and investing philosophy of the people or the presence of income outside of their primary occupation. It also fails to address Net Worth, and only looks at a monthly income as a measure how rich or poor one is, this completely misses on the debts/liabilities a household would have.

You can check out the interactive graph here, and download the summary of the report here (German).

Do you agree with the findings of the report? Please share your opinion in the comments below.