The JTBD of FIRE

Sometimes the best way to see a thing is to reframe the situation. We’ve looked at FIRE (financial independence retire early) a couple of times: the FIRE Reddit survey and homeotelic responses. But, what’s the job to be done of FIRE?

When asked what’s worth spending money on, Mr. Money Mustache suggests two further questions:

“So instead of thinking about what’s worth spending money on, I encourage people to break it down more like this: What things really make me happy in life, and which things bring me stress or unhappiness? What is the most effective and least costly way to cut out some of that stress and bring more of the happiness into my typical week?” – Pete Adeney, Outside Magazine, July 2021

What’s the job of money? One way to figure that out is answer the happiness and stress aspects of the question. And this is the job to be done for financial independence retire early – more happy less stress.

This is more tricky than it sounds. FIRE has a number, traditionally 25x expenses. We like numbers like this. Numbers like this offer comfort in their certainty. But numbers don’t answer hard questions, questions about being stressed and being happy.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Adeney is asked to coach two FIRE strivers. Should they quit their teaching careers to make more money (with more stress). Adeney flips the question around. Rather than viewing it as a money question, he frames it as an enjoyment question. Like denominating work trips in time rather than dollars, denominating work in quality rather than quantity (of dollars) shifts the question. The guests like their jobs of the moment, and that Adeney says, is part of what they’re working for anyway.

Financial goals are proxies for something else, the job to be done. And we’ve collected many ways to hire for all kinds of jobs.

Here’s the JTBD Twitter tread. Here’s a (short) JTBD book I wrote.

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