Common misconceptions about women who FIRE
I made the noob mistake of telling an acquaintance that i was retiring early a couple weeks ago.
Her first reaction was “Well I guess your boyfriend/husband can support you financially.”
I replied quietly - “I have enough savings”, and then we changed the topic.
Afterwards I was silently fuming. This wasn’t the first time I have received this reaction, in fact I would say I get some version of this reply half the time.
I understand why some FIRE bloggers advise not telling your friends and family about your FIRE plans and practise stealth wealth. However, this is more than just a matter of social awkwardness. I might be jumping to hasty conclusions here, as I often do, but this reaction seems inherently biased against women.
Why do people naturally think that when a women retires, it’s because they plan to live off their other halves? I know the whole spiel about gender roles, but I am a modern working professional and I have worked a good number of years. Can’t I retire on my own merit? With my own money?
Why do people always assume women have no savings of their own?
Alas, it’s an antiquated belief.
In today’s world, women are expected to lean in and work, and double incomes have become essential with the rising costs of living. Women can even out earn men in the same job.
Seeing that I have planned for an entire decade to achieve financial independence, I should know what I am getting into. I should know how much I need to survive on if I stop working. I should have planned ahead. I should have basic common (financial) sense.
Given the significant progress women have made in the last decade towards equality, it pisses me off that people still assume that when a woman stops working, she is going to live off the boyfriend/husband.
A woman breaking glass ceilings in the corporate world is fantastic, a woman founding and running a successful business is no easy feat, but surely a woman reaching financial independence should be applauded as well. Instead, it’s probably less surprising for a woman to shop her way into credit card debt than to reach financial independence and retire early.
Gender equality has come a long way, but a lot more can be done in the personal finance space.
That’s partially why I started this blog to tell my story.
Looking around externally, there are amazing women focused communities and businesses like City Girl Savings who are teaching and empowering women to be more fiscally responsible. I hope one day I can also be a source of inspiration for women on their journey towards financial independence.
If you are a female FI-er, comment and share ideas with me on how we should break these less than positive misconceptions.