DDD’s FIRE PROWESS

Today I am joining the chain to discuss FIRE Prowess. It was an idea started by The Green Swan and you can read about his idea in detail here. The FIRE Prowess gives you an idea of how well you are doing saving/investing relative to earning.

FIRE Prowess

The equation is:

FIRE Prowess = Change in Net Worth / Adjusted or Total Gross Income

The key to an financial independence and early retirement is earning (the denominator) and saving and investing (the numerator). This equation accounts for all three parts of this.

In fact, it can be re-written:

FIRE Prowess = Amount SAVED + interest earned on INVESTMENTS/  Amount EARNED

For this conversation though we will stick with the Green Swans version.

The beauty of this score is that it does not matter if you are a low income or high income earner. The score adjusts for that relative to your net worth and let’s you know how the savings rate is going.

The FIRE Prowess can be used to compare your overall saving muscles to that of a friend, fellow blogger, or colleague. Do you have big FIRE muscles like Hans and Franz or are you a puny muscle man.

 

We will pump you up. Property of NBC.com.

 

The Green Swan is doing very well from a FIRE prowess standpoint. Over his lifetime that he and his wife have obtained a FIRE Prowess score of 0.93. Some years have been better than others with 2013 being as high as 1.38 and 2015 being as low as 0.46. Either way, this man is on FIRE, growing his net worth significantly compared to his income. He has not hit the Holy Grail of 1.0 X or over, but he will be there soon.

 

My FIRE PROWESS

Since I started tracking my net worth in June of 2014 until July 2017, it has increased by approximately $308,000. Not a bad increase over a 3 year span. However, if you calculate my FIRE Prowess you can see I am just adequate.

DDD’s FIRE PROWESS

 

DDD’s FIRE PROWESS
Of note, the Y axis is a based on a 0.5 scale versus the Green Swan’s 1 point scale.

The judge

Here is how The Green Swan defines it taken from his post here. The below (in italics) is taken directly from his site verbatim.

If over the last 5 years your FIRE Prowess is:

  • Negative or 0.0x – Not even on the path toward retirement, let alone FIRE. If you aren’t saving and investing any money and your net worth isn’t growing then it is time to make some changes and develop positive financial habits. It may be a change to a frugal lifestyle or getting an advance degree to take the next step in your career.
  • 0.0x to 0.25x – You’re conscious of your retirement and know you should plan for it, but early retirement may not be on your radar at this point.
  • 0.25x to 0.50x – You’ve got the ball rolling and you’re certainly trying! Keep investing wisely, perhaps add a side-hustle or few lifestyle tweaks to lower expenses and FIRE can be within your grasp.
  • 0.50x to 0.75x – You’re working hard toward your retirement goals! Early retirement is definitely possible. Keep working hard and that investment snowball will be rolling (compounding) in no time!
  • 0.75x to 1.0x – FIRE is on your mind and you are performing in overdrive right now!
  • 1.0x and over – You are killing it! Don’t make any stupid mistakes and FIRE will be within your grasp in no time. In this scenario, your net worth is more than your lifetime earnings which Joe at Retire By 40 recently wrote about. This is certainly a tough milestone to reach, but maybe one day I can make this claim!

So how do I stack up?

Well I fall definitively in the middle with a score range of 0.25x to 0.5x consistently. This means that I am trying and FIRE is within my grasp, but I need to tweak my spending a bit.

This is consistent with where I thought we were. My goal over the last few years has been to save 25-30% of our income. That is what we are doing. I am glad I am reaching my personal goals, but definitely could make some improvements. If I want to reach FIRE, then I should consider increasing my savings to at least 50% to be able to retire within 10 years.

I am working with a large advantage which is that I am a high income earner.  This in fact, is part of the reason my score is so low. Despite increasing my net worth by quite a bit in 3 years, my score remains low because my earnings have been fairly high in that span of time. I am saving well, but not as a portion of my income.

My spending has been okay. I do not make a lot of frivolous purchases, but the sell of my home in 2016 at a loss and the purchase of another home has put me behind the curve compared to other bloggers/savers/FIRE types.

 

Early retirement?

I have accounted for the home purchase and know that if I want to retire early I will need to sell my home, take the equity, and buy a smaller place. That is a decision I am willing to make if I decide to pull the FIRE trigger.

If I decide to work part time and maximize my pension until I am 60 then I can stay in my home and continue my current FIRE Prowess score because I will be aiming more for FI and less for RE.

That is part of the beauty of personal finance. It is personal and you can make the decisions you need to for you. Things like the FIRE Prowess score or net worth updates may motivate you to save more, but they should not stress you out. Do what works for you. For me, that is currently saving 25-35% of my income annually. In the future I may increase that rate if I am getting burned out and want to aim for an earlier exit.

 

Conclusions

So there you have it. My FIRE Prowess. I give myself a C. I am passing but by no means acing my FIRE Class. There are more advanced students out there  but that is okay. A C is a pass and sadly in medicine they say a “C still equals MD”.

Where is your FIRE Prowess score. Are you reaching the goals you are setting out for?

 

Now for the FIRE Prowess Chain:

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Also published on Medium.

DadsDollarsDebts

I am a Dad and Doctor trying to find financial freedom by owning my dollars and debts. Helping dads with their finances so they can focus on the family.

14 thoughts on “DDD’s FIRE PROWESS

  • August 20, 2017 at 7:10 pm
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    Hey Dad. Income level definitely adds a wrinkle to the FPS. Mrs G and I had some really lean years prior to our mid-30s. There were some years in which Mrs G only made $8k. So our low income numbers skewed are FPS higher. Your high income skewed yours lower. So the while the FPS is a great tool, it does have some limitations.

    Reply
    • August 20, 2017 at 9:10 pm
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      Blasphemy! Limitations…just kidding. The FIRE Prowess score is fun to do and definitely has limitations. It was reassuring to see that we save 25- 30 % of our income which has always been the goal. Thanks for checking it out!

      Reply
  • August 19, 2017 at 8:04 am
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    Hi EJ,

    If I’m doing this right (and I may not be), I’m getting a ratio of 1.23.

    What all goes into the numerator? Mine’s at least somewhat inflated by a hefty (12%) employer contribution to 401(k). Should that really be in there? (And if so, should it be in the denominator also as income?)

    Besides nice YTD gains on taxed accounts, we’ve got 4 tax-deferred accounts, all of which are up considerably YTD. Should YTD gains on these sorts of accounts “count”?

    If I pull all that stuff back out of the numerator (only count pure savings and realized gains such as dividend payments in the taxed accounts), the ratio drops to 0.76, which is similar to our gross savings rate of 0.7.

    Reply
    • August 19, 2017 at 9:11 pm
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      Similar to net worth I think you can count it all. The employer match is real money (as long as you are vested) and is considered gains in savings. As far as including it in the denominator, I would not. The denominator can be adjusted gross income which does not count this.

      You are kicking butt. Nice work!

      Reply
    • August 18, 2017 at 11:46 pm
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      Will do! Took me 8 hours to drive what should normally be 4. Love northern Claifornia traffic.

      Reply
  • August 15, 2017 at 8:10 am
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    Cool way to think about FIRE. I’m somewhere in the 0.50x to 0.75x range one year into working. There is always room for improvement!

    Reply
    • August 15, 2017 at 8:42 pm
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      Sounds like you are doing well. I wish I had been smart about this stuff when starting to work. Alas, as you said there is always time to improve.

      Reply
  • August 15, 2017 at 6:44 am
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    I agree with Fitz, this is a very interesting note about high income. I will be writing ours so I’ll add our income numbers to show how we stack up 🙂 Looking forward to joining the gang!

    Reply
    • August 15, 2017 at 7:01 am
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      Very cool. My initial post had my numbers and then I decided to take them out. If I was serious about FIRE I could make some drastic changes and probably get there in a few years.

      Reply
  • August 15, 2017 at 6:30 am
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    I love your approach here, DDD! Thanks for joining the “chain gang”. It’s great having benchmarks and goals to shoot for.

    In truth my FIRE Prowess score has benefited from my relatively aggressive investing strategy of being in 100% stocks. While I felt the burn in 2008, the volatility averages out over time and still to this day I’m 100% stock with no intentions of changing.

    Reply
    • August 15, 2017 at 6:58 am
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      I am pro-100% stocks at this time too. I feel with my relatively young age and at least decade to retirement (and likely longer), that I can handle some volatility. I was not investing in 2008 (outside of my 401k) but did see some increase due to regular investing since 2012. Great idea and thanks for starting it!

      Reply
  • August 15, 2017 at 6:30 am
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    Congrats, Dad, on joining the chain! You’re officially in as Link #5! Interesting point about high income. I suspect it is harder to increase your FIRE Prowess Score the higher the income. OthalaFehu shared his income numbers in his post on the chain, will be interesting to see if others do the same. Shnugi calculated theoretical FPS scores as compounding kicks in. Some really interesting content is developing in the chain, thanks for joining!

    Reply
    • August 15, 2017 at 7:00 am
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      I really enjoyed Shnugi’s take on theoretical savings rates. It is amazing what the power of compounding can do.

      The Earn part of Earn, save, invest can be quite powerful. I am fortunate to earn a very high wage for doing meaningful work. It affords me a nice (more than comfortable) lifestyle and the ability to save consistently for retirement. This years Prowess score will be higher because I am now eligible for the company match ($17k) into my 401k. That is a powerful boost.

      I think we should be revising these posts annually to see where we all go.

      Reply

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