The FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement started in the USA.  That is where all the biggest bloggers and podcasters live and where a lot of the FIRE community is based. But just because all the blogs write about 401(k)s, Roths, and other American terms doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything going on in the United Kingdom!

There is a movement in the UK, there are people who have achieved FIRE and there are people who understand what you are working towards!

Alan Donegan and the Playing with FIRE Documentary Screening in London

A packed audience at the London premier of the Playing with FIRE Documentary

The movement in the UK is a lot smaller.  It has taken more time to catch on but it is growing fast.  Is it possible to be financially independent (FI) in the UK? Are there any good blogs about financial independence from a UK perspective? Is there a community? Read on to find out more about financial independence in the UK.

Created 20th August 2019.  Updated: 22nd of June 2021

Is it possible to be FI in the UK?

The short answer is yes.  I have friends who have done it, I have done it with my wife Katie and it is absolutely possible.  Compared to the USA there are things that we in the UK have going for us (like huge ISA and pension allowances) and things we have going against us (higher cost of living and lower wages in areas) but it is absolutely possible to achieve financial independence in the UK.  Two of my friends below, Barney and Ken, have both achieved it.  So have faith!

Need to know what Financial Independence is? Click here

The UK Community and blogs

There is a vibrant community in the UK and you can engage and find them in different places. I am going to share with you 2 blogs I trust and 2 Facebook groups I am part of.

The Escape Artist
The Escape Artist is a blogger in the UK that writes about escaping corporate life and getting to financial independence.  In the early days of our journey my wife and I went to Barney for coaching on finance and investing. His blog is excellent.  Check out the Escape Artist here. 

Barney organised the playing with FIRE premiere in the UK, some of the meetups in London, and is a top guy.

The Escape Artist, Barney, Financial Independence

The Escape Artist at the UK Premiere of the Playing with FIRE Documentary

The Humble Penny and the Escape Artist at the UK Premier of the Playing with FIRE Documentary

Ken from the Humble Penny and Barney the Escape Artist at the UK Premiere of the Playing with FIRE Documentary

The Humble Penny
Ken runs the blog the Humble Penny, which works to help people become FI in the UK.  Ken has spoken at Rebel Business School Croydon on launching a blog and is a good friend.  I have been impressed by his energy and content.  Check out the Humble Penny here

There are other bloggers and content creators in the UK and the community is growing by the day.  If you know of other content creators then please do link to them in the comments below so that everyone can find them!

Financial Independence Facebook Groups
On Facebook I have found two main Facebook groups that are active at the moment.  The first is the Financial Independence London group which is where most of the FI events happen at the moment.  Join the group for London events and to connect with other people on the FI Journey in the UK.

There is also a Financial Independence UK group on Facebook with nearly 1000 members! Since I wrote this article in August 2019 this group has grown to 7900 members and is still going.  The movement is growing so fast in the UK.  Get involved there to find out more about what is happening outside London!

If there isn’t a ready made community in your area, build one and tell people about it.  If I am in town I will drop in!  The extraordinary belongs to those that create it.  Don’t sit around waiting for community to happen; you can create it.

The second is the set of Facebook groups started by ChooseFI.  ChooseFI is the biggest podcast in the FI world and is really excellent.  Click here for the ChooseFI Podcast; it is absolutely worth listening!

ChooseFI have a few different local Facebook groups in the UK:
ChooseFI London
ChooseFI Swindon
ChooseFI Liverpool
ChooseFI Yorkshire
ChooseFI Newcastle 
ChooseFI Scotland

For a full listing of the ChooseFI groups around the world visit this page

There are other blogs and sites like Monevator, which pulls together the best articles about FI and more.  If you know of one I have missed off the list that you think is good, let me know and I will add it and build this into a resource list.

The Playing with FIRE Premiere

Playing with FIRE is a documentary following the journey of Scott and Taylor as they learn about financial independence, meet the experts like JL Collins, Millennial Revolution, Mad Fientist and Mr Money Mustache, and then change their entire life to work towards their dream!

The London Premiere happed in June 2019 and was sold out!

Alan Donegan; Playing with FIRE Documentary

Me in the front row of the audience for the premiere

Picture

The Escape Artist introducing the panel discussion after the premiere with The Mad Fientist, Millennial Revolution and Travis Shakespeare, the documentary’s director

Picture

From left to right: Mr 1500, Kristy and Bryce of Millennial Revoultion, and Travis Shakespeare, the documentary director

I am going to write a review of the documentary soon but I just wanted to show you there is a vibrant community in the UK all working towards the dream.  Join one of the Facebook groups, start commenting and sharing and come along to one of the meetups to get involved!

Find the latest about the documentary and screenings on the Playing with FIRE website.

Financial independence in a nutshell

For a full article explaining Financial Independence go here.

FInancial independence in a nutshell:

Save as much as you can, as quickly as you can and invest it into assets that produce a financial return such as Vanguard index funds. Let compounding take effect and retire early (a.k.a. do whatever you want) living off the income from your assets.
Alan Donegan

Katie and I worked towards this goal for many years and reached our goal in 2019.  We have since been exploring the world, Katie has been learning guitar and cycling across Iowa, and I have been writing movies, blogging and having fun.

Even if you don’t want to retire, having the freedom to be able to do whatever you want with your life and not worry about money is an amazing goal.

Whenever I take money and invest it into the stock market I think of it as buying my freedom.  Every pound I put into stocks and shares creates a return for me and if I own enough of them then it means I get all of my time back to do what I want.

Instead of buying a more expensive car, buy your freedom first.

This is not a normal way of thinking.  Most people you will encounter will think about spending more when they earn more rather than investing more.  If you want to develop the saving, investing and FIRE mindset then the best thing you can do is get around the community where this way of thinking is normal.

How to get started in the UK

The UK is no different in terms of working towards your goal of being financially independent than other countries.  The main FI strategies work here just as they do elsewhere; there will be nuances and tax differences but the main principles hold.

Here is my starting guide to FIRE in the UK:

  1. Examine your spending.  What are you spending your money on? Where can you save? Where do you not want to cut? How can you create more money to invest? The three biggest categories in most people’s budgets are housing, transport and food.  Can you save more so you can start to invest?  Check out this article entitled “What do you spend your money on?
  2. Increase your income.  Can you increase the amount of money you are bringing home each month? Ask for a pay rise? Work towards a promotion at work? Start a side-hustle?  Start your own business?  If you need help starting a business then check out Rebel Business School.  Their courses are completely free and run all around the world.
  3. Take the difference between the amount you spend and the amount you earn and invest it each month in low cost index funds like the ones Vanguard supply.  I wrote a recent article on Investing in the UK that you can read here.
  4. Continue to invest as much as you can as quickly as you can
  5. Watch your investments grow.  Have a monthly finance meeting with your partner to review things and track spending and investments and enjoy the journey.  We love to go out for a killer breakfast, drink coffee, eat amazing food and connect over our finances.
  6. Let the power of compounding take effect over the years
  7. When your investments are 25 times larger than your monthly expenditure you are financially free.  To understand this rule completely read the 4% rule article here
  8. You have bought your freedom!  Do a little dance, go traveling, do cool shit and have fun for the rest of your life!

Is it a fairly simple straightforward strategy?  Yes.  Is it easy to achieve?  No.  It takes a lot of energy, time and effort to be able to do it.

FIRE in the UK Press

FIRE and the movement has been getting some coverage in the national media in the UK! The Escape Artist and Humble Penny have been featured a lot recently and I got picked up by the Guardian and set as the face of an article this week!  You can read here!  The comments are hilarious and funny.  I get called a parasite a few times! FIRE and financial independence principles are becoming more mainstream by the week!

​The media is fascinated by people who do things differently and retire decades early in their thirties and forties!

Alan Donegan and the Financial Independence FIRE movement in the Guardian

Alan Donegan featured in the Guardian this week

Interested in FIRE?  Where next!?

Inspired and want to learn more?

​Here are some resources to get you going.

The Rebel Finance School

My wife Katie and I have created the Rebel Finance School to help people take control of their finances and make progress towards FI.  It is completely free and a huge amount of fun!  For the dates of the next one go to the Rebel Finance School page and sign up for announcements.

Books to get you going………

If books aren’t your thing then read Mr Money Mustache’s blog for bite sized articles or listen to the ChooseFI podcast which is excellent.
The two books I recommend on FIRE that are the easiest to get into are The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins and Quit like a Millionaire by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung.   Both these books have had a HUGE impact on Katie’s and my life.  We follow the simple path to wealth investment strategy and travel the world just like Kristy and Bryce.

Next up on Alan’s blog

Since I wrote this article in 2019, the financial independence community in the UK has taken off.  in June 2021 we finished running the second version of the Rebel Finance School and had 400 people attending weekly with over 1000 people signed up to the course!

Katie and I are planning a whole new set of articles on investing, more courses and more fun for all!  We are on it.

We do still LOVE hearing from you about what you want us to write about, what you want us to create and more.  Leave us a comment below and just start to get involved.  There is a whole community of people who want you to succeed and make progress on your finances and life!

The extraordinary belongs to those that create it.

​Take action and start creating!

Alan

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