Survive or Thrive?

Since I’ve known the concept of FIRE, I’ve wondered if it really is a destination for me or more a step-stone to something way bigger. I’ve found 2 good definitions which could be used to describe FIRE.

Financial independence is having enough money in passive income that you can stop working. Essentially, the money you have invested and saved provides you enough of a return that you don’t rely on a traditional income anymore, hence the term financial independence. People that pursue FI generally have plans to pursue their passions and other things in life.

Early retirement, while similar, takes an ode to its traditional retirement counterpart. It generally means that you retire early and stop working. But instead of retiring at 65, or later, you may retire at 45 or 55. In general, people that want to retire early want to enjoy the traditional benefits of retirement.

However I could still find myself in the FI definition, the Retire Early is not a thing I would pursue. I mean, I don’t want to be sitting on a chair watching through the window all day at age 35.

Elderly horrified man watching through a window

Nonetheless, the FI definition can be interpreted in many ways. To me there is a big difference in the ability to stop working VS. pursuing other passions and things in life.

In Belgium, an individual could survive with €18,000-€20,000 a year with a modest lifestyle in my opinion (mortgage/rent included). Without a mortgage or rent, €12000-€14000 should be enough. However, this doesn’t imply traveling to exotic locations, fancy ski holidays or expensive dinners.

Some people enjoy sitting at home, which I fully respect. However, I think this becomes pretty boring soon enough and people tend to spend more money when not working (at least in my case). By seeking new opportunities, money will be required. The portfolio income will thus not be sufficient to cover extra or unforeseen expenses.

What if you want to go Down Under with your family? What if you would like to start a project which requires a sum of money? What if you would like to roadtrip the USA? I don’t plan these things years ahead so it is hard to budget this.


I rather pay for experiences than for possessions, meaning I’d rather go on a roadtrip to the USA instead of buying a new design leather couch set. I would love to go scubadiving around some cool islands. Or throw a party on a boat with some friends on a hot summer night. Unfortunately these experiences tend to be rather pricy. However, there is a very thin line between prestige and these experiences. I really appreciate a nice car with a roaring motor and some cool options to play with. Is it about the experience of driving it, or about the prestige? It can provide thoughts for an endless discussion.

Knowledge is power, but so is money. Money creates opportunities. As I’m turning 22 soon enough, I’m keeping my eye on the real estate market. Old apartments need a lot of renovations and are still expensive. New apartments cost a lot more but enjoy the benefit of low energy costs and fewer maintenance costs the first 20 years. Then I started thinking if I could buy a piece of land and build let’s say 8 apartments. I can’t, because I don’t have enough money. However it would be way more economic instead of buying just one. I could sell or rent out the other 7. I’m pretty sure I could make a profit out of this, but on my current budget it simply is impossible. I could try to find like-minded people to help me fund it, but I rather have the full control in my own hands.


I would really enjoy those projects on my own or fund start-up businesses and invest in them. Having enough money to fund these kind of initiatives, is only were my FIRE starts… Being able to do something for the good of the community or start your own business. A whole lot of opportunities and possibilities…

Do you sometimes have similar thoughts in which FIRE for survival just isn’t enough?



6 reacties op ‘Survive or Thrive?

  1. Nancy

    Hum, I wonder of your view on a budget is not a bit naive… Altough we are forced to live frugally, 20.000 euro a year is very optimistic (family of four). Also: rent or mortgage 6000 euro a year…? In Belgium?


  2. financialfreedomsloth

    The more effort and time you put into something the cheaper it often gets. My dad who is obsessed with cycling can build a 6.000 euro bike for around 2.000 euro because he is an expert at it. Hell, if he wanted to he could get paid to build it for others and thus work with cutting edge technology for free!

    Reaching FI as in meeting your basic expenses frees up all of your time and leaves you with lots of energy to devote to the experiences you want to have. You could become a diving instructor and get paid to dive, you could work at some events you do not want to attend and get free or very cheap entrance to the ones you want to experience (a friend of mine goes to an insane amount of shows so he flyers before and after the shows and often can gets in for free because the organization he flyers for has agreements with other organizations …). You can find shortcuts to get/experience most stuff given enough time and effort.
    You will probably find a passion, get crazy good at it and as a consequence make more than enough money to pay for anything extra you will still need (which, since you have found your passion will probably be not that much).

    It is actually the reason I will pull the plug even when I still need to earn 7.500 euro (the tax free limit) to cover the basics. Earning that will only take three months or 1.5 days/week, leaving plenty of time for fun side projects. Some of which will bring in money thus eliminating the need to do any work for somebody else at all. And if not, well it’s three months of forklift work and I have another 9 months to try again …


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