Longmont man embraces FIRE movement, retires in his 40s

DENVER — There's a new financial movement being embraced by millennials and other adults who want to retire early. It’s called "FIRE" or financial independence retire early. 

Denver 7’s Tom Mustin traveled to Longmont to meet a man who followed the program and is now cashing in, in more ways than one.

Inside his Longmont home, 44-year-old Carl Jensen spends a lot of bonding with his family. Unlike his peers, Jensen has nothing but time.

“My job status would be retired, “ he told Mustin.

Seventeen months ago, Jensen quit his six-figure job as a software engineer after embracing the so-called FIRE movement. At 37, Jensen realized something had to give.

“Before I left work I had hypertension. I had high blood pressure that could have ended my like sooner,” he said.

At his wit's end, he went online and looked up" how to retire early."

“I figured out at 37 what it would take, and at 43 I departed the workforce, “ he laughed.

The FIRE strategy involved making drastic cuts in spending, utilizing the so-called 4 percent rule- basically living off 4 percent of your savings per year. He figured he could live off $40,000 a year. Multiplied by 25 years, he needed to save $1 million to retire.

He and his wife, Mindy, sold their 4,000 square foot Parker home and purchased a much smaller space in Longmont.

“My first thought was great do it,” said Mindy. “His job was so stressful, and he was a completely different person.”

They also bought food in bulk and on sale and stayed with friends on vacation. Jensen still drives a 2003 Honda Element with 180,000 miles on it. 

After four years of saving every extra penny, Jensen said goodbye to his job. He now spends quality time with his family.

“It isn't about living a super frugal life; it's about living an intentional life. I’m there for them,” he said. 

Mindy is still working, which is a bonus. She says the FIRE secret is simple.

“There's not that much to learn: Don't spend a lot, save some, don't spend everything you make, invest wisely. There's no secret sauce to it," she said.

Now with nothing but family time ahead, Jensen says the hard work is over. He's looking forward to the road ahead.

“As long as I don't go crazy and buy a yacht, or do something stupid, I'm done. I can do whatever I want for the rest of my life,” he said.

Jensen writes a financial blog called 1500 Days.

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