Kylie is a fellow Australian FIRE blogger and lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills with her husband and two sons. Like many others in the community, Kylie didn’t find out about Financial Independence until she was in her 30s.
She and her husband have been trying to make up for lost time over the last couple of years by saving and investing as much as they could. When Kylie started looking for alternatives to the standard path to Financial Independence, she stumbled upon Flamingo FI.
It is so good to see that others in the community are also making changes to their FIRE plans and pursuing alternative approaches to slow down and claim their freedom back sooner.
Flamingo FI has changed my family’s life for the better and it is the reason we were able to semi-retire in 2020.
I started this blog to share our strategy and motivate others to consider it as an option as well. So naturally, I was very excited to hear all about Kylie’s decision to pursue Flamingo FI and the reasons behind it.
In today’s interview, we’ll cover the following:
- Kylie’s FIRE journey so far
- Why she has decided to pursue Flamingo FI
- What she and her husband are planning to do after they reach their goal
- What she wished she had done differently on her path to FI
- Kylie’s advice for others chasing FIRE with a family
Let’s get started!
Q1: Hi Kylie, please tell us a little about yourself and your motivation to reach FIRE.
I’m 35, married and have two teenage sons. My husband works as a teacher and I work in IT.
Growing up we both knew the value of saving money and frugality, but until we came across the concept of FIRE we had never invested a cent in anything other than our house. We learnt about the concept of FIRE via the Scott Rickens book ‘Playing with FIRE’ in mid-2019 after hearing about it whilst listening to The Minimalists. I was hooked immediately on Scott and Taylor’s journey and the idea that regular people could retire earlier than the conventional age of 65.
I think the concept was made even more alluring to us as my husband is a cancer survivor, and we are always worried about what might be around the corner. So naturally, we were drawn into the idea of retiring early and spending more time with our children and passions.
In mid-2019 I started tracking and sharing our journey to financial independence via my Instagram (Frank on FIRE) as a way to keep myself accountable and motivated.
Q2: What has your FIRE journey been like so far?
I would be lying if I said that our FIRE journey has been easy, and to the outsider following along via Instagram it might look it. It took us 17 months to invest our first 100k, but this was achieved at a huge cost personally.
We both worked full time, side hustled, said ‘no’ a lot, held our nerve during the COVID-19 market crash and lived extremely frugally. This unsurprisingly led to us both becoming completely burnt out, and in 2021 I was forced to reduce my hours and switched jobs for better work culture and conditions.
Eventually, we got back on track and despite the setbacks, we ended 2021 with 200k in our investment portfolio. So far 2022 has had a shaky start with market conditions, but we are staying focused on our plan and continuing to invest regularly via dollar-cost averaging.
We’ve also started to Airbnb our house which will help us reach this year’s goal of Flamingo FI which for us is having 500k in FIRE assets by the end of 2022.
Q3: Your big goal for 2022 is to reach Flamingo FI. Why have you chosen this goal?
As our FIRE journey has progressed so has our exposure to the many different ways you can reach financial independence.
When we first started our journey towards financial independence we had only heard of regular FIRE where you invest as much of your income as possible until you reach your retirement number and then retire. So that’s what we did for the first year of FIRE in 2020, but it simply wasn’t a sustainable way of living.
In early 2021 I was extremely burnt out and stumbled onto the term Slow FI and eventually Flamingo FI. Discovering different types of financial independence gave us a second wind, and we realised that financial independence was closer than we thought if we were willing to take a different route.
So we decided that Flamingo FI suited us best as we could manage a few short years of pain working at our butts off until we hit our Flamingo FI number, which is 50% of our FIRE number. Then once we hit our number we could slowly reduce our hours and coast towards reaching our regular FIRE number by age 45.
Q4: Flamingo FI is a big milestone. What are your plans after you hit this goal? Are you considering semi-retirement?
Our plan is really simple once we reach Flamingo FI, and that is to take the gas off the accelerator.
We plan to reduce our hours in our main jobs and explore our passions more. I’m keen to do a few short courses in baking and patisserie and improve my photography skills.
My husband plans to spend more time on his woodwork and metalwork projects, and eventually start selling his items on Etsy and markets.
So we’ll be semi-retired in a sense from our regular careers, but we’ll be as busy as always doing more of what we love. We expect to reach full FIRE by age 45, but neither my husband nor I believe we’ll be retired – we’ll simply be doing more of what we love and less of what we don’t.
Q5: Is owning a paid-off home part of your longer-term plan?
We plan on selling our home once the kids have finished High School in just under 8 years. We have done well with purchasing our home, and plan to significantly downsize our home (buy something about a 1/4 of the cost in cash).
In order to find something that matches our needs, we are going to do a lap around Australia to visit a bunch of different rural locations and make a decision at the end.
Q6: Do you have any regrets about working so hard to get to FI that you ended up burnt out or do you feel the sacrifices in the early stages of your journey were worth it?
I don’t believe in regrets, but I definitely have times I wish we didn’t take on as much as we do.
For example, in the middle of last year, we decided to renovate half the house and turn it into an Airbnb. This was despite never owning or running an Airbnb before, and not having the cash for the renovations.
The whole thing put a lot of strain on us both, and although we don’t regret anything it might have been better to do a bit more investigation and planning before committing to something we hadn’t completely thought out.
Q7: What advice would you give someone in the situation you were in when you started your FIRE journey 2.5 years ago (in your 30s and with kids and responsibilities)?
When we first started our financial independence journey there wasn’t a lot of information specifically for families or for those that were a little older.
So it took us a bit of trial and error to find our rhythm and what worked for us. We found a lot of the traditional FIRE advice didn’t work for us due to our situation, and last year I wrote an article about ‘How to pursue financial independence with a family‘ where I outlined six key things that helped us.
- Accept what you can’t control
- Find your accountability tribe
- Find the type of FIRE that works for you
- Get the family on the same page
- Be flexible and prepared to adjust your plan
- Gratitude and happiness over comparison and self-loathing
Thanks for sharing your story, Kylie!
I’m sure anyone who found out about FIRE in their 30s or 40s can relate to Kylie’s experience. Financial Independence and the sacrifices involved are different for those who already have a family, a mortgage and lots of commitments.
Also, the fact that Kylie’s husband is a cancer survivor obviously serves as a strong motivator – both for pursuing FIRE but also for finding ways to get more time back sooner. It was the same for Mark, who I interviewed a while ago. He got serious about semi-retiring and enjoying his life after he almost died in an accident.
It is only natural to go extra hard when you try to make up for lost time. However, burning yourself out in the name of Financial Freedom will only work in the short term. I think Kylie’s story illustrates this very well.
I think Flamingo FI is a great strategy for Kylie and her family. However, I hope that they don’t burn themselves out again trying to get there in 2022. It’s a very ambitious goal and at the end of the day, the market also has to perform accordingly, so it’s not completely in their control.
If they get there a year or two later (but are less stressed along the way), that is still a great achievement. Plus, even if they get there a little later they will likely still reach full FI by age 50 at the latest (depending on market performance).
It is great to hear all the plans Kylie and her husband have for the future. I think if I was them I would start slowing down a bit as soon as possible and work towards these passion projects now, even if it pushes the FI timeline out a bit.
I love the six pieces of advice Kylie offered for people pursuing FI with a family. I definitely agree with all of them.
I am looking forward to following Kylie’s progress towards Flamingo FI and beyond – whether she gets there this year or a bit later.
What do you think about Kylie’s story? Can you relate to her experience? If you also found out about FIRE a bit later in life, do you have any advice for others in the same situation?