It’s me, Mr. Prairie FIRE. If you know my personal story and my money problems, you will notice that my story is a common one. I’ve discovered that we all struggle with our finances. Canadians are stressed out, losing sleep, and have no one to turn to. We are desperate for a community to be there for us, listen to our worries, commiserate, and provide us the wisdom we seek to make the right decisions.
You Are Searching For Something
In my last post, I wrote passionately about how I fell in love with the Financial Independence Retire Early movement, more commonly known as the FIRE Community. I strongly believe in community and the power it has to empower the individual to succeed. The truth is that community speaks to our humanity, and you are likely seeking out the same thing I am: a personal finance home that will help you reach financial competency, build confidence, create a plan to take control of your financial life, and achieve a deeper understanding of yourself and your relationship with money.
The FIRE Community – Diverse, Wide, and Deep
Now, I love the FIRE Community. It is a collection of thought leaders, personal finance gurus, bloggers, podcasters, and everyday people exchanging ideas to add to the body of knowledge that is the FIRE movement. The beautiful part of the FIRE Community is its diversity, and it creates room for anyone and can serve a variety of people, tastes, and situations. But the irony is that the same thing that makes the FIRE Community beautiful makes it hard to navigate. It is large, decentralized, and covers a number of topics. And you can easily get lost with all the options, resources, support groups, and sites out there.
The 5 Personas of FIRE
In my quest to learn everything I could about financial independence (FI), I discovered a pattern of sorts that allowed me to organize all the resources, Facebook groups, blogs, and podcasts into financial independence archetypes. I call this framework the Personas of FIRE. These are fictional representations of personality types found in the FIRE Community.
Once you’ve read this blog post, I hope you’ll:
- Be able to easily identify the different paths to FI through the personas you will explore
- Have a sense of your financial independence type, home, and fit
- Dive deep into my recommended resources for the information that suits your personal financial journey
The value I am providing is speed and accuracy to save you time – the most important resource you have. This is my gift to you.
What is a Persona?
Before I delve into each persona, let me give a brief definition and description of a persona. A persona in the strictest of terms is a made up public character or fictional representation of a type of person. In this case, the FIRE Personas are a type of avatar or audience segmentation that information is marketed to. The value of the persona model I’ve developed is that it provides you with a framework to better view the world of FIRE, navigate the online communities and resources available, and understand the various approaches to financial independence (FI).
Persona 1: The Mustachian
So you know how I said a persona is fictional? Well in this case I lied. The Mustachian is actually based on the principles and writings of one of the most influential bloggers out there: Mr. Money Mustache. Mr. Money Mustache is so prolific that he has created his own cult following within the FIRE subculture. Mr. Money Mustache (MMM) is considered the “Godfather” of the online FIRE Movement and his followers are affectionately called “Mustachians.”
Who They Are
The Mustachian persona is an homage to the significant impact one man has had on pushing the idea of financial independence to the virtual forefront of the personal finance community. In order to understand the Mustachian, you need to go back to the source of who MMM is and his blog. FI is more than just about money and reaching FI. Mustachians have a deep moral, personal, and philosophical code of how to act, live life, and discover their true self.
What They Believe In
- Driven by Principle: A Mustachian is driven by more than the numbers. They have a larger moral and philosophical code. I’ve heard more than one podcaster/blogger say the philosophical foundation to MMM is stoicism.
- Simple Frugal Living: When it comes to lifestyle, living a simple life with minimal costs is central. It has both mental and financial benefits and has the least impact on the environment and the lives of others.
- Pure DIY: Mustachians love to fix things themselves and figure out how things work. To put it simply, they are super handy.
You Know You’re a Mustachian When
- When a major appliance breaks down, your first thought is “what would Dr. Frankenstein do?”
- You have pinned up to your fridge a magazine article on “Spirituality and Biking.”
- When you hear someone has a 50% savings rate, you don’t even bat an eye.
The Mustachian Path to FI
The path to financial independence (FI) for a Mustachian is relatively simple. But just because something is simple, that doesn’t mean its easy. They fully adopt and ingrain a minimalist life and live counter-culturally in order to keep costs low. By decreasing their expenses, they are able to increase their savings rate and put it into their investment savings made up of simple index funds. In the end, a Mustachian uses the “Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement” and uses their exceptionally stoic discipline to reach their financial independence number faster.
Favourite MMM Related Resources
MMM Podcast Interviews
- Radical Personal Finance: Mustachianism 101: The Philosophy of Mr. Money Mustache
- Mad Fientist: Mr. Money Mustache – Early Retirement Made Easy
Mustachian Facebook Communities
- Frugalwoods (on my reading list)
- Random Walk Down Wall Street (Currently Reading)
- I Will Teach You to be Rich (Currently Reading)
Persona 2: The Land Baron
The “Land Baron” is someone who is really into real estate. I mean really, really, really into real estate. The land baron creates his or her wealth through real estate investing. The goal is to build a real estate empire that creates enough passive income that eventually it covers costs of living – and then some. They can do this in a number of ways, but the most common methods are:
- Commercial real estate
- Residential real estate
- Retail real estate
- Industrial real estate
What They Believe In
- Entrepreneurship: For the land baron, investment is a business and they treat it that way
- Cash Flow: Investing in cash flow positive properties
- Buy and Hold: Buying and holding real estate for the long term
You Know You’re a Land Baron When
- You think house hacking is a no-brainer
- Your idea of a good time is a nice glass of wine and checking out realty listings until 1:00 a.m.
- You prefer This Old House over HGTV
- You salivate at the site of a 15% cap rate
The Land Baron’s Path to FI
The path to financial independence is leveraging their own and other people’s money to invest in cash flow positive real estate. They focus on building their empire with careful analysis and planning. Once they have a portfolio of real estate, they take the money they make and use it strategically to build up their nest egg or save up to purchase more cash flow positive real estate.
My Favourite Land Baron Resources
- Afford Anything – Blog – Podcast
- Bigger Pockets – Blog – Podcast
- Passive Real Estate Investing – Blog – Podcast
Land Baron Books
- What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know About Cash Flow and 36 Other Key Financial Measures (Currently reading)
- The Real Estate Retirement Plan: An Investment and Lifestyle Solution for Canadians (Currently Reading)
Persona 3: The Home Economist
The Home Economist has a masters in home management. Their main focus is running their home like a business and reducing the costs of maintaining their home life and identifying efficiencies to maintain their lifestyle. Their weapon of choice is their budget. They track all spending and strategically find ways to identify good deals and sales for their everyday costs. Finally, they leverage existing resources (income, ingredients, existing home supplies) to produce new and interesting things and experiences at affordable prices.
What Home Economists Believe
- Buying second hand: Buying new is a waste of money for a home economist and they see the value in buying second hand (cars, clothes, furniture, etc.)
- Super handy: They have a DIY nature and try to do all major house repairs themselves
- Tackling the Big Three: They are masters at reducing the most costly living expenses – housing, food, transportation
- Frugality FI: A home economist is frugal for the expressed purpose of reaching FI
You Know You’re a Home Economist When
- The thought of a budget and Excel spreadsheet brings out your inner accountant
- The idea of paying someone to do something you can do just as well (e.g. cooking, car maintenance, home repairs) and cheaper makes you cringe
- The idea of buying new is just not appealing
- You get great satisfaction in being innovative at finding fun inexpensive experiences
The Home Economist’s Path to FI
The path to financial independence for a home economist is through their ability to budget, finding efficiencies, and keeping costs low with the sole purpose of creating savings. By doing so, they are able to sock away money to put towards an emergency fund, save up for major expenses, purchase major items with cash, and create a consistent flow of cash to put towards investments.
My Favourite Home Economist Resources
Persona 4: The Side Hustler
The side hustler is a unique type of human. They work a regular 9-5 job, and moonlight on the side to earn some extra money. They are sort of like a superhero with a secret identity – employee by day… side hustler by night. A side hustle or side gig is anything that is outside of your regular work. It can include any number of jobs such as a consulting business, an online etsy store, or creating an income earning blog.
What They Believe In
- Freedom: Being their own boss
- Hard Work: Taking the extra money and putting it towards passive investments
- Entrepreneurship: Creating and offering a valuable service or product for profit
You Know You’re a Side Hustler When
- You enjoy the freedom of not having to answer to anyone and creating something that is your own
- You have a passion or drive to deliver a product or service to the community/market that is not being met or could be done better
- Your dream is for your side gig to eventually be your full-time job.
The Side Hustler’s Path to FI
The side hustler’s path to FI is pretty simple. The more they hustle, the more money they acquire. All the while, they maintain or decrease their spending habits to create a larger savings rate. In the end, they get to their FI number faster and could potentially retire early or quit their job and follow their passion to start or continue their own business ventures.
My Favourite Side Hustler Resources
- Smart Passive Income –Blog – Podcast
- Single Mom Income
- Side Hustle Nation – Blog – Podcast
- Side Hustle School – Podcast
- How I Built This
Persona 5: The Investor
The last persona is The Investor. The investor loves to play the stock market. The investor takes the time and resources to find and purchase shares of the best public companies out there. They do their due diligence by researching the market, reviewing company financial statements, and ensuring they have a diverse portfolio. They have the confidence to invest and believe they can beat the market over the long-term. They build their portfolio by taking their savings and investing in the stock market.
What They Believe In
- Due Diligence: With enough time and proper research they believe they can identify the best companies to invest in
- The Power of the Market: They believe that the stock market is the greatest value-creating machine out there, with a diversified portfolio
- Buy and Hold Investing: Most FI Investors are focused on finding and purchasing stocks over the long haul. They believe in investing in companies that bring value over large periods of time.
You Know You’re an Investor When
- You’re addicted to looking at company financial statements
- You have a stock alerts app on your phone
- Your social media profile image is the S&P 500 chart
- You have a Warren Buffet Pinterest wall
The Investor’s Path to FI
The Investor’s path to financial independence is not that much different from others. They fuel their investments with their savings. The higher the savings rate, the more they have to invest. From there, they can take two paths:
- Identify and invest in well-performing stocks
- Identify and invest in stocks that pay out ever-growing dividends
What sets them apart is the very active participation in their investment portfolio to make sure it is cost-efficient, has minimal tax implications, and outperforms the market.
My Favourite Investor Resources
- Million Dollar Journey
- Dividend Diplomats
- Canadian Portfolio Manager
- Canadian Couch Potato
- JL Collins Stock Series
- Mostly Money
- Canadian Couch Potato
- Paul Merriman
- Stacking Benjamins
- Financial Mentor
- Planet Money
- Money: The Unauthorized Biography–From Coinage to Cryptocurrencies (Read)
- Simple Path to Wealth (Read)
- The Little Book of Common Sense Investing (Read)
- A Random Walk Down Wall Street (Currently Reading)
Choose Your Own Adventure
Each of the above FI personas has its own unique characteristics and paths to financial independence. The beautiful thing is that you can choose which persona best fits your personality and situation.
The list of personas is not an exhaustive representation of the FIRE community. The whole point of the Personas is to act as a compass to point you in the right direction and provide a clear path for your own personal path to FI. For the Prairie FIRE family, we are a mix of two personas. We currently have rental properties and we’re slowly building our empire to reach Land Baron status. We are also a single-income family by choice, so Mrs Prairie FIRE plays the role of the Home Economist. Together we hope to guide our household to financial independence by 2035.
I hope this helps, and I would love your feedback on what you think and which Persona(s) best describes you and your path to Financial Independence.
Good luck my friend. Feel free to drop me line to share which path you choose to travel. Whichever path you are on, you’re off to a great start!
Mr. Prairie FIRE