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吝啬是小气 节俭却是争取人生自由的工具

更新时间:2018-11-18 10:22:46 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

FIRE: The movement to live frugally and retire decades early
吝啬是小气 节俭却是争取人生自由的工具

Barney Whiter’s parents bought their home when he was starting secondary school in the UK in 1981. “They did the classic British thing,” he says, “big house, big mortgage.”

英国人怀特(Barney Whiter)在1981年上中学时,他的父母买了房。他说,他们是“典型的英国风格。大房子、大按揭”。

Soon after, a major recession hit and interest rates rocketed to 17%.

之后没多久,经济陷入严重衰退,利率飙升至17%。

His parents had to cut back their spending to make the crippling mortgage payments: holidays were cancelled, as was the paper delivery. Whiter’s dad stopped buying beer and brewed his own. And Whiter’s attitude to money was forever changed. “I picked up on the idea that it was scary owing the bank a lot of money,” he says.

在沉重的房贷按揭压力下,他的父母被迫削减开支:度假取消了,报纸也不订了。怀特的爸爸不再买啤酒了,改为自己酿。怀特对金钱的态度因此永远改变了。

He’s spent his adult life making sure he wouldn’t end up in the situation his parents did.

他说:“我当时就明白,欠银行很多钱是件很可怕的事情。”成年以后,他一直在努力确保自己不会落得父母那样的下场。

He did an economics degree and trained as a chartered accountant – a profession he followed so he’d be skilled in the language of money – and worked in finance for 20 years. But while his salary inflated from the initial £12,500 ($16,000) he got upon graduation, his lifestyle didn’t.

他获得了经济学学位,还接受了特许会计师的培训,然后在金融业工作了20年。他从事这个职业,正是为了精通货币语言。刚毕业时,他的工资是1.25万英镑(1.6万美元),之后一路上涨,但他的生活方式却保持不变。

For more than two decades, Whiter made sure to save at least half his salary every month for retirement, and any bonuses would be quickly squirreled away into savings. He cycled to the office rather than taking the Tube, and cut back on drinking. Whiter, now 48, amassed a nest-egg that enabled him to retire at 43.

过去20多年里,怀特确保每个月至少把一半的工资存起来养老,而且把所有的奖金都立刻存起来。他上班不坐地铁,而是骑车,还减少了喝酒。现年48岁的怀特,积攒的钱够他43岁就退休。

But it wasn’t until a year before he retired that he came across Mr Money Mustache, a blog written by 44-year-old Canadian Peter Adeney – a veritable celebrity among early retirees. Whiter realised he’d subconsciously been part of a movement growing in popularity with younger workers around the world: FIRE (financial independence, retire early).

但直到退休前一年,他才偶然发现了"钱胡子先生"(Mr Money Mustache)。那这是44岁的加拿大人阿德尼(Peter Adeney)的博客,他的名字在提前退休人士中如雷贯耳。怀特这才发现,自己无意中参与了一场在世界各地的年轻员工中越来越受欢迎的运动:FIRE(financial independence, retire early,意思是经济自由、提前退休)。

Starting a FIRE

The basic template goes something like this: proponents live as frugally as possible, saving half their income or more during their 20s or 30s. The aim is to retire in their 30s, or 40s at the latest.

基本模式是这样的:该运动的支持者会尽可能节俭地生活,在二、三十岁时将一半或者更多的收入存起来。目标是在三、四十岁退休。

The “retire early” part of this movement can be something of a misnomer. Many FIRE devotees don’t plan to spend 50 years playing bridge or taking leisure cruises. Instead, the focus is on financial independence: the aim is to save enough of a nest-egg, and live simply enough, so that the ensuing decades can be spent doing something other than chasing payrises and promotions at a corporate job, or worrying about owing the bank a large mortgage.

这场运动的"提前退休"部分可能在说法上有些不妥。许多FIRE的践行者并不打算拿50年的时间来打桥牌或者坐游轮。相反,重点是在财务自由上:目标是存足够的钱,生活得足够简单,这样,接下来的几十年就可以做别的事情,而不是在一份白领工作中追求加薪升职,或者担心欠银行大笔贷款。

And although these ideas have been around for many years, online communities have allowed the FIRE movement to really take hold in the past decade.

尽管这些想法已经存在了很多年,但在过去10年里,网络社区让FIRE运动真正形成了气势。

It first gained popularity in the United States, and has its first real roots in a 1990s newsletter called The Tightwad Gazette. The paper newsletter printed its last edition in December 1996, but the thrift movement continued online – especially in the long, languid hangover of the 2008 financial crash.

这场运动最初从美国开始流行,源于上世纪90年代一份名为《吝啬鬼报》(The Tightwad Gazette)的时事通讯。这份纸质通讯在1996年12月出版了最后一期,但是节俭运动在网上继续发展壮大,,特别是在2008年金融危机后的漫长萧条期。

Today, thousands of people across the world subscribe to podcasts, blogs and participate in discussion forums on how to live a parsimonious life. One podcast, Firedrill, receives more than 7,000 downloads per episode and is in the top 100 for investing podcasts on the Apple’s US charts. There are specialist forums on Reddit devoted to the FIRE movement in Australia, the UK, the Netherlands and India, where people swap tips and ask for advice.

今天,世界各地成千上万的人订阅相关的播客、博客,参加有关如何节俭生活的论坛。一个名为Firedrill的播客,每集有7000多次下载。在苹果的全美博客下载排行榜上,它是投资类播客的前100名。在Reddit上,有专门的论坛聚焦澳大利亚、英国、荷兰和印度的FIRE运动,人们在那里交流经验技术、寻求建议。

Unlike the others

不同于其他人

These communities of young people obsessing over their retirement savings buck a trend: most millennials aren’t saving enough for retirement.

这些年轻人群体对养老储蓄的执念,是一种反潮流:绝大多数千禧一代的退休储蓄并不够。

In the US, a report from the National Institute on Retirement Security found two-thirds of millennials saved nothing for retirement. US Federal Reserve data shows 58% of under-35s don’t have retirement accounts.

在美国,国家退休安全研究所(National Institute on Retirement Security)的一份报告显示,三分之二的千禧一代没有养老储蓄。美联储的数据显示,58%的35岁以下人口没有退休账户。

Helen Morrissey, a pensions specialist at Royal London, surveyed 1,500 UK millennials last year and found they were saving on average 4.6% of their income for retirement. “This is well short of current rules of thumb which suggest contributions of 12-15% of income are needed.”

保险公司皇家伦敦(Royal London)的养老金专家莫里西(Helen Morrissey)去年对1500名英国的千禧一代做问卷调查,结果发现他们的养老储蓄比例平均只有4.6%。“这远远低于目前的经验法则,即需要拿出收入的12%~15%用于养老储蓄。”

For adherents to the FIRE movement, that figure is low. Even at 12-15%, building a nest-egg big enough to live off usually takes decades. In order to retire much more quickly, most strive to save half their income – or more – while spending as little as humanly possible.

对于FIRE运动的追随者来说,这个比例也太低了。即使在12%~15%的情况下,积攒出足够多的生活费也需要几十年的时间。为了更快退休,大多数人努力将收入的一半或者更多存起来,同时尽可能少花钱。

Living on less

消费降级

Craig Curelop lives and breathes this lifestyle. The 25-year-old financial analyst adheres to an “own everything, use nothing” philosophy. He owns a car, but never drives it, renting it out on a site called Turo and riding a bike instead. “I did that and made a couple hundred more dollars a month,” he says.

库雷洛普(Craig Curelop)秉持的正是这种生活方式。这位25岁的金融分析师坚持“拥有一切,却不使用”的理念。他有一辆车,但从来不开,而是在一个名为Turo的网站把车租出去,然后自己骑自行车。这样下来,一个月可以多赚几百美元,他说。

Curelop, who lives in Denver in the US state of Colorado, used to rent out his bedroom on Airbnb and sleep in the living room. “I decided to make a quasi-bedroom out of my living room by putting up a room divider and a curtain,” he explains. “I lived like this for a year.”

库雷洛普住在美国科罗拉多州的丹佛市,他过去经常在爱彼迎(Airbnb)上把卧室租出去,自己则睡在客厅里。“我在客厅里装了一个隔间架和帘子,隔出一间准卧室,”他解释说。他就那样生活了一年。

He was saving so much that as well as the duplex he bought in Denver in April 2017, he was able to buy another house in June this year – where he lives in one room and rents out the others, all while collecting rental income on his original property. “Right now I’m saving between $3,000 and $4,000 a month,” he says. “All said and done, I’ve probably saved between $60,000 and $70,000 in the 18 months since I started my first house hack.”

他攒了不少钱,2017年4月在丹佛买了一套复式住宅,今年6月又买了一套房——他住在其中一个房间,其他的租了出去,同时原来的房子也在收取租金。“现在我一个月存三、四千美元,”他说。“总而言之,自从我把第一套房出租后,在18个月的时间里,我存了六、七万美元。”

This way of life isn’t without its critics. Some worry the high savings targets of FIRE followers aren’t feasible. “It seems to me like the extreme version of the Atkins diet,” says Damien Fahy, a financial planning adviser based in London. “They have a lot of positives and some good roots in financial planning,” he says. “But I do think it’s an extreme version of it that isn’t necessarily suitable for everybody.”

这种生活方式并非没有批评者。一些人担心,FIRE追随者的高储蓄目标并不可行。“在我看来,这就像是阿特金斯饮食法(Atkins diet,一种颇具争议的减肥饮食方法)的极端版,”伦敦的金融规划顾问费伊(Damien Fahy)表示。他说:“他们在财务规划方面有很多积极因素,也打下了一些好的基础。但我的确认为这是它的一个极端版,不一定适合所有人。”

Royal London’s Morrissey agrees. “They must ensure they can also meet other needs,” she says.

皇家伦敦的莫里西对此表示赞同。她说:“他们必须确保可以满足自己的其他需要。”

The maths of living

维持生计的数学题

Another controversial aspect of the FIRE movement is this: just how much money do you need in order to retire in your 30s or 40s? Critics say FIRE followers vastly underestimate how much they need to save.

FIRE运动另一个引发争议的方面是:为了在三、四十岁退休,你手上需要有多少钱?批评人士说,FIRE运动的追随者大大低估了他们需要的数额。

Many (though not all) in the movement follow the 4% rule: by withdrawing just 4% of an investment, your income will consist mostly of interest and dividends, and you won’t eat in to the principal amount. The rule of thumb here is to save 25 times your required spending: for instance, for someone to draw £30,000 ($39,000) a year, they’d need £750,000 ($980,000).

许多(尽管不是全部)支持该运动的人都遵循4%法则:提取投资的4%,收入将主要由利息和股息构成,而且不会吃掉本金。这里的经验法则是,将支出乘以25倍:例如,如果你一年的开支是3万英镑(3 .9万美元),那你需要有75万英镑(98万美元)的储蓄。

But this rule has its flaws, especially when applied to young people. It’s generally used for those retiring in their 60s, who aren’t likely to need money for more than 30 years.

但这条规则也有它的缺陷,尤其是对于年轻人。它通常较适用于那些60多岁退休的人,因为他们不大可能需要用30多年的钱。

The maths doesn’t add up, says Holly Mackay, founder of consumer financial website Boring Money. “If you retire in your 30s, you could be living for 70 more years. I think there’s a bit of naivety.”

消费者金融网站"无聊的钱"(Boring Money)创始人麦凯(Holly Mackay)表示,这道数学题没有意义。"如果你30多岁退休,可能还要再活70多年。我觉得有点幼稚。"

Putting a precise dollar amount on the amount someone needs to retire at 35 is difficult, she says. If someone wants £20,000 a year, they’d need 55 times that – reduced assuming there were investments. “But it’s at least half a million, and then that only gets you £20,000 a year,” she explains.

她说,给一个在35岁退休的人设定一个明确的金额很难。如果有人希望每年的开支是2万英镑,那么他们需要这个数字的55倍,假设有投资减少了。无论如何,"至少要有50万,你一年才能有2万英镑,"她解释说。

Living costs in the UK are much higher than that – the average annual spend for a family of four, according to the ONS, is £39,000 ($50,000). Using Mackay’s rule of saving 55 times that amount, someone retiring at 35 would need £2.15 million ($2.75 million).

根据英国国家统计办公室(ONS)的数据,英国的生活成本要比这个数字高得多——一个四口之家的年度支出平均为3.9万英镑(5万美元)。使用麦凯所说的需要存款55倍的原则,35岁退休的人需要有215万英镑(275万美元)。

Cutting back, not cutting off

消费降级,并非不享受

Those calculations assume someone retiring at 35 won’t work at all once they “retire”. That’s not the case for most in the FIRE movement.

这些计算假设一个人在35岁退休后,就根本不会工作。但参与FIRE运动的大多数人并非如此。

Gwen Merz is 28 and has $200,000 in assets (mostly in property, stocks and a little cash). The American quit her job in IT in March aged 27 and now hosts the Firedrill podcast. “I’m not retired,” she says. “I still have to work but I have the freedom to choose something that I really enjoy that maybe doesn’t pay so much.”

28岁的美国人默茨(Gwen Merz)拥有20万美元的资产,主要是房地产、股票和少量现金。今年3月,27岁的她辞去了在IT行业的工作,现在在做Firedrill播客。她说,"我没有退休。我仍然要工作,但我可以自由选择去做我真正喜欢的东西,但那也许不会带来高收入。"

She hopes her investments will provide a living income whenever she decides to stop working. And for her, FIRE isn’t just about finances – it offers community and camaraderie. “There are more people to hang around with and don’t look at you because you have a 13-year-old car.”

她希望不管什么时候,当决定不工作时,她的投资能应付生活开支。对她来说,FIRE不仅仅是关于财务,还提供了小圈子和志同道合的人。"有更多的人可以在一起玩,他们不会因为你开着一辆有13年车龄的旧车而盯着你看。"

Merz’s old car is not the only way in which she cut back her lifestyle. She’d love a Nintendo Switch, but rules it unnecessary. She also eats out less than she used to, and doesn’t travel that often.

开旧车不是默茨消费降级的唯一方式。她想要一个任天堂游戏机,但认定这并非必需品。她在外面吃饭也不如以前那么多,而且也不大旅行了。

What of the common refrain among FIRE critics – that it’s all short-term pain for uncertain, long-term gain?

FIRE的批评者经常说一句话——是在用短期的痛苦来换取不确定的长期收益吗?

“Those people are missing the point,” Merz says. “If you’re depriving yourself that much, you’re not going to be happy, and you’re not going to be able to maintain that.” Merz advises cutting back unnecessary expenditure to the point that feels uncomfortable, then settle just above that level. “You should be able to live your best life, but that doesn’t mean you’re spending lots of money.”

默茨说:“这些人都没抓住重点。如果剥夺了自己太多享受,就不会快乐,而且也无法维持这种状态。”默兹建议,把不必要的支出减到令人感觉不舒服的程度,然后固定在这个水平上面一点。“你应该能过上最好的生活,但并不意味着要花很多钱。”

Whiter agrees. “You don’t need to go to an expensive, city-centre bar,” he says. “You can have your mate round for some tinnies.” That extends to his family. Before he retired, he realised his family of five could live well on £24,000 ($31,000) per year.

怀特表示同意。他说:“你不需要去昂贵的市中心的酒吧。你可以跟朋友一起喝罐装啤酒。”他的家人也秉持这种做法。退休之前,他发现他的五口之家每年只要2.4万英镑(3.1万美元)就能生活得很不错。

“We don’t indulge rampant, runaway consumerism by buying the kids the latest iPhone,” he says. He describes his lifestyle as frugal, not deprived.

他说:“我们不会给孩子们买最新款的iPhone,来纵容疯狂失控的消费主义。”他形容自己的生活方式是节俭,而不是放弃享受。

“There’s no point living miserably for 20 years just so you can live miserably for another 20 years post-work,” he says.

他认为,"没有理由惨兮兮地生活20年,就为了能在退休后再惨兮兮地生活20年。"

Working on freedom

致力于自由

Despite the “RE” (retire early) part of the FIRE movement moniker, the goal for Merz and Whiter isn’t to quit their jobs at 27 or 43 and do nothing until they die.

虽然“FR”(提前退休)是FIRE这个名字的一部分,但默茨和怀特的目标并不是在27岁或43岁时辞掉工作,然后什么都不做,一直到死。

“We’re not meant to sit around and drink Mai Tais all day,” Merz says. “Humans have an intrinsic need to work. We need to feel like a valued member of society, and that’s not going to stop because you have an arbitrary number in the bank.”

默兹说:“我们不是说要整天坐在那里喝迈泰鸡尾酒。人类有内在的工作需求。我们需要觉得自己是社会的重要一员,这不会因为你在银行有一笔钱而改变。”

Rather, it gives them the flexibility to do what they want. Some choose to travel – on a budget, of course – while others simply pick and choose their work, rather than feeling trapped on the hamster wheel.

但(银行有一笔钱)使他们可以灵活地做自己想做的事情。有人选择旅行—当然是在预算之内—还有人选择做他们想做的工作,不要那种困在仓鼠轮上不停奔跑的感觉。

“I felt like I was beholden to the system,” says Whiter. “I felt like I was in a prison camp, working to sustain a lifestyle I didn’t actually want.”

怀特说:“我很感激这个制度。我原本感觉自己像是关在一座拘留营里,为了维持一种我并不真正想要的生活方式而不停工作。”

Now he’s free. “A lot of this stuff is emotional and psychological,” he says.“You have to live through it to understand how powerful it is.”

现在,他自由了。他说:“这些东西很多都是情感和心理上的。你必须经历了,才能明白它有多么强大。”

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