Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow. Proverbs 13:11

A famous case in torts class in law school defined constitutional limits to free speech. Free speech means that you can say anything without impunity even if it is unpopular. Well, there are limits. The famous case set out one of the exceptions which is you can’t yell “FIRE” in a crowded theatre resulting in panic and injury.

But the title to this post has nothing to do with free speech.  It has to do with financial freedom. It’s a recent trend with American millennials and comes from an unexpected source: a 72-year-old woman who lives in Whidbey Island, Washington.

Her name is Vicki Robin who authored a best-selling book in 1992 (updated in 2018) titled Your Money or Your Life. While recently recuperating from a hip operation, she spent time cruising the internet, only to find out that she was a celebrated guru in a community she never knew existed.

She has become a cult leader in a growing segment of millennials and other who are obsessed with retiring early.  FIRE stands for “Financial Independence; Retire Early”.  Learning about this growing group surprised me, because most millennials are often described as “spenders” but not “savers”,  which is more an attribute of Generation Z.

Who knew?  Certainly not Vicki Robin who was unaware that her twenty-five-year-old book had made her a financial Rockstar with millennials. She is a non-traditional financial advisor. She never went to Wall Street and had many non-traditional jobs.  What sets her apart is not how much she earned, but the discipline she developed in spending what she had.

Her book goes through nine-step program that helps one decide how much is enough. It teaches frugality and then investing the difference until the income from the savings exceeds your expenses. That’s called the cross-over point; it’s the point that you have financial freedom.

One financial principle I have always adhered to is spend less than you earn. That’s the basic principle that Robin espouses. It helped me years ago when I went through financial reverses because I never changed my standard of living when times were financially good.  When things went south, I didn’t have to cut back my living standard.

The popularity of this movement is interesting. There are 350,000 subscribers on a subreddit on financial independence, and a directory on Rockstar Finance has 1,666 blogs on retiring early.

I have long been an advocate for retirement planning. I find this trend a refreshing development. Of the men I mentor, most are very interested in their finances and careers. The fact that I have a son who is in the financial business at Motley Fool also is of interest to them.  There is a free discussion board titled “FIRE Wannabeeson Motley Fool

One of the subscription services at Motley Fool is Rule Your Retirement which I think is valuable to anyone doing financial planning for the long haul. It is not just for those who are ready to retire, but for those who want to plan their financial future. That means millennials, too.

I often write posts on the Rule Your Retirement Board, but not about planning the financial part of your retirement. That’s just part of the equation. As the article in Money notes, retirement means more than just having idle time to spend. Grant Sabatier notes in the Money article, most FIRE people are focused more “on numbers and calculations” than about filling in the looming void of not working.

I encourage my mentees to keep their eye on the financial ball in their life. There are excellent programs offered in churches, such as those offered by either Crown Financial or Dave Ramsey.  These courses are an excellent way to help the next generation become grounded in dealing with their personal finances.You can find locations that teach these courses on their websites.

Our challenge here is that our educational system has long been deficient on teaching sound financial principles. Most millennials are clueless about finances – just basic stuff, not just how to retire early. Simple things like credit card debt, or, the realities of taking on debt to finance a college education. We can help them avoid financial mistakes by guiding them to resources that can be life changing.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY: As a mentor, you don’t have to be an expert to guide your mentee through financial minefields. Directing them to courses that can educate them may be the best advice you can provide. Helping a mentee make sound financial choices can be invaluable.

FURTHER STUDY: An article on FIRE and Vicki Robin:

Rockstar Finance blogs on retiring early:

Rule Your Retirement is available on Motley Fool (, which has a lot of information.  It is a subscription site, but it gives you access to everything they have ever written over the past 20 years.

Top 20 Christian Financial Websites:

Motley Fool has a discussion board titled “FIRE Wannabees” for a free discussion of retiring early.

Vicki Robbins has done a 2018 update to her book Your Money or Your Life, available at Amazon.

Grant Sabatier has a website titled “Millennial Money” to help millennials become financially independent.

WORSHIP:  One of my favorite songs to sing is All My Fountains, which reminds us of having a resource that never runs dry.

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at

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