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As the FIRE concept spreads into the mainstream press, many people are asking…Should you “RE”, or Retire Early? Or instead, is it about quitting a job that you don’t like, or just do for the money, and finding work that you love and that fulfills you?

Work that fulfills you. Yeah, but there it is — WORK. Really? What happened to the lesson of The Mexican Fisherman? Is it okay to live a life of leisure or does everything need to be monetized?

I personally quit my job 8 years ago and I LOVE it, LOVE it, LOVE it! Yet I cringe when people call me “retired”. Before I explain, I’d like to take a look at the recent headlines related to FIRE — being Financially Independent AND Retiring Early. The buzz in the FIRE community seems to be that it’s not about retiring early. Even Suze Orman breathed a sigh of relief when she heard that.

So which is it – to RE or not to RE? That is the question!

Matt’s First Day Out of Work

The Recent Buzz

Many of us started thinking about this dilemma when we heard the now famous Suze Orman interview with Paula Pant. We in the FIRE community disagreed with many of her opinions and several bloggers took to writing rebuttals.

At the same time, there have been several stories in the main stream media focused on the FIRE movement. Many of these articles, such as this one in the New York Times, have been read by a very large audience. Couple that with the upcoming film “Playing With FIRE“, and many of the leaders in the FIRE community have become concerned about this movement is being portrayed.

Are people pursuing FIRE as a way out of soul-sucking, time-stealing work? Is this for people that are deeply unhappy with their job?

A recent post by Mr. Money Mustache, titled “What Everybody is Getting Wrong About FIRE” addresses many of the misconceptions that people new to the concept might confuse. And yet this article has a section titled:

FIRE Is Not Really About Early Retirement”

He goes on to say that for most people reaching financial Independence does not mean the end of your working career. Instead it means, “Complete freedom to be the best, most powerful, energetic, happiest and most generous version of You that you can possibly be.”

Which I love. But…he also says that most people are probably going to end up working. Working on things they would consider doing for free. And end up possibly making money. Adding to that nest egg. Because people that achieve FI have a drive to be productive.

We Make Drums, Play Drums, and Make Friends

Would You Do Your Job for Free?

When you consider whether your goal is to retire early or not, you might ask yourself if you love your work so much that you would do it for free. Or do you have another job in mind that you want to do for free when you reach FI?

A post by DocG at DiverseFI paints an interesting picture. Entitled “Three Roads for Three Brothers“, he considers three brothers that look at their path to financial independence like you might approach a difficult hike. One brother never liked hiking and focuses all his effort on tackling the task as soon as possible, even if it takes a huge struggle. The middle brother was not as determined, so he goes to it a bit slower, taking some breaks and going off-trail at times. But the youngest brother loves the journey, so much so that when he arrives, he turns back to do it again.

Before you ask which brother you are, I have another perspective.

What if your current self and your future self disagree?

Watching a recent YouTube interview on Tom Bilyeu’s Impact Theory, I discovered the stand-up comedian Kyle Cease, who now focuses on a concept he calls Evolving Out Loud.

Evolving. Changing. Letting go of controlling or planning everything.

That youngest brother was so happy with his job. But things change. Companies merge or fold. Industries become obsolete. Or, what about this…you yourself change. Yes, evolve.

I’m Free!

I’m Not Retired, I’m “Freeployed”

This word “retire” is horrible. I think it is one of the primary reasons that people approaching or having achieved a position of financial independence are questioning the “RE” part of FIRE. What is it to be “retired”?


  • to withdraw from action or danger, to retreat
  • dispose of something that is no longer useful
  • leave an occupation or cease working

All of these connotations imply being done, used up, and leaving rather than arriving at something new.

It’s time to come up with a new word. I’ve seen a few ideas tossed around, such as the Fully Funded Lifestyle Change, or FFLC, from Slowly Sipping Coffee. As much as I like that one, it is more of an acronym. What I want is a new word.

And the word I’ve come up with is “Freeployed”.

I’m free to employ my time or deploy my money as I see fit. After 8 years out of the workplace, seeing how I have filled my time, that word feels like a good description. I personally have found that I like being productive. Yet my interests and focus have changed as I’ve tried new things. It’s been fantastic to have the flexibility to let one activity or challenge take me into another area of interest.

Does “freeployed” mean you work for free? For my husband and I, at least so far, the answer is yes. As we try new new things, we can’t help being productive. Several times we have had people want to buy something we are making or hire us to do something we are volunteering for. So far, we are choosing to keep things truly “free”.

But you are also “free”. Free to choose and free to charge money for whatever productive endeavor you create in your own freeployment.

Get Busy Living, or Get Busy Tie Dyeing

As I look back over the eight years since I became “Freeployed”, I see that I’ve tried several things for a while, and then followed a thread of interest into the next thing. Together with my husband, who quit work shortly after me, I’ve been freeployed in a lot of different ways:

This list is just my own example of various fun and productive activities. Everyone is unique and will find your own inspirations, challenges, experiences and journeys.

What’s up next? Who knows? And that’s the beauty of it.


What about you?  Is your goal to retire early become freeployed? Do you have another word for it?



  1. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

    You’ve had a fun reti…Um, I mean freeployment! 🙂 I’m not labeling anything anymore. My journey has had highs and lows, twists and turns. I don’t have an engineering degree where I can just pop in and out of 6 figure jobs whenever, so sometimes I’m doing better than other times. I’m just trying to focus on what I can do in the present moment. So I have no idea what to call it. 🙂

    • Susan

      With your skill at the details of video editing and website design, you ought to command six figures in my book. At Chautauqua, Kristy of Millennial Revolution presented a choice between following your passion and going for the high paying job. In her case, she did go for the engineering degree, toiled away the long hours and once FI, is now pursuing her passion and dream writing a children’s book. It’s kind of like the 3 brothers dilemma. But I realize that not everyone has the opportunity to make a high salary, so you have to be free to follow your own path. Which might include mini-breaks, twists and turns, that you know all about. And it’s why I like having the word free in “Freeployed”!

  2. Joe

    I admire your freeploying spirit. You’re doing it right.
    I think we need to change the word retirement. It’s good enough for me. 😉 I must be getting too good at ignoring the media. I haven’t paid attention to these noises.
    The freedom to live life your own way is the best. Enjoy!

    • Susan

      Thank you Joe. That’s quite a compliment from someone who has the word “retire” in your blog name. Too late to change it 🙂

  3. freddy smidlap

    i like your new terminology, susan. i see what you did there in the title and that is the question. that looks like a fun list of activities since leaving your job. that whole job thing doesn’t appeal to me when i’m done with the chemical business. i could only see being on call or a fill-in for somebody i like, but it would be low impact and in a place where i like to live.

    i hope you made nomex or asbestos tie-dyes with all those wildfires. stay safe out there.

    • Susan

      Nomex? Asbestos? Maybe the job thing doesn’t appeal to you, but you can’t help being a chemist at heart. We are luckily not near the wild fires, but the smoke is very thick. Speaking of T-shirts, I just might have to put this “Freeploy” word onto a shirt. Another fun challenge awaits!

  4. Dave @ Accidental FIRE

    Freeployed – genius!! That’s right up there with egotrage!

    Man this community is going to get an entire section unto itself in Websters if this keeps up. I still think you should sell your Taiko drums but I guess it might become a job at that point and you’d no longer be freeployed.

    • Susan

      Yes, I was inspired by Mr. Groovy’s egotrage invention. I’m going to design a “Freeployed” T-shirt. If it’s any good, you can have one for “free”. That’s $12.87 you know!

  5. Dr. McFrugal

    I love it! Freeployed is great! I do wonder if we should re-brand the word FIRE. I have heard of “Financially Independent, Recreational Employment”. I like that. 🙂

    Btw, I love all the activities you listed during your freeployment! And “Get Busy Living, or Get Busy Tie Dyeing” made me laugh out loud. Very loud. 🙂

    • Susan

      Recreational Employment! Now that RE is a good answer. I love it. Yes, it has been a lot of fun and continues to be as we try new things. The Tie Dyeing line comes from my love of the Shawshank Redemption, which you no doubt recognize. Pretty funny.

  6. Fritz @ TheRetirementManifesto

    Freeployed and Recreational Employment. Wow, this post had added some great value to the discussion! I may need to add a link to it on a post I’m writing about fatFIRE! Nice work!!

    • Susan

      Thank you! Except…the term “nice work” includes another dreaded word. WORK! Ha ha. It’s all optional and recreational now. I’d be honored to have a shout out from you. Writing about fatFIRE sounds interesting, so I’ll look out for that post for sure. It’s good to hear from you.

  7. Moriah Joy

    I love how productive you’ve been when not tied down to the 9-5 lifestyle. I think that’s the biggest attraction the FIRE community has for me, is that it gives us the choice to choose the lifestyle that fits us best. Personally, I’m not sure that I’ll be opting out of the 9-5 any time soon. I feel like I’m the third brother. I’m enjoying the journey. But getting to the place where I have the option is something I’m super looking forward to.

    • Susan

      Being the third brother is ideal and I truly hope you can keep that going as long as you are enjoying that journey. You’re right, the best part of FI is the freedom it gives each person to pursue the life that suits you best. It’s great to hear from you and I love your name!

  8. Mrs. Groovy

    Using the “dispose of something that is no longer useful” definition of retired, I have no problem with the word for myself. But I also think that when you retire at age 50+ you’re prone to having more conventional attitudes.

    Haha, thanks to you and Dave for shouting out egotrage. That’s still one heck of a word but freeployed is definitely right up there in the ranking.

    • Susan

      Egotrage is a brilliant new word and actually my inspiration for brainstorming and coming up with my own. You are right though, that beyond 50, “retired” is an okay word that is better understood by others. But I’ll be darned if I’m going to be described as “no longer useful”. We will leave that to equipment and such. You and Mr. Groovy are extremely useful, but in new ways that your former employers would not have imagined!

  9. Joe Casey

    Great piece. We’ve taken to call it Freedoment…

    • Susan

      Oooh, I love Freedoment. That is even better. Nice one!

  10. Baby Boomer Super Saver

    Susan, I love this! You are such an inspiration and your blog serves as a guide for how to do it right, even if there are many ways to do freeployment!

    • Susan

      Thank you so much. You are so right that there are many ways to do it. That’s the “free” part of freeployment. We can all make our own fun and hopefully impact too.

  11. Jon

    Whenever I have to explain it, I like to say that I might do something totally different with my life someday, but sitting around doing nothing sounds miserable. The goal for me is get to the point where I could stop taking financial considerations into account when thinking about the type of work I’m doing. Getting closer!

    • Susan

      The vast majority of people who have made their way to FI are ambitious folks. Like you, they relish the idea of doing some other type of work, but with the freedom of not having to wonder if it will make money, if you will be good enough at it, or if people will make fun of you. True freedom to pursue any idea that catches your fancy is the ultimate wealth. I’m glad to hear you are getting closer. Nice.