What is Barista FIRE? Retire Sooner

Reaching retirement can be a huge dream for many people in the world. Being able to do it early is an even better dream since most people work most of their lives, and they hope they could reach early retirement. One thing we could do is bridge the gap with Barista FIRE.

Before we jump into Barista FIRE, let me inform you on what FIRE really is.

What is the FIRE Movement?

FIRE is financial independence, retire early. A lot of people would like to phrase it as financial independence, retire eventually. Those people would probably do some sort of part time work. 

Mr. Money Mustache helped make this movement thrive, by retiring early and writing about it in his blog. He talks about finances, passive income, index funds, saving more, and retiring early. He helped popularize the FIRE movement.

For those not familiar with the movement, it has all been about increasing savings, having a safe withdrawal rate, and leaving behind your “9-5 job” for a seat in the non-working chair, aka your couch. 

This may not be for everyone, but you can quickly figure out how much money you need by multiplying your annual spendings by 25 to equal a safe withdrawal rate for your retirement. This uses the 4% rule

At that point, you will need to make some plans for after you retire like where to live, what to do, monthly income, healthcare, and anything else people may do when they are retired. 

What if we could make this a bit faster? What if we could stay working, not worry about health care, retire, and make these things happen?

This is where the concept of Barista FIRE comes out of. It gives us options to work part time, with the right employment we can also benefit from having healthcare as well. So what does this all mean?

The FIRE community is full of phrases describing different types of early retirement. Not everyone is in the same boat. Some people really enjoy their job and want to keep working while others would rather quit and do something more satisfying.

Ways to FIRE

5 types of FIRE

There is more than one way to FIRE. Here are just a couple of ways to FIRE.

Fat Fire: Fat FIRE is the ability to live it up in your retirement years without really having to cut down on any expenses

Lean FIRE: This is when someone has saved up for early retirement, but will need to live on a lean budget. 

Coast FIRE: Having enough savings at a young age and not having to contribute any more to your retirement accounts. You can allow your investments to compound until you retire.

How can we be on the road to financial freedom and still have some jobs that we enjoy? The answer is Barista FIRE.

What is Barista FIRE?

Many people may wonder what is Barista FIRE? Is it something that only coffee shop baristas can achieve or is it something more?

Typically, when you hit financial independence and retire early (FIRE), you stop working and enjoy the good parts of retirement life.

You have been working your whole life to achieve your financial goals, and are ready to hit early retirement.

Sometimes, you may be stuck at a job you hate. This is the worst part. Your nest egg is getting big enough to get close to retirement, but you are on the verge of not wanting to keep going to work. That is when Barista FIRE comes in. 

Barista FIRE is when you can cover almost all of your expenses from savings, but will need additional income to supplement your retirement. 

For instance, if your job is not going well, but you are close to retirement you could retire. You could then take up a part-time job working as a barista at Starbucks to get health insurance, and you are essentially living the Barista FIRE life.

Achieving Barista FIRE:

Steps to Achieving Barista FIRE

To work on achieving Barista FIRE, you first need to have some good financial goals to help guide your way. Let’s set those up and work towards hitting Barista FIRE. 

1. Find Your Financial Independence goal.

This can be done easily by taking your annual expenses and multiplying that by 25. 

If you spend $40,000 x 25 = $1,000,000. 

Your retirement goal will be $1,000,000 according to the safe withdrawal rate of 4%. 

2. Figure out how much you need to make through side hustles. 

Side hustles are just part time jobs on the side. These side hustles will help you supplement your income as you are no longer working for your regular job. 

You will need to figure out how much money you could make through that. 

If we use the safe-withdrawal rate of 4% we can figure out how much less you need to save up. 

Let’s say you can make $10,000 as a side hustle or even a part time job. We take that number x 25 to get the amount of $250,000

$10,000 x 25 = $250,000. 

We can now take our Financial Independence goal of $1,000,000 and subtract the $250,000.

$1,000,000 – $250,000 = $750,000.

With earning just $10,000 a year on a side hustle or a part-time job, you will no longer need to save an additional $250,000, which could take a while at a job you dislike. 

Your Barista FIRE number would then be $750,000.

3. Take Action

Now it is time to take action. We have the steps to make things happen. We have our financial goals in place, and we have a good amount of retirement savings before we hit our Barista FIRE.

Why do we seek Barista FIRE:

When talking about Barista FIRE it is hard not to mention why we do it. Our working life can be a life full of stress, anxiety, and wanting to do something else.

People will often work their whole lives at a job they may or may not like and retire at the age of 65 or older. 

Early retirement is not something that is often talked about. Sometimes people want to retire to enjoy the good life before they get too old and not have the time, ability, or mental capacity to enjoy all that the world offers. 

FIRE, Financial Independence Retire Early, gives us the ability to stop work and try something new, or just retire early. You just need to have a good amount of retirement savings that will help pay for most of your living expenses. 

Barista FIRE gives us more options than we can think of. It is not just Coast FIRE, which gives us enough money to coast on until we hit retirement. This is enough money that we could retire, and take on some small job. 

When growing up I had a job as a camp counselor. I loved being able to live outdoors, have fun with kids, eat free food, and enjoy my summer.

The problem was that this occupation did not give me much of an income. It was enough like $180-200 a week, which is like nothing. I loved the job. 

Now as a teacher, I make some good money living in Taiwan, but if I were to get my retirement savings high enough I could live a frugal life, but I could do a side hustle like blogging or tutoring.

Is Barista FIRE right for you?

Barista FIRE pros and Cons

Let’s check to see some of the pros and cons we may encounter when hitting Barista FIRE. 


1. Opportunities for other jobs

Barista FIRE gives us the opportunity to leave a job that may cause stress, hatred towards work, and a feeling of being stuck.

It gives us a way out to find something that is maybe lower-paying, but we have the opportunity to continue to work only part-time. 

2. Give us Freedom

It gives us freedom. We are finally taking that leap to retirement. It is something that so many people dream about, but people may never achieve it until later in life. 

3. Health-Insurance

Health insurance is another big one. In the U.S., healthcare is tied to employment. The ACA really does help this out a bit, but it is always better to have some sort of employment that gives healthcare.

If your spouse has health care tied to their job, then this can be a huge benefit as well. 

4. Supplemental Work

Supplemental work can also help in case your investments have a downtime. We do not think too often of bad market swings, but they happen.

If you are working part-time you are able to continue to support yourself even when your investments are down. 

5. Freedom for Projects

You are free to do what you like. As a writer on a blog, I could dedicate my time to blogging, podcasting, or even YouTubing.

There are so many opportunities that await. You can leave your job and start looking for projects that pay and excite you.


1. Not Yet Retired

At this point, you are not retired. A lot of people want to be fully financially independent, but being Barista FIRE you are like 75% of the way there. You still need to work. 

2. Healthcare could be an issue.

Not every side gig or part-time job may give you healthcare. So this could be an issue. 

3. Financial Independence Slowed

Financial independence may be slowed down for a while. You may not be working a full-time job, and therefore are not receiving more money than a “9-5 job” will bring in for your retirement. So financial freedom from a job is thwarted for a while.

Your Financial Plan to Barista FIRE

When you are looking for Barista FIRE, you need to have a good financial plan. You have to be able to make these things happen. 

You will need to:

  1. Make extra money
  2. Keep a good savings rate
  3. Make sure to have some sort of paycheck
  4. Have enough savings for your income stream to cover the rest. 

Using these four things you will be able to retire early, continue to work, and have some financial freedom earlier in life before you hit old age.

Some Last Thoughts:

Barista FIRE can really get you started to retire earlier. Being far from retirement age you can have the ability to keep working, but have a job you may enjoy more at a lower wage. 

You just need to have a savings plan to be able to cover some of the cost of living you may endure in retirement. Every month, just make sure that your sources of income can cover you for retirement. 

What do you think? Would you do Barista FIRE?

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” Spend less than you make, stay out of debt, and invest the rest”

12 thoughts on “What is Barista FIRE? Retire Sooner”

  1. I think BaristaFIRE is one of the best FIRE strands out there today, especially if you can find a job at Starbucks where the benefits for part time employees are simply amazing.

    I do worry if the coffee shop will think “hmm.. This guy’s going to leave after a year or so, I want someone long term, I don’t even want to give him a job”.

    Won’t know unless I try, ha.

    • Well, who knows you may like working at the coffee shop. I am not sure of the turnover rate, but if you they can get a good employee for a while it is not bad.

      Barista FIRE really does make you think about what side projects you could jump into without fully hitting FIRE. You wont know unless you try.

  2. I agree with David that a part time job REALLY is a more efficient way to live. Having been working 2 years part-time in college, I could do so much more than I can now.

    I think everyone needs to have some sorts of purpose in their life, and barista FIRE is a best way to fulfill it.

    Thank you Steve for your amazing ideas. I think we all need this. So let’s start to work on our side hustles for the day we hit Batista FIRE.

    Finally I want to share with you an epigram I listened from a podcast- Be productive, rather than consuming.
    It has been my motto for the longest time and by applying it I believe I’m on the right road to building up skills for my side hustles.

  3. I am in a weird spot between Barista FIRE and Regular FIRE. My hope is that if the market continues to run up enough AND I can lower our healthcare cost for 2022, we’ll be able to safely say we have FIREd. We’ll see…but alas. I don’t really want to retire retire, I just want to be able to spend my time, my way…

    • Spending time your own way is the ultimate goal. I don’t think I would fully retire either. I have lots of projects I would like to do, but having the freedom to do as I choose is the ultimate goal. May it be Barista FIRE or Regular FIRE.

  4. Great summary of Barista FIRE! I kind of started out this way, as I am fully self-employed, so all my work comes in ‘hustle’ form. But at the moment, I am doing much more than I would need to, so I can see myself working part-time in the future to cover basic expenses and living off the FI money for the rest.

    • Living off FI Money and just working on side hustles is a great goal. If you can work part-time then you may not have any burnout as well. Keep it going Kat. I think you are making things work, and it is working for you.

    • You are welcome. I am glad that I have helped explained this to you. I always thought it was another name for Lean FIRE then I did some research and realized it was not. So I am glad I can help out my readers.

  5. I feel like we have gone down this path sightly, but I like to call it Passion FIRE – instead of it being a side gig or coffee shop it is something that you are passionate about, and hopefully something that can become passive eventually.
    Great summary though! Goes to show there is not one way.

    • I like the name of Passion FIRE. It is because you are passionate about your work. It is much more fulfilling being in a job environment that you are passionate about.

      There is not one way to FIRE. There are many ways.


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