What is Barista FIRE? Retire Sooner

Steve Cummings

Retiring can be a massive dream for many people in the world. Doing it early is an even better dream since most people work most of their lives, hoping they can 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 of the concept called FIRE.

What is the FIRE Movement?

FIRE is financial independence retire early. Many people would like to phrase it as financial independence, retire eventually. Those people would probably do some 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.

Those not familiar with the movement have 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. It takes time to accumulate wealth and living frugally, but with some discipline, many people can walk away with a lot of money. 

Traditional FIRE 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. Through compounding and building wealth you can make your investment portfolio help last you until you pass away. We can figure this out using 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. It gives us options to work part-time; with the proper employment, we can also benefit from healthcare. 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 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: Lean FIRE is when someone has saved up for early retirement but will need to live on a thin budget. 

Coast FIRE: Coast FIRE is having enough savings at a young age and not contributing 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 we enjoy? The answer is Barista FIRE.

What is Barista FIRE?

Many people may wonder what Barista FIRE is? 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 achieve 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.

Our goal is to have a high enough liquid net worth that can help sustain us while living off our retirement funds. Calculating our goal 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 no longer work for your regular job. 

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

Using 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 i

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. 

Let’s start saving and investing more money for our future retirement. You can use traditional or Roth IRAs to help create a sizeable retirement fund. 

Vanguard low-cost index funds are some of the best funds to invest in for your portfolio. You can even invest using ETFs such as VTI.

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 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 need to have a good amount of retirement savings to 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 provides us with enough money to coast until we hit retirement. This is enough money to retire and take on some small job. 

When growing up, I had a job as a camp counselor. I loved living outdoors, having fun with kids, eating free food, and enjoying 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. 

As a teacher, I make some excellent 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 allows us 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. So many people dream about it, 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 does help this out a bit, but it is always better to have some 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

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

If you are working part-time, you can 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. Many 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 looking for Barista FIRE, you need to have a sound financial plan. You have to be able to make these things happen. 

You will need to:

  1. Make extra money
  2. Keep a reasonable savings rate
  3. Make sure to have some 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 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. Full retirement may be far for a lot of us, but having good financial planning will allow us to operate on our own time. 

You need to have a savings plan to cover some of the cost of living you may endure in your future retirement. Every month, make sure that your sources of income can cover you for retirement. These side hustles will help give you financial security. 

What do you think? Would you do Barista FIRE?

13 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.

  6. Question for barista fire I’ve been trying to figure out and would love anyone’s insight on. So say I would like to drop to 24 hours a week at my current job, which gives me health benefits. I’d only need to withdraw like 7-9k a year at that point (guessing I’d start this in 8 years around 40 maybe even sooner).
    But then at age 62 I’d want to full fire. I’d only need 20k from my portfolio from then on (due to paid off mortgage by then and I do assume some social security, but I’m overall happy to be in the “leanfire” camp)… but I’m wondering if that super small barista fire number I calculate, 220k ish, is enough or should I try to pick a number somewhere inbetween if that makes sense…. THANKS


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