Playing With Fire cover image

Playing With Fire

Matt Trask • March 23, 2019

Read Time: 3 mins

fire personal finance books

The image I chose for this post serves as a reminder for what awaits when I hit my goals. It's an image from Holi, a celebration of light in India that takes place in March. The celebration recognizes the emergence of spring and the end of winter. One of my goals is to make it over there for the celebration. I'm not a religious person but this celebration just fascinates me. If you want to see more, there is a Netflix series called "Tales by Light" that follows photographers around. One episode follows a photographer as he wades through the crowds of Holi and it's amazing.

I bring this up because a few weeks ago I finished the book "Playing With Fire" by Scott Rieckens. It follows Scott, his wife and daughter on a journey from living paycheck to paycheck in high power careers to reworking everything to live on less than half of what they usually spend a month and being financially independent. Its a quick read, the chapters are short but entrancing. I bought it right before my flight up to Minneapolis for Midwest PHP and I had it finished on the flight back to Nashville days later. If I wasn't socializing or working on my talks, I was reading this book.

To give you an idea of how the story goes: Scott and his wife went from driving a new car year after year, having a yacht club membership, going to dinner with friends at expensive restaurants every week to finding a used but efficient car, giving up the membership and entertaining friends at home with wine and home cooked meals. The story follows their decision making and does a great job grappling with what a lot of people struggle with: how much is too much to slash away. With the Financial Independence/Retire Early community there are various levels of frugality and morality. Some people take it to the extreme, giving up just about everything deemed excessive while others weigh what matters most for them. What Scott figures out early on is the things that bring them the most happiness aren't material things but experiences. I did an exercise last week to determine what really brings me happiness. Things on my list were:

Now, there are start up costs involved, but after that Im good to go. For photography you don't need the most amazing camera and lens, you just need an eye for composition. For cycling, a carbon frame will be super light weight and awesome, but unless you are about to ride in the Tour De France and climb the Pyrenees, you don't really need it. You can get by with a used hybrid and just ride.

What I liked most about the book though is Scott didn't hide his struggles with their journey. There were times the family came close to calling it and as the cliche goes, found a spark that renewed their drive. Might it be getting connected with people who have already made the journey like Brandon from MadFientist, Pete from Mr. Money Mustache, or JL Collins who wrote one of my favorite books "The Simple Path to Wealth". The book is honest and refreshing from the typical FIRE blogs where people slash and burn everythig for a singular goal. They talk about giving and taking in the journey. Early on, Scott's wife Taylor was hesitant but opened up and started to get on board with one caveat: she would not give up nice chocolate and wine. Super relatable to everyone. As I push on with my journey to getting to financial indepedence, I look around and realize that good coffee and good whiskey are two things I want to enjoy. I'm fine giving up other things, but coffee and whiskey are two things that I want to enjoy the finer parts of.

I highly recommend this book, its a great look at a tough journey written with a lot of humility and honesty. Pick it up today and you will have it finished by Monday. If you do, let me know your thoughts!