FatFIRE: What Is It and How Is It Related to ‘Quiet Quitting’?

Rachel Curry - Author
By

Sep. 19 2022, Published 11:18 a.m. ET

Quiet quitting isn’t yesterday’s news, but a new movement is gaining ground. Enter: FatFIRE, a play on the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) trend — and an antidote to quiet quitting.

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Here’s FatFIRE explained, how it works, and why it isn’t possible for all kinds of people and the workplaces they inhabit.

What is the FatFIRE movement?

To understand the FatFIRE movement, you must first understand the FIRE movement.

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The FIRE movement began in 1992 amid the publication of a book called Your Money, Your Life by Joseph R. Dominguez and Vicki Robin. After the Great Recession in 2008, disenfranchised young workers reignited FIRE as a way to take control of their personal finances despite broader economic instability.

The main element of FIRE for personal finance is saving the majority of your income so you can live off of small withdrawals from your saved retirement funds for the remainder of your life. Smart investing also plays a key role in the FIRE process.

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FatFIRE is a more stringent form of FIRE. FatFIRE involves working at a job and stashing as much money away as possible, taking advantage of all matches, stock options, bonuses, and other monetary compensations outside of the base salary. The focus is on high earnings, heavy investments, and a comfortable (or even luxurious) standard of living. You “retire with a fat stash” so you can maintain the upscale living standard that your high income and aggressive investment strategy has rewarded you.

According to the r/FatFIRE subreddit, “Unlike FIRE (and leanFIRE in particular), FatFIRE is typically achieved through high incomes rather than minimalism or extreme frugality.”

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Is FatFIRE the quiet quitting killer?

FatFIRE is very different from quiet quitting, but how?

Quiet quitting is the notion of people doing exactly what they’re required to do at work and nothing more (allowing them a better work-life balance and keeping them from being taken advantage of). The practice has gained popularity, especially among Gen Z and millennial workers, amid increased distrust of corporations in the wake of the status-quo-shattering COVID-19 pandemic.

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FatFIRE practically takes this idea and shoves it. Instead of shaving off your output for a potentially plateaued financial outcome, it milks jobs for all they’ve got. It stockpiles some of the money and multiplies the rest through strategic, lucrative investments. And it doesn't compromise spending while doing it.

FatFIRE doesn’t work for everyone — here's why.

Quiet quitting came about because of the plethora of workplaces that didn't keep up with promises of upward mobility and monetary rewards. Many bosses expected people to absorb roles or take on new titles with no pay increases. Just look at @saraisthreads on TikTok, who has become popular acting as a modern worker with firm boundaries and an understanding that 9–5 has a hard stop.

FatFIRE may not fit for people who work for companies that are interested in taking advantage of them if given the opportunity. However, it does have a positive impact for those with the right kinds of jobs to feed the FatFIRE equation.

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