There’s no “right” way to achieve FIRE – multiple paths to FIRE

Growing up my brother and I played a lot of StarCraft. We battled against bots to practice our StarCraft game skills. Since human players and AI’s behave differently, we would often battle with other human players on to get different gaming experience. To this date, I believe StarCraft really helped the both us on developing our fast keyboard typing and real-time critical thinking skills.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with StarCraft, it is a real-time strategy game by Blizzard that came out in 1998 (wow almost 20 years ago!). StarCraft is somewhat similar to Blizzard’s other game franchise, Warcraft, except there are 3 races. The 3 races, Terrane, Zerg, and Protoss all have very different and unique military units. Although the races were slightly imbalanced when StarCraft was first released, the subsequent patches and expansion pack balanced the three races. This means that you can always win with one of these races, and no one race has key advantages over the other two.

To achieve victory, your end goal is to eliminate all of your opponents. To do that, you need to produce units and destroy your opponents’ buildings. Although there is only one end goal, there are many different ways to achieve victory.

And that is the beauty of StarCraft and why the game was so popular.


The different StarCraft strategies

There are so many different strategies you can utilize when playing StarCraft. The strategy may different depending how many players you are playing against, and what race(s) you are playing against. Your strategy may also change if you are playing on a team.

One strategy to achieve victory is develop a large amount of military units as early as possible and attack your opponent early in the game.

Protoss vs. Terrane battle

Another strategy is to defend yourself from early attacks, then counter attack later once your opponent has depleted his or her military units. This is especially popular when you are playing as Terrane.

Another strategy is to develop more advanced military units, like tanks, or aircraft units to beat less advanced military units that your opponent may have.

Another strategy is to expand quickly so you can  gather more natural resources, allowing you to produce units and advance technology quicker.

Another strategy is to do surprise attacks by dropping attacking units at your opponent’s base to delay your opponent’s resource gathering. No resource = no units = defeat.

Attacking resource gathering units

These are just a few of the strategies I can remember. You aren’t limited to only one strategy during the game. In fact, you can deploy different strategies throughout the game.

As a young boy growing up, my brother and I were so hooked on StarCraft we would often play the game for hours each day.

Blizzard just recently made StarCraft available for free download. So the last few weeks I have been playing StarCraft against bots when I have some alone time.

Oddly enough, the more I played StarCraft games, the more I see similarities between achieving victory in a StarCraft game and achieving Financial Independence/Retire Early.


There’s no “right” way to achieve FIRE – multiple paths to FIRE

With StarCraft, there is no “one” right strategy to allow you to achieve victory. You can deploy different strategies depending on who you are playing against, which race(s) you are playing against, and whether you are playing on a team or not.

Similarly, with Financial Independence/Retire Early (FIRE), there’s no “right” way to achieve FIRE. There are multiple paths to FIRE.

  • Some people focus on cutting expands to increase their savings rate.
  • Some people focus on increasing income to increase their savings rate.
  • Some people focus on investing in index ETFs and use 4% withdrawal strategy during FIRE.
  • Some people focus on investing in dividend growth stocks and use dividend income to cover their expanses.
  • Some people focus on investing rental properties and use rental income to cover their expenses.
  • Some people focus on other passive income streams.

There is no right way or wrong way to achieve FIRE. The end goal is to have sufficient passive income that is equal or greater than your expanses. The key is having sufficient passive income to last whatever number of years you will be in FIRE.

With StarCraft, it doesn’t matter which strategy you deploy to achieve game victory. You may start the game with one strategy in mind but you may end up adopting different strategies depending on how the game goes.

Similarly, it doesn’t matter which path you take to achieve FIRE. You may start by cutting your expanses, then realizing that you’re depriving yourself. So you move to finding the right personal balance between sending and saving. You may start by investing in index fund with the idea of deploying 4% withdrawal strategy to produce sufficient passive income. Investing in index fund doesn’t limit you from investing in dividend growth stocks, or getting into other investments to diversify your passive income stream.

For both a StarCraft game victory and reaching FIRE, the key is to be flexible and able to adopt different strategies/paths along the way.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which path you take to achieve FIRE. What matters is whether you get there or not.


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13 thoughts on “There’s no “right” way to achieve FIRE – multiple paths to FIRE”

  1. Hey Tawcan

    Well that took me down memory lane – I played Starcraft when it was first released and whilst I enjoyed it, I recall that after a while, I just couldn’t complete (I think I stopped playing before the expansions). The strategy I recall is that of building up resources, which always seemed to take a longer time than some of the other tactics.

    All our journeys are personal and different, different situations and scenarios, doing different things to get to the end goal.

    I might check out the free download (it’s been around a year since I stopped gaming) – hopefully, I won’t get sucked in too much!

  2. Ha, no doubt! We have gone through at least 5 iterations of what FIRE would look like to us. Even renaming our version Fully Funded Lifetyle Change (FFLC) when we realized one of us probably wouldn’t fully retire for a while. There is something kind of unsettling about the plan being so fluid, but at the same time, I like that it’s so fluid because it accounts for so many variables and unknowns.

    I’m sure in another year, there will even be another iteration out there for us. Maybe just some minor tweaking but it will still be a slightly different strategy from what we’re planning today. 🙂

    • Wow 5 iterations, that’s crazy! But I bet each iteration is better than the previous one and you are more prepared about FIRE. We all need to be fluid when it comes to how to reach FIRE and what our plans are after reaching FIRE.

  3. People are a little weird about insisting you do it the way they did, as if that gives them some re-assurance for their own choices. There are an infinite ways to be successful, some are just more statistically likely to lead to success than others. The path to FIRE can be lottery tickets, just probably won’t be 🙂

  4. I think of it kind of like dieting. There are lots of diets that CAN work to lose weight, but the one that WILL work is one that you can stick with long term. It might take longer/shorter to achieve the same goal, but if you jump from one strategy to another, chances are you won’t get there at all.

  5. As long as you are diversified I agree, there is no one set strategy to reaching financial freedom. I do take some issue with people relying solely on real estate though, particularly if it’s real estate in one town/city.

    • I don’t think there’s a problem with relying solely on real estate though. That’s no different than relying soley on index ETFs. (OK you may argue that index ETFs are way more diversified). Real estate in one town/city may and may not be a good idea, it really depends on the scenario.

  6. I agree with you Tawcan. There is more than one road to Rome.

    Unfortunatey, I am constantly being told that I am doing it all wrong by investing in dividend growth stocks, despite the fact that my forward dividend income is enough to cover my expenses after a decade of saving and investing.

    I am told I should have just indexed, and relied on the 4% rule instead.

    Unfortunately, if I had relied on index funds, I would have been told to focus on international stocks, which haven’t really done so well over the past 20 years (relative to US ones). And I would have been behind my goals by a few years.

    Good luck in your investing journey!


    • It’s hard to believe that so many people have told you that you’ve been doing it all wrong. There is more than one road to FI. You have to do what you’re comfortable with.

      • It’s typical group-think stuff. One person gets successful and says “this is the way to do it”. Most of the followers are going to “ape” that initial success, and criticize other paths as being “wrong”.

        It’s the difference between critical thought and simple imitation.

        There’s absolutely nothing wrong with dividend stocks DGI! I happen to own quite a few myself, and in some cases they’ve more than outperformed the market.


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