Why You Should Volunteer After Reaching Financial Freedom

The post Why You Should Volunteer After Reaching Financial Freedom appeared first on Millennial Money.

The quote “Retire to something and not from something” is often shared among the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement. I have met some fantastic people in my FIRE journey who are doing incredible things. Their generosity in helping others is on a level I had not seen before my journey. Their knowledge and passion for helping others have been an inspirational focus for my path.

My goal in sharing my knowledge and passion is that you will be connected to some of these amazing people that I have found. I also hope that those who are seeking purpose and connection post FIRE find some ideas of what to expect after reaching financial independence. 

Why is this a goal for me? Because my knowledge comes from the FIRE community. Along with the FIRE community, I am also active in the Bogleheads community. If you’re not familiar with Bogleheads, they are a community that discusses investing, asset allocation, and index funds. Whereas FIRE encompasses the journey, Bogleheads narrow it down and focus on math and analysis. Boglehead members volunteer their time and are not paid. Local meetups are free. 

Many of the local Bogleheads I’ve met who retired or took early retirement volunteer outside Boglehead meetups as well. Some volunteer for non-profit organizations, assist with community activities, or spend more time outside meetups helping other members. Those with a passion for FIRE often volunteer their time to help others on their FIRE journey. 

Why Members of the FIRE Movement Are Volunteering

Some of us self-proclaimed “finance nerds” just can’t get enough of talking about money and helping others with their money questions. More FIRE and personal finance conferences are being created each year. These conferences run on volunteering. 

Others feel that when they have enough money and time they want to give back. Because their time is more valuable than money at that point, they want to share it with causes dear to them.

What Makes Members of the FIRE Movement Ideally Suited to Volunteering?

Some in the FIRE community may feel obligated to volunteer their time. I’ve talked about paying it forward through my time in Boy Scouts. Others volunteer in their local community for political and social reasons. They wish to see a change and progress in their community. 

Vicki Robin, the author of Your Money or Your Life, says that altruistic behavior should be a goal after achieving financial independence. She also says she hopes that those who retire early use their skills and expertise to help solve world problems. 

What Are the Benefits of Volunteering After FIRE?

For those who want to change the world and help others, volunteering is a start. Many in the FIRE community share the quote “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

I’ve talked to a few friends who are close to achieving their financial goals but ask me about finding their purpose in early retirement. For some, that purpose can be spending more time with their school-aged children, local politics, philanthropy, religious and mission volunteering, helping with large-scale conferences, community building, and more. 

What Types of Volunteer Positions Are Often Taken by Members of the FIRE Movement?

  • Political and social
  • Donations
  • Financial literacy and education
  • Chaperoning or assisting at their children’s school
  • Assisting with conferences
  • Mission work
  • Community building

My friend Miranda Marquit is very active in her local community politics. Jackie Cummings Koski, the author of Money Letters 2 My Daughter, helps build financial literacy for underserved communities using her recently acquired master’s degree. Brad Barrett of ChooseFI mentions often how he volunteers at his children’s school. 

Josh Overmyer volunteers at many personal finance conferences and events throughout the year. Justin Taylor of The FI Show used the benefits of the FIRE movement to pursue mission work. Tami Mitchell, @disabledgirlfi on Twitter, builds her community through volunteering to run buy nothing groups, giveaways, medicine collections, and more. 

These are just a few examples of the people I’ve encountered volunteering on my FIRE journey. 

The FIRE community is doing many amazing things before and after achieving FIRE. You don’t even have to reach FIRE before volunteering! I’m learning some employers will donate on your behalf if you volunteer a set number of hours each year. 

Importance of Giving Back After FIRE

As I mentioned before, I don’t give back. I’ve been taught to pay forward. I’ve also heard others in the FIRE community use the phrase. Whether you want to give back or pay forward, kindness makes the world go around. Yes, it’s cheesy and cliche, but it’s also true. The U.S. and other parts of the world are suffering from a political divide and mass animosity toward others. Positivity breeds positivity. 

Why Is It Important to Find Volunteering Opportunities After FIRE?

Retire to something, not from something. That could include volunteering. The FIRE community is generous. For some, the why of FIRE is to give to others or because they want to be generous. Perhaps they want to volunteer their time to causes they believe in. 

How Can Members of the FIRE Movement Benefit Their Communities by Volunteering?

Ashley, @cursivea on Twitter, shared with me that she volunteers for events that last up to six weeks long. Thanks to the FIRE movement, having a high savings rate, and leveraging remote work, she can volunteer for entire events. Having a volunteer who can stay for an entire six-week event helps the event run smoothly and means that she can cover someone else who may need to go back to work. 

Volunteering at such a large event, Ashley cannot only relieve others, but cook for others as well. She mentioned teams working in eight-hour shifts and her helping to coordinate meals and cook for more than 150 people. Thanks to the FIRE movement and leveraging her skills, Ashley can help run these large events over the long time frame needed for success. 

How Can Volunteering After FIRE Help You Learn New Skills?

Want to learn more about event coordination, public speaking, teaching, or a similar skill? Many opportunities exist in the FIRE community. Stephen Baughier uses his time after his FIRE journey to host CampFI and run for local office in his community. CampFI is a weekend-long summer camp with volunteers presenting on different FIRE topics. 

CampFI isn’t your only event to volunteer at post FI. There’s also Camp Mustache, FinCon, EconoMe, and others. My friend and FI superfan Josh Overmyer was a volunteer at Econome as well as other events throughout the year. 

Stephen Baughier’s twin brother David uses his skills to create a course for those new to financial independence. Fiology offers free FIRE lessons via email as well as other resources. 

How to Find Volunteer Positions After FIRE

Almost any nonprofit organization is willing to receive help. Check with nonprofit organizations you wish to volunteer with and see what is available. Try looking at Facebook groups for hobbies that interest you or causes close to you. 

Many local FIRE groups are often looking for volunteers to speak on topics during their meetings. Having an expert on a topic come in and share their knowledge is priceless. I’ve been in several local groups where those who have achieved FIRE have come in and spoken on different topics. Some topics haven’t been specifically FIRE-focused, like homesteading and meal prepping. 

Other places to look for volunteer opportunities are local schools, religious institutions, youth organizations, local political organizations, and more. Find where you want to spend your time, and there are most likely opportunities available for volunteers. 

Looking for more ideas? Here are 73 community service project ideas to inspire you. 

What Should You Look For in a Volunteer Position?

What are you looking to get out of volunteering? Do you want to dedicate a few hours a week or month? Do you want to make a difference? Do you want to build something? Would you rather share your knowledge? 

Knowing what you’re looking for is helpful when looking for opportunities. Knowing what you’re not looking for is just as important. Volunteermatch.org has a great guide to start volunteering

What Should You Consider When Choosing a Volunteer Position?

If you’re volunteering for an organization, make sure their mission is something you align with. Don’t volunteer for a position in an organization that goes against your religious or moral ethics.

What Should You Avoid When Choosing a Volunteer Position?

Unless you are donating, avoid any position that has a direct cost. Watch for any other red flags that you may see when looking at volunteering opportunities. 

Some volunteer positions may request or recommend you provide your own tools or equipment. Avoid those positions that require you to buy equipment for the organization and keep them. 

Also, avoid anything that you may not want to do. If volunteering seems like a chore or obligation, that position may not be right for you. 

Tips for Volunteering After FIRE

  • Find what fits your lifestyle, values, and beliefs
  • Enjoy your time; have fun with it
  • Search for opportunities that interest and challenge you
  • Create a volunteer resume 
  • Follow your passions

Frequently Asked Questions

How Should You Determine How Much Time to Commit to Volunteer Roles After FIRE?

When you don’t have to work for money or leverage your work around your schedule, you can have financial freedom. With this freedom, you can determine how much or how little time you want to spend volunteering. When you reach FIRE and don’t have to work for money, your time is yours to determine how you want to spend it. 

What Are the Benefits of Taking Different Volunteer Positions After FIRE?

It’s OK to be selfish for the benefit of volunteering. Who says you can’t do something you enjoy and help others in the process? 

You could learn new skills, enjoy the outdoors, and maybe even travel somewhere you’ve never been before. There’s also the possibility of networking, meeting new friends, and having new experiences. 

How Can You Find Volunteer Positions in Your Area of Expertise?

Try searching Facebook or other online and social media groups for your area of expertise. Try asking former (or current) coworkers. Try umbrella organizations like United Way or AmeriCorps. 

You can also look at companies you worked for — or their competitors — and see how they give back to the community locally. There may be organizations to offer their expertise. Ask around if anyone could use your expertise.

The Bottom Line

Most in the FIRE community enjoy volunteering and giving back to their community. There are many benefits to volunteering and that’s part of why it is important to those who want to obtain FIRE or FI. 

The FIRE community understands that when you have enough, giving back is important. Why you feel giving back is important may differ from others on their FIRE journey. Why giving back is important to you can be as unique as your path to FIRE. 

There are multiple ways online and offline to find volunteer opportunities. Ask around! Whether online or offline, some groups and organizations could always use your help. You can always volunteer around in the FIRE community, your local community, or other local entities. 

The best part of volunteering when reaching FIRE, or working toward it, is that you can pick how much time you volunteer. You can also get the benefits you want. You can learn new skills, take a break from your daily routine, or just pay it forward. 

The post Why You Should Volunteer After Reaching Financial Freedom appeared first on Millennial Money.