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Barista FIRE: Everything You Need To Know

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BaristaFIRE is one of several types of Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE).  Barista FIRE is defined as having enough money to retire early while using a part-time job for additional income and health insurance.

Let’s explore BaristaFIRE as an alternative route to regular financial independence retire early (FIRE) and see if it’s right for you.


What is Barista FIRE?

Barista FIRE is when you aim to retire early with enough money invested that the 4% rule covers a part of your yearly expenses.  You would then switch to a part-time job to provide you with health insurance and cover the additional expenses.

Barista FIRE got its name because Starbucks offers healthcare for their part-time employees.  So, many people saw that as an opportunity to switch to a part-time role, while still keeping their health insurance.

This type of FIRE appeals to many people because you don’t have to save up as much money.  BaristaFIRE allows you to switch to a part-time job much earlier and not wait until you have accumulated 25 times your yearly expenses.


How Barista FIRE Works

Barista FIRE works by saving enough money to cover a part of your yearly expenses but not all of it.  If you are pursuing traditional FIRE and you have yearly expenses of $40,000/year, then you would have to save $1 million.  This is based on calculating your Traditional FIRE Number:

FIRE Number = 25 x (Yearly Expenses)

However, for BaristaFIRE you wouldn’t have to wait until you reach $1 million.  You can save $250,000, which will give you $10,000/year based on the 4% rule.  Then find a part-time job that pays $30,000/year to cover the remaining expenses and gives you health insurance. 

Ideally, this part-time job would be one you enjoy and lead to a happier lifestyle.  One where you work less and have more time for family, friends, and adventures.  That is the appeal of BaristaFIRE.


Calculate Your Barista FIRE Number

To calculate your Barista FIRE number or the amount, you can use a regular FIRE calculator.  My FIRE calculator shows your progress year by year, so you can easily use it to find out your Barista FIRE number.


Download A Free FIRE Calculator!


How To Find Your Barista FIRE Number:

  1. Input Yearly Expenses
  2. Calculate FIRE Number
  3. Estimate Salary From Part-Time (PT) Job
  4. Subtract (Yearly Expenses – PT Salary)
  5. Barista FIRE Number = 25 x (Supplemental Income Needed)


Since the FIRE calculator shows your progress you can easily identify how long it will take you to reach your BaristaFIRE amount.  It should be much faster than regular FIRE, but it will be dependent on your part-time job salary.  

Here is an example using the scenario from above:

Barista FIRE Calculation

Annual Expenses = $40,000, Part-Time Job Salary = $30,000

FIRE Number = 25 x (Yearly Expenses)

$1 Million = 25 x ($40,000)

Therefore, using my FIRE Calculator, it would take 16 years to achieve Traditional FIRE.  

However, that same person would reach BaristaFIRE in 6 years.  That is a full 10 years before Traditional FIRE.

Barista FIRE Number = 25 x (Supplemental Income Needed)

$250,000 = 25 x ($40,000 – $30,000)


 Benefits of Barista FIRE

  • Freedom To Switch Jobs
  • Health Insurance For You & Your Family
  • Keeps You Engaged 

BaristaFIRE gives you the freedom to switch to another job or part-time work much quicker than traditional FIRE.  If you are miserable at work, then pursuing BaristaFIRE can help you live a happier lifestyle much sooner.

BaristaFIRE also takes care of an Achilles heel issue for the FIRE movement, healthcare.  It’s no secret healthcare is expensive and factoring in health insurance premium costs can further delay financial independence.  

By working part-time for a company that offers health insurance to part-time employees, you can pass on the costs of health insurance to your employer.

Lastly, by staying in the workforce, BaristaFIRE appeals to those who don’t want a fully retired lifestyle.  Perhaps, you enjoy working at your job, just not for 40 hours a week. It’s also possible you could get bored shortly after your early retirement.  

If switching to part-time appeals more to you than completely retiring, then BaristaFIRE might be the right FIRE path for you.  In this case, you should strongly consider BaristaFIRE.  

The good news is you can always change your mind later and pursue traditional FIRE.  Regardless, it’s important to think about this early on in your journey and make adjustments as needed.  


Different Types Of FIRE

The Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) movement is growing and now has many types of FIRE.  Here are the different types of FIRE in order from easiest to hardest to achieve: 

  • Coast FIRE (CoastFIRE) is accumulating enough money to stop contributing and still reach FIRE in the future
  • Barista FIRE (BaristaFIRE) is having enough money to retire early, while still working a part-time job for additional income and health insurance
  • Lean FIRE (LeanFIRE) is the minimalist way of reaching FIRE and means retiring with a “lean” budget
  • Traditional FIRE is accumulating 25 times your annual expenses and retiring early using the 4% rule
  • Fat FIRE (FatFIRE) is early retirement without embracing frugality and choosing to accumulate a bigger nest egg

Each type of FIRE has its pros and cons and comes down to balancing money and work.  Having these options for FIRE gives us options to pursue the type that best matches our lifestyle goals.

I created a helpful illustration to help you remember the different types of FIRE:

5 Types Of FIRE Graphic

Negatives of Barista FIRE

A clear negative of Barista FIRE is the need to continue working and depending on an employer for income.  BaristaFIRE is not for those who do not want to answer to anyone or want to design a self-reliant lifestyle.

Barista FIRE also depends on sticking to a budget and embracing some form of frugality.  If you prefer to live budget-free or anticipate increased expenses in the future, BaristaFIRE might not be the best option.


Best Jobs For Barista FIRE

The inception of “Barista” FIRE came from the idea of working at Starbucks because they offered corporate health coverage for part-time employees.  Yet, the best Barista FIRE jobs rarely involve working at a coffee shop. Starbucks might have given Barista FIRE its name, but it isn’t the only place that provides health insurance as a part-time worker.

Here are some companies that offer health insurance to part-time employees:

  • Starbucks
  • Whole Foods
  • United States Parcel (UPS)
  • Costco
  • Lowe’s
  • Staples

However, the best job for Barista FIRE is any part-time job you enjoy doing that covers your expenses and gives you health insurance.  


So if you enjoy your current job then the best Barista FIRE job might be the one you already have! 

Achieving BaristaFIRE by switching from full-time to part-time might be the best option.  You can still enjoy the same lifestyle and health insurance and declare you’ve reached Barista FIRE.


If you loved this concept, you might be interested in reading The 4 Types Of Wealth, it explains how wealth is more than money in the bank.


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This information is my opinion and is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.