If you are here, you are probably already familiar with the FIRE movement, which stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early.
Barista Fire is a type of FIRE, but with the goal of retiring early from your job even if you don't have enough money to do so. The assumption is that you have saved up some money, just not enough to enter into full retirement.
How do you fill the gap? You work at a lower-paying, lower-stress job (e.g., like a job as a barista) to supplement the income you make from your investments.
It’s a cool approach to early retirement, especially if you hate your job and can't imagine working for another 20 years until you can save enough to fully retire. Instead of retiring in 20 years using regular FIRE, with Barista Fire you might be able to do it in 10.
But if there are ways to get to early retirement even faster, why not do it?
That’s going to be the focus of this article. We have put together 5 ways to achieve Barista Fire fast.
They all center around investing your existing money in assets that generate outsized returns, but are still passive enough that you can enjoy a relaxing early retirement. The five strategies are as follows:
- Buy a Profitable and Passive Blog
- Buy a FedEx Route for Passive Income
- Purchase a Passive Income Laundromat
- Buy Vending Machines
- Rent Out Cars
We’ll cover each of these strategies in detail below, but let’s start by answering some introductory questions about Barista Fire. Want to skip the introductory stuff and jump ahead to the 5 strategies? Just click here.
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The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy or invest, and it is not financial, investment, legal, or tax advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any investment or other decisions relating to the topics covered by this article. All investments carry some degree of risk and you are never guaranteed any returns.
What Is Barista Fire?
Barista Fire is a variant of the FIRE movement where you “retire early” by quitting your higher-paying (and presumably stressful) job and working at a lower-paying but easier job (e.g., coffee shop barista). You bridge the income gap by withdrawing from your accumulated savings each month.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you are 25 years old and make $40,000 per year. Your living expenses are $30,000. After paying taxes and all of your living costs, you can save $500 per month.
By the time you are 40, you would have socked away a little over $100,000 if you earned a 7% return per year. If you withdraw 4% (which is considered the safe withdrawal rate by many financial planners) from that $150,000 each year, you would have $6,000 to spend.
Because of that extra $6,000 you only need to generate $24,000 from your job to cover your living expenses. According to ZipRecruiter, the national average income for baristas is $24,052 per year, so I guess that works out nicely.
The bottom line is that you can quit your current job at age 40 and transition to something less soul-sucking.
Note: You might need to bring in a little more than $24,000 per year because of taxes on your wages, but I think you get the point.
Obviously, you don’t have to be a barista – I just used that job for the example. There are plenty of low-stress jobs out there that you can explore.
How Much Money Do You Need For Barista Fire?
You need far less money for Barista Fire than for regular FIRE. FIRE requires $1 million if you want to retire on an income of $40k (under the 4% rule). Using that same 4% rule, you only need $400k to generate a $40k income because you can get around 24k of that $40k from your “barista” job.
Making your money generate $16,000 is way easier than making it generate $40,000, which is why Barista Fire can dramatically accelerate your early retirement.
Of course, this is assuming you want $40,000 of income in retirement. The amount of money you will need for Barista Fire will change if this number changes (or the amount you make at your “barista” job changes).
I would also note that if you quit your current job and transition to a “barista” type job, you may need to get your own health insurance, which can cost more than your current health insurance.
That's why some people who Barista FIRE have spouses who continue to work at their regular job. It allows them to continue to take advantage of employer-provided health insurance and other benefits.
How Do I Barista Fire Fast?
Ok, this is the secret sauce, the ninja stuff.
Up until now, we have based all of our assumptions on the 4% rule. Personally, I think there’s a better way. What if you could invest in assets that generate far more than 4%? I am talking about cash flow rates of 20% or more with relative consistency?
Definitional detour: “Cash flow” is simply how much money a given investment provides after accounting for operating expenses It's the money that's left over as profit after you pay for everything. When I talk about cash flow rates, I mean how much the cash flow is as a percentage of your investment amount (e.g., if you buy an investment for $100,000 and it has cash flow of $20,000 per year, it has a cash flow rate of 20%)
Let's stay with our example of needing $16,000 in extra income to achieve Barista Fire. With a 20% cash flow, you would need $80,000 instead of $400,000 to generate the needed $16,000 in additional income to Barista Fire. That’s a difference of $320,000. How long would it take you to save $320,000? For most people, you are talking at least a decade.
That‘s a lot of extra years to work at a high stress job.
So what are these high cash flow investments? Here is a list of 5 options that can each generate over 20% cash flow rates in passive (or mostly passive) income.
Buy a Profitable and Passive Blog
Blogs are probably my favorite high-yielding passive income investment. The strategy is simple:
Buy an existing money-making blog and collect checks.
Starting a blog is hard work and it can take a long time to make money. I am not talking about that. You want to buy a blog that has all of the articles written and is producing steady income. Doing this can be a perfect way to get passive income that produces killer cash flow.
How good is the potential cash flow? Based on some real-life examples I pulled from blogs that were for sale on Empire Flippers (a leading website for buying and selling online businesses), you are looking at an average cash flow rate of 28.3%.
The bottom line: Based on that cash flow rate, you would only need to invest $56,537 to generate $16,000 in income.
Barista Fire doesn’t seem so far away anymore, right?
Want to learn more about buying a blog, including some of the key risks you need to address? Check out my article here:
If you prefer to start your own blog and not shell out the money to buy one, check out my step by step guide to passive income blogging. It covers how to set up your website, position it for success, and structure it for passive income.
Buy a FedEx Route for Passive Income
Did you know that you could buy a FedEx delivery route?
It can be a highly profitable business and, if you structure it right, it can generate passive income that can exceed a 20% cash flow rate.
The business is very simple. You get a bunch of packages from FedEx each morning. Your job is to deliver those packages to locations within your territory. The great thing is that your discrete little piece of the FedEx delivery process is easily outsourced.
In fact, most owners do this.
They usually own many routes, so they are not driving a truck and making deliveries. They hire drivers and put in place managers that oversee the deliveries. Once you have good managers and reliable drivers in place, the day-to-day operations of this business can be run without your involvement.
If you want to learn more about this business, check out my beginner’s guide to owning FedEx routes for passive income.
So how good are the returns of a FedEx delivery business?
I took a sample of ten FedEx routes for sale in bizbuysell.com (one of the leading online sites for buying and selling businesses) and found an average cash flow rate of 26.1%.
Bottom Line: With that type of cash flow rate, you would need only $61,302 to generate $16,000 in income. You can’t really find FedEx routes at that price point, so I would put 60k as a down payment and buy a $300k FedEx route business using financing. Your cash flow rate may be better and you can control multiple routes that can generate great income for you (especially after the loan is paid off).
What I love about this option is that you get to partner with a massive company like FedEx and receive all of the benefits of their branding, marketing, and infrastructure.
You don’t need to worry about getting customers, fighting off competition, or really anything else that most business owners stress over. All you need to do is make sure the deliveries get done on time every day.
Purchase a Passive Income Laundromat
Laundromats can yield cash flow rates that easily clear 20%. On top of that, they can be operated in a mostly passive way.
After all, the machines are doing the hard work of washing and drying the clothes (with your customers doing the work of loading and unloading the clothes).
The process is mostly automated, but not completely. There are things you will need to do to successfully run this business as an absentee owner. If you want to learn how to do this, check out my article about starting a laundromat in six easy steps.
So what type of ROI can you get from laundromats? According to my sampling of 10 laundromat businesses on bizbuysell.com, you can generate average cash flow rates of 29.6%.
Bottom Line: With that type of cash flow rate, you would only need $54,054 to generate $16,000 in income. You can find laundromats that are that cheap, but a better option may be to use that money as a down payment to buy a higher-quality laundromat with financing. Your can cash flow rate may be even higher and you will have a much better asset.
Buy Vending Machines
A vending machine can be a great passive income source that produces very strong cash flow.
You just place it in a high-traffic location and make money every time someone buys something from your machine. The cost to get started varies, with a simple gumball machine costing only around $200 to a more expensive vending machine running between $3,000 to $5,000.
Still, that’s far less expensive than buying an entire business and it’s a terrific way to start generating some stellar cash flow.
The only part of this that requires some work is restocking and collecting money from the machine, but you can easily outsource this function.
For more details on this business, check out my beginner’s guide on how to start a vending machine route for passive income.
How strong is the cash flow for vending machines? Based on my sampling of ten vending machine businesses on bizbuysell.com, I found the average cash flow rate to be 49.2%!
Bottom Line: With that type of cash flow rate, you will only need $32,520 to generate $16,000 in income.
Now, you should temper your expectations here because most of these routes are likely operated by the owner. If you want a more passive income source, you will have to hire a route runner to take care of the routes. Of course, in that case, the cash flows will go down, but you should still have a lot of room to play with.
Another strategy is buying ATM Machines. They are conceptually similar and can have comparable or even better cash flow rates. if you want to learn more, check out my step-by-step guide to starting an ATM business.
Rent Out Cars
This is a pretty cool one.
You can rent out your car on Turo.com and make great passive income. One option is to use your existing car and rent it out when you don’t need it (perhaps on the weekends). In that case, your rate of return is basically infinite.
But you can also buy a car just for this purpose and rent it out. This a legitimate business model and there are people who own fleets of cars and rent them out through Turo.
So what type of cash flow can you generate doing this? Let’s find out.
Turo has a tool called the Carculator, which allows you to type in the year, make, and model of your car. The Carculator will then give you an estimate of how much you can make renting out that car on Turo. I love these types of tools because they give you amazing data!
I typed in a 2017 Toyota Prius Three Touring and the Carculator indicated that I could earn $388 per month.
That works out to $4,656 per year.
I then hopped onto cargurus and searched for a Toyota with that same year and model. They all seemed to hover around the $19,000 range. So if you take $4,656 and divide it by $19,000, you get a potential cash flow rate of 24.5%.
Now I just randomly typed in a year, make and model for this example. But you may want to play around with the Carculator and type in different car models to see what you can earn. I have no doubt that you can find car models that can generate better cash flow
Bottom Line: With a cash flow rate of 24.5%, you would only need $71,837 to generate $16,000 in income.
So there you have it. A guide to Barista Fire and six great ways to get there faster.
If you want to learn more great strategies for earning 20% (or more) ROI on your investments, check out my article on how to get 20% ROI.
How Is Barista Fire Different From Coast Fire?
CoastFire is the strategy of aggressively saving money at an early age so that you no longer need to continue contributing to your retirement fund to achieve financial independence by your retirement age.
For example, let’s say you are 20 years old and want to have a million dollars for retirement by age 65.
If you contribute $300 per month and get a 7% ROI, then you will have $1,028,697 by age 65.
But let’s say you double your monthly contribution to $600. Using the same ROI, after 10 years, you will have $99,478.43. If you stop your monthly contributions at that point and just let that money grow, you will have $1,062,089.56 at age 65. In other words, you can “coast” for the next 35 years of your life and not have to worry about saving for retirement because you put in the hard work already.
You might ask what this has to do with early retirement. After all, you still need to pay for living expenses, etc.
The idea is that you can quit a stressful, high-paying job and transition to an easier job that might pay less. Sounds a lot like Barista Fire, no? The main difference between Barista Fire and Coast Fire is that with Coast Fire you no longer have to worry about reaching your full retirement funding when the time comes becomes you have already saved enough. But on the flip side, you will probably be able to Barista Fire earlier than you could Coast Fire.