When I went to the Netherlands in November, I navigated my way through streets filled with weaving bicycles, friendly people, and best of all, shops with poffertjes in the window — mini-pancakes dusted in sugar.
After those melt-in-the-mouth magic wonders, I am ready for the next big idea coming from Northern Europe. In this case, I stumbled on a new acronym coming from a meeting of Dutch FIRE bloggers: HOT.
Many people take issue with the “RE” of FIRE; that is, retire early. Some have said we ought to call it “retirement elective,” because, let’s face it, retirement comes with its own connotations: a new fascination with historical fiction followed by many hours playing golf.
A group of Dutch FIRE bloggers put together a new acronym to encapsulate the true meaning of financial independence. They call it HOT:
Happy, Opportunity Rich, and Time Rich
As Divnomics explains,
“It’s basically covering the real essence of what we set out to be our goals: Being able to choose what you do, whenever you want to do this, in order to have a more meaningful and happy life.”
FIRE is a radical departure from how most people live, and that doesn’t change when you venture out of the US. Even though tax laws, health insurance, and income ranges look radically different across the globe– the pursuit of a meaningful life is the same.
Broadening Your Opportunities
Perhaps you have always wanted to travel but can never find the time. Maybe you always wanted to be an artist, but your parents convinced you that being an accountant would be more fiscally responsible.
If you have the safety net of an emergency fund, you have the space to try out new opportunities. You can put down the spreadsheets and pick up a paintbrush. You can ditch your dreary city to move to a mountain town.
Taking Back Time
Jobs have a tendency to tie us down. We have to be at the same place every day, with few vacation days to spare. It doesn’t feel like we are in control of our own schedules. Being financially independent means you can set your own hours, taking time into your own hands. You have the freedom to decide what to do with each hour of every day.
If you ever struggle to explain FIRE, it might be easier to start with HOT— saving money not to be rich in cash, but to be rich in happiness, opportunities, and time.
If you are interested in branching out of the US-centric blogosphere, I recommend checking out these blogs (you may need Google Translate)
- Project Lónica
- Radical FIRE
- Van her naar hot
- Divnomics (which has recently rebranded to TheNextWealth)
- CheesyFinance (who just announced that they will no longer be writing… still a lot of good content to check out)
- A full list can be found here: Rockstar Finance Netherlands Blog Directory
FIRE in Europe fascinates me because even though techniques, tax laws, and target retirement numbers may vary, the core philosophies are the same. We all strive for more autonomy and making our money work for us.
As for the acronym change, let’s be real, not that many people want to be on FIRE, but everyone wants to be HOT.