Financial independence is a position of not relying on work to make a living. Here’s why the related FIRE movement is so dangerous to a healthy money mindset.
I agree with you that extreme budgeting can result in an unhealthy money psychology.
FiRE is broad tent, and it seems most of your criticism is specific to a limited swath, "fast lean FIRE" (I added fast as a contrast to slow but "lean FIRE" is a common term).
"Slow FIRE" or "slow fat FIRE" doesn't have the same budget fixation. In fact, check out Paula Pant's concept of the "anti-budget" (allocation of savings/investing off the top and don't budget the rest). I'd argue that fat, or for some people, even normal (non-lean) FIRE expressly allows not focusing on budget more than lack of FI, both vefore and after achieving FI, since it breaks the connection between a paycheck and living expenses, allowing for a reduction in focus on money. If you listen to people who have achieved FI, many say that they hardly think about money after having achieved FI.
Slow FI sounds like a much healthier approach. My problem with FIRE is twofold. First, it smacks of privilege, as you point out. Second, tomorow is not guaranteed to any of us. While I’m a big believer in saving for the future, it can’t be at the expense of enjoying the life you have today.
I think we ended working toward Slow FI before there was a term for it. I also feel like so much of stuff about FI is written by young men without kids--never very pertinent to my experience so I’m just not interested.
Rest is a book by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang where he dissects an average 4 hour work day as the most “optimal” with scientific research... financial independence should have a spirit of freedom with it. That’s what I desire to contribute and feel free at the same time.
Consistent with what you've written: Retire at 35. What meaningful work are you going to engage in for the next 50 years?