The Coast FIRE Movement: Our Path to Financial Independence

As a family of four living in Australia, we’ve always been mindful of our financial future. I work as a senior leader, and my wife, who was a first responder, is now retired and studying. She’s considering returning to work part-time, and I plan to semi-retire at the end of this year. Our circumstances align perfectly with the Coast FIRE movement, a concept that has become increasingly appealing to us as we navigate our financial journey. A financial Journey that doesn’t include working until 60 when we reach the superannuation preservation age.

What is Coast FIRE?

Coast FIRE, or Financial Independence, Retire Early, is a variant of the FIRE movement where individuals accumulate enough savings and investments early in their careers to let compound interest do most of the work. The idea is to “coast” to full retirement age without needing to save aggressively in later years. Instead of aiming to retire completely by a young age, the goal is to ensure that your investments grow enough over time to support you in retirement, allowing you to reduce your work hours or switch to less demanding jobs.

Why Coast FIRE Suits Us

In Australia, achieving full FIRE can be challenging due to the high cost of living and in our case, we have two children who are getting more expensive now that one is a teenager and the other is fast approaching. Coast FIRE offers a more flexible and attainable alternative. Check out our Financial Freedom Journey for tips on how you might escape the grind yourselves.

How Much Money Do We Need to Coast FIRE?

Determining how much money we need to coast to retirement involves several factors, including our current expenses, expected future costs, and investment returns. Our plan revolves around living off our investments, savings, and any earnings until we can access our superannuation at 60. Here’s a breakdown of our approach:

  1. Current and Future Expenses: We have tracked our household expenses meticulously using a budget spreadsheet (you can access our budget template here) and more recently we’ve been using PocketSmith to track all our spending in a 12-month trial run to ensure we can survive on our target budget before taking the plunge. With two children, our expenses include education, extracurricular activities, healthcare, and daily living costs. We estimate needing a minimum of $70,000 annually to maintain our current lifestyle and so far we’re on track to keep the expenditure on budget. 
  2. Investment Returns: We assume a conservative average annual return of 5-6% on our investments. This takes into account market fluctuations and the need to preserve capital over time.
  3. Superannuation: Both my wife and I have maximised our super contributions, and we expect to have above-average balances when we reach 60. This will provide a significant portion of our retirement income.

Our Numbers

  • Share Portfolio: $150,000
  • Savings: $300,000
  • Superannuation: $1,400,000
  • My Age: 51
  • My Wife’s age: 49

We are fortunate enough to own our house and car without any debt. 

Based on the 4% rule, we will require $1,750,000 to retire living on a withdrawal rate of $70,000 per annum with an allowance for CPI. This is an easy calculation – $70,000 x 25 = $1,750,000.

The 4% rule, a popular guideline for retirement withdrawals, was derived from research conducted by financial planner William Bengen in the early 1990s. Bengen’s study, published in 1994, analysed historical data on stock and bond returns to determine a safe withdrawal rate for retirees. He concluded that retirees could withdraw 4% of their retirement savings annually, adjusted for inflation, without running out of money over a 30-year retirement period. This rule has since become a cornerstone of retirement planning strategies.

Now, we are sensible enough to realise that our kids are likely to need some help getting established, we’re going to need to do upgrades and maintenance on our house as it ages (it’s a 60-style double brick with a tiled roof) to replace bathrooms, kitchen and roof, and probably one more car in our lifetimes. With that in mind, I estimate we will need to earn approximately $50,000 per year for up to 5 years and then about $10,000 per year until I’m 60.  

Our Financial Strategy

To achieve Coast FIRE, we’ve developed a multifaceted financial strategy that includes the following components:

  1. Maximizing Super Contributions: We’ve both diligently maximised our superannuation contributions. By doing so, we’ve taken advantage of employer contributions and tax benefits, ensuring above-average superannuation balances for our age.
  2. Investing Wisely: Our investment portfolio is balanced across stocks and cash both inside and outside of superannuation. This diversification helps manage risk and ensures steady growth over time.
  3. Semi-Retirement and Part-Time Work: As we plan to semi-retire, we’ll continue to earn an income, albeit reduced. This income will help bridge the gap between our current earnings and our investment returns.
  4. Developing Passive Income Streams: We’re exploring semi-passive income streams, particularly online options, to supplement our income. This could include freelance work, online courses, or content creation, which allows us to leverage our skills and interests while generating revenue.  While not passive, I may also consider doing some management consulting or reverting to my trade for some part-time income. 
  5. Managing Expenses: Our budgeting practices have been crucial in controlling our spending. We prioritise essential expenses and seek low-cost alternatives for discretionary spending. This helps us save more and invest towards our Coast FIRE goal.

Surviving Until Superannuation Access

One of the key challenges of Coast FIRE is managing our finances until we can access our superannuation at the preservation age of 60. To navigate this period, we will need to earn some income until I reach 60.  At $70,000 per annum, this will cost our outside-of-superannuation savings and investments a minimum of $560,000 plus CPI over 8 years. With only $450,000 outside of super currently, we will need to continue to earn some income for 8 years to bridge the gap and to ensure any unplanned expenses are covered. Our plan is as follows:

  1. Emergency Fund: We will continue to maintain a robust emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses, ensuring our investment strategy remains on track without disruptions.
  2. Flexible Work Arrangements: Our part-time work will provide some income, reducing the need to draw heavily from our investments.
  3. Downsizing: We’ve already downsized to a more affordable property, which reduced our mortgage and freed up additional funds for investing.

Topping Up Passive Income

To sustain our lifestyle and cover the expenses of raising children, we need to top up our passive income. Here are some strategies we’re considering:

  1. Online Courses and Consulting: Given my experience as a senior leader and my wife’s background as a first responder, we’re exploring opportunities to create online courses or offer consulting services. This not only generates income but also allows us to share our expertise.
  2.  Stocks and High-Interest Bearing Accounts: By investing in dividend-paying stocks and Interest Bearing Accounts, we generate a small income but will eventually need to draw down on this nest egg.
  3. Freelancing and Part-Time Work: we will explore freelance projects or contract work. This flexibility will allow us to manage our schedules while earning an income.


The Coast FIRE movement offers a path to financial independence. By focusing on building a solid financial foundation, maximising our superannuation, investing wisely, and developing income streams, we plan to reduce the stress of continuous saving and enjoy a balanced lifestyle. While the journey requires careful planning and hard work, the peace of mind that Coast FIRE provides will make it worth the effort.

We hope that our journey inspires others to escape the grind and to be more present in the lives of those who you care the most about. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top