Can the Average UK Worker Achieve FIRE?

Is it possible for residents of the UK able to retire early based on weekly income statistics from the ONS.

1/26/20243 min read

Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) has become a popular goal for individuals seeking to gain control over their finances and live life on their terms. This blog explores whether the average UK worker can achieve FIRE using key financial metrics and data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Understanding the Assumptions

The tables provided offer a snapshot of two different percentiles of the UK workforce – the 50th percentile (representing an average worker) and the 75th percentile (reflecting a worker in the upper quartile). Let's delve into the key figures:

  1. Monthly Take home (ONS Data): The amount an individual takes home each month after taxes. Sources from here:

  2. Annual Take home (ONS Data * 12): The annual income based on monthly take-home pay.

  3. Post Tax and using the minimum 5% Auto Enrolment Pension: Annual income after Tax, NI and accounting for a 5% auto-enrolment pension contribution.

  4. Minimum Income Standard for the UK: The income required to meet the minimum living standard in the UK from here:,standard%20of%20living%20in%202023.

  5. Income Variance: The difference between the individual's annual income and the minimum income standard - i.e. the amount that could be put towards investments.

Calculating FIRE

To determine the feasibility of achieving FIRE, additional metrics are considered:

  1. Annual Surplus to Invest: The amount left over after meeting the minimum living standard.

  2. Monthly Required Contribution: The monthly investment needed to reach FIRE.

  3. FIRE Number (£) (Income Standard for the UK * 25): The target amount required for financial independence, calculated as 25 times the minimum income standard.

  4. Time to Reach FIRE Number (at 20-Year FTSE Average Annualized Return of 5.2%): The estimated time required to reach the FIRE number, assuming a 5.2% annualized return on investments.

Analysing the Results

50th Percentile

For the average worker (50th percentile), there is a negative income variance, indicating that even meeting the minimum living standard may be a challenge. Based on these assumptions unless an individual is able to live off less than the minimum income standard to generate a principle to invest, the average UK worker won't be able to generate enough in investments to generate a pre-retirement age income. Of course there are caveats to this, individuals may earn more throughout their careers, inherit wealth or have additional sources of income not tied to PAYE.

75th Percentile

However, for the upper quartile worker (75th percentile), there is a reasonable annual surplus, providing room for investment.

The Monthly Required Contribution for the 75th percentile worker is feasible, assuming a disciplined approach to saving and investing. The FIRE number is calculated based on the 25x rule, a common benchmark in the FIRE community.


All of the above needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as there are so many different variables that impact an individuals lifetime investment value - as all of the above analysis is based off of averages and doesn't factor in a range of different financial decisions that may impact a persons financial outcomes.

Achieving FIRE is a complex journey that depends on various factors, including income, expenses, and investment returns. While the average UK worker may face challenges, those in higher income brackets have a more favourable starting point. This is not to say those on lower incomes cannot achieve FIRE if they make the right decisions and use time to their advantage.

It's essential for individuals to carefully analyse their financial situation, set realistic goals, and make informed investment decisions. FIRE is achievable for some, but it requires dedication, financial literacy, and a long-term perspective. Remember, financial independence is a personal journey, and the path may vary for each individual.

You should always speak to a qualified professional when making decisions about their money - this article is not financial advice.

Our calculators can be used to simulate your FIRE journey for illustrative purposes.

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