A few days ago, I got together with a good friend of mine, Justin. We met at Caffe Ladro in Fremont, bright'n'early at 7am. We talked virtually non-stop for two and a half hours, pausing briefly only to breathe and to sip our drinks.
As we hadn't seen each other in two months, we had lots to share -- new favorite podcasts, interesting developments in the world of technology, and profound insights about early retirement. Justin also filled me in on his recent bike trip to Cuba, and I apprised Justin of my recent bike guiding experiences.
I had really been looking forward to guiding bicycle trips for a local company this summer. However, after guiding the first two trips, I realized that the company wasn't a good fit for me. The company had some business practices that I wasn't comfortable with. And so being the principled person that I am, I decided I would no longer work for the company.
"It must be nice to have fuck-you money," Justin said, with a covetous smile.
I tilted my head and raised my eyebrows: "Fuck-you money?"
"Yes. Are you not familiar with fuck-you money?" Justin asked in disbelief. "Every time I hear about fuck-you money, I think of you!"
How downright flattering to be associated with such a vulgar phrase!
Justin proceeded to explain. "Fuck-you money" refers to having enough financial resources so that you can walk away from any money-paying employer or other arrangement that doesn't work for you. Since financially independent people, such as myself, don't need to work, financially independent people, by definition, have fuck-you money.
(In case you were wondering, the term was popularized by Jim Collins in his blog post, Why You Need F-You Money. The term also appears in a scene in "The Gambler," where John Goodman's character waxes lyrical on the benefits of fuck-you money. You're welcome to look up the scene on YouTube, should you so choose. But, be forewarned, the scene is not for those with delicate ears.)
I thought about Justin's comment and laughed. Yes, I suppose it is nice to have fuck-you money. I'm glad I live the frugal life I live.
I've structured my life in such a way that I don't have to rely on income from a job. Since my early retirement, nearly three years ago, I have, however, chosen to work a few income-earning jobs. In A Fun Job: Not An Oxymoron, I describe a litmus test that I established to evaluate whether a job is right for me. Elements of the litmus test, for example, include choosing work that I believe in as well as work that doesn't compromise my values. As my litmus test assumes financial independence, you'll notice that nowhere does the litmus test mention money.
Not needing to rely on income from a job enables me the freedom to spend my time as I wish. Should a job ever prevent me from enjoying this freedom, then I have the liberty to walk away. My most recent bike guiding job violated a handful of elements within my litmus test, and so I voluntarily terminated my employment. Though I would never say "fuck you" to an employer, in essence, I said "fuck you" to the job.
While it's true that a plethora of money enables a financially independent person to walk away from an employer, for me, it's a dearth of time that drives my decision to do so. Time is the most valuable commodity because it is the scarcest commodity. (I need not remind you that we have a finite time on this earth.) Scarcity is the most fundamental of economic problems, and so it is scare resources that are at the heart of decision making.
I value my time wealth far more than I value my financial wealth. And so while I manage my finances like a hawk, I manage my time like a hawk that has a terminal illness. Given the finiteness of life, I want to spend my precious time in ways that allow me to honor my compass and to live the life I want to live. I want to surround myself only with the things, whether it be a job, a relationship, or possessions, that support and enhance my lifestyle. I just don't have time for anything else.
So, Justin, it's not necessarily that I have enough fuck-you money. Rather, it's that I don't have enough fuck-you time.