Saturday, August 29, 2015

Fuck-You Money vs. Fuck-You Time

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.


  1. Well said lady, and I envision a time in the near future where my kid's mom and I will battle on just that. I have raised both boys to live their lives, not get tied down and experience things. Live their lives to the fullest.

    She comes from a family of marry young, and have kids early. Hence her bro being a grandpa twice already.

    I want them to horde their time, and not have to worry about cash. Be Happy, be free, and be themselves. I say it again, you are an inspiration lady!

    1. After reading the post, Justin (my friend who I had the f-u money conversation with), sent me an email saying:

      "Your discussion of time wealth versus financial wealth certainly resonated with me. As the author of BraveNewLife said, 'Time is a finite asset. Money comes and goes. Time just goes.'"

      I think this sentence perfectly summarizes money versus time. Unfortunately, we live in a society that is obsessed with money. And so a lot of our society's citizens go on to live shallow lives. Only later in life *might* they realize that there's far more to life than money and possessions.

      It sounds as though you raised your boys well. Once they realize the value of time (and it sounds as though you've instilled this within them), then it's highly unlikely they'd give the time-of-day (pun intended) to anyone who tries to convince them otherwise.

    2. Love that quote! and I am hoping I have done just that with them. The oldest I am pretty sure of. the manchild, Time will tell....

  2. I had a comment written, but I think it got eaten by my cell phone. C'est la vie.

    It was something about what if we lived, say, 250 years on average, in relatively good health. The whole calculus of FU time would change! Then I could, say, finish up my engineering career at 70 to become a fighter pilot, switch over to art at 90, become an astronaut at 140, and retire as a sea captain at 190.

    Family reunions might be a bit of a pain to plan, though. :-)

    1. Ha, family reunions would indeed be a challenge, especially if the number of children couples had increased proportionality with the increase in life span! :)

      Thank you for sharing, Dave. I always enjoy the out-of-the-box Cuthbert perspective. It's definitely an interesting idea to ponder. :)

      While an extra 150 years of life would be sweet -- assuming those extra years are enjoyed in relatively good health -- life is still finite. I'm thinking that greedy me would probably still hoard my time. Then again, maybe I'd get bored with all the extra time and go get my job back at Amazon. ;)

  3. F&ck yeah! You figured it out before most people AND you are doing it with style. That's quite a portfolio :)


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