Reader’s voice: What’s that sound that I hear? Is someone scraping the bottom of a barrel?
No…its Now That’s What I call Financial Independence! 5
The Escape Artist is back once again in the guise of a music critic from the NME…armed with earnest prose, tortuous metaphors and psycho-babble to review more classic songs about financial independence.
Or, as the kids might put it:
1. Thrift shop (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis)
There are many things in the consumer economy that you don’t need to buy. But we all need clothes. So the question is how much to spend? and on what clothes?
The answer partly depends on where you work. If you work on the 60th floor at Megabank or Big Law LLP, don’t scrimp on work clothing. To help you get promoted, dress a level above your paygrade. For guys, I suggest plain dark blue or grey suit, classic, high quality black leather shoes (shined) and decent shirts (ironed, plain white always works).
If you want to know what to avoid, watch a couple of Open University lectures from the 1970s. Even if you work in continental Europe, I don’t advise you wear green or brown suits, polyester ties, leather elbow patches or short sleeved shirts to work, unless you are already financially independent.
Out of work, I advise you to minimise spend on clothing, keep it casual and consider some vintage / classic clothes from a charity shop. Why not find a couple of high quality signature items that are quirky and say something about you?
And remember Macklemore’s advice on designer labels:
They be like, Oh, that Gucci. That’s hella tight
I’m like, Yo that’s fifty dollars for a T-shirt!
Limited edition?, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a T-shirt, that’s just some ignorant bitch shit
I call that getting swindled and pimped, shit
I call that getting tricked by a business…
Trying to get girls from a brand? Then you hella won’t
2. Jenny from the block (Jennifer Lopez)
We all start with nothing. And when we first get going, progress may seem slow and the amounts pitifully small. But don’t worry…the important thing is to get into the habit of saving. Because of the way that compounding works (both in salary progression and investment returns) your progress towards financial independence should get faster and faster over time.
Good investing requires staying calm when shit seems to be going wrong. But it also means staying grounded and suppressing your ego when everything is going right and the money rolls in.
J Lo knows a thing or two about dealing with a rapid transition to financial independence:
Went from a little to a lot this year
I stay grounded as the amounts roll in
Nothin phoney, don’t hate on me
What you get is what you see
Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got
I’m still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
J Lo knows where she came from. She has rocks, but she knows that diamonds are not a girl’s best friend. She doesn’t need those rocks as validation…and she’s learnt to shake off other people’s envy.
Jenny has done the work and has what I call strong “Inner Game”. I bet she’d be fine even if she lost her fame and fortune.
You can take the girl out of the hood. But you can’t take the hood out of the girl.
3. Changing (Sigma featuring Paloma Faith)
Paloma Faith articulates with feeling the boredom and frustration that many office workers feel with corporate life. On the one hand, the repetition and routine can become stultifying: like the compulsory regular meetings where people have forgotten the reason anyone suggested them in the first place.
On the other hand, there is often an unsettling level of continual change in the form of regular reorganisations. Each restructuring promises a transition to the sunlit uplands of corporate efficiency and employee rewards. Until the next one six months later where the employees are once again urged to work harder, be more loyal, more flexible and don’t ask too many awkward questions.
This ain’t real, this ain’t cool
This ain’t what I signed up to
Everything is changing,
And I’ve been here for too long
Between you and me, Paloma is starting to show some early signs of burnout. Reading between the lines of the lyrics, I can see some red flags.
Going through the same things
I’ve been hurting too long, got to move on
Say I, I can’t do this anymore
If everything is changing
So I’ve emailed Paloma and told her not to worry…I reckon she’s safe to go ahead and quit the cubicle. Not just because she should have enough with a 4% safe withdrawal rate. But also because after she quits she’ll be able to earn some income singing at wedding receptions, corporate events and bar mitvahs. She hasn’t emailed me back yet.
She’s probably busy.
4. Always Look on the Bright Side (Monty Python)
The Escape Artist is not one of those annoying people that tells you to cheer up!, might never happen etc after your cat has just been run over.
But I believe that optimism is something you can choose to cultivate. And this will make you more effective, more resilient and happier.
You can train your mind. Objective reality is important. But its often less important to our happiness than how we perceive reality. The degree to which we feel happy or unhappy is largely determined by our conditioning and the frame through which we have got used to seeing the world.
Framing matters. You can tell your wife that she looks like the first day of spring or the last day of a long, hard winter. There is no substantive difference but the reaction you’ll get will be very different. You can either trust me on this or you can try it out at home for yourself.
5. You get what you give (The New Radicals)
As you’ll see from the video, The New Radicals are somewhat prone to student union gesture politics, exhibiting as they do an unfortunate attitude to people wearing suits. But, bless them, I think they’re good kids who mean well. They just need some education on the benefits of capitalism and some firm boundaries.
And You Get What You Give is, for me, a good song. Its an uplifting ditty and a reminder that no matter how unfair life often seems, life goes on. If you have meaning in your life and a reason to live, you can bear almost anything regardless of money. This is why soldiers can demonstrate incredible bravery on near minimum wage whilst investment bankers (who deep down suspect their work might not be socially useful) often feel hard done by with their $$$$ bonuses.
We should be optimistic and focus on what we control. And if you hang on in there long enough, you should eventually get rewarded for the hard work that you put in upfront.
Don’t give up
You’ve got a reason to live
We only get what we give
6. Upside Down (Jack Johnson)
Blogging is a bit like Show and Tell. Its about sharing what you’ve learned with the rest of the class.
Whilst in primary school the audience still have open minds, that’s not always so true as life goes on and people get older and set in their ways. So if you write a financial independence blog, get ready for people telling you its impossible / unrealistic etc.
With this song, Jack Johnson provides encouragement to others on The Path. Particularly those who have recently quit and are enjoying the post work “decompression” phase and learning new stuff.
Who’s to say
I found the things they say just can’t be found…
And with each new day
I can feel a change in everything…
And as my mind begins to spread it’s wings
There’s no stopping curiosity
Good for you, Jack! Keep sharing the love and don’t let the cynics get you down!
7. Lucky Man (The Verve)
In this classic from 2009, The Verve reflect on the role that luck plays in life and the effect of freedom on your happiness after financial independence:
Happiness, more or less
It’s just a change in me
Something in my liberty…
Well, I’m a lucky man
With FIRE in my hands
Unlike most CEOs and other beneficiaries of survivorship bias, The Escape Artist recognises that he was lucky in many ways. As I’ve said before, luck plays a huge part in life, careers, investment returns and health. Its impossible to disentangle luck from hard work. But I also think the golfer Gary Player was onto something when he said that the more he practiced, the luckier he got.
The Verve were talented but they benefited from some good luck. They made it in a notoriously difficult business, having originated from a village near Wigan in the north of England which was not previously known for creating a lot of millionaires.
But having created a formidable money-making machine, they fell out with each other and split up. Which I’m not sure was totally down to bad luck. I can’t help thinking this could be avoided if people in bands took less drugs and more classes on emotional intelligence.
8. The Life of Riley (Lightning Seeds)
In The Life of Riley The Lightning Seeds carry on the study of randomness where The Verve left off.
Although this world is a crazy ride,
You just take your seat and hold on tight.
So here’s your life,
We’ll find our way,
We’re sailing blind,
But it’s certain nothing’s certain.
The video is worth a watch if only for the comedy value of the football clips. Life is more like football (soccer) than rugby. In rugby, the stronger side almost always wins. Football is in some ways more frustrating (or exciting, depending on your point of view) because its more prone to randomness.
If you think that life is always fair, you may not have been paying attention. But The Lightning Seeds remind us not to get downhearted by luck nor to spend our entire life in the office…and that we need to find the time for…wait for it…the life of Riley.
Do you see what I did there?
9. Another day in paradise (Phil Collins)
Whenever I am suffering from first world problems, I slap myself in the face (metaphorically speaking) and remind myself not to be a whiney little toddler. After all, almost everything is marvellous these days and the least I can do is show a bit of gratitude.
Gratitude crowds out fear, anxiety and negativity. So I try to cultivate it each day.
Gratitude triggers are things you see or hear that immediately give you perspective and make you thankful for what you have. For me, this song is an instant reminder of how lucky we are. My other gratitude triggers include: this article, watching The Walking Dead, walking around a military cemetery, visiting the D Day beaches in Normandy or seeing guide dogs for the blind.
10. The best things in life are free (Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross)
But it’s true. For me, there is nothing more calming than walking in woodland, nothing more rewarding than cooking for my children. And sometimes they even eat what I’ve made.
How about waking up without an alarm clock? Or achieving goals you have wanted to achieve for many years?
I’d also nominate:
Image credit: NME