Now that’s what I call Financial Independence! 9


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.

There will be those that say they preferred the earlier stuff… and that The Escape Artist’s later material is too commercial and derivative.

But, then again, there’s always some clown talking shite. 😉

The Man (The Killers)

Some say this video was loosely modelled on Jacob, author of the trail-blazing Early Retirement Extreme blog.

We see a young man living a minimalist lifestyle in a trailer in the USA.  He combines a low cost lifestyle with a high income working in a casino (obviously a metaphor for the financial services industry) thereby achieving an incredible 85% savings rate.  At this rate, he’ll go from broke to financially independent in just 5 years (see FI-o-meter here).

In between working out and cooking at home, our hero reveals the benefits of saving money on petrol and having a freedom fund:

I got gas in the tank
I got money in the bank
I got news for you baby, you’re looking at The Man

The song explores the inherent duality of the concept of The Man.  Someone aspiring to FI wants to escape working for The Man.  But The Man is just shorthand for The System.  When you own shares in a tracker fund, you own The System.  And then The Man is working for you.

Living on a Prayer (Bon Jovi)

One of the more bizarre criticisms of financial independence is that it’s only relevant for high earners.  Errr…hello???…if you’re not a high earner, its even more important not to piss your money away on ridiculous spending.

In this classic from 1986, Bon Jovi remind us what life can be like for low earners. Tommy used to work on the docks and the union has been on strike.  Without an emergency fund, Tommy pawns his guitar to borrow money.

Borrowing at high interest rates is a disaster. Its like being in a cab stuck in traffic; the meter is running whilst you go nowhere.  Fortunately, Gina has read Dig A Well Before You Are Thirsty and she’s better with money than Tommy. She works a minimum wage job, lives frugally and holds on to what they’ve got.

Living paycheck to paycheck is stressful and leaves those at the bottom of society prone to disaster.  They, more than anyone, need the techniques of financial independence to build a safety net and real options to improve their life.

Maybe Tomorrow (The Stereophonics)

The very title of the song embeds 2 fundamental concepts of financial independence.

First word : Maybe.  Here The Stereophonics are reminding us that there are no guarantees…in investing or in life.  Perhaps this is why they don’t churn out endless songs about the safe withdrawal rate. Second word: Tomorrow. Here The Stereophonics are explaining how financial independence is about taking control of your own future.

The lyrics are hauntingly beautiful and will resonate for anyone who has stopped to wonder why they are busting a gut at work or on business travel to pay almost half their salary to the government and the rest to banks / the mortgage company / builders / kitchen companies etc. When instead they could be on the beach, living free.

I wanna breeze and an open mind
I wanna swim in the ocean
Wanna take my time for me
All me

Private Dancer (Tina Turner)

This song highlights the uncomfortable situation of having to do a well-paid job for the money. Tina reminds us that financial independence gives you the option to say no thanks and do only ethical work. Or unpaid work…like bringing up a family.

I want to make a million dollars
I want to live out by the sea
Have a husband and some children
Yeah, I guess I want a family

Don’t get me wrong, there is no shame in working for money.  Hard work is (mostly) a good thing. It build skills, resilience and character. But if you don’t love your job, you owe it to yourself to have something to show for it after 10 or 20 years. Something other than XL trousers, lower back problems and visits to the rubbish tip to dispose of the retail therapy.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (Kelly Clarkson)

Here we have a pop pleaser dedicated to stoicism.

In her own cute and sassy way, Kelly encourages a lost generation of millennials to ditch the avocado toast and harden the fuck up.

Patience (Take That)

With financial independence, we have a long term objective but a process that can feel a bit like watching grass grow.

This is what puts a lot of people off saving / investing. At 12% per year, your money doubles in 6 years. But when the amounts involved are small at first, those 6 years seem long and boring.  After that, as the snowball gets bigger, it stops being boring and becomes really very interesting.

But here’s the thing.  Those years are gonna pass and the future always arrives…so why not invest the money on automatic pilot and get on with something useful?

Summertime (Will Smith)

In a recent post, I wrote about working as a barman in The Stewards Enclosure at Henley Royal Regatta, that bastion of entrenched privilege at the heart of The British Class System.

This was a fascinating experience. I had a great view of the lawn and could see the river from where I was standing. But the best part was the people watching.  Its fair to say that there was certain amount of what Will Smith refers to in this classic as “fronting and maxxing”. Or what your Mum might describe as “showing off”.

But, I have to report to you readers that my overall impression of my day spent at ground zero for so-called toffs, wealth and privilege is that what it most reminded me of was a nice pub garden of the type you might find in any English village. There was no magic fairydust. The grass on the lawn really was no greener.

And, as this video reminds us, the simple pleasures of life in summertime are available to everyone, mostly for free.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Green Day)

One question that always seems to come up in articles about FI in the mainstream media is whether its possible for normal people.  That raises some interesting questions: what is normal? And is normal something to aspire to?

All I’d say is to focus a little less on what’s normal and a little more on what’s possible.

I’m not gonna lie to you…if you are pursuing financial independence then you’ll be adopting some counter-cultural (ie abnormal) behaviours. I wrote about this in Why 1 million lemmings might be Wrong.

This FI thing is definitely easier with support and with other like minded people. But there will be times when that’s not available. At those points in life, you need to be able to walk alone.

Levels (Avicii)

This funny video shows a downtrodden office worker stumbling across the concept of financial independence.

As his mojo returns, hilarity ensues. And the movement spreads…

I want your love (Transvision Vamp)

In this Indy rock belter from 1988, Wendy James hands out a valuable lesson to younger men in how to choose a long term partner.

Speaking with authority as a high earning career woman and rainmaker herself, Wendy advises against competing via your car, your spending and your possessions.

I dont wancha money honey
I want your love
I don’t want your car baby
I want your ah!

Guys…if you are going to get married, you could do a lot worse than a woman like Wendy.  The intelligence, energy and earning power that she displays are awesome.

Throw in looks that could turn Julian Clary straight…and what’s not to like?

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