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.
I know what you’re thinking…not another one. Can’t he go back to writing stuff like The Simplicity Portfolio that’s better than you’d get from a financial advisor but free.
Well, I already gave you that…and, as I keep telling you guys, financial independence is about so much more than what fund to choose.
It’s gonna require a mix of skills and mental models. These bangin’ tunez and dancefloor stompers illustrate attitudes that are hard to capture with words alone.
And, in a new development, I’ve included an anti-anthem…in other words, I’ve started with a song that is just SO WRONG that it almost defies words. Following recent controversy, The Escape Artist handed his review to an editor to ensure I didn’t offend anyone.
Let’s see how that turned out…
1. I Don’t Want It At All (Kim Petras)
[Editors note: TEA’s review removed on the grounds of Political Incorrectness]
2. Hustlers Ambition (50 cent)
The theme tune from the film Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (I’d have called it Get Rich and FI Tryin’).
If you want to get to financial independence, you’re going to need ambition. And you’ll probably want a side-hustle at some point as well.
In short, you are gonna need to start trying. And, as I’ve said before, most people aren’t. This inconvenient truth explains most ridiculous spending. It explains why 60% of people never shop around for utilities. It explains why about a third of food in the UK is thrown away uneaten. As a society, we’re just not trying that hard.
I know a lot of people say they want to be rich. And maybe they do? Just not enough to do something about it.
3. Life in One Day (Howard Jones)
But a few dedicated FI seekers go to the other extreme and try to get to financial independence very quickly. If you can combine a middle class job with Early Retirement Extreme style frugality (and no kids), then 75% saving rates become possible at which point it only takes ~7 years to go from broke to financially independent.
But is has to be sustainable. In this 80s classic, Howard Jones provides a cautionary tale, warning FI seekers against extreme frugality that they are not capable of sustaining. Getting to financial independence is a marathon not a sprint. So don’t try and get there in one year…let alone in a day.
And don’t wish your time away. Remember, its about the journey as much as the destination.
4. You Gotta Be (Desree)
If you think the advice in songs 2 and 3 above sounds a little bit contradictory, then you’re not alone.
People often discard self improvement advice because it can seem contradictory. One minute we are advised to try harder…the next not to go to extremes…should we just ignore it all?
Errr….no. All good advice is contextual. The right thing to do depends on the situation. I know from my coaching that everyone is different and so we all have different sticking points.
Financial independence is a path to personal development and its nuanced. You gotta balance different character traits…combining offense (earning more) with defence (spending less). If you think its all about penny pinching or deprivation listen to this song and think again. Desree is a wise woman and the lyrics are gold.
5. Milf Money (Fergie)
The Escape Artist is a feminist. One reason for the incredible increase in prosperity in The West over the past 100 years is that we fixed the crazy situation where the talents of half of the population were suppressed or ignored.
There are 2 types of feminist. Type 1 (a small but vocal minority) write about The Patriarchy and other implausible conspiracy theories and form committees trying to police people’s words and thoughts. It’s all bullshit.
Type 2 feminists like Fergie keep it real. They know there’ll always be some dicks in the workplace…but they don’t just get mad, they get even. Fergie competes on equal terms and doesn’t rely on any man for her money. And she doesn’t spend her time leaving angry comments on blogs…she’s too busy making bank.
Me and the girls, up in the club
Hating-assholes, but I don’t give a fuck
I been working all week, now where the hell is my drink?
‘Cause we I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T
Do you know what that means?
Can’t see me B-R-O-K-E
I’m P-A-I-D , you heard about me, I’m saying
6. Let’s Get Down To Business (Eminem)
Before I started writing this blog, I had no idea that procrastination was such a problem for people in their personal finances.
I naively assumed that everyone would be saving hard and minimising the charges being taken from their pension pot. That everyone would be learning about how simple investing can be.
Turns out that’s not so. People tend to feel a bit embarrassed about their financial clownery so you don’t hear much about this. But I can tell you there’s an epidemic of procrastination going on out there right now.
This is an emergency…not just for other people…for you. Remember: procrastination is for clowns. In the immortal words of Eminem:
Let’s get down to business
I don’t got no time to play around, what is this?
Must be a circus in town
Let’s shut this shit down
7. Mama Do The Hump (Rizzle Kicks)
We become what we repeatedly do. So if we spend our lives slumped on sofas and hunched over smartphones, our posture, strength and flexibility will decay. When you see old people with hunched shoulders shuffling down the street, the sad truth is that much (most?) of that is avoidable with exercise and a mobility practice throughout life.
What do I mean by a mobility practice? Well, pilates is a mobility practice. Yoga is a mobility practice. If you like your mobility practice set to banging tunez (as I do) then Body Combat is fantastic (this song is from Body Combat 74).
Have you noticed how people obediently take their cars to the garage for regular servicing….handing over money to get their parts checked and oiled and the service history stamped. And yet how much time and money are these putting into the care and maintenance of their own bodies? Mostly none.
If you are not doing some cycling plus some weights plus some form of mobility practice, then you’re probably treating yourself worse than your car. You deserve better.
Use it or lose it.
8. The Greatest Love of All (Whitney Houston)
I’m gonna be honest…I always used to feel slightly nauseous when I heard this song. Nothing is more important to me than my children but the word mawkish barely does justice to the saccharine tautologies about the children being the future.
So it was a surprise to me when, during the course of my research into the Now FI! series, I listened more closely to the words of the song…whilst keeping a bucket within range should things go wrong,
What I learnt surprised me. The lyrics actually contain a powerful truth which is that the greatest achievement is being able to love yourself. No sniggering at the back, I’m totally fucking serious. If you aren’t fundamentally OK with yourself (and your flaws) then you’re always going to be looking for expensive props and distractions. Retail therapy anyone?
9. Money (Pink Floyd)
A classic reminder of the dangers of lifestyle inflation. Pink Floyd kick things off with some excellent back to basics financial advice:
Get a good job with good pay and you’re okay
Money, it’s a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
Sadly, no sooner have they gotten a good job, they let their spending rip out of control:
New car, caviar, four star daydream
Think I’ll buy me a football team
A schoolboy error. You can never just earn your way to financial independence. Its all about your savings rate. And no I don’t mean the paltry 0.5% interest rate on your bank account. I mean the proportion of your after tax income that you are investing in productive assets.
10. Ludacris ft. The Notorious B.I.G – Yeah vs. Mo Money Mo Problems (Matoma Remix)
When British people read American finance blogs they are often thrown off by the references to 401ks, Roth IRAs, VTSAX etc etc…
But, as recently discussed on The Choose FI podcast, the differences in terminology are easy to decipher. The underlying cultural differences are more interesting.
The USA has some advantages in its low taxes and tradition of individualism. But the pressure of consumerism is even greater in the US than in the UK. And the American healthcare system seems crazy (and expensive) compared to the NHS.
The Notorious BIG asks whether a UK audience is capable of speaking the language of financial independence? I’m a yes on that.