Now that’s what I call financial independence! 13

During Chinese water torture, victims would be strapped down so they couldn’t move, and water would then be dripped slowly and repeatedly onto a small area of their body—usually the forehead.

Drip…Drip…Drip…with enough repetition, the victim would eventually be driven insane.

Yet even this death by a thousand drops is said by critics of The Escape Artist to be less repetitive than the long-running series Now That’s What I call Financial Independence!

Yes, 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.

You Can’t Hurry Love (Phil Collins)

If you want to get rich, understand the incredible power of compounding. If you save just £15,000 between age 18-25 and your money grows at 10% per year in the stockmarket, you end up with over £1,000,000 in your pension at age 65. Yes, I can prove that.

So what’s stopping everyone?

Well, for one thing, the first 6 or 7 years are b-o-r-i-n-g. Those early years feel like watching grass grow.  There’s no way around this early stage: the flat bit before the slope of the J curve kicks up. It just has to be lived through. Impatient rookie investors (remember Frankie?) try to speed things up – they daytrade, they churn and switch funds, check their portfolio values obsessively, trade on margin and look for get rich quick schemes.

But a watched pot doesn’t boil any faster. You can’t hurry love or compound interest.

Lush Life (Zara Larson)

In an abundance mindset, you live free from fear because you know that your needs are modest and your skills, confidence and capital mean that you will always be able to get what you need.

This is the opposite of a scarcity mindset in which people are driven by fear.  We humans spent far too much time worrying…either living in the past (when what’s done is done) or in the future which by definition isn’t here yet.

Now is the moment of power. Now is the only time that we can change with our actions. As a Buddhist monk might say: if we take care of the present moment, then we automatically take care of the future. Or as Zara puts it:

I live my day as if it was the last
Live my day as if there was no past

By saving now, we give our future selves abundance. Having put in the work upfront, Zara is now collecting royalties, living the dream and doing it the way she wanna.

Survivor (Destiny’s Child)

This song is all about stoicism for winners.

To access the wisdom of stoicism, you could read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius or you could listen to this song. Neither art form is inherently superior to the other. What matters is which most inspires you to change your thoughts and your actions.

So don’t just hum along, check out the lyrics…they contain inspiration and great wisdom for tough times.

Remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Fighter (Christina Aguilera)

Continuing with the “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” theme we have “Fighter” from Christina Aguilera.

One of my favourite case studies on the blog was Can You  Become a Millionaire on a Firemans Salary?

And one of my favourite bits was this:

A fireman has the awesome legal power in an emergency to do “anything they consider necessary”. We have to think ‘outside the box’, e.g. speeding, driving on the wrong side of the road, forcing entry into peoples private property without their permission. I think the same lateral thinking also helps you get to FI. You have to do whatever it takes.

Think like a FIRE fighter.

So Emotional (Whitney Houston)

Why do people find it hard to save money…even when they know that the buzz from new stuff wears off quickly?

The answer is that we humans are predictably irrational and predictably emotional. We are not like animals, we are animals.  Even your Auntie with the nice tea set, the doilies and the scones…she’s an animal.  Auntie’s brain is really 3 brains stacked on top of each other. She has an ancient lizard hindbrain, a monkey brain and a uniquely human pre-frontal cortex.

The lizard and the monkey brains work on emotion. At times of fear, stress, uncertainty or information overload, the lizard and monkey brains tend to override the rational human brain. The monkey brain wants more stuff. Monkeys like bananas, sticks, car-tyre swings and other shit and they want it now because, like, YOLO.

Neither lizards nor monkeys are big savers.  This explains much of what you need to know about human behaviour.

Feels (Calvin Harris)

Don’t get me wrong, The Escape Artist is not suggesting that all emotions are bad. The goal is not to be a robot.

I think that some of us (geeks, men over 40 etc) make the opposite mistake of “shutting down” their emotions. Perhaps trying to repress the rollercoaster of the natural ups and downs of life? I wonder whether older people who’ve experienced some big setbacks in life (e.g. divorce, illness, career stagnation, redundancy) sometimes do that as a coping mechanism?

Anyway, the bottom line is: don’t be afraid to have feels.  Emotions are natural and healthy…but they come and go like clouds in the sky.  Feels are natural…but you should learn to master them or they will master you.

Got my Mind Set on You (George Harrison)

Warning: what at first sounds like a fun little pop ditty actually reveals some problematic assumptions about women and money.

George seems fixated (I got my mind set on you x4) and puts the subject of the song up on a pedestal.  His assumption seems to be that she is The Prize and he is the supplicant. That’s a mentality often adopted by Nice Guys.

For someone that seems to think of himself as a romantic, George has some strange assumptions about what’s its gonna take to win over his Princess.  I’m not saying that Harrison treats women as objects to be bought, but he does seem overly focused on the financial aspects of courtship.

People often project too much onto money. Money works really really well at some things (paying rent or buying groceries) but really badly at other things. It’s a poor basis for starting a relationship.

I’m sorry to say that George is now in Walking Wallet territory. Genuine desire can not be bought nor negotiated.

I’m Your Baby Tonight (Whitney Houston)

Let’s explore a bit further. Why does George think that his new relationship is gonna take a whole lotta spending money?

I say above that genuine desire can not be bought nor negotiated. What do I mean by that?

Let’s bring back Whitney Houston to show us what genuine desire looks like:

Me Too (Meghan Trainor)

In this modern classic, Meghan riffs on the theme of envy.

As I explained in Get Rich…Without Envy, envy is one of the sillier and more childish of emotions. Envy encourages people to spend to “keep up with The Joneses”. Envy is for losers…it’s a sign of weakness…financially yes, but also emotionally and spiritually.

The trouble with Fakebook and Instaglam is that we only get staged glimpses of the lives of other people. The reality is that celebrities often pay a high price for the attention they receive. You shouldn’t feel envious of anyone unless you’d swap places with them 100%. In other words, if you’d take their problems as well as their advantages. 


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9 comments

  1. Awesome write-up 🙂 envy is so childish. I have seen it few times and have caught myself once or twice before realising this is not the right emotional response. Having said this without envy and curiosity I would have never developed the urge to understand ‚how’ sombody managed to get financial independent a d more importantly live his passion. It is the passionate people that I envy and try to surround myself with, financial independence is just a vehicle to sustainably develop a passion without the need to gain financial benefits for it.

  2. As someone who has been dry since January – I can tell you that there are beenfits to not drinking – but at the same time, if you are not totally dry, you can’t beat a good drink.
    Like the old phrase, one’s too many and two’s too few. 🙂
    Great write up – I will be down to my local HMV to buy the CD this weekend.

  3. Pedro Santos · · Reply

    One of my favourite posts so far this year on this day, as beachside holiday reading, my teenage daughter especially liked the message about (geeks, men aged in their 40s)…
    Great advice about the need to tap into our feelings and not shut-down.

  4. I am in the first year of my journey to FI (27 y/0), After one year I now have the most amount of money I have ever had. I’m looking forward to the upward trajectory. And the sales.

  5. Couple of things: these fregan guys can eat mouldy food and live out of bins, it’s their choice. Me, I choose to work an extra 40 hours overtime and invest it.

    A fireman just needs to go to work. His pension will make him wealthy. It takes no skill or mind set, other than patience

    1. Perry, have you worked as a fireman?

      1. I have not. After 12 years in the Forces I tried to join but my eyesight wasn’t good enough.

        It wasn’t a slight on Fireman, I regret not spending 22 years in the military the closer I get to a pensionable age.

        I meant it takes no skill to become wealthy. The easiest way to become wealthy is to work for one company with a great pension for all your life.

        When I was younger, I counted among my friends, doctors, a CEO of a global pharmeceutical company, leaders of Local Authorities, Directors of prominent marketing companies etc. The first of my friend group to retire worked for NatWest. Never had ambition to change the world or stand on the world stage. All he wanted was to be the best he could at his job for the good of him and his family. After 35 years, he took his pension, and now travels the world whilst the rest of us so called ‘high flyers’ continue to work.

        It isn’t necessary to set the world on fire in order to become wealthy. Paying long term into a pension or similar vehicle is all that’s required

        1. Thank you for clarifying

  6. Hi TEA,

    Long time reader, keep up the great work. This just came on my playlist and thought it might be a suitable musical addition to one of your above series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOciscPR6fw

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