Now That’s What I Call Financial Independence! 14

NME bjork

When you grow up in the ‘hood, you do what it takes to stay alive.

And when you grow up in East Anglia you do what it takes not to get bored. So it may or may not surprise you that, back in the day, The Escape Artist was a bit of a naughty schoolboy.

Sometimes The Apparatus Of The State would be deployed to crush this youthful rebellion and The Escape Artist would then find himself doing “lines” at school.

For the benefit of people that work in Media, I should explain that doing “lines” was not as much fun as it sounds. No, what I’m talking about is where you have to write something like “I must not set off the fire alarm” a thousand times.

This was the school’s way of trying to drum a message into your head by force of repetition.  I’m not sure how effective lines were, but they were repetitive. Very repetitive. Although not quite as repetitive as the long-running Now That’s What I call Financial Independence! series.

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.

Welcome to The Pleasuredome (Frankie Goes To Hollywood)

Its great that financial independence has been getting more media coverage recently but the “Can anyone to retire in their 30’s?” angle can sometimes lead to people thinking that it’s all about doing nothing all day.

Don’t get me wrong…its amazing to be financially independent. It’s just that FI isn’t some utopia where the sun shines everyday, and nothing bad ever happens. When you get to FI, its not like checking into The Pleasuredome…although daytime drinking and bedroom olympics are now on the menu if you want.

You’ll still need something to do. You’ll still need challenge. You’ll still need purpose. This is why I talk about financial freedom rather than early retirement.

Part Time Lover (Stevie Wonder)

Some say that The Dirty Little Secret of Financial Independence is that income matters and FI is harder for lower income earners.

The Escape Artist says:


If there is a “dirty little secret” of financial independence, it’s that you don’t need to wait until you’ve got >25x your annual spending before making changes in your life. You get much (most?) of the benefits of financial independence by being debt-free with a few year’s spending in savings. That’s enough to fund a career change or start a business.

Remember, its not binary. Every extra pound you earn and save is a win. Each pound you invest gives you greater options in the future. By working a part time job you can either make the stash required MUCH smaller after you quit your soul-sucking job.

Or you could just work part time RIGHT NOW. If you’re out of debt, living low cost and working part-time, then you have most of the benefits of full financial independence.

It’s the end of the world as we know it (R.E.M.)

Many people are prone to catastrophising.  This is where you respond to bad news by imagining a death spiral where everything goes to shit.

And when I say many people, I include myself for the first 43 or so years of my life. But, since escaping The Prison Camp, I’ve taught myself to chill the fuck out.

Take Brexit for example. I doubt the world is going to end when we eventually extricate ourselves from the EU (assuming we do). But even if it does, there’s not much I can do about it. So, in the mean time, I’m not going to sweat the small stuff.

Focus on what you can control and ignore the noise.

Monster (Automatic)

With a bit of calm and perspective, you realise that many (most?) of the crises promoted reported by The News are problems that could be solved, often quite easily. Here are 3 crises that we hear a lot about:

1) The Pensions Crisis – people don’t have enough in their pensions;

2) The Social Isolation Crisis – a lot of people (especially older people) are living alone / lonely / socially isolated; and

3) The Housing Crisis – there’s a housing shortage so house prices and rents are too high.

In Get Rich with Lodgers we identified a simple solution to these problems. Which begs the question of why more people don’t have lodgers. Could this be fear? Fear of crime, fear of other people, fear of sharing space with A POTENTIAL KILLER (as The News would put it)?

Remember: Fear is just a chemical. And not everything that seems scary at first is actually a monster.

I should be So Lucky (Kylie)

One source of angry comments on FI blogs is people dismissing others as lucky and therefore unrepresentative. This is partly true. Luck does play a big part in investing, careers and life generally.

But it’s a good working assumption that the harder and smarter you work, the luckier you’ll get. And have the angry commenters considered that none of the successful people I know spend their time complaining on the internet?

Here’s a tip for the trolls: you probably won’t get lucky sitting in your underpants in your Mum’s basement tapping out grumpy comments on the internet.

Get ’em up (Nickelback) 

Continuing with the “lucky” theme…some say The Escape Artist was lucky to work in a high paying field like finance.

But perhaps these people have it round the wrong way?

You see, I didn’t choose a career in finance first, then later discover that it was well paid.

No, The Escape Artist chose to work in finance because that was where the money was. Training as an accountant was part of the entry price. That and stress, long hours and dealing with some…how shall I put this?…challenging people.  😉

This reminds me of the bank robber who, when asked why he robbed banks, answered:

Because that’s where the money is

Whatever It Takes (Imagine Dragons)

Look, I’m not saying that luck doesn’t play a big part in life. Obviously it does. Its just that waiting to get lucky is not a good way to approach financial independence.

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

And one of the best 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.

If you want to get to FI, you have to do whatever it takes.

Driftwood (Travis)

Humans are essentially a co-operative species and we remain creatures of the herd (or troop).

The problem is: we’re a bunch of emotional monkeys who tend to do what the other monkeys around us are doing. And think what the other monkeys around us are thinking.

Unfortunately, most people are drifting through life. That’s fine, but to get to financial independence you need to take ownership of your life, your investments and your spending decisions.

This means saying No! to advertising bullshit…and maybe confronting your inner Nice Guy / Nice Girl.

Warriors of Genghis Khan (Bad News)

Back in January, I wrote what I assumed would be an uncontroversial post called Don’t Be A Nice Guy, Be A Good Guy.


A number of readers went batshit crazy over this…including some that really should know better. I spent most of a Saturday afternoon deleting their shouty comments from my site. That’s 4 hours of my life I’m never getting back.

The Escape Artist believes in free speech. This includes the right of Keyboard Warriors to run their mouths off elsewhere on the internet about pretty much anything they want…even if that means slagging me off.

But, for the avoidance of doubt, the comments section of my website is not a democracy…it’s a military dictatorship where rebellions are ruthlessly put down.

In this regard, The Escape Artist is LITERALLY WORSE THAN HITLER or GENGHIS KHAN or….look, I don’t know…SOMEONE BAD ALRIGHT?


Further reading:


  1. Now That’s What I Call Financial Independence 13!
  2. Financial coaching


  1. Parts of this post brought back memories of some words of wisdom a few years back from my gran, then aged 92….

    “You make your own luck in life”, she announced with conviction. It turned out she was referring to what I used to call the “it’s alright for you” brigade. She and my grandad had been the first in their peer group to save hard, take the plunge, and buy their own house. The first to save up and get a small car, go on a foreign holiday etc etc. “It’s alright for you” came the comments a few years later…. Erm no, I thought, listening to her tale. That’ll have been my grandad’s exceptional organisational skills at work combined with a bit of raw courage.

    To “be lucky”, sometimes you have to come up with a (potentially risky) plan then execute it wisely….

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