Now That’s What I Call Financial Independence! 16


In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays a weatherman who is sent reluctantly to cover a story about a weather forecasting groundhog. On waking up the following day, he discovers that it’s Groundhog Day again and again and again.

He comes to the the realisation that he’s doomed to spend the rest of eternity in the same place, seeing the same people do the same thing EVERY day.

Imagine how unbearably repetitive that would be.

It would be awful. Although probably not as repetitive as The Escape Artist’s 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.

I Want It All (Queen)

Here we have the problem….wanting it all and wanting it NOW.

You can have anything but you can’t have everything. And you certainly can’t have it now. Ambition is great. But success takes time. It takes ~10 years to build a career in just about any field.  It takes ~18 years to get to financial independence at a 50% savings rate.

As I may have mentioned before, Financial independence is all about life choices. Choices mean trade-offs.  Is it a co-incidence that this is the only Queen video in which you’ll see Freddie Mercury wearing a tie, looking for all the world like a drunk insurance salesman at the office Christmas party? I think not.

You can only spend a £/$/€ once and then its gone. So choose wisely.  You can use your money to buy stuff or you can use it to buy freedom. You can’t have it all.

Work Bitch (Britney Spears)

Part of growing up is realising that you can’t have it all. And realising that the world does not owe you a living. 

Nothing is free in Consumer World. If you want the latest smartphone and mojitos in Ibiza, you are going to have to work for that. In this banging tune, Britney lays out the cost of consumerism very clearly:

You wanna live fancy? Live in a big mansion?
You better work bitch, you better work bitch
Now get to work bitch!

You can read my full review here.

Large Amounts (Ludacris)

In this life, one thing counts…in the bank: large amounts.

I try to use words as precisely as possible. A lot of people will have an instinctive (negative) emotional reaction to this strapline: money is not everything, its not the most important thing, people should come before money etc.

Well, actually yes…I agree. Money is not everything and this song is not saying it’s the only thing that counts.  But money is super-important.  You could say that having money is necessary but not sufficient for the good life.

Money gives you power….and power is the ability to control your own life.

Life is a Rollercoaster (Ronan Keating)

The problem with conventional asset allocation advice is that it’s wimpy and assumes that everyone will panic and sell at some point during a stockmarket fall.  But price falls are not a problem if you buy and hold forever. 

As Warren Buffett reminds us, the long term investor has more to fear from inflation than from volatility.  What you should REALLY be scared by is that the real value of your cash in that “safe” bank account is being eaten away by inflation…its disappearing like an ice sculpture at a party.

Price volatility is not risk.  Risk is something big, bad and permanent happening to your assets. Volatility is just numbers on a screen bobbing up and down.

As Ronan says: don’t fight it.  The funny thing is that rollercoaster rides are actually very safe.  As long as you don’t panic and jump out half way through the ride.

National Express (Divine Comedy)

One of the rites of passage for a British student is (or used to be) travelling to / from college at the start / end of term on a National Express coach. There is a certain charm (and comedy value) to this highly frugal way of travelling and the lyrics of this song reflect that.

I love how this song was taken as the theme tune for Danny’s MacAskill’s masterclass in mountain biking. I used this video in The Secrets of Peak Performance to illustrate how what looks effortless on the surface is in fact the result of years of deliberate practice and hard knocks.

I’m pretty sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

I’m Alive (Shinedown)

I think we know the truth when we see and hear it…even if some aspects are difficult for us to process. 

Finding the world of financial independence can feel like a wake up call…or even a slap in the face. Political correctness is a distraction from the inconvenient truth that we humans are prone to self-sabotage. We have met the enemy and it is us.

Luck plays a part but your bank balance and your health are both (mostly) reflections of the life choices that you make. Start by taking responsibility for your own situation.  You are the only person that can save you.

First World Problems (Ian Brown)

People love grumbling and complaining. Like all vices, this can feel fun in moderation but there’s a hidden cost to be paid. Complaining is like spraying yourself with money repellent.

By complaining but not taking action, we give energy and attention to the thing that we think is wrong. We exaggerate it and make ourselves miserable. And, because people naturally tend to hang around other people like them, if you’re a complainer you’ll find yourself surrounded by other complainers. Welcome to The Internet.

All I’m saying is get some perspective. And maybe practice some gratitude…

Hello (Notorious Big, Matoma remix) 

This song is about gratitude.  Or, to be more precise, ingratitude.

I’m grateful to The Investor at Monevator for his investing content (and for featuring The Escape Artist in the early days) and to Mr Money Mustache for his life-changing blog.

Talking of Monevator, I recently read The Investor saying that he’d shied away from writing certain articles for fear of the reaction of his trolls audience. Er, hello?? This is all wrong…the monkeys should not be dictating to the The Organ Grinder what tunes he can and can’t play.

Some people have no manners. When you read a blogger putting out top quality content free on the internet, the appropriate response is to say thank you…not to leave snarky comments.

This is why The Escape Artist blocks trolls, outrage seekers and other saboteurs.

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  1. Made me laugh and it also made me reevaluate the wisdom of Ronan Keating – unlike many celebs he hasn’t gone bankrupt!

  2. Chloe · · Reply

    Britney’s magnum opus may have had a bigger impact than you realise:

    As a professional analyst, I know correlation is totally causation and those numbers don’t lie (that’s my job)

    1. 🤣🤣🤣🤣 I am SO going to steal that!

  3. Hello Mr. DJ, may I make a request or two?

    “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic – “Make that money / watch it burn”
    “Maybe Tomorrow” by Stereophonics – “I wanna swim in the ocean / wanna take my time for me”

      1. Oops! How embarrassing to have missed that.

        Here’s a backup option: “Renegades” by X Ambassadors – “Long live the pioneers / Rebels and mutineers / Go forth and have no fear / Come close the end is near”

  4. Probably due to my age I got so much more satisfaction from watching work bitch with the volume turned off.

  5. Thanks for the shoutout @TEA, and congratulations as ever on carving out your own niche since those early days.

    Regarding the trolls, I can’t remember specifically what I was referring to (probably commenting on my active investing?) but as a committed believer in the Pareto Principle you will appreciate that there’s also the factor where the easier path is often the more rewarding one if you’re living a busy life with too much to do! 😉

    1. Your blog, your rules.

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