Now that’s what I call Financial Independence! 17

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Last week I was interviewed on a local community radio station.

I’ve done interviews before so I was ready for most of the questions.

But there was one question I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t prepared for the DJ (the lovely Melissa) asking me what songs she should play?

How awesome is that?! But what songs to choose?

Hhmmm, tricky one…if only The Escape Artist had previously given some thought to pop bangerz with a financial independence theme…wait a minute…what’s this?

We had great fun playing songs from the original Now That’s What I Call Financial Independence!  Sadly, music copyright law means that we’ve had to remove the songs but you can listen to the interview here:

Melissa even suggested new songs for the latest Now! album.  Let’s be honest, I didn’t really need much of an excuse to flog the dead horse return to the Now FI! series but that gave me all the prompt I needed.

So 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.

Stand And Deliver (Adam & The Ants)

Your Money or Your Life is the original bible of the financial independence movement. The title is a reference to Dick Turpin style highwaymen that used to give people the choice of giving up their possessions vs giving up their life.

At gunpoint, most people prioritise their life over possessions and hand over their watches, jewellery, purses etc. So why can’t people see that by getting themselves trapped by their spending in jobs that they hate, they are choosing their possessions over their life?

It has to be said that Adam makes a rather implausible role model for frugal living. Camp as a row of tents, Adam seems very focussed on cosmetics and fancy clothes but, hey, each to their own.

Imagine (John Lennon)

Here we have John Lennon’s take on a FI utopia.

Imagine that everyone is financially independent. We’ve stopped believing in various forms of brainwashing including advertising, nationalism, consumerism and religion.  Everyone is free to pursue their creativity or have a lie-in in their jim-jams with their soulmate. This has the helpful side-effect that we no longer fight each other in wars of annihilation.

Sceptics will point out that its a lot easier when you’re white / privileged / a former member of The Beatles with royalty income gushing into your bank account from your intellectual property (imagine there’s no possessions!).  And they might have a point there.

You don’t have to drink the FI Kool Aid and join the cult. The primary advantage of this FI thing is to get your finances under control and get some choice back into your life.

But perhaps The Escape Artist is also a dreamer. Because I can’t help thinking that the ideas of financial independence are a force for good, for happiness and the environment.

Everyday People (Arrested Development)

Financial independence shows what’s possible, not what’s normal.

One question asked about financial independence is whether its relevant for ordinary people. After all, its pretty obvious that retiring by 30 or 40 (or whatever) is out of reach for many people. Let’s file that information under N for “No Shit, Sherlock”.

But, as I explained in Financial Independence is for Everyone Part 1 and Part 2, everyone can use the tools, techniques and mindset of financial independence. And the worse your current money situation (the lower your income and the more debt you are in) the more the FI mindset will help you.

Its understandable that critics object to FIRE on the grounds that only a small % of the population are likely to retire very early. But they’re missing the point.

That’s because it’s not binary. Everyone can get better with money. Everyone can bring forward their retirement / financial freedom date. Everyone can get out of debt, build an emergency fund and get more choices and more power over their own life.

Gold (Spandau Ballet)

Here we have Spandau Ballet’s take on the role that gold can (or rather can’t) play in your portfolio.

Gold is a fear-based investment. It pays no income and creates no wealth. It just sits there as an inert store of value.

Its funny that people buy paper gold to “hedge against Armageddon”: come the end of the world gold funds, derivatives and exchange traded commodities etc will be about as useful as a student demo.

Physical gold makes more sense but still can’t protect you from the fall of capitalism nor zombie apocalypse. If that’s what you’re worried about, I suggest you tool up with an assault rifle and plenty of ammo.

Or even better, do some work on yourself. As Spandau Ballet remind us: its far more powerful to re-wire your brain to a growth mindset:

Gold! Always believe in your soul
You’ve got the power to know…you’re indestructible!
Always believe it…cos you are gold!

Make it rain (Fat Joe ft. Lil Wayne)

Women look for a number of different qualities in a partner.

But here we see Fat Joe falling into the trap of thinking that the only way to attract women is to throw money at them. That’s problematic.

The Escape Artist would respectfully point out that Fat Joe has some room for improvement both in his physical fitness and his dress sense. Perhaps he would get more…how shall I put this?…bang for his buck if he raised his Game in those departments?

Fat Joe says he has a slow metabolism but I’m not so sure about that. The Escape Artist already solved the obesity crisis. When you ditch the processed carbs (pasta, bread, noodles, pizza, cake, biscuits) and the junk food, the fat just melts away.

As a side benefit, Fat Joe should also note that natural food (e.g. fruit and vegetables, nuts, fish, olive oil) is much cheaper than processed food.

Better the Devil You Know (Kylie)

Here we have Kylie’s take on One More Year Syndrome.

Reading between the lines, Kylie’s employer has been taking her for granted. Her contract says that her hours are 9 -5 pm but in practice she’s regularly expected to put in evening shifts and weekends. If she only actually worked 9-5pm it would be a pretty good gig…but those extra hours are eating up her life.

Fortunately she has a freedom fund that’s enough to allow her to go part-time or take a lower paid job that would feed her soul or maybe even quit mandatory work altogether?

So what’s stopping her?  She’s run the numbers but still she worries. She wonders obsessively if there’s an error in her spreadsheet?

What’s going on here? What stops any of us from making a change?

Kylie is stuck in a rut. Sure we can dress it up as caution / being sensible / prudent. But let’s be honest…it’s mostly fear.

Live Forever (Oasis)

One thing that worries Kylie is longevity risk…the risk that she outlives her portfolio.

Some of the Safe Withdrawal Rate (SWR) studies model 30 year retirement periods. But if you retire in your 40s…you could have another 40, 50, 60 years to go! Surely you are twice as likely to run out of money over 60 years than you are over 30 years?

Errr no, it doesn’t work like that. When you understand how the numbers work, you realise that sequence of returns risk in a de-accumulation strategy lies in the early years.
And, to be honest, once you understand the 25x rule of thumb most further analysis of the SWR is a waste of time unnecessary. It’s a form of displacement activity: like worry beads but with spreadsheets.

This reflects the existential angst of the human condition. We so badly want life to be safe and predictable. But there are no guarantees in life.

Death is the only certainty.

Car Wash (Rose Royce)

No one ever eliminated risk with a spreadsheet (although many have tried).

But there is a way to CRUSH sequence of returns risk. And that’s by getting a fun / flexible / part time job that you enjoy or starting a lifestyle business.

Binary thinking is the curse of the internet. The idea that you are gonna retire in your 30s or 40s or 50s and never earn another penny strikes me as ridiculous unlikely.

Since reaching FI, I’ve done different voluntary and low paid jobs including nature conservancy, van driving and being a barman (as well as my financial coaching). If you can get over your ego the whole status thing, there are plenty of ways to occupy yourself whilst earning some money on the side.

Fuck The Police (NWA)

Earning after financial independence?!? What would The Internet Retirement Police say about that?!? These clowns plod around the internet criticising people who are financially independent yet are still earning some money, no matter how part-time or flexible or fun it might be.

Some form of ongoing work / challenge is an important part of a good life after financial independence. If you can get paid for that (hint: you can) fantastic.

You may be worried about what colleagues / neighbours / others would say if you were to leave your professional job and do something completely different. For example, in What Should I do With My Life?, Po Bronson tells the stories of a lawyer that became a truck driver and an investment banker that became a farmer.

But what if The Retirement Police have a problem with that? Let’s ask NWA:


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Financial Coaching

10 comments

  1. Piers · · Reply

    Really good interview, Barney – persuasive and relatable.

  2. Didn’t John Lennon have an temperature controlled room just for his enormous collection of fur coats ? Not sure how much he can offer on the frugal living front…
    Also I’ve not no idea what Fat Joe is going on about ? Seriously not a clue !

  3. As always, an assortment of slick tunes. Don’t think I’ve heard any Jungle in there yet though, have a listen to these:

    1. Thanks Tim – great shouts and much appreciated

      We rocked “Busy Earnin”” back in the day on Now 3:

      https://theescapeartist.me/2016/02/01/now-thats-what-i-call-financial-independence-3/

      but Happy Man is fresh and will be lined up for inclusion on Now! 18

  4. my old buddy hamell on trial sings about all the useless time wasting crap that decreases value in our lives

    WITH THE BONUS OF COSTING US MONEY…and he’s bald like the escape artist!

  5. Poixe.com · · Reply

    Those are some nice tunes. 🙂 And an awsome interview.

    Keep on groovin

  6. Mr JAMES M JONES · · Reply

    You missed out the obvious track – “Money” – Pink Floyd!!!!

    1. Nope, check the back catalogue bro. This is Now 17… ☺️

  7. “Gold is a fear-based investment. It pays no income and creates no wealth. It just sits there as an inert store of value.”

    So, given current interest rates, a bit like cash (and maybe also bonds) in the UK?

    I do not own Gold but did buy some Silver a long long time ago – Basically I had I run out of ideas and thought the stock market looked a bit top heavy at the time. I am terrible at selling things so I still hold it but am convincing myself that it is worth keeping as a good Brexit hedge as I would keep it in cash if I did sell as I am happy with my current equity weighting.

  8. Justine · · Reply

    Love your posts- first time commentor. I do have one small nitpick about the obesity and fresh groceries comment though- fresh food is actually significantly cheaper in the U.K. than processed food in the United States. Most “poor people” are obese here in no small part due to their limited income. DH is Sheffield-raised and couldn’t believe how expensive fruit and veg were here- and found out that the U.K. government subsidizes quite a bit of your fresh food via the farmers. Now, I’m sure Fat Joe can afford to buy veg, lol, but it is a problem for those on limited incomes. Not impossible, of course. But more difficult

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