One of the oddest things about the cultural mood over the last few years is that, putting substance aside, it has encouraged a weird sort of humourlessness on the internet about everything, in a way that removes all fun, colour and energy.
Not on my watch though. Being able to laugh at yourself and all the craziness of the world is a great way to stay sane and happy.
So this blog will continue to serve up the best personal finance related
pop-psychology content in The Entire Universe with a side order of humour.
Yes, that’s right…The Escape Artist is back to review more classic songs about financial independence in the guise of a music critic from the NME…armed with earnest prose, psycho-babble and increasingly tenuous metaphors.
Bright Side of the Road (Van Morrison)
Pessimism is contagious. This is why I try to avoid internet discussion forums filled with trollz, point-scorers and doomers.
The bear case always sounds smarter. But if they’re so smart, why haven’t they worked out how to be happy?
I Can’t Get Enough (Soulsearcher)
To get “enough” you need a dual-track approach. You work to improve your reality (getting more) whilst at the same time lowering your expectations (expecting less):
Happiness = Reality – Expectations
But how much is enough? I get asked this question a lot in my financial coaching. It’s good to talk and sometimes people want some help in figuring out whether it’s time to quit, what comes next and how they might transition.
When you’re toiling away in The Prison Camp it’s tempting to imagine that all your problems will be solved by quitting work and retiring to the beach. Fine…but what do you then do for the next 40+ years?
A change is as good as a rest. And sometimes you just need a holiday.
This classic also reminds us that even the richest people start out broke. Now a gazillionaire, Madonna was obviously too poor to afford professional choreography back then.
Ready to Go (Republica)
Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not saying that you should grind it out in The Prison Camp forever.
There’s more to life than money. If your health is seriously suffering as a result of work-related stress, you gotta get the fuck out of there pronto. No job is worth a breakdown.
Are you ready to quit your job? Money is only part of it. You’ll still need something to provide you with challenge, meaning and purpose. You should probably have some sort of plan, a reason to get up in the morning and an identity that does not rest on your title, office square footage or position in the corporate car park.
Morning Alarm (Marc Rebillet)
Life is an energy management problem. Motivation is easy when you have more energy.
There is a section in The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work which describes the life of an accountant working at The Big 4 as a series of hard take-offs (early morning alarms and strong coffee to wind up at the start of the day) and hard landings (wine and crappy tv to wind down at the end of the day).
After financial independence you can throw away the alarm clock. But until that happy time comes, I’m all for using every trick available to increase your energy. Coffee, exercise and banging house music are not a bad way to start your day.
Bitcoin Horse (Salvatore Ganacci)
One of the hilarious things about my journey down the crypto rabbit hole has been the amount of tribalism that it reveals.
Social media is a disaster area but I have to say that Crypto twitter is hilarious. It’s like a bar room brawl in a Western movie; a continual pile on where everyone accuses everyone else of being a GRIFTER and “SHILLING UR BAGZ”.
Index Fundamentalists and No-coiners howl that the crypto kidz are gambling. The Gold Bugs fight with the Bitcoiners. The Bitcoin Maximalists, protective of their digital pet rock, call Ethereum (and everything else) a “shitcoin”. Ethereans criticise Solana for lack of decentralisation. And everyone shits on Doggycoin…which continues to go up regardless.
Shake Your Head (Was Not Was)
The most important decision you make every day is where to focus your energy. Focus on what you can control. Apply own oxygen mask before helping others. Micro before macro.
If you make the mistake of going on Twitter you’ll see that most keyboard warriors, social justice activists and wokesters are walking disaster areas yet somehow think they should be put in charge. Go figure.
It’s vanity and lazy thinking to imagine that fashionable beliefs make you a better person. Your actions are what matter. Get your own shit together before demanding that the rest of the world change.
Smooth Operator (Sade)
Good manners cost nothing. And, as a bonus, they make you far more effective.
It would be fair to say that in my 20s I was not over-burdened with people skillz. In my early 30’s I realised that I’d hit a glass ceiling at work and I would not get promoted without learning some new tricks. Skills like negotiation, sales, networking, relationship building, public speaking, pitching for new business and navigating office politics.
Bitch Better Have My Money (Rihanna / Nightcore remix)
The ability to negotiate is one such important skill on your journey to financial independence. It’s your job to secure promotion + pay rise or go elsewhere.
We have to be all-rounders. It takes one set of qualities to earn more and another very different set of qualities to spend less. This song represents the Yin and the Yang of financial independence. I like the way this song balances humour with determination, assertiveness with control and swearing with melody.
I advise listening to this before you sit down with your boss for your annual performance and pay review.
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