I don’t know where the concept came from, but there’s an idea called “fuck you money”. I don’t like the crudeness of the phrase but the idea has merit. It’s vaguely defined as the amount of money you need in your bank account to feel comfortable blowing off work (or whatever else ties you down). Should demands placed on your shoulders become too onerous, “fuck you money” is what lets you shrug it off.
“Hey Smithers, get over here and fill out your TPS reports. Do it in triplicate. Also wear 13 pieces of flair, kiss my ass, grovel, and pretend to laugh at my jokes.”
Smithers checks his bank account, which holds far more than he needs.
“Nope! I’m not doing it. Take this job and shove it.”
It’s a glorious dream that’s popular in America (and probably elsewhere too). Sadly, when people ponder “fuck you money” they center on large wads of cash; millions or more. I think they’re missing the point. Because they set the bar so high, most people never get anywhere close to the kind of money they think they need (including or perhaps especially millionaires). I also suspect it’s a sliding scale. The more money you have, the more firmly you’re tied to the system that made you rich and (ironically) the more shit you’ll eat to keep up the supply. After all, money is a powerful tool but it’s only a tool. Freedom isn’t literally for sale.
Not to sound all Zen or anything, but “fuck you money” is more a state of mind than a number. You’re more likely to see Bob the trucker tell his foreman to suck it and walk off the job site during a cement pour than you are to see a filthy rich Warren Buffett analog (or virtually any politician) interrupt a board meeting with “I’m done with this shit, adios fuckers”.
I think it’s a flaw in the human mind. The more we have, the more we want.
Like anyone, I fight against this. I see it as just one more practical front in the preparedness mentality. If you fancy yourself a survivalist but shit your pants at the thought of losing your job, you ‘aint there yet. (Don’t get impatient, it’s a journey not a destination.)
With varying degrees of success, I keep nibbling away at the amount of money I “need”. There’s a lot of cool shit you can buy in modern America, it’s wise to keep it on a leash. Like any fallible human, I occasionally allow myself a fiscally unwise luxury but the overall plan is to avoid excessive entanglement. I also eat my vegetables and brush my teeth. It’s not rocket science y’all.
I don’t have “fuck you money”. I’m not there yet. But I think I’m on the right track. I inch ever closer to a life where “fuck you money” is 20 bucks in my pocket and a full freezer. I’m probably closer to the power of “fuck you money” than many very wealthy people.