What is ‘Fuck You Money' and why do I need it?
Raise your hand if you have ever wanted to tell your boss, “Fuck you, I'm done!” and just storm out – but you didn't because you can't afford to quit your job or get fired. We've all been there, maybe even this month. But we zip our lips to avoid saying something we will regret then take a deep breath before complying with whatever unreasonable demand has spiked our adrenaline.
That's part of being a grown-up, right? It might be your boss, a neighbour, or even your significant other sometimes. But you don’t have enough money in the bank to make any drastic moves, so you suck it up and smile. Here's what ‘Fuck You Money' is and why everyone should have it.
What if you didn’t have to suck it up?
What if instead of gritting your teeth when your boss asks you—again—to complete a task that is nowhere near your job description, or worse, criticizes your creative suggestions? You could tell them to take a hike, but not that politely. If you could just point the middle finger and shout “fuck you” without fear of the consequences, would you?
It's a great question, but before you find out whether you would actually do it, you better be prepared. You need ‘Fuck You Money.' But you don't have it right now, so you can't use it.
What is Fuck You Money?
It's a lot of money—we can all agree on that. However, the amount you need to achieve the status of having “FU” money depends substantially on your expenses and where you live. According to the Urban Dictionary, Fuck You money is generally described as:
“The exact amount of money required in order to tell an individual or organization to go fuck themselves without facing repercussions.”
Some people are born already in possession of FU money, arriving as newborns with built-in financial independence. That's great, but most of us have to find a way to get it.
To be clear, working for it probably isn't going to get you there. Let's look at some ways to figure out how much you need to be confident that you have it and then how to accomplish the goal.
How much Fuck You money do I need?
How much money you need is a great question. The answer depends on a host of factors, but two of the primary ones are:
- Where do you live?
- How do you live?
Location! Location! Location!
Across Canada, the cost of living varies considerably. Where you live can significantly affect how much money you need to live comfortably. Of course, you can move to a less expensive place to live in Canada or elsewhere. People willing to live in some foreign countries may find that they can reach “FU Money” status with a much lower amount.
Also, each person has different standards for what makes a comfortable lifestyle. For example, if you are content with a small apartment and a library card, your income requirements will be lower than someone who wants a large home and costly entertainment.
Be honest with yourself when you complete these calculations. Take time to research your options. If you have existing financial obligations (like a mortgage, school loan, or family), consider the term of those payments. Finally, total your expenses and determine what you need annually to support yourself.
Is Fuck You money the same as the FIRE movement?
FIRE is an acronym for Financial Independence, Retire Early. It’s a vision adopted by a group of people who dedicate themselves to strict savings and structured investments, intending to retire far earlier than is traditional, often before they turn 40. FIRE adherents try to save as much as 70% of their income so they can retire early and live off the earnings from their investments.
FIRE is not the same as FU Money. Still, success at achieving the financial independence of the movement would clearly provide you with the ability to walk away from anyone or anything that you wanted to. One helpful piece of advice from the FIRE movement is to consider every expenditure in terms of how many hours you must work to earn it.
For example, suppose you earn $40 per hour. Let's also factor in your taxes and deductions to assume you net $32 for each hour. If you spend $100 on dinner, that is more than three hours of work.
Is it worth it? You can make dinner at home for far less (say, a nice meal for $10 if you buy the ingredients and cook for yourself), which equates to only 20 minutes of work.
In contrast, if your auto loan payment is $320 per month, that requires ten hours of work. Once you start looking at what you are working for, your choices may become clearer.
How to succeed at FIRE
FIRE proponents want to retire as early as possible. Rather than following the traditional timeline of working until 60, 65, or later, this group aims to be free from the rat race before they leave their 30s behind.
They don’t mind sacrificing luxuries now to achieve that goal. In fact, many save more than 70% of their income. Participants in the FIRE movement cut out expenditures you may currently consider necessities, and they put that money into investments to build a retirement fund.
Fuck You Money and FIRE use some of the same tools to achieve their goals
For most people, having a high salary isn't going to be enough to get you to the financial position to retire early or the confidence that you can afford to tell your boss (or anyone else) to fuck off. Cutting expenses is important, but it's unlikely to add up to enough money to fund fifty or sixty years of living expenses. So, how can you achieve financial freedom?
Wants vs needs
First, determine how much money you need. As mentioned previously, you may be spending more than you need to. If you consider your priorities, you may be willing to forgo some expenditures.
Some people enjoy exploring ways to cut costs and find real pride in watching their savings and investments grow. If you keep your goal clearly in view, it will make small sacrifices less difficult.
Whether you want to reach financial independence to retire, change to a less lucrative line of work, or reach”FU Money” status, the means of getting there are very similar. You must build your assets to a level high enough to allow you to live on the earnings or minimal amounts of the principal.
Crunch the numbers & make a plan
Use a FIRE calculator to understand what you need to do and how long you need to keep at it. The calculator will use your current age, your goal age for financial independence, your current income and expenses, and other information to determine how much you need to invest and how much risk you would need to accept to achieve your preferred goals.
You might need to take some risk to accumulate Fuck You money
Investments have risks, but accepting risk is how you can get to your finish line. For example, suppose that you can save $2,000 each month. It's not a huge amount, but it's a good start. Over a year, that's $24,000. But if you have your heart set on a million-dollar bank account (not a lot for FU money or FIRE), you need to make that money reproduce itself, or you will never get there.
Suppose you can earn 8% on your investments annually. In the first year, your $24,000 will earn $1,920. In fact, that’s overly optimistic since you won't have the entire $24,000 working until the end of the year, but we will use this as an illustration.
The following year, you have $25,920 invested, and the return of 8% on that amount is $2073.60. So far, you have saved $48,000 and earned $3993.60, totalling $51,993.60. But, of course, it will take a long time to get to that million-dollar threshold.
Save more & get advice
Instead of $2,000 per month, can you challenge yourself to save $4,000? That’s what the FIRE participants are doing. Who needs Netflix when you can entertain yourself by reading investment advice? Who wants to spend $100 on a new outfit when you know you had to work three hours to pay for it, and the purchase keeps you from your freedom?
Risk vs reward
Instead of letting your hard-earned savings languish in a savings account or conservative fixed-income investments, you may want to take some risk in pursuit of potential higher rewards. Many investors like to put some of their funds in stocks, which have the potential for higher earnings, and some in more secure, less flashy investments like bonds.
Ask an expert
It’s up to you and your goals but consider getting expert help. You may want to look into an online broker. These discount brokerages can help you decide where to invest according to your risk appetite. Many forgo the minimum requirements of more traditional financial advisers and have the resources to offer you a wide range of potential opportunities.
Do your research
Do some research first because, depending on your plans, online broker fees may take a bite out of your investments and any profits. You may also want to consider using a robo-advisor. Despite the implication of automation, the advice you get from a robo-advisor isn't calculated by a formula but is devised by an actual portfolio manager.
Still, since the advisor doesn’t interact with you directly, you can get advice and conduct transactions for less money. However, most of the investments are exchange-traded funds, which mirror index funds but at a lower cost.
Getting back to the Fuck You money goal
We've talked about how to save, how much to save, and how to get your money to reproduce. These things can help you get closer to that magical moment when you have the freedom to say “Fuck You” to your boss or anyone else who is keeping you from being who you want to be.
But here’s another tip to think about: you might not need as much money as you originally calculated. Why? Because you probably will be doing something that brings in income.
Work on your own terms
Whether you are working toward an actual early retirement or simply the confidence of knowing that you can walk away anytime, chances are you won't want to stay idle forever. For example, suppose your FIRE dream involves moving to a fabulous beach in South America. In that case, you are likely at some point to get tired of counting coconuts and decide to create adorable little tourist souvenirs from coconuts.
If your FU moment leads you to travel the country in your camper, you may turn your anecdotal musings on life into a popular blog that brings in money from ads and affiliate links. Or you might keep yourself busy with occasional odd jobs to reduce the outflow from your account.
In most circumstances, the end of your participation in the rate race will drastically reduce your wages but may not entirely eliminate your income. Factoring this into your formula may allow you to reach your goal sooner.
Let your motivation help you get started
If you can’t sit through one more meeting with your manager, or you are done stifling your creative instincts by spending 8 hours a day trapped in a cubicle farm, start planning your escape now.
You can realistically save thousands without that much effort. If you are more motivated, you will not let a bit of deprivation now stop you from reaching your FIRE or FU goal quickly. The sheer pleasure of knowing you can leave at any time, without fear of financial consequences, will be like a delightful secret. In fact, it just might make your boss easier to like.
FAQs About Fuck You Money
Fuck You money is having a stash big enough that you can walk away from a job, situation, or relationship without financial worry.
How much you need depends on your financial needs–it might be a lot or not that much.
You need to accumulate enough money so that you feel secure in telling a boss, significant other, or business partner “fuck you.” You can get there by drastically reducing your expenses or by increasing your income.
Having “fuck you” money means you don’t have to take anything from anyone. You can afford to walk away from a situation you find unacceptable without concern for your financial security.