Why you need F-you money

Posted: June 6, 2011 in business, Life, Money

Shortly after 9/11 my company kicked me to the curb.

Six months earlier our division president had taken me to a congratulations lunch for a record breaking year.  We were explosively growing and embarrassingly profitable.  Over a bottle of fine wine we discussed my very bright future.

It was the best job I’ve ever had.  Great team, great leadership, great fun.  Great money.  I had just cashed a bonus check for more than I had ever made in a single year before.

A year later my little girl and I were sitting on the couch watching a news broadcast.  The concerned news crew was filming people standing in a depression era style bread line.  They were, the reporter said, the newly poor suffering from job loss in the dismal economy.  I was still unemployed and licking my wounds.

“Daddy,” said my eight-year-old, “are we poor?”  She was gravely concerned.

“No,” I said, “we’re just fine.”

“But you don’t have a job,” she said.  Thinking, I’m sure, just like those poor souls on the TV.  Who even thought she knew what a job was?

‘That’s no problem, honey.  We have money that’s working for us instead.”

That’s what I said, but what I was thinking was:  This was exactly why I worked hard to be sure I had F-you money.  In fact I’d been working on it long before I heard the term.

If memory serves, it comes from James Clavell.  In his novel “Tai Pan” (highly recommended BTW) a young woman is on the quest to secure 10 million dollars.  She calls it her “F-you money,” although the F-word is spelled out in the book.  So you can look it up in case you’re wondering just what word it is.  And 10m is far more than it takes, at least for me.  https://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/the-monk-and-the-minister/

I may not have known what it was called, but I knew what it was and why it is important.  There are many things money can buy, but the most valuable of all is freedom.  Freedom to do what you want and work for whom you respect.

Those who live paycheck to paycheck are slaves.  Those who carry debt are slaves with even stouter shackles.  Don’t think for the moment their masters don’t know it.

This guy, one of my favorite bloggers, even says home ownership is a form of corporate bondage.  Check out point “E.”:


I first accumulated the modest amount I needed around 1989.  Not enough to retire on perhaps, but enough to say F-you if needed.

The timing was fortunate.  I wanted to take some time off to pursue business acquisitions.  When I found myself one morning with my boss in the office hallway screaming at each other, it occurred to me perhaps the time had come.  Never did a guy more need to be told….

I may never own a Mercedes but I’ll always be able to say what needs to be said when it needs to be said.

Oh and it turned out I was unemployed for three full years after 9/11.  I’m really lousy at job hunting.

 Care to comment?  Just click on the circle on the top right of the post.

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  1. […] at jlcollinsnh we discuss mostly why you need F-you money and how to grow yours. In our conversations, Cheryl and I agreed that money for the sake of money […]

  2. […] will NOT be there for you. Live below your means, invest the surplus, avoid debt and accumulate F-You Money. Be independent, financially and otherwise. If/when Social Security comes thru, […]

  3. […] and why I stepped away for months, sometimes years at a time.  The need/desire to do that is why F-you money has always been so […]

  4. […] Why You Need F-You  Money @ Jlcollinshnh […]

  5. […] a financial component to the Retreat.  After all if you’re going to pursue your dream, F-you Money helps.  Over coffee, which by the way she grows on the farm, we’ll discuss how this might […]

  6. Blair says:

    Where would you suggest one to accumulate FU money? Me and my wife are doing a good job of saving in retirement accounts (401k and roth iras). I know I could access principle from the Roth, but how does someone determine how much to keep in taxable accounts versus retirement accounts. I have a strong desire to acquire FU money, but also want to take full advantage of tax savings etc…. Any thoughts or suggestions? love the blog.

  7. Corey says:

    Great blog, I also came via mmm and similarly enjoying your writing very much.

    One minor point (only because I love his books) – If I recall correctly I believe the term Clavell used was “screw you money” and it was in his book Noble House.

    I don’t mean to correct you, just make sure that people read the right (awesome) book. Although “Tai-pan” is a great one too.


    • jlcollinsnh says:

      Thanks Corey…..

      and no worries on the correction. It’s been a long time since I read Clavell and my memory’s not what it once was.

      Still, I remember enough to second your praise of his books.

  8. Shilpan says:

    I love your wisdom Jim. “I may never own a Mercedes but I’ll always be able to say what needs to be said when it needs to be said.” — that’s the definition of wealth in my dictionary.

  9. […] Why you need F-you money […]

  10. Hey man, Great post I would be fine with $10m, I Just want to be able to wake up and have that freedom that money brings. Nothing Else. You should post more often your posts are quite addicting and you write well. Thanks.

  11. […] greater the percent of your income you save and invest, the sooner you’ll have F-You money.  Try 50%.  With no debt, this is perfectly […]

  12. Jess says:

    hah wow look at you dad!! congrats it looks great! unfortunately i didn´t have time to read all of your posts but i did read the one about f-you money and i cant wait to see what some of your readers have to say about that topic. and the layout itself is very impressive, very proffesional. im impressed. looks like you´ve been busy while i´ve been away. can´t wait to hear all about it when i get back :) see you on friday!!

    love you


    • jlcollinsnh says:

      Hi Cutie….

      Great to see you here and reading this. Finally, a way to get you to listen! ;)
      Thanks for the kind words. you’ll have to keep reading now. never know when I’ll be talking about you. :)

      See you Friday. How about lunch over the weekend?

      Love Daddy

  13. Thats a great post Jim. I’m still trying to figure out the number myself but the realization we all get as we get older and deal with real life and real happiness is that its never as high as we thought.

    Although, one story:

    Was having breakfast with someone a few months ago and he told me he had just had breakfast with Steve Schwartzman, CEO of Blackstone. Steve is, of course, a billionare. But my friend told me he was VERY UPSET. Because Sergey Brin and Larry Page had more money than him. “Those fucking kids,” he said, “deserve shit compared to me.”

    And that’s a guy who never have the magic of enough.

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