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Ask PG & other successful folks: how did your life change after FU money?
277 points by resdirector on July 13, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 174 comments
Here are some questions that I find myself pondering from time to time as I code. To those who have achieved "FU money" (I use this term loosely):

* Has your life changed in unexpected ways?

* Has there been any change in the way you interact with strangers?

* Has the number of things you have to endure increased or decreased?

* And is "FU money" all its cracked up to be? e.g., is your life an order of magnitude more enjoyable now, or is it pretty much the same etc?

I've been meaning to write about this one day. There are some things that change. For example, you learn to distinguish problems that can be solved with money from those that can't. You can buy your way out of a lot of schleps.

Life doesn't get an order of magnitude more enjoyable, because you still can't buy your way out of the most serious types of problems, but a lot of annoyances are removed.

The best part is what I thought would be the best part: not having to worry about money. Before Viaweb I'd been living pretty hand to mouth, doing occasional consulting. It felt like treading water, in the sense that while it wasn't hard, I knew in the back of my mind that I'd drown if I stopped. Getting rich felt like reaching the shore.

One thing you learn when you get rich, though, is how few of your problems were caused by not being rich. When you can do whatever you want, you get a variant of the terror induced by the proverbial blank page. There are a lot of people who think the thing stopping them from writing that great novel they plan to write is the fact that their job takes up all their time. In fact what's stopping 99% of them is that writing novels is hard. When the job goes away, they see how hard.

There are a lot of people who think the thing stopping them from writing that great novel they plan to write is the fact that their job takes up all their time. In fact what's stopping 99% of them is that writing novels is hard. When the job goes away, they see how hard.

This resonates. I quit my dot-com job before the bubble burst and I had order 10^4 dollars in my bank account. I decided that rather than invest the money in an apartment house, or pay off debt from college, I would take some time off, and just... see what happened. I had enough money that if I wanted to get into e.g. videography, I could go out and buy a nice video camera and a computer to edit my movies (storage was a lot more expensive back then, no way to do this sort of thing on an iPhone!). If I wanted to get really into mountaineering, I could buy a bunch of gear and go wild. This was a first for me, my family and I had always been pretty broke as I grew up.

And what happened? Well, I rediscovered my enjoyment of life drawing, and went to some open sessions, the kind where you pay $10 and everybody draws from the model. And I hung out with friends a lot, and basically re-socialized myself to learn how to relax and have a good time with people. And I ate out a lot, and I partied, and I horsed around. Oh yeah, and I discovered that I really like to run in the woods, up and down hills on narrow trails.

But essentially, there was no 'passion' uncovered by that freedom. I discovered my passion when I went back to work. I was sick of programming for money, so I got a job in a molecular neurobiology lab. And that was 9 years ago, and I've been busting ass and totally engaged with science ever since.

FU money would be great, but in some ways I feel I already had an experience of it -- or at least, of some of the more interesting things that can come of it. I do feel like I'll drown if I stop treading water, it would be nice to be rid of that sensation.

10^4 dollars? 10^4 thousand dollars?

If he had 10^4 thousand dollars I assume he wouldn't have to worry about whether to pay off his student loans or not. Unless he had a lot of student loans.

I assume it means what it says. Tens of thousands of dollars in the bank. Nice to have, but far from FU.

I got laid off in the dot com crash with a 10^5 dollars in 2001 (I know, I got lucky. Company out of money, but acquired by a bigcorp. Laid off the least senior folk with nice package).

It let me move across the country and not work for a couple years. Which was nice, and really it's ultimately been life changing what with a new environment, but it wasn't transformational or anything.

I took that as meaning, "under $100,000" ...

I had a sister with a severe mental disability (Rett Syndrome) who died at the age of 17. A very wise, (and very broke) parent of another girl with Rett Syndrome explained to us that if you have a problem that money can solve, you don't really have a problem. While I do not posess a great deal of monetary wealth, this idea has helped me differentiate between fiscal problems and other, in many ways, more challenging problems.

From second hand experience I can tell you that if you have a problem that money can solve (for example a serious health problem for which an expensive cure exists), but not enough money to solve it, it can be as bad as or worse than a problem that money can't solve.

I'll second that. Had Hodgkin's Lymphoma when I was 19. Clearly having health insurance was the key, but no additional amount of money would have stopped me from having chemotherapy. That was the age that I realized money didn't matter, being alive did.

What kind of schleps have you bought yourself out of? If you prefer a less personal question, what kind of schleps could one buy oneself out of?

Here are some "trading money for time / convenience" options that I'd love to be able to afford:

1) Shopping. For a few extra bucks, most large grocery stores will deliver.

2) Laundry. Pay a service to pick up / clean / drop off your clothes.

3) Travel. For long distances, fly first class (far more comfortable), or charter a plane (no TSA experience!). For in-city, take a cab.

4) Dining. Not in the mood to cook? Eat out whenever you want.

5) Taxes. Pay someone else.

6) Housecleaning. Hire a service.

7) If you want to get marginally obnoxious about it...never wait in line again. Just carry a big wad of cash and, if you find yourself stuck at the back of a long line, go to each person in turn and say: "I'll give you $50 (or whatever) for your place in line."

Then of course there are opportunities that aren't available until you have FU money:

1) Travel. A lot. To exotic places that you could not otherwise afford.

2) Invest your money better. Many financial instruments (e.g. hedge funds) are available only to rich people; normal folks cannot invest in them, which means they cannot achieve the same level of returns. This is one of the reasons the rich / poor gap keeps increasing.

3) Live in whatever neighborhood you want.

4) If you have really serious FU money, pay your local telecom to sling an OC-3 line into your house, even if it means paying off the city to dig up the street.

6) Housecleaning. Hire a service.

You don't need anything like FU money to hire a cleaning service to come in every one or two weeks. Any normal salaried job puts you into range. I've seen house-sharing students pool their money together to hire one to clean their shared living areas rather than fight over whose turn it is to scrub the bathtub. It also forces you to tidy up on a schedule, as most cleaners won't move stuff to clean.

After food, accommodation and broadband, I can't think of anything out of my paycheck that gives me more bang for my buck in terms of quality of life. I would definitely pass up a new TV or better car or most material consumption in order to have a cleaner.

OK, you've talked me into it. I've been thinking about getting a cleaner for a while, it's time to start using a small portion of my money to get rid of the thing I hate most and the thing which I get most depressed for not doing.

Heh, here in NYC, even the debt-laden, paycheck-to-paycheck folks do 1-6

1.) FreshDirect - $99 a year for free grocery deliveries

2.) Any corner dry cleaner - $10 a week to drop off two loads of dirty laundry on the way to work. Your doorman will have it when you return that night.

3.) Your company buys you refundable tickets when you have to fly, which I argue is more stress-relieving than 1st class tickets

(Dining and Taxes need no explanation)

6.) Whatever maid your doormen / super recommends - $60-90 every two weeks. A bit steep, but playing The Sims made me realize cleaning service is worth it.

I just moved to Manhattan. More like $1/lb for wash and fold.

7)Having a local farmer's market deliver a basket of fresh vegetables to you every two weeks.

The Sims taught me to keep my stats balanced. I'm hungry at the moment, I better eat something!

These largely seem like the exact things you shouldn't do with FU money. Fly private? Bury your own fiber lines? Randomly give out $50 when the spot in line isn't really worth that? These sound like great ways to quickly end up without money again.

I choose to look at it this way: the true benefit of having money is the freedom of choice it can buy you, not the material items/services themselves. The freedom to choose not to spend your time doing things you don't like or find tedious sounds pretty good to me.

Bingo - time, your time, is the one thing you can't buy more of later.

Having money makes you realize you actually didn't need as much of it as you thought you did.

I don't know why you've been down voted, I was thinking exactly the same as you.

1) Shopping. For a few extra bucks, most large grocery stores will deliver.

Here in Tokyo a supermarket will charge about U$5 for delivery. I imagine the fee wouldn't be very different in North America. Hardly FU money. (Actually the delivery fee is waived for purchases over $50, so I buy groceries once a week and never pay for delivery.)

2) Laundry. Pay a service to pick up / clean / drop off your clothes.

6) Housecleaning. Hire a service.

These are very cheap in the Third World. You can make a living as a remote freelancer out of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Thai, etc. Of course most people don't want to move to Third World countries buy hey, it's way easier than ever getting FU money. ;-)

4) Dining. Not in the mood to cook? Eat out whenever you want.

I don't cook and I spend less than $22 a day for food. Not very frugal but again not even close to FU money.

5) Taxes. Pay someone else.

Filling my taxes used to take 5 minutes per year. Now that my name and address are pre-printed on the form, it takes me about 1. Everything else is done by my company.

Opportunity #2 isn't necessarily a win, if you're not careful. There is an industry out there ready to separate the newly wealthy from their wealth - the same one that convinces average people to dump their money into mutual funds with outrageous fees, but since you're rich they can afford to apply the personal attention and salesmanship of a luxury car dealership.

On all of those, if it cost less to hire someone for an hour than you make you should hire them and apply that time to something that pays your wages or your own endeavor. It is better time spent.

On taxes if you make over 50k a year you should have a tax professional and not H&R Block or worse yet yourself. I resisted this for years and lost a lot of money because of fear that a CPA would be expensive. A good CPA pays for themselves. When I finally broke down and went to one it cost me $1600 for my personal taxes and I gains 10K over what I could find. He also refiled my last two years (I think it was 2 its been a while) and got me some more money back.

So of the folks on here who got FU money - how do you invest it? Do you actively manage it or have a manager?

I saw something on HN a while back called the permanent portfolio which looked simple and conservative (25% stock, 25% bonds, 25% gold, 25% cash) and was curious if any rich folks out there are using that in practice.

25% gold and 25% cash? I'm not an investment expert. But this seems like a pretty bad idea to me. For one thing, just holding currency is pretty much a guaranteed way to lose money, given inflation. And I always understood gold to be a sort of hedge against currency failure, war, and that kind of thing---which makes it odd to keep just as much currency as gold.

Non-expert investors should basically just buy index funds and hold them, transitioning them slowly to less volatile bonds as they get older and are more vulnerable to risk.

>In fact what's stopping 99% of them is that writing novels is hard.

Haha, so true. As a software engineer one might expect writing a book to be easy by comparison, but once you actually start working on it, you find that writing a good book is anything but.

Good analogy.

One thing I genuinely want to know is how much money it takes to be "rich" in Silicon Valley. In my experience, $5M yields a slightly better but still basically middle-class life. I suspect a lot of people are underestimating how much they need to reach the FU level.

I guess there's some question of what "FU money" and "rich" means to you. Does it mean never working again? Does it mean working but not having to worry about your salary (for example, opening up careers like teaching that you might not have considered because of poor pay)? Does it mean being able to buy or do anything you want?

Your answers to this are going to affect how much money is "FU money" for you.

If it means not having to work, you might also consider why you need to live in Silicon Valley. It's not a particularly great place to live other than the job opportunities, and a million dollar house there costs a fraction of that in most of the rest of the country.

$5M puts you in the top 1%. I'd say that fits the definition of "rich" for most of the other 99%. Maybe $5M wouldn't put you that high in the Silicon Valley but I'm sure it's close.

Also, can I ask if you experience is first hand? If not, be careful with appearances. I just recently discovered that someone I've known for years has significantly more money than their lifestyle would indicate. Not everyone lives extravagantly just because they have money.

Thanks kscaldef and detst for your replies. I do think a lot about moving out of Silicon Valley especially since the state of California is in such a financial mess. Theoretically, I could quit my job now, but it wouldn't make much financial sense, and I enjoy where I'm working.

My experience with $5M is in fact firsthand, and it feels a lot closer to "middle class" than to "rich". Maybe it's because I live a non-extravagant lifestyle and I just need to buy myself a Ferrari :-) But seriously, what I'd like is to find out from people who actually know, if there's a financial level at which life changes qualitatively. E.g. is there a level at which it makes sense to stop working and spend your time managing your charitable foundation and hanging out at TED and Davos?

"But seriously, what I'd like is to find out from people who actually know, if there's a financial level at which life changes qualitatively. E.g. is there a level at which it makes sense to stop working and spend your time managing your charitable foundation and hanging out at TED and Davos?"

Not that I know from personal experience, but my best guess on that level of wealth would be 100s of millions. That's a different level of existence.

I know plenty of people with millions, they seem more or less ordinary, though their leisure activities exceed the norm. The couple of people in the 10s of millions range that I'm somewhat acquainted with have very nice living environments (think estates), but don't have foundations. The one person I know with foundation/ted/davos is in a family with the 9 figure range.

Don't really know silicon valley folks, though.

If you plan on staying on to live in the valley, $20-30M. I have many friends who are worth $3-5M and they do not consider themselves even close to rich in the valley. Housing and schooling in Palo Alto are very expensive. $5M is nowhere near enough to buy a really nice house and then take it easy for the rest of your life - sad to say, but true.

At least in the valley, most people still live below their means. I find that on the East Coast and Southern CA that those with expensive lifestyles are usually heavily burdened by debt. There are many many wealthy people in the valley who live in simple apartments and walk everywhere, not needing the flashy car or flashy clothes to justify their existence and place in society.

I know a few people who consider themselves to be in "FU money" territory, in the sense that they don't have to ever work unless they want to, and have way less than $20m. It depends on how you want to live, to some extent. The Valley isn't all that expensive if you don't require a big house in Palo Alto or Los Gatos, and especially if you're looking to rent. If you set your budget at, say, $50,000/year for housing, i.e. you can afford to pay a bit over $4000/mo rent, there are a lot of options. There are quite nice apartments or even townhouses in S.F. for that money, or reasonably large houses in Santa Clara.

Living in Socal for the last decade, I'd have to say it's the top area for living above your means. One phrase I've heard several times here is "car rich, house poor", for example.

Having said that, there are an extraordinary number of genuinely wealthy people in Socal. It's odd at times.

A data point:

I work with a lot of doctors that make $200 - $300k a year. And, I'd say that makes the comfortably upper middle class in the Bay Area. Couples where both are nurses can make $250 a year without working very hard.

Salaries at those levels make it very feasible to buy a house and take a nice vacation or two to Hawaii, Thailand or Europe. They drive nice cars and have lovely electronics to play with.

What sorts of new problems do you have when you are rich?

Do people treat you differently? Perhaps they are not as nice?

And also, how the surrounding people has changed to you?

Be prepared for it mentally and emotionally before getting FU money. It's not dissimilar to winning the lottery.

Most of you reading this site is either working extremely hard to get FU money or has it already. If you're not prepared for it, it will just amplify your worst nightmares and habits, and there's a good chance the meaning of many things in life, including life itself, will disappear. Plan for a use/purpose for the FU money.

The journey is sometimes better than the destination, so make sure that once you arrive at the destination, it is only one stop of a longer journey. Here's a story of a millionaire who liked the journey much more than the destination, so gave away all the money to restart the journey. http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SmartSpending/blog/page...

After you've bought/rented all your material wants, you will feel an empty feeling and ask yourself, "that's it?", unless you have a purpose greater than yourself. Belong to a higher cause, whether it's joining a local non-profit or helping others (or start a yc? ;-). Money is a means to an end, not the end itself. Beyond buying power, money has no value unless it is used/invested/earmarked.

Here are some example people who were unprepared and how they used their FU money: http://www.oddee.com/item_97101.aspx

EDIT: Not sure why I'm being downvoted. Yes, we can talk about the great positives of FU money and the awesome power/material good it brings, but not about the potential downsides it'll bring if you don't keep it in check or plan for it in advance? For what it's worth, I've started several companies, each did well, and the points I've raised above were important for me (for belonging to a higher purpose, I sat on the board of a non-profit and helped raise money). There was a time when I thought I reached my "destination", only to feel that I had arrived at an deserted island.

Tim O’Reilly:

"Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don't want to run out of gas on your trip, but you're not doing a tour of gas stations. You have to pay attention to money, but it shouldn't be about the money.”

I'm not sure why someone would downvote you. Having a journey _is_ key, and this is why "FU money" would be useful. Given a lucky $5,000,000 lottery win, many people on HN would probably have a chance to leave the day job and finally take a shot at accomplishing their dream (perhaps building the next amazing geo-tagging-social-network, or opening a store, or whatever it might be.) Without a dream, people will just spend money on toys that seem far too obvious, such as fancy cars.

Simple money management skills help as well.

You just said something really interesting in there...... that perhaps it would be building the next geo-tagging-social network.

That's the problem - assuming the readers are techies.... if I suddenly had my FU money - the last thing I'd want to do is start a technology company, unless it was something I was really super passionate about.

I'd personally rather go back to having my computers as my hobby, and work on my family, other hobbies, travel, maybe learn to write better.... and work on long term financial managemnet so I'll be set for good, as well as my family. And yeha, maybe a fancy-ish car or two - but the money buys my personal time back- the last thing I'd want to do is dump it into work again...

That changes with time. Some people that make it have a tendency to take some time off and do those type things. A portion of people take time off to restore an old car, teach themselves art, music, woodworking, go back to school for something unrelated, build a house by hand and a multitude of other things, but eventual a good portion finally return to some form of work. Sometimes a new interest turns into a business venture or an interesting idea peeks their interest and they build a business around it, but if you are young chances are you will return to work at some point. To me this is the greatest advantage of FU money, it gives you the time to recharge your battery and really contribute something to a project instead of just slinging code to ensure that you family is fed. It allows you work to have a greater purpose, if not to society in general then at least to yourself.

I like to imagine myself angel or even venture investing after successfully building a company or three. There's a lifetime of work in shifting markets, and much of it can be helping other people build fantastic stuff.

We only get a short time on the treadmill, better to throw it out the window so the next walker get's a beautiful view.

There are a ton of stories of lottery winners who blew the lot in surprisingly little time, and have literally nothing to show for it.

The problem seems to be if you suddenly have x money, you start to live as if you have 10x.

With lotteries there is a strong selection bias.

Rational people usually don't indulge in lotteries.

Among lottery winners there will be disproportionally more people who are going to be really bad with money management.

I hear a lot of people saying this. Do you have any data points links for the same?. Just curious.

Not any hard numbers on % of lottery winners or anything, but stories in the papers are common:



I don't know. Some fancy cars are pretty awesome. Just sayin'

I absolutely agree. I have had such roller coaster ride ( very little to mid six figures to negative to millions to almost nothing and then to a lot more than a few million ) by not being prepared, more than once, that I just started a blog about it. TheOfficialSoundtrack.com ( next post coming this week ).

[EDIT: I will add that IMHO FU money is /not/ a few million USD.]

$3M would definitely be FU money to me. Not enough to live in opulence, but definitely enough to not have to work for a living.

Yes I would define FU as not having to rely on anyone else for financial security. I would say conserved and invested well FU money starts at 2M USD. It is different from the mega rich.

I also thought this before I made the first few million. Except it’s almost impossible to keep the exact same lifestyle you had before ( if it was an 'overnight' FU event like the sale of a large asset ) as you have a lot of new possibilities that you never really payed attention to. It is easy to double, and even triple, your monthly expenditures and still be /very/ conservative with your money. A lot of these new expenses will come from traveling more, socializing more, helping friends and family out ( trust me, not matter how hard you try it will happen more than once ) and this is not even taking into account you starting new projects or testing new ideas that will certainly burn through some cash.

Ye I agree completely, my point was just that, if you really really wanted to and you lived a bottom to mid middle class lifestyle to you stretch 2 million and never have to answer to anyone again.

I know that reality is a lot different. For example you start shopping for espresso machines and instead of buying the nice consumer model you go out and but the commercial model. The consumer model would have suffices but the commercial model is so much cooler looking.

It happen, everyone has something superficial that they are going to buy the top of the line of. For some it is cars for other it is a hobby but, yes this can burn up a lot of cash. I have seen a few though that have turned 2M into FU money, one of them actually decreased their standard of living because, not answering to other people, was the top priority in their life.

But, with a low amount like 2M it has to be your top most priority. Also keep in mind I am in Florida and not the valley so the economics are different. Here even at the peak of the land bubble a decent middle class house could be picked up for 200k and home ownership is a big piece of the FU puzzle.

Valid point. A person can make anything, and in this case make 2M work for the rest of their life, their true #1 priority is a dangerous person depending on that priority ;)

In the short-term, my life was much worse. I spent a lot of really painful time struggling to come to grips with my situation.

After that was over, things went pretty much back to normal. There's now a low-level fear all the time of losing all the money (something PG's written about recently) and I'm constantly worried I've invested it badly. I didn't make any dramatic life changes so people don't really treat me differently.

The biggest thing is that it provides a sort of mental backup -- when I'm feeling bad about myself or about to do something risky, I can tell myself not to worry.

My sense is that it bears out what the happiness research says: dispositional factors are much more important than situational ones. PG was an abnormally happy person before he got rich and he's still abnormally happy. I was pretty miserable before and I'm still miserable. (The reasons are more complicated but the result is I prefer my misery.)

Did you tend to worry a lot before you had the money? You mention the misery is consistent. Is worry part of that.

I think coming into money is pretty much like losing a limb or experiencing a tragedy. After a certain period of time, the person who has experienced the tragedy goes back to where they were, mentally, before the tragedy. Same with lots of money, eventually they return to their norm.

Lots of money brings lots of freedom, which can bring a lot of instability/chaos. You lose all the structure that you had from the constraints of working for a living. If the instability (and resultant stress) is too much, going back to "the way you were" could be a relief.

There's a lot of truth to this, but the worry about investing it wrong is definitely new. There wasn't anything I really worried about that way before the money. Maybe if I had a family to support, it'd be different, and I would have constantly worried about having to take care of them. pg talks about always being worried about being broke; I don't recall ever worrying about that. If anyone ever asked me, I guess I would have said that I could always just move back in with my parents.

I didn't know you had a huge exit. Or are you talking about money you've made from being a semi-famous hacker now?

>(The reasons are more complicated but the result is I prefer my misery.)

Either way, that problem might be solved by a good Psychologist, that you probably should be able to afford. :-)

I didn't know you had a huge exit.

Aaron's company Infogami merged with reddit before it got acquired by Condé Nast.

Ah. Cool. I've ran into him here and there in cyberspace and a had a few good discussions, always knew he was brilliant, just didn't know how successful he was. :)

I am sorry to hear that. I read your blog, however, and it seems that you are doing something rather useful with your time. So it is probably not that bad. When you are truly miserable you cannot get anything done.

Yeah, I'm exaggerating. I think that the term happiness really refers to two different things. The first (call it happiness0) is how good you feel on a moment-to-moment basis. This is what I was referring to above (pg is always grinning and bouncing; I'm huddled in the corner furiously typing--again, I'm exaggerating). But happiness1 is how you feel looking back on what you've done. And when it comes to that, I feel like the happiest1 person alive. I certainly wouldn't give that up to get more happiness0.

I thought that money would allow me to increase my happiness1 by letting me choose what to work on. But it turns out all the things I've chosen to work on pay just fine, so in practice it hasn't really been a big deal. I think this ties in with something pg says above. Basically: if there's something you really want to do, just go do it -- don't wait for the money to roll in first.

Somehow your post reminded me of "The Heart" a poem by Stephen Crane:

In the desert I saw a creature, naked, bestial, Who, squatting upon the ground, Held his heart in his hands, And ate of it.

I said, "Is it good, friend?" "It is bitter - bitter," he answered; "But I like it Because it is bitter, And because it is my heart."

I'm in no way in the league of pg or others but I might have an interesting story to share.

While at university I was pretty skint (as students are). Anyway, long story short I happened to "start a company" that never took off but did take the interest of another competitor - who then bought me out (it never came to anything from them - they were "super funded" and had a not-that-good team....).

Anyway; it wasn't a lot of cash considering - but compared to what I was living on...

I immediately went and bought a silly car which ate up petrol and insurance money (tip 1: don't buy a really nice car unless you drive a lot, now I run a 14 year old Peugeot and it is more reliable, economical and fun :)).

This sort of thing (silly spending) went on for about a month until I was stocked up on all sorts of technology porn (in fairness to myself I did splash money on my friends/flatmates quite liberally). I can't exactly remember what made me stop but did eventually realise that I was acting silly ;)

Even when I stopped spending it was hard to avoid buying stuff I saw and trivially wanted - there was no sense of ownership on the expensive items any more (compared to the 32" TV I had bought a few months earlier and saved for for nearly a year) and they never really made me happy.

Long story short; most of it went into Ebay, I put the money into a long term fund and finished up Uni as a poor student.

Two years later the money is still there; I managed to find a job that rocks and pays pretty good (considering). I've got over the need for money/items and have (in my mind) a much nicer outlook on life and "stuff" :)

So, yes, having "large amounts of cash" (relatively speaking) did change me - but not in the way I expected :)

And the best bit is that I have money for a house, wedding ring (hopefully :)), kids etc... in the future if things don't work out.

The more I think about this -- really think about it -- the more I become convinced that anonymity and a small amount of recurring income, along with a reasonably-frugal life, is probably the best outcome in life.

EDIT: Just to clarify, I'm not saying to be poor. I'm saying that the more your income becomes visible -- past just having a low-key life -- the more it gets in the way of things, both for you and your family.

That can either mean living in a room where they shove a couple pizzas under the door every day or living in a modest 4BR house in a mediocre neighborhood. It's the visibility and the host of hidden entrapments that come with that visibility. What I didn't realize when I was younger that this problem of visibility isn't just limited to how others view your wealth -- it's really more a problem of of you view it.

As long as you are content there forever. Like the research says, once you take the worry about money out of the equation, money no longer becomes much of a motivator.

Kind of makes it hard to work or do other ventures.

If money was you only motivator in the first place.

Eating and having shelter was a motivator before, not money. Once you don't have to worry about those anymore (i.e. don't need a paycheck, feasibly never needing another paycheck).

My brother pointed out to me that he thought life would be great if he "had enough money to control his schedule".

My life became measurably better when I gained the independence to set my own schedule. I have to say that financial independence (for me at least) brought a significant amount of happiness, that I am very fortunate to have.

I now work from my house, and have 3 small children. The ability to drop what I am doing to seize the moment when the kids are doing something eventful (walking for the first time, speaking there first word, playing video games with them, doing robotics with them) is an amazing freedom and blessing.

We frequently pick up and leave to go places on the spur of the moment, which also provides experiences that my kids would not otherwise have been able to do. The best part is I feel more creative than I have ever felt in my 17 years in the industry and I am far more productive and work longer hours without burnout.

I see a lot of people saying that achieving financial independence did not make them happier and I don't understand it. For me it gave me the ability to create an environment where I could have a more satisfying family life and a more creative work life. It has done wonders for my happiness.

A room of one's own and GBP£500 a year? Now where have I heard that before.

That's a very good book to read, even as a man from a completely different time and circumstance than Virginia Woolf's when she wrote it.

Pretty much the same life, the toys are just a bit bigger. One thing I've found though - girls don't care about the money in the bank. Maybe they care about if you drive a big car or something, but just spending a lot does not seem to result in the ladies being significantly more impressed.

Interaction with other people is more of a i-don't-give-a-shit-who-you-are anymore. Take it or leave it is much easier.

Life is more relaxed - that constant stress of being broke is gone. But there are other problems that come up when some problems go away. Stuff that appeared smaller before (how do I get people to like me, for example), now seem more important.

One thing I've found though - girls don't care about the money in the bank.

Wherever you are meeting girls, I want to go there.

My experience in an NJ bar a week or two ago: I was talking with a coder friend of mine about my job. This was a geeky conversation with words like "latency", "queues" and "atomic operations", as well as "lost $BIGNUM in half a second", rather than a manly conversation about "parachuting into darfur to deliver aid." A guido girl at the bar visibly perked up and came over to talk and asked if I was a trader within 5 minutes of conversation.

(Note: I don't have fuck you money, though my casual reaction to losing $BIGNUM might suggest I do.)

You went to a bar in... let me guess... Hoboken? That's where all the junior bankers and golddiggers live and hang out. In Brooklyn, nobody cares and you'll get laid LESS if you're a typical finance dildo. There are so many single women in NYC only complete losers and trolls cannot pull trim.

Spot on. I probably should cross the rivers more often, but hey, two trains. I'm actually not complaining about difficulty getting laid; it's easy enough that it's gotten boring. The real difficulty is finding girls you want to do more than sleep with.

Incidentally, Brooklyn is hardly a panacea. A girl in Brooklyn once kicked me out of her apt at 3AM after, while discussing life I accidentally revealed the size of my savings ("enough to travel around India for a few months"). (This was when I was an academic.) While Brooklyn is certainly better than Hoboken, there is no shortage of "artistic" types hoping to meet a guy with enough money that she can live the "bohemian" life without ever suffering materially or worrying about selling her art (and similar stories).

A girl in Brooklyn once kicked me out of her apt at 3AM after, while discussing life I accidentally revealed the size of my savings ("enough to travel around India for a few months").

I've always said (though only ever to myself) that rule one of having a lot of money is: never tell pretty girls how much money you have.

It might also be rule one of not having a lot of money.

Haha, what did she say to kick you out?

It took a minute for her to realize that my comfortable savings was a few months in a third world country. She started quizzing me on my career -- "But you are a math professor!" "Postdoc, but close enough." "But ...?" Somewhere along the way, she suggested postdocs earned 6 figures, and I just giggled.

As the reality sank in, she asked me something along the lines of "how can you only have $XXX [her guess as to my net worth] in the bank?" She kicked me out immediately after I said "I could live for a year on $XXX." Once she concluded I was just a middle class guy, she just said something like "I'd like you to leave, this isn't what I expected."

Maybe I'm not a great judge of character, but I honestly was completely blindsided by this. (I'd have been more annoyed if it happened at 2AM rather than 3AM, of course.)

That's hilarious! I had an almost opposite experience: my girlfriend is a professor at a university in Seattle. She says that she decided I was worth being with when—a couple weeks after we started dating—I quit my soul-sucking job without a backup plan and with only a few months of living expenses in the bank.

Specifically, she says she thought it was: "bold," "courageous" and "optimistic." Personally, I thought it was a huge disaster waiting to happen, but better than sticking it out at a job I despised.

I guess "FU money" applies to situations like this too!

I must be doing something wrong. I moved to the Bay Area from Brooklyn and my success rate skyrocketed.

Changes of environment (like moving) are known to trigger changes in behaviour that were latent. It may well have been this change in behaviour (acting more confident, more mature maybe?) not the change of locale.

When I say latent, it means that you felt more confident for a while before the move already, but it took the move, which brought anonymity, for you to externalize it.

This is why tourists act crazy, and even introverted shy people can act exuberantly on holiday. Or like your case, after a move.

There are far fewer dateable women in The Bay Area than Brooklyn.

Depends. If "dateable" is a reflexive relation (meaning that for a woman to be dateable, it's not just that you are willing to date her, but also that she is willing to date you), then maybe not. In the Bay Area, if you are a software engineer that can put together a few interesting words about something other than computers, you are an attractive anomaly. In Brooklyn, you are still a software engineer.

I have been in NYC for the last two and a half months. Granted, that is not a long time, but I have met a lot of girls - even around the financial district - and I have not had similar experiences. No doubt these girls exist but I everywhere I have been there has always been plenty of sweet and genuine girls.

There's this sort of black-and-white distinction between "good girls" and "gold diggers" and it's entirely imaginary. I'll spare you the evolutionary psychology behind it (which is easy to find if you're interested) but all women care about a man's success (of which money is merely the most frequent, but not only, indicator) to a large degree. Saying a girl doesn't care about money is like saying a guy doesn't care about looks.

Society has come to view both genders' preferences as shallow, but for whatever reason makes a much bigger deal about it when it comes to women, which is really not fair. They can't help being attracted to a successful guy anymore than we can to a hot girl.

My guess is that in NYC, due to the financial industry guys are more sensitive to it, and as such women respond by being a bit more circumspect.

The difference between the two is honesty. A guy will tell a girl "I thought you were beautiful, and wanted to meet you". A girl will rarely say "I thought you were rich, and wanted to meet you."

For whatever reason, the vast majority of golddiggers are utterly dishonest about what they are really seeking. This leads men to get into bad relationships (which they would have avoided if the woman were honest), and they often lose big when their career doesn't turn out the way they hoped or when they want to downsize their job (e.g., quit the $300k/year corporate law job for an $85k/year public defender job).

I've got no problem with that rare girl who openly admits her desire to trade sex for money. I don't want a relationship with her, but I won't condemn her.

[edit: I'll similarly condemn a guy who lies to honest women to get them into bed. I'll giggle when a guy lies about money to sleep with dishonest golddiggers.]

That's not fair though, because society frowns on golddiggers. Just imagine the confidence it takes to declare yourself a golddigger as opposed to saying you like hot chicks. Social pressure is by far the dominant factor at play here.

The interesting question is why is it so? Maybe because money-making ability is a somewhat less intrinsic quality. Maybe it's the undeniability of the biological response when you see someone beautiful. Some would call it sexism and leave it at that.

I wouldn't call it sexism. When I was maybe 10, I was friends with another kid (a boy, like myself) just because he had a nintendo. Most people (my adult self included) would condemn that behavior in much the same way, particularly coming from an adult.

If you'd condemn a man behaving the same way (e.g., making friends in order to use a playstation), it isn't sexism.

It's entirely sexism. Most people wouldn't condemn a man for choosing to talk to the more attractive of two girls at a bar. It would be considered normal behavior. Yet most would condemn a woman for talking to the richer of two guys.

Unless appearances are some better indicator of a person's quality than wealth neither is more or less shallow than the other, but one is judged to be moreso. If that's not sexism nothing is.

The difference is that gold-diggers don't want to sleep with rich men just so they can bask in the glow of their richness. They want to sleep with rich men in the hopes that they'll buy them fancy things, or at least fancy experiences. They want to enrich themselves at the expense of the rich man, whereas the man chasing beautiful women isn't hoping to make himself more beautiful and them less so.

This is also the difference between gold-diggers and normal women: gold-diggers are conscious of the fact that they're trying to score with rich men.

The man wants to enrich himself by boning the hottest chick he can, and possibly at her expense if she is seeking a longer relationship. It's perceived sexual gratification vs perceived financial gratification. Both are similarly illusory IMO.

"Most people wouldn't condemn a man for choosing to talk to the more attractive of two girls at a bar. It would be considered normal behavior. Yet most would condemn a woman for talking to the richer of two guys."

Would they? Maybe I've just been hanging out with too many women (in a non-sexual context), but they complain about guys that talk to the obviously-prettier girl at the bar all the time. Meanwhile, talking to the more successful-looking of two guys is pretty normal, as long as you aren't blatant about it (eg. asking how much they make).

I think it's more that girls will judge guys for going solely for attractive girls, and guys will judge girls for going for richer guys. Both sexes are shallow, both sexes complain about shallowness in the opposite sex, and most people of both sexes will recognize that basically everyone is shallow - in private. But public discourse tends to feature more males, so we hear more about how golddiggers are evil than about how babewatchers are evil. Either that, or it's just because we're male and girls tend not to share their real opinions for fear of offending us.

The fact that women are statistically more likely to exhibit behavior (using personal relations for money) which society frowns on does not make it sexist to frown on that behavior. Only treating women differently for that behavior would be sexist, and I don't believe we do.

Similarly, men are statistically more likely to exhibit violent behavior (and there is an evolutionary basis for this). Therefore, condemning violence is sexism, since the condemnation has a disparate impact on men? Um, no.

Women are statistically more likely to exhibit that behavior only because they have orders of magnitude more chances to do it. I think if men could pull it off they'd do it even more frequently than women.

Well, an interesting study would be finding out if rich couples opposed to couples who find each other attractive are happier overall.

One may or may not be a better indicter of long term compatibility.

In both cases you're selecting to improve the chances for your offspring.

That's because people don't know why they feel things. The feeling comes first (e.g., being attracted to someone) and then we make up a satisfying rational explanation for it.

It's not for money, it's for security. It's really no worse than what guys do.

It's really not worse at all, both are just people doing what they evolved to do. Society frowns upon it more so many of them feel they have to be coy about it.

Dishonesty is not worse than honesty, simply because it's evolved? By that logic, rape is also not worse than consensual sex (assuming it's evolved behavior).

As rational and moral beings, aren't we supposed to transcend some of our evolutionary instincts?

It's not dishonesty per se because it's not a conscious behavior. Most women don't know they give a rich guy bonus points, just as men consciously underrate the importance of their spouse's appearance. It's one of many areas where humanity's conscious thoughts and actions radically diverge.

It's a subtle subconscious leaning. A similar example: doctors routinely prescribe things that get them paid more (for instance neurologists whose practices own their own MRI machines prescribe 4x more MRIs than ones who do not) however when examined under a polygraph, both groups say that the money is not an influencing factor. The money clearly is the difference, they just don't know it.

(FWIW, rape is not believed by most in the field of evolutionary psychology to be a behavior that has evolved into "normal". It's gotten a lot of coverage in the field due to the controversial nature of the idea of rape as an adaptation, but there is no clear evidence for it in anthropology or studies of closely related primates.)

The argument you pose about morality is dangerous. Who defines which of our genetic attributes are ok and which are not? Why is it perfectly fine to have brown hair, but immoral to want a rich husband (if only subconsciously) when you can't help either of them? If anything the latter is universal, the former occasional.

I agree with what you are saying to a certain degree, but following on your same line of thought, evolutionary psychology and what not - back in the cave-human age, cave-women look for security in a cave-man; this doesn't necessarily have to be money, but a sense of the cave-man's gravitas to inspire confidence and take care of shit when shit hits the fan.

Counter-example to your thesis that women only want money: Musician's that only gets gigs in dive bars, firefighters that receive a municipal-level salary, and tons of bro's you would see at "bro-bars" with no financial prospect but a rabid enthusiasm for alcohol, local sports & Amerrrica.

I'm not saying women aren't superficial. They are just as superficial as men except that they lie about their intentions to preserve their ego for themselves and to others. But that's no reason for men to be resigned about it. There's nothing more sad than a man who accepts the superficial reality of society and proceeds to go about "nest-building" and "peacocking" to attract a superficial trophy wife, and give up his freedom and personal goals in return.

The system is easily hackable and I dare say, men are justified to hack the system as the whole mating-seeking thing is based on deception and dis-ingenuity. And there are tons of literature available online and in print about PUA for anyone who cares to explore that route.

I didn't say women want only money. They want success (and not only success) of which money is just the easiest and most direct indicator.

This is a great point against living in NYC metro area. I doubt you'd suffer this in Boston (Academia seems to be the dominant life form), SFBA (tech; a trader would be a lot less sexy than the founder of a tech startup even pre-fu money), or Seattle or Portland (environmentalism? art? food?).

No. As someone who both have experienced both NYC and Boston urban living, I can tell you that Boston is no better than NYC. Sure there are a lot more schools in Boston, it's only the arbitrary scale of judgement has changed but the intensity/consistency of judgement is still the same.

Whereas in NY, yuppie culture surrounds either the high-finance/media-fashion/hipster type, Boston's culture is more on academic/engineering/townie-pride. In some sense, I prefer NYC because at least everyone's honest and at least it's a meritocracy of superficiality. You either gotta make six figures or have the American Apparel attitude and look to be in the group. In Boston, it's more like "of course, we are a open & accepting people," but "oh? you don't go to grad school at Harvard/MIT/BU? You are involved in software/allied health professions and don't have the holier-than-thou attitude? You are not WASP or a white-washed minority and don't drink the vegan-hippie-liberal ethos?" Haven't lived in Seattle/Portland extensively but my own superficial judgment of these two cities while traveling there, is that the latent vegan-hippie-liberal superficiality is even more rampant there.

This reminds me a lot of the "Messages that cities send" essay that PG wrote a while ago. NYC's message was that you should be richer, Boston's is that you should be smarter, Silicon Valley's is that you should be more powerful (in the technocrat sense of the word) - and extending it out, Houston's is that you should have a bigger house, Portland is that you should be more eco-friendly, and D.C's is that you should be more powerful (in the political sense of the word).

Maybe girls are evolutionarily wired to seek more "successful" men, and then "success" is defined by the culture surrounding them.

SFBA (tech; a trader would be a lot less sexy than the founder of a tech startup even pre-fu money)

Tech startup founders are a dime a dozen around here. In fact, I've found the best way to get a girl interested is to say "Hi, I'm not a software engineer!"

Boston is much worse. You've got academic assholes, finance assholes who are too racist to live in NYC, and townie assholes. There's a few interesting weirdos but they are all drunks.

For those who never lived in the Greater Boston region, you have no idea how accurate this one simple statement about Boston is.

That's mainly NJ guido-style greed.

There are definitely areas of NYC where the predominant culture is, "are you doing something interesting/neat/cool" instead of, "are you working for Goldman Sachs;" be it art, programming, music, technology, food, whatever. The key, of course, is to make what you do sound sexy ;).

In some areas, dropping an employer name like Goldman might even get you scorned.

I think we should probably all abstain from pretending that "dating" in entire cities or states can be summed up so easily, or that it's even a topic that can be distilled into such a short description of general traits. One bad experience certainly doesn't label them all.

Uh, it's more of a great point against living in Hoboken. For dating purposes, NYC is the best place in the USA for a single man to live right now, regardless of social status.

This probably says more about me than anyone else, but I felt the same after getting enough money in the bank for one years rent.

Haha, that made me laugh out loud. I'm sort of in the same situation, but when things get hard in my startup I sometimes begin to panic.

I personally think "worthwhile" girls are not so much attracted to money as financial stability and responsibility. However, there are times when toys are really nice to have, and can be fun in social settings -- maybe bias toward purchases which can be enjoyed with other people.

There are definitely diminishing returns -- being able to afford an occasional meal at a decent restaurant is worth a lot, but being able to buy out the bar every night is not necessarily any better.

Three classics from Quora may be relevant:




Following traditional gender roles, the male's job is as a provider. When you start talking about settling down, the reduced ambiguity about future provisions seems to start looking real attractive. YMMV

There are two types of people ( not just women but I see it more with women because I pay more attention to them... ) those who want to have nice material things more than anything else and those that don't. The women who genuinely do not care about material things in life will most likely not be 'impressed' by what you have or how you spend your money. On the other side however the women who do care will be significantly more impressed with the more expensive things you have and how you spend your money.

I completely agree with the not needing to always watch yourself around others just in case they could potentially 'make your life better'.

There is a lot of middle ground here, my girlfriend isn't going to leave me if I don't have a high paying job or company but she sure wouldn't object if I did come into money and gave her expensive gifts.

> Has your life changed in unexpected ways?

Not really. The most unexpected thing is how much the same life is after FU money than before. The main difference is that a lot more people line up to try to take your money from you. One way or another you pretty much have to deal with the same old shit.

> Has there been any change in the way you interact with strangers?

I probably feel a little less insecure, especially when I talk to other people with money. But I don't think anything else has changed, at least I hope not.

> Has the number of things you have to endure increased or decreased?

The number of things I have to endure has definitely decreased. In particular, I don't have to stress out over making the choice between "enduring" a job that I hate or going without a salary. But other problems have arisen to replace those. I call these "nice problems to have", but they are still problems.

> And is "FU money" all its cracked up to be? e.g., is your life an order of magnitude more enjoyable now, or is it pretty much the same etc?

Neither. Life is definitely better with FU money, but it is no panacea. FU money gives you extra options, but the fundamentals have not changed: you are still faced every morning with a choice of what to do with the resources you have at hand. And even FU money has limits. It's amazing how fast you can learn exactly where those limits are.

Here are some of the things I discovered after hitting it, and watch others do the same:

1. Getting rich makes you more of who you really are. If you're a jerk underneath it all, you'll be a bigger jerk when you hit it big...and vice versa.

2. In terms of problems, you're squeezing on a balloon. It's easy to pay the bills, but a whole new set of problems and hassles will present themselves. It's just a new set of irritants. There's just as much pain, it just comes from different sources.

3. When you can have everything you want, you have to learn to control your appetites. You can't imagine how much crap you buy when you can afford everything. It's surprisingly hard for most people to control their spending once they hit it.

4. You'll turn into the First National Bank of Bill, but your loan standards will be lower...and few people will ever pay you back.

5. Old friendships will wither and some of them will die, no matter how hard you try to maintain them. Jealousy is one reason. Subtile changes in your own personality will be the other.

5. If your pals aren't all in the same boat, and similarly rich, you'll have no one to play with.

In short: Money is a tiger. You master it, or it masters you.

I would appreciate it if people posting here would also tell us if they were low/middle/upper class before they got wealthy/wealthier.


A person's life after getting FU money could very well depend on their financial state (and relatedly, their experiences and outlook in life) before getting rich. Seems like a valid question to me.

Exactly. Too bad no one here mentioned it, i was really curious.

I once read a fantastic interview with Douglas Adams back in the late 70s, after Hitchhikers Guide had become successful in the UK, but prior to its impending US release.

Both Adams and his interviewer knew that the author was about to come into A LOT of money, but he didn't have it yet. The interviewer asked how he expected his life to change and Douglas Adams said one of the most prescient things I've ever read:

"The only thing that money changes is the size of your bills."

For instance, my wife and I always talked about traveling more, but after selling my company, we continued to mainly talk about travel. It's just not something we do a lot, even though money isn't an issue. Meanwhile, I've got friends who managed to backpack around Asia and Europe all summer in college when they were totally broke.

Money doesn't change who you are or how you live all that much.

When I achieved something akin to FU money, there were the expected benefits (i.e., greater freedom), but that freedom also strips away many excuses we come to rely on.

For example, if you spend hours coding at the computer (because you love it), that is now YOUR choice and it affects how the rest of your family will perceive it because you can no longer claim that you NEED to spend that much time. In fact, if you are not careful, you may end up with your family controlling more of your time than you want.

You also go through a bit of an identity crisis. So much of your identity is tied up in what you do. All of a sudden when you are at your kids soccer game, casual conversation becomes more awkward as people inevitably ask "what do you do?".

Put these together and you clearly need to come up with your next purpose because otherwise you will have a heck of a time deciding how to spend your time.

In the process of figuring out the planning and investing piece I became a CFP and registered investment advisor (more of a multi-family office). I have now seen a number of others go through the transition and can offer the following observations for different levels of FU money.

< $10 million -- The focus stays mostly on the individual and family with the money supporting their pursuits.

$10 - $50 million -- At this level there starts to be a strong pull between wanting to support the family and wanting to create a lasting legacy. The pull from these two directions can create a lot of stress depending on the person's values and the values of the rest of their family (mainly spouse).

$50 million+ -- At this level the legacy becomes the focus. The responsibility of making that money improve the world becomes paramount. You don't see someone with this kind of money deciding to become a math teacher. In this sense, someone with this much money is less free than someone with only $10 million who wont feel as strong an obligation to ensure their money gets put to good use improving the world.

I'm going to think about answering this because it's going to take more than a short comment, those are 4 really complicated questions.

The short answers are yes, yes, decreased, no and different.

The longer ones will take me a bit of time to put together.

Some points-

1. I laughed when the gentleman said that $3mm would be enough money for him. Anyone who says $3mm is enough will realize that whatever number they say is "enough" is not enough once they reach it.

2. Money doesn't make you happy. But if you're already happy and you have money, it can make you happier.

3. Money makes people pay more attention to you- especially people who didn't pay attention to you before. People will say, "well Barack Obama would never have shown up to your wedding before you sold your company for $1bb". Well no sh!t. Why would he? Charities will call you. "Well the University never paid attention to you back when you were poor". Universities and Charities are in the business of raising money from individuals.. Why would they? This will be tough for people without money to understand.

4. Those who have sold their companies find that money is sometimes harder to hold onto than it was to make in the first place. If you don't have enough money (to never work again), become complacent due to your original ability to make money (particularly those in tech world), you could find yourself broke.

5. Speaking of broke. Minimize your borrowing. The majority of very rich people who suddenly file for bankruptcy are over-leveraged and/or not diversified in their investments. An example: Let's say I have $20mm. I could go to a bank today and get a $40mm house. However, my taxes, upkeep, mortgage, and other lifestyle expenses would likely cause me to deplete my original 20mm within a few years.

6. When you're rich, its very difficult to deviate from an expected lifestyle. Once you spend 60k on a car, 90% of the time your next car will be more. This is true of houses and everything else you purchase. My advice is pace yourself.

Using the term loosely (some of my friends would consider me someone with "FU" money - but I'm not in the "go out and buy a porsche for every day of the week cause I like it" territory")

1) I view money differently than I did before. Not because I don't have to care about it, because I absolutely do, or it wouldn't last long, but everyday worries around "how can we pay bill X" go away, and are replaced by worries about long term strategy and, at least in my case, not getting caught up in long term strategy. Life goes on.

2) It takes some effort to adjust your thought process with regards to how to treat others. Talking about my exciting trip to europe with my friends comes across to some people as bragging or showing off - and while it's absolutely NOT - it's just me being happy and sharing it with friends - after some time you learn to read people and pick up on this - and remember that money isn't the same thing for everyone, and can be a sensitive topic.

- FU money is no more or less than what you make of it... and it can run out as fast as it came if you aren't careful. Plenty of people are in the "FU" financial stage and don't even realize it, and plenty of people who wish they were there wouldn't do any better - your financial practices largely dictate your long term financial well being - whether you have a little or a lot.

I know a number of people well further into the FU money than me - and I'd say they're an even mix of people who became happier, struggled and are still unhappy, or even worse, or who pretty much just stayed exactly the same (as far as I can tell).

Remember, when most people say they wish they were rich, what they mean is they want the lifestyle they think rich people have - which isn't, in reality, what they envision it to be. (Rap stars on MTV don't sit around smokin blunts surrounded by hotties 24/7 and driving sports cars - they spend time working on new albums, hanging out with friends, and doing the scene)

"FU money is no more or less than what you make of it... and it can run out as fast as it came if you aren't careful. Plenty of people are in the "FU" financial stage and don't even realize it, and plenty of people who wish they were there wouldn't do any better - your financial practices largely dictate your long term financial well being - whether you have a little or a lot."

Eh, this just doesn't ring true to me. I'm pretty sure that everyone I know would do much better with an extra $10M, not the same or worse.

I won't say I am in the big league but I have enough to last me a couple of years if I stay comfortably. It is invested well so I am hoping that it will last longer. I also don't have any major outgoings like mortgages or rent.

> * Has your life changed in unexpected ways?

One change has been that I haven't worked for the last 2 years and don't plan to in the near future. I love programming so just spent my day working on some hobby projects and watching stocks. The risk is that as there isn't any hard deadline for delivery I end up taking things easy which is not good and probably something I should be changing.

One problem I face is that much of the money is just lying in either accounts or investments so its not really visible - no flashy cars or toys for me. And I tend to be frugal in my living so most people think I am good for nothing and feel bad for my wife. Some of her concerned friends have been asking here when I plan to start working. My wife doesn't have any problem with my lifestyle as she knows about my financial situation.

> * Has there been any change in the way you interact with strangers?

Social interaction is one thing I miss about having a job. It provides a clear structure in which you interact with other people. So my interaction is now primarily with existing friends and family. If anything, my previously average social skill have probably become below average.

> * Has the number of things you have to endure increased or decreased?

I would say life has started appearing much simple to me. With money not a factor in my choices, I sit around doing exactly what I want to do. As of now I have nothing to show for my last 2 years (except my investments going up but thats a passive activity) but I am hoping that will change in a year or two.

> * And is "FU money" all its cracked up to be? e.g., is your life an order of magnitude more enjoyable now, or is it pretty much the same etc?

I would say that I put up with less crap but its less enjoyable. To explain the contradiction, when my wife comes home from work and talks about "management is making X mistake", "my product was not highlighted in our newsletter" etc, the usual office activities. I understand that but its been a long time (2 years to be precise) since I experienced these things. These basic experiences (good or bad) did keep me occupied and made life interesting. Now with all that gone, its HN, hobby projects, stocks and after that I am pretty much on my own do something that would make me feel worthwhile.

Overall I would say that I am much more comfortable and happier than I was but my social interactions have become pretty minimal which I don't think is good.

I'm pretty much in the same boat. Not really set up for life, just the next decade or so. It's been more than a year since I last faced the usual "office" issues. HN, reddit, slashdot, zerohedge, my twitter feed, stocks and my hobbies keep me occupied.

In any case, it's enabled me to step out of a regimented life, I'm going back to school for a masters in an interesting field and my hopes of making a significant contribution to the world have not died down yet :). I'm on track to accomplishing some life goals. Social interaction-wise, I've taken up a few language courses and find the people I meet there a lot more interesting than those from my previous life.

All in all, I'd say not having to worrying about money ( although I didn't worry much, earlier either) or the future is very nice and definitely very good health-wise.

Have you considered taking you hobby projects further? Hiring a team, renting an office and putting a product out there? I am not suggesting you do, I am just curious.

I do want to start focusing on one project and get it to the point where its useful. Following this I hope to do what you mention and put some more resources behind it and make it grow faster.

I initially had a small startup but that didn't quite work out for various reasons, so for about a year I have been prototyping various projects alone. One thing about the no-deadline situation is that for the last year I have basically been experimenting with different ideas and technologies. I suspect if I have some sort of a deadline I wouldn't have spent so much time on it. But then again maybe the time was well spent as the architecture and ideas are more precise now.

One fear I have is my project becoming a Duke Nukem Forever :)

>Social interaction is one thing I miss about having a job.

If you're in an urban center you might want to try a co-working space if one exists.

While I have never gotten 'FU' money, at one point in my life I had access to all the digital media I could ever want. All the appz, movies, games, music, audiobooks, etc.

Everything in digital format, I either could get, or had.

At first, I was extremely excited - and naturally told a few people (who subsequently told a few people) and before I knew it I was the 'go to guy' for anyone that wanted any media.

This experience scarred me. To the point where now I am ultra private and if I get a new album or new movie or something (even through legitimate means) I hoarde it and tell no one.

I have always imagined that this is what getting FU money would be like. Relatives, old friends, etc. would come out of the woodworks...especially once you start spending and travelling, etc.

For those that have experienced FU money, and the transition from not having to having it, can you shed a little light on how your interactions with close family, other relatives, close friends, etc. changed. Did you tell them? Who did you tell and why? Also, who surprised you by the way they view you and your money?

Anything else interesting about how you manage your wealth and why you decide to tell who what, would also be appreciated.

P.S. I have since given up said access, because I got bored and the maintenance required was stressful. I wonder if this is a precursor to unimaginable wealth.

Are you trying to say that you discovered thepiratebay?

No, he's trying to say he operated a drop site (glftpd?) where couriers from groups like motiv8 used software like flashfxp or linfxp to trade releases from razor1911, paradigm, etc.

This assumes he was integrated at or near the top. Otherwise, he would be further down the trickle.

Well...that was one way to get that stuff...but at the time...no...I had access to the stuff that eventually trickled down and reached Pirate Bay...long before they got there.

Oh...and this was also a few years before and...leading up to the launch of TPB.

Why would having axs to TPB be 'stressful' as indicated in my original post?

What's with all the downvoting?

I think about this all the time.

I didn't make "FU money" from an exit, but rather from the ongoing success of a couple of online businesses, which have been earning me far more than I know how to spend. When this started happening, my initial reaction was to be perplexed, because I no longer had a financial motivation to get up in the morning and work. Money had been the most salient part of my motivation for as long as I could remember.

But I found that I still wanted to work, and it took me a while to understand why. It turns out there are lots of other good reasons to create useful things that people will pay for, like self expression, connecting to others, a sense of achievement, and a feeling of contributing to the world. The money was still nice but became secondary. Still, it allows me the luxury of working on interesting things that I think people will like, even if I doubt I'll ever make much money from them.

I found that the main challenge of being rich is finding a way to spend the money in a way which contributes to my happiness, rather than detracts from it. This is harder than it sounds. The most obvious way to spend money is to buy an oversized home. But this is a really bad idea. First of all you have to spend a lot of time maintaining that home. But most importantly it will likely alienate your (presumably not so rich) real old friends who are still working daily to pay off the mortgage. How will they feel about inviting you over to their condo when you live in a palace?

The solution I found to the "friend alienation" problem is to spend money on personal experiences rather than visible possessions. You can eat out at fancy restaurants, travel the world and enjoy the best shows without your friends knowing what you're up to, at least not in detail. It really helps if you have a spouse and/or children that you can do this with, since they can make these experiences all the more fun.

BTW this also neatly dovetails with recent research on happiness:


The one rich guy possession I'm allowing myself to buy is a second home in a foreign country that I like to visit often. This will (hopefully) make those visits less hassle and more enjoyable, and again, none of my close friends need to know.

And yes, I worry about losing the money a little, and have taken a self-propelled crash course in personal wealth management. But luckily I find the subject quite interesting anyway, and I don't let myself lose any sleep over a couple of percentage points in yield. In the long run, we all die anyway.

To summarize, getting "FU money" been a net benefit in my life, but it took a lot of careful thought and planning to ensure it worked out that way.

Finally if anyone out there who's suddenly landed FU money is feeling a little disorientated by their new situation, I highly recommend reading "Escape from Freedom" by Erich Fromm, which is a wonderful book about the psychological and existential challenges that freedom brings.

It seems sad to own a second home and not share it with your friends. The thing that makes me the happiest is hanging with my oldest and dearest friends. That often happens at one of our parents second homes (I don't have one), so maybe that really changes things.

Where did you end up living? I'm facing a similar situation regarding my living situation. I live in the heart of Boston, but most of my close friends do not, and this does have an alienating effect. I've contemplated moving up north to andover (a rural town -- opposite of boston) to position myself closer to friends/family, but would have to give up the city life. This is one of my current issues that I'm mulling over... thoughts?

Live your life, not theirs.

The problem is that "their life" is so much a part of "youe life" (for the poster above you). Good relationships with other people are a huge part of what makes life better. I've always imagined that if I ever get FU money that it would allow me to live closer to people I have good realtionships with.

I have near life long friends who I still see regularly enough but several of us live in different states / countries now. I wasn't implying that they should alienate themselves from their friends but they shouldn't make drastic changes to their life just to accommodate them. ( I consider changing your lifestyle + moving to a new location a 'drastic' change ) One the best things having FU money allows for is the ability to 99.9% of the time decide to travel to X at 1pm on Tuesday and be on a plane to X by 4pm the same day.

Was the term "FU money" coined by Neal Stephenson, or was it in use before he wrote Cryptonomicon?

I remember reading the term in James Clavell's novel Noble House, published in 1981.

I first heard it in Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis, 1989.


I'm pretty sure Nassim Nicholas Taleb wasn't the source, but I first heard the term from him.

His explanation was pretty good, roughly: you can say FU while you are still on the phone with someone instead of after you hang up.

In Soul of a New Machine, there is talk about the formation of Data General in 1969. The attorney advising the founders suggested that they set aside $1m each as part of any deal for the purpose of FU money. The usage may predate even that.

I don't believe so. That term has been used for years prior to 2000 in competitive offshore fishing.

Eventually, it didn't change me much, but I do spend a bit more on cheap frivolous stuff (like http://store.xkcd.com/xkcd/#Sudo). But then I have been through the cycle twice.

Initially I was broke. When I got my first real job (after undergrad in India), I felt like I had all the money in the world. In the first few months, I bought myself a nice camera, motorbike, smartphone, gifts for family and my girlfriend, started eating at nice restaurants etc. But then I figured I already had whatever I needed and things I enjoyed most didn't really require any money (except the camera and motorbike, I guess).

Then I quit my job and went to grad school for which I had to pay for (Masters, not a PhD) and went into debt (US schools are sooo expensive), and drastically cut down my expenses (ate cheap Thai food almost every day). After that I got a well-paying job again, paid off all my loans, and am now back to my earlier lifestyle i.e. I spend on things I enjoy, give a modest amount of money in charity regularly, enjoy the occasional expensive dinner, buy nice gifts for my family and close friends, but I still save a good amount.

I am definitely happier than I would be without any money, but I don't think I would be any happier if I suddenly started earning 2x.

This is not FU money. FU money is not worrying about having to work.

Maybe it is to him.... I've known a remarkable number of folks who had "FU money" with $20k in the bank.

Homeless broke people say FU all the time. FU money means never having to work another day for the rest of your life. $20k might mean that in a few places in the world, but some happy-go-lucky personality who doesn't know where their next buck is coming from doesn't count.

They feel like they have the freedom to be all 'FU'. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

By some people's definition, having 'fu money' means you can tell people to F off without risking your financial security. So... if I'm a homeless and broke person, or someone with really low financial standards - that's true - isn't it.

Sorry, but what does "FU money" mean?

"Fuck You" money - enough money that you can tell anyone you want to fuck off and not have to worry about not being able to pay your bills as a result.

There's an important thing to realize about FU money: it does not make telling people to fuck off cost-free. Telling someone to fuck off is an indulgence, and it is not free of cost no matter how much money you have. Having FU money simply means you can afford this indulgence. But one of the many problems that comes from having this kind of money is that now you have to make this choice. When you can't afford something, it's a no-brainer. When you can afford it, you actually have to think about it and take responsibility for the result of your decision.

having enough money to tell anyone regardless of who they are, FU!

I'll probably get downvoted, but just a friendly PSA: "successful" does not mean "has lots of money". I might ask the community members what they perceive success to be, if it hasn't been asked already. And if I didn't already have my own definition.

Maybe if someone has enough money to be safe and would be interested in investing with a high ratio, contact me :D

As always on hacker news, no fun allowed.

As always on hacker news, truth things get down-voted.

This is a stupid thread. It's addressing a problem that most HN readers would love to have, but don't, so it's simply a bunch of pleasant daydreaming, not a useful discussion of how to solve a real problem.

I understand that people on HN want to be rich; I'd rather see an HN filled with articles that help materially in getting there, not one talking about how great (or not?) it is to be rich.

It's probably wise to think about it while you still have some perspective.

Imagine the let-down of working your ass off and getting the big payday only to screw it all up because you were psychologically unprepared.

> I'd rather see an HN filled with articles that help materially in getting there,

It is.

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