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The pros and cons of 'fuck you' money. (jacquesmattheij.com)
199 points by jacquesm on July 13, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 130 comments



The most important thing the FYM has brought me I think is almost complete freedom to pursue whatever it is that my heart desires (in terms of time), and to buy tools to do whatever it is that I want to do. I would not trade that for any base salary+options package because my time is the only asset I've got that will only diminish and of which I have an unknown quantity to begin with. Having a steady passive income stream translates in to freedom the kind of which is hard to describe until you've experienced it, I'd fight pretty hard to maintain this life, even if it meant operating at an even lower level of income.

Freedom - in terms of time - is priceless.

Amen. That's my goal.


I would like this freedom also. However, generally people do their best work when they are in adverse circumstances (e.g., they are broke).

Perhaps by the time one achieves this freedom, their best work is behind them.


> Perhaps by the time one achieves this freedom, their best work is behind them.

I think SpaceX is a great example to the contrary.


I think Elon Musk is too much an outlier to provide a great example to any generality.


Anybody that scores 'FYM' is an outlier in some way.


I'm not so sure. In terms of dollars (compared to national space programs) they were broke from the beginning. This constraint has forced them to think about the problem in a different way and seek efficiencies that probably don't occur to the larger programs.

While on a personal level, the money Musk had was FU money, on a company level, SpaceX has been operating out of the poor house.


Amichail was talking about people, I meant SpaceX as an example of how the person Elon Musk outdid himself post FUM by founding SpaceX.


Not really. They went big by going orbital -- their expenditure is comparable to dinospace budgets. There are companies doing amazing things with 1 / 10th the budget.


Yup, that's what I mean. I would add John Carmack's Armadillo Aerospace, and Masten Space Systems to the list. They've done a lot with 1 / 50 th the money of a SpaceX.

It saddens me a little when people get 10^7 dollars and then show a complete lack of imagination in how they deploy it.


I think what PG has done with YCombinator is pretty interesting, and a good "second act", although it's quite different from building something with code.


Don't forget Hacker News and Arc. He's still working on them.


As an outsider, I think the only value HN has is the community, which was kick-started with YCombinator.

Arc is just a fun project he worked on, and has yet to prove itself, especially now that another Lisp-dialect is taking the spotlights.


The arc code that HN runs on has some value. It's beautifully written and is a nice way of learning Lisp.


So... abuse the creative types until they succeed, then drop them like a ton of bricks?


"However, generally people do their best work when they are in adverse circumstances"

Bullshit.


Looking at the crisis of social security and "performance" of my modest 401k funds I sometimes feel that my own successful startup (with a modest exit) may be my only way to escape extreme poverty at older age. I doubt that anyone will hire a 65 year old programmer and I just don't see how SS+401k will be enough to deal with living/medical expenses. In that sense I'm desperate: starting a successful project is matter of survival.

Is it just me who is having similar thoughts?


If your startup projects have failed you, you don't think your 401k plus social security are enough, you are within two decades or so of retirement and you are still "just a coder" I know exactly what you should do:

1. Pick a company you don't hate 2. Get hired 3. learn their codebase inside and out 4. DON'T QUIT

Pretty soon you will be the only person around who knows about system "X" and they will be glad to keep you around past 65. My office is filled with COBOL programmers that took this path. Hell, we even recently hired a guy in his 60's, because that's just how old COBOL programmers are.

Alternatively you could get your MBA and go the CTO/VP of engineering route. This seems better to me, (as a backup plan to startup failure).


This is completely true. I'd say additionally that the smart COBOL programmers in their 60's "retire" and then return the following week as consultants making 50% more. That has been my experience working with them.


I've a similar mindset, though where I'll deviate is I'm 28.

For me I think the reality is that I expect computer literacy to continue to increase, while some slick abstractions will be developed in the next 25 years. Granted, software developers will still be in demand, yet there'll be more labor available in the market, and much of it will be more accessible which will drive down salaries a bit as the labor supply starts to catch up with demand. I also lack a formal degree, though real-world experience and self-teaching myself most of a CS and Mathematics undergrad curriculum has prevented that from becoming a problem.

Also, I'm watching my 60+ year-old parents go through it. They sold their house to free up cash. I had to bail them out (for 18 months) when I was 22-23 for a non-trivial amounts of money, since no one else could've helped them out. My uncle and aunt are in the same boat. My sister is ridden with debt. Parents of neighborhood kids are going through similar motions (selling the house to free up cash).

My plan?

* Save at least 35% of my net pay every year. Already done, shooting for 40% now. Goal is 50% (at current income level/standard of living). Credit is a tool that I do use to my advantage at times, but it's rare. Most everything is cash, including major purchases (i.e. car).

* Develop something to provide a 2nd income stream of at least $850/mo that only can go into savings. That's real money over the long haul.

* Minimize purchases of durable goods. I expect 15 years out of the car (only buy a car that makes you smile every time you get in it). My furniture will outlive me. I get 5-ish years out of clothing (and don't own much). Electronics either need to last 10+ years or have high resale value.

* Plan to change careers in 17-20 years, especially if there's tangible demand in a new field. Mostly since I expect to be bored. Barring that, time to get a "real" engineering degree.


> slick abstractions will be developed in the next 25 years.

Don't bet on it. There are tons of failed examples of attempts to enable plug and play programming (connecting pre-made components together), and it never scales. The devil is in the details.


Don't get me wrong. I agree with this. By and large it's still a pipe dream, but some dreams do come true. With that in mind, I won't bank on the fact that something won't materialize that lowers the barriers a bit.

Granted, more complex problems will always require more complex solutions. I don't see anything like this changing where I work (quantitative finance), but it'd be more of a concern for those working at J-Random Cardboard Box Company.


One could argue that this has already happened to some extent (where the domain model is commonly known and well explored: blogs, ecommerce) via packaged solutions and web frameworks.


Reading your points 1-3 (4, I agree with, I think) reminds me of Keynes' "In the long run, we're all dead".

I'm not against planning for the future, but at-least for me, living as frugally as you say you are would simply be too boring/depressing/mundane/etc. given my current (or short term) salary. Perhaps I will feel the pinch of this later in my life, but I definitely want to "live in the moment" as much as I possibly can - and for me, that involves spending some money (I have no doubts that others can do so without money too).


I wouldn't consider things to be all that frugal over here. I do live in a very nice - but modestly-sized - apartment. I have a sports car that I genuinely love (and would still have the one I bought in 2004 if someone didn't run a red light and T-bone me), and saved a ton by buying it 2 years old, getting it cheaper than most people pay for boring, 4-cylinder midsize sedans.

Granted, my income increased substantially over the years. My foundation expenses haven't increased, I've just cut down discretionary spending and buy things that last (i.e. avoiding buying cheap junk because it "saves money now" when it costs more over time because it has to be replaced). I actually spend less than I did 5 years ago.

There's ways to be cheap that are still smart and don't make you feel like your cheating yourself for the sake of frugality. Video games are just as fun when they're 2-years old and can be had off of eBay for $10 as they were when they were brand new and $60. I wait for consoles to be price cut. I can upgrade iPhones every year because I can get 90-95% of the upgrade cost covered by selling the old one on eBay. I spent a lot on an LED-backlit TV years ago, but it looks so fantastic (after 4 years) I don't see myself replacing it until it dies, rather than upgrading every 3 years like my friends have since the late 90s.

If I really wanted to, I could limit my expenses to 35% of my net pay. But then that would be short-changing myself. 35% used to be the average savings rate in China.


I think programming and teaching will eventually merge. That's a long way off though.


Why? Teaching and making paper/ink/pens never merged.


Because teaching and programming are both subsets of instruction.


Nah. Consider that they teach woodworking in school, but not how to make desks and blackboards.


Completely agree on your frugal approach and about the last point, one thing that anyone in our field needs to develop is the ability to eventually gain expertise in a new area if interesting opportunities arise.


How's that 10 year old computer treating you?


A 65 year old programmer seems strange today because very few 65 year olds are even computer literate. I have to think that will change as time goes by (although I don't know far off 65 is for you).

That said, I'm pretty sure there are some CS professors that are 65; if they can hold that gig we should be able to crank out software (I hope)!


I'll let you know what it's like in a year {just turned 64 this month). I wrote my first programs in September 1963.

I don't have a great deal of money, but I do have enough coming in that most months I end with more than I started, and don't have to worry about starvation, foreclosure or eviction, and spend a fair amount on books and gadgets.

It's not a very exciting life, but I enjoy it most days, and it's been years since I had to listen to anybody telling me what to do.


It'd be great to hear more about your experiences over years. Do you have a blog or anything?


Seconding jawn's request for you to tell us more. if there's a something our community lacks, it's elders with some perspective.


blog blog blog! I would love to hear more from an elder "statesman" like yourself. What it's like for older folks in the field, getting hired, getting clients, etc.

Thank you.


That said, I'm pretty sure there are some CS professors that are 65; if they can hold that gig we should be able to crank out software (I hope)!

there's no concept of tenure outside of academia, though :/


Sure there is, it's called 'job security'. It involves being the only person who understands how to run 40-year-old software.

Unfortunately (fortunately?) I don't think that in 37 years, I'll be seeing a lot of systems that were installed in the 00's - the mentality these days is more about interconnection and interoperability than it was in the 70's.

That said, I'm a systems administrator, not a programmer. There'll still be servers in 30 years, they'll just probably glow blue and float around the data centre unbounded by gravity, or something equally crazy.


If you're the only person understanding a system, it's a great risk for the company. They will eventually replace the old system and then you're worthless to them.


If you are one of the few people that understands the old system, you can easily be one of the people that set's up the new system, at which point your one of the few people that knows the new system. The secret is to get on board to projects trying to replace your system, and not become so over paid that they really want to replace you.


Work for the government or government contractor. Closest thing to a guaranteed job you'll find. Ability to get a clearance will make that 100% security.


> Work for the government or government contractor. Closest thing to a guaranteed job you'll find.

I think that's a thing of the past, as plenty of people have found out in the last two years.


Not for the federal government or DoD.


What is this talk of "extreme poverty"?

Let's assume for the sake of argument that Americans earning the minimum wage are living in "extreme poverty" (which is not true in my opinion, but let's be conservative).

The median household income in US is around U$50k.

http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_S...

So the median household is already living above poverty. You alone can earn more than $50k as a junior programmer. You probably have above average programming skills, and will eventually earn 100k if you get a job in a big company and stick to it.

You don't even need to live too frugally. You only need to pretend your income is $50k -- you'll still live at least well as the median household -- and sock the rest away in very conservative investments.


Yeah, I don't do 401k. Nor am I depending on social security. I plan to start my own business(es) and get wealthy that way. I don't care if it's "risky" to start a business. That's what I choose to do. Also, the more cash/liquid savings you have, the more once-of-a-lifetime invest opportunities you can seize. I've gleaned this info from existing millionaires such as Mark Cuban, the book "The Millionaire Next Door," and others.


So... you aren't saving for retirement at all? If so, relying on the success of a future business as your retirement fund isn't smart. If you're still saving elsewhere, that could be a sound plan as long as you don't sink it all into a business that fails.

If that's your plan, then you are depending on Social Security or whatever social programs are available when you retire.


I am saving, but keeping it liquid. I save about 50% of my net income--which, as a mid-level software developer, is good money. Therefore, I can invest in myself now (or soon)--for example, starting a business. I'm not sure how much of my savings I'll need to start a business. But I'm a pretty conservative spender, so I'm not worried.

I'm going to make it happen. Somehow.

I understand that everyone's financial situation and aspirations are different. YMMV.


This is the strategy I'll be taking, although I'm 20 and have little to save as is. If there's a bout of deflation or price/asset decline, keeping money in savings as opposed to 401(k) assets could earn a much better real return. The only reason people don't normally think of this is because this normally doesn't occur.


But there are significant tax savings when using a 401K or IRA, which combined with the long term makes it quite unlikely that savings will out perform.


Plus, you can probably put currency funds into a retirement account. I think that would function the same as holding cash, but I haven't completely thought through it.


Betting on deflation as the path to riches seems to be hardly a prudent strategy, let alone one to bet your retirement on. Yes I 'could' get a great return on investment if I buy that painting in the garage sale of my neighbor and it turns out to be a Monet, that doesn't make it a wise investment.


I actually commend him for taking on that risk. One of the things that saddens me about society today is that we have become totally risk-averse.


Hey, I know you!

Seriously though, when are you going to start a company? There's at least 4 of us (Kevin M, John H, Dave N, me) working on 3 startups in SF. Join us!


  Is it just me who is having similar thoughts?
Nope. I'm 36 (turn 37 in a week) and I have similar thoughts. There is definitely a sense of desperation at work.

I do believe that, at this point in my life, the only realistic shot I have at living out my dreams for the future is to build a successful startup. So you are definitely not alone. :-)


Same here - I don't think a normal job would earn me enough to have a rent significantly above poverty level in 30 years. Especially not when accounting for inflation (1 million today won't be a million in 30 years).


Hypothetically supposing your logic is accurate, there should be an army of unemployed talented 65 year old programmers desperate to run your business(es) for you while you sit on the beach, right?


Well, the field hasn't been a popular choice of trade for very long - not sure there's an army of 65 year old programmers, period.


Mental Note: create Cobol on Rails for future Army of 65 year old programmers.



If your talented there is huge demand for 60+ year old programmers. The issue is expected salary increases with age, and if your skill's don't keep up it becomes harder to find a job.

PS: My father was a 63 year old programmer the day he died, and believe me he was well paid and in high demand.


Or, emigrate to another country where healthcare/living expenses are cheap (most of the countries in Asia) or where the government won't (likely) default on its healthcare/social security obligations (Germany, France, Canada, Australia, Northern European Countries), unlike the US.


I live in Germany, and healthcare is very expensive here. True, if you are on social welfare, the government will also pay for your healthcare. But that means you have to live on social welfare standard. Also, you can't really bet on social welfare being still as high in 30 years as it is now.


My impression is that most countries don't have as generous of immigration laws as the US does, and judging by the experience most of my immigrant friends have gone through, that's saying something. Have I been FUD-ed?


US laws are significantly harder than a lot of European nations, the easiest of which to get citizenship are Sweden (my plan), UK, officially France (although in practice perhaps not), and Belgium. In Sweden you don't even need a job, if you have a self employed business bringing in 2k+ per month, you can just move there for 5 years and get citizenship.


That highly depends on where you're emigrating from and what your standing in life is.

If you are looking to emigrate from a 'third world' (what a ridiculous term) country to a wealthier one it can be quite hard. If you already have family or friends somewhere that can make the process considerably easier.


I just had some wall plastering done on my fence (I'm in Australia). The guy that did it was from Huntington Beach and now holds dual citizenship. His wife is also a US citizen. I kind of asked him how he did it but he ambiguously said he stayed here for a while and got residency.

I think it's pretty much a given that Australia and New Zealand will accept you if you (a) speak the language (b) have a profession and (c) no criminal record. When I goto the local playground sometimes I wonder if I'm not in a suburb of London, such is the amount of English accents I hear.


Canada is really easy. Denmark is pretty good, so is Australia/New Zealand. Asian countries love high quality labor. Other than that, try investing or marrying into the country :)


As an ex-pat Canadian, I worry about long term prospects for Canada. Even though the Canadian government seems to be doing the right things, economically, can Canada really avoid a crash if things in the US really tank? The US is Canada's largest trading partner.


Ontario is highly dependent on trade with the US for it's income, but BC and Alberta have economies that are more resource-based, IIRC. Prior to becoming a huge trading partner with the US, Canada's economy was largely resource-based (though I couldn't tell you which resources these were).

This is why BC and Alberta were thriving when the Canadian dollar was worth more than the US dollar and the price of oil was sky-high, while Ontario was suffering. That said, I'm not sure of the larger implications to the Canadian economy as a whole if the US tanks. It may be simple to move to trade with China, though it may not.


Immigration to Denmark is actually quite hard.


I don't know about the immigration part, but getting citizenship would be a second, part-time job for the better part of a decade.

And that is after you get here.


This isn't FU money. FU money means you're set for life. (Maybe >$5M in semi-liquid assets in the US or whatever).

Two outstanding mortgages and a single stream of revenue (that will certainly diminish over time) is hardly better off than just having a high paying corporate job where you don't have to go into the office very often.


I did use the word 'technically', and I made it fairly clear why I think the situation is comparable.

Now, to point out why it is even more comparable than what you get out of it, I could liquidate those assets and have FU money (for want of a more elegant term) in a relatively short time, but as I wrote I'd rather have cash flow than cash so this is a conscious decision.

Weight Watchers and a few others have angled after the domain name for serious cash but I'd rather hold on to it for now since I'm better at managing my money and my free time when I have less of the former.

If I ever decide to change that I will probably arrange for an auction house (probably moniker) to sell off the domain and/or the rest of the assets.

That's a long way off though.

The value of those assets outweighs my debts 20 to 1 or better, in the mean time, by not liquidating the assets I've managed to make more on them than I would have ever made if I had sold out years ago. Sometimes selling is not the right option. The downside is that you have to maintain your assets, but in my case that is probably less work than it would be to maintain a pile of money.

Also, the single stream of revenues is the one associated with one website, in one corporation. I own three of those and quite a large number of websites and have a stake in a few others as well as some investments in reasonably successful startups.

On another note, I mentioned my divorce in passing, FYI, I left all the easily liquidated assets (two debt free houses and a bunch of money) with my ex wife (voluntarily) because I think my income potential is higher than hers if it should come to that. Our son lives with her, I figure if it makes his and her life more secure that's the right thing to do. So I already was out of debt and chose to go back in to it out of my own free will in the fairly sure knowledge that it would be a temporary situation.

Recently I bought back the half of the company that she got as part of the settlement as well so now the situation has slightly changed from the way it was before and I still need to work out all the implications of the change.


Thanks for sharing. There are ways to turn cash into cash flow very easily. For example, you could take $100k USD and buy a fixed annuity that would pay you approx. $650 a month for the rest of your life. That number is pretty low due to interest rates being very low, and there is a risk of inflation. You can get inflation adjusting annuities, and of course there are other secure cash flow vehicles.

I admire your ability to generate passive income. Very few can do that without actively working every day. Don't discount the benefits of cashing out should your revenue begin to dwindle. You can still get the benefits of cash flow vs. cash without owning a business.


> You can still get the benefits of cash flow vs. cash without owning a business.

I know, but it might take a different mentality than mine to pull that off successfully. Less money to spend keeps me from doing stupid stuff.


Regardless of the competing definitions of "FU money", I think the author's point was about the freedom that comes with not needing a job to maintain your standard of living from month to month.


I agree that is the author's point (which was excellent). I'm taking issue with his use of the term "FU money".

I don't think it's right to say there are competing definitions, as if they're both equally right. I think there's a correct definition a) "set for life" and a wrong one b) "set for now". These are two very different concepts, so using the same term is causing confusion.

Someone in this thread said "I have FU money for a year", which makes absolutely no sense. This shows how misusing the term can cause confusion.


FU money is an extremely relative term. It depends on who you are saying FU to and on what terms, how easily you can make money, what the normal length of contract in that industry is, whether it's normally time-limited or ongoing, etc.

If you live (relatively speaking) from hand to mouth, and you walk into a negotiation for a small amount of work, it doesn't take much money to be able to say No and mean it; enough money to last a week may be FU money.


> Someone in this thread said "I have FU money for a year", which makes absolutely no sense.

It might make sense after all, I can think of several situations in which that is perfectly valid.

For instance, if you have only a year left to live (an extraordinary amount of people die every year, fully 1.6% of those alive today will not be alive next year).

The younger you are the more money you'll need to last you 'forever' (or at least, until that guy with the hoodie and the scythe shows up). I'm 45 so if you're considerably younger than I am you'll probably need more of it. But having 'FU' money for a decade in your prime and then having to go back to work when you're say 55 is probably a lot better than the reverse, retiring at 65 when you're older and physically less capable seems like the wrong way around to me. Get some mileage out of your life while you can enjoy it to the fullest.


I think that the point is that 'money for a year' is not FU money. Just money for a year.


Maybe the perception of a huge safety net is more important than the actual assets.

The common theme among all definitions of FU money seems to be freedom from fearing we'll go hungry and relief from risk averse behavior like holding on to an unfulfilling job.

Is FU money more satisfying when we've earned it ourselves rather than winning it (inheritance, lottery, marriage, fraud)?


"freedom from fearing we'll go hungry and relief from risk averse behavior like holding on to an unfulfilling job" By that definition being on unemployment in one of the friendly european social security states qualifies. Also makes me wonder why not more startups try to bootstrap it at the expense of father state, could work in Europe at least.


Is FU money more satisfying when we've earned it ourselves rather than winning it (inheritance, lottery, marriage, fraud)?

I hear so, and anyway that is my only possible channel of ever having that much money. But as far as I know, people who inherit money, win the lottery, marry into money, or defraud people of money don't feel bad about having the money.


Earning it has the nice side-effect of freeing you from the need for external validation.


Is camarades.com the project you referred to that you founded in 1995 and now produces a "FYM cashflow" for you?


Yep. It's been a steady producer for as long as I've had it with two major hickups, the first (of course) the .com crash, the second the death of iBill.

It has survived both, the first by changing from an advertising driven model to a subscription model, the second because I'm in close contact with someone that owns and operates and IPSP so I could switch on a moments notice.

I probably aged a couple of years for each of those.

Technically the period between '95 and '98 (the pre-camarades days) was license driven, I've written about that elsewhere: http://jacquesmattheij.com/content/story-behind-wwcom-camara...


I love how most of the opinions about how FU money changes your life start off with "technically I don't have FU money."


>>>able to spend days on end just reading, and in general being unproductive.

I disagree that reading is being unproductive. You want to see what unproductive is really like, track down and watch an hour of "Maury" or "The Jerry Springer Show" on TV.


I got rid of TV a long time ago, I figured it took too much time while giving too little in return. Instead I read online news with an appetite that has me labeled 'news junkie'. It happens in waves though, sometimes lots of it sometimes nothing for weeks or even months. It usually depends on whether or not I have something interesting to do, or a lack of energy or inspiration, it's like a low-activity level thing to do that is still moderately useful because it at least keeps me informed.


I disagree with that, unless you are reading something very specific, and for short periods of time. Reading can so easily become something that takes up a lot of time, no different to tv. And if you are not creating, then you are not being a producer, you are being a consumer.


>>>And if you are not creating, then you are not being a producer, you are being a consumer.

Creating from what? What well of knowledge do you have to dip into if your mind hasn't been stocked by reading first? And if all you do is read for a goal, then you are cheating yourself.


I agree. Part of creativity and "thinking outside the box" is making your box bigger than others'. So really, you're just thinking outside their box.


I don't like debt, I never did and I'd rather be completely debt free, but the business comes first, private life second. I have a pretty thick wall between the two and most of the money stays on the business side.

I can't stress enough how this is a good business advice.

Never mix up business money and your money.

You'll eventually be able to pay yourself well when business does well. Don't take too much from it at the beginning. Cash flow is paramount to success.


I loved reading your story. This is were I wish and strive to be and funnily enough your life sounds about exactly the way I hope mine can be some day.

I think I might even use your article as a reference in future because oddly enough a lot of people don't seem to quite get what I'm talking about when I try to tell them what me dream is. "What, not have a job? How? What would you do? You have to work" etc. etc.


There's no such thing. You're always going to have to be nice to someone - even if you're Mel Gibson.


My concept of FU money isn't that you get to be an uninhibited jerk. Rather, if someone's a jerk to you, you can say "FU" and not worry about whether you're going to be able to pay the bills. The sort of thing you can't do if you're dependent on your employer to maintain your lifestyle.


But that's the case with nearly everyone who has >~3 months of savings. If it's just one isolated person that's being a jerk to you, quit and find another job. Hell, you can do that with no money in the bank if you find the other job first and then quit.


I don't agree. I've got more than 2 years of take-home pay in "savings" (non-tax advantaged accounts) plus a bunch in 401(k), and I still don't feel the luxury of telling my boss to go stick it. (I also have expensive hobbies and 2 kids under 2 years old.)

To me, I don't have FYM, despite meeting your threshold 8x over. It would not be easy for me to replace my current income at another job. (I'm 7+ years here, know our tech and business inside and out, and am paid pretty fairly for that, but that doesn't mean that I have nearly the same value to another company, something that headhunters who call have a hard time grasping when I tell them my comp range.)


In each of these cases, you still have to find another job, which means you still have to worry about paying the bills.

It also doesn't have to be your employer: it can be anyone you're financially tied to in some way.


Right, but finding another job is typically not a problem for people with the skills to make FU money (through means other than the lottery and inheritance, at least). If your boss is an asshole and you're not, and you're skilled in any reasonably competitive field, you shouldn't have trouble finding another job where the boss is not an asshole.


That might be true, but I've gotten the impression that a lot of people who've made FU money aren't necessarily super skilled, but happened to do the right thing at the right time.

I can't give a comprehensive survey of everyone who's made FU money, but take Tim Ferris for example. He's not a whiz at building websites: he just knew to cash in on selling brain supplements online when that stuff was taking off.

Edit: I should point out that I don't think FU money is exclusively about being able to say "FU" to a jerk. I emphasized that aspect just to invert the comment I was responding to. FU money can also just be about ditching a career you're not that interested in (but may be highly skilled at, and otherwise locked into).


That's only true within a limited set of constraints, for example, the tech industry. The film industry also uses the same term "FU money" and it means the same thing: the ability to choose your situation. In that industry, any successful actor or director will forever remember the pivotal project that put them over that line.


Agreed, it's a weird term, but since it was used in the original I figure I'd keep it, but I did add a clarification as to what it means to me.

In fact, the people that have 'fuck you' money (that I know) tend to be pretty rude to people that are simply trying to make their lives a little easier, such as people waiting tables or running a store. You can instantly tell from the way they treat those 'below' them in stature (if there is such a thing anyway, my grandmother used to say about such people that they smell just the same on the toilet) whether they're nice or not.

As a rule, if people are rude to others that are in a 'lesser' position to them then you can do without them just fine.


"In fact, the people that have 'fuck you' money (that I know) tend to be pretty rude to people that are simply trying to make their lives a little easier, such as people waiting tables or running a store."

The people I know with FU money have generally been really nice - there was this one kid in college who was an asshole, but he's the exception, not the rule. Most will go out of their way to help people, and are always polite to waitstaff etc.

Maybe I've just been lucky. I've found that the comment someone made in the original thread holds pretty true. ("Whatever type of person you were before FU money, you'll be more of afterwards. If you were a jerk beforehand, you'll be more of a jerk afterwards, while if you were a nice person beforehand, you'll be a nice person afterwards.)


Meet some more people. I've saved 20+% for about 5 years now, I have over a year of FU money, and probably closer to 3 or 4 if I actually payed closer attention to my spending and cut back. I'm not rich, I just save before I spend and prolong the time before I give any of my money away (purchases, bills etc - its my money!)

It hasn't affected me much, I still work, I'm still kind to strangers and waitresses. You're rule is good, but something tells me those people you know would be the same in any situation.


> but something tells me those people you know would be the same in any situation.

That's exactly why the rule is good, it allows you to pick out people like that. In other situations they will be the same (they can't help it) but it won't stand out so much.

Some people try to impress others by bossing people around or showing they can afford to be rude, for me that's a total turn-off.

The really interesting thing here is that the really wealthy are usually quite modest (at least, those that I've met, which is not a very large sample).


There is a such thing as not having to be an employee anymore, and I think that's the general consensus here as to what FU money is.


what was the fancy car? are we talking about something like a Ferrari? or something more like a BMW M3?


slk. At 50,000 km/year they're a bit much to keep in good maintenance, eventually I sold it and put the money towards reducing my mortgage, I think that was the sensible thing to do.


Don't knock the M3; funnest thing I've ever driven.


wasn't knocking it, personally I think that the M and the AMG models are some of the best options if you like to be low key.

Just debadge them, and 99% of people won't know that you have the high end version.

Audi S line is kinda good too, but they really dropped the ball this generation. The S4/S5 are barely making enough power to compete with the 335i. The upcoming RS5 should fix that, but Audi is probably going to charge so much for those, that the $60K M3 will look like a bargain by comparison.


Dude, the S line hasn't been meant to compete with M/AMG models for the last couple iterations. The S4 is a direct competitor to the 335i and is marketed as such and is priced much lower than either the C63 or the M3. The RS line of cars are the ones designed to directly compete with AMG/M.


I thought they weren't shipping the RS now...


Yeah, though the M has all kinds of adornments that make it distinguishable (and, IMO, ugly.)

The S4 and new S5 are v6, which means they probably aren't as painful on the mileage. This is the biggest reason not to get an M.


If you get the chance, take an older M Roadster for a spin. They're silly fun and are getting really cheap.


The level that is FYM is a sliding scale. See http://yourmoneyoryourlife.info/


I think the problem is that people like junk in their house. I don't. My 'fuck you' money is $800 every two weeks. I pay $600 a month. I don't buy much, I spend a lot of time with my girlfriend. We go to the beach, park, etc. I spend my free time programming the game I always wanted. It's great.


Have kids. That will reset your standards pretty quickly.


Call me what ever you want, but I made it 3 lines into the article before I closed the tab and moved on. There's no need for that language. There is no need for that attitude. Grow up people.


Seriously? Sure, he used the term "fuck you" money a few times, but only to refer to an immediately recognizable financial situation that he wanted to talk about. Outside of that, there wasn't any foul language in the article and it was actually an interesting read.

I could probably see your point if it was a Zed Shaw article, but even then it seems that reasonable people should be able to look past any vulgarities if there's useful information to be found.


"Fuck You Money" is a well-known and well-understood term. He didn't make it up.


Well the word that I presume offended you is in the title. Why did you click on it at all?


I wrote that in response to another HN article that used that term.

May I suggest: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=george+carlin+se...


I love it how TGJ gets downvoted for no apparent reason, other then respectfully stating his opinion on using foul words for every day language


Respectfully stating his opinion? What post were you reading? He got downvoted for an uninformative comment that had essentially no content besides insulting Jacques by saying he has an "attitude" and needs to "grow up" — just because Jacques was responding to a question that used a term that offends TGJ's personal sensibilities.


You are right of course, I did not contribute much else besides critique. What I should have asked instead is, is this the best that people have to offer? FU money.

Emergency fund not good enough? Savings plan too serious? I'm going fishing too thoughtful? The best that an essay has to offer on setting aside money for situations unforeseen is to reference it by FU money? Newsflash, its called a savings plan, retirement fund, IRA, mutual funds, mattress money. It's been done before and the only difference is calling it something vulgar in order to connect with the new generation of people. Anyone seen Idiocracy? That's where it's heading.

And to think. "I'm" the one insulting Jacques. Unbelievable.


The whole reason it's called "fuck you money" is because if you don't want to do anything... for anyone... at any time... or if anyone you're working for or with pisses you off for any reason... you can ALWAYS say "fuck you" and have no issue about cash. You can say "fuck you" to every person who ever wants to give you a penny for the rest of your life and you are still fine. It's a figure of speech, and that's where it came from. What you describe is NOT "fuck you money". You can go YOUR ENTIRE LIFE without seeing A SINGLE PENNY OF INCOME other than your "fuck you money". That's what it is. I can't think of any terms that describes it that way, and definitely not any of the examples you gave.

The tone in both of your responses is way worse than the thing you're taking issue with. Your ignorance just makes it worse.


It's cool. I understand. I never expected anything else. Standards are not spread, they are just upheld.


As you said, you didn't read the post, so you shouldn't be too surprised to learn that you are characterizing it 100% wrong. The term does not refer to savings or anything like it, per se. It refers to an extremely large quantity of money, such that you can act freely without any fear of negative financial repercussions. It's the term that was used in the question Jacques was replying to — it wasn't his choice of terminology.

Also, I think for most people, it sounds humorous and whimsical. Unless you also refrain from mentioning hamburgers out of concern for vegetarians' sensibilities, I don't think it's anything to get upset about.


Don't worry, I don't insult easily :) Maybe you should get over your antipathy to the term and read the post anyway, I don't think your comments match what I wrote.


An essay on a site for programmers is not "every day language."

He said, "Grow up people," which is not very respectful.

Those are two apparent reasons.




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