I can’t feel my face. Is this real life?
“Scandal”, “corruption”, “collusion”, names ending in the letter “v”, comically long handshakes… This stuff is all over the news lately. Seems like more than usual.
Personally, I don’t like to get into politics. Not anymore. Not publicly. I don’t want to be political at all in this blog. Politics is too toxic today, and this isn’t a Beltway blog.
Depending on who you listen to, all this scandal talk is either just garbage piled high on a big nothingburger (great name for a D.C. restaurant, by the way, if anyone’s looking to get into the burger business), or we’re careening toward a constitutional crisis the likes of which we’ve never seen.
I won’t tell you where I land on the spectrum (hint: Somewhere in-between). You don’t want to hear from me on that. I know even less about that than I do about money 😉
It just seems like a good time to talk about the role money plays in corrupting good people. And it seems like a good time to talk about a couple ways we can keep ourselves from being manipulated into doing the things we don’t want to do…
Stuff your cushion full of F-you money
We usually think of savings as a safety net for household emergencies. We think about it as a way to de-stress our lives. We think about it as a way provide some certainty for the future. We think of it as a way to level-up to the next stage in life. All good things, but not the only good things.
Do you think of your cushion of savings as your shield against corruption? I’m talking about the big, Washington-sized corruption and the small, every-day Dinkytown-sized corruption. All of it. Anything that tugs at the needle of your moral compass and steers you away from your true path in life.
Once stuffed, a cushion of savings can keep us from making bad choices in life. This may be its most important side-benefit.
I think folks in the financial independence (FI) community know it more than anyone. It’s commonly called “F-you money” ’round here. And the term is most often used in the context of FI-ers telling their over-bearing bosses where they can stick those soul-sucking TPS reports.
But it’s much more powerful than that.
Use F-you money as a way to speak truth to power. To feel comfortable saying what needs to be said when it needs to be said. To stay true to yourself and your life goals. And, yes, even use it to step away from a soul-sucking 9-to-5.
And you don’t have to have millions of dollars backing you up. FI godfather J. L. Collin certainly didn’t. It can be a much more modest pile of on-hand cash that gives you just enough space from a paycheck-to-paycheck existence so you can stand up to your boss like he did. Or stand up to anyone, really, who’s trying to use money to influence you.
Of course, you don’t really say, “F-you!”. You say it nicely…
Gee, Mr. Slugworth, I don’t think I can get that Everlasting Gobstopper for you.
No. I’d rather not kidnap an Oompa Loompa, either.
And you say these things confidently without the knee-buckling fear of losing your job that normally accompanies such bold statements. The fact is, if you’re highly leveraged and living on the financial edge, you’re much more likely to quietly bow to your boss’ wishes. Hey, maybe you’d still rather keep your job, but with a cushion full of F-you money you can stay on your terms and without chipping away at your armor of your soul.
Of course, it’s not just about bosses and jobs. F-you money can give you the breathing room you need to walk away from any shady or uncomfortable deal.
Stuff that cushion full of F-you money. It’s a powerful shield against any corruption that could possibly come your way.
Flip your mind and find the cool side of the pillow
Of course, you can’t just keep piling up more and more cash and think you’re immune to corruption now. You need a cushion and the cool side of the pillow.
What’s the cool side of the pillow? It’s the most comfortable and most relaxing spot in the world to lay your little head on. And you can only find it when you flip your thinking and come to the realization that you already have most of what you need to make you happy in life and almost none of it can be bought from a store. You can only find it when you realize there is something in life called enough.
The cool side of the pillow is the thing that tells you there isn’t a direct correlation between money and happiness. Sure, having a certain amount of money can make our lives much more comfortable. But the connection weakens the higher you go. Thrifty people know this. Minimalists know this.
Someone once told me the perfect salary for happiness is $75,000. I don’t know. I guess that could be right. What I do know is, if you can never get enough, and if you make your life about getting more and more money so you can buy more and more stuff, you are a prime candidate for corruption. And that could leave you more miserable than you ever thought you could be.
Learn how to maximize happiness with less money with Chris at Keep Thrifty. Take snippets from the lives of minimalists like Joshua Becker and The Minimalists and learn how to apply them to your own life. Flip that pillow over and find the cool side. Finding your enough is an extremely important part of any anti-corruption campaign.
There are lots of things that can corrupt you and make you do things you don’t want to do: Someone has dirt on you… someone’s threatening to hurt you… you want the Iron Throne for yourself…
But more times than not, money is smack-dab in the middle of the whole deal. Take that out of the equation by building up your savings and finding your enough and you have a much better chance staying off the front page of the tabloid news.
… Oh. And steer clear of D.C. too.