(text-style:"bold","expand")[#The Road to Financial Independence]
By Jack Haggerty
(enchant: ?passage's chars, via (t8n-delay:pos * 30) + (t8n:'instant'))After reading Mr. Money Mustache, you begin to think that maybe capitalism isn't that bad after all. If Mr. Money Mustache could retire at 30, then so can you! Plus, you both have computer science degrees and you make the same amount as he did in his working days. The first step to early retirement is unsubscribing from the toxic consumeristic culture that has been programmed into your mind since birth.
It's Monday morning. To your dismay, you wake up at 8:15am and you only have 45 minutes until you have to clock in. You throw on your dirty, wrinkled work clothes that you forgot to clean over the weekend and make your way to work without your daily coffee, Diet Coke, and oatmeal.
Fortunately, you make it to work with 12 minutes to spare!
[[Go to Starbucks and buy a 5 dollar latte]].
[[Walk past Starbucks and go to work without your daily caffeine fix]].You continue working at your miserable office job. After filing 100,000 TPS reports, working 80,000 hours, and drinking 10,000 gallons of coffee you retire at age 65. At the time of retirement, you have developed severe back pain from hunching over your computer for 80,000 hours. You enjoy 15 years of retirement in pain before you die.
Play again? Return to [[Title Screen]].Just like one of the computer programs you write at work, you enter Starbucks and order a 5 dollar latte without a second thought. As you are waiting for the barista to prepare your delicious overpriced coffee drink, you browse your email. You come across an email from Mr. Money Mustache's Newsletter: <a href="https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/08/01/a-millionaire-is-made-ten-bucks-at-a-time/">A Millionaire is Made Ten Bucks at a Time</a>.
Just like that, you forgot about your mission to escape the rat race. Instead of putting 5 dollars into your Vanguard brokerage account, you blew it on a fucking latte. Existential angst washes over you. Maybe financial independence is not for you. Working in a cubicle isn't that bad. Right?
[[Resolve to build your frugality muscles and start over again on your quest towards financial independence]].
[[Give up on financial independence.]]You're not going to pay for a 5 dollar latte! Starbucks lattes are for those who are not enlightened. You think about the article you read last night, <a href="https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/08/01/a-millionaire-is-made-ten-bucks-at-a-time/">A Millionaire is Made 10 Bucks at a Time.</a>
You smile at yourself for your impressive resolve. You are going to put this money into your new Vanguard brokerage account. "My money is going to work for me," you say to yourself.
[[Continue]]Everybody slips up occasionally. You just need to go back for some re-education. After browsing Mr. Money Mustache's blog for a couple of hours, you come across <a href="https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/05/12/the-coffee-machine-that-can-pay-for-a-university-education/">The Coffee Machine that Can Pay for a University Education.</a>
You quickly learn if you spend an average of 7 dollars a day on coffee/take out snacks, "this habit, compounded at 7%, adds up to about 148,000 dollars over the 17.5 years."
148,000 dollars!!! That does not make any sense. 7 times 365 times 17.5 is 44,712.5 dollars.
You learn that the 7% is the average annual return of a stock index fund. So when calculating how much something costs, you have to incorporate what your money could have earned.
Jeez. You did not realize small purchases mattered so much.
[[Continue]] You continue working at your miserable office job. After filing a 100,000 TPS reports, working 80,000 hours, and drinking 10,000 gallons of coffee you retire at age 65. At this point in time, you have developed severe back pain from hunching over your computer for 80,000 hours. You enjoy 15 years of retirement in pain before you die.
Play again? Return to [[Title Screen]].Later that day, a text message from your friend Chad pops up on your phone "Yo! You'll never guess what band is playing at the mega center this Saturday. Shark Tornado Storm."
OMG. You love Shark Tornado Storm. How did you miss the announcement? You check STS's Instagram every day.
[[Agree to see Shark Tornado Storm]].
[[Tell Chad you cannot make it and put the status of your shallow friendship in jeopardy]].You text Chad back, "How could I miss a Shark Tornado Storm show? Count me in." Chad promptly texts you back, "Sweet! I just bought the tickets. I just send you a request on Venmo."
You see the Venmo notification appear on your phone. 75 DOLLARS! This is ridiculous. Their last show only cost you 20 dollars. You begin to panic. You budgeted 40 dollars this month for fun activities. You are going to have to dip into the 500 dollars you saved for retirement. Plus you need money for drinks. Chad is a hard person to be around sober, especially after he has been drinking.
[[Take 100 dollars out of your savings account for the overpriced ticket, beer, and food.]]
You text back Chad, "Hey Chad, I'm not going to be able to make it. I've only budgeted 40 dollars for entertainment this month. No way am I going to be able to afford to go to a show at the Mega Center."
"R u serious???!!! :( You love Shark Tornado Storm. Their new album, Octopus Seaweed, is so gooooooooooood. I can't believe you man. I know you have money. You work at Data Corp."
[[Tell Chad you are serious about not going]].
Change your mind and [[Agree to see Shark Tornado Storm]].Financial Independence is important to me, but so is Shark Tornado Storm. Saving 400 dollars is a major accomplishment. No one can be perfect.
[[Weekend]]You put your foot down. You text Chad, "I'm not going, Chad! I'm on a quest for financial independence. I'm going to retire in 13 years. You should check out <a href="https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/">Mr. Money Mustache</a>."
Chad responds, "Whatever dude! Mr. Money Mustache seems like a stuck up fraud. No way someone can save 50% of their salary unless they are making crazy money. I'm going to have a great time at Shark Tornado Storm without you. Peace!"
Blowing off Chad leaves an icky feeling in your stomach. To feel better, you browse <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/Fire/">r/FIRE</a>, a reddit community for people trying to achieve financial independence. You immediately feel better.
[[Weekend]] "When we work, we do it because we are obligated to. We work for food because we are slaves to our bellies. We work to pay the rent because we are slaves to our safety and comfort. Some of this servitude is willing servitude, such as willingness to earn money to care for our families, but it is servitude nonetheless. We are doing it because we have to, not because “we feel like it.” The more obligated you are to do something, the more it feels like work. The less obligated you are to do something, the more it feels like play. Stated differently, “It is an invariable principle of all play … that whoever plays, plays freely. Whoever must play cannot play.”
- //Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses// by Jesse Schell
You are an employee working for the Data Corp. You do not like working because at Data Corp you are expected to put the company's needs and desires before your own. It is the unfortunate reality that you have to work a job.
It's Tuesday. You just got back from your lunch break and you really do not feel like testing Joe's code for bugs. Naturally, you pull out your phone and browse Reddit. You click on a post that talks about Mr. Money Mustache, who is a financial independence / retire early guru. A few clicks takes you to his <a href="https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/02/22/getting-rich-from-zero-to-hero-in-one-blog-post">blog</a>.
He claims to have retired at age 30 without winning the lottery or selling a company for big bucks. He says the key to early retirement is avoiding consumerism and general wastefulness.
[[Continue Reading about Mr. Money Mustache]]
[[Stop reading due to massive skepticism]]
Go to <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/aww/">r/aww</a> and [[look at cute animal pictures]]You continue to work at Data Corp for the rest of your life. At age 70, you are able to retire after Andrew Yang creates a Universal Basic Income along with saving 4% of your salary every year and recieving a meager pension from Data Corp.
Play again? Return to [[Title Screen]].You wake up on Saturday morning to a call from your landlord.
"Hey! I hope you are aware that your lease is about to end in two weeks. I just wanted to give you a heads up. The sooner you get back to me the better. Also, I'm unfortunately increasing the monthly rent by 10%. Have a great day!"
This call leaves you feeling depressed. It's only a fifteen minute walk from your apartment to Data Corp. Plus, its nearly impossible to find vacant apartments this close to Data Corp. with your monthly rent.
Naturally, you go to the internet to see what the FIRE bloggers have to say about housing. Maybe there are some tricks you can employ to save money.
You find a blog post on <a href="http://earlyretirementextreme.com/day-1-finding-a-place-to-live.html">Early Retirement Extreme.</a>
ERE (Early Retirement Extreme) says there are three important factors when considering housing:
1. Location relative to your work
2. Location relative to your grocery outlet
Your current place has the first two factors covered, but is failing on cost.
[[Look for New Apartments]].
[[Re-sign your lease]].You decide to look for new apartments. During your search, you stumble upon an article on <a href="https://jlcollinsnh.com/2019/11/21/the-house-hacking-strategy/">house hacking</a>.
House hacking is "the idea that you buy a one-to-four unit property for a low percentage down (typically 3% to 5%). You live in one part and rent out the others such that the rent you receive fully covers your mortgage, and you live for free."
That's exploitative! You believe landownership in general is an exploitative practice. Why do we have more homes than people, yet still have a homeless problem? Plus, your previous landlords have been irresponible bozos who raised your rent and failed to take care of their properties.
On the otherhand, as a landlord, you are doing to work to maintain the property. You can be a better landlord who is fair and responsible.
Decide house hacking is against your principles and [[Re-sign your lease]].You decide to re-sign your lease. You are happy with your current place and do not feel like moving. Cost is important to you, but the recent rent increase only puts the rent 2,400 dollars over your annual housing budget.
Staying close to work and the grocery store saves you on car expenses. Recently, you have been trying ride your bike more instead of using Ubers.
Mr. Money Mustache's article, <a href="https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/04/18/get-rich-with-bikes/">Get Rich with Bikes</a>, makes this decision feel validating. If he rides his bike everywhere, then so can you. You even bought a trailer for the back of your bike so you can haul a ton of groceries back to your place.
Since it's Saturday and you are almost out of food, you get on your bike and head to the [[grocery store]].You now have two of your biggest expenses covered: housing and transportation. Now it's time to address the elephant in the room. Food.
You have never been too strict with your diet. You eat a typical American diet where meals are based around meat. Your biggest weaknesses are Diet Coke, take out coffee, and eating Chick-Fil-A. You currently spend 300 dollars a month on food. This figure includes what you spend on take out.
You decide to go to <a href="http://earlyretirementextreme.com/day-3-grocery-shopping.html">Early Retirement Extreme</a> for money saving advice.
ERE claims to have saved money on food by learning to cook with only a small set of staples. Mainly rice, beans, and onions.
His second principle is to avoid preprocessed foods except for canned tomatos and breads. He claims "One will get used to eating just a few different kinds of meals surprisingly quickly and be as happy about eating as someone who eats out all the time." This point surprises you. Eating out is a major part of your life! How are you going to socialize if you cannot eat out?
[[Continue reading ERE's Grocery Shopping Advice]].
[[Give up on financial independence.]]You decide to pursue house hacking. Even though it is against your moral principles, you have to succeed in the capitalist system.
You find a nice duplex that is only a 20 minute bike ride from your work. The house needs some fixing, but nothing too crazy. You use the money you have saved up for FIRE to put down a 5% down payment.
[[Proceed to next finanical challenge.
->grocery store]] His third piece of advice is "getting rid of all the weird things in your cupboard." That's easy enough. He also recommends going vegetarian because it is less expensive and generally healthier than a meat based diet. It is also more efficient, as "it takes 17 grams of plant protein to make 1 gram of meat protein." He recommends to at least try to limit your meat consumption.
Another principle to avoid buying too much food is to "shop on foot." That way you have to carry all of your food and you have a physical limit to how much you can buy.
He recommends budgeting $50-75 per person every month!!!!! This is outrageous! Food is such an important part of your life. How can I limit my spending by that much?
[[Acquiesce to ERE's advice.]] He's the expert after all.
[[Give up on financial independence.]] You acquiesce to ERE's advice at the expense of your social life and your passion for food.
You have now been 6 months into your financial independence journey. There have been some ups and downs, but you have found success. There is a surplus of cash in your bank account.
What do I do with all this money?
You immediately click on <a href="https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/05/18/how-to-make-money-in-the-stock-market/">How to make Money in the Stock Market</a>.
You come into this article with a healthy bit of skepticism. Your uncle Billy lost a fortune in the stock market. Plus, investing has always sounded complicated and boring to you. When you think about investing, you think of old white men in suits exploiting the working class.
Mr. Money Mustache takes your hand and guides you through the complicated concepts of investing. You are still confused. How are you going to buy stocks and bonds on your own? Mr. Money Mustache responds by saying "This is the easy part. You buy ALL of them."
You just buy stock index funds, which is a collection of the entire stock market.
To learn more, you read <a href="https://jlcollinsnh.com/stock-series/">Blogger JL Collin's Stock Series</a>.
You read through JL Collin's Stock Series. Gosh! These internet investment gurus know what they're talking about.
You are about to purchase your stocks. Before you do, you come across a convincing Reddit post arguing against index investing.
<a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/antiwork/comments/c7qkjw/rant_you_know_those_comments_here_that_recommend/">You know those comments here that recommend on the Fi/RE movement, as an escape route from the hell that is full-time work? Here is what they're neglecting to tell you</a>
This unknown Redditor says the main problem with this index investing business is "Once you check which companies those funds track exactly, you see what exactly you're investing in. From my perspective, they're the axis of evil. You're essentially betting on companies that do bad things."
Maybe investing isn't as simple as you previously thought. Do you really want to invest in companies such as Accenture, Activision Blizzard, Alphabet, Amazon, and Apple? There is no way you can justify their exploitative business practices, but you do want to retire early.
[[Invest in exploitative companies]].
Read more of <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/antiwork/">Antiwork: Unemployment for all, not just the rich!</a> [[Screw Capitalism]].
[[Give up on financial independence.]] Screw it! You decide to invest in exploitative companies. You are currently living in an exploitative capitalist society and you need to do what it takes to succeed. If that means investing in bad companies, so be it!
After 15 years of following the core principles of FIRE, you finally reach financial independence. Achieving this goal was not without its trade-offs. On your quest, you ostracized yourself from your money-spending friends. You did not go on any vacations. You ate the same oatmeal and rice and beans day in and out. Worst of all, you gave into the capitalist system!
At least, now you don't have to work full time. You can now pursue your passion for sculpting dogs.
Play again?? Return to [[Title Screen]].After reading r/Antiwork, you become a radicalized communist and anarchist. Unfortunately, there is no escape from your job. But with your newfound knowledge, you begin to relax on the job. You no longer compete with your coworkers in an attempt to dismantle the dog-eat-dog work culture that the capitalist overlords want you to embrace. You organize a union among your coworkers. That way you no longer have to work weekends and off the clock without pay. You give yourself permission to slack off, cheat, sabotage, and steal from your work. Most importantly, you escape the capitalist mind prison that you accidentally created in your head from birth. You realise that your worth as a human is not determined by how productive you are. You are not your job, your money in the bank, or your new Nike shoes.
Play again? Return to [[Title Screen]].