Why You Need F-You Money

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

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

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

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

Great Depression

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

“No,” I said, “we’re just fine.”

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Addendum 1: F-you Money: John Goodman v. jlcollinsnh (The videos there are Not work or kid friendly)

Addendum 2: In the post above I address only the business/work freedom F-you Money provides. In The Power of Money Thrifty Gal adds whole new dimensions.


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Important Resources

  • Talent Stacker is a resource that I learned about through my work with Jonathan and Brad at ChooseFI, and first heard about Salesforce as a career option in an episode where they featured Bradley Rice on the Podcast. In that episode, Bradley shared how he reached FI quickly thanks to his huge paychecks and discipline in keeping his expenses low. Jonathan teamed up with Bradley to build Talent Stacker, and they have helped more than 1,000 students from all walks of life complete the program and land jobs like clockwork, earning double or even triple their old salaries using a Salesforce certification to break into a no-code tech career.
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  • Betterment is my recommendation for hands-off investors who prefer a DIFM (Do It For Me) approach. It is also a great tool for reaching short-term savings goals. Here is my Betterment Review
  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.
  • Vanguard.com


  1. James Altucher says

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

    Although, one story:

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

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

  2. Jess says

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

    love you


    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Cutie….

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

      See you Friday. How about lunch over the weekend?

      Love Daddy

    • Phil says

      I’m new to your site Jim, but loving the read thus far. But it’s honest posts like these coupled with comments from your daughter that make this blog something truly unique. As a father of two young girls myself, it’s a great reminder of what’s important and the reasons behind why I’m doing what I’m doing.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Phil…

      unfortunately this is one of the very few times she’s commented. But every now and again she’ll say something that indicates she’s been reading.

      She’s been a great blessing in my life and I’ve enjoyed every step along the way. Now, of course, I can relate to her as an adult — a new and wonderful experience.

      Kids, I think, naturally tend to gravitate toward mom, so us dads need to make an extra effort.

      From the time she was very small, I made it a point to occasionally take her out for breakfast. No set schedule, just randomly.

      Sometimes it was tough getting her to talk and it always fell on me to get and keep the conversation flowing.

      Until one day it didn’t. And then one day she was the one to suggest we go.

      Enjoy your girls!

  3. Lee- EntrpreneursKorner says

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

  4. Shilpan says

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

  5. Corey says

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

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

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


    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Corey…..

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

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

    • DaveKL says

      Not trying to correcting you. this is for someone wants to read up more on this topic. Corey is correct about the source is from Clavell’s Noble House. Casey wants her ‘screw you’ money so she can lead the life she wants and having the luxury of being able to tell anyone to “S-U” if she needs to do it. If memory serves, she think she needs about $2MUS (~in 1966, so it would be much more in 2014$).

      BTW, this is a great blog. Thanks to MMM for introducing it to me.

  6. Blair says

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

  7. Johnny Moneyseed says

    Obviously I’m going to click on a post with “F-you” in the title! I know exactly what you mean, though. I save my money for the same reasons. If I ever need to stand up and walk out, I know I can do it without feeling instantly stressed out.

    • jlcollinsnh says


      My plan worked!

      This post has been one of the best read since the blog launched. Maybe it’s the title, maybe its just strikes a cord with people.

      Money can buy lots of things, but nothing more valuable than freedom.

      As you clearly know, it’s not about quitting your job. It’s about knowing you could.

  8. Carol says

    Came to you from MMM and find myself bouncing around the site of another kindred spirit. You are a very clear communicator!

    This post really resonated. When I was in my mid-twenties and just starting my first “real” job after engineering school, I read a book during the presentation on retirement plans because I was so ignorant that it might as well have been given in Mandarin. Later my boss took me aside and introduced me to the concept of a F-you fund which he felt was in both our best interests. Someone else recommended the Vanguard website to me and thus began a lifelong self study and passion. Having that fund was empowering! I ended up leaving that very job (amicably) four years later, debt-free and with enough saved to take a short sabbatical and figure out the next phase. 20 years later I am financially independent (thanks to frugal living). Here’s hoping you’ve inspired others similarly.

    I add my voice to yours and others about the freedom that comes from following these very simple principles and am in violent agreement about the choice of Vanguard. Thank you for your sharing.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Wow, Carol!

      Great story! Congratulations!

      Thanks for your kind words and especially for adding your voice to the conversation. For those just starting out it is incredibly important to hear from those who’ve walked the path. Just knowing it can be done is huge.

      BTW, I love your phrase “in violent agreement.” I’ve never heard it before and just may have to steal it. 😉

    • Josh says

      I read your comment and found myself on a similar path. I graduated from engineering school and have been working for a little over 5 years. I’m almost debt free and in the process of figuring out that next step. I’d love to pick your brain on how you chose your next journey.
      Thank You!

  9. Jeremy says

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

    This is a great perspective, thanks Jim. I think the day I realized I no longer needed the job, my value to my employer went up. Being able to say what needs to be said, tactfully of course, can add a lot of value to employers. My pay rose quite substantially in the following years partly as a result of this

    Eventually when job satisfaction wasn’t as high as it used to be, being able to get the F outta there was worth more than any number of Mercedes

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Well said, Jeremy…

      …and well played. Congrats!

      I still find it remarkable that most people prefer the Mercedes to their freedom. To each his own….

      • RubenJ says

        Hello I love the blog. My second and last child is months from graduating collage and I was thinking of selling my 13 year old car with 190000 miles on it and get a Mercedes it’s my way of saying good job and my friends say buy it you deserve it. I don’t know I get a bigger joy on seeing my investment account getting to close to that 8 digit and it does not make financial sense to throw that money away on a benz I guess my car has more happy miles to travel.

        • jlcollinsnh says

          Thank you Ruben…

          Glad to hear it.

          Getting close to 8 digits? As in 10 million? If that’s the case, and you want the Merc, go for it.

          But isn’t it funny? As we get in to the position of being able to suddenly and easily afford such things we no longer care about owning them….

    • jlcollinsnh says

      I can and sometimes do.

      But I consider words like “fuck” the same as hot peppers. Great in small doses to focus the palate, but used excessively they just kill the taste buds and lose their bite.

      • Draggon says

        My first post to your blog – only to say that your reply to this simple question is stellar.

        Love what I’ve read so far. Please keep up the great work. (Funny to be posting a comment to a +3 year-old blog post, but what the F?)

        • jlcollinsnh says

          Thank you, Draggon…

          And welcome!

          This post might be three years old, but it remains one of my most popular and the concept here is one of the core ideas underpinning this blog.

          Hope to hear more from you.

  10. Loyal Follower says


    Love the blog! Have been a follower since MMM introduced me to you. Today I had an experience at work that confirmed the need to have F-U money. The wife and I are well on our way to having it, but at 27 still have a few years. Truth is I could say F-U and look for another job, but I would like my current job to be my last. Tomorrow should be an interesting day.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Welcome LF…

      You don’t have to be all the way there for it to have a powerful positive effect. It always kind of amazes me that it’s not #1 on everybody’s wish list.

      Good luck tomorrow. I’d love to hear the story if you care to share it.

  11. Paul says

    Back in my 20’s I decided that the work that I was cut out to do was not something that I could nor wanted to do my entire life. Lots of physical exertion, stress, and poor working conditions. But the money was good. My father gave me similar advice, and I followed most of it. And retired at age 49. And yes when I left the job I basically said ‘phuck you’ and walked out the door and never went back, even though 2 VP’s and the Prez of the company personally called me and asked for my return. I didn’t burn the bridge, but I essentially said what needed to be said. Right now and for the past 4 years since I walked I haven’t been happier. Sure, I could pay cash for a new Mercedes right now. But that may mean the ‘W’ word later on. People, you can do it too! Go for it!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Well played, Paul!

      Basically everybody has a choice:

      They can buy things like the Mercedes or
      They can buy their freedom.

      This was always an easy choice for me.

  12. Paris Parsa says

    We just moved and my husband’s job has been very unstable. But guess what, we are just fine and not stressed about it. It is all because of the FU money I have been saving.
    Thank you so much for everything, because this FU money was saved due to the mind opening posts from you and MMM.
    Keep up the wonderful work Jim.

  13. Lance says

    I hope to make it to having a decent F-You stash in my bank account in the next couple of years. However, we first must work to pay off my wife’s student loan debt. After that, we’ll be putting our excess mostly into savings and retirement accounts to build up that F-You stash.

  14. Peter says

    Hey Jim,

    After reading through the whole series, I’m not sure I ever quite caught this:

    My first question is easy->

    Does F-you money live in taxable investments, so that it can be easily accessed?

    My second question, maybe not, and it might not even be answerable->

    Going along the lines with what Blair asked, how do you determine the ratio of taxed/tax-advantaged investments.

    Unlike Blair, I’ll be specific.

    I imagine most of you readers–as well as ERE, madfientist, and MMM readers–want to either retire early or accumulate enough F-you money to quit the grind and do what they love. Let’s say the goal is age 35. And let’s say this person can live on 30,000 a year. How much does he or she need in a taxable account to either get them to retirement or be able to safely say F-you to their own Lumbergh? And how much in their tax-advantaged to not run out during retirement?

    (Here, I’m assuming tax-advantaged is for post 59 and taxable is for pre. I may be wrong).


  15. Dakiar says

    Just a quick note to say thanks for taking the time to put together all the information on this site. It takes a lot of effort to put out the kind of content that you do and I really appreciate all your insight regarding Vanguard funds, as well as other items. I’ve been a reader since you first were mentioned on MMM’s blog way back.

    I’m turning 32 in June and in the next couple months will be heading into early retirement (whatever THAT means) around then. I prefer to think of it as F-You Money or financial independence and the freedom to choose how to fill my time – even *gasp* IRP-be-damned if it makes money. Regardless, I will be doing whatever I please thanks to investing and building a business over the past 5 years that will sustain us.

    Your help with where to direct cash has really helped calm my jitters with investing. Auto-deposits into Vanguard, set and forget… Hard to stay on that true line with so many easy ways to divert assets and fritter away hard-earned dollars, but I am (most days at least) convinced. I view your site as the in-detail complement to MMM’s – keep up the great work!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks for the very kind words, Dakiar. It is always good to hear something I’ve written has been of help.

      Congratulations on your pending retirement, whatever THAT means. 🙂 Beats me, but it sure is fun!

  16. James says


    You are correct in that “F-you” money is needed for freedom, but the harder part is getting the money together – thats the real trick.



  17. Eric Bahn says

    Hi Jim,

    I’m a huge fan, thanks so much for your amazing articles on financial freedom! Your writing has really shaped how my wife and I are planning our own retirement strategy.

    I mentioned this in one of your blog comments, but your blog has actually inspired me to blog myself. I wanted to give you a heads up that I published an article today about calculating your F-You number and cited you many times: http://lifeafterliquidity.com/2014/04/04/f-you-money/

    Thanks again for all the inspiration. You’ve really changed my life. Wishing you well!


  18. Zol says

    I had never heard the word(s) “f-u money” until about 6 months ago when my corp was going through major changes. From my first line boss no less (mind you they have little real power).

    In the last 2 weeks i’ve read it by happenstance on atleast 4 websites. I’m wondering if this a sign as things degrade at the office hehe. I’ve switched my label from E-Fund in ING to FU-Fund in my savings account in honor of this post.

  19. Adam says

    Hello! Further to Peter’s question in January about whether the F-you money lives in taxable accounts, do you prefer to leave a portion of it in cash in case it comes to crunch time and you have a significant cost you have to pay? Or do you invest it all? I can imagine once your investments are large enough, even in a market crash you’d be able to cash out to cover emergency expenses, but just starting out investing emergency funds could be a bit hairy.

    I’m thinking about keep a four-digit cash sum as a safety net and then to invest the rest from there.

  20. Gen Y Finance Guy says

    I have always loved the idea of F-U Money. It does have a huge impact on how you go through both your professional life and personal life. There is an extra boost of confidence in everything that you do…at least that has been my experience. We have enough F-U money to cover our basic cost of living for at least 3 years and maybe longer if we made some changes to our standard of living.

    Last year we paid off the last bit of consumer debt we had on a car purchase. This year we started our 7-year plan to pay of the mortgage we just got last year. I actually just wrote a post about it on my own blog if you want to check it out.

    But basically I started thinking about how much money I would be earning in the next 5-7 years. And when I realized that we would earn at least $1.4M in the next 7 years it just seemed irresponsible not to divert approx. 22% of that income to pay off the mortgage early and before we are 35. Now we can’t stop thinking of the freedom this will bring.

    I have been maxing out my 401K for the last few years, and starting with 2014 we are also maxing out a IRA for my wife since her employer does not offer a retirement plan.

    2015 is the year that we make aggressive moves to increase our net worth and get us that much closer to financial freedom. If all goes well, we should increase our net worth by about $60K to $100K this year. I just started tracking that as well, and as extra accountability I am posting that on my site as well.

    I am hoping that by posting real numbers that it will keem me motivated and help me reach my ultimate goal of $10M networth. Its probably more than I need, but its a number that just sounds right to me.

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts.


  21. John Vercellino says

    Nice article, Jim! I came across your blog by way of Mr. Money Mustache. When I was working for Northern Trust Bank, one of my managers was a very wealthy man named Tom. One day, Tom pulled me into his office and showed me a statement for a tax-exempt money market fund that had a balance of over $750,000. Now this was back in 1992, the equity market was hot, and here Tom had this 3/4 million just lying around.

    Tom asked me, “John, do you know what that money is?” I responded that I didn’t know what it was. Tom said, “That’s my ‘f**k you’ money.” He then explained the meaning of it, and he said, “You need to get some, too.”

    I’ve never forgotten that lesson and I’ve mentioned it to my children time and time again. Probably one of the best life lessons I’ve ever learned.

    By the way, I am also a graduate of the University of Illinois. I was there from 1971 – 1976. My summer job was working at a steel mill in Lemont, IL. I made $1,000 every month, enough to easily pay for 9 months of vacation at the U of I.

    Thanks for writing this!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks John…

      and thanks for sharing your story.

      I graduated in ’72, so we overlapped by a year. But it was (is) a very big place. 🙂

      Great times there!

  22. Sarah says

    Thanks for your article — it’s a great read!

    While it’s true that a plethora of money enables a financially independent person to walk away from an employer, for me, it’s a dearth of time that drives my decision to do so. It’s not necessarily that I have enough fuck-you money, but that I don’t have enough fuck-you time.

    You can read more about fuck-you money versus fuck-you time on my blog: http://www.honoringmycompass.com/2015/08/fuck-you-money-vs-fuck-you-time.html.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Sarah…

      Glad you liked it…

      and as is yours. Great point on the time.

      Although you might have given me credit for popularizing the term. I was there before Mr. Goodman. 😉 🙂

      • jlcollinsnh says

        No need Sarah…

        I was just teasing a little. Bad habit that doesn’t always translate…

        And I love that F-you Money scene in the Gambler. In fact there is a link to it at the end of this post of mine.

        I’ve been poking around your blog a bit and enjoying it (and that’s no tease!)

        Very cool the way you’ve put your life together.

        • Sarah says

          Teasing is totally fine. 🙂 However, it is important to me to give a pat on the back where deserved. So, a pat on the back to you.

          Thanks for poking around my blog. It’s been quite the journey to get my life to where it is, and it’s exciting to think about how the journey will continue. I’ve learned that it takes a little bit of steering and whole lot of going-with-the-flow.

          It’s people like you who provide the inspiration to venture down the path less traveled. Thank you for that. 🙂

  23. Joan Cassin says

    Hi Jim!

    Long time reader, first time caller… 🙂

    Quick question as Brian and I fully digest the Chataqua and are looking at our budget in YNAB and are coming up with ways to be even more badass. We were told a while back that your FU money/Emergency Fund should be kept out of the market and not thought of as invest money and should rather be thought of as insurance. We’ve kept ours in a bank account just sitting there and it stings when we think of the opportunity cost of not having it in the market. Should we keep it out? Put it in? Curious of your thoughts.

    Also, we keep our emergency fund at 6mo of our monthly budget so it’s a hefty amount. Are we going overboard? Right on target?

    Thanks so much for the insight! You are a beautiful unicorn, sir.


    • jlcollinsnh says


      I’m honored to see you commenting here and I’ve never been called a unicorn (or beautiful) before. That’s a good thing, right??

      Emergency funds are one of those things that financial writers love to issue pronouncements upon:
      –Have six months worth of expenses!
      –Hold it all in cash!

      I (as usual) beg to differ. 😉

      It depends on your situation.

      –Do you own a house (with the likelihood of sudden large expensive repair needs)?
      –Is your job secure?
      –Are you living paycheck to paycheck or do you have substantial investments to draw upon?

      These are the kind of questions you should ask in deciding if you need a EF and if so, how much.

      If your situation is such that sudden expenses are likely and would jam you up; keep 6 months in cash. If not, you can play a bit.

      Personally, I don’t have one at all. But none of those risk factors apply to me.

      As a middle ground, you could use a conservative Betterment portfolio of 50/50 or 75/25 or more bonds/stocks. This would outperform cash and be more stable than your long-term stock investments. https://jlcollinsnh.com/2013/12/16/betterment-wants-to-give-you-25/

      Great meeting you and Brian in Ecuador! Hope to see you soon!

  24. Cameron says

    Love the subliminal message of the far queue pic…

    Here from MMM also (UraniumC!). He’s like the rock star of early retirement, but to me you’re the guru. Thanks (to you both) for sharing your wisdom.

  25. T Moore says

    Hi Jim,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now and trying to reorient (reprogram)
    my financial habits. I love your straight talk style with a dash of sarcasm so keep up the good work.

    Now onto my question. Do you consider 401k holdings to be F-You money?

    The hubby and I have been savers into our 401k religiously and some other small college savings. But each time we build up the cash reserves life happens (like maternity leave, move to a new city).
    In rebuild mode again but just wanted your thoughts on 401k as F-you money.

    T Moore

  26. Stevie Wonders says

    As I recall, the 4% rule wasn’t that well known 10 or more years ago. So how did you first determine that you were (more or less) FI?

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Stevie…

      You’re right, I don’t think I’d heard of the 4% rule until about 10 years ago. And as I’ve often said, while I was walking this path I really had no guideposts or even awarness of where it might lead.

      But as I describe in the post above, I came across the idea of F-you Money early on and I immediately knew I wanted that. For me it just meant having enough money to make bolder choices than I might have otherwise. More freedom.

      In this post – http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/05/26/guest-posting-financial-independence-23-years-later/ – I talk about how, while I enjoyed my career and working, I didn’t want to do it all the time. I tended to burn out. So every few years I’d step to the side for a while.

      The longest of these was ~5 years from 1990-95. About three years in I noticed something interesting that had not been the case before. Each year I had paid all our bills and we lived as we always did. But each year our net worth had grown.

      I didn’t know what to call it, but I knew something wonderful had come together. It was only after starting this blog that I became aware of the term FI.

  27. Simon Kenton says

    In a couple months it will be 10 years since I blundered into FU money. It was after a budgeting meeting where we were all assembled for 8 hours a day, 3 or 4 straight days. My brand-new supervisor said something contemptuous about me. OK, if I’ve earned contempt, give it. Not a favorite management strategy, not one I employ, but OK, if I’m in the wrong. But. I wasn’t. It was about the only completely false thing she could have said about my work performance.
    Suddenly I found myself thinking an unthinkable thought.
    This is defined, for FU purposes, as something which when you have once thought it, you will never again be able to un-think it. It will be with you forever. I think most of us get very few of these per lifetime. Here are a couple contradictory unthinkable thoughts:
    – I want to be with this person until one of us dies. For as long as we are granted.
    – If I could get an audio-animatronic robot of myself, it would be more welcome in this marriage than I am.
    My particular unthinkable thought during the budgeting meeting was,
    “I didn’t save and invest successfully all these years to put up with this shamer bitch.”/*
    Once I had thought it, I could never again un-think it. I quit, rather well if I do say so myself, though that’s another story. Got on the line to Grand Canyon River Office, got a short-notice permit, gathered some quick-reacting friends who are expert oarsmen, and ran the Colorado.
    Since then I’ve done a number of jobs for our local fire department, and for a local club. Came out of retirement briefly for a complex task, one of those oddity jobs that is at once wholly different from anything you’ve ever done, and something you’ve been preparing for unconsciously for decades.
    Other than an occasional flash of amusement when I heard Johnny Paycheck (“You can take this job and shove it,”) and an occasional irritated memory of when I was a young husband and father and failed to quit when I should have, I haven’t had a second thought about leaving paid employment. As Mr. Collins reports, my net worth has oscillated but is up a factor of 2 – 3X depending on what you value at cost and what at market, and what the market actually is for some of these investments. I still worry, but there doesn’t seem to be much rational about my worries. Just wish we hadn’t been hit so hard by the flood, but if we were really put to it, either my wife or I could clear our marital debt.
    I may have missed it in the comments, but I’d like to call attention to one aspect of FU money. They can smell it on you. When I was a young husband and young father with a brand-new mortgage, their power was way too close to total. I’m not saying the bosses sat around saying, “Podemos darle mas mierda, y tiene que comerlo,” but basically they could and I felt like I had to. But when you have actual FU money, it shows on you and all but the most obtuse of them sense it. They know that a step over the invisible inaudible line, and you’ll be ambling into their office to say to the boss, “John, I worry that you are laboring under a misapprehension about our relationship. I’m sure we’ll both work more effectively after we clear something up.” Once you have FU money, without a word being spoken they sense it on you and your job – should you choose to keep it – becomes much less a power relation, more a collegial association.

    /* Mine was the first thumb to press the red Eject button, but far from the last. Over the next year she lost 70% of her staff.

  28. Lukas says

    you commented on my blog saying that I should comment on your blog to get an advance copy of your manuscript for a review. You can send it to my e-mail address.

    By the way, this is a great post. It influenced me a lot.

  29. Ed says

    Hi Jim,
    heard your interviews with the Mad Fientist and really enjoyed listening to the F-U! money theories. I’m in the UK and though you might talk about exotic things like “Roth IRAs”, etc., I still *kind* of know what that means :). We have tax-free products like ISAs and SIPPs and anyone who isn’t using them needs to.
    I spent the money in my thirties paying off a mortgage, I wish I’d been instead saving/investing in trackers but still hope to be on target for retirement in my fifties.

    Keep up the good work.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Ed…

      …always a pleasure to hear from friends in the UK.

      glad you enjoyed the podcasts with MF. Click on the “As seen on…” button at the top for more. If you can stand it. 🙂

  30. BrightOrig says

    I’ve been reading this blog for several years and just wanted to share something exciting I did today. While I am still 3 years away from an early retirement, I already have a good stash F-you money to last me for years. Lately, my job was getting unbearable (many reasons… won’t bore you with details) and today I gave my 1 month notice without having another job lined up. My boss (shocked) is still not convinced that I do not yet have another offer from somewhere else – he even remarked that it will be stressful for me with my “kids to feed”. Like they are going to be starving in the hedgerows next month 🙂

    Feels great (or will the reality kick in?:)) Any tips on how to keep my confidence if another offer does not come soon? Did I just delay my retirement by several more years by doing this?

    • Julie at Nest Egg Chick says

      That’s so awesome, BrightOrig! Congratulations!!!

      If you’re feeling a bit doubtful, maybe try making a list of all the ways you can make money if you need to, just in case your ideal job doesn’t come in right away. That’s what I did when I quit a job where I was unhappy. Like you, everyone questioned why and how I could quit my job without another lined up, but it was the best move I could have made, and I have no regrets, even though it took longer than I expected to find another job. Knowing that I could pay the bills with jobs I didn’t particularly want as a worst case scenario was really comforting.

      In the end, I got a job before that became an issue, but I knew that I could have taken a full-time job I didn’t particular want, or I could have done some part time work. How could you put your skills to work part time if you needed to? You probably won’t have to, but it’s comforting to know you could, even if it’s just doing jobs on TaskRabbit or driving for Lyft.

      Congratulations again! Enjoy your new-found freedom!

      • BrightOrig says

        An encouraging thing is that everybody who has ever been in this position (quitting without another job lined up) does not have any regrets, it seems.
        I am not worried about paying the bills (the beauty of the F-you money), it is just the knowledge that I will still need to find a (preferably) good job sometime to reach my retirement goals is weighing on me.
        Anyway, feeling great so far. Slept like a baby last night 🙂

        • Julie at Nest Egg Chick says

          Sleeping well is an excellent confirmation that you did the right thing 🙂 As for finding another job, that’s a good thing, because it’ll probably be a whole lot better than what you left, right? Sure, it’s a pain to have to do it, but it’ll be worth it 🙂

  31. Pat says


    I first started reading your blog shortly after I graduated from Law School in 2013. After graduation I took a job in the Oil industry in Denver, what I thought would be an exciting, high-paying job. None of these assumptions turned out to be true, or at least not as true as I thought. To make matters worse, I was unfulfilled, realizing my work may have made millions of dollars of difference to Multi-Billion dollar companies, but absolutely no difference to anyone else. Except perhaps a negative difference in my life.

    However, my wife and I internalized the importance of F you money, building a 200k net worth in a little less than 4 years. A month ago I was let go from my job. Surprisingly, after an initial 10-minutes or so of panic, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. I immediately felt my stress-induced elevated heart rate lower. I started sleeping better, and I took comfort in the fact that I have enough F-you money to take time to figure out “what I want to be when I grow up.”

    A part of me wishes that my F-you money was going to be spent in Europe, but the fact that I don’t have to rush into the next available position in an unfulfilling (and possibly slowly dying) industry is right up there with visiting the Louvre.

    So thank you for inspiring me and my wife to realized the importance of F-you money. From one father, husband, and motorcycle-lover to another, thank you.


    p.s. I’ve spent the last several weeks shadowing healthcare administration professionals in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home health & hospice companies, and I think I’ve found my next calling.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Pat…

      Well, since my index likely owned shares in the big oil company, your efforts helped me and since I am a rapidly aging geezer, I’m all for expanding nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home health & hospice companies. 🙂

      Truly, there is nothing as comforting as having F-you Money when the economic skies darken. Glad you have yours.

      Well played!

  32. Alero01 says

    This is still one of the best posts I’ve ever read online. The past two weeks have been very challenging for me at work. However, knowing that I have FU-money in the bank made it a little bit easier for me. That cushion makes it a little bit more bearable. I know that each day I am getting closer and closer to just walking out the door forever and the freedom of knowing that I can is derived squarely from my FU-money. If I hadn’t learned about FU-money when I did, I think I’d be self-medicating by now!!! FU-money is a much healthier alternative to help me soothe away the stresses of work. Thank you again for all the work you put into this blog and for writing a fabulous book. Your contribution has made the world a better place. ????

  33. Debbie says

    Have recently found your website and am devouring it. Really enjoying your common sense straight to the point writing. Ah, love my F-you money. I’ve been at my federal job for 9 years which means lots of headaches but amazing retirement benefits. I’ve walked out of work three times in the 9 years to sit outside for long contemplation if I should walk away from my job that day. My F-you money gave me the freedom to do that and it also gave me the ability to turn around and go back into work later. It also gives me the ability to respectfully speak my mind to my superiors at work. They know I have the financial ability to walk away. It also helps that all of my foreshadowing of future events, if they didn’t change how they were handling things, have come to pass. F-you money is priceless for the Freedom it gives you in the ability to make choices.

  34. jlcollinsnh says

    Hi JNP…

    Just took down your second comment as well. Both it and your original had the avatar that seemed to concern you.

    If you want me to put them back up, just let me know.

    If you only wanted me to see your message…

    Thank you for your very kind words and congrats on your wonderful progress. Well done!

  35. Danny says

    This is still one of my favorite posts in the FIRE community, and I’m so glad to have stumbled upon it again. I do have a question that I didn’t see asked in the comments above. The part where you say, “I first accumulated the modest amount I needed around 1989”, by chance do you remember how much, years wise, you had saved at that point in time? Reason I ask is we recently hit a point of having 4-5 years worth of FU money outside of our pre-tax accounts. As you state above, it’s definitely not enough to retire on; however, was thinking that we might have some options open to us that we didn’t in the past.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Danny…

      …glad you like it!

      Way back in those days, I had never heard of FI and am not sure the term had been invented. And FU money was, to me, enough to make bolder choices, not enough to hang it up forever.

      So, I wasn’t thinking in terms of how many years my money would last. I just noticed, around 1992, that I had been without an income since ’89, our lifestyle had been unchanged and yet at the end of each of those years we had more money than when the year had started. I knew something profound had happened, but at the time I simply had no frame of reference for it.

      I discuss this more in my guest post on MMM: https://jlcollinsnh.com/2012/05/26/mr-money-mustache/

  36. Mark Mulligan says

    I first heard about “FY Money” in a book called Bogie, by Joe Hyams, a biography about Humphrey Bogart. The passage, from memory, was effectively, “Bogart kept a stash of FY money to be able to turn down bad scripts from Jack Warner.” …I checked the copyright: 1966, same year as Tai Pan. Must have been a catchy phrase that year. Still is.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Mark…

      …that’s cool to know.

      As to the very first coining of the term F-you Money, it likely was some Babylonian some 5000 years ago. 😉

      • Sharon says

        Hi Jim,

        I’ve (and my husband) read your book and have since gifted copies to my best friend and also to my cousin. Also trying to get my kids(young adults) to read and follow. It has helped us greatly with “what to invest in” and how to do it simply. We already had Vanguard funds so just did some tweaking. Love dealing with Vanguard too; they’re so helpful and pleasant. Hoping for FIRE in the next five years or sooner. Although I love my job, it would be nice to know I didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to. My husband on the other hand hates his jobs (has two).

        I also recommend Vicki Robin’s updated for 2018 book- Your Money or Your Life. ( Not as easy to implement…still working on it…but certainly gives a new perspective on money and achieving FI)

        Thank you for sharing your wisdom, knowledge, and experiences. I’m really enjoying your posts.

  37. 4_kids_no_job_no_problems says


    Just want to say thank you for this blog in general and the stock series in particular. I found this blog from MMM back in 2017 and my wife and I set up our Vanguard accounts and got busy. I did not know anything about investing before reading you stock series, but we had a modest standard of living and were blessed with decent income. We have saved aggressively our entire marriage (since 2015), and thanks to you we were able to invest wisely.
    Last week my wife decided to resign from her job because her boss was being a jerk and she just didn’t need to take it anymore. This week I got fired because my wife had quit and we worked for the same company. My continuing to stay on was perceived by my employer to be a conflict of interest.
    I told my wife: “Sometime in the next five years one of us is going to have to get a job.”
    There is all the typical discomfort that comes from getting shit-canned, (What if I can’t find another job? What if I’m actually unemployable? What if I was grossly overpaid?) but we have no money stress at all.
    I do not know if we would be in the same position if it were not for your blog. This blog is an amazing service to the community. I refer anyone who will listen to your website. And your book is our go to gift for weddings and graduations.
    Thank you so much for all that you have done to educate us average investors.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi 4KNJNP…

      Glad you were able to break the chains, and thanks for your very kind words.

      Enjoy the break (heh!) and the process of looking for your next adventures. 🙂

  38. Richard says

    Hey Jim,

    I just stumbled upon your book (bought on Kindle) and website, as I am beginning to really focus on my future wealth. Several things I wanted to ask:

    1) I am looking into investing with Vanguard, but for the time being I have an account with Acorns. I was wondering if you have heard of them (or similar App based investing companies) and what your thoughts on them are?
    2) My car of 12 years (paid off after 5) is extremely close to its final mile. Once I get back from deployment my plan is to purchase a new one. You mention to never hold a debt, which I only have my law school loans, but what is the best way to remedy the need to have a car for my job with the inability to get one without taking a loan?
    3) The rent vs. own debate has been going on for a long time with cars. Is it wrong to say that if I buy a reliable car, I will only pay for it for 4-5 years and then have no payments for the next 10, is better than always having a car payment if I rent?

    Thank you for all your advice, it will start to make my future a better prospect!

    • Tim says

      I use Acorns as well as M1 and a vanguard account.

      I think Acorns is great to have an 3xtra set aside based on spending. It’s like a tax that pays you.

  39. Denis says

    Hi Jim,
    I’ve read your book and a lot of your blog posts, thanks for all the great advice.
    Do you recommend a different allocation strategy between F-You Money and retirement money? My rational is that I’m 33 and I probably want to use my F-You Money sooner than my retirement money. My horizons are different and so should my allocation strategies? Maybe I’m over complicating.
    If you’ve already written about that or it’s in the book just let me know!

    Thanks again!

      • Chris Mc says

        Dear Jim – Apologies if this has already been answered somewhere in your blog, but I just spent the last 3 hours finishing your book “Simple Path to Wealth” and I am spent.

        If F-U money and retirement money are the same thing, where should you keep your F-U money if you’re not yet old enough to tap your retirement account(s)? I’m guessing in a savings account but I am interested in hearing your approach. How does one coast along for a time, without a job, utilizing their F-U money when they are nowhere near reaching age 59 1/2?

        Thanks for your book. It is life-changing.

  40. Wallet Squirrel says

    I use my Emergency Fund as my FU money. However, I keep a little FU buffer on my Emergency Fund for that reason. Although, it’s pretty much together in a savings account.

    Honestly, it’s all just a lump sum in my savings account, but in my mind, it’s my emergency and FU fund, lol.

  41. Joe Bigelow says

    I just read your book The Simple Path to Wealth (loved it), have moved all my non-retirement savings into VTSAX, and am dealing with the retirement savings now. I am re-reading the book while I do that. One thing that remains unclear to me, though: what is the difference between F-You money and an emergency fund? I only recall emergency funds being mentioned once in your book during the case study on page 164. Are they the same thing? Do you need one in addition to the other? Where do you hold it/them? If there’s a blog post on here that can enlighten me, I would love a link to it. If not, would you mind explaining that further?

    (I don’t see a search feature on the blog, which is why I’m asking this question in the comments…though it may be visible and I’m just missing it. If there isn’t one, that would be a great help for readers in the future!)

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