Is the Pursuit of Financial Independence Doing the Right Thing?

THE PaST: "Go to school then study a degree that makes a difference to the world"

THE.PReSeNT: "Go to school and study a degree to make you rich, all that touchy feely stuff won't pay, get a corporate job, go work in finance"

THE.FUTURE: "sell your soul to me Muuugh Ha Ha Ha - OK a bit carried away just get into debt up to your eyeballs. I love a good debt slave, mine all mine."

Has the world become more individualistic and materialistic? If you are not part of the system are you weird? Come on get with it, work hard, climb the ladder and load up on debt until you drop.

Is this really the pursuit of happiness - stuff and job status or just a marketeers dream of control over the masses?

Is getting with the system the way to go? if so why the F**** does this blog "chase" financial freedom? 

Why isn't THE.CoNtENDeR blogging about working, making a difference in BIG business? 

Perhaps the CoNTEnDER has got it all wrong. Perhaps he needs a good look at himself and get (back) with the system?

Known, Know, NO's

Let's start off with a few challenges THE.CONtENDER believes exist in the world, have shaped some of the thinking in this blog and yet we do very little about:

We know burning fossil fuels is not 100% good. Particulate pollution and rising gases in the atmosphere come with some known and unknown consequences. On the other hand we have realised  the BIGGEST improvement in living standards mankind has ever seen. Life expectancies have increased dramatically.

The group think it is now "normal" to burn fossil fuels, we are unsure of the consequences but are enjoying the ride while it lasts.

We know that we live on a planet of finite resources but we still continue to consume them at increasingly faster rates. They will deplete - what do we do then?

Someone will have to go without in THE.FUTuRE - be rich and buy our way out of it!

We know work is good for us but too much work can be bad. We know that some stress (eustress) helps us fulfil our potential. At the same time a eustress 9-5 job is now becoming a stressed 8-9 job.

Work adds meaning to life and stress is good for you as well as having money to exchange for some material comforts. You will have a career to look back on. You will have achieved something special in life - just make sure you are able to get the right job that pays well, letting you get ahead in life.

We know that debt is bad so why do it? We know saving is good but the majority thinks saving 3-4% of their take home pay is very very good.  Invest it? Who are you kidding you cannot beat the professionals on Wall Street - pay them big fees to loose your money instead.

Why save when we have a state and work pension. Inflation will erode the value of any debt we take on and our house will go up in price. My pay goes up over time so I will be able to pay for inflating goods and housing. I am told I need lots of shiny gadgets and lots of designer clothes. I need to be on the work bandwagon to afford it all.

We know money doesn't grow on trees - it is made from them! On top of that more recently it is actually typed into existence on a computer - not the one I am typing on I am sad to say. Can fiat money really be a store of wealth when it can be created out of fresh air so easily? Go figure.

The government is in control of inflation. Inflation = good and Deflation = bad because they say so. Just accept that it is good that your cash savings loose value each year and you have to pay more for goods and services. It is all OK as Inflation = good.

The family structure is challenged by he reduced amount of time at home. On the flip side it has more money to spend than ever.

The government is providing lots of tax incentives to help pay for child care at a creche. I need to be in work to accrue the state pension entitlement. Instead of the parent staying at home messing up their career their child can be happy with lots of other kids.

How to loose friends and Alienate People

What are the main problems THE.CoNTeNDER has with the above status quo?

WORK: So THE.CoNTENDER has a conundrum. He knows that some work is good for him (and has been) and the material well being of the family. At the same time work is becoming very time consuming and over stressful at times. If he does not return to work soon it will ruin his career.

Is he missing out on all of that feedback to mold him into the ultimate corporate fighter:  

MR.MANAGER: "Learn from your mistakes" yadda yadda. Go and do another secondment. It is c=great for your career development profile. While you are at it do the work of 3 people. [We have just made some people redundant but you will pick up the work or get a pink slip yourself!]. You will be recognised and be in line [but won't] get a pay rise for being TOP TALENT! [some day - it was 5 years and counting for THE.COnTeNDER]"

CONTeNDER: "Why have I been put in a position that is good for me to f**** up? Is it to keep me in place. Is it so that I do not get a pay rise? 

Is it so I give more precious time to working harder making MR.INCOMPETENT.RISK.ADVERSE.MANAGER look good? 

Come on look beyond the politics [and spineless look after my self slime] and see what a CAREER I'm having. I am working harder and harder but seem to be just standing still. That ladder has large gaps between the spokes :(

In the end what LEGACY will I leave though.....they will be talking about me for.....minutes!"

MR.MANAGER "This CoNTENDER is young, naive. He needs to work hard, think hard, experience failure, make the hard yards - just like me! [and make me look great along the way but....why hasn't he bought a house yet like me I worked my way up the housing ladder to my swanky new apartment?) 

He must understand he will be a manager one day (Look at the perks I'm off to Hawaii with the family for 3 weeks) what a privilege [why does he like going home to the kids - he could be climbing the ladder fast if he just works harder and longer?] I will mentor him, work him hard, mold him in to the ultimate hard nosed business man just like me - it is for his own good!"

Can one truly argue with this? Business is competitive - FACT. The tough survive the idealists perish. Business cannot rest on its laurels and look all starred eyed at the "big picture", "great ideals" and being a "good citizen". Business is all about making money NOW or you want be in business for long.

You can have a winning product today and a loosing one tomorrow. Money in the bank today gives you options tomorrow, debt leads to closures and the possibility of takeover. You have to be the best. You have to crush all of the upstarts that enter the ring!

Working in a competitive business environment helps to toughen employees up!

Outside of business the government is there to protect you with all of its safety nets but what if they are pulled away? The employee will still have the skills he learnt in business to stand on his own two feet right? In that case a bit of decisiveness, tenacity and fight learnt in the workplace can't do any harm.

From a purely Financial Independence perspective a corporate career can be very well paid helping to save quickly whilst developing a whole bunch of useful skills for the future. A corporate is "safer" than trying to start your own business. The negative is that the upside in income can be limited and you could become overly specialised in one field which will not be of use in the future.

THE.CoNTeNDER has been there and burnt the midnight oil to build a semi career. Working hard when one is young IS the right thing to do on the path to financial independence - get on with when probably does not get in the way of living / family.

The challenge is to understand what is the right lifestyle balance at a particular point in time. Is it time to go into up shift overdrive (young) to be able to downshift for balance (young family)? 

THE.PRESENT: "Think you are THE.FUTURE well think again, THE.FUTURE is here to crush you now! Get REAL, grow up CoNTEDER smell the roses!"

THE.CONtENDER: "I have done my time took the pain, learnt the ropes (and saved like mad) now screw working for someone else. It is not leaving a legacy. All of the hard work payed off for the company but now the Tribe needs something new. Is there another way....."

FINANCE: Become a debt slave..... Inflation is good and deflation is bad. Sound money has been destroyed buy the inflation policies and targets around the world. How do you avoid the loss of purchasing power?

House example again - get a big mortgage and a big house. Fill it with stuff until you need a bigger house. Keep on working to pay for it all.

This is all bullshit to THE.ConTENDER. Just a way to keep us in work for the productive, healthy part of our lives. THE.ConTENDER is fed up of the articles he reads that you need to amass one million dollars to get $40,000 to live off. Is this just a head fake to scare people off saving?

Why are they not saying if you do x,y,z you only need $15,000 a year to live day to day. THINK! Don't spend, spend, spend save, save, save. Sounds all too simple - so it probably is!  Who needs one million dollars then?[this need to be dissed in more detail in a later post!]

ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH: We are constantly bombarded that this and that is bad for us. One minute it is tomato ketchup then wine..... Is this all propaganda. Is it to get sales of mayonnaise and beer up? Is it to get the consumer to try different / more expensive products? Heck if the CoNTENdER knows but he thinks he should stay away from too much DEPRESSING NEWS!

Turn off the propaganda. Search out the real truth - it does not come in snippets of entertainment information such a "cat saved from drainpipe with a litter of 10 - all are OK and are in the intensive vet car unit recovering - luckily the owners have pet insurance!". Why is the important stuff reported in one paragraph at the bottom of the web page?

COMMUNITY: Don't worry the government is here to help. Just pay us and we will keep the streets clean yadda yadda.

Do it yourself. Show some pride in your community. Demand lower local taxes. Work harder and minimise your tax bill so you can take time out with the family and relax a little.

The CoNTenDER may alienate some people with some of these views. He was fortunate to have the opportunity to work hard and be paid well (~$65K / year) and for that he is grateful. Our Tribe have NOT been living our income and never will. It in the future we are aiming to live on $1500 per month.

So many questions and so little answers my dear readers.

Work hard and sacrifice when you are young to live financially free later OR hedonistic lifestyle today - who knows what THE.FUTURE holds OR downshift to something different when you are ready. All a matter of personal choice.

If only life was as simple as Do the Right Thing ;0)

Peace, prosperity and happiness


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  1. Hi Muff,
    interesting thoughts.

    Concerning career: My observaion (at least here in Germany) is, that making a "career" in a corporate is not so much about working hard or performing excellent, but more about fully adapting to the company rules, to the "unwriten laws", to become one of the "pack" and to be present a lot (whether spending your time there really productively working or not seems to be second).

    For me this is a difficult task, as though I like my job and think I am good at it, secretly I cannot really take much of the accompanying corporate bullshit fully serious.
    And it seems the same to you, from what you write.

    So I guess for me (and maybe for you as well) a full-fleched corporate career would never be an option, as I would have to sell out myself to values that I do not share.

    Options obviously are financial independece, switching to a more fullfilling job or a kind of downshifing that I call the "middle way":

    Stay at the corporate, but find a kind of "expert role", with no or little career but ok salary, and then consequently find a niche were you can minimize your efforts and time spent there while maxing out savings and leasure time. Don't get in the way of the crazy "big guys", save a lot of time by not playing the "career game" but concentrate on producing real useful input every now and then, so that they need you.

    If this is difficult in UK, you can consider coming to Germany or France, as here it is very difficult for companies to fire you once you locked in - this takes a lot of pressure away already. And your London background will be highly appreciated in Finance e.g.

    If you do so, I'd consider a relaxing smaller city though (as you do already with Toulouse, don't you?).


  2. Hi Woodpecker,

    Thank you for your comments and accurate observations.

    I have always preferred to be a creative expert in work. My expert process development roles suited my goals of work happiness. After excelling in these roles I was moved sideways to gain experience in business roles.

    These roles were about the day to day running of the business. Fast paced, demanding work that was very repetitive. Lots of people thrive in this environment and I did for a while until the novelty wore off. After several of these roles I had had enough.

    I have always believed that you need to be happy in your job as you spend so much time there.

    The corporate approach was to cut 10% of the workforce every five years or so (the Anglo-saxon companies British and American). In doing this the company was more profitable and invest-able from the stock market perspective but potentially short sighted.

    More work was loaded onto fewer people. A tough environment for all. As a result some people worked very long hours and were on constant call. I personally was working a bit each weekend and evenings.

    More of the process development work went to consultancy firms whose goals were to reduce workload / automate hence reduce the workforce further and hence increase productivity and profitability. The squeeze on the personnel and morale in my opinion was being affected and reflected by very high staff turnover.

    My take from all of this is that as a graduate – get a corporate job and work as hard as possible to get ahead. Do not be afraid to move around companies to increase your pay. At the same time do make an effort to find a mate for life and work really hard at the relationship. Loneliness is a terrible thing.

    When ready hopefully you are able to consider down shifting. The person has not become a debt slave and cannot stay out of work for more than a few weeks before finding themselves out on the street. Hopefully this give the time for a family and spending quality time with them.

    Perhaps this is the middle way / ground – having the “career” and the icing on the cake of down shifting to happiness with the family.

    All just a thought and opinion based on personal experience :)

    For me a consultancy job would offer the experiences I would like in the future. The ability to solve problems but avoid all of the political, time wasting, cover your back and must look good complications that come about of being part of the “in crowd” at a company.

    From what I can gather you have found something that works very well for you and it is a pleasure to read about someone else’s deliberations on life.

    All the best!

    1. Yes, totally agree with you. I had my fair amount of job switching as well until I found one that I am quite happy with for the time being, and I had my share of difficult bosses and long hours as well - hopefully never again!
      You must not be affraid to try something new. Hope I will live up to that when time comes and my current job gets boring or too stressful.

      All the best,

  3. "Work" can be a real conundrum. You want a fulfilling time, enjoy yourself and make a good living. On the other had business is very competitive. They need to compete and that means they need to motivate their employees to compete.

    This is where we have the issue in my opinion. Companies who produce toothpaste compete with companies that make toothpaste both are good and adequate. They HAVE to compete against each other. What we are not doing is creating a completely different business for real world problems.

    An example could be the renewable sector. We have tried to build this sector unfortunately it is competing with established energy business. It is not in their interest for the renewable sector to succeed. The renewable sector does not have the cash to compete politically (lobbying and bribes) or economically (hearts and minds advertising and marketing) with that sector.

    The renewable sector promises new technology new jobs and new challenges but it is at an unfair advantage compared to established businesses that are fighting to survive.

    Perhaps I am just an idealist and new companies producing new goods instead of re-inventing the wheel can prosper.

    Would it then not be better for the employee as he is being challenged to do something new and something that make a big difference instead of very small incremental productivity improvements in the production of toothpaste.

    Again personal preference. Perhaps that is why a corporate management career is not happiness to me.

    Will idealism win true in THE.FuTuRe? I really hope so....


Are you planning for financial independence and wondering what to do with it. If so is any of the content on this blog of use to you? I would appreciate any comments you have. All the best C

Welcome to FISH !
You have come here looking for answers. How to get out of debt? How to save and invest? How to retire early and how you want to live in retirement.

Well this is the right place for you as out tribe has been through all of these steps. We no longer work for a corporate employer and have saved enough to retire early. How we did this is shared here on this site for you.

Our little tribe found out these secrets to financial independence in our late 20’s. Since then we have taken early retirement, in our late 30's, in just 7 years. We now live in the South West of France with our two young children.

Along the way I decided to share everything I learnt. My articles and tips on aggressive saving and compound investing are there to help you meet your financial goals fast. I discuss ways to help you decide what you want by building a life plan. This helps to work out how to get where you want to be whilst avoiding the pitfalls along the way.

My expertise was built up working in blue chip corporate jobs, extensive reading and putting it into practice. I have condensed this knowledge into simple strategies to help you meet your goals and not those of the bank or the place you work.

There are free planning tools on this site that help you make a life plan. A plan for your future. The tools calculate how to reach your financial goals in a timeline that suits you. The tools help set out your life goals, make them happen and how to exceed them.

There are tips on how to simplifying your life to remove day to day headaches. These include ways to pay off debt fast buy eliminating wasteful spending habits. How to reduce your monthly bills through choices that actually improve your health and wellbeing. Identifying things you don’t need that sap your time and wallet.

There are little sustainability projects to reduce your dependence on shops and utilities whilst saving money to spend on things you want.

All of these little steps will show you how save 50%+ of your salary so you can meet your goal whatever it is. This huge saving rate can be compounded for very early retirement. I am sure you will find something here for you.

Darren Lee (A.K.A the Contender as in my blog)