Sometimes the best way to guide us onto the right path in life is to look at people who are going about it completely the wrong way. This not only provides us with some light amusement but also a stern lesson on how not to live. So today I’ll share you a few recent conversations with a work colleage, who is most definitely not on the way to FIRE, yes his FIRE plans are what you could call a complete sham*. Unfortunately they’ll be unlikely to even get out of debt
any time soon in the next 10 years from what it sounds like. For the sake of anonimity I’ll call this person SF.
SF: Probably a new Nintendo Pii (not actually sure what it’s called?!)
TFS: Oh that sounds cool, how much are they?
SF: About £300.
SF: What are you getting?
TFS: Nothing really, I mean I’ve asked for a book and a pair of trousers but as much as possible I’ve asked people not to bother this year or donate to charity in my name.
SF: So there isn’t anything you wanted?
TFS: Nah not really, everything I want I’ve already got, but I just don’t want many things.
SF: Oh I’m the complete opposite. I want loads of stuff! Don’t you want the new Nintendo!? It looks amazing!
TFS: Ermm… no not really. Generally if I really wanted something I just go out and buy it anyway.
SF: What… so you could just go out and buy something for £300!?
TFS: Well… yea.
SF: What about £500?!
TFS: Errr… I guess. Look the point I’m trying to make is not that I’m loaded or make a lot more money than you because I clearly don’t.
SF: Yea right.
TFS: I don’t! The point is that I can afford to go and drop 500 notes on something if I reallllly wanted to, precisely because of the fact that 99% of the time, I don’t want to do that.
SF: Yea well I can’t help it, I just want too much stuff!
TFS: Haha… yea I figured. Hopefully in a few years time you’ll get over it and start to save some cash.
SF: Nah it’s just the way I am.
TFS: Fair enough!
(Further info: This person has managed to buy a new iPad, has an iPhone 5 and a Nexus 7 tablet, all bought in the last 6 months)
SF: No I can’t afford it
TFS: Why don’t you eat here and just have a quick pint?
SF: Seriously, can’t afford it
TFS: You can’t afford £4 for a pint?!
SF: No mate, I only have like £300 to live on per month, things are really tight
TFS: Oh, (at this point I am wondering where all of his money goes as I know exactly how much he earns, and it’s not exactly a low salary). Are you paying a lot of debt of then?
SF: Mumbles something about a flat and some vague other debt. Oh and I’m still paying off my car.
TFS: Aha… How much is your car worth then?
SF: About £3,500
TFS: Why don’t you sell it off, buy a car for under a grand, and pocket the differece?
SF: I use my car to get to work (a five mile journey)
Another work colleague chips in: If I lived as close as you I’d be cycling to work! (I’ve tried this suggestion in a previous conversation, and it was met with a great wall of China sized block of negativity, otherwise I would have carried on with my colleagues line of thinking. So as it was I continued down what I thought would be a helpfully suggestive route with a low barrier of entry)
TFS: I’m not suggesting you ditch the car completely, just get a cheaper one?
SF: Yea but I also use it for other stuff like going to get food shopping…
TFS: Errr…OK. I’m aware of what people use a car for. I’m just saying if you bought a cheaper one you would still be able to do all those things, and have some extra money in your pocket now and each month?
SF: Yea but if I bought a cheaper car it would break and cost me even more money.
TFS: Ah but I’ve been buying cheap cars for years and it’s worked out surprisingly well, you just gotta do a bit of homework. Our current car cost about £1,000 and has been an absolute diamond for nearly 3 years now.
SF: Yea but I just don’t want to sell my car.
TFS: *Head explodes*
As you can probably tell already a lot of our conversations end up like this: A positive and logical suggestion is made, it is met with negativity and weak reasoning as to why this suggestion is just simply not possible, and when those weak arguments are dismantled it is met with the unarguable statement of “well that’s how I am and I can’t change it”. At that point there is no reasoning left so you have the choice of remaining calm and saying “fair enough”, or else you might end up screaming “You Idiot!” in their face whilst shaking them violently. Whilst the latter is sometimes tempting I still don’t think it would do any good anyway, so you may as well just end the conversation.
I said at the start about gaining some light amusement from this sort of thing, but it’s actually quite sad that some people just don’t seem to want help or maybe even cannot be helped. This is one of the reasons that bringing up the often asked “What if everyone became frugal” seems a bit of a pointless question: It just ain’t gonna happen**.
Let’s face it, if you are doing things differently to most people and let them know what you are doing (I haven’t really done this yet apart from on here and to Mrs TFS!) then you are going to face some adversity. Some people will think you are mad, some won’t understand what you are trying to do or how you are going to achieve a task of such magnitude, and some people will just be jealous.
However, despite all this, and despite not being totally open about my FI goals at work (which I think makes sense, for now!) I will continue to try to provide gentle advice and persuasion where I think it might be needed. I think it’s the least I can do, while trying to not come across as preachy, and then if people still don’t want to listen, well at least I tried!
Naturally if I talk the talk, I will back it up by walking the walk as well: setting an example is perhaps the best thing you can do to get others to follow suit.
How about you? Have you had negativity when trying to give people good sound financial, or other kinds of advice?
Are you completely open about your FI goals to friends, family, and work colleagues?
I’d be interested to hear some other stories and opinions in the comments!
*Yea yea… a weak pun I’ll admit, but can you think of anything better that rhymes with “vampire”?! Back ↑