No not… Oh for god’s sake these are getting worse every week!


I came across an intriguing term the other day while on my internet travels: “Scanner”. Someone followed me on twitter which led me to their blog, so naturally I did one of the first things we all do which is to check out their about page, which in turn led me to the following passage:

Margot and Barbara is the distillation of many hours spent trying to make sense of my giant, sprawling list of interests. I’m a scanner. Multipotential. Dilettante. Whatever. What that means is that I will never find the perfect job, never settle down to just one thing. Never grow up.

Another hit for the wonderfulness of the internet/blogging world, I love it when stuff like this happens! The site in question,,  is run by a lady called Elizabeth, who suggested also on her about page to check out the site Puttylike if we wanted to learn a bit more about Scanners.

What is a Scanner? Am I one?

Puttylike says that a Scanner is another name for a Multipotentialite. If this doesn’t clear things up for you here is the definition they give for Multipotentiality, which is actually from Wikipedia:

An educational and psychological term referring to a pattern found among intellectually gifted individuals. [Multipotentialites] generally have diverse interests across numerous domains and may be capable of success in many endeavours or professions, they are confronted with unique decisions as a result of these choices.”

There are also some great questions/statements here to determine whether you are a Scanner or not, here are a few highlights:

“I lose interest in things I thought would interest me forever.”

“I get bored as soon as I know how to do something.”

“I can’t pay attention unless I’m doing many things at once.”

“I’m too busy, but when I do find time I can’t remember what I wanted to do.”

Does this sound like you? If so then you are probably a Scanner! A lot of these sentences sound a bit negative but don’t worry if you suspect you may be a Scanner, there is some really rather excellent news coming up.


Scanners and FI

Anyone remotely aux fait with Early Retirement Extreme will instantly see that this fits nicely in with Jacobs advice to become a Renaissance Man, i.e. develop many useful skills that will end up saving you lots of money over the long term. Puttylike even mention the term Renaissance Man, sorry, Renaissance Person :), on their definitions page in fact.


It seems to me that the Scanner is perfectly suited to the challenge of attempting and achieving Financial Independence.


Not only that, they will benefit from the lifestyle once they achieve this goal much more than the average person, being then free with their time to devote it to whatever interest their whim decides on that particular day/week/month.

I’ve only read a handful of pages of the Puttylike site but I’ve already found a few nods and winks to the FI mindset, check out this article here for example: The Biggest Lie You’ve Ever Been Told

Here is a key snippet: I will say though, that this requires an open mind. You have to be willing to think about money/work in new ways and at least be open to considering some alternatives to what we’ve been told repeatedly growing up: that you go to school, get training, get a good job, save for retirement, and then at age 65 you are free start living your dreams.”

I think this could be my favourite new blog!

Until I get bored of it and move onto the next one of course, that must be the hardest part of making a website for Scanners – keeping the audience to stick around 😉


My Life as a Scanner (aka the self-indulgent bit)

After reading up a bit on Scanners I naturally wondered whether I could be one and I’ve decided that I most probably am. Here is some evidence I came up with:

  • I got good grades at school in a wide range of subjects from the Sciences to Art/Graphic Design
  • Once I’d learnt something at school I tended to get bored very quickly, which would mean that getting into trouble for either mildly playing up, or looking like I wasn’t paying attention, was common. (I guess this is true for many and doesn’t necessarily mean you are a scanner by itself). I would often infuriate my teachers by then answering all their questions designed to show me up for not listening correctly, or scoring high test scores despite predictions of the contrary 😉
  • I therefore found it very hard to whittle the GCSE level subjects down into 3-4 A-Level subjects at the age of 16 (again, this is true of many of perhaps even almost all pupils I think) but ended up taking Physics, Maths, Computing, and Further Maths
  • I was also was very interesting in music production and did that as a side hobby (including DJ’ing for a while)
  • I eventually ended up sacking all the science/maths stuff off and did Music Technology at University
  • I then got a job in a totally unrelated field (websites) and re-trained myself up to be a programmer
  • Since being a programmer, rather than specialising in one particular area or language as many do, I have worked across a spectrum of areas and dabbled with many languages
  • I’m interested in pretty much every sport out there, and am reasonable at most, but could never fully commit to just one to become a specialist at it (I guess you could argue golf is becoming “the one”, but I still enjoy and play others fairly regularly)
  • After a bit of a “learning dead zone” in my mid twenties, I’ve recently re-found my passion to absorb as much information as possible, and am now learning about shit I never even knew existed. You could say I am realising my potential as a Multipotentialite 😉
  • Wikipedia is my bible (I can get absorbed for hours reading about random stuff, linking from article to article, and end up completely forgetting about the original thing I fired up my laptop to do!)
  • In my job or with personal projects I have an overwhelming desire to do everything myself, i.e. I have a hard time delegating tasks to others and letting them get on with it. I used to think that this was because I was a control freak, and perhaps that is partially true, but I also think part of it is that I want to learn all there is to learn about something and understand processes from front to back for myself.
  • I am chasing FI so I can spend my days learning many subjects and engaging in many activities that interest me. Some may make money, others won’t, the point is it won’t matter by then!

The Future as a Scanner

I don’t think this whole Scanner revelation will particularly change my life or my plans for FI, but it does feel good in a weird way to be able to label yourself. I don’t think labelling yourself in itself is necessarily a good thing, or feeling like you have to belong to a certain group or way of thinking, but knowing that there are others out there like you, and enough for people to start a website about it, is somewhat comforting. Not to mention of course that these websites look like a great resource for ideas and motivation!

To me, Puttylike, Scanners, Multipotentialites, it’s all just a slight variation on a theme of what I talk about and strive for on theFIREstarter, so it fits in perfectly with my mindset, whilst at the same time being wonderful to get a slightly different view on the whole thing without personal finance being at the central core matters.


So the big question then… Are YOU a Scanner, dear Reader? 🙂

Tell us your thoughts, stories, or reasons why you think yes or no!? If there are any staunch Specialists out there as well, please feel free to chime in with your comments! Thanks!