Full English Accompaniment – It’s ok to not be ok

What’s piqued my interest this week?

Over the Christmas and New Year break I’ve been reading lots of blogs from across the pond and around the world. I don’t usually talk mental health on this blog. As part of a strict work-life balance the closest I get is usually philosophy. A post by Liz, Mrs Frugalwood, prompted me to break that rule (1). I’ve particularly enjoyed the tales from the Frugalwoods, whose ‘homestead’ dream sits nicely with my own smallholding aspirations. In her post, Liz talks articulately and openly about the experience, the feelings, of postpartum depression.

“My friend Melanie Lockert recently told me that “depression lies to you.” It tells you that you’re worthless, it tells you that you’re hopeless and stupid. But this isn’t true. You can be pulled out of this heavy fog. Please allow yourself to be helped.” (1)

Other UK finance bloggers have also eloquently related their experiences of mental illness; Mr and Mrs Young FI Guy, Little Miss Fire, Wephway at Deliberate Living UK and Sonia at MFTMG to name a few (2, 3, 4, 5, 6). I’m sure there are others, and I’m sure there are those who choose not to share. Mental illness is hidden in plain sight. Every week, one in six adults experiences mental health problems (7). One in five adults has considered suicide (7). Mental illness is the biggest cause for lost productivity globally, anxiety and depression alone accounting for $1 trillion lost annually (8). For stigma to remain around something so common is crazy.

I hope the stigma is improving, certainly since I’ve been practising more people from all walks of life present to see us rather than suffering in silence. For some people there’s a reason, a trigger. Life is full of bumps in the road, stresses and unexpected turns of events which can throw the wheel off your cart. Everybody deals with things in different ways, and what could be a major issue for one person could be a casual shrug for another. We’re all wired differently. Some people’s moods vary more (9). For other people there is no identifiable trigger or cause. It just is. Mental illness is an illness. You don’t need a reason to get appendicitis, it’s just crap luck.

It stands to reason that the rates of mental illness should be no different in the financial blogging community. I’ve privately wondered if they’re actually higher. Financial independence and diligent saving takes order, structure and self-control. It requires attention to detail and extensive planning. When something throws an unexpected spanner in the works, e.g. MMM’s ongoing divorce, it can put a lot of stress on not only your financial system but your mental system too (10). You can’t plan for everything.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

N.B. Apologies for the late post. I’ve spent the weekend away, bumped into Mr and MrsYFG, and discovered that we’ve known each other several years through a mutual friend. Small world.

Side Orders

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

  • I really enjoyed this video from The Plain Bagel on the Grossman Stiglitz Paradox

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (now affiliate links):

Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch – This was an absolute corker that I read in a fortnight. First time in ages I’ve stayed awake to one am reading. Looks like another series to get into.

Starting with Chickens – Kate Thear – A hint to a goal for 2019

Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day

References:

  1. https://www.frugalwoods.com/2018/09/07/how-a-diagnosis-of-postpartum-depression-changed-my-life/
  2. https://youngfiguy.com/depression-and-working-in-finance/
  3. https://youngfiguy.com/mrs-yfg-anxiety-and-working-in-law/
  4. https://littlemissfireblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/09/your-mental-health-is-more-important-than-your-bank-balance/
  5. https://deliberatelivinguk.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/on-depression/
  6. http://www.moneyforthemoderngirl.org/counselling-and-financial-independence/
  7. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/fundamental-facts-about-mental-health-2016
  8. https://www.who.int/mental_health/in_the_workplace/en/
  9. https://www.raptitude.com/2018/10/its-okay-to-feel-bad-for-no-reason/
  10. https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2018/12/31/divorce/
  11. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46720637
  12. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46736964
  13. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46739805
  14. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2019/01/26-30-railcard-goes-on-sale-today/
  15. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/guides/article-6545361/30-clever-ways-transform-fortunes-2019.html
  16. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/diyinvesting/article-6545167/THE-PRUDENT-INVESTOR-tips-protect-2019-disaster-Jeremy-Corbyn-strikes.html
  17. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/03/uk-power-stations-electricity-output-lowest-1994-renewables-record
  18. https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/stock-market-pound-dollar-value-facebook-apple-financial-volatility-economics-a8704056.html
  19. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2019/01/2018-hyp-review.html
  20. https://youngfiguy.com/my-top-books-of-2018/
  21. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/01/01/december-2018-savings-plus-roundup/
  22. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/01/05/2019-goals/
  23. https://thesavingninja.com/savings-report-6-december/
  24. http://www.thefrugalcottage.com/2019-goals/
  25. http://www.next-chapter-fi.uk/spending-report-december-2018/
  26. https://indeedably.com/conflict-of-interest/
  27. https://indeedably.com/spectator-sports/
  28. https://indeedably.com/i-own/
  29. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2019/01/04/new-year-new-you-new-hope/
  30. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/01/03/get-rich-with-no-regrets/
  31. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2019/01/investment-review-december-2018.html
  32. https://littlemissfireblog.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/ive-moved-house/
  33. https://littlemissfire.com/why-new-years-resolutions-fail-and-ours-wont/
  34. http://www.thefinancezombie.com/2019/01/its-a-wrap.html
  35. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/01/04/month-end-accounts-december-2018-2/
  36. http://earlyretirementinuk.blogspot.com/2019/01/december-general-overview.html
  37. https://obviousinvestor.com/growth-portfolio-update-for-december-2018/
  38. https://firevlondon.com/2019/01/05/december-returns-and-2018-review/
  39. https://www.jackwallington.com/looking-back-on-a-year-of-vegetables-fruit-and-edible-flowers/
  40. https://sharpenyourspades.com/2019/01/02/2018-an-allotment-year-in-pictures/
  41. https://paulnelson90.wordpress.com/2018/12/30/yule-celebrations-the-wheel-of-the-year/

 

Advertisements

The Full English – Saving Money vs Saving Misery

What’s piqued my interest this week?
Hey look, FIRE made the mainstream last week as TEA got interviewed in the The Times (as screengrabbed by Firevlondon), prompting The Guardian to fire some shots and a Daily Mail banshee wail (1, 2, 3). A flurry of activity followed from Monevator Inc and TEA, and wonderment that worst kept best secret was out (4, 5). There was particular derision from the Daily Mail readers…
But collectively we shrugged it off. We were in the know, right? In TEA’s words:

Over the years, I’ve noticed that in life there are 2 types of people: the talkers and the doers.  Talkers talk and doers do.

You don’t get into FI club by talking about FI club.  Nor by arguing on the internet. You get into FI club by working hard, saving hard and investing wisely.   Its a marathon not a sprint and so getting to financial independence is temperamentally suited to people who get their head down and grind out the reps. Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. (4)

But amidst the derision in the comments there is a note, a chord, of caution. People wasting their “peak energy years” twiddling their thumbs. As the prize-winning laureate Nickw862003 says in the Mail comments:
“And who the hell, unless you are on a fair bit can save half a salary a year? I mean i done it while saving for a mortgage, but i was living like a hermit to cater for this!” (3)
Do we consider our appearance from the outside? Switch back to /r/UKPersonalFinance or /r/Financialindependence and see people with savings rates of 50-60%, countdown to FI of 4 years, lamenting boredom as they live their frugal lives. They’ve given up the consumerist forms of pleasure, but have not replaced them. At times the Financial Independence community has echoes of the Ancient Greek asceticism, austere minimalism, giving consumerist culture the cynical evil eye (6). In those halcyon days pleasure was derived from the act of abstinence and self-disciple. But we can’t all be Diogenes, living in our ceramic jars, pissing on those that irritate and telling Alexander the Great to bugger off (7).
What’s the point here? Eating basics beans on basics bread in the dark is not a recipe for a happy or healthy life (increasingly found to be interlinked). Ascetism died out in western culture because people are social creatures who seek fulfillment and enjoyment. The FI community helps with the former. The latter requires either moving the goalposts and finding enjoyment in sitting in the dark, or finding cheap interests compatible with the lifestyle. Light a candle, don’t shout in the dark.
Have a great weekend,
The Shrink
N.B. In keeping with the growth of my own gardening hobby, I’ll be adding a little section below once a month keeping an eye on gardening blogs.
Side Orders

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading:

Smarter Investing 3rd edn – Tim Hale – essential reading

Religio Medici and Urne-Buriall by Sir Thomas Browne – the theological and psychological reflections of a C17th doctor.

Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day

 

References:

  1. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/modest-earners-find-formula-to-retire-in-their-40s-fbk3p63bk
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/money/shortcuts/2018/sep/17/retire-early-fire-movement-never-work-again
  3. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6175445/How-retire-FORTIES-without-earning-fortune.html
  4. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/09/24/hold-everything-someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet/
  5. http://monevator.com/weekend-reading-fire-and-forget/
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asceticism
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diogenes
  8. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2018/09/economy-energy–to-honour–fixed-tariff-after-price-hike-blunder/
  9. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/investing/article-6142957/How-check-performance-robo-adviser.html
  10. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/sep/18/your-fathers-not-your-father-when-dna-tests-reveal-more-than-you-bargained-for
  11. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/new-blow-landlords-177000-homes-face-new-test/#
  12. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45561908
  13. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45520517
  14. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45634362
  15. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-6185301/The-20-fastest-growing-areas-new-housing-UK-past-7-years-counted-down.html
  16. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/saving/article-6207595/How-Goldman-Sachs-banker-American-giant-launches-UK-account-paying-1-5.html
  17. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/09/19/eliminating-fear-with-bio-hacking/
  18. https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2018/sep/19/aldi-and-lidl-wont-be-scared-by-tescos-new-discount-jacks
  19. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/liquid-superfood-huel-challenge-its-like-soylent-the-throwdown/
  20. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/august-income-expenses-report-a-bit-of-an-odd-one/
  21. http://monevator.com/its-an-emergency-fund/
  22. https://firevlondon.com/2018/09/24/complexity-costs/
  23. https://firethe9to5.com/2018/09/18/finding-the-fun-in-fire/
  24. https://firethe9to5.com/2018/09/22/the-do-i-have-enough-toolkit/
  25. http://www.msziyou.com/comfortable-being-the-product/
  26. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2018/09/turn-back-clock.html
  27. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2018/09/city-of-london-final-results.html
  28. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2018/09/woodford-patient-capital-new-purchase.html
  29. http://www.realmensow.co.uk/?p=4702
  30. http://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/2018/09/how-do-i-tell-know-when-my-hops-are-ready-to-pick/
  31. https://clairesallotment.com/2018/09/06/harvesting-the-first-of-the-brassicas/
  32. https://urbanvegpatch.blogspot.com/2018/09/in-septembers-sweet-spot.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Musing On… Motivation: Are you running from or running to?

What motivates your financial choices?

Reading a variety of FI and finance writers, it has occurred that those who blog are a rag-tag bunch. You have to be a bit different to move away from the credit-to-the-eyeballs herd. The reasons to go down the various financial paths, and then write about it are even more nebulous. A scientific mind led to attempts to discern some patterns among the noise. One such pattern is the writers motivation, and where the drive to save/ live frugally/ be financially independent arises.

Running from

For some, it seems the drive to be frugal is innate, inherited, learnt behaviours from early childhood. LittleMissFire talks about it as leaving the ‘shop floor mentality’, the mindset of a household living week-to-week, month-to-month, without financial planning (1). The crux of her post about the ‘shop floor mentality’ is the drive to better oneself, and leave behind the stress, envy, anguish and heartache of poverty (1). Understanding financial planning and making frugal life choices are just a short psychological hop from FI, and there seems a lot of overlap between frugal living and so-called ‘lean-FI’.

This drive to leave behind an unpleasant situation also appears prevalent on the FI forums I frequent, but here it’s less about a memory or experience of struggling for money, and more miserable working environments. For example (2):

And an example reply (2):

Small talk, alarm clocks, office politics, performance reviews, managers talking about you behind your back, tracking metrics, spreadsheets, deadlines, cubicles, dress code, meetings, daily existential crises, passive aggressiveness, emails with manager cc’d, scrum meetings, being taken advantage of, erosion of self esteem, etc. Etc.

I assume it was among those so miserable in their work that the term “Fuck You Money” arose (3). You’ve built up enough cash to say “Fuck You” to that miserable environment and walk away… but what then? How do you adapt your austere lifestyle out of work, with it’s focus on minimising all outgoings, to your new-found freedom (4):

Running towards

I sort of class myself amongst the running towards school-of-thought. I enjoy my job, to the extent that I am happy to go into work every day to perform it (especially after a slight change into a less front-facing role). I would probably keep doing it to some extent even if I wasn’t paid, because it is my ‘ikagai’ – a Japanese word whose closest translation is ‘the reason for which you get up in the morning’ (5, 6). Despite this I think the world is full of wonder, and I could spend whole other lifetimes doing different things. There are too many things to do and not enough time to experience them all whilst also working to support myself. FI, as The Frugal Cottage puts it, “gives you the option of spending your limited time however you want” (7, 8).

Just enjoying the run

This seems to be the final stage in FI nirvana fulfillment. Some suggest that by it’s nature, being frugal has a sort of contrarian cool (9). An echo of the counter-culture in a rejection of consumerism (10)More hippy than hipster I hope. Some bloggers, like TEA, enjoy the journey to FI and beyond because they developed an enjoyment of “the process of wealth building” (11) TEA writes about learning to enjoy these things by using conditional rewards; a big juicy carrot for the FI stick, training your brain to associate putting the financial graft in for a reward (11). Or writers like FIREvLondon, who enjoy the writing about their process, discussing ideas, commenting on experiences (12). This is a far better path to happiness, where any goal you set or any target you make can bring you fulfillment. Enjoying the process of blogging, the sharing of knowledge and community.

Why does it matter?

Understanding your motivation is inherently tied to your ability to complete the goals you set yourself for financial independence and frugal living. If your goal is off from what you truly want you’ll lack motivation, and if you’re motivated for only a specific purpose you may find yourself unfulfilled and lost when you reach that goal, or unable to reach it altogether. As I’m setting my goals, I’ve been noticing many are around things I’d do after being FI. I risk that there will always be one more goal or target. It’s time to think about my enjoyment of the pursuit, and I would urge others to ask, why do I want FI?

References:

  1. https://littlemissfireblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/24/do-you-have-the-shopfloor-money-mentality/
  2. https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/comments/8ogyp8/people_who_are_trying_to_reach_fi_because_they/
  3. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/07/24/the-art-of-wealth-preservation/
  4. https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/comments/94kmku/first_day_of_retirement_at_40_yo
  5. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/mind/finding-ikigai-japanese-secret-health-happiness/
  6. http://monevator.com/weekend-reading-what-is-your-reason-for-being/
  7. http://www.thefrugalcottage.com/everyone-early-retirement/
  8. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/early-retirement-in-5-years-in-the-uk-is-it-possible/
  9. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-eclectic-professor/201102/the-psychology-thrift-why-not-frugal-cool
  10. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/about-me/
  11. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/02/13/get-rich-with-the-process/
  12. https://firevlondon.com/about/