The Position of F- You and Financial Independence

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In the recent movie The Gambler, a loanshark named Frank explains the Position of F- You to gambler Jim Bennett. (Played by actor John Goodman.) Warning: Lots of explicit language ahead!

(Embedded YouTube video above. Direct link.)

If you can’t view the video, here is a partial transcript:

Jim Bennett: I’ve been up two and a half million.
Frank: What you got on you?
Jim Bennett: Nothing.
Frank: What you put away?
Jim Bennett: Nothing.
Frank: You get up two and a half million dollars, any asshole in the world knows what to do: you get a house with a 25 year roof, an indestructible Jap-economy shitbox, you put the rest into the system at three to five percent to pay your taxes and that’s your base, get me? That’s your fortress of fucking solitude. That puts you, for the rest of your life, at a level of fuck you. Somebody wants you to do something, fuck you. Boss pisses you off, fuck you! Own your house. Have a couple bucks in the bank. Don’t drink. That’s all I have to say to anybody on any social level. Did your grandfather take risks?
Jim Bennett: Yes.
Frank: I guarantee he did it from a position of fuck you. A wise man’s life is based around fuck you. The United States of America is based on fuck you. You have a navy? Greatest army in the history of mankind? Fuck you! Blow me. We’ll fuck it up ourselves.

I found this via the ERE Facebook page but saw that Nassim Taleb also commented on it:

This is a critical 1 min lecture to understand independence, antifragility, “f** you money”, selfownership, and many things.

I’ve written about the concept of F- You Money before as discussed by Dilbert and Humphrey Bogart. Here’s that Dilbert comic again.


Financial independence, financial freedom, early retirement, whatever you want to call it… Why do some people yearn for it? Perhaps you recall the most common regret on our deathbeds:

#1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

In my view, that is what it is all about. Having “f-you money” can help. You don’t need a million bucks or anywhere near that. Even a small sum of money tucked away can make a big difference in your mood and outlook on life.

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  1. That final quote perfectly sums up why I’m working towards financial independence. I don’t want to be told how to live my life by a job, by marketers, by society at large. I want to chart my own path–one that means something to me, and isn’t just rote repetition of our consumer culture. For me, frugality is tantamount to freedom. The less money I need, the less I must depend on others.

  2. Jennifer says

    Holy crap! I didn’t even realize that this is what I did 9 years ago. We paid off the house, stashed some cash, and I immediately quit my incredibly frustrating/horrible boss job. Now I’m a substitute teacher (which I love) and I work part time to help out the kids with college and pay for fun stuff. Luckily, my husband enjoys what he does because he carries the insurance. The Gambler didn’t mention anything about insurance.

  3. Ernie “Big Ern” McCraken said it best – and with style – in “Kingpins”:

  4. This is perfect! Finally a good catchphrase for my goal in life.

  5. I love this. The perfectly articulates my current mindset and how I want to live the rest of my life. I’m not there but I’m working towards it.

    • once i owed and was sad…now i own and I’m in a state of “fk you”…nobody tells me what to do and i don’t give a sht what people think , i am in a position of FU…motto to live by

  6. Perfect post.

  7. Obama care

  8. Yes but working most of your life to attain this defeats the purpose.

    If from the start you live super cheap and take huge chunks of time off to have great adventures all the way through, find creative setups for when you are older, give up being tied down by mortgages and years slaving away for big pension funds, etc. then you can live with this attitude and have great adventures throughout your life.

    Houses, savings, pensions can be taken away from you. The experiences spending your healthiest years finding a way to really cheaply do now what you really want to do can’t be taken away from you and you actually end up doing it while you can.

  9. Saying you can’t live with an F-You attitude until the day you have a different financial setup can be a cop out.

    Stretch your creative thinking and confront fear, perhaps you can claim the F-You attitude in a big or small way right now.

  10. I like Marie’s comment above. Live for today and enjoy life during your time when you can the most is the position I’ve taken along the way. However, once a family atmosphere changes your life it’s hard not to get tied down to the things that go along with that.

  11. Even just having emergency savings can relieve stress, help you sleep, and make you better at your job. You’re not worried about that next paycheck as much as the guy sitting next to you that is overextended on his house, his car, his credit card debt.

    Doesn’t mean that you can just walk around with an f-you attitude but you should be happier with some aspects of your life.

  12. chris mophart says

    Couldn’t agree more money is not everything but money is everything

  13. Had a similar concept in the back of my mind for years, and may be forced to implement it. Always thought I’d save early for retirement account and the kids 529 accounts, let those ride for years compounding on their own, then with those expenses out of the way and living fairly close to the bone, I could get by on a much lower paying job that I might even enjoy. The dream would be to work part time and spend more time with the kids, learn guitar, etc. Halfway retirement basically. Problem is finding a parttime job where you’re not getting exploited it pays so little, and of course there’s the insurance. Will be finding out if this works soon as at work the environment got so toxic I have legitimate concerns about health, and need to get out of there fast.

  14. I think the message is a metophoric F*You not so much an in your face F*You. Having money at the end of your career is a very comfortable feeling.

  15. MiningFrugal says

    Little known fact (or not quite): Paul Anka was thinking about f-you money when he wrote “My Way” for Sinatra.

  16. Joshua Katt says

    Sometimes when you play by the traditional rules, you get screwed. Put money away into a non qualified 401k for nearly 20 years, for retirement, Top guys sell the Company, the entire thing becomes fully taxable immediately at rates near 50% instead of being able to being able to draw it out a lower, retired tax rates. Simply absurd!

  17. Haven’t seen the movie but oh yes do I understand the concept of F-you money! I just don’t understand people who intentionally enslave themselves in the form of debt (giant mortgage, spendthrift ways, keeping-up-with-the-joneses, no savings/retirement). I imagine the stress must be incredible when people overextend themselves financially. And Nassim Taleb wrote some good books.

  18. LargeTalons says

    A recent Plant Money podcast where the payoff is along these lines:

  19. fyoumoneyblog says

    I agree 100% with this post. I’m just waiting for the day I can go to my employer and say: “Hey, I really enjoy programming, but I don’t want to do this full-time anymore. Would you be interested in (re)-hiring me as a contractor/consultant/freelancer, and pay me hourly to work ~20 hrs a week?” If yes, awesome. If no, “okay, well it was great working here, but 2 weeks from today will be my last day working for the company.”

  20. JL Collins did his own take on this, it’s very good:

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