Tell Me Lies

I’m reading an interesting and entertaining book at the moment, “Everybody Lies: What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are”.  It’s about how Google searches tell us much more about people in general whereas relying on surveys, or Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – or even blogs! – is perhaps the worst way to understand anything about anybody because almost nobody “tells the truth” about themselves on these platforms.

Then, driving into work, I decided to listen to a podcast I haven’t for some time, the Dave Ramsey phone-in, a very American biased show about debt, money issues and how to deal with them (hint: buying Dave’s books, audio tapes and signing up for his courses helps).
Dave alway starts his shows with the adage that his is a world where:

“debt is dumb, cash is king, and the paid-off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the status symbol of choice.”

Unfortunately though, having “a paid-off home mortgage” is one of the least symbols of status you could imagine. Look out your window. How many people in your street have paid off their mortgage? Exactly. You’ve no idea. Like the fabled “Millionaire Next Door”, you’ll never meet your mortgage-free neighbours unless they introduce themselves as such.

Similarly, on the internet, if everybody is lying, does that include Mr Moustache, Jacob Fisker or even little old me? Are we really walking the talk? Or are we just broadcasting a facade to the world for some ulterior motive?

After all, attaining FIRE is quite a status symbol, isn’t it? Or at least telling people you’ve attained it is. I’ll hold my hands up here and admit that I got a nice charge from telling people I had retired early. I was proud of this fact, although now having gone back to work I kind of wish I’d kept my mouth shut. Outside of pride and ego, I’m not sure what my motivation was for announcing it. I like to think it was something more than just to parade my own “status symbol of choice”, but I don’t know. I sometimes think that I had to tell people as a way of committing myself more to the idea of retirement and I do think there is a germ of truth in that. It’s just not a very big germ. Maybe I thought I’d be a bit of an inspiration to people, but that’s a pretty vain assumption too. Perhaps I felt it made me a bit of a curiosity, a slightly more interesting person who, as Dave Ramsey states, “lived years like nobody else to now live like nobody else”. Pride, vanity, ego. Surely there’s more to it (and me!) than that?

Well, one thing I could argue about why I told people I’d “retired early” was that I was definitely inspired and motivated by the FIRE bloggers who I’d discovered via trying to learn more about investing, saving and being cheerfully frugal as a lifestyle choice. If it inspired me, perhaps it would inspire others to adopt, what I felt, were worthwhile goals and objectives? There is an alternative to buying pairs of £500 shoes, if only more people knew what those were. I can’t say I wanted to be an “inspirational figure”, I just felt that maybe some people could learn from my example and experience of the FIRE lifestyle that seemed to be gaining prominence in certain circles. When you’ve experienced something positive in life, you’re kind of inclined to want to share it and I find that blogging allows me to do that whereas trying to “convert” individuals on a personal basis is, I find, being a bit more evangelical than I want to be. When if comes to my blogging, people can take it or leave it.

So, as my blog attests, the “retiring early” part of the FIRE equation didn’t work out and I wanted to write about that because I was fairly sure I wasn’t the only one out there discovering that I missed the workplace once I was out of it. All the same, I didn’t want to dismiss FIRE as a waste of time because the “Financial Independence” part was a massively positive goal that I couldn’t see a downside to. The difference between having to work for a living and choosing to work to enhance your living is massive, and more people should strive to allow themselves the opportunity to achieve it. I’ve seen quite a few bloggers describe this state of employment, where you’re not doing it for the cash, as having “FU Money” but when I see my salary drop into the bank for doing a job I’m choosing to do, it’s more “Thank You” than FU!


4 thoughts on “Tell Me Lies

  1. I think there was a Freakonomics podcast about that book, sounded very interesting!

    I think “everybody lies” depends on the definition of a lie. I’m sure you, myself, MMM and ERE are all presenting the world an accurate account of their /our lives but then on the other hand maybe there are some aspects of it we intentionally or even unintentionally leave out. Is that lying?
    You can’t convey every single aspect of your lives across on a blog (even if you wanted to) and I guess the tendency is to leave out the negative aspects, and there is the obvious point that most of it is irrelevant anyway.
    No one wants to here that me and Mrs TFS had an argument about what to eat for dinner last night; or maybe they do?! New blog idea ! 🙂


    • Presumably swiftly followed by 🙂

      Either I’m naive or savvy enough to spot the bs, but certainly the blogs and information that I am drawn to, appear to be consistent and bs free. I’m not drawn to any extreme ideas, so maybe that is a factor in finding truthful blogs.

      Of course there are somethings that are omitted because either you can’t fit everything in, the writer has made a decision on the relevancy of a point and of course everything that we say comes via the filter of experience.

      As for announcing your retirement, well that was the point of the blog! And you did what you said you were going to do.. Nothing wrong with finding that you preferred the world of work, albeit knowing that you can walk any time if you decide to chill a bit more.


  2. I’ve yet to see the guy wearing his £500 shoes to work so can only assume that he puts them on as soon as he gets home to get some ‘value’ out of them!

    I still enjoy reading a lot of FI and PF blogs but that list is smaller than it used to be as I have cut out the ones where it dawned on me there was BS or that I started to try to read between the lines to get at what was not being said.

    I agree with @thefirestartercouk, I can’t convey every single aspect of my life on my blog – anyone reading would find it tedious and be bored to tears! I try to include both positive and negative aspects – after all, it’s supposed to be a reflection of my life and me!

    I’m so glad I helped persuade you to start your blog, Jim – among all the ‘we are sooooo happy cos we retired early blogs, yours continues to be refreshingly different!


    • Hi Weenie, I keep trying to write a post giving an “Ode to Boredom”. One of the most irritating aspects of some of the FIRE blogs is how they portray their RE lives as being incredibly full, deep, colourful and invigorating. My life – and my retirement – seemed so much more flat, dull and boring compared to theirs! I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t believe it now.

      Liked by 1 person

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