I’m a basically upstanding citizen. I pay my taxes, vote, and yield to pedestrians. I wait patiently in lines, give up my seat to pregnant women on the bus, and recycle. I pretty much go with the flow, follow the rules, avoid rocking the boat.
But deep down, beneath the compliant, docile persona most people see most of the time, is a fierce anti-establishment streak. I question authority, challenge the status quo. I’m relentlessly skeptical of authority and have deeply held convictions, some of which are considered downright radical. Case-in-point: I have a very large tattoo of a controversial political symbol on the side of my torso. That’s a lifetime commitment to immoderate politics, folks. But don’t get me wrong: most people never know that they’re encountering my oppositional side, if they encounter it at all. I tell The Man where to stick it, I just do it quietly, below most peoples’ radars.
It occurred to me recently that perhaps my interest in straightening out my finances is actually a manifestation of my desire to be able to basically say “fuck you” to people or institutions if I truly feel the need to. In fact, I think that being able to say “fuck you” is the ultimate financial luxury. Think about it: if you have no debt and a fat savings account, you can say “fuck you” to:
- A boss who asks you to compromise your values
- A husband/wife who’s making you miserable
- A landlord who’s shirking her responsibilities
- A car that’s giving you grief
- Any person or situation that you feel is taking advantage of you or sucking up your time, energy, or happiness
Our finances can trap us in situations or tie us to people that we loathe because we don’t have the money to walk away or get out. Or, they can give us the ability to say “fuck you,” cut our losses, and move on.
I think, when I really boil down my whole motivation for paring down my debt and building up my savings and investments, what I really want is not necessarily to be a millionaire. I don’t want to own a million properties or expensive jewelry or take a tropical vacation every year. What I want is the ability to say “fuck you” whenever I need to. I don’t want to feel boxed in by a maxed out credit card and an empty savings account. I want to stand up for myself, to be able to act swiftly and meaningfully if I’m being made go along with something I don’t agree with or am in a situation which is causing me unhappiness. I want, in a really tangible way, to feel empowered by my finances instead of controlled.
Because I do have that streak, that “fuck you” streak. What about you?
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