Have you ever driven by a church advertising the start of Financial Peace University classes and found yourself wanting to sign up?
Do you feel guilty about going out with your co-workers for lunch every workday and dropping $8-$10?
When you meet someone who is under 50 and retired, do you find yourself racked with jealousy?
Well, if you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might be FI-curious.
FI-curious, short for financial-independence curious, is a handy way to describe an economically damaged person who longs to end his financial nightmare. He knows his financial life sucks. He also knows, or at least suspects, that he is largely responsible for his predicament. After all, plenty of people from his neighborhood and social class are doing quite well financially. But despite having just as much opportunity to “master the money game,” he has failed miserably. So he often finds himself agonizing with guilt and wondering: “How did they do it? What was their secret? It must be nice not having bill collectors up your arse.”
I have no idea how large the FI-curious community is. My guess is that it’s substantial. But regardless of its true dimensions, one thing is clear: there are tons of real live human beings out there struggling with their financial identities. Outwardly, they’re the floundering f**k-ups of finance, always sacrificing their future for the present. If it’s a choice between the latest wizardry out of Cupertino and paying the rent on time—hello iPhone 7. If it’s a choice between partying on Wednesday and partying on Friday—hello payday lender. And if it’s a choice between throwing a cash windfall at a completely ridiculous display of self-absorption or a Roth IRA—hello tattoo parlor. But deep inside a different desire burns. The FI-curious don’t want to be the floundering f**k-ups of finance forever. Tattoo needles hurt for heaven’s sake. No, they want to feel what it’s like to be financially responsible. They want to come out and defy their profligate histories. And we in the FI community have an obligation to quench that curiosity.
We in the FI community are very good when it comes to the answers. If you want to get your financial act together, we got all the books, blogs, courses, and podcasts you could possibly need—and then some. But when it comes to raising awareness and reaching out to the FI-curious, we suck.
Why? Why do we have this blind spot? We’ll give you all the help you want, but as long as you find us. In other words, if an errant google search for mustache wax brings you to Mr. Money Mustache—great! But if you’re mired in the financial wilderness, slowly eviscerating your financial guts, too bad. It’s not our job to send out a search team and rescue your sorry butt from financial armageddon.
A Call to Action
Our systematic betrayal of the FI-curious is no longer acceptable. I propose we move on the following three action items.
1. FI-Curious Questionnaire. How will people even know they’re FI-curious without a questionnaire? I’m not a psychometrician. Someone with a mind far superior to mine needs to step up and create this tool. Hey, Mr. Money Mustache, instead of using your formidable brain to make the world’s first solar-powered incinerating toilet, how about making the world’s first FI-curious questionnaire?
2. FI-Curious Workshops. What says reaching out to the FI-curious better than a bevy of hand-holding workshops for the financially timid and confused? Think about it. We could be doing all kinds of workshops. Workshops on how start a Roth IRA or enroll in your company’s 401(k). Workshops on how to cut the cord. Workshops on how to ditch car payments, own a crappy car, and still have a semblance of pride. The possibilities are endless. So why aren’t we doing this? Hey, PT Money, how about some FI-curious workshops at FinCon 2017? Imagine the buzz and goodwill that would create!
3. FI-Curious Hotline. What do congenital spendthrifts do when an inner voice keeps hectoring them to save? How do they placate this strange desire? Where do they turn for help? More than anything else, the FI community needs a hotline dedicated to the FI-curious. Hey, J. Money, I really appreciate the new money forums on Rockstar Finance. But wouldn’t starting 1-800-FICURIO have been a more socially responsible move?
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. And while you’re enjoying the football, turkey, and rhubarb pie with your family and friends, please consider one thing: a FI-curious person may be there celebrating with you. Now, I don’t have a FI-curious questionnaire to prove this with 100% certainty. But if your fidar starts buzzing wildly, approach this FI-curious person and grab his or her hands. Then, with all the compassion you can possibly muster, look directly into his or her eyes and say the following: “I’m coming over tomorrow and I’m going to show you how to budget.”
If he or she is truly FI-curious, tears of salvation will well up in his or her eyes. If he or she isn’t, fists of hell will rain down upon your face.
Okay, groovy freedomists, that’s all I got. Peace.