Are You FI-Curious?

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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 Defined

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.

The Rub

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?

Final Thoughts

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.

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43 Comments

  1. I totally know what you mean. It’s a delicate subject for us to promote sometimes, especially with a name like Wealth Well Done. They think we’re rich right away, and you can see the feeling of inadequacy form in their eyes. And we’re like no, we’re just on the path to find happiness and simplicity, and wealth is often an unintended result of that journey. Suddenly they become excited and inspired. We just try to be the most humble people in the room, and be empowered to teach our mistakes, rather than be afraid of sharing them. We don’t strive to be rich. We strive to be happy, and that message can reach a lot of people.

    • Mr. Groovy

      What an awesome summation of the FI community. We’re “on the path to find happiness and simplicity, and wealth is often an unintended result of that journey.” That is definitely a more inviting message than “save, save, save,” and “austerity, austerity, austerity.” Thanks for stopping by, Bill. You definitely helped refine my sales pitch.

      • Thanks Mr. Groovy! This is the message we preach, and the pathway we have discovered to wealth. Let’s improve people’s lives together. Sell away, and would love a shout out and a link over to us, if your refined sales pitch ever makes it into your writing. I’d be happy to do a guest post on the subject if it ever works for you. Have a sweet Holiday Weekend.

    • Mr. Groovy

      You intrigued me with the financial literacy program, but really sealed the deal with the Spinal Tap reference. Yes, it’s about time we turned it up to eleven. Thanks for stopping by, Brian. Always a pleasure hearing from you.

  2. It’s a good idea, but might be touchy at the Thanksgiving table. Good food for thought, though!

    Maybe aim to identify one new FI Curious person a week for a month – that would be an interesting challenge!

    • Mr. Groovy

      I like this. Identify one new FI-curious person a week or a month. And then outline how you set this person on the path to financial freedom. That is an awesome challenge. I like the cut of your jib, Jon.

  3. This is a tough one. I think most of us are (or aspire to be) non-judgmental and all about “You do you,” so while we’re happy to answer questions, we don’t want to be in anyone’s face.
    We’re also frugal by definition and don’t want to pay for advertising 😉
    You’re right, though, that we could use a teaser and a gentle introduction for the uninitiated. I nominate you to start us off!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, Julie. I think we need a congressional resolution. Maybe they can make April national financial independence month. Paying taxes should drive newbies to our tribe.

  4. I should most def be more willing to spread the good word of FI, especially since so many of our friends are in six figures of student loan debt (new dentists and new lawyers) and aren’t particularly financially savvy. Also, hahaha the picture of the frogs is killing me!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed. The frogs are great. And good luck with your friends. The problem with dentists, lawyers, and doctors is that they’re incredibly smart–and incredibly confident. So they think they’ve mastered everything in life. But finances are a different beast. Perhaps you can point them to Whitecoat Investor and Physician on Fire. Your friends might be open to financial advice from another professional. Thanks for stopping by, AFRTG. And let us know if you make any headway.

  5. LMAO this is awesome! I probably fall into this category – not really interested in ER but money means options and the more flexibility I have the better. I’ve definitely started looking more into FI recently as I start to approach 30.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Exactly! I love your outlook. And I love the way you summed up the true beauty of money. Money means options and more flexibility. Sounds like a great sales pitch to me. I’ll have to give it a whirl the next time I come across a FI-curious person. Thanks for stopping by, NZ. You made my day.

  6. You’re on to something here. Let’s be open minded, and accept all types of people. Even those “FI-curious”! Don’t shame them over the holiday, accept them! Encourage them!

    Oh yeah, and how do I get one of those “fidar” things? I want to see it “start buzzing wildly”. I hope you’ve gotten the calibration locked in tight, could prove embarrassing if you accuse someone of being FI-Curious when (shock and horror) they really don’t care about money.

    • Mr. Groovy

      You’re a sick, demented soul, Fritz. And I love it! Yes, by all means, never shame a FI-curious person. They need all the encouragement we can provide. As far as a spare fidar goes, I have very disappointing news. Mr. Money Mustache and I have a working model, but the FDA still hasn’t approved it. Once we get the approval, you can be sure we’ll be pumping them out of our American factory. Until that happens, though, you’ll just have to rely on your own senses. Try to imagine you’re a jedi knight or something. With enough practice, your “internal fidar” will become quite effective.

  7. Laura Vondra

    Sometimes it take a lot of effort to help someone see the light.

    I asked for help and my mentor (he has other titles too 😉 had to drag me kicking and screaming at times because my ill formed habits were so deeply ingrained.
    Now, however, I can truly say I’m a changed woman, and on my way to wholistic financial health.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I know what you mean, Laura. I was FI-curious until my early 40s. And I wasn’t able to express my inner financial rockstar until I met Mrs. Groovy. “Deeply ingrained, ill-formed habits” were the bane of my existence. Kudos to your mentor. He sounds like an awesome dude. Thanks for stopping by, Laura. I always love hearing from people who have finally conquered their financial demons.

  8. “But if your fidar starts buzzing wildly…” I LOVE this, Mr. Groovy! I need to get a tune up on my fidar because it often fools me.

    I do think the best way to reach out is in person (I think generally you will know in advance if you’ll receive tears of salvation or fists of hell). It’s easy to reach those in your inner circle of friends/family, but beyond that, it becomes a bit more difficult. Yet, I do think Brian (Debt Discipline) and Ruth (Fruclassity) have it right – presentations at the local library are a great place to start.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Fidar is tricky. Only years of practice will make it effective. And you’re absolutely right about financial evangelicalism. In person is best. I love what Brian and Ruth are doing. The local library is the perfect setting for spreading the word. May the FI be with you, Amanda. Talk to you soon.

  9. Definitely appreciate the reminder to not be so inwardly focused! A lot of great suggestions coming from other commenters also- somehow one must strike a balance between tough-love and delicacy that is appropriate for the individual/situation/relationship.

    • Mr. Groovy

      You are so right, Daniel. The commenters in this community are awesome. They never fail to enlighten me or inspire me. And, yes, there’s got to be a balance between tough-love and delicacy. Go in with the wrong approach and you can sour a FI-curious person on FI for a long time. Thanks for stopping by, Daniel. Always a pleasure hearing from you.

  10. When I meet a FI-Curious person, I always recommend they start with Latoya’s blog over at Life and a Budget. She’s so good at explaining the basic steps of getting on the right track with your money, and making financial responsibility seem doable. Plus, I love the fact that she does reader question posts all the time.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Emily. I wasn’t familiar with Latoya’s blog. Checking it out now. My go-to website for the FI-curious has always been Mr. Money Mustache. But that site might be too intense. Latoya’s is probably more appropriate it.

  11. Great ideas! I was lucky to stumble upon budgetsaresexy, dividendmantra, and MMM a few years ago with google. Those three got me heavily involved in managing my own finances!

    • Mr. Groovy

      We stumbled upon Dave Ramsey in 2003. That’s what started our financial turn-around. We didn’t stumble upon MMM until 2012. And that turned out to be a godsend. I thought I was working until I was 67. But thanks to MMM and others in the FI community, I realized that I could retire over a decade sooner. You don’t know how blessed you are to have discovered this FI stuff in your 20s. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Cheers.

  12. Sadly, I don’t know many fi-curious people in my personal life. Most people I know are out to spend every dollar they earn and then some! Thank goodness we have like-minded friends on the internet!

    • Mr. Groovy

      I hear ya, Holly. FI-curious people are in short supply on my end as well. The sad thing is that most people don’t realize they can save money and still enjoy life. The other night I went over to my cousin’s house to play cards. All it cost me was the price of a blueberry pie–and I had a blast. Ah, but such wisdom doesn’t come easy to most people, especially the young. Thanks for stopping by, Holly. And thanks for being one of the like-minded friends that keep me grounded in this world of excess.

  13. “Once you go FI your debt goes buh bye” – hysterical! I definitely reach out to the FI curious peeps at my job. In fact, I am trying to work on a financial course for new hire Flight Attendants…these broads need all the help they can get! I have considered the fact that a company as large as mine would want someone with a degree or financial background so in the meantime I keep plugging away at the individual newbies I work with. So young with a good income and bad spending habits!! Oh man, if I knew then what I know now…. 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! I was hoping someone would pick up on my wit. Thanks, Miss M. I really appreciate it. And I love that you’re helping out the newbies. I helped out a few guys at my previous job with their 401(k) enrollments and contribution levels. It was very satisfying. Wouldn’t it be great if wisdom came more naturally to the human condition than profligacy? Always a pleasure, Miss M. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. haha love the title. Well done. I never “experimented” with money in college but now that I am older I have come out as a FI disciple. 🙂 And yes, in this particular case this is a lifestyle decision.

    Great topic. I always wonder why they never talk about this in school starting in Kindergarten. Why not have a class every year that shows kids how important it is to manage your money and develop good habits. If they did, there would be a lot less people who think they can’t attain FI. Great post, thanks for sharing.

    -Brian

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, Brian. I never “experimented” in college as well. In fact, I didn’t start “experimenting” until I was in my 40s. So glad I took up the FI lifestyle. And you are so right about starting financial education in school as early as possible. I wonder why it isn’t done? Could it be our government wants us to be debt slaves? Meh. The plot thickens.

  15. spot on: “Do you feel guilty about going out with your co-workers for lunch every workday and dropping $8-$10?”

    I tri to brown bag as much as possible. Once or twice a week, I join them. That money comes out of my personal fun money, so it does not impact our FIRE date, it does impact family diners, unneeded gadgets,…

  16. It is great that you are social conscious and want to help others. That is a big theme in the (FI) community. I found your ideas about having helplines for people who want to fix their financial life interesting. Now they only have credit repair services that charge fees.

    • Mr. Groovy

      So true, Dave. We seemingly have hotlines for everything. But hotlines for fixing people’s financial lives? Nah. Who needs that? Better to have a nation of debt-dependent slaves than a nation of savers and wealth-builders.

  17. Haha Fi-Curious is a great term. Some people are probably curious but don’t know how or where to take the first step. Idea: let’s put that questionnaire on toilet paper. People need something to read anyway when they are in there. And if they don’t like their results, then they can shove it somewhere else. And ironically, that is what their finances probably look like too and great metaphor for get off your @$$!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! That’s not a bad idea. As long as ink doesn’t cause butt cancer, why not? I like the way your mind works, DD. Perhaps we can start a joint venture together? Or rather than producing the rolls ourselves, we can license the idea to Charmin?

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