Financial Independence and Being a Righteous Mofo


In less than two months, Mrs. Groovy and I will say goodbye to the world of mandatory work. For the first time since I was six-years-old, no one will own a chunk of my time. There will be no homework assignments to complete, no time sheets to fill out. I will not have to sit in a certain room at a certain hour and listen to a certain teacher chortle about a certain subject for a certain number of minutes. Nor will I have to deliver a certain file to a certain client on a certain day by a certain time. My days of ever having to answer to a teacher or a boss will be mercifully over.

In one sense, financial independence will be exhilarating. I will own 100% of my time. If I want to sleep until noon, I can. If I want to drive up to Raleigh on Wednesday so I can play golf with my father and brother-in-law on Thursday morning, I can. If I want to grab Mrs. Groovy and check out a matinee when the bulk of my neighbors are stuck at work or school, I can.

But in another sense, financial independence will be worrisome. Will I completely succumb to self-interest—man’s most base instinct? In other words, will it be all about my happiness? Will I do anything to help my fellow man? Will I turn into a hedonistic fool?

I don’t think I will. But it does concern me. And it concerns me because the capacity of a financially independent human being to do good is incredible.

Consider the following quote from Upton Sinclair:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Do you see the keen insight of that quote? Render money irrelevant, and a man can afford to be honorable. A man whose house is mortgage free, for instance, doesn’t have to slavishly champion the party line flapdoodle of his company. A man whose kid’s 529 balance is enough to pay for a Harvard education doesn’t have to hawk shoddy products to the unsuspecting public. A man whose emergency fund can simultaneously handle a new roof, furnace, and transmission doesn’t have to crap on the poor. Do you see the power of financial independence? When doing right doesn’t hurt you financially, you can treat others like you would want to be treated—you can treat others like family.

And that’s why financial independence concerns me. I have been granted a wonderful opportunity to do some good in this world, and I don’t want to blow it.

Where I’m Going with This

Up until now, I’ve been bandying about some very lofty concepts with some very eloquent prose. Heck, I even saw fit to use the word flapdoodle again.* And while you’re no doubt enjoying this post as much as any of my previous posts, you’re probably getting a little antsy. “Where is he going with this?” you’re asking yourself.  “And what does he mean when he said, ‘the capacity of a financially independent human being to do good is incredible'”?

Fair enough. Let’s put some meat on those bones.

Imagine a financially independent person with a very valuable skill or knowledge. And further imagine that he wants to use that skill or knowledge for good. So he goes to work in his area of expertise—either part-time or full-time—and behaves like a saint. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass about money. All he cares about is doing right by the customer. Here are some examples.

The financially independent car salesperson: “No, young dude just out of high school and making little more than the minimum wage, you don’t need a new car and a 7-year car loan. Let’s check out the dependable used cars we have on the lot over there.”

The financially independent mechanic: “No, single mom with two squalling moppets, your rotors don’t need to be replaced. All I need to do is change the brake pads. And I’m not going to charge you for the labor. Just pay me for the pads.”

The financially independent surgeon: “No, former college football stud, your hip replacement isn’t going to bankrupt you. I’ll take whatever your insurance pays and call it even.”

The financially independent financial adviser: “No, young couple who just had their first kid, I’m not letting you buy a whole-life policy. It’s a crap product. We’re going to buy two term-life policies, and we’re going to use the money saved from not buying the whole-life policy to increase your Roth IRA contributions.”

The financially independent politician: “No, disgruntled parents and guardians of my district, your kids suck at school, not because the schools and the teachers suck, but because you and your kids suck. You can’t expect your kids to excel in education when your kids don’t apply themselves.”

Okay, now do you see where I’m going with this? Do you see how incredible a blessing financial independence can be in the hands of a noble soul?

Final Thoughts

A while back, I mentioned that I would use some of my free time in retirement to bake bread for the needy. That’s cool and everything, and I still plan on doing it. But for some reason it strikes me as rather lame. I mean, c’mon. Bake ten loaves once a week for a homeless shelter? Really? Is that all I got?

No, I want to be a righteous mofo in retirement. Baking ten loaves once a week for a homeless shelter isn’t going to cut it. I got to do something more. Exactly what, I can’t say. All I know is that it’s back to the drawing board. Damn, this financial independence stuff is hard!

Okay, groovy freedomists, that’s all I got. What say you? Do you have any plans to be a righteous mofo once you achieve financial independence? If so, please share. I’m looking to up my game, and I need some ideas.

* I promise, this is the last time I will use the word “flapdoodle” for a while—maybe ever. About thirty years ago the word garnered some brief cachet. I brought it back in honor of Penny’s one year blogiversary over at Shepicksuppennies. And for some reason, I like the word. But I know it’s time to give it a rest and return that word to rightful obscurity. 

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  1. Mission or purpose beyond self is remarkably important to happiness, wellness, and longevity. Turns out that social isolation and loneliness are bad things for humans. A self-focused life, aging-in-place behind the walls of your castle, is a prescription for an unhappy retirement. Then there’s all that, idleness is the devil’s playground wisdom. Leisure without purpose can indeed be dangerously self-indulgent. Be righteous and engaged! Enjoyed this column.

  2. I am the doc recommending things and while I am not financially independent I luckily work for an institution where there is no financial incentive to order tests, etc. it definitely gets murky when there is that conflict of interest! Nice post- will you be working part time to be honorable at what you do?

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, DDD. It’s nice to hear that there’s at least one medical institution that isn’t forcing its doctors to order unnecessary tests. Still working on how to become a righteous mofo. I’m retired now, and have just started picking up litter in the community a couple days a week. Definitely not my final contribution to the common good. In my last job, I was a data analyst. Did a lot of programming and database work. Perhaps I can create a free coding/database bootcamp for the underprivileged in my community. We’ll see. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. And thank you for being honorable.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, Daniel. I just hope you’re right. I have a great opportunity to do some good. It would be a shame if I blew it and became too hedonistic.

  3. This is awesome, and a lot of what I hope to eventually talk about over on HWDM. I wanna do a great job with my money, but not for the sake of STUFF. I want that because I feel like I have a responsibility to the world to do more than that, and only by managing my resources well can I feel free to do that.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments. The older I get the less enamored I get with stuff. It’s mainly about experiences for Mrs. Groovy and me now. And I love the way you summed it up: You have a responsibility to the world to be more than a consumer of stuff, and only by managing your resources well can you be in a position to fulfill that responsibility. Great stuff. Thanks for stopping by, Ms. Steward. And thanks for enriching my day.

  4. Mary Jo

    There are so many ways to give back to others! You don’t have to wait until you retire, but some of us (like me and probably you) spend so much time working there is not a lot of time left. My husband and I have made a list-and continue to add to it- of things we would like to do once we retire. Here are some things:
    *Donate, pack, distribute at a food pantry. Also Meals on Wheels always needs drivers
    *Drive people to appts., groceries, etc.
    *Are you handy? Be a handy man/woman and serve the needy or elderly
    *Visit nursing homes-play games, read with them or just talk to them
    *Volunteer for hospice-not everyone is for this but it gives you an appreciation for the life you have
    *Serve more at your church. They always need more people to teach, host a bible study, visit the sick or help maintain the buildings.
    *Volunteer at the library.
    *Volunteer at the local school. The teachers always need help such as working one-on-one with a student.
    *Big Brother-Big Sister-a great organization and you can build great relationships.
    *CASA-support a child in the court system who needs an advocate
    *Visit local jails or drive children to see their parents in jail.
    *Volunteer on a suicide hotline.
    *I would say run for elective office, but you don’t like the government. Local communities have a hard time getting people to run for office, and you would have a say in making the government better.

    I know we can’t do it all and we have some preferred things we want to try. It is important to us we do work we enjoy and feel like we are accomplishing good so that we are motivated to continue to do it.
    Sorry so long winded. Good luck at being a retired righteous mofo.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Wow, Mary Jo! What a terrific comment. Every suggestion was excellent. I especially like the “drive needy people to appointments” and “be a handyman for the elderly” suggestions. One way or another, I’ll find something constructive to do. I will quibble with you on one point, however. I actually love government. It’s a fascinating subject, especially for someone who considers himself a student of liberty. What I loathe is politicians. And that’s why I prefer to stay on the sidelines. My fear is that I too, once I sniffed or tasted power, would say or do anything to get elected. My feet are sadly made of clay. So I definitely think I have a better shot of being a righteous mofo by staying away from government. Thank you once again for writing such an awesome comment. It wasn’t long-winded at all!

  5. awesome point, i agree that FI is freeing and that’s why i’m working towards it.

    i do appreciate that there are Non-FI righteous mofo.

    for one, my kid’s grandma who’s a realtor, on the verge of her client getting in contract on a 5 million dollar house, would actually advise her client, “i don’t believe this house is a good fit for you for reasons, a, b, c…”

    that’s the moral fiber not bending even though she stands to gain hugely from the transaction.

    while FI augments our ability to serve more, i think moral people are moral whether they are FI or not.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Dr. WM in the house! Excellent point. If they legalized crack, for instance, I wouldn’t run out and get a pipe. But I think your kid’s grandma is in the minority. Money has a knack for screwing up one’s moral compass. And only the super moral appear able to resist its interference. I hope I’m wrong. But larceny seems to be in our DNA. And we have to struggle mightily to control it. Throw money into the mix, and that’s a bridge too far for most. Thanks for stopping by, Dr. WM. You made me think today!

      P.S. Your kid’s grandma is one righteous mofo, by the way.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I know. I can’t believe I’m on the doorstep of retirement. It’s both scary and exhilarating. I just hope I don’t screw it up. Thanks for the kind words, AT. I really appreciate it.

  6. You had me at, “In less than two months, Mrs. Groovy and I will say goodbye to the world of mandatory work.”

    With respect to being a righteous mofo, the answer would be yes; however, not fully defined how at this point. We will likely continue with some of the volunteering activities (e.g. feeding the homeless, participating in Habitat for Humanity efforts) that we have been engaged with in the past. The great thing about financial independence is that it gives you choices and more control of your time. And as we all know, time is a valuable commodity that can be put to use in a number of ways.

  7. Very nice job Groovy people – you are extremely close you can almost taste it! Speaking of taste, the bread isn’t a bad idea. What about starting a bread making enterprise / bakery either to create tons of bread for homeless people OR you could give the homeless/needy jobs at the bakery to make the bread. Get businesses/people to donate towards their ‘wages’ or to buy bread (except the bread is expensive because they’re buying bread and donating). Or something along those lines, you get the idea.


    • Mr. Groovy

      I love the way your mind works, Tristan. Today I’m just a humble program manager. Tomorrow I could be El Jefe de Pan!

  8. Great post. Just was referred over here by the SSC blog when I expressed the same sentiments in a comment. Looking forward to reading some more of your stuff you rightous mofo!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, EE. I appreciate the support. But don’t be too hard on me. I got a lot of work to do to become a full-fledged righteous mofo.

  9. Don’t downgrade the bread: I know from my own donations that homeless shelters generally get cheap. bland but shelf-stable and caloric fuel to stave off hunger instead of tasty delicious food that can feed the soul.

    So by all means, do more. But baking the bread actually sounds pretty awesome to me.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Finally! Someone who appreciates the glory of some well-crafted carbs. Yes, not giving up on the bread. It will be an integral part of my quest to do something good in this world. I still think I can do something more, though.

  10. Wow, that’s getting real – two months! just – wow!
    As for being a righteous Mofo, some of that is certainly on my agenda. I currently volunteer at a local middle school, as a science coach – I ‘teach’ a class about once a month, cool chemistry experiments and the like. ‘Teach’ is in inverted commas because I have zero qualifications apart from enjoying it and knowing the subject.
    I hope to do more of this, branch out and get more experience, maybe start a chemistry club at the high school, do some substitute teaching – who knows where it will go!

    • Mr. Groovy

      I love what you’re doing in middle school. What a cool thing to be–science coach! And this got me thinking: why don’t we bring the adjunct model of teaching from higher education to lower education? I mean, wouldn’t it be great to have a retired doctor teach part time in our schools for free or for a nominal stipend? We have so many talented people out there who want to give back; why don’t we take advantage of it? Oh, well. Perhaps one day. Thanks for stopping by, Mrs. PIE. And thanks for such an awesome suggestion!

  11. My version of early retirement will only be semi-retirement. I will only work at my business. A lot of my professional expertise will be donated. Some will be stiffly discounted. And some will be full price to cover the overhead costs. I love the work that I do at my business and love that it helps the LGBTQIA community, and I don’t see myself stopping that for a long time.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I love your notion of early retirement being semi-retirement. I’ve worked 45-55 hours a week for the past 9 years. Working 20 hours a week at something I love, and something that makes the world a better place, doesn’t strike me as work at all. Way to put things into perspective, ZJ. Now if you can just bottle your passion and send me some, I’ll be a righteous mofo in no time.

  12. This is such a great idea. It is a good idea to plan out what you will do when you reach FI, why not put your skills to good use and help those around you. Love the idea and it makes me think of what I will be able to do to help those around me.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, Thias. Retirement does provide one with a wonderful opportunity to do something good. I hope I don’t take it for granted.

  13. Jaime

    You can do other things. Start a food drive or a shoe drive. You can do things of that nature to help people and give back to the community.

    There are volunteer matching websites out there too if you’re interested.

    I’m excited for you. Woohoo! Congratulations. =)

    Hope you continue blogging after you and Mrs. Groovy achieve FI.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Jaime. I can’t tell you how much your kind words mean to Mrs. Groovy and me. And, yes, Mrs. Groovy and I will continue to share our twisted worldviews in retirement.

  14. You are one flapdoodle cool righteous mofo. Congrats on seeking out a “Greater Cause” in your looming retirement (oh yeah, about that, you DO know we’re dying in envy out here that you’re only ~6 weeks away from FREEDOM, right!?) Groove on.

    • Mr. Groovy

      You’re too kind, Fritz! But I certainly appreciate the kudos. Coming from another righteous mofo, it really means a lot. Here’s to finding a greater cause, and here’s to financial freedom!

  15. Do you have a count down calendar going? How exciting and scary all at the same time I’m sure.

    Great examples. I’m sure we would all be a little be more direct, honest, and giving in our work if we were perusing it for non financial means.

    • Mr. Groovy

      We do have the calendar going. Mrs. Groovy will be featuring it her first September post. Right now it’s counting down the months. Once we hit October, it will switch to counting down the days. October 14 is our D-Day. I can’t believe I’m on the cusp of retirement. Exciting and scary, indeed. What a great way to sum up it. Thanks for stopping by, Brian.

  16. I think a lot about this in terms of teaching. In some ways, I feel like I already exist in this world in terms of working not for money…or working past money/salary. I have a coworker who is retiring this year. He is clocking all of his extra hours beyond our contract time just for shits and giggles. I look forward to his little number experiment. It’s interesting to think about this idea in terms of all sorts of professions – hourly wages, people eligible/ineligible for raises, etc. Fun mental exercise for my Tuesday!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Keep me posted on your coworker’s experiment. I’m curious to see how it turns out as well. And I agree with you about teaching. In many ways, you already are giving back to the community. And no person gives way more than he or she takes when he or she is a passionate teacher. You may not think so, but you’re a hero, Penny. I hope the parents of your students appreciate you.

  17. Wow, congrats on the two-month countdown! That is an incredible milestone.

    Knowing nothing about you except that you had the foresight, determination and persistence to get out of the rat race early, I agree that you could do more with your time giving back than 10 loaves of bread. What is that worth, $20?

    You could work part-time as a consultant in your field of expertise and donate 100% of your income to a charity. That would make a big difference!

    You might also be able to get on to the board of a local non-profit and help them with your expertise. It may have a greater impact as well.

    Nothing against baking bread, but if you are truly interested in giving back, I wonder if you will be happy with that over the long term. As you posed in your post, probably not!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Great points, Jon. Mr. SSC mentioned how he would like to help homeless and battered women with their finances. Something like that definitely appeals to me. I have database skills and personal finance skills, so I should be able to do more for the betterment of our society than 10 loaves of bread. Thanks for the verbal kick in the ass. It’s something I needed.

  18. Only two months. How exciting.

    I hear exactly what you’re saying. I retired early and left my career when I was at my best. 2 years later I’m worried my skill-sets may seriously atrophy.

    I’ve toyed with the idea of going back to work for a non-profit that does work that is near to me. One thing that stops me is that, no matter no noble the work, you’ll be again reporting time-sheets, again be attending meetings and again get embroiled in office politics.

    If at all possible do the work you love but this time do it as your own boss. I have a feeling that workplace politics at the Costco are as bad as they are at Amazon.

    Enjoy your last two months as if at all possible try not to burn any bridges (as tempting as it may be)

    • The countdown is definitely on! Love your words about schools not sucking today 🙂 Most parents try very hard – and most kids too. We’ll just keep working with the rest of them…like it or not. Agree with Maarten here too about not burning bridges (not that you would). I may end up doing a lot of volunteering where I worked (well…where I went back to work) – as that is where I feel I can give back best.

      • Mr. Groovy

        Hey, Vicki. I’m the first one to argue that our school system sucks. But I don’t fault our school teachers for that. I see them as basically good people in a lousy system. And, yet, despite all of public education’s shortcomings, no school is holding back any child. If a child truly wants to learn, he or she can do so. I truly believe that what ails our schools most is culture. And teachers can’t fix culture.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Great point, Maarten. If you can give back by being your own boss, that’s the way to go. The thought of getting “embroiled in office politics” all over again, certainly turns me off. And I have no intentions of burning any bridges on my way out. I truly admire my coworkers and boss. Saying goodbye to them will actually be hard.

  19. That’s a great point about being able to do something for the love of doing it and helping people out versus because you need to hit a sales target that month.

    I’ve recently thought about this and where I could help out and fulfill a passion. I realized I like opening people’s eyes to finance and demystifying it. I thought that could be served well by helping out people at homeless and battered women’s shelters figure out a budget, finances and get them on a better path.

    I can see why I wanted to go into social work as a younger person, and now maybe I can use this opportunity to help fill that desire.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I love it, Mr. SSC. Helping homeless and battered women turn their financial lives around would surely make you a righteous mofo. I like the way your mind works. Don’t follow your passions when your young. Work hard and become financially independent, and then follow your passions. As Dave Ramsey often remarks, “only the strong can help the weak.”

    • Mr. Groovy

      I know. I can’t believe it’s less than two months away. It seems so surreal. Thank you for your kind words, Julie. It really means a lot.

  20. Congrats and good luck on the transition!

    I actually go to a financially independent mechanic. He has plenty of money, but loves working with cars. The first time I took my car to him he only charged me for parts, no labor, after he found out that I had recently graduated school and hadn’t gotten a job lined up yet. I now take the car to him for everything because I know he is not going to try to upsell me or recommend anything that isn’t in my best interest.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Awesome! Your mechanic is gold. Hold on to him as long as you can. Definitely a righteous mofo. Thanks for stopping by, Matt. And thanks for your support.