Guest Posting: Financial Independence … 23 Years Later

Foreword by Mr. Money Mustache:

A few months ago, a new reader showed up at this blog and  joined the conversation in the comments sections of the articles. It was a guy named Jim Collins. He was wise, funny, well-spoken, and skilled in the use of swearing. So I checked out his blog and learned more. It turns out he’s older than me (around 61 apparently), has had a long and interesting career in positions ranging from Tree Trimmer to Fancy Businessman and beyond.. and has been financially independent since around 1989.

Since that’s approximately the year I learned to drive a car, I figured this man would have quite a deep perspective on what life is like when you are not driven solely by the need to earn a paycheck. So I asked him if he’d be interested in sharing that perspective with us as a guest posting. “What has life been like since then? How do you fund your daily expenses, how has the  health insurance situation worked out, what do financial crashes feel like, and what is your overall advice for those reaching financial independence and/or early retirement?”

The following story is what he sent me in response:

It has Never Been About Retirement

For me it has never been about retirement.

I like working and I’ve enjoyed my career.

It’s been about having options. It’s been about being able to say “no.”

It’s been about having F-You Money.

It’s never been about this.
(Although, now that I’m 61 it’s getting closer.)

I started working when I was 13, even earlier if you count selling flyswatters door-to-door and collecting pop bottles from the side of the road for the deposits. For the most part I’ve enjoyed work and I’ve always loved being paid.

From the beginning I was a natural saver. Watching my stash grow was intoxicating. I’ve never been sure how this started. Might be hardwired into my genes. It might be my mother seducing me with the image of the red convertible I’d be able to buy when I turned 16. But that was not to be.

My father’s health failed and shortly there after so did his business. My savings went to pay for college and I learned it is a fiscally insecure world. Convertibles came later. To this day it stuns me to read about some middle-aged guy laid off from his job and almost instantly broke. How does anyone let that happen? Of course I know it is common, but still….

So, long before I heard the term, I knew I wanted F-You Money. If memory serves, it comes from James Clavell. In his novel “Tai Pan” (highly recommended BTW) a young woman is on the quest to secure 10 million dollars. She calls it her “Fuck You Money.” And 10m is far more than it takes, at least for me. But it put a face to the goal.

The other thing I quickly figured out is that financial independence is at least as much about being able to live modestly as it is about cash. Here’s my favorite parable:

Two close boyhood friends grow up and go their separate ways. One becomes a humble monk, the other a rich and powerful minister to the king. Years later they meet. As they catch up, the minister (in his fine robes) takes pity on the thin, shabby monk. Seeking to help, he says:

“You know, if you could learn to cater to the king you wouldn’t have to live on rice and beans.”

To which the monk replies:

“If you could learn to live on rice and beans you wouldn’t have to cater to the king.”

Most all of us fall somewhere between the two. As for me, it is better to be closer to the monk.

Enough F-You Money isn’t necessarily enough to live on for the rest of your life. Sometimes it’s only just enough to step to the side for awhile. I first had mine at age 25 when I’d managed to save the princely sum of $5000. This after working two years at 10k per year.

It was my first “professional” job and it had taken me two long post-college years supporting myself doing minimum-wage grunt work to find it. But I wanted to travel. I wanted to spend a few months bumming around Europe. I went to my boss and asked for four months of unpaid leave. Such a thing was unheard of in those days. He said “no.”

Back then, I had no idea that working relationships were negotiable. You asked. Your employer decided and answered. Done.

I went home and spent a week or so thinking about it. In the end, as much as I liked the job and as tough as I assumed finding another would be, I resigned. I wanted to go to Europe. Then a funny thing happened. My boss said, “Don’t do anything rash. Let me talk to the owner.”

When the dust settled we agreed on a six-week leave

(which I spent riding my bicycle around Ireland and Wales)

and a month of annual vacation going forward. That got me to Greece the following year. My eyes were opened. F-You Money not only paid for the trip, it bought me room to negotiate. I’d never be a slave again.

Since then I’ve quit jobs four more times and have been kicked to the curb once. Blame my short attention span. I’ve sat on the sidelines for as little as three months and for as long as five years. I’ve done it to change careers, to focus on buying a business, to travel and, the time it wasn’t my call, with no plan at all. I did it again just last year at age 60 and the intention is to remain retired. But who knows? I do like getting paid….

My daughter was born during one of these, ahem, unpaid leaves. These things happen when you’ve time on your hands.

Now 20, she has grown up with dad sometimes working 18 hour days and constantly away from home, to dad sleeping late and lounging around. But she always knew I was doing, for the most part, exactly what I wanted to do at the time.

When she was in first grade I went to a parent-teacher conference. My wife introduced me and the teacher said, “Oh! Mr. Collins. How nice to finally meet you. You’re the father who’s never home.” A period of lots of business travel.

But then shortly after 9/11 my company kicked me to the curb.

Six months earlier our division president had taken me to a congratulatory lunch for a record-breaking year. We were explosively growing and embarrassingly profitable. Over a bottle of fine wine we discussed my very bright future. It was the best job I’ve ever had. Great team, great leadership, great fun. Great money. I had just cashed a bonus check for more than I had ever made in a single year before.

A year later my little girl and I were sitting on the couch watching a news broadcast. The concerned news crew was filming people standing in a depression era style bread line. They were, the reporter said breathlessly, the newly poor suffering from job loss in the dismal economy. I was still unemployed and licking my wounds.

“Daddy,” said my little girl, “are we poor?”

She was gravely concerned.

“No,” I said, “we’re just fine.”

“But you don’t have a job,” she said. Thinking, I’m sure, just like those poor souls on the TV. It was, as they say, a teachable moment on the power of and need for F-You Money.

I like to think these experiences have taught our daughter the value of having money and the joy of work when you aren’t effectively a slave to it.

When she was about two her mom went back to school. It was during my business buying phase and I had lots of free time.

While mom was off evenings at school, little girl and I spent endless hours playing and watching The Lion King over and over. And over. I’ve probably seen that movie more times than all other movies combined. We still laugh remembering the tea-cup towers we built. These hours were the foundation of the relationship we’ve grown to cherish.

Even though I didn’t have a paycheck coming in, around then we also decided my wife should quit her job to become a stay-at-home mom. This was a very tough call for her. Like me, she’d been working since childhood and loved it. But the problem was mostly, without a job, she felt she wouldn’t be contributing. I was failing to convince her until I hit upon this:

“We have F-You Money,” I said. “We don’t care about fancy cars or a bigger house. If you kept working what could we possibly buy with the money that would have more value than your being home with our daughter?”

Far and away the best “purchase” we ever made, and we never looked back. So we had no working income. For those three years our net worth actually grew.

As for me, I failed in finding a business to buy. But the search morphed into consulting work and a couple of years into that a client hired me for more money than I’d been making at the job I’d left years earlier. Such is the price of failure in the USA. As Leo Burnett once said:

“If you reach for a star, you might not get one. But you won’t come up with a hand full of mud either.”

When we moved to New Hampshire my wife started volunteering in our daughter’s grammar school library. Their hours, of course, matched perfectly. After a couple of years they offered her a paid gig. It’s not the corporate job she’d been used to but it’s also stress-free and fun. She’s never looked back.

For the most part over the years we’ve been married (June 19th is our 30th anniversary) least one of us was working. That handily solved the tough problem of health insurance. During the early 1990s, when we had an over lapping employer-less few years, we bought a high deductible catastrophic health plan. It is too long ago to remember the details and they likely wouldn’t apply today anyway. But that’s what we’ll seek out if and when my wife decides to hang it up before we hit 65 and Medicare. For now she loves her school district job and the time off it gives her for our traveling.

On my own blog I’ve outlined what we own and why we own it so I won’t bore anyone here. If you check you’ll see it is the soul of simplicity. Three Index Funds and some cash.

You’ll also see I’m not a fan of the “multiple income stream” school of investing. Simple is, in my book, better. So no cattle, gold, annuities, royalties and the like.

My small pension from the one company where I worked long enough to qualify I took as a lump sum and rolled it into my IRA.

There are also a couple of leftover investments from earlier times. We’re burning those up as we need the cash. These represent the last remnants of the many investing mistakes I’ve made over the years. Most revolved around the idea that I could pick investments that would outperform the basic stock index. It took me far too long to accept just how vanishingly difficult a task that is. Three things saved us:

1. Our unwavering 50% savings rate.

2. Avoiding debt. I’ve never even had a car payment.

3. Finally embracing the indexing lessons Jack Bogle perfected 40 years ago.

Looking back what is striking to me is how many mistakes I’ve made along the way and yet those three simple things got us there. That should be encouraging to anyone out there who has made poor choices along the way and who is ready to change.

What a wonderful advantage a blog like Mr. Money Mustache provides. Set aside the specifics, just knowing that financial independence is possible short of winning the lottery is huge.

When my journey began I knew no one who was making the choices we made. I had no idea where it would or could lead. I had no one to tell me stock picking was a sucker’s game or, more importantly, that swinging for the fences isn’t needed to reach FI. That last alone would have saved me the $50,000 of my money Mariah International (a gold mining penny stock) burned thru while failing; and failing to make me rich.

So now I’m (again) retired and it feels great. I love not having to keep regular hours. I can stay up till 4 am and sleep till noon. Or I can get up at 4:30 and watch the sun rise. I can ride my motorbike any time the weather or my pals beckon. I can hang around New Hampshire or disappear for months at a time to South America. I post on my blog when the spirit moves me and I might even get the book I’ve always wanted to write finally done. Or I can just sit on the porch with a cup of coffee and read the books others have written.

One of my very few regrets is that I spent far too much time worrying about how things might work out. What a waste, but it is a bit hardwired into me. Don’t do it. Instead, live on less than you earn, invest the difference and avoid debt. Do just these three things and you almost can’t help but succeed.

But what if disaster strikes? My biggest fear these days, and this is evidently common, is a major health failure. That, of course, would derail everything. Moreover, if you live long enough it is inevitable. If accidents don’t take us, we all eventually sicken and die. Circle of life. (See, watching The Lion King over and over sunk in.)

The older I get the more real that becomes. My response has been to increasingly hold each day precious. I’ve become steadily more relentless in purging from my life things, activities and people who no longer add value while seeking out and adding those that do.

Financial disasters are less concerning. We can always adjust our living standard and we are open to moving to far less expensive corners of the planet. We might just do that anyway. It’s a big beautiful world out there. Money is a small part of it. But F-You money buys you the freedom, resources and time to explore it on your own terms. Retired or not.

Enjoy your journey.

You can read more neat stories from Mr. Collins in the areas of Business, Life, and Money (and if you search carefully, even Spaceships) at http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/

  • JC May 26, 2012, 6:22 am

    What a great guest post! Inspiring… Thank you!

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 9:31 am

      thanks JC.

      it’s almost embarrassing to have your kind words be the first comment, what with our initials matching and all…..

      • JC May 26, 2012, 10:11 am

        Different gender (and a few years age difference) though! ;-). I was thinking after reading this how important the ability, and the courage, to think for yourself is to success in FI. A good trait to have for all facets of ones life! Thanks for setting such a great example!

      • Jeremy Collins June 8, 2017, 8:12 pm

        Another JC here and fellow member of the Collins tribe. Great post. Love the simplicity. Three rules I will teach my son, Carter: 1. Save 50%, 2. No debt, and 3. Vanguard index fund. Wish I’d known this long ago but grateful at least that I know now!

  • Jim May 26, 2012, 7:27 am

    Fantastic guest post. I am going to do some more research on Jack Bogle. Thanks for writing this!

    *initial research:
    Bogle argues for an approach to investing defined by simplicity and common sense. Below are his eight basic rules for investors:
    Select low-cost index funds
    Consider carefully the added costs of advice
    Do not overrate past fund performance
    Use past performance to determine consistency and risk
    Beware of stars (as in, star mutual fund managers)
    Beware of asset size
    Don’t own too many funds
    Buy your fund portfolio – and hold it

    • Luke May 26, 2012, 8:51 am

      Check out the Bogleheads forum: http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/index.php

      Tons of good discussion from enlightened investors.

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 9:33 am

      My pleasure Jim…

      ..and glad to see you looking into Bogle. He is the patron saint of individual investors and my personal hero. along with Mr. MM, of course.

  • Big Ed May 26, 2012, 7:30 am

    Mr. Collins

    At 56, can’t express how much I enjoyed your story. The kind of fella I would enjoy sitting on that porch and having a second cup of coffee . I will be checking out your blog.

    Big Ed

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 9:34 am

      Hey Ed…

      get yourself to NH and I’ll buy the coffee!

  • jcm May 26, 2012, 7:31 am

    damn… What an inspirational piece. I too have made financial and other mistakes… but no more. After running into this blog, I’m more determined than ever to make “early retirement” a reality. Freedom from working… wow.. what a novel concept.

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 9:37 am

      glad you liked it jmc….

      ….what is remarkable to me is how many mistakes I made and still got there.

      With MMM guiding the way, I can’t help but think how much more successful the readers of this blog will be.

  • Poor Student May 26, 2012, 8:29 am

    I had never read from anybody that has been financially independent for a long while. It was good to hear that the dream is as fulfilling long term as it appears.

    I’m trying to build up that F You money now so I can do some of the things you did; negotiate time off, walk away for a better opportunity, be jobless if I want to. I don’t know f I will ever want to retire early but that money gives me options and freedom.

    I actually just wrote about this very topic. I don’t want to self promote but some people might like what I said or offer some other views.


    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 9:41 am

      Hey PS….

      ..sounds like we’re cut from the same cloth. good luck on your journey.

      Having F-You Money is a wonderful feeling, regardless of what you choose to do once you’re there.

  • Jimbo May 26, 2012, 9:07 am

    Great piece! I enjoyed it a lot!

    I can relate to many things in it, and hopefully more in the future, but one thing that has always struck me, as posted by Mr. Collins, is how people over 45-50 can have so little net worth and savings as to be bankrupt months after a layoff. I mean, these people have been working over 20 years! It is so hard to grasp for me. How can you let this happen?

    Sorry to be harsh, but it really does boggle my mind.

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 9:49 am

      Hey Jimbo…..

      yeah, it’s very hard for me not to be harsh on this subject.

      About four months after I’d gotten kicked to the curb that time, one of the Senior VPs and I had lunch.

      He was very concerned in asking me how I was doing and, of course, I was doing just fine.

      “Man,” he said “If I were to lose this job I’d be out on the street in four months.

      This from a guy easily making 500K+ a year. But then he had multiple houses (not rentals), multiple wives, multiple kids, multiple toys and he traded his luxury cars (and boats) in every six months.

      Sadly, less than a year later he did lose that job and the problem at that level and at his age such jobs are very difficult to replace.

      Makes me shudder.

      • Nina July 10, 2013, 10:37 am

        The simple rule to stay wealthy: “No third house, no second wife, no first boat”.

        (Multiple kids are ok, if you raise them well.)

  • James May 26, 2012, 9:27 am

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, great to see you here! I love the big pictures view of this post, it’s what I needed to hear right now.

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 9:52 am

      Hey James….

      …glad to hear it! I’ve noticed your comments here on MMM.

      If the spirit ever moves you, and I hope it does, I hope you’ll comment occasionally on mine.

  • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 9:30 am

    Thanks, Mr. MM….

    …for the very kind introduction and the offer to guest post here.

    MMM is the site I wish had been around when I was beginning my journey. It would have saved me from a ton of expensive mistakes along the way.

    Boy howdy (there I go with the whole swearing thing) but you have a large and responsive readership. Page views on my site today are already twice my previous record and it’s not yet noon here.

    To all you who have taken the time to click over, thanks! Hope you enjoy it!

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 26, 2012, 11:57 am

      Jim, speaking of responsive, you’re making me look pretty bad here – replying to every single comment!

      You’re right that the MMM audience makes a great set of conversation buddies.

      As for the page views – you’re on the blog roll now, plus this article will remain up forever. There’s a permanent walking path connecting our two blogs together that people can wander down.

      I’m always happy to share great writing from people with actual experience in living a financially independent and reasonable lifestyle. We can call it the Mustachian Blogger Network (MBN) a top-secret competitor to the Yakezie network :-)

      • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 12:54 pm


        The volume of comments on jlcollinsnh is far lower than here. So it’s easy to reply to each and it’s become my habit.

        Having all these extras is a pleasure. But then, I don’t have to do it post after post after post.

        actually, given the volume of comments MMM draws I’m surprised you reply to as many as you do.

        thanks for the blogroll link. Delighted to be part of MBN and to have the “permanent walking path connecting our two blogs together.” let me know if there is anything I need to do on jlcollinsnh to help.

        • Oh Yonghao September 12, 2014, 3:30 pm

          I’ll have to say that I took the route from YNAB->MMM->jlcollinsnh and have much appreciated your stock series. With all these powers combined my wife and I now feel that there is a definite goal ahead of us that is achievable.

  • Acorn May 26, 2012, 9:59 am

    “I spent too much time worrying about how things might work out. What a waste, but it is a bit hardwired into me. ”

    Yes, I think I’m a bit programmed to worry as well. I’m working on not projecting worst case scenarios into the future and also not looking back with regret. So nice of you to share you journey and experience with us, it’s nice to have the perspective of someone a little further down the road. Love your blog and always look forward to your posts, thanks for your efforts. :)

    • mike crosby May 26, 2012, 10:45 am

      I’ve recently read this book “The Rational Optimist” (Highly recommend) and the author discusses the same thing. That even in face of increasing wealth, time saving devices, etc, somehow we’re wired to worry.

      The gist is our fight or flight response and part of our brain that we evolved to use.

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 11:32 am

      Hi Acorn…

      Yep. It’s a struggle. Fortunately worst case rarely happens and when it does it’s never what were worried/thought it would be anyway.

      Glas to hear you’re already one of my readers. Since you read MMM you clearly have good taste in blogs. :)

  • EJ May 26, 2012, 10:20 am

    Jim – great post. I really like the message on simple indexing – few outperform the market while everyone picking individual stocks thinks they are an anomaly.

    I’m debating having my wife stay home and your comment about the lack of value of buying additional things really resonated with me. No resource is more precious than time – not even money.

    I’ll be checking out your blog each morning – best of luck.

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 1:34 pm

      Thanks EJ!

      I’ll be delighted to have you as a reader. You might want to read my series on Stocks.

      The stay-at-home-mom is a very personal choice of course, but for us it was hands down the best choice.

      Good luck with your decision!

    • ET May 28, 2012, 9:45 am

      “I’m debating having my wife stay home” – a startling comment/way of thinking.
      You might have a better chance of a good marriage if you discussed who could stay at home, for how long, with your wife rather than debating on your own where to place her…

      • Mr. Risky Startup May 28, 2012, 11:20 am

        Apparently even Taliban reads the MMM… :)

        Just kidding, I am sure EJ meant to say that he was debating pros-and-cons of single income family with his wife.

      • EJ May 28, 2012, 7:57 pm

        Of course I meant “we are debating it” not as you say, where I’m going to “place her” No choices are made in this household by one person.

        • Mr. Risky Startup May 28, 2012, 8:09 pm

          If it is of any help, my wife decided to “retire” when we had our first child 2 years ago. She still works few hours per week from home, but only because she wants to have some “adult interactions” – and she will tell you that staying home to be with our son was the best decision she has made since marrying me (okay, I have added that last bit)…

          • EJ May 31, 2012, 8:17 am

            Mr. Risky – love that comment and I bet your wife would agree with your last bit. I think it’s going to be the best choice for our family as well – after all nothing can replace time spent raising your children. Good luck with your risky startups!

  • mike crosby May 26, 2012, 10:37 am

    Great to see MMM have a guest blogger. If I’m not mistaken he said he would not be relegating his blog to guest posters.

    Jim, I love your post and glad to see you live in the Granite State, my favorite place in the world.

    If saving money is like planting a seed, here’s a story for you. My grandfather used to work for the Corps of Engineers in Franklin NH taking care of the dam. I went to visit the area a few years ago (I live in CA) and as I’m walking around, I’m noticing these trees are all a certain distance apart. And they were all around 50 feet high. Then I realized, Damn, my grandfather planted these as seedlings when I was a kid, now it’s a forest.

    I don’t drink coffee, but can you save a cup for me too?

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 11:35 am

      great story there, Mike!

      We’ve been here in NH since 2000. One of the nice things about riding a motorbike is that I’ve been down most of the back roads around here now. It really is a beautiful place.

      except for the black flies. and the ticks.

      Beer works, too!

      • Iron Mike May 29, 2012, 9:59 am


        I’ve had your blog in my RSS for few months now. I think I found you through ERE or Lacking Ambition and I really enjoy your stories, your perspective and your life experiences.

        While much of the basic advice we get from the FIRE/MMM community could be classified as “preaching to the choir”, I find it enjoyable to hear about the life experiences of those that are truly walking the walk. I find your blog to be a voice of reassurance that things will work out just fine and a reminder to focus on what’s really important in life.

        With 2 young children and what’s likely an already large enough nest egg, I constantly debate the thought of when to end (or at least postpone or a while) my corporate career.

        As a fellow motorcycle rider you can also count me as a huge fan of your home state. I’ll be up there for the Laconia Rally in a couple of weeks (for at least the 10th time) and cannot wait to re-experience the back roads with the majesty of Mother Nature on full display. Keep up the good work and know that your efforts are appreciated by many!


        • jlcollinsnh May 29, 2012, 12:15 pm

          Hi Mike….

          could have been either ERE or Lacking Ambition. I like and have commented on both.

          Glad you enjoy the blog and that you’ve already built enough FYM to have options.

          I’ve been to Laconia a couple of times and in fact was wearing my t-shirt from 2004 the other day. But it’s been a long time. I don’t much care for crowds.

          But there are some drop dead gorgeous roads up that way. Have a great time!

      • David December 13, 2015, 7:58 am

        As one who spends alot of time in the woods of New Hampshire I share your opinion of black flies. I have found a simple and satisfying way to avoid the ticks without staying in the house, never go south of US Route 2. The only times I break this rule in NH is to go skiing at Wildcat.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 26, 2012, 12:00 pm

      Mike C – it’s true that I’m not going to hand this place over to guest bloggers, but every weekend or two I feel lucky to have a post from a reader sharing experiences, tips, or just a good rant.

  • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple May 26, 2012, 11:35 am

    Fantastic guest post! That’s what it means to me too, FU money. I enjoy working, love my job, and don’t really have any plans for retirement for a long time. But I like having options.

    As I negotiate my next maternity leave, the FU money makes it MUCH easier!

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 1:35 pm

      Thanks Marcia!

      FU money is freedom. good luck with your negotiation!

  • Mr. Risky Startup May 26, 2012, 12:10 pm

    Thanks for the great guest-post! This exactly describes my aspiration – being able to take the risk of not having a job for a while.

    Even though my moustache is only a 5-o’clock shadow, just realizing that I do not really need $120K job to survive, allowed me to be more forceful and demanding when discussing my pay and perks at work.

    Because I was willing to live with the worst case scenario (losing my job), I am making more money and have more perks than ever before.

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 1:38 pm

      Hey Mr. RS….

      reading a few of your comments here it seems you are on an interesting path.

      F-you money combined with the ability to adjust your lifestyle provides a powerful edge!

      • Mr. Risky Startup May 26, 2012, 8:40 pm

        You know, scariest thing is how some of us regular people get sucked into the hamster wheel and somehow completely forget that life outside of the wheel is possible.

        I had it made in my young days – making loads of money before I could even drive the car, then lived through the war where I learned that you can live without much food, without electricity, heat or running water, then I worked and was happy making $6.85 per hour (in 1996)… Yet, somehow, when I started making good money again (and spending accordingly), I forgot that you CAN live well for the fraction of the money I was making.

        Somehow, I suffered amnesia and I convinced myself that 6-figure pay is only way to make ends meet. When I finally realized how dumb I was, it was easy to climb out of debt and cut my expenses, but by that time I wasted 5-6 years during which time I could have saved for 10 years of freedom…

  • CanuckExpat May 26, 2012, 1:53 pm

    That was a great post; thanks for the inspirational, and greatly written piece.
    MMM: this was a great choice for a guest post.

    As some have mentioned above, the Bogleheads site is full of useful info, in fact that’s how I first found this blog. On a somewhat related note, I seem to have caught up with the entire archive as of this post :)

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 4:28 pm

      thank you Mr. CanuckE…

      ..much appreciated.

      now that you are caught up on MMM you can start wading thru jlcollinsnh. :)

  • Kar May 26, 2012, 2:08 pm

    Great post. I feel the same way about FI. It’s not about retiring and then just playing golf. I want to have FU money. Most recently I transitioned from training to actually getting my first “real” job. It was one of the most stressful experience I’ve had. I didn’t know what and if I’d even have a job. I want to achieve a point in my life where I can be without the stress of money–losing a job would suck but hey, look at that stash of FU money over there. That’s right, FU!

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 4:30 pm

      Hey Kar….

      congrats, or condolences, on your real job.

      keep hanging out with the likes of Mr. MM and you’ll be shouting FU more and more loudly.

  • Patrick May 26, 2012, 2:25 pm

    What a fantastic post and a great story.

    Thank you for sharing it. I too am finding that “early retirement” is not really the goal. Rather, it is SO nice just to have the flexibility now, of not absolutely needing the day job….

    Thank you again.

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 4:33 pm

      My pleasure Patrick….

      ..and thanks for your kind words.

      “retirement” always felt a little confining to me, too.

  • Matt G May 26, 2012, 2:57 pm


    “The older I get the more real that becomes. My response has been to increasingly hold each day precious.”

    Might I suggest the book “A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy” by William B. Irvine . If you haven’t read it offers a good perspective on that topic.


    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 4:35 pm

      thanks Matt…

      …it’s now on my list. sounds like one I’ll kick myself for not having read sooner.

    • mike crosby May 27, 2012, 6:01 pm

      Just read it this week. Much in line with what’s shared on this blog. My favorite part of the whole book and what the author says he considers the most important aspect of Stoicism is “Negative Visualization”.

      What the author says is that most of us are always desiring what we don’t have, therefore we’re never happy. He says to practice visualizing that things you now have losing. By doing so, you’ll appreciate a lot more of what you have.

    • Karawynn @ Pocketmint May 28, 2012, 1:26 am

      Another thumbs up for Guide to the Good Life. Made a huge impact on me for such a little book.

    • Jeh May 29, 2012, 6:35 am

      Excellent book! It comes highly recommended from me as well. One I’ll continue to read throughout life.

  • TQ May 26, 2012, 3:55 pm

    What an inspiring story! This is the best guest post yet! I found this blog a week ago and just finished reading all the old posts so they are all fresh in my mind. Great blog!

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 7:50 pm

      High praise indeed, TQ…

      many thanks.

      now that you’re caught up on MMM…..

  • Pete C. May 26, 2012, 3:57 pm

    “F-You Money not only paid for the trip, it bought me room to negotiate. I’d never be a slave again.” Soooo true… you always have the most negotiating power when you have one foot out the door and you’re ready to leave. If you’re a half-decent employee then it’s always a pain in the butt to find somebody to replace you… even in a slow economy.

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 7:51 pm

      Hey Pete….

      too bad it took me so long to figure that out. :)

  • femmefrugality May 26, 2012, 4:48 pm

    Wow…that was really inspiring! I’m a reader over at Jim’s blog, and love all his advice. Your daughter’s really lucky to have such a strong example and someone who can so easily relate his advice.

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 7:52 pm

      Thanks FF….

      …but she’d likely tell you she’d prefer it in smaller doses. ;)

  • arebelspy May 26, 2012, 5:59 pm

    JLC: I’ve been reading your blog for several months (have it in my RSS reader) and I’m glad you got this guest post here on MMM. It should drive some traffic/readers to your site, which is great, because people need to see it. There’s a lot one can learn from your insights. Your site is seriously one of my favorite blogs. Keep it up!

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 7:58 pm

      Hi Arebelspy….

      Always great to meet a reader. Thanks for spending time on my blog and your very generous words. Hope you’ll choose to post over there.

      I am very honored that Mr. MM invited me to do this and the increase in traffic to my site from here has been breathtaking.

      I hope you and others who like it will pass it on.

  • Aspiring Yogini May 26, 2012, 6:17 pm

    This was a great article and I loved your writing, your images and now I want to read your blog! I have been FI, but still enjoying some occassional and/or part-time work, for over 10 years and I liked reading your perspective of having more life experiences and time in retirement. The only people I have read about who have had 30 years or more in retirement were Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez of YMOYL.

    I also worried a lot, especially when I first stopped working at my regular job; I didn’t believe that I could live for so long on so little money. Over time I did follow your three maxims: saving at least 50% of my earnings, no debt and following Jack Bogle’s style of investing. And I continue with much less financial worry than I had when I first retired, even though I have made several mistakes over the years. (They haven’t been difficult to recover from, just like the ups and downs of my non-financial life.)

    All the best to you JC; I hope you get 30+ more years of happy, healthy retirement!

    • jlcollinsnh May 26, 2012, 8:03 pm

      Thank you A. Yogini….

      ….and kudos on your own FI.

      It’s interesting how worry fades after the first few storms, no?

      Wishing you decades more health and happiness as well!

  • Josh May 26, 2012, 7:28 pm

    Nicely done Jim.

  • kris May 26, 2012, 10:36 pm

    I like hearing from people who have been FI for 15+ years because you can see how they have fared through time. ( plus I like having a new blog to read while waiting for new posts from MMM.)

    • jlcollinsnh May 27, 2012, 12:37 pm

      maybe someday you’ll be reading MMM posts while waiting for new ones on jlcollinsnh. :)

      • Mr. Money Mustache May 27, 2012, 9:40 pm

        Uh-oh.. Looks like I may have spawned a new competitor with this guest posting, rather than just a blogging buddy! I knew there was something fishy about this guy’s decades of managing all those big cuthroat businesses… :-)

        • jlcollinsnh May 28, 2012, 12:12 pm

          Too late, Mr. MM!!

          This is just my first step to world domination and….

          ….oh, wait.

          It’s time for my nap.

  • Joy May 27, 2012, 6:10 am


    I have been reading your blog for some time now. :)
    I am glad you and, MMM linked up.

    My husband actually read your post on MMM first. He said,
    “MMM has a guest post today, a guy named Jim Collins.”

    I said, “Oh? I read his blog!” My husband “You know him?”
    It was too funny! ;) Love having the one up! LOL

    Thanks MMM for sharing your space with JLC!
    I enjoy reading you both.

    I am so thankful for all the financial blogs and, books.
    Saving didn’t come natural for us. I had to learn to keep
    money. We often gifted or, spent it. Always believing God
    will provide. And, He does.

    We still gift. But, we have learned to save too. My husband
    was laid off in 2009. He was unemployed for 10 months.
    We were fine and, took the time to do some traveling. :)

    • jlcollinsnh May 27, 2012, 12:40 pm

      Hi Joy….

      glad to help and I hope your husband will join you as a reader.

      sounds like you guys have pulled it together nicely. enjoy!

  • Shilpan May 27, 2012, 9:02 am

    Outstanding article Jim. You’ve written a succinct guide for anyone to live a dream life. Life is simple. Often, we make it complex by following the herd mentality of living larger by trading our inner happiness for those worthless possessions.

    You’ve proved that any one can live a free life — at any income level — by adopting simplicity and knowing that relationships and friendships are far more important than having a fancy BMW collecting dust in your garage.

    You are one great soul Jim. Every young person ought to learn how to live life from you my friend.

    • Investlike1percent May 27, 2012, 11:45 am

      Thank you both!!!. I found MMM through Jim’s site and have been reading both blogs for a few weeks now. You both have inspired me to start up a blog. Luckily, I am 36 and FI. Unluckily, I am not unshackled from work as I feel I have so much more to do. Looking forward to coming out of Lurking status and getting to know you guys and everyone else as we all help each other conquer our demons whatever they may be.

    • jlcollinsnh May 27, 2012, 12:44 pm

      Thank you, my friend. great to see you over here.

      BTW all, Shilpan has his own blog. Like MMM, it is one I visit to expand my horizons.

  • pachipres May 27, 2012, 2:59 pm

    Interesting to see your article here at MMM because I have been reading alot of your articles and getting familiar with your blog just this past week. So it was so cool to read your articles here. Between MMM and yourself, I am really learning so much. Thank you so much the both of you.

    Jim, do you have a private email one can reach you at to ask you a personal financial question?

    • jlcollinsnh May 27, 2012, 5:04 pm

      Hi Pachipres…

      I just sent you an email.

  • Chris Turner May 27, 2012, 7:53 pm

    Great article Jim! Yet another inspiring life-story of someone who checked out of the mainstrean lifestyle and checked into a lifestyle of inner-happiness. I especially liked your parable of the monk and the Kings aid.

    I look forward to checking out your blog.

    • jlcollinsnh May 27, 2012, 8:12 pm

      thanks Chris!

      I can’t remember where I picked up that parable but it has stuck with me all these many years. makes even more sense to me now than back in the day.

  • Berta May 27, 2012, 7:57 pm

    I’m still pretty new to MMM & working to get through past blogs. Now I have JC’s blog to explore too. Freedom & choices are super important to me so it is all good reading both of your blogs. Thanks so much

    • jlcollinsnh May 27, 2012, 8:14 pm

      Hi Berta…

      good to hear you find enough value in them to make the effort. Hope to hear more from you!

  • DBro May 28, 2012, 8:28 am

    As always my friend – another good read. Thank you. I never get tired of the Monk story. I see that many people enjoyed your latest contribution – as well they should.The slant I want to add to this is let everyone know that you are really special in that you are really not special. You are everyman – you like your fries just like the next person. The difference is in your balance – you see both sides of a story and always champion fairness while questioning motive. (aside: Jim and I have worked, at the same time, for a couple different employers – oh, the stories we could tell). The difference between us is we both have FU money – but I just like telling people FU simply for the fun of it!
    I’m proud to know you Jim – balance in life is a rare find indeed – and your balance goes way beyond money matters.

    • jlcollinsnh May 28, 2012, 2:50 pm

      Hey David….

      It took me a moment or two to figure out who you are.

      Yep, you and I have been disgruntled employees at a couple of different places. Hey, somebody’s gotta rock the boat!

      and I’ve known few who can say “Fuck You” as readily or with such panache as you.

      Good to see you here. Cool site Mr. MM has, no? a kindred spirit for sure!

  • Devin May 28, 2012, 8:45 am

    This posting made me smile so much my face hurts. F-u money works on all different levels, not just jobs, I find it works with retailers and the Jones’s and bankers. I find myself saying F-u a lot these days. I don’t like to swear because of my little girls so it comes out as “no thanks”. But it feels great just the same.

    I occasionally wonder what it would have been like to have a parent like this. Would I have made the same mistakes, or completely different ones? All I can say is thank you, this is both inspiring and informative. I’ll be finding time to read your posts later this week. Thank you MMM.

    • jlcollinsnh May 28, 2012, 12:14 pm

      Hey Devin…..

      and your comment brought a smile to mine. thanks!

  • Spork May 28, 2012, 10:36 am


    I totally can relate. While I’m younger by about 20 years, I still see similarities… right down to that first convertible (except I was 18 and mine was blue… still is actually. I still have it.).

    F-you money allowed me to walk away from a very good paying job and spend 3 years with sick and dying family. This was 3 years that was worth more than 3 years salary could have ever been — even at 100% savings rate.

  • T-Lou May 28, 2012, 9:32 pm

    Thanks Mr. MMM for the new intro – I’ve read jlcollinsnh responses to your blog for awhile and admired them, but not until today did I check out his site — Great Stuff!!! To any readers who have not yet done so – head on over. Not to worry though, I’ll remain loyal. But, being closer to his age than yours his sensibility resonates. Now I have 2 great blogs to follow.

    I discovered Mr. MMM from your guest blog on Get rich slowly – so it’s only fitting you introduce us to fellow bloggers you admire.

    May you both continue to share your observations about the silliness that surrounds us with respect to the Church of Consumerism where so many of us pray and where it leads.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 28, 2012, 9:53 pm

      Thanks T-lou! .. although strangely enough, I’ve never done a guest post on Get Rich Slowly (I tried once, way back near the beginning, but nobody even returned my email). Maybe you saw an MMM-related comment on GRS instead?

  • Emmers May 29, 2012, 10:55 am

    “When she was in first grade I went to a parent-teacher conference. My wife introduced me and the teacher said, “Oh! Mr. Collins. How nice to finally meet you. You’re the father who’s never home.” A period of lots of business travel.”

    See, that gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies. I would never work 18-hour days — I value spending time with my friends and family too much. But I guess this is a case of different strokes for different folks?

    I do think it’s interesting that a lot of men of my generation (1980’s) are deliberately choosing to *not* emulate the fathers they never saw. They are making plans to stay home (not permanently, but for a time) and actually parent their children, instead of being gone all of the time. Divorce and/or workaholism (haha, not a word, but still) does shape how your kids think about things.

    ETA: It doesn’t sound like you were gone all of the time forever, so don’t take this as a judgment on you specifically!

    • Emmers May 29, 2012, 11:19 am

      (I should probably also note that this comment is the “negative space,” in both senses of the word — I liked the entire rest of the blog post!) :-D

    • jlcollinsnh May 29, 2012, 12:04 pm

      no worries, Emmers….

      …reading it gives me the heebies too. :)

      That probably explains my short attention span as described here:


      Actually, it seems I’ve always been most comfortable at the extremes. I love throwing myself into a job, but after awhile that burns me out. Then I’m equally content to do virtually nothing for extending periods.

      Not the best recipe for a corporate career, but F-You Money provided the space as needed to make it work.

  • KittyWrestler May 29, 2012, 12:21 pm

    What an awesome article posted on my birthday!!! *hint hint*…
    I am still learning how to live on less, but the dream and desire of having some free time to attend my family is burning up all the time…
    This is such a inspiring guest post.
    I too will not stop working, but I just wish I could only work 3 days instead of 5 days… But too chicken to ask cuz my assets are tied in so many different investment vehicles.. I can only stare at my paper money and dream..
    I am also confused at where I am going from here… and just in time, this article really really opens my eyes for me to see the next path!
    Thank you thank you!!!

    • jlcollinsnh May 29, 2012, 10:36 pm

      Hi Kitty….


      …it’s about time you opened this present!!

  • Victoria May 29, 2012, 5:27 pm

    Hi, JC and MMM!

    I really enjoyed this post. Thank you both for sharing all your “crazy” experiences and sui generis ideas.

    And a side comment: thank you both for solving a problem that ocurred to me last night. Having decided I wanted to visit Scotland & Ireland soon, I was just thinking how the hell would I go around for short circuits without a car, since driving on the left, on the other side of the car, freaks me out completely!.

    Making my own adaptation of an earlier post from MMM called “What Do You Mean “You Can’t Ride a Bike”?!” and mixing your own experience, well Eureka!

    Let me hope I’ll not break something ;-)


    • jlcollinsnh May 29, 2012, 10:40 pm

      Hi Victoria….

      In addition to spending the month I mentioned cycling around Ireland, my wife and I spent three weeks in Scotland on our honeymoon. We had a glorious time. No placed I’ve ever been has felt more haunted than Glencoe.

      While that was 30 years ago my guess you’ll enjoy your trip every bit as much.

      Safe journeys!

  • PFgal May 31, 2012, 8:52 am

    Great article Jim! It led me to your blog, which I’m really enjoying.

    I think people underestimate the amazingness of having FU money. For me it’s a must. I had a job I completely loved until a new CEO turned it into a nightmare. I started interviewing for a new job, but just couldn’t take it anymore and in August 2009 I walked away without another job lined up. My friends and family couldn’t understand how I could leave a job during the recession, but I had plenty saved up for just such a reason. The FU money also let me turn down two job offers that weren’t quite what I wanted, so I was able to wait until I got the right job. The freedom of FU money is really priceless. Next step: FI. It’s a ways off, but I’m already excited for it.

    • jlcollinsnh May 31, 2012, 10:23 am



      sometimes people with great jobs they love are the hardest to convince. But a career is a long thing and things change.

      glad you were prepared when the change came your way!

  • Danny Mulligan May 31, 2012, 9:08 am

    Awesome post, thanks!

  • Gen May 31, 2012, 9:24 am

    I’ve never read a more inspiring story in my life, what an eye-opener! Thanks for sharing your story with us, Jim!

    • jlcollinsnh May 31, 2012, 10:26 am

      Thanks Gen!

      It’s been a ride for sure!

  • SavvyFinancialLatina June 2, 2012, 1:20 am

    Awesome article, so inspirational! I am 22 and just received my job offer. I am working so hard on living below my means and staying out of debt. Looking forward to reading your blog.

    • jlcollinsnh June 2, 2012, 9:45 am

      Thank you, SFLatina…..

      ….but what is really inspirational is the great path upon which you’ve put yourself!


  • Rebecca June 6, 2012, 4:41 pm

    Thanks for the great post. It seems like theres a lot of activity around debt-free blogs. After being inspired by you guys and No More Harvard Debt, my husband and I created our own to help us pay off 157k in less than 3 years (www.TrimWaistFatWallet.com). it’s great to see so much positive interest in tackling this problem and creating more awareness. Rock on MMM

  • Joseph August 9, 2012, 4:27 pm

    Just read through this post for a second time – I plan on reading it many more times, there’s so much good stuff in here. Thanks for sharing the wisdom!

  • Erica / Northwest Edible Life September 29, 2012, 2:21 am

    A very touching and inspirational guest post. Thank you.

  • hands2work October 23, 2012, 2:34 pm

    Thanks so much JLC!! I needed to hear the simplify statement, I had been debating whether to keep my old investments. I like your plan better now that I see it in writing.

  • Mike November 1, 2012, 10:23 am

    Hot damn that was a good article. I think I can finally explain why my wife and I are making the changes we are, this really sums it up. IMHO this should be the first article anyone reads, this is after reading all the previous articles. Thank you!

  • kyle November 14, 2013, 9:07 am

    I love how your blog over the years has woven together aspects of financial literacy and philosophy on living a fulfilled life. Reading more and more financial blogs such as yours, MadFIentist, Jim Collins, etc, I see that investing in yourself (your well-being, happiness, etc) first is the most important thing you can do. Also, not seeing retirement as lounging about… who would want to do that? That would just lead to an early grave. Life is about having options and aligning your life with the best options you are able to provide for yourself and your loved ones. Thanks again

  • phred February 23, 2014, 2:48 pm

    While Tai-Pan is a wonderful novel, the novel in question is Noble House, also by Clavell

  • cv May 7, 2014, 4:34 pm

    does anyone know what happened to the jim collin’s website? It has not been accessible for the last week (server not found). would appreciate an update. thanks!

  • Kathryn December 30, 2014, 9:52 am

    On way to meet the one and only Jim right now. Loved this post.

    Thanks for sharing on your site MM.

    • jlcollinsnh January 7, 2015, 9:51 pm

      Ah, that’s nothing.

      I, on the other hand, got to have coffee with the amazing Kathryn!

  • Dan M March 6, 2015, 8:51 am

    I just recently discovered Jim’s site through J. Money (Budgets are Sexy) and have known about MMM for a while (lived next to your step brother in New Orleans before he was sent back to Canada!!). All great blogs, and funny how MMM put it –

    “There’s a permanent walking path connecting our two blogs together that people can wander down.” SO true!


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