Are you a weirdo? Take one look around the Financial Independence community and you’ll find a whole bunch of weird-assed people. Weirdos of nearly every shape and flavor.
It make sense of course — anyone who’s interested in ditching the status quo to live a life of financial independence might also be attracted to … er… let’s call them ‘unique’ lifestyle choices. For such individuals, conforming to “social norms” is probably lower on the list of life’s priorities.
It certainly was for the Tako family. But maybe it’s more than that — Perhaps the link between being a weirdo and financial independence is more interlinked than merely an association.
Maybe the egg comes before the chicken.
Normal Kinda Sucks
You know what sucks? Normal kind of sucks!
A “normal” life is working a nine-to-six job for 40ish years and saving roughly 10% of your income. That’s pretty normal. After decades of working day-in-and day-out (with only two weeks of vacation per year), you might have enough saved to retire.
But what good is a retirement if you’re too old to enjoy it? Retiring at a ‘normal’ age of 65, you might only have 10 really good years of retirement before age forces you into a walker, adult diapers, and a retirement home.
That’s normal and it kind of sucks.
Living a ‘normal’ life and earning a ‘normal’ income, it stands to reason why you’ll only be able to realize “normal” results. Building wealth that way is a very slow process.
Being a weirdo is so much better.
In the FI community you see all these weird people retiring in their 30’s or 40’s with millions of dollars. Building wealth happens at much faster rates with FI weirdos. You know why?
They make (one or more) major lifestyle choices that generates a different financial outcome.
Stop me if you’ve heard of some of these unique lifestyle choices before:
- No debt.
- No car.
- Living in a RV.
- Living in a tiny house (<500 square feet or 46 square meters)
- No restaurants or packaged food.
- No TV.
- No air travel.
- No cell phone.
- ‘Data only’ cell phone plan.
- Commute by bicycle or bus.
These differences are just the tip of the iceberg! All of these unique lifestyle choices produce vastly superior financial results that show-up in the ranks of the financially independent. FI weirdos vastly underspend their income and continuously invest that money into assets earning solid returns.
The result is a big difference in the size of their financial nest-egg.
Furthermore, they can make lifestyle changes and stick with it for a decade or more.
I think this is a key point — Weirdos are entirely comfortable with odd lifestyle choices. Being different doesn’t bother them. They don’t care what other people think, and they certainly aren’t going to crater under your typical lifestyle-choice criticism:
“Drive a car to the store like everybody else instead of riding that cargo bike! It would be so much faster!”
“Forget the thrift store — You work hard and deserve something nice. Just go buy it!”
“Wow, your cellphone is so old. How can you stand using it?”
“What do you mean you don’t have a TV? How do you watch the latest shows?”
“Why do you commute by bus? It would be so much more comfortable if you just drove to work.”
“I could never live like that myself. It must be so hard.”
My Inner Weirdo
Yes, I’m the first to admit that I’m a weirdo. Mrs. Tako and I are both total weirdos. We’re proud of it. To our neighbors we probably “look” normal on the surface, but that’s about where the normality ends.
It’s not just the tentacles either — The Tako family is weird in so many other ways:
- We rarely eat at restaurants. Almost all of our food is prepared at home unless we’re traveling or don’t have access to food prep facilities.
- We don’t drink alcohol, and avoid most forms of flavored water.
- We eat relatively little red meat. Not only is it healthier, but it’s considerably cheaper. We try to eat other proteins like beans, tofu, and eggs.
- Almost all of our household furniture is used.
- On average, I spend four hours a day reading. Mostly non-fiction and a lot of it is about investing.
- We don’t own expensive cars. Our cars are older, with only basic features. No luxury vehicles here.
- I commuted to work on a bus for almost a decade. At some jobs, the cost of my bus pass was even covered by my employer.
- Instead of paying for entertainment, nearly all of our entertainment is free. We don’t pay for cable, netflix, or any other TV service. We try to avoid expensive hobbies.
- I make all of my own salsa.
- My phone is now over six years old. I see no reason to replace it.
- We don’t attend professional sporting events or professional music concerts.
- Our favorite social activities are hosting dinner parties and playing board games with friends and family.
- Before buying a home we saved up enough money. I don’t mean just a down payment — I mean the entire purchase price. We did get a mortgage, but it can be paid-off at any time. The cash was invested in the stock market.
- We don’t wear fancy clothes. Most of our clothes come from thrift stores and we like it that way.
See what I mean? We’re total weirdos! Now take a guess at how many of these “weirdnesses” changed once we reached financial independence?
Zero. Not a single one of them changed once we “had money”. We actually like our lifestyle the way it is!
Our lifestyle happened first, and the money was just a happy accident as a result of our lifestyle choices. This is why we’re able to maintain it for so long without “slipping up”, “burning out”, or needing to “take a break” from frugality.
We don’t feel deprived either — we’re completely comfortable being our weirdo-selves.
Nurture & Grow Your Inner Weirdo
Not everybody identifies with being a “weirdo” of course. Many people just want to appear “normal” and live a normal life…
I completely understand why. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, “social belonging” sits right smack in the middle of human psychological needs. Most people want to belong and just fit in with the crowd. They’re uncomfortable being different.
I say “forget all of that!” Normal isn’t going to get you to financial independence in your 30’s or 40’s. Your freedom and ability to escape the rat-race absolutely depends upon your embracing weirdness. It’s time to unlearn what society forced on you about conforming.
Let yourself be weird. It’s totally OK!
But what if you’re not ready to make a big lifestyle change yet? Maybe your worried about criticism from your friends, family, and neighbors.
Just take it slow. Make baby steps toward your goals. Try on a small lifestyle change and see how it fits. Not everybody is going to be weird in the same way. Just nurture and grow the things that make you uniquely weird.
There’s a weirdo in all of us just waiting to come out!
Eventually you’ll get stronger and more comfortable being different. The criticism won’t bother you after a while.
THAT is when you become a powerful weirdo. Criticism will run off you like water and you’ll be entirely free to make bigger and bolder changes in your life.
But that won’t happen if you try to be “normal”.
Engage The Community Too!
Feeling alone in your quest for Financial Independence? You might be a weirdo, but you don’t have to go it alone! There’s a whole community of like-minded weirdos that can provide ideas, support, and encouragement!
Don’t forget to engage the FI community! The vast majority of people just ‘lurk’. There’s absolutely no point in lurking on your path to financial independence!
Start by making comments on your favorite blogs (like this one). Ask questions! Join the Rockstar forums and get to know other weirdos on the same path. Even if they are weird.
Almost everyone is supportive and helpful in my experience! They can offer tips, laughter, and gentle encouragement.
It could be the difference between giving-up and achieving your financial independence!
Are you a FI weirdo? Let me know in the comments!