Embracing Your Inner Weirdo


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.

tiny house
Choosing a smaller home is a lifestyle choice that can have a huge financial impact.  Are you ready to be a weirdo that lives in a tiny house?

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.

Maslows Hierarchy
Even Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs says people need “social belonging”.  Do we really?

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!

inner weirdo
Nurture and grow your inner weirdo. Eventually you’ll be strong enough to face the world!  Oh what a surprise that will be!

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!

 

[Image Credit: Flickr1, Flickr2]

38 thoughts on “Embracing Your Inner Weirdo

  • May 9, 2018 at 6:13 AM
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    It’s not just the tentacles either…

    Ha! Love it! Proud weirdo here as well. The beat up cars I used to drive in my 30’s bothered some of my friends so much they considered having an intervention with me. I told them to stick their intervention where the sun doesn’t shine.

    Weird is good!

    Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 6:15 AM
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    Love it!.
    Thanks for sharing your weirdness.

    Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 6:19 AM
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    Good article Mr. Tako. I wonder if there is a correlation between being weird (possibly being an outcast in high-school/society) and becoming financially independent?

    Also, I enjoyed your thoughts on free entertainment. At one point in my life I thought that I would surely grow up and get a cable subscription (we didn’t have one as kids). Now I have the money to pay for it and I don’t really want it. Weird how that works out:)

    Reply
    • May 11, 2018 at 1:07 AM
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      I know exactly what you mean — once you’ve learned to live happily without something for long enough, the desire for it atrophies.

      While I don’t have specific data on outcasts, there does appear to be a high percentage of engineers in the FIRE community. Engineers do tend to fall onto the weirder side of the tracks.

      Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 6:41 AM
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    I’m a lurker who ‘lucked’ into FI by working as a contractor and realizing I could build a business. After selling the business I have the resources to not work again IF I can control spending. I am trying to learn how to change my families thinking on these ideas you, and others, present. I’m impressed by all of those who reach FI through frugality. I wish i had gotten here before 50, but I’m at least weird enough to recognize a better way to live. Keep inspiring!

    Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 7:06 AM
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    I’ve embraced my inner weirdo and it’s great.
    When you’re young, you want to fit in. But as I get older, I realized it’s better for me to go my own way. Nobody cares if you’re normal or not. I think PNW people don’t gossip that much so there is very little pressure from neighbors and acquaintances. Is that true?

    Being a part of the FI community is great too. I don’t feel so alone in my journey.

    Reply
    • May 11, 2018 at 1:11 AM
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      I’m not sure. The culture in the Pacific Northwest is very laid back compared to other areas in the States. Most people don’t wear a suit to work here, but I do know from personal experience that fancier work clothes are more common on the east coast.

      In the PNW usually all wearing boots, sweaters and hats to stay warm and dry… so maybe the culture is less “showy” here?

      I certainly don’t feel any pressure to wear clothes with less holes in them.

      Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 7:28 AM
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    It’s kinda scary how fast I clicked that Twitter link. I’ve always been a little on the weird side. But the one downside to hanging out with the FI community is that you forget other people don’t pay attention to money at all. And it’s a bit shocking.

    Reply
    • May 11, 2018 at 1:14 AM
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      It’s true. Some people would rather get a root canal than balance a budget!

      Maybe I’m preaching to the choir a little bit here!

      Reply
      • May 11, 2018 at 3:12 AM
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        As a completely unrelated side note, the first ad on this page when I clicked over was for “Clothing Monster,” and it has t-shirts with huge pics of animals on the front. I just thought it was so fitting considering the title of this post!! Hahaha

        Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 7:41 AM
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    Did you just call me a weirdo? What the??!

    Nah, of COURSE I’m a FI weirdo! Wasn’t it the wise and powerful Arby’s that profoundly said, “Different is good.”?

    Our family seems very similar to yours – though I do like a couple beers on the weekends! I’m actually way-too-excited about getting rid of a ton of stuff for our upcoming garage sale… is that weird?

    — Jim

    Reply
    • May 11, 2018 at 1:17 AM
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      Nope, not weird at all (for me at least!) I hate having a bunch of useless stuff cluttering up the house. Garage sales are great!

      Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 8:32 AM
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    Pretty sure tentacles are partly why you’re getting weird looks though 🙂

    We’re weird tooooo! I was thinking the same thing the other day about why we are so strange. We do about 80% of the things you listed except we’re loners and I like to keep it that way. My professor kept saying it’s the weirdo students he gets that end up doing really well. Then he looked directly at me… swear to God…and at the time I was a broke college kid so I definitely thought he was wrong. Not so sure anymore. Flukes happen but are there really accidents? For people who have heard of FIRE, how many chooses to pursue it?

    Reply
    • May 11, 2018 at 1:22 AM
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      Many people want to achieve FIRE, but few achieve it. The numbers that actually make it are probably pretty small.

      Weirdos have a better chance at making it.

      Random chance is of course a factor (people can win the lottery or inherit money), but for the most part I think life outcomes are more deterministic than many realize.

      Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 8:38 AM
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    In some ways, yes I am a weirdo. However, when my old (paid-off) car died about six months ago, I made a really silly decision and bought a car that was way too expensive.

    I told myself “I can afford the monthly payments.” That statement is true, but now I ask myself why I would want to have so much debt hanging over me for the next few years.

    I very recently started my own blog to join the financial independence community so that I might stay on track and learn from folks like you along the way.

    I can say, without a doubt, that your way is much less burdensome Mr. Tako!

    Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 1:29 PM
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    Nothing wrong with that and the key thing to realize is not care about what other people think about you.

    Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 4:32 PM
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    Love this list. I’ve been a weirdo since I was born. But the problem is I live in NYC. It’s tough to live cheap here.
    Can’t move until I have enough passive income coming in.

    Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 4:48 PM
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    Funny how you bring up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Sure, social belonging is there in the middle. But once you get pass that and embrace your “inner weirdo”, you will have self esteem and self actualization. You will come to the realization that your actual self is weird and you embrace it!

    Self-Actualization = embracing your weird self 🙂

    That being said, there are a lot of weirdo things my wife and I do. To name a few:
    – We don’t take showers every day
    – We rarely use toilet paper
    – We are vegan for health, ethical, and environmental reasons
    – We are minimalists
    – We make our own toothpaste and cleaning products

    Don’t worry… we have impeccably white teeth, we don’t smell and our weird-asses are clean.

    Reply
    • May 11, 2018 at 1:04 AM
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      I must congratulate you on your wonderful weirdness!

      It’s funny, I never thought of “not caring” as another form of self actualization. You might be onto something here! 🙂

      Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 5:18 PM
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    Weirdos unite, Mr. Tako! Gotta love the FIRE community and the internet to bring us all together. Right there with you not drinking any alcohol. I’m pretty sure I’ve been labeled weird for that one before, and that’s quite okay! 🙂

    Reply
    • May 11, 2018 at 1:02 AM
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      Yeah, I’ve seen plenty of criticism for being a non-drinker over the years. It doesn’t bother me either.

      I’ve seen far too many lives ruined by alcohol.

      Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 5:44 PM
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    I’m Southern so I’m not a weirdo. Down here we are lovingly called eccentric.

    Reply
    • May 11, 2018 at 12:59 AM
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      How far south do I need to travel before I too become eccentric?

      Reply
      • May 11, 2018 at 2:15 PM
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        Mississippi and east. Come on down. We’d love to have you.

        Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 6:30 PM
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    Reading 4 hours a day! That’s not weird. It’s inspiring.

    Reply
    • May 11, 2018 at 12:59 AM
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      Oh gosh, thanks! I wish I actually had more time for reading. 8 hours would be great… but err… family life takes time!

      Reply
  • May 10, 2018 at 4:22 AM
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    I don’t think it’s weird at all. 🙂

    I think very few people live the totality popularized American consumerism lifestyle, maybe bits and pieces but rarely the whole thing. As for the 40-yrs of 9-to-5 life, that’s more likely but the average tenure at a job is only ~4 years… so it’s rarely a one (or three) job for the stretch of your career. Certain things are popularized even though they may not be 100% true.

    That said, if you want plain normal results, be normal. If you want abnormal, be weird. I like being weird because I like my outcomes. 🙂

    Reply
    • May 11, 2018 at 12:58 AM
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      I think that anyone who bothers to read FI blogs must be kind of weird. It’s my view that A LOT of people want different outcomes.

      Reply
  • May 10, 2018 at 5:39 AM
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    The weirdos are coming out of the woodwork! Mr. Wow wrote a post last week about how weird he is too. I laugh, but then only to realize that I too am just as weird. I totally agree that normal is boring and weird is what makes us FI folks interesting. Keep on with your weird self Mr. Tako!

    Reply
  • May 10, 2018 at 8:41 AM
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    Mr Tako,

    You rock! And I agree with what you wrote.

    I guess that makes me a weirdo too.

    Actually since we are wealthy we are not weird but eccentric. If you were broke you’d be weird.

    -Mike

    Reply
    • May 11, 2018 at 12:54 AM
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      So after having a certain amount of money you become eccentric? I hadn’t heard that before.

      Reply
  • May 11, 2018 at 7:40 AM
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    Haha. Have always been “weird”. Took a lot of years to grow into being proud of it.

    Also, I am human or cephalopod and have checked the appropriate box.

    Reply
  • May 11, 2018 at 3:13 PM
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    *FI weirdo five!*

    “They don’t care what other people think, and they certainly aren’t going to crater under your typical lifestyle-choice criticism:”

    This is exactly why it’s awesome to be a weirdo. You never have to stress about other people’s irrelevant opinions of you. I’ll never have to say “I wish I had lived a life true to myself” on my death bed. I’m living it right the hell now! Being a weirdo rocks.

    Reply

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