Monday, October 17, 2011

"Fuck You" Money


I've always been surprisngly responsible about money.

I always tried to have some savings on hand so that I could get out of whatever hopeless predicament English teaching (or my drunkeness, or cruel fate, or whatever) left me in.

'FUCK YOU' money!

I first heard the term "fuck you money" in this film, Burt Reynolds' long-forgotten 1986 HEAT (not to be confused with the Pacino / DeNiro / Michael Mann classic from 1995.)

In this clip, Burt Reynold's character, a washed-up bodyguard in Vegas, finally wins the $100,000 he'd been dreaming of to run away to Italy; he'd figured on spending $20,000 per year for the next five years.




Discussing it with a friend afterwards, however, he realizes it's not enough -- during the last three years he'd never be able to relax as the money ran out. He decides to try to win $1,000,000 -- $20,000 per year for the rest of his life -- and of course (spoiler) loses it all.

How much is 'Fuck You Money' for an English teacher?

I rolled up in Thailand in the 90's, when I was 26, and had about $1000 to my name; after a year there, I decided I needed more of a cushion to better enable me to enjoy my feckless lifestyle. So I went to Korea in 1996, to save some money.

I decided I needed $10,000.

That was enough money, at that time, to last me a year in places I liked, like Thailand or Prague. Living extra cheaply, maybe even two years. I stayed in Korea about 9 months, until I had $9,980 -- at that time you could change a maximum of $10,000 per year from won -- and then I got on the next plane out with no regrets.

The US inflation calculator tells me that $10,000 in 1996 is about $14,000 in 2011; but in fact the cost of living in "the third world" has gone up at least 3 or 4 times what it was in 1996, so it's not such a straightforward calculation. ($100,000 in 1986 dollars is more like $200,000 in 2011 dollars.)

Is there anyplace in the WORLD where you can still live comfortably on $1000 a month? Let me know. I think you could probably still manage it in Thailand and maybe in China, but anyplace in E. Europe would be a tight fit. Mainly due to the cost of apartment rent.

Nowadays, $10,000 would definitely get you safely out of one country and established in the next; but beyond that, you could blow through all of that easily in a few months, especially if you had to buy plane tickets and pay an apartment deposit.

So what's "fuck you money" now?

I see that it's a pit you can fall into, actually, trying to decide that.

There are plenty of guys who've been here in the Middle East for eight or ten years, and have $500,000 or even closer to $1,000,000 and they continue to insist how much they hate it here and (once again) will stay for "only one more year" before they go somewhere else.

Obviously if you have a family, calculating "enough money" becomes very difficult. As you get older of course there are the various nebulous worries of retirement and health care costs.

But English teachers don't usually have the typical money worries; no mortgages, car payments, not much of that. Student loans? Anybody I know who has them seems to have pretty much decided they're simply not going to pay them.

And I got to thinking about the movie OFFICE SPACE, where the guy says that if he had a million dollars, he'd do absolutely nothing, and another character says, "You don't need a million dollars to do nothing, man, my cousin's flat broke and he don't do shit."

So I think that's what it boils down to -- the more money you think you need, to tell your boss to fuck off, the less likely you'll ever do it.

(I could only find THIS BIZARRE ANIMATION featuring that dialogue from OFFICE SPACE on YouTube; anybody finds the real thing, we'll be waiting.)

My original plan, like Burt Reynolds in HEAT there, was to save six figures. I'm sticking with that -- six figures and go. I don't even particularly want to tell my boss to fuck off, they treat me pretty well. . .

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

"So I think that's what it boils down to -- the more money you think you need, to tell your boss to fuck off, the less likely you'll ever do it."

Well said in any situation whether it be in TEFL or in a cubicle.

Anonymous said...

$1,000/mo. - Chisinau, Moldova.
- Quito, Ecuador
- Anywhere in Vietnam
- Chang Mai

Anonymous said...

The only "fuck you" money is the money that will never run out. So, by that logic, $1000 for life, inflation protected, is closer to "fuck you" money then is 10,000,000 lump sum.

If I were on of those guys with 500k to 1M saved, Id see how much a Swiss insurance company would give me in a quarterly return on an immediate annuity. Or I'd try to flip it into a "sure fire" business like a central or south American brothel. Or perhaps a sex chat business in the same countries. The business is assured as long as you can keep competing thugs from making you more accident prone.

Otherwise, its dumb (in general - not you) to walk away from a profession that is your only cash flow. Its all about cash flow, not lump sum fuck you money. You'll always be worried about it if you try to survive on a lump sum. And rightly so. People who still have pensions have the happiest retirements in the world, comparatively.

English Teacher X said...

Yeah, I mean, there's always another crappy English teaching job out there somewhere; references are rarely an issue in this biz.

Eve said...

"Student loans? Anybody I know who has them seems to have pretty much decided they're simply not going to pay them."

I pay my student loans every month! A fucking upstanding citizen is what I am, damn it...

because the tax-free money I earn overseas is deposited legally into my U.S. bank account. And I don't want any misunderstandings.

As far as fuck you money ... when I was in my early 20s, it was just a few thousand. Now that I'm older, it would have to be at least a year's worth of living expenses in a not-too-third-world country. So, I guess I'd say my number's pretty low -- just $15K -- and then, of course, I'd have to go back to work at some damn school.

A lifetime's worth of fuck you money is debatable, but in L.A., where I hail from, the general value is 3 million dollars. That is, no one in their 50s or 60s would even consider retiring if they had less than 3 million in the bank -- with no debt.

Anonymous said...

If we are really talking lump sum, AND you want to live in the USA, anything below ten million is foolhardy. And where I live isn't LA, NYC, or San Fran.

If you are forty and try to retire on 3 million, and accounting for the effect of inflation and lack of priest like discipline, I'd wager that more than 95% of people would again go broke before they die 35-40 years later, and most much sooner. The "go broke" rate for 7 figure lottery winners pretty much proves this.

Anonymous said...

I think the advice somewhere on your old site to always have the means to get out of a country is the wisest advice I have heard to anyone going off to teach abroad. I was in Japan when Nova went under and teachers were saying they didn't have the money home.

The etx basic fuck-your-job money is one of the laws of the ESL universe for me.

Anonymous said...

I don't think 'fuck you money' is much of a way to think ab√łut things.

creates a lot of stress to think that you need a large sum like that in order to secure comfort.

i'm not shitting liberalism here, just saying that i taught english and work in finance now. in my opinion people who invest for their retirement in mutual funds etc, are forever going to be thinking what you have just iterated.

the retirement fund will never be enough to allow them to quit, or live without aid.

it's a fallacy that i could write more about, but won't.

there was an article/study done that said people who gathered experiences are happier than those who gather 'products'.

luckily for you, it seems you have been chasing/collecting the right things.

English Teacher X said...

OH come on, 10 million? If you retire at 40 and live to be a hundred, that's $166,666 a year. Even allowing for no capital appreciation and significant inflation, that's a ton of money.

Anonymous said...

Some of these comments are truly reflective of the con that has been sold to the sheeple of Amerika. Bottom line is I ejected from the USA slave-trade 5 years ago (I'm 54) and I am able to live a fraction of the stupid numbers that you people blather on about. You know, you are ALL going to die, and sooner than later. Who gives a fuck if you are short a few hundred a month when you're 80.........you're almost dead anyway. BTW, I live well on 2k per month. A dolt with the brain of a small rodent should be able to make a go of it with 300K usd.

Anonymous said...

The post above mine is correct. One can live comfortably on well under $500k if you manage your money right, are not a typical American urban/suburban materialistic buffoon, and use plain ol' common sense. Chances are, anyone who has retired under the age of 60 is going to go stir-crazy and end up working again anyway. If you chase the "American Dream", aka the "American Nightmare", you're going to be a wage slave your entire life.

Anonymous said...

"OH come on, 10 million? If you retire at 40 and live to be a hundred, that's $166,666 a year. Even allowing for no capital appreciation and significant inflation, that's a ton of money."

Remember, I said "in the USA". Elsewhere, everyone else is essentially correct. However, I still hold that a tremendous amount of personal discipline is necessary to make lesser amounts work anywhere,over a lifetime, even if its 3 million in the third world.

Now, back to the USA example. Now account for taxes (sales, property, income if your counting the ten million as gross and not net) etc..

Now account for 3% compound inflation over 30-50 years (many think the real average is much higher, on the order of 8%).. Now account for possible dependents (wife, 1-2 kids, a sick parent, all the shit that goes wrong in life with people that you love). Now account for occasional bouts of stupidity like that mutual fund that dove 50% when you were 55 years old, or that boat that cost you more then you thought it would, or the strip club / hooker habit that you picked up at 60 because you were lonely and thought that you could afford it, or the twice yearly "escape from America" vacations that you thought that you needed which cost five grand each for 20 years. Now account for at least one opportunistic lawsuit against the rich guy, you.

How's that three million looking now?

3 Million over 30-50 years is not much money in the USA, especially when the human propensity to match lifestyle to income is taken into account.

You want to be comfortable, and not worry about it if the "fuck you" money concept is to work. Most of my friends consider the minimum to be 10 million for a middle class lifestyle with a small family. I agree, and don't think that they are overshooting. A single guy could blow that easily, if he wasn;t very careful. Happens all the time. Rich people don;t stay rich because of lump sum wealth, but rather becasue of cash flow.

Just sayin...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Some of these comments are truly reflective of the con that has been sold to the sheeple of Amerika. Bottom line is I ejected from the USA slave-trade 5 years ago (I'm 54) and I am able to live a fraction of the stupid numbers that you people blather on about. You know, you are ALL going to die, and sooner than later. Who gives a fuck if you are short a few hundred a month when you're 80.........you're almost dead anyway. BTW, I live well on 2k per month. A dolt with the brain of a small rodent should be able to make a go of it with 300K usd."

Ah yes, we're all stupid but you. With ETX's experience, we likely have a combined experience of over thirty years abroad just in this comment section. Maybe more.

Using your numbers for living expenses, $300k would last 12 years, but in reality it would be less with inflation and incidentals such as once yearly flights and occasional medical expenses factored in. That isn't exactly retirement money. Rather, its "a nice long break from work money".

So, what are you doing, teaching ESL int he third world? Hats off, seriously. I'm glad that you are happy. But let me offer a wake-up call that you might not like. In most countries, especially in Asia but also elsewhere, you are very close to the age of being un-hireable. If you dont have a relevant degree or certification like a Delta, then you wont have option to work int he shitty ME either when the Asians won't hire you anymore because you are too old.

Don't think you will need money when you are eighty because you are "almost dead"? That's the dumbest fucking thing that I've heard in my entire life. Seriously, it takes the cake for fucking dumb. Listen to me old man, you may have thirty years of life left past your sixtieth birthday. Its going to hurt a lot more being homeless at eighty then it is at 54. Its going to be sad, and very bad. Don't think it can happen? It happens all the time to farang in places like Thailand. Too old to work, no money even though they once had six figure accounts, and they wind up dying (mercifully) in some four dollar concrete floor rooming house or, if they are lucky, a bottom feeder transvestite whore with compassion takes them in and cares for them (unlikely). But you know what a more common end is? A three story swan dive onto the pavement.

Wow. good fucking planning. Way to end it with dignity and peace. What do you think that psychological torture is like for such an elderly destitute person who can't even afford to go home? Its not right, but its also no one else's fault.

Eve said...

"always have the means to get out of a country" -- that's what i always tell people who email me and say, "So, what are your thoughts about teaching in Russia?"

Folks in the states used to be told to always have 3 months of living expenses in the bank before making a big purchase ...

so maybe my "fuck you" figure is even lower than i originally thought. maybe it's just enough to fly somewhere and be settled for a few months while I look for a job.

"Some of these comments are truly reflective of the con that has been sold to the sheeple of Amerika. Bottom line is I ejected from the USA slave-trade 5 years ago (I'm 54) and I am able to live a fraction of the stupid numbers that you people blather on about."

I agree with the anon who said your hire-ability is decreasing as you age. If do live into your 80s, you're looking at some expensive-ass medical treatments. Like someone else on this thread mentioned, being old AND poor is an unpretty thing.

But what do I know? I'm just a sheep who's seen a bit of poverty and knows damn well that there but for the grace ...

54 and no savings? SHIT, man. That's bad.

English Teacher X said...

it's a point to remember -- you are legally unhireable in the Middle East at 60, also, by the regulations of the Kingdom. It's not a discrimination thing, it's a work-permit law.

Still, as for 10,000,000 -- even the most conservative of investments should be able to yield you 1 percent per year in interest of dividend; that's 100,000 per year just from that.

English Teacher X said...

although I do see your point -- "middle class lifestyle" doesn't mean the same thing to an English teacher. We take the bus and steal tea bags and toilet paper from the office, generally, no matter the income.

I saw on MSN yesterday that the global average for "middle class" is still less than $5 per day.

english courses london said...

very hard to realize whats going on here.. anyways good post.

Anonymous said...

I'm an EFL/ESOL teacher and live in Scotland. I lead a pretty middle-class lifestyle - we have a car, a mortgage, pets and my wife has taken a year off to go back to university. I work at an FE college and get about ten weeks holiday a year.

I started out in bumfuck, Spain then got a bit more qualified and a bit more ambitious in the jobs I applied for. It wasn't that hard.

ETX is right about the 'fuck you money', though - had to use it once or twice in the journey.

Sorry that I can't seem to sign in as myself. My name is Ken MacDougall.

Best,

Ken

Anonymous said...

"Don't think you will need money when you are eighty because you are "almost dead"? That's the dumbest fucking thing that I've heard in my entire life. Seriously, it takes the cake for fucking dumb. Listen to me old man, you may have thirty years of life left past your sixtieth birthday. Its going to hurt a lot more being homeless at eighty then it is at 54. Its going to be sad, and very bad. Don't think it can happen? It happens all the time to farang in places like Thailand. Too old to work, no money even though they once had six figure accounts, and they wind up dying (mercifully) in some four dollar concrete floor rooming house or, if they are lucky, a bottom feeder transvestite whore with compassion takes them in and cares for them (unlikely). But you know what a more common end is? A three story swan dive onto the pavement."

Yikes, ignorant and downright nasty fellow (or woman) here. Where do you score that venom that you spew? I'll offer a little primary financial education for you. To wit; I said I live comfortably on $2000/mo. I also said $300k is more than sufficient. I will assume that said lifestyle is NOT is the USA. I DO NOT work, nor will I again. In my case it is split between LatAm and SE Asia. A decent investor ought to be able to 15%+ out of an equities-based account. That is $45,000 per annum, tax free. I'm assuming that you're not dumb enough to keep your money in Uncle Sam's tax zone. In addition, at age 63, I start receiving around $12,000 per year in SS benefits. I am NOT planning my finances around that. If I get it - fine, if not, then one more great reason I escaped Amerika. Thinks 15% is folly? I thought you would - the financial services industry wants you to believe that 5% is a good return - all part of the gringo con-job. I said I live on $2000/mo, which I do - very comfortably. I am able to save at least that much. When I die, say around 80 - I will have had 30 years of enjoyment - living in Latin America and Asia - humbly and very comfortably. My biggest expense outside of rent ($200-400/mo) and food/drink ($300-600) is travel and gym membership. Please tell me again why I am so "dumb"? Sorry man, I also have a girlfriend who is half my age. As for living beyond 80.....do YOU really care to live the life of a sad, doddering old man (or woman) into your 80's and 90's. You can keep working to make sure you have ample cash to finance your slow, lonely descent into misery. But, best of luck to you what ever avenue you choose!

Anonymous said...

Ignorant? Hardly.

I was responding to your initial arrogant tone in your first comment that included words like "sheeple, stupid, blather, dolt, and 'brain of small rodent'" when referring to us and our conversation. A man of your age should know how to interact without sounding demeaning or disrespectful. I give no quarter to those who don't have basic manners, especially one who should be mature and know better. So, you got the tough love treatment. Don't cry to me about venom and ignorance after your haughty diatribe. Grow up, or at least learn to communicate with a bit more class when you are attempting to make a counterpoint.

I don't believe that 5% is a good return. I also don't believe that 15%, low risk, is attainable over 30 years. It seems like you are more realistically counting on a slower draining of your account, from investment returns, and not outliving the account when it does inevitably go to zero. Considering your age, that's fine. Most of us here are younger, and hence the larger "fuck you" numbers.

I also believe that you are stupid if you think that you will definitely die at eighty. What if you live to 95? Do you think that those 15 years will pass quickly? Think again. We are again back to my swan dive prediction.

Most of us here know your lifestyle quite well. Yes, the third / second world girls are fun. Big deal. What matters is if she will be there when you have no money and are a lot older. Do you think she'll be there? Maybe, maybe not.

I really am glad that you are happy. Don;t think that any of us are unfamiliar with your lifestyle choice of philosophy. What this conversation is is a harder look into the numbers for those of us around or below forty years old.

Anonymous said...

" We are again back to my swan dive prediction". Predicting one's demise - perhaps the ultimate arrogance? Enough said.

Anonymous said...

Right. I'm arrogant for being realistic. And what does that even mean "predicting one's demise - the ultimate arrogance". What a meaningless desperate statement to have the last word. Fine. You won't do a swan dive. Feel better? Everything is buttercups and lollipops now. My god.

You said yourself that you expected to die at eighty. I'm just predicting that being destitute, with no options, is a higher probability occurrence then death at the perfect age that you wish for it. But I'm arrogant. An likely unrealistic according your rationalization hamster. Its okay buddy, I'm sorry that I hurt your feelings. Your going to live a life of twenty something girls and die at the stroke of midnight on your eightieth birthday, all a result of your perfect planning and idealism that applies to everyone, no matter their age.

"enough said" you sound like a petulant teenager who is throwing barbs at his parents, despite their well thought out logic. M'kay, my friend. Enjoy yourself. I do mean that, sincerely.

And you were a rude prick with your first comment. Lets not forget that.

Anonymous said...

And just to be clear, I don't hope that anyone does a swan dive, nor do I predict that in your specific situation. I was talking about the existence of that situation for a percentage of people that choose to cut anchor and make a go of it on foreign lands int their old age, thinking that the money they have is enough or counting on cash flow that eventually dries up. And the "swan dive" expression represents any number of ways that an older person could attempt to exit-stage-right due to lack of resources or even familial love and care. A lot of the connection foreigners think that thye feel with people of foreign cultures is borne out of temporary status or money, and it takes many people a long time to realize that such a connection is illusory and that they have no-one that is truly loyal to them or who cares about them in their new homeland. It becomes more apparent as they either get older, run low on money, or otherwise try and integrate into a family in their younger years. Culture is everything, and expats don't share it with the natives in any meaningfully deep way.

English Teacher X said...

Gosh, we are all getting old, aren't we? Talking about money and death and investing and shit. . . .

Anonymous said...

"Culture is everything, and expats don't share it with the natives in any meaningfully deep way". Agreed, time to lighten the vibe. Well done - the sexual innuendo here is priceless.

Anonymous said...

Really delightful informative comments.
"A decent investor ought to be able to 15%+ out of an equities-based account" made me laugh out loud. In the end, folks, we're all just nigger rich. I applaud X for his efforts, he's just trying to make sure he builds enough of a cushion against the future, but these days, there's not one.
There's no such thing as "fuck you money". We live in dark times on the edge of financial chaos and everything could be turned on its head tomorrow--I think it will be especially hard on the smug relying on their "15% equities accounts" when all that shit goes straight to hell.
No investment going could have matched sinking everything in gold at its low a few short years ago, and how many of you did that?
All investment is a crap shoot unless you're psychic. As it's been since time immemorial, the lucky will prosper, the wise might break even, and the rest of us will have to hope it doesn't involve swan-dives or cannibalism.

I'm by no means religious nor a Christian, but the words of Matthew, I think, are a nice counterpoint to all this hectic blather about the nature of financial security:
"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
Therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

English Teacher X said...

Oh, I'm hedging my bets -- as I said, last summer, I took a class in defensive use of a handgun (i.e. how to shoot a human) and also another class about edible plants and outdoor survival; I'll be out there eating dandelions and drinking condensation from plastic bags, with my handgun at the ready to shoot cannibalistic scavengers.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how the comments/vitriol flow when the topics are money, death, religion, pricks, etc. Never this many comments when X sticks to sex, booze and Russian girls - all of which I find vastly more entertaining.

BTW X, I just returned from Chisinau. Felt like Russia cerca '95. Nice apartment for Euro 200 and a good bottle of vino tinto for Euro 3. Mostly ethnic Romanian - very nice people. I like the place.

Anonymous said...

yeah i was going to say the same thing. I haven't seen this many comments on X's site since some post about the morality of prostitution (or something).

I also second the return to sex, booze, and russian girls.

English Teacher X said...

I think there are only 3 times I've had more than 20 comments -- this one, the post about why I didn't want to open a language school, and that post where the Russian girls tried to defend Russian girls.

Eve said...

I've been reading through the comments. It seems to me that people are mainly split into four groups.

Group 1 believes that you need a TON of money (10 million?) to say "fuck you."

Group 2 believes that figure to be slightly lower but still in the millions.

Group 3 believes Groups 1 and 2 to be morons, because you really only need a few bucks to get the hell out of Dodge. Those are the young'uns.

Group 4 thinks EVERYONE is a moron because he's living in some shack in some godforsaken country with no electricity with some wife he bought at the local bar for a few bucks, and he's laughing at Groups 1, 2 and 3 for being sheep who care about such things as electricity, running water and health care.

English Teacher X said...

Simplify your needs and you're always happy, it's true enough. . .

Anonymous said...

How about Group #5.....

http://www.tosimplify.net/

Tefl Secretagent said...

Well, just to add my point, $1,000 would get you around 3,000pln and if you live outside the city and maybe commute 30mins or so to work you could live comfortably - ok, you'd be living outside the city but it would still be relatively close - just means when you go out, you need to stay out all night!

and if you took that money to Ukraine and put yourself in a similar situation and live outside the city - you'd be the fucking rich kid on the block. I went to Ukraine during the summer and set myself up on around $300 - ok, I had more in reserve but I did it on $300 nevertheless.

heartyou said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Translate from Spanish to English said...

dude 1000 dollars a month?
lets see, I am here on the philippines (you can also clarify this with Joseph Archibald), 1000 bucks here is A LOT of money!
1 buck is around 43-45 pesos here. a family that spends TOO MUCH electricity here in a good-sized home would pay around 2000 pesos a month.
a kilo of rice with high quality would cost around 38 pesos. a thousand dollars a month? Hell yeah, SO ENOUGH and I bet in other places as well