Humphrey Bogart always kept a $100 bill in his dresser drawer. It meant that no matter the circumstances, he could decline a bad acting job. Having that money set aside was the difference between taking any job he was offered out of desperation, versus only accepting roles that were important to him.
Apparently, Mr Bogart said: “The only point in making money is so that you can tell some big shot where to go.”
Over the last few years, money used to escape bad situations has been nicknamed ‘F*** You Money’, although it’s certainly not a new concept.
So how can you use the concept of FU money to your clients’ advantage?
FU money is about freedom
People used to dream of climbing up the socioeconomic ladder to a comfortable middle-class life. They’d have a business built from scratch, a house in the country, a two-car garage and a couple of holidays each year.
While many do still want such a life for themselves, others will want a different type of freedom. Especially when the concept of ‘retirement’ no longer registers with them.
They want to be so financially secure they can choose when to work, where to work and with whom. Without worrying about such decisions will have on their lifestyle.
And if we analyse the FIRE movement (Financial Independent Retire Early), at its heart is the desire to have agency over one's time. Can you take a nap in the afternoon at work?
I’m not encouraging swearing at people, of course
But there is something inspiring about having the financial backing to do something more dramatic than secure a comfortable retirement and, instead, to take control of the present. It may even be a way to appeal to a generation for whom retirement is either too far away for it to be an incentive to plan, or as alien a concept as smoking indoors.
If we’re going to try to reposition financial planning as something that’s as relevant today as it is when and if you hang your briefcase up for the last time, then it needs to be reframed.
This is a way to bring it into the here and now.
Working out what that FU fund is for focuses the mind
For those who have trouble pinpointing what they really want from life, the concept of the FU fund can get them thinking. Being able to reject things that don’t actually feel of real benefit could apply to any number of opportunities that are actually more trouble than they’re worth.
For example, being offered a promotion that’s more stress than the pay rise. It might be flattering to be given the opportunity, but, with FU money, your client has the ability to really analyse what they feel about the decision.
Business owners might find themselves taking on clients or projects they don’t really want. Initially, they might brush their concerns aside and pretend it’s a good idea, only to later resent every second they spend working on it.
We’ve already seen how the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for those who have seen their old routines differently and have gained a new desire to throw in the towel as a result.
By following in Bogart’s footsteps, they can fill their life with things they love rather than with things they feel obliged to do.
Do they want to retire early or fund a sabbatical? Do they want a year to focus on nothing but growing a new business? Maybe they want to help loved ones in a tough situation. In this case, perhaps instead of telling a loved one to eff off, they’re sticking a middle finger up at their debt.
Identifying what the fund is for will give them the motivation to work towards their goal while also putting them in a better position to work out how much they need.
We know that financial planning has the ability to change lives, but it’s hard to convince clients of just how dramatic that can be (until they’ve been through it).
But the concept of FU money suddenly seems more believable. Even if your client is too polite and struggling to think of a situation they’d say FU to, I bet there are plenty of people they’d like to say ‘no thanks’ to. I say it all the time.