Abraham Lincoln once said: “You can never please all of the people all of the time, but you can get a few clicks from a solid Tweet.” The Vigilante has taken the President’s advice to heart. I’ve recognized that my posts aren’t for everyone. Some don’t need to hear my message, some don’t like what I have to say, and some have heard it said better before.1 So like Abe, I post my proclamations not to please everyone, but to help that certain someone from Twitter who needs it.
But I’ve also taken heed of a personal tip from a fellow FIRE aficionado whom I respect, who privately told me (in a friendly conversation offering critiques to one another) that my posts might be a bit on the tough-to-swallow side. A bit too aggressive, angry-sounding…or selfish. I mean, it’s right there in the tagline: unapologetic selfishness. Horrifying!
It’s a bit unusual, sure. Most financial independence bloggers fit a certain mold. They’re very active people. They’re aware of their mortality,2 interested in efficiency so that they can use their limited time to experience as much life as possible, and they are excessively friendly, talkative, and generous with information, assistance to others, and – perhaps counter-intuitively – even their money.
Yet I, Vigilante comes off as, well…less than charitable. To the point that I’ve not once suggested giving anyone anything without getting something back in return. I’ve basically sold myself as the real-life Wilson Fisk, always asking “What’s in it for me?”
This is intentional. In real life, I’m no exception to the typical FIRE blogger mold. (Except maybe the six-figure debt.) But I, Vigilante exists to express a different view on life, FIRE, and being the hero you need in the world.
I’m here to help you be selfish.
People like to help other people. We’re wired for it.3 But knowing how good it feels to help others can encourage bouts of investor’s guilt as you selfishly hoard your money or live free of work, because perhaps you feel as though there’s more “good” you could be doing in the world. By working, by giving, or by giving work.
So, a lot of FIRE bloggers talk about how to help your money make an impact.4 They might talk about green investments, giving to charity, or cycling their way to universal health, happiness, and longevity. Which is fine – a lot of people need to know that feeding their drive to help their favorite cause is compatible with FIRE.
But today I’ll make a promise. Nay, I will take an oath. The Oath of the Antihero. I recognize it is one which no one actually gives a shit about, and it’s one which I have no intention of making any effort to actually keep – but it is an Oath that I solemnly take anyway for dramatic effect: I will never write a post about how best to give away your money. Ever. For any wonderful, life-saving, world-changing cause. Because you don’t have to.
Charity is great. If you’re so inclined, give often and give plenty! Personally, I’ve donated hardly any money to any cause – primarily because, until very recently, I’ve never really had any money to give – but that may change in the future. I have extensive experience donating time for charitable purposes, including what amounted to pretty much a full-time job during my senior year of college. But no amount of canvassing, flyer-distributing, or soup-kitchening will help you or anyone else achieve any form of financial freedom. And financial freedom – the freedom to selfishly spend your time as you see fit – is what this blog is all about.
I’m not here to blog about giving your money away. Or your time. I’m here to blog about what financial independence does to help you. Selfishly.5 To blog about what you can gain from doing something that is good for you…and might tangentially be good for those less fortunate than you, as well. Or what might be good for the environment based on your reduced consumption. Or good for whatever other cause you may decide to dedicate yourself when you have the time to afford the cause the fucks it deserves rather than just throwing a few bucks or angry Facebook posts out into the world.
Ultimately, before you can take care of someone else, you have to be able to take care of you. And there’s no reason to feel uncomfortable about that!
- Well, they think so. But they also have poor – and treasonous – taste.
- Valuing time as the most scarce and most important resource!
- Good video, although these guys misrepresent the idea of natural selection a bit in the first 20 seconds or so by summarizing it as “every man for himself” instead of recognizing that, perhaps, it may be best for an individual to be cooperative with others as these same guys explain with bats in this equally awesome video.
- I’m assuming they have the understanding that this is in addition to the incredible impact that your spending and investment in a capitalist economy already makes – giving others jobs to put food on their table and work their way toward FIRE too!
- Defined in the Hero’s Glossary as follows: Concern with one’s own rational self-interest. Necessitates consideration of both short- and long-term costs and benefits of any decision, notably including the negative impact of the decision on other people/things that are valued more highly than the potential benefit. Distinction: Selfishness is not: “I’ll get what I want, and fuck everybody else!” It is: “I will work hard to get what I want, and I will not feel guilty for obtaining it.”