There’s an irresistible allure to the concept of fuck-you money: Being able to tell anyone off for any reason without risking your livelihood. What’s not to love about such audacious freedom?
But is this actually happening? Who are all these newly-minted millionaires that suddenly start telling people to go fuck themselves? I don’t recall many notable examples. If anything, it’s the opposite.
Shortly after that glorious fuck-you check clears, they’re off to the next thing. With new venture capital chains. Yanked about by a new board. Shackled to a new set of hockey-stick growth expectations. You do what you know.
So the fuck-you money dream doesn’t so much seem like a goal as a perpetual fantasy. And excuse for why now isn’t the time to rock the boat, bolstered by the illusion that some day you will. Yeah right.
If you look beyond a specific amount, fuck-you money can be a state of mind. One that you can acquire well in advance of the corresponding bank account. One that’s founded mostly on a personal confidence that even if most of the material trappings went away, you’d still be happier for standing your ground.
Yes, talk about privilege. There are certainly many people who choose to bow their head not for their own sake, but for the sake of those that depend on them. That’s a noble retreat.
But there are surely also plenty of people who are privileged enough that taking a risk isn’t going to lead to a destitute situation. That cling to a fear of going out on the limb but fancy themselves the kind of people who would with fuck-you money. That’s who I’m talking to here.
The irony is that, in many situations, having a fuck-you money attitude is exactly the path that leads you there.