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What caught my eye this week.

The FIRE1 gospel has probably spread so widely because people can quickly grasp the point of Retiring Early, even if they struggle with the airier notion of Financial Independence.

Wrap-up it up in a catchy acronym like FIRE and boom! A meme was born.

Just compare FIRE to a standard DCMPA strategy – that’s Defined Contribution to Minimum Pension Age, and no, nobody ever typed that before – and it’s plain to see why FIRE is massive on TikTok, while sorting out your DCMPA paperwork is at the bottom of most people’s To Do list.

Yet I’ve been reluctant to subscribe to the FIRE terminology myself. Partly that’s due to my inherent hipster snootiness, but it’s also because being Financially Independent was what got my imagination going, and that always seemed second fiddle in the FIRE sales pitch.

For whatever reason, thoughts of a bucolic early retirement just aren’t as inspiring to me as staying economically active but with a F-U fund / Death Star in my back pocket.

I’ve tried the term Financial Freedom, but that phrase always seems to come with connotations. Maybe it sounds vaguely hippie-ish?

Also, if what exactly qualifies for Early Retirement is a can of worms for pedants to kick about, then Financial Freedom is a mass of fish in a barrel to shoot.

How free is financially free? Free to get a bus when and where you’d like to? An Uber X? Free to catch your own private jet?

Debating an early retiree with a side hustle is child’s play by comparison.

Time Bandits

I’ve now learned of another term for the ‘economically purposeful semi-loafing but with a healthy bank balance’ lifestyle I aspire to.

Apparently, we such souls are time millionaires.

According to The Guardian this week:

First named by the writer Nilanjana Roy in a 2016 column in the Financial Times, time millionaires measure their worth not in terms of financial capital, but according to the seconds, minutes and hours they claw back from employment for leisure and recreation.

“Wealth can bring comfort and security in its wake,” says Roy. “But I wish we were taught to place as high a value on our time as we do on our bank accounts – because how you spend your hours and your days is how you spend your life.”

A quick skim reveals the term ‘time millionaire’ to be irrigorously defined, of course. But I can definitely get behind the notion.

I’ve always valued my time (especially the ability to do nothing ‘productive’ whenever I want) much more highly than putting extra money in the bank, after a certain point anyway.

At my best as a freelancer I was a samurai-level time-manager – not in order to squeeze more work in, but to squeeze more work time out.

When friends ask why I quit my own corner of the rat race, it’s hard to explain that the ability to wander into the British Museum on a Tuesday afternoon – or just to Waitrose for one of its ropey free coffees, in pre-pandemic days, whenever I wanted – inspires me at least as much as writing a novel or doing a startup.

In fact even when I was employed I’d make a point of taking the whole hour for lunch, wherever I worked. Nobody else did – not consistently.

Their loss!

Even worse, many co-workers put in long hours. And it’s especially silly strategy to throw 12 or more hours to work every day. Studies show that working more than 55 hours or thereabouts makes you less productive. The extra effort is pointless.

Besides, even if you do manage to squeeze out some useful effort, Parkinson’s Law will get you in the end.

The living is easy

I doubt the Time Millionaire lingo will catch on. But I am on-board with the idea and my money is where my mouth is.

Or rather, the money I haven’t got because I wasn’t working is!

(Okay, that’s a moutful – or is it literally not? Hey, we’re talking time ‘millionaires’ so we’re already far off the reservation.)

Regular readers with great memories might recall I quit my main work contract a year ago. I’d planned to put many more hours into growing Monevator, as well as a variety of other nascent projects.

But 12 months in and that hasn’t really happened. Not yet, anyway.

There are some good personal excuses for this, which we won’t go into today.

Not least because I can’t help thinking it’s mostly that I’ve been busy doing nothing (much).

Thank goodness they don’t tax free time!

What do you think? Would you rather be a money millionaire or a time millionaire? Can these two systems be fused with a Grand Theory of Everything Financial? Or does the FIRE lingo already do that?

Let us know in the comments below. And have a great weekend.

From Monevator

Savings rate to the rescue – Monevator

Portfolio (basket) case study – Monevator

From the archive-ator: Are ordinary investors missing out on venture capital returns? – Monevator

News

Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view you can click to read the piece without being a paid subscriber. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing if you read them a lot!2

Tax officials tighten their grip on crypto [Search result]FT

Britain’s homes could be worth £1.2 trillion on open market – Guardian

Pension savers face risk of higher fees as Sunak seeks billions for ‘leveling up’ [Search result]FT

Homeowner gets £101,000 bill to fix cladding on £180,000 flat – ThisIsMoney

Bitcoin mining has vanished from China – Wired

Britons are pension potty [PDF]The Great British Retirement Survey

Supply chain pain mini-special

Pump prices for petrol and diesel are near a record high – BBC

Price of chicken set to rise, Britain’s largest supplier warns – BBC

Shortage nation: why the UK is set for a grim Christmas [Search result]FT

Products and services

Natwest and First Direct offer new switching bonuses worth up to £150 – Which

Food boxes that give you more nosh for your dosh – ThisIsMoney

Sign-up to Freetrade via my link and we can both get a free share worth between £3 and £200 – Freetrade

QPR’s CEO talks up club’s new 5%-paying mini-bond – ThisIsMoney

How to cut the cost of electric car ownership – Guardian

Would you pay 20p to read an article rather than take out a subscription? – ThisIsMoney

A deep dive into the proliferation of ‘buy now pay later’ schemes – Which

Homes for Strictly Come Dancing fans, in pictures – Guardian

Comment and opinion

What it really costs – Humble Dollar

Second homes: folly or fantasy? – Fire V London

The relationship between money and marriage – Incognito Money Scribe

How much should early retirement cost? – I Retired Young

Time horizon is everything for investors – A Wealth of Common Sense

Sunak on tenterhooks over a rise in borrowing costs – David Smith

When do you finally feel rich? – Financial Samurai

How the money game changes over time – Banker on Fire

Investment vehicles evolve to manage risk – Canvas

Naughty corner: Active antics

Larry Swedroe: Value stocks remain cheap compared to growth – TEBI

Making the investment case for Hotel Chocolat – Interactive Investor

This is what it sounds like, when funds die – bps and pieces

Covid corner

Is the ‘worst cold ever’ going around in the wake of Covid? – BBC

Success of mRNA Covid vaccines opens way to new drugs [Search result]FT

Kindle book bargains

Quit like a Millionaire by Kirsty Shen and Bryce Leung – £0.99 on Kindle

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder – £3.89 on Kindle

Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull – £1.99 on Kindle

My Garden World by Monty Don – £0.99 on Kindle

Environmental factors

Your new beachfront property – Klement on Investing

Giant turbines are pushing the limits of possibility – BBC

Why so many of us are casual spider murderers – BBC

Thames Water sewage data show hundreds of illegal spills [Search result]FT

Off our beat

The problem with the semi-rich 9.9% – Vox

What’s the point of 15-minute grocery delivery? – Vice

How London became a global centre for Fintech – Time

A.I. and maths to play bigger role in global diplomacy – Guardian

And finally…

“The beauty of empathy is that it doesn’t demand that you agree with the other person’s ideas.”
Chris Voss, Never Split the Difference

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  1. Financial Independence Retire Early.
  2. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”.

The post Weekend reading: Who wants to be a time millionaire? appeared first on Monevator.

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