“Did you happen to see the story about f— off funds?” I casually asked Peach a few weeks ago while we were walking Mosby (and yes, I said the actual word).
“Um, no I don’t think so,” he responded. “What was it about?”
While tending to Mosby’s bodily functions, I explained to Peach the general premise behind Paulette Perhach’s choose-your-own-adventure style article about the importance of having an emergency fund. Or, as Ms. Perhach calls it, a F&@k Off Fund to walk away from an uncomfortable, inappropriate, abusive or harassing situation.
“Do you have one?” Peach asked.
I smirked before telling him the truth behind my savings strategy.
“My entire life has been about saving a f— off fund.”
Age 8: The Red Mitsubishi Eclipse
Standing on a car dealer’s lot in the warmth of a North Carolina spring day, I first saw her: a red Mitsubishi Eclipse. I thought that car was beautiful. I was also eight.
My parents were talking to a car salesman about buying a new family car while I walked around the Eclipse and found the price tag in the window. My memory of this event nearly 20 years ago could be drastically misinformed, but I recall the sticker reading $16,000.
Even as an eight-year-old, I already understood my parents did not believe in hand outs. If I wanted this car, it would have to be purchased with my own hard-earned dollars.
So, I began my first version of a F— Off Fund.
Certainly not in the way Ms. Perhach meant, but in my eight-year-old mind I remember thinking, “Mom and Dad won’t buy this for me, so I’m going to have to do it myself!”
This led to me taking every available job for an eight-year-old girl: friendship bracelet making, selling lemonade and petsitting the neighbor’s evil cat.
I tucked my money away in a candy tin and kept a ledger of my deposits with a picture of a car drawn at the top. Then I shoved the tin in the back of my closet, just waiting for the day I could drive off a car lot in that fancy Eclipse.
Because I know you’re dying to know, my first car was actually a Toyota Rav4.
Age 18: Ready to Ditch College and Move to New York City
Okay, that header is a bit misleading. I never planned to leave college before graduating, but I was ready to leave my small-town campus almost as soon as I arrived.
Without getting overly involved in my complicated history with my alma mater, I ended up picking my college based on scholarship money so I could graduate debt free (my parents did generously pay the difference). The school was just not the first pick in the draft, if you know what I mean.
I was also a teenager and incredibly bratty about not getting my way (aka having my parents pay full price for whichever college I wanted).
Always a future-oriented person, I began to fixate on moving to New York City after college. In order to accomplish this without parental welfare, I set the goal of saving $10,000 before graduation.
Thanks to teenagers years spent living overseas unable to get a job due to visa restrictions, I opted for the much beloved (yes, sarcasm), but no work history needed option of being a resident assistant.
This position paid in one of two ways:
- You put your $6,000 a year towards your tuition.
- You put three installments of $1,000 per semester in your bank account.
With tuition covered, I checked the box for option two.
Fueled by the low-boiling resentment in my gut, I spent sophomore year through senior year of college tucking $500 of each RA paycheck into savings.
The remainder subsidized car-related expenses and general lifestyle costs.
I also picked up two additional campus jobs my senior year, which easily topped off my second version of a F— Off Fund.
Fun Fact: I even started stocking up on hotel toiletries when I could, because apparently I had a Doomsday Prepper mentality about being able to wash my hair post-moving to NYC.
On June 12, 2011, three weeks after college graduation, I arrived in New York City with two duffel bags and a healthy savings account.
Age 22: A Creepy Dad Mildly Sexually Harasses Me
Once in New York City, I decided I didn’t want to touch my $10,000 savings and instead decided to work like a crazy person to keep building my net worth.
I moved to New York to work as a page for The Late Show with David Letterman, a fun job, but not one that paid particularly well. Determined to show my parents they raised me well by not asking them for financial support, I dove headfirst into finding other sources of income.
Like the twenty-something, suburban bred, white girls before me – I decided to be a babysitter to the over-privileged youth of Manhattan.
I also snagged an exhausting job at Starbucks.
A three-job work schedule exhausted me, even with the energy of a 22-year-old fresh to the Big Apple, but it felt so good to stand on my own two feet and continue building my savings. Tips from Starbucks, unexpected cab fare from babysitting and a portion from each Letterman check got dumped into savings (or literally stuffed into an envelope).
A year passed and my tenure at Letterman only had a few weeks remaining, so I scrambled to find another source of primary income.
Feeling comforted by my nest egg and several babysitting gigs (I’d left Starbucks after acquiring enough babysitting jobs to more than make up the difference) – I liked having the luxury of being selective with my next job.
Then, one fateful night put my most lucrative babysitting gig on the line.
In a movie-level cliché, the drunken Manhattan dad stumbles into the apartment (wife still gone) and proceeds to first tell the 20-something babysitter that she should leave her boyfriend, and then confesses that he routinely has affairs and even occasionally visits prostitutes.
Horrified, I left the apartment and texted the wife the next morning that I had found a full-time job and could no longer balance babysitting in my schedule. A lie, but I had enough money to cut both that babysitting gig and lecherous man out of my life. His wife must have told him about my quitting, because later that day he called me (we’d only interacted via text when he’d let me know what time to expect them back home or asking if I could stay later). I sent the call to voicemail and never spoke with the family again.
This is my truest version of a F— Off Fund, because much like Perhach’s character, I found myself in an extremely uncomfortable position but fortunately had enough saved to say, “Fuck off, I’m gone.”
Age 26: Always Prepared
Today, my F— Off Fund is not a specifically defined goal, but a series of savings accounts, automated and manual habits as well as investments that continue to build my wealth each month.
Nearly 20 years of aggressive savings habits as well as some basic investing has left me in a comfortable enough position to never feel chained to a specific job, employer or person. The constant side hustling also helps me feel that I’ve somewhat recession proofed my life with multiple streams of income.
I’m not on the early retirement track (deliberately), but I am working towards financial freedom simply by virtue of wanting my entire savings to be an F-Off Fund and allow me to never be forced into an uncomfortable situation due to financial constraints.
A final, but important note: The Intersection of Privilege and Savings
I recognize that I’ve been able to build my F— Off Fund thanks to many privileges. Those privileges include financially literate parents who taught me about money at an early age. A financially secure household that enabled me to completely focus on being a child, never fear money, and ultimately grow into a woman able to avoid debt while building a positive net worth and a healthy relationship with finances.
Image from Unsplash
35 responses to “The Evolution of a F@*k Off Fund”
I have the exact same mindset about my F*ck Off Fund. I started saving as soon I landed by first restaurant job at 14. And my entire life has included a series of side hustles to keep it properly funded. Sorry you had to deal with that creepy dad. But it’s a perfect example of why a F*ck Off Fund is essential.
I love that we’re on the same page about saving.
Funnily enough, I’d kind of blocked the creepy dad memory until this discussion of a F@*k fund went viral. At first I thanked my lucky stars I’d never been in the position, until I realized, wait — I sort of have.
Ha, I never had one of those. Then again, by the time I got out of college, I was quickly realizing I couldn’t work a “real” job. So I didn’t get to grow savings like I would’ve wanted.
But hey, everything turned out okay in the end. And now we can say f— off to the last of Tim’s dental issues. Started when he had to get dentures at age 29. Ending at age 37 with him getting dental implants this year.
So that sorta counts.
I think that 100% counts. To me these funds are about anything in life that you want to flip the bird to and get off your plate!
Loved reading your story! As someone also very future oriented and internally motivated, this so resonated! Money = options and always has for me.
PS – I’m glad you saw fit to acknowledge the privileges you had!
Thank you! I’m glad a fellow future-oriented person sees where I’m coming from.
RE: Privilege – I actually originally planned a whole post around privilege and saving, but I might save it for another day. I’m still trying to sort out my own thoughts around the issue (other than the simple fact it very much exists).
I’m so amazed at how you dealt with the baby-sitting situation. When I saw “texted the wife” I was thinking “Oh no, she told the wife the truth.” You handled it very maturely. I’m not sure I would have done so well. Congratulations for building the F-off fund and continuing to build wealth.
Thanks very much. I certainly didn’t feel it was my place to out the husband in that manner, but I also am quite certain she knew about his infidelity. Their marriage was incredibly rocky (it was a rather toxic home environment). She was an accomplished woman in her field, and I always sensed it bothered him that she wasn’t more of a stay-at-home mother and wife.
“My entire life has been about saving an F-off fund.”
After all, the accumulation of money and/or stuff means nothing if you can’t use it to give you freedom in an emergency…
I’m sorry to hear that you had to deal with a situation like the babysitting one above–but kudos to you for saving up the money to leave it behind, and for dealing with it in a mature manner! Keep up the great work 🙂
“After all, the accumulation of money and/or stuff means nothing if you can’t use it to give you freedom in an emergency…” – GREAT, way to put it. Makes you really think about every purchase you make.
I am glad that my mother is financially responsible and taught us to become a saver. Now that I have a family of my own. It is better to adjust and to manage money.
It’s great to have strong role models when you’re young.
My whole life has been about building a f*** off fund too! That’s true freedom. You don’t have to do anything or take anything from anybody. You know that you have the resources to tell someone to go screw themselves. This is where passive income comes in handy 🙂
It sure is! Glad you share the same sentiment.
Love this! I’ve never really had to say “F–k off” but when you have money saved up it’s nice to know that you can if you need to.
I truly see it the same as emergency savings, this just has a more fun ring to it! 😛
This set of experiences I am sure has taught you something. You gotta have a plan A, B, and C to be successful at this.
I love having all sorts of contingency plans! It probably makes me a little too type-A…
I loved that original article so much! And that’s awesome you have been building that fund and it’s gotten you out of some jams (like the husband-man that was a cliche move!). I SHOULD have been building a f*ck off fund when I started freelancing because I stayed with a client the WHOLE time I was freelancing and he was a huge bully. But I put up with it because he gave me 99% of my work, so financially I needed the money. Some day I’ll talk about it on my blog, but right now it would be burning a huge bridge. But I’m so glad I got my full time job and since day one on that job I’ve been building that fund, even though I like where I’m at. You never know….
I really look forward to hearing that story! Glad you’ll be able to cut the cord with the bully. And build that fund! The best time to be building is when everything is peachy.
I loved this article as I have been saving since my first job too. I appreciate your humor and ability to keep personal finance fun.
High praise! Thanks for stopping by, Alexa and I hope you keep on reading.
As a huge fan of the word f@*k and someone who is trying very late in the game to get my s#!t together – I just wanted to say that this was awesome and I really enjoyed reading this!
Thanks so much!
Okay, this may sound insane but this post was seriously inspiring to me. I have never been great at saving (although recently this has changed). I am just now learning how important it is and I am willing to work hard to maintain the stride I have going on currently. The babysitting story was horrifying to me, but I have experienced that in a past career. In which, I obviously quit within a month. The only difference was that I had no f*ck off fund, and mass amounts of debt. I wish I knew about all of this stuff sooner. Never again! Thanks for sharing.
You’re making me blush 🙂 I’m glad you’re motivated to keep saving and always have that f–off fund now, but I’m sorry you too experienced something icky that motivated you to get there.
A good post. It shows how early habits can have a big impact on your later life. I hope my kids will get some of that as well.
I hope that my financial knowledge can be transferred to them.
Being raised by financially fit parents drastically impact the way I relate to money (in a positive way). I’m sure your habits will be passed down to your children!
I’ve had a healthy FU fund for about 5 years now, and it’s the best feeling! I only wish I had started saving a lot earlier.
I really enjoyed this article!
Thanks, Linda! I’m glad to hear you too relish in the freedom of a healthy FU fund. Keep on saving.
I am interested to hear your thoughts on early retirement because you said you are not on it deliberately.
That’s pretty much a full post that has yet to be written. I guess you can boil it down to the fact that I enjoy a slightly more luxe lifestyle than some of my more frugal early retirement counterparts. I’m not interested in raising a family on $40,000 or less a year or moving to a small town with a low cost of living — at this point. All that may change later in life. But as a 26-year-old, single woman with no kids living in New York City, it just isn’t appealing. That all being said, I do save a significant chunk of my income and I’m not a lavish spender or consumer, so I can see myself on a bit of an accidental journey towards early retirement when I wake up one morning and realize I don’t really have to work any jobs I don’t want to anymore. One day there will be a post fleshing out all my feelings on the topic!
Great post. Love the idea of a F@*k Off Fund. It just goes to show that money is a great tool that can be used to give you options. So whilst money is not life, it definitely is freedom!