Don’t Make a Pest of Yourself

Discovering the concepts of financial independence and early retirement can be life changing. You hear the heavenly host, the clouds part and you are bathed in the light. One moment you are an ordinary Jane, doomed to drudgery for decades on end, the next you are a devout FIREee, and well on your way to becoming an early retiree.

As a new FIREee you can barely contain your enthusiasm. Sliced bread has nothing on FIRE! You want to sing it from the rooftops, you want to preach it, you want to teach it. You want to leap upon your soapbox and spread the word. You want to go tell it on the mountain. You have built a temple for the Great God Compounding and as His high priest it is your bounden duty to deliver lost souls unto Him.

 

Stop. Right. Now.

There are very few things on this green Earth as annoying as a fresh convert. So before you run off to round up unsuspecting virgins for the sacrifice, may I suggest you read the rest of this post and consider your options?

 

Would You Enjoy Being as Popular as the Plague?

 

If you become the person who, at the drop of a hat, drones on about expense ratios, compounding, index funds and the Trinity Study, folks are going to start holding onto their hats around you like their lives depend on it.

 

Don’t become That Person. You know, the one who monopolizes the conversation and goes on and on about something that nobody else gives a flying fuck about. If you notice peoples’ eyes starting to glaze over or people starting to sidle away from you, it might be worth your while to pause, take a deep breath and STFU for just a little bit.

 

Your Crusade Will Cost You

 

There are outcomes worse than being labeled a bore.

Preaching the gospel of FIRE could make your audience feel defensive. They may lash out at you and that is not going to be much fun. Folks might be jealous of your Stash. The green-eyed monster isn’t fun to grapple with.

Folks with fewer scruples than money may not hesitate to ask for a handout.

Any which way you slice it, you only stand to lose.

 

You Can Lead A Horse To Water

 

Akin to the proverbial horse with a stubborn streak a mile wide, you can lead a person to index funds but you can’t make them invest.

While I often find myself wishing that I had started saving and investing earlier in my life, the truth is, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to take an interest in my finances. I even had a friend give me a simple book on investing to read, and all it did was gather dust on my bookshelf for years. I came around when I was good and ready, and until that time any lessons that came my way fell upon deaf ears.

 

If your audience isn’t ready to hear your message you aren’t going to have much success attempting to force feed it to them.

 

You Need An Outlet

You are excited beyond belief. I get it. I was there. You need some way to blow off some FIRE steam. Luckily, there are some options that don’t involve making a pest of yourself.

 

I dealt with it by talking the ear off the one person who has sworn to love and honor me even if I bore him nearly to tears.

I also started this blog, and now I have this little piece of internet of which I am the benevolent dictator and I can drone on about FIRE for as long as I like.

Another great option are forums like reddit.com/r/financialindependence, or the Rockstar Finance forums, or the Mr. Money Mustache forums: all gathering places for folks who can’t wait to talk about FIRE all day long.

 

If your spouse threatens to hit you over the head with a rolling pin or your virtual friends don’t quite scratch your FIRE itch, don’t despair. There are meetups galore where you can hobnob with FIRE-minded strangers and hope that they don’t turn out to be hatchet wielding serial killers. Local meetups are organized on the Money Mustache forums, there are the more formally organized Camp Mustache events, and the positively fancy Chautauquas.

 

I recently attended one such real life event: Fincon ‘17 in Dallas. I stayed up way past my bedtime every day, drank until my liver screamed uncle, and revelled in talking about all things FIRE for four glorious days. I got to hang out with bloggers who have supported me since the start of my blogging journey (like Miss Mazuma, Vicki from Make Smarter Decisions, Mr. SSC and Mr. PIE) – these are the folks who left me some of my earliest comments and convinced me that I was not in fact shouting into the void. I got to meet with some of the stars of FIRE blogging firmament. I stole slices of pizza from the ever gracious J$ at 2 in the morning when food was scarce and morals were shaky.

Fincon ‘17 was as surreal as Tasset’s 30 ft eyeball in Downtown Dallas

It was four surreal days where my virtual life and real life swapped places, and ever so briefly the definition of what was normal and ordinary changed. For example, I messaged Mr. BITA in a tizzy of excitement after I first got to talk to Carl from 1500 days.

Me: “Blah, blah blah…..and then he took a picture of my conference badge flanked by his dinosaurs”.
Mr. BITA (who reads no FIRE blogs but mine, understandably worried that I am stroking out): “His…..dinosaurs?”

 

Fincon ‘17 acted as a fine pressure valve. Real life has resumed, but I can sail through my days in no danger of making a perfect pest of myself.

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18 thoughts on “Don’t Make a Pest of Yourself”

  1. It was SO much fun meeting you! (And you are still the Plutus winner in our books!) Hanging around for four days with people who seem like old friends was such a cool experience. If we go, we’ll have a car next year – and we’ll pick you up at the airport 😉 Hope your liver is recovering!

    1. I enjoyed meeting both of you too. Thank you again for the ride from the airport, and I hope your next experience with Lyft/Uber is far more pleasant. Also thank you for inviting me to the lounge, that was a most pleasant way to wait for the party to begin. I am pleased to report that my liver has stopped sulking.

  2. I definitely got those glazed looks back in the day. Like you, I didn’t heed the calls soon enough either because I wasn’t ready to hear it. I mean sure, I contributed ~12% of my $45k to a 401k before I got into my oil career, but that was promptly cashed out as soon as I went back to grad school.

    I ahve learned the balance around my office of talking FI and investing with keeping it relatable. When I see eyes start glazing I switch subjects or pull it back in to something they’re interested about, because I do have a tendency to get off topic sometimes… Just because some people may not ever be interested (my mentee for example) doesn’t mean i won’t keep trying. Maybe it willl be that day she/he is ready to listen. You never know.

    1. I was so jealous when you told me that you actually do have a person at your workplace that you can talk FIRE with. That is just awesome pants. I hope your mentee comes around soon, fingers crossed.

  3. Mrs. BITA. It was a blast hangin out with you at FinCon. Sorry I did not get the chance to say goodbye. I was feeling rather unwell.

    I felt the urge to hit that dude in Deep Ellum with a rolling pin when he was investing his stash in BitCoin kiosk. My goodness, that was a bat-shit crazy night.

    Oh, by the way, our tribe does not suck…..!!😉

    I hope we get a chance to meet again soon. Thank you for being a big part of making FinCon such a memorable experience for me.

    In beer and Mrs. BITA we trust.

    Mr. PIE.

    1. Right back at you Mr. Pie, and I hope to get to meet Mrs. Pie sooner rather than later.

      About the bitcoin dude: the thing that I found hilarious was how we were all playing the part of conscientious financial bloggers and being all concerned about the dude’s financial well-being. And then it ever so slowly dawned on us what he was actually doing, and the fact that he was paying a piddly 10% marginal tax rate on his ‘income’ still makes me mad.

      And no, our tribe does not suck. Not one little bit. Not unless one of us starts to display an unhealthy affinity for mammals with extra long necks.

  4. So if you get into a drunken fight with one of your best friends because they insist an getting expensive hipster tacos when you insist on hitting up a cheap taco truck, is that going to far???

    But seriously, I think you’re advice applies not just to personal finance but all other topics. If you’re always the only one talking, and people just have to sit and listen to you spout everything on your mind, then there is a problem. Conversations should go both ways, and if someone isn’t participating in your FIRE conversation, then you aren’t having a conversation, you’re preaching.

    The older I get, the more I learn that I just need to STFU 🙂

    1. Asking for a friend are you? Anyway, that is what best friends are for.

      Being older does have its perks. I feel less and less compelled to preach and convert and bring folks over to my point of view. I think getting older has overall made me a more pleasant person to be around.

  5. So so so soooo true. It’s hard for us not to evangelize something that we’ve found that’s amazing. But just like friends who won’t stop talking about a new TV show, their favorite phone, or kids, people just don’t want to hear it all the damn time. Even though I want to evangelize FIRE, I keep it to myself. I prefer to lead by example, and if people want to know how I’m doing it, I’ll tell them.

    1. Leading by example is the way to go. So much easier to preach than to practice; good for you for not giving into temptation.

    1. 9.50.

      I think that might be a possible epitaph for me: A very questionable time was had.

      I’m glad I got to meet you too, and I hope that we figure out a way to make that happen again.

  6. Just like anything else, talking about FIRE is a two way street. Read their queues to know if your boring them to death or their interested. I have one friend who likes hearing about it even though he’s not on the path since he likes finances. Others would rather talk about the latest sporting event. Know how to read your audience.

    1. “Know how to read your audience.” Yep! And even if you audience is begging for it, don’t beat them over the head with some good old financial know-how. Restraint is the name of the game.

  7. Hey. Keep it up. I just let someone else bring it up. We need to come up with some sort of weird hand shake or head nod so you know you can start talking finances with someone.

    And like you I wasn’t quite ready, and the Mrs took even longer. Do I wish I started earlier? Yes… But all that did was make me appreciate where we are even more. You can’t regret the past because if it didn’t happen, you wouldn’t be you!!

    Cheers! And enjoyed hanging out!

    1. Ooh I like that. A secret FIRE handshake. Or a passcode. If I work “rainbow colored unicorn farts” into a sentence, that is a signal that I want to talk $$s.

      I enjoyed hanging out with both of you too, even when you were shouting football in my face : )

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