Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Quit Fucking Around and Build Yourself a Fuck-Off Fund

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Gasadalur

One of the most popular posts on this site? How I Saved $13,000 For Travel In Just Seven Months.

I stand by that post. It may have been from a different point in my life, but it’s still an excellent guide on how to strip your life down to the basics in order to save a ton of money as quickly as possible.

Here’s the truth: saving that way is not sustainable as a long-term life strategy. I was working around the clock, eating almost nothing, sleeping four hours a night, and would have burned out had I lived like that for much longer.

A few days ago, The Billfold published a post about the importance of an emergency fund and called it A Story of a Fuck-Off Fund. Shortly after, Jezebel wrote a great response which I shared on the Adventurous Kate Facebook page, and it became one of my most-shared links of all time.

That post was fantastic. The importance of having an emergency fund can never be overstated, and calling it a Fuck-Off Fund is a way that makes it sound, well, empowering and fun!

At the same time, I felt that the specific story that it told — of a woman whose boyfriend began hitting her and whose boss began groping her — was an extreme example of what can push you to need an emergency fund to escape. It was a little cartoon-villainy for my taste. Abuse is often far more subtle than this, but it can be just as harmful.

This is stuff you guys clearly want to know more about. So I wanted to write a post that went a bit further.

May this post give you a good, hard kick in the ass.

Red Umbrellas Belgrade

Do you have an emergency fund?

Don’t be ashamed if you don’t. Most of us don’t have one at all, let alone one that can sustain us over six months of unemployment or hardship.

However, this is fixable. Don’t put your head in the sand. You can start today.

Here’s the truth: Most of us are shitty at our finances.

Here in the United States, we often don’t learn enough about how to protect ourselves financially until it’s too late. It’s not just a lack of emergency funds. College students get in too deep with credit cards. Seventeen-year-olds choose a college based on prestige without knowing the reality of loan repayments.

I fully believe that personal finance should be taught in high school. I don’t see that happening anytime soon, however, so let’s do our best to catch up now.

Women in Galle

The truth? As women, we are financially more vulnerable.

I know, there are plenty of men who read this site, but about two-thirds of my audience is female, which means that two out of three of you face an increased level of vulnerability.

We are more likely to earn less than men.*

We are more likely to have gaps in our employment.*

We are more likely to be victims of domestic violence.*

We are more likely to live in poverty.*

We tend to live longer than men,* and we are more likely to be widowed than men,* which both increase the importance of our retirement savings.

When you have this many financial factors stacked against you, you need to take more precautions.

Istanbul Sunset

Something Bad Could Happen

What do finance people always warn you about? You could lose your job. Your car could break down beyond repair. You could get seriously ill or injured. If you’re American, you could lose your health insurance or have an emergency where you won’t be covered.

Would you have the money to help you stay afloat if any of these things happened?

The examples in the piece on The Billfold involve physical abuse from a partner and sexual harassment from a boss. While these experiences are sadly far too common, they are not the only kinds of situations that warrant an escape.

Here are three examples of situations that may be more subtle than physical abuse, but absolutely justify using your Fuck-Off Fund to get away.

Honolulu Bar

The Arrival of Mr. Hyde

You and your boyfriend date for a year or two, then decide to move in together. At first it’s great — you’ve always been a fun, compatible and loving couple. Moving in seemed like the perfect decision — it was the next step in your relationship, it saved you money or maybe got you a nicer place, and now you get to build a life together every day.

Sure, you bicker now and then, but things overall are really, really nice. Then your boyfriend hits a rough patch. He becomes stressed out, irritable, critical, and volatile.

He’s under a tremendous amount of stress at work, he tells you. His family is giving him problems. Money is tight right now and as soon as things level out and get back to normal, things will be different. But a lot of things you’re doing are making it worse, and you need to make some changes.

You’re not as neat as him, nor as organized, and you sometimes wear overly scuffed boots and sweaters on the verge of unraveling. He wants to be with a woman who always dresses smart, he tells you. If you worked on this, you would be a better person. And you agree with him, because you know you can do better.

Before you know it, you’re running around the apartment before he gets home from work, making sure it’s spotless and nothing’s out of place so he doesn’t start with the criticisms the moment he walks in. You’re dressing up exactly the way he wants you to, because it’s not worth the ensuing criticisms if you don’t. You’d rather just eliminate the issue before it happens.

But you can’t prevent everything. You fuck up. He discovers that you leave the blender in the sink after making smoothies. You thought you were being so good by washing the blender as soon as you finished your drink, but now he wants you to wash everything before you even take a sip. Maybe you were too quiet when his friends came over. He doesn’t want a girlfriend who isn’t the life of the party, he tells you.

Now it seems like despite your efforts, you’re now fucking up a few times a day. You forget to close all the windows when you go grocery shopping. You don’t hang up the bath mat after a shower. Each time, he gives you the silent treatment for hours.

At one point, you call him out. He tells you that if you’re forgetting every kindness he’s ever shown you, that you can get lost. And somehow, you end up apologizing to him.

Now you’re hiding in the bathroom and crying every night, wondering if you’ve been this much of a mess your whole life, or if it’s just starting now.

If it were physical abuse, you’d be out of there in a heartbeat — you’ve seen enough after-school specials to know that. But what is this in-between thing, these insults and freak-outs and constant criticism and silent treatment? Is this considered emotional abuse?*

This is not the man you fell in love with. What is this stress doing to him? You know that he is a good, kind man underneath it all! You wouldn’t be with him if he wasn’t!

But things aren’t getting better. You try to bring up the problems gently, framing them as communication issues, and he refuses to take responsibility, blaming work and money and his family and your inability to do anything right.

It’s a familiar routine at this point — you leave a pot in the sink to soak and forget about it after an hour. He lambasts you for 20 minutes. You let your face and mind go blank until he’s finished and sits down in front of the TV, unlikely to speak to you for the rest of the night. You head to the bathroom to cry in private, as usual, and then it hits you — this isn’t temporary. This is who he is and this is what your life with him will be.

You want to leave. But you live here now.

In order to leave, you’d need, at a minimum, first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a security deposit for another apartment. Probably a broker fee on top of that. And you don’t have that. Plus the fact that you can say goodbye to last month’s rent and your security deposit on this place.

What can you do? Your best friend is married and her husband doesn’t like having people stay on the couch. Your other best friend has a new baby. You’ve got other friends, but nobody has a spare room in this expensive city and they’re not that good friends. Plus, everyone thinks your boyfriend is a great guy. They’ll never believe you.

Just a few more months, you promise yourself. Save your cash and you can afford to leave by Christmas.

*It is.

View from the Bastille

The Company Shake-Up

You lucked out in the job department — you ended up with a kickass boss. He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s kind. He appreciates your contributions and implements your ideas. You’ve got a lot of potential, he tells you, and the two of you map out your career path at the company over the next few years. You’ll be ready for a promotion within a year if you keep up the good work.

Work is work, sure, and of course you’d much rather be on a tropical island than stuck in an office, but as far as jobs go, this is a good one. You’ve heard horror stories from your friends and you know how lucky you are compared to them.

Until your company’s board of directors decides to make some major changes. Positions are eliminated immediately. New hires will be arriving shortly. Long-term employees are let go with generous severance packages, and your boss is one of them. You actually smoke a cigarette with him to commiserate, then cough violently and resolve never to do it again. A week later, you’re introduced to your new boss.

Your new boss seems strict and a bit high-strung, but you’re sure she’ll mellow in time. The chemistry isn’t there, and after a month, it still isn’t there. Most people don’t have close relationships with their bosses, you tell yourself. This is normal. Even Good Guy Jim had trouble with Hot Boss Idris Elba on The Office.

But over the next few weeks, you learn that her stress levels are through the roof. She breathes down your neck, refuses your requests for time off, and micromanages you.

Immaculate work matters to her, she tells you. She’s behind you every day. She summons you for surprise meetings. You’re staying late and doing work ahead of time to be ready for her evaluations, and your heart starts pounding whenever someone silently walks up behind you.

And then it happens — you fuck up.

It’s not a huge mistake in retrospect — but it’s enough to delay an eagerly anticipated department-wide project. And if you still had your old boss, he wouldn’t have been happy but he would have still been in your corner, even defending you to the CEO if necessary. He knows what you’re capable of doing.

The new boss has seen none of your past work. Soon it comes time to have a meeting about your future at the company. Only it’s the complete opposite of the meeting you had with your first boss. You’re on probation.

If you thought things were tense before, that’s nothing compared to your days here now. You now report to an employer who makes you feel worthless. She’s started texting you anytime between 6:00 AM and midnight. Anything you prepare needs to be proofread by a 22-year-old coworker, which you know is pointless and nothing but a psychological move on her part. You’re on edge and shaking. You wake up in the middle of the night sweating and clenching your jaw.

Your friends see how miserable you are and tell you to just quit. You want to just quit. But how are you going to sustain yourself in the meantime? You can’t get unemployment if you quit. How are you going to pay your rent?

Furthermore, the prospect of ducking out for interviews worries you to death. You interviewed at Google once and it took five interviews before they rejected you. How long is this job-seeking process going to take? How many super-dressed-up “doctor’s appointments” are you going to have?

You go on one interview, clandestinely, take the offer. It pays 30% less. You can barely make your rent at this salary, but 30% less is better than 100% less. You haven’t accrued any vacation time and days off are out of the question.

Just a few months here, and then you’ll be able to interview for a job that pays you decently.

Cafe des Deux Magots

The Lost Income Stream

You’ve long dreamed of making your passion a full-time job, and you made it happen. Maybe you’re a photographer, or an SEO consultant, or you run a network of websites, or you have a jewelry shop on Etsy. After years of busting your ass, developing a portfolio, and amassing a client list, you’ve made it happen. You took the leap to do it full-time.

And you were responsible. You purposely didn’t quit until you knew you could sustain a frugal-but-comfortable full-time living from your side business. And for months or years, it worked terrifically. You knew you had to diversify a bit more, but your primary income source was rock solid.

But then something unexpected happens.

Maybe it’s that a competitor or multiple competitors are charging rock-bottom prices. Maybe it’s that another recession is hitting and people consider your products an unnecessary luxury. Maybe the latest Google update torpedoed your site on your highest sales-driving pages. Maybe outsourcing to India is cheaper and easier than hiring you. Or maybe your biggest freelance client, the one you considered rock-solid, went broke and can’t afford your services anymore.

You should have diversified earlier, you tell yourself. That could have kept you safe. But you honestly didn’t have the bandwidth to do that. If you had the money, you could hire a part-time employee and have her take over the time-consuming aspects so you could focus on the big picture.

But there’s no money for that now. There’s barely enough money for your rent.

You decide to look for full-time work again. And in the process, your family and friends who didn’t believe in you now have smug confirmation that you couldn’t make it as an entrepreneur. It doesn’t matter that most small businesses fail. This was your everything.

Table Mountain Bench

What Should You Do?

It’s easy to think that none of these scenarios would happen to you. But they can.

In fact, I’ve been in versions of all three of the scenarios described above. Not exactly as written, but very close. Me, a girl who seemingly has her shit together.

And I did not have a Fuck-Off Fund prepared during any of those situations. I’ve survived them thanks to a combination of luck, free housing and storage from generous friends and family, and some smart, well-timed business decisions.

Had I not lucked out, I would have been in a shitload of trouble. I’m not letting that happen to me ever again.

Now, what would happen if you DID have a Fuck-Off Fund in any of the above situations?

In the emotionally abusive boyfriend scenario, that money would have given you the freedom to find a new apartment before the abuse turned physical.

In the nightmare boss scenario, that money would have given you freedom to quit on the spot and job-hunt full-time for something better.

In the struggling entrepreneur scenario, that money would have bought you a few months to hire a part-time employee to handle the work while you develop new income streams.

Start an emergency fund. Today. Call it your Fuck-Off Fund.

I use Charles Schwab for my primary accounts, and they are a dream for travelers in particular (all ATM fees get refunded, even international ones, plus there are no foreign transaction fees). But I keep my long-term savings separate at Capital One 360, in part because you can organize several named accounts within one large account.

Fun fact: I had to rename my emergency fund “Eff Off Fund” because Capital One doesn’t like profanity. Or hyphens.

Amsterdam

How much money should you have saved in a Fuck-Off Fund?

Enough to cover your expenses and live frugally for three to six months. Ideally six, and more is even better. (Suze Orman thinks you should have eight.) So that amount might be as little as $10,000. It might be $20,000 or more. Or it might be $3,000 if you live in Chiang Mai.

I know this sounds daunting. That is a fuckload of money to save up. Don’t think of this as a long-term struggle, though — this is a lifestyle change.

The best way to do this is to audit your spending and come up with a number that you can contribute to an emergency fund each month. Have that amount be automatically transferred when your paycheck comes in. (For us entrepreneurs with irregular earnings, I know this is easier said than done, but you should have a ballpark monthly salary at least.)

You can have $5,000 in your Fuck-Off Fund by the end of the year, plus a little extra, if you save $425 each month. FIVE THOUSAND FUCKING DOLLARS. Save what you can. $500 stashed away is better than $100 and $5,000 is better than $1,000.

What if you have debt? Many Americans do.

Start by saving a smaller amount — think $1,000. Having $1,000 in emergency savings is a good minimum cushion.

From that point, continue paying off your high-interest debt until it’s gone. Once it’s gone, go back to restoring your Fuck-Off Fund on a monthly automatic basis. You will get there.

What else should you do? Too much to include in this post.

I do highly recommend the book I Will Teach You To Be Rich. It gave me the financial education I should have had all along.

Hosier Lane, Melbourne

Situations when you need a Fuck-Off Fund are more common than you think.

What I want to emphasize the most is that you might be in an emergency situation even if you don’t think that you are. Particularly when it comes to verbal and emotional abuse.

Pop culture tends to send the message that the turning point is once it escalates to physical violations — hitting, slapping, groping. This does us no favors. Having been through this myself, I can tell you that emotional and verbal abuse can be just as destructive to your mental health. Abuse is often more subtle than you expect. More Edward in Twilight than the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors.

When the time comes when you need to escape, you’ll be able to do so far more easily if you have the financial resources.

Join me in making a savings goal for 2016.

If you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to get started. Do you think you can save $1,000 in your Fuck-Off Fund by the end of 2016? $3,000? $5,000? Maybe even $10,000? That’s $83, $250, $417, or $833 per month.

I know it’s hard. We all have a lot of expenses, we’re in debt, and we struggle. For those of us who are struggling to feed ourselves and our families, saving for an emergency fund is not an option right now. I get that. Food, shelter, and safety need to be your priorities.

But I also believe that many of us have more money to save than we think. Even if it’s just $50 each month, that’s incredibly valuable and will get you closer to a base of $1,000. That money will be there for you when the shit hits the fan.

We all know that the shit hits the fan eventually. That’s life. But we can minimize its impact by being as prepared as possible. When you save money toward a Fuck-Off Fund, you’re buying yourself options.

Was there ever a time in your life when you could have used a Fuck-Off Fund?Quit Fucking Around and Build Yourself a Fuck-Off Fund

Comments

75 Responses to “Quit Fucking Around and Build Yourself a Fuck-Off Fund”
  1. LC says:

    And the “Blog Post Title of the Year Award” goes to…

    • LC says:

      On a note that actually contributes to your article, it’s an excellent idea. I started my own version of a “Fuck Off Fund” after I moved overseas. It took me three months to find a job and I was down to my last 100 bucks when I finally got paid. I’m self employed and have automatic payments from my main job that divvy up my tax, rent and savings and an income on the side that goes towards my student loan and emergency savings. My next financial project is tackling my retirement fund!
      I wish I’d started a bit sooner and it didn’t take having the prospect of being completely broke to shake some sense into me. “Better late than never” I suppose and it’s only going to grow over time!

  2. So true words, thanks for sharing (and reminding 🙂 )

    Lisa – Travelblog Joy Della Vita

  3. Mary says:

    Yes, yes, and more yes.

  4. Great post! I totally agree, you should always be prepared for the worst.

    I have such a fund, started it last year, but I secretly hope that I will never have to use it and just dump it into my retirement savings when the time comes.

  5. I thankfully have a Fuck-Off Fund, one that I used when my three-year relationship ended out of the blue last year. While I luckily didn’t need to use it for anything other than travel, I can honestly tell you it was life-saving. The trips that I took post-breakup helped me to pick up the pieces a lot quicker than I would have had I been broke and stuck in one place. And now I’m trying to replace the money that I took during that time – no regrets, the money was there for a rainy day and so I used it.

    Thanks for this, Kate. You’ve given me the kick up the butt to sit and make an actual plan for how I’ll replenish the Fuck-Off Fund! And to those of you who don’t have one – GET ONE. You really never know when you’ll need to use it. I really never thought I’d need to use mine.

  6. Robin says:

    I love this post – I shared it on my blog, posting today. I don’t have an eff-off fund, but I do have a considerable amount of savings I can tap. Right now it’s serving as a different kind of fund for me, but if the shit hits the fan – oh it’s on! Also, for those that are bad at saving, I recommend using Digit, who saves automatically for you without you noticing. I also recommend getting savings accounts that are hard to withdraw from and dumping a small amount every paycheck there automatically.

  7. Caroline says:

    Thanks for sharing, Kate. This is really a great, important post. I was very lucky — my mother really emphasized emergency funds to us as soon as we started working, so I have one waiting should I ever need to use it. It’s not something I EVER would have thought of on my own without her insistence, so spreading the word, especially to women, is incredibly important.

  8. I read this post at the right time. I have a fuck-off fund – thank fuck. But it needs desperate working on. And once it’s filled up – there are some drastic changes to be made. Thank you for this.

  9. Great timing on this. We’ve always been good about having an emergency fund, but it blows so much when you have to — well — blow it. If you’re a home-owner, any number of things can happen that could wipe out a huge chunk (if not all) of that fund. We’re two-for-two in replacing HVACs in the homes we’ve owned, despite having a home warranty. (Don’t ever get one of those. Fucking waste of money.) Blink and there goes 2/3 of your emergency fund!

    So my additional advice is don’t stop once you reach that goal. Keep saving, then when you get even higher, diversify a lump some of that into other investments. Another bad habit is constantly living to match our means — one of us gets a raise so we spend more. Not a brilliant idea when we already live comfortably and that money could go towards retirement or a fantastic trip!

  10. Mel Hattie says:

    KATE! This is so good! I always enjoy reading your posts but this is something that rings so true and so important. The world can suck and we need to learn how to protect ourselves. I also wish finances were a bigger part of education. It almost seems insidious that it’s not. A++ lady!

  11. Marian Diop says:

    Most hilarious way to get ppl saving!! I agree a million times over. We’ve been working on this, paying off debts and building our savings/emergency fund since we got married and it has gotten us through SO many tough times with much less stress. Thank you for a fun and VITAL reminder. It will be even more important when we start traveling (like you 🙂 in a few years.

  12. What an amazing post! Very well-written, very truthful, very kick-in-the-ass-get-your-ass-in-check. I love it!

  13. Lili says:

    Glad to hear this. I’m on so many travel communities and message boards, and it seems like the prevailing thought it to save up and spend all your savings on travel. Even Vice had an article this week interviewing young people who have purposely fed up their finances to become “International Debt Dodgers” and live abroad without paying their school loans. (No one likes school loans, and yes there could be a better solution, but some of the people they interviewed really have no clue and shouldn’t be offering advice to others!)

    I think we as a community need to be more vocal on financial responsibility especially concerning emergency savings. Because while there are many great success stories of people traveling around the world, working job to job or surviving off of their blog income…that is the except to the rule, especially in the saturated market of travel bloggers. Most travelers (especially first time travelers) cannot replicate this success.

    I see more people on travel communities asking for help or having to forgo on wonderful travel experiences because they could bearly afford bread and water because they didn’t plan well, didn’t plan for emergencies, or simply thought things would fall into place like they’ve read online. And those same people will jump all over anyone that pauses and says “Hey, don’t forget to build in emergency savings! Don’t forget health and travel insurance!” and say this advice is wrong, with comments like “Well sure I could get insurance….or I could travel for another 2 weeks in Asia on that money!”

    I’ve had a yo-yo relationship with my own F-Off Fund. Sometimes its halfway to where it should be, and sometimes I’ve had to dig into it. But I know the important of having to build it up (either before I fill up the travel/fun fund or in conjunction) and fear for anyone who doesn’t believe this should be a priority.

    • It’s definitely possible to survive on the road while taking simple temporary jobs along the way, but they require you to get in a mindset of traveling “on the hobo,” so to speak. You’ll have basic food and shelter, but don’t expect to ever have any nice meals or do any cool activities, for example. Of course, bigger jobs like teaching English will pay better. And most people don’t make anything from their travel blogs.

  14. Rachel says:

    Great post Kate.

    Every year since graduating I started saving in my emergency funds account, but every time I got a few thousand pounds, my car would break down beyond repair, my tax bill was higher than I’d estimated, or, like last year, I broke up with my boyfriend and needed to move out.

    No matter how hard I try, I save up a little bit and then poof! It’s gone. But at least I had that little bit saved up. I’d have been fucked if I hadn’t!

    January 2016 = new place, new relationship – and the first month building up my fuck-off fund again.

    • You know what? Those are all justifiable times to use an emergency fund, so you did the right thing. Good luck saving, and I hope it’s a long time before you need to use it again!

  15. Kinga says:

    I am saving already! 🙂 And it gives me so much satisfaction!

  16. Cait says:

    Your Dr. Hyde Scenario reads EXTREMELY similarly to a situation that I was in a couple years ago. I even moved out of state with him. Luckily I have awesome parents that let me move home with them in the end. BUT My current Boyfriend (who is wonderful) introduced the idea of a “F Off Fund” to me last year. He’s helping me figure out how to get it going. He wants me to have one so I don’t feel stuck in our relationship if it ever comes to that. (like I said…wonderful). I think it’s really really important for people to realize they need this and that they should work to have one as soon as possible! Good luck in your goal! I’m working hard to reach mine!

  17. Whitney says:

    I 100% do have a Fuck-Off Fund and I used it to take a leave of absence from work when I got totally burned out (an issue that is more common then we’d like to admit). My mental health was seriously in trouble and it was such an amazing relief to know that I could escape from a stressful environment and do what I knew I needed to do to get back to being me. And you know what… it worked! I came back rested and rejuvenated and it was all thanks to a stockpile of savings.

  18. Alouise says:

    Yes! I love this post, and calling an emergency savings account a “fuck off fund” seems so much more empowering (and makes me want to save more). Every little bit helps. Just $20 a week will turn into $1040 after a year. I really wish I had a fuck off fund when I was 25 and in a bad roommate situation. Live and learn (expensively I guess).

    You mentioned Charles Schwab for banking, but if there are any Canadians out there I recommend PC Financial or Tangerine for bank accounts. Both are no fee banks, and you can set up multiple savings accounts and do automatic transfers (I have a weekly transfer for travel savings account and my newly new fuck off fund). Tangerine is affiliated with the Scotia Bank, which is part of the Global ATM Alliance so you can bank for free at different banks around the world (like Bank of America and Barclays).

  19. Ron says:

    Great post Kate !!

    But there goes that clean cut Irish girl image I had of you. : )

  20. Elliekate says:

    Amazing post Kate! Love the idea of calling it a ‘fuck off fund’ instead of just the boring ‘savings account’ which is the bane of my life!!!

    Question though- I’ve been saving my ass off so I can travel the world next year, is it wise to spend it all on travel? (Probably not but it’s my dream) or should I leave a little of it for emergency fund??

    • Mary B says:

      Hi Elliekate! Fellow reader here – speaking from my own recent experience, I’d definitely set aside some of that travel money in an emergency fund to give you a cushion when you get back! I quit my job last year and traveled for 4 months using my travel savings, and then was able to come home and take my time looking for a new job because I had my emergency savings to live on and hadn’t touched it yet. It was a great to have a laid-back re-entry and not be stressed about taking the first thing that came along. It was also helpful to have that chunk of money set aside for all the costs of moving, if that’s something that you’ll be doing when you come home.

      • Sarah says:

        I agree. Often times we forget how much we will need to spend when we get back. Rent, food, and other general things are just as important to think about and incorporate into the “Travel/RTW fund.” This way you can have a good time during your travels and have a better piece of mind when it’s near the end, because you know you’ve got money to lean on as you get settled back into non-travel life. 🙂

    • No, definitely don’t spend it all on travel. You need to be prepared for emergencies!

      Set aside a huge chunk of it for after you return home. That can help you get a new place and can tide you over until you get a job.

  21. Kathryn says:

    I have over a year’s worth of savings. I used to be hopeless with money and got to rock bottom – evicted from my home and out of work. Luckily I had friends and family to support me but I made sure after that to always have savings even if it meant going without a lot.

    One of the best things about having a ‘fuck off fund’ is not just that you can fuck off but that you can stay and fight. If you aren’t desperate, especially in a work situation, you can fight back. i had a situation very similar to #2 but with a male boss who openly made misogynistic remarks. I walked out but wish now that I’d gone above his head and discussed the situation. He got sacked about a week after I left for not being able to retain staff so I think I could’ve actually been able to talk it out. Having financial security is the key to having that confidence.

  22. Yes, yes, YES. I’ve never had to have a Fuck Off Fund to get out of a horrendous situation or to get me through a redundancy but my Fuck Off Fund was to get me out of a life I just wasn’t happy in. I knew straight after uni that I didn’t want a “proper” job straight away. I wanted to go to Australia and when I found out that my boyfriend had been cheating on me, I booked a flight, had my graduation and then left. Without that extra money I’d piled away I would’ve had to work another 6 months while being heartbroken. Instead I got to go to an amazing country, make new friends and have the time of my life. ALWAYS have money for a rainy day!

  23. Kate says:

    Somewhat unrelated but not…on the topic of emotional abuse/etc…it’s often hard to be one of the “Best Friends” in the scenario you described above. But if you are, just be there! And if your friend does not have a ‘fuck off’ fund, do everything in your power to help them. Provide a couch, a loan if you’re willing, or any helpful resources. We never know when someone’s everything will fall apart and we will need each other, and it will always come back around.

    • I talked to my friends after getting out of my abusive relationship. They had no clue and asked how they could help me in the future. I encouraged them to ask me questions about him and our relationship on a regular basis, and to stay involved with me on a regular basis, and to be on the lookout just in case I slip into darkness or my personality completely changes.

  24. Sarah says:

    Great Advice! I am about to lose my job as a result of the new boss scenario and started a new Savings Account after reading Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod to buy myself some time off and work out what next. Just renamed it ‘Fuck Off Account’ hahaha – much better than PremiumSaver 😉

  25. Sky says:

    YES. This. I’ve been working on creating a savings that’s separate from my travel savings for emergencies but I’m horrible with money. This was probably the kick the in the ass I needed though….my goal starting this month is to switch $50 a month over to my fuck off fund – hopefully I’ll be able to increase that to $75 or $100 but right now $50 is a reasonable start.

    • Anne says:

      Starting small works but then I would also recommend keeping a schedule of what you spend for a few months, then reviewing that and seeing if there are things you can change. For instance I go to costa every day for a coffee for me and my husband. That translates to over £3000 a year. Imagine how much travelling I can do on that….everyone can make changes! What are you prepared to sacrifice to achieve your goals?

      • Sky says:

        I already keep a pretty tight budget of what I spend and most of my money beyond what I spend on bills goes straight to a travel savings fund. But, I also want a secondary savings in case of future emergencies, which is the the $50 per month to the Fuck Off Fund comes from. 🙂

    • Great start — keep it up.

  26. Great post, Kate! Emergency funds are crucial, for life and travel. This post (and the others you cited) are a good reminder, especially with all the crazy stuff happening in the world.

  27. Mary B says:

    I’ve been lucky not to ever NEED my Fuck-Off Fund, but it has given me a lot of freedom that I wouldn’t have had without it. I quit my job last June, road tripped across the US, traveled for 3 months, and then came home and started my job search. Thanks to the Emergency Fund I’d spent 5+ years building up, I was able to be fully present on my travels – instead of worrying about job searching from abroad -, and when I got back I didn’t have to apply for things that weren’t interesting or exciting to me, just because I needed the immediate income. As it turns out, it only took me two months to find a job I’m excited about – which means my Fuck-Off Fund is still mostly intact, aside from some moving expenses!

    It horrifies me the number of friends in their 30’s who don’t even have $1000 in their bank accounts in case of a car breakdown or a big vet bill, much less a layoff. Thanks for making people aware of why it’s so important!

  28. The first example sounds like someone I used to date. Great post. You’ve given me a lot to think about 🙂

  29. shubhangi says:

    Beautiful post! Really go me thinking 🙂

  30. Great advice Kate especially for women and men all over. Be assertive and think about your future ‘cos if you don’t, who will!
    p.s. I can’t share this briliant post I’m afraid ‘cos of the title but I would love to…..!

  31. Anne says:

    Ooh reading this post stressed me out, I gave up half way because too much resonated with me and reminded me of crappy times in my life. I work in financial services, I know the importance of financial planning but a long time ago now, in the early stages of my career, I was in a bad relationship I was scared to leave. I resolved then I would always make my own money so never again would I need to stay in a relationship that made me unhappy. I’m working on the job bit for the same reason but definitely addresses that first point!

  32. Nathan says:

    Such a great post Kate! If only I had known this in my 20’s, it is amazing advice that all people should know!

  33. Absolutely useful post! I loved the sense of humor that characterizes your writing. Tbh I hadn’t thought about a fuck off fund but I will from now on after reading your recommendation. Thank you so much for writting this. I really needed it.

  34. Sasha says:

    Absolutely true, I don’t even travel without having an extra ’emergency’ account in case things go wrong. It’s a necessity for everyone! Great post, Kate.

  35. Jolie says:

    I love this article (and blog) Kate. Thanks for touching on this topic and making it relevant through different scenarios.

  36. Kelly says:

    I’m 10 years older than you Kate, and thought I’d include my Fuck Off fund notes for any reader who might see themselves in my tale– the folks who didn’t see the writing on the wall til too late and thought they’d “keep trying” for way too long in an emotionally draining relationship.

    Thanks to my fuck off fund, I am free from a marriage that went bad: 19 years and 3 kids. I am SO DAMN HAPPY every morning when I wake up I can barely stand it, but it is due to careful planning so that I would feel prepared to go it alone: Opening lines of credit and credit cards in my own name based on my own financial means, getting pre approved for a mortgage before I left so I knew my options (I bought my own house and said “hey, I’m outta here”), laying out a year budget to see if I could even exist on one income and what things I would sacrifice to make it happen, and reduce jointly held debt to near zero so I wouldn’t be inheriting debt incurred in the marriage. Negotiate a fee from a lawyer to get me out safely and got all my legal paperwork copies in hand first, talked to a councillor to get myself and my kids ready for changes and strategies to equally share custody. Get settled with just walking away from all my “stuff”. It’s just stuff. Who cares. I have new hand-me-down stuff now. Yes, I have debt in the form of a mortgage now, but I’m FREE, my kids are so much happier, my ex is happier, we co-parent better than ever, just two blocks from each other. I didn’t leave sooner due to building my Fuck off fund and plan, and my self confidence and future is better for it. Starting over never felt so good.

  37. This is a very intelligently written and insightful post, and this is something us independent types tend to forget we need – I’m crap at this, I literally have £200 (about $275??) in a tin. It’s the best I can do atm since I’m starting out self-employed, but this post has given me the impetus to make saving a fuck off fund more of a priority. I will definitely check out the book you linked to!

  38. Sophie says:

    Definitely doing and sticking to this!

  39. Hannah says:

    This post is amazing Kate!!!
    So much of this hits home and I love how many other women are commenting the same! It’s so important to maintain financial independence and a back up plan for life’s lemons.

  40. Jennifer says:

    Confession: I read your how you saved 13k post weekly, hell maybe daily. I currently have had it at my job and I am determined to leave and go travel. That being said I love how brutally honest this post is because believe me this stuff DOES happen. I am currently getting out of a horrible relationship that has left me very in debt… and made it where I was not able to travel the way I wanted. I am currently saving and paying off debt which will take the better part of 2 years, but your honest has gave me the inspiration to do it. This post is fantastic and honest and I am glad you wrote it 🙂
    Thanks

  41. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. When my last relationship ended, I was in a financial mess, and it’s taken three years to get back on my feet. It’s one of the reasons I’ve avoided getting into another serious relationship- I’m terrified of ending up in the same situation again. I’ve just started my own Fuck-Off Fund ( or F-Off Fund, since my bank is similarly prudish!) and even though I’m starting off small, just knowing that it exists already feels reassuring. Maybe it’ll even help me get over some of my relationship anxieties, who knows? 🙂

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