The F*ck-over-ability Index

Wanderer
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Wanderer

The Wanderer retired from his engineering job at a major Silicon Valley semiconductor company at the age of 33. He now travels the world, seeking out knowledge from other wealthy people, so that he can teach people how to become Financially Independent themselves.
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A few years ago on a business trip down to New York I met up with one of my more colourful buddies in a Manhattan bar for drinks. Let’s call him Alex, though for privacy reasons, that’s not his real name. Alex and I were old classmates, and while I had stayed in Canada to work at a tech firm, he had moved to New York and gotten a job at one of the big banks on Wall Street. Evidently he’d been pretty good at it, as he was now a manager with his own team.

“Hey, homo. How the fuck are ya?” Alex said, slapping me on the back. He was always such a people person.

We grabbed a table and ordered some drinks, catching up and chit-chatting on life in the big city, his job, and stuff like that. At one point I asked him what it was like having his own team and he mentioned something to the effect of “they’re all still back at the office.”

“Really?” I checked my watch. “But’s it’s 8:30 PM!”

“So?” Alex shrugged. “They do what I tell them.”

“Oh good! I see you’ve chosen the ‘power-tripping asshole’ style of management. Good choice! It’s a good fit for you.” Knowing Alex, I honestly believed that.

“Well, it’s not because I’m yelling at them or anything. I just know they’re up to their eyeballs in debt. So I can fuck with ’em and they can’t say boo.”

I let out a laugh. “Wait, how do you know how much debt they’re in?”

Alex shrugged. “You just pick up clues here and there. You know, you make small talk at Christmas parties, and you go ‘so hey, how’s life?’ and they go ‘Great! We just bought a house!’ and you go ‘Oh really? Where?’ and from that you can sort of figure out approximately how much they’re in the hole for. Every manager does it.”

That got me thinking. Hey wait a minute. At work, I’ve had four managers over the years and every single one of them had been slyly pressuring me to buy a house. One time I had asked my manager what he thought a reasonable amount to spend was, and with a straight face he had replied “Just buy as much as the bank is willing to lend you.” Even FIRECracker had noticed a weird curiosity from her boss as to why she wasn’t “locking down interest rates on a mortgage before it’s too late.” We had shrugged it off at the time, but was there something more to this?

“Wait…every manager does this?”

Alex nodded emphatically. “Oh yeah. I mean, over time as you get to know your employees you figure out which ones really really need the job.  When some shit task comes up you know who to give it to.”

This I definitely saw in practice. At FIRECracker’s office, for example, there’s one guy who keeps getting all the shit jobs dumped on him, and every week he threatens to quit, but he never does. Why? He paid waaaay too much for his house and can’t afford to stop working, even for a minute.

“But for most managers it’s a subconscious process,” Alex continued. ” I mean, its not like we have a spreadsheet with everyone’s name and a score or anything.”

I grinned at that idea. “A score? For what? For how much you can screw someone over?”

Alex let out a single, slightly-too-loud HA at the idea. “Wouldn’t that be funny? I mean, if something like that existed? What would that even look like?”

I grabbed a napkin and a pen.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to create a formula that calculates a score for how much you can screw someone over,” I replied matter-of-factly.

“Ooh, I like this game!” Alex grinned, chugging his beer and scooting over to see what I was writing.

“OK what do we call it?” I thought for a minute. “The Fuckability Index?”

“No, no, no. That’s already a thing. The Fuckability Index is a score from 1 to 10 you assign to a chick to describe how bang-able they are.”

“Uh…” I blinked, unused to the Alpha-Male Bro culture that permeates Wall Street. “OK…how about…Fuck-OVER-ability Index?”

“Love it.” Alex gave me a high five. “Fuck-over-ability Index. Perfect.”

“OK, so first of all, owning a house is good, right?”

“Right, good for me, bad for them.”

“What if it’s paid off?”

“What? Shut the fuck up. Nobody fucking pays off their house. They just turn around and buy a bigger house.”

Ahem. No comment there. “Anyway,” I continued. “What about multiple houses? Like vacation homes or something.”

“Aww yeah, those are even better. Yeah put that in the formula.”

I scribbled on my napkin. “What about kids?”

“Eh, somewhat. Kids sometimes make people need to go home. Like ‘I gotta go pick up my kids’ or whatever. What I want to see are kids in private school.”

“What?” I looked up. “Why?”

“Think about it. The kinds of people who send their kids to private school like to tell their kids ‘Oh you’re special’ and ‘we got to keep you away from all the riff-raff…'”

“Or maybe they just want their kid to have a better education?” I offered.

“Yeah, sure. That too,” Alex waved dismissively at my suggestion. “Whatever the reason, though, once a kid goes into private school, they’re never coming back out. Think about it. Have you ever heard of someone putting their kid in private school, and then pulling them out back into public school?”

I thought for a good solid minute. “Actually, no.”

“Exactly. People who send their kid to private school would rather slit their wrists than admit to their kids that ‘Yeah, I told you you’re special but Daddy can’t afford your $20k a year tuition so back with the riff-raff you fucking go.'”

I choked into my beer. Alex always had a way of putting things in just the right, totally non-PC way that I always loved.

“OK,” I continued after I regained control of my lungs. “What about a car? A fancy car would be bad for them, right?”

“Again, maybe. It could also mean they just got a big bonus. No, what I want to see are car payments.”

“Well, how would you find that out?”

“Easy. I just go up to them and say ‘Hey man, sweet ride. How much is the monthly?’ And if they look at me like I have two heads, I know they paid cash for it. But if they go ‘Oh, like $400, $500, something like that’ then I know they’re a broke fucking moron.”

“OK…” I sat back looking at my napkin scribblings. “So we’ve got housing, kids, and cars.”

“Car payments,” he corrected me.

“Right. Car payments. What about some factors that make them less fuck-over-able?”

“Well, if they had cash saved up, that would do it.”

“So if they had, say one year of living expenses saved up, that would make them less fuck-over-able?”

“Sure, yeah. Cause if I push them too far they might flip out and actually quit.”

“What about five years of living expenses?”

“Yeah right, who the Hell has that?”

“And what if they’re FI?

A pause. “What the fuck is FI?”

I should probably mention that at the time this conversation happened, it was still a few years before I retired, and I hadn’t told anyone what we were planning on doing.

And as I explained the basics of Financial Independence to Alex he just seemed to get more and more disgusted.

“Oh God, that sounds awful!” he spat at me.

“For you or for them?”

“For me! If someone was FI, I wouldn’t be able to get them to do anything! They’d just come into work and tell me to fuck off to my face. In fact…” he scratched his chin. “I can’t even threaten to fire them, can I? Because then they’d get severance. Oh man…” Alex took a moment to rake his fingers through his hair. “If I don’t fire them, I’d have to pay them. But if I fire them, I’d have to pay them anyway. But if I keep them around, they’d just be undermining me the entire time.

Yeah, that would be a nightmare if one of my guys was like that,” Alex concluded, then glared at me suspiciously. “Wait, you don’t know anyone like this, right?”

“Uh…” I paused, taking a drink and trying to look as innocent as humanly possible. “Nope.”

* * *

I don’t know why I recently remembered this conversation I had with Alex a few years ago, but I told FIRECracker about it and she thought it was funny as Hell. “Write it into an article!” she demanded. So of course I did. When FC demands that you do something, you do it.

But she also wanted to know if I remembered the formula we had come up with for the Fuck-over-ability Index, which of course I also did. So here it goes.

The Fuck-over-ability Index is kinda like golf, in which a lower number is better.

Invincible (0)

  • You are FI, don’t need the job, and can call your boss a prick to his face with ZERO consequences.

Slightly Fuck-over-able (1 to 20)

  • You can push back on your boss if they’re being totally unreasonable without fear of immediately going into financial ruin if you lose your job.

Extremely Fuck-over-able (21 to 50) 

  • You need that job more than they need you. You know it, your boss knows it, and you can bet your ass that he (or she) is gonna pass you over for a well-deserved promotion or throw you under the bus if it benefits them to do so.

Boss’s Bitch (50+)

  • If your boss says jump, you have to say “How High?” while bouncing on a trampoline and sucking his cock (those are Alex’s words, BTW, not mine)

 

So there you have it. The Fuck-over-ability Index. Totally not created by two drunken idiots at a bar convinced of their own genius.

Questions? Comments? And more importantly, what’s YOUR Fuck-over-ability Index? Let’s hear it, in the comments below.



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142 thoughts on “The F*ck-over-ability Index”

  1. Humour aside, owning a car (and car payments) don’t necessarily make it possible to fuck you over. I didn’t buy my car outright because financing rates were so low that I’d make more money investing the cash than I would by avoiding the car loan. 😛

    1. So you drank the cool aid, this was what low interest rates were designed to do, get people to borrow, and it worked… only too well.

      Just remember that no matter the interest rate, it is still costing you money, and its compounded. A $50,000 car loan at 3% over 5 years (its a brand new Mustang)
      costs 1500 per year, ok, not so bad, but its over 5 years, thats $7500 out the door… which equals 15% total. As the car depreciates in value.

      Also at this point in the market cycle, we are at or near a top, so going forward, unless you have some fantastic dividend stocks, you will be lucky to average a 3% total return over the next 5 years, so now is a great time to pay down the debt as its a guaranteed saving.

      cheers

      1. Are you sure? I managed to get a 30k car loan for 5 years at 0% financing, which I proceeded to invest. So Ford has indirectly decided to subsidize the car I bought from them.
        It works because I had the money available to pay for the car in cash, but they wanted us to go with financing, so we took the financing and are paying ~500/month without also paying interest on that money.
        Should we need to we simply sell the investment and pay off the whole car in one shot.

        So in that first year, we paid $6000 for the car, and get about $1500 from the investment, which makes the first year only cost us $4500. The 2nd year we pay $6000, and this time we would get back $1200, so we paid $4800, etc.
        This comes out to about $4500 coming back from investing the money since we’re not paying interest on it. Making the car only cost us $25.5k instead of $30k

        *All numbers were rounded for simplifying of the math, eg: the return was set to 5% instead of 6.4%

        1. If you paid cash, you probably could have negotiated the price down from the sticker price. Yes you got a free loan, but it’s actually not free cause you likely could have paid less if you paid cash. Dealers are often willing to negotiate lower prices if you pay cash on the spot, but not if you take a loan. If you take a loan, you’re usually stuck with the sticker price. It’s not totally cut and dry like that, but it generally holds true in my experience. So yes, you’re paying more right now than you could have. But it’s too late to do anything about it this time. But next time can be different….

          1. I compared my outcome to the cash price, personally. It would have dropped the price by 1000$. Even at that point I’m ahead. 🙂

          2. Golden rule when buying a new car. Negotiate the price first, regardless if you finance or pay cash, that way you can see how low the dealer will go.

      2. My loan rate on the car is 0.9% – I can easily beat that with run of the mill preferred shares. My total finance cost over 3 years is 300$. There were longer amortization options, but the 3 year 0.9% was the best return. 5% return over 3 years on $35k is about $5500.

        So, no, I didn’t drank the kool-aide. I created a spreadsheet and did the calculations based on the loan rate and a 3% rate of return on invested cash. Given that my return rate is closer to 5%, it is very much not worth actually paying cash up front for the car.

    2. If you didn’t have the option to finance at 0% would have bought the car? A used 2005 Toyota corolla goes for 4500 here in BC. Which will have on average at least 10 good years left. Thats $450 a year to own the car plus maintenance 750/year average you’re looking at $100/month to own a car for ten years. Compare that to your $600/month payment plus maintenance (although cheaper than a used car). I’ve never paid more than $2500 for my cars all Toyotas never hand any issues

      1. Yes, I would have purchased the exact same car. I mostly don’t use the car to commute, it’s a luxury that I have for a specific purpose. As a result, no, a Corolla wouldn’t cut it. My projection was that I would be paying a small premium over a used car. Also, I have a higher than average reliability requirement so as to avoid getting towed from the end of a forest service road in the winter :). End result was that for used cars I was willing to consider the discount wasn’t large enough to offset the benefits of cheaper financing.

  2. “Have you ever heard of someone putting their kid in private school, and then pulling them out back into public school?”

    Both my daughters asked to be pulled out of their private school before their 2nd year was through. As they said, private school kids have way more money to buy drugs.

    That was many years ago and no, it didn’t ruin their lives. One is now a criminologist while the other is an award-winning dancer who is now studying psychology.

  3. Clever! And sobering. And — do they teach this sort of thing in sociopath school? Yikes. I once had about a year of mandatory 55-hour workweeks… but time-and-a-half was great when I was young and stupid, and it was 2009 with the recession in full effect so we weren’t inclined to go off the reservation.

    Anyway, 12.8 here. If we dropped a couple of hobbies we could easily ditch our 13- and 14-year-old cars, halving our score.

  4. This index is horrible, but I guess it’s true. Luckily, I’m 0. Ha!
    I think you need to add mental stability in there somehow. If a manager tried that shit with me during my last 2 years, I’d tell them to f* off. I was mentally unstable then.
    Anyway, this confirmed my belief. All managers are asshats to some degree. The higher they are, the more they become. CEO – the worse.

  5. Created by two drunken idiots? Rather two drunken geniuses with enhanced vision!!! This article is so refreshing and should be made compulsory for every 20 year old to read before setting out their professional lives. My kids made it out of private school, we converted our large unit into a rental and my car is a 20 year old indestructible! Cheers to FI!!!

  6. 9.6 here, well on track to FI but still in the early accumulation stages.

    Wow, this post was enlightening. I’m sure not all managers are like this, mine have always been pretty good, but I’m sure some of the high-rolling wall street types definitely keep these concepts in the backs of the heads.

    That note about private school is pretty key. If you are a yuppie parent who wants “the best” for little Johnie in a private school, you are also probably competing with other parents and would do anything to avoiding losing face by taking your kids out of private school. Again, if you just invested that money and gave those investments to your kids later in life, they’d have their own FU stash, but that’s another topic.

    Pretty disturbing, some of those things your friend was talking about. But on a separate note, could pretending to be deeply in debt get you a job more easily? Bait and switch? 😉

    1. Interesting. I like the bait and switch idea however I did the opposite. In my last job interview, the hiring manager tried to offer me the lower level position and I actually told him straight faced that it wasn’t worth my time. Entice me or this is a waste of time. I actually made a list of outrageous demands at the same time. I left the interview thinking “ hey that was fun but I definitely didn’t get that job”. Who would give me all the crazy stuff I wanted. Lo and behold I get offered the position the same day with all my demands met. My only regret was not to demand more.

      Sometimes walking in cocky gets you what you want. They see you as a no bullshit candidate with potential. All my interviews going forward for any new job in the next 2 and a half years will be like that. After that, hello FIRE. Overall, I want to work for someone who will respect me, not exploit me. Those who only want to exploit me can go fuck themselves 🖕. I’m already over 25 times annual expenses. I’m working because it’s interesting, not because I’m desperate. 👍

      1. Good point! Yeah, there is that side of things, being a no-BS candidate probably provides a strong impression. Perhaps the bait-and-switch could be a more last-ditch strategy in case you need it in the short-run 🙂

      2. I love that idea. Unfortunately, research studies have shown time and again that doesn’t work for women.

        What does work is for women to blame their requests on their mentors or someone else. In my field, we’ve been encouraged to say, my research advisor really thinks I should be getting more given my…

        As an example, I was going to settle for much less than I wanted partially because I was desperate to leave my last position and still very fuck over able (and probably fuckable too, though, I haven’t seen that index yet. 😂 😉). I also had agreed verbally to the crappy offer and complained to my mentor about it who also knew a lot more about the department than I did. He also told me he’d offered me the best they could do.

        She said they are desparate to get you! You deserve better so ask for it! Ask for 20% more than what you make now including adjunct pay. Then ask for summer salary your first 3 years and also adjunct pay for any course you teach that’s not in your job description.

        I didn’t get everything I asked for, but what I got was a helluva lot better than what I was initially offfered and going to settle for.

          1. It says in the second para of the message that ‘She’ (the mentor) said they were desperate, so presumably doesn’t matter, as long as the mentor is assertive.

  7. Interesting and funny read ! In my few years of experience. I have always worked by these rules

    Back-up plan if I get fired
    I came first, company second
    Care less about work in general
    Build strong relationship with your colleagues

    These have always worked for me.

  8. My score was 14. We own a home with a modest mortgage, and 3 cars (1 with payments).

    However, my real score is zero as I retired last year. 🙂 The interest rate on our two loans is too low to consider paying off from portfolio.

    But for those who live paycheck to paycheck, life’s gotta suck big time. 🙁
    TGIM!!!

  9. Hmm, it might be better to break down the one to 20 rating. Apparently we score slightly more than a 2…I guess because of the kid…, but we are in the victory lapping FI stage, which doesn’t quite fit your 1 to 20 power balance description. And so I have pushed back…quit actually when they initially said no to my request to downshift…and so got the mad scramble offer of the chance to move to the 3 days a week that I had initially requested.

  10. haha I love this! It’s actually slightly true. However, the really young ones with loads of debt seem to not give a monkey either. However, I just simulated this and they scored 30 on the calculator..less than me who is five years into my ten year FI plan!

  11. I have to constantly tell myself when reading this amazing blog that it doesn’t affect me one bit that they don’t like the idea of owning a home. As a ray of sunshine, I’d like to point out that sometimes people make smart choices, buy small homes, and aren’t shackled to it based on the whims of the market. That being said, my score was still higher than I’d like =P

    1. Sure, and if their homes were purchased at a really good price, then they should be swimming in savings over time. That’s the real test, isn’t it. Are you massively cash-flow-positive month over month? If yes, then you did good. If not though…

      1. Well put, turned out ok for me, small 3 bdr, bought in 2012, when market was declining, very low interest rates, that dropped even lower. Bought on one salary, and now we have 2 as Mrs Spaceman has developed her business.

        Our cash flow is about 30% into savings, and buying down the mortgage dept is helping us reach FI in about 5 years. If we ever need cash flow, say if the market tanks, that would be a good time to do a Reverse Mort, (depending on interest rates) and plug back into Mr Market, but I like to think of my House as an Equity Reserve to use in the future, and I get to live in it. That is the main value. I got lucky, no skill involved and house prices ballooned 30% in 6 years, I did not plan on this happening, it wasn’t an investment.

        Wanderer and FC don’t hate us House Owners… Its just not their life style, maybe some day… when the babys start coming…

        1. Eh. Kids aren’t really a good reason to buy a house. An excuse for a lot of people, for sure, but kids don’t really care much as long as they have a place to live and parents that care about them. 🙂

          1. I think that’s true if there are tenant controls favouring long, stable rentals (as in France and Germany, for instance), but not if the trend is towards short rentals with short notice periods (as in the UK and I presume the USA). Moving frequently creates an unstable environment for kids.

            1. The need to move frequently because you rent is a bit of a fallacy, in experience. If you deal with real professionals instead of dealing with random people, you’ll generally not have the same sorts of problems. This will probably cost a bit more $$, however. Unfortunately, the folks who are in the position of having to deal with fly-by-night landlords who will try and evict them on a moment’s notice are probably also unlikely to be able to buy a house.

  12. Holy Shit. We’re at zero. Did I do this right?

    [Net Worth – Home Value]/[annual expenses] = # of years of living expenses

    We paid off the home recently, so I’m not subtracting a negative number. My charts were telling me we were getting close. It looks like we’re actually here. FI!

    We’re Invincible, Bitches!

  13. This was an entertaining article, and very true. It reminds me of a story my dad once told me, wherein he was on the verge of quitting a job because he wasn’t happy with whatever it was management was doing. The boss invited him out to a bar after work to talk about it and plied him with drinks in an attempt to get him to stay. The next day, Dad showed up to work with some beers in a bag, gave them to the boss to repay him for the ones he’d paid for at the bar, and told him he was quitting. The boss was dumbfounded – he knew that Dad just had twins, had just bought a house, and had just bought a new car. What he didn’t know was that Dad barely even had a mortgage, let alone any other debt. Boss was shocked that Dad left, because he knew that most people in that situation never would’ve been able to.

    Thanks to this story and the mentality behind it, I always valued the freedom that living within your means can offer, even if FI was never a thing my dad knew or cared about – he still works part-time now at 74, but not because he needs the money.

    I get a score of 18.2 with my newly-agreed-to-purchase house. The thing is, if I take out my two paid-for cars (one of which is worth less than your shoes), it becomes 9.2. Even with my pre-house stats of 4 years of living expenses and renting, I still get a 12.6. I find it odd that adding $7k worth of paid-off cars supposedly doubles my fuck-over-ability. The two cars combined, including downtown parking, cost me in the neighbourhood of $400/month to own, and of course could be liquidated at any time.

  14. I hope your friend Alex is an exaggerated personality. He sounds like a real jerk. (Perfect for wall street probably)

    Thankfully my foa index level is 0.

    1. I suspect he’s the rule rather than the exception! He merely said (in the safe space with his friend) what the others think.

  15. This is a great post! Right now we’re at a 7.2, which seems accurate as I’ve been taking people’s crap less and less as each day goes by. However, my wife is currently pregnant, and using very conservative estimates, our score jumps to a 12.8…yikes! Looks like we’ve got some work to do 🙂

    Actually, you reminded me of a convo a manager had with me just last week. After finding out about said pregnancy and saying congrats, this manager said, “Looks like you’re going to have to buy a big home soon”. As I wasn’t expecting this comment, I laughed awkwardly, knowing we’re mortgage free and planned on having space, and replied with a simple, “…yeah…I guess…we’ll see”. My point being I never realized managers use tricks like this to gauge their employees, but it makes sense. The funny part is this manager is in debt up to their eyeballs haha!

    Quick question, what would you say to those that own, but are mortgage free? Would the score be lowered slightly, or do you think it’s fine the way it is?

    1. Yeah, once you recognize the signs of your manager trying to screw you over, it’s hard to unsee, isn’t it?

      As for mortgage-free, I’d agree that the formula as it is assumes everyone owns a house does so with debt, but over time your paid off mortgage should reflect in a lower score as you redirect your mortgage payments towards your portfolio.

  16. I got a 20, not so bad, but you didn’t factor in a pension? So in theory, if I quit right now, sold the house (400K profit) and lived on my pension from 22 years in gov, I would be at 0.

    Kids, 1 just entering, and other 1/2 way thru Univeristiy, so can I cancel them off ?

    Brother had 2 kids in private school, golden spoon up the ass, the boy hated it, went back to public, and now is working his way up the ladder. The girl stayed in private, and although she is a smart kid, is still sucking off parents hind tit, at 30 years old. Back in school for a second time as she didn’t like the work force.

    I was a graduate of the School of Hard Knocks, made me bad ass.

    Wanderer, great article, you really make people think… even if they don’t want to.

    cheers

      1. Yes, but they keep chipping it away to pay for the Boomers that are retiring now. Look at Sears and Nortel, their pensions died with them, not a good thing. It scares the shit out of me that they took my money without asking, invested it without my knowledge, and then I have to beg them for a payment, that dies when I do. Avoid Pensions like the plague, and put it in your own RRSP. Then you get 100% dead or alive.

  17. Great tool! Perhaps a silly question, but for the “years of living expenses saved”, do we include retirement, or only taxable savings?

  18. It is not PC but so funny. I love you guys. Your awesome.
    It gives me a better understanding of the surprise expression of a previous boss when I did quit. Haha.

    I have to pitch that post to some house horny friends and coworker!

  19. I suspect there are other Alex’s out there and I used to tease younger people on my team when they got married or bought a new house that “now I’ve got you!” But that was a joke, I assigned work out based on being fair and included myself on the crap jobs that had to be done even when I was the boss. I never wanted anyone to see me as an Alex. Leading is best done by serving your team members and helping them to win! But I also kept my index as close to zero as possible.

  20. I’m not sure why with 5+ years of expenses saved up I’m in the Extremely Fuck-over-able category just because I have a car payment. With over 5 years expenses covered I could figure out what to do with the car in the meantime? This just seems a bit extreme to me, though I understand that it does tie me to employment (that and all my other life expenses).

  21. Another useful calculator from a post that was amusing and definitely not PC.
    The best laugh was your naivete regarding the other index. Must be a result of your private school upbringing.

  22. It is a very interesting story, I had an experience with a new manager who was trying to push the narrative of a career risk to the group, my response to him that why we save to be ready in case of a complete job loss. He changed the topic and the tone immediately after that.

  23. out-fucking-standing! this is just great and something i hadn’t thought about. i’m near zero now but not sure because i have a kind of expensive wine habit. i would have just quit with zero net worth because that’s how i roll with titanium cajones. it sure is easier with your “needs” money already in the bank and i let them know it around the workplace. you can tell some management is not used to that.

  24. excellent article. I can see how over the years my f-o-a index decreased and my manager also recognizes this.

    now I don’t get pestered to go to completely useless meetings. (but other family breadwinners still are).

    once my manager came over and told me “whatever company health index meeting we just went through and that low score I had blah blah blah, you must think it’s hilarious”.

    And I had to comfort them why a low score is ok and not their fault because (insert serious face and deliver the message in a calm voice about the economy is doing SO well).

    this is the only low score which I love! thanks for excellent article wanderer!

  25. Going by my available cash, then I have 1 year of living expenses saved up (score 14.4). If I had to liquidate my entire dividend investing portfolio to cover 7 years of living expenses, then my score would be 10.8. That’s not as good as being at zero, but it’s waaay better than the average American. 🙂

    I can’t say I’m surprised about bosses being delighted by their minions’ debt. The great thing about pursuing FI is that even if you never achieve it, you put yourself in a much stronger financial position. Every dollar of debt tightens the company’s grip on your neck just a little bit more, and the boss knows it. Sadly, the idea of having a second source of income (preferably passive) is foreign to most employees’ minds so they let their financial position grow weaker year after year.

    Here’s a blast from the past that’s required viewing for anybody who doesn’t want to be up to their eyeballs in debt:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0_8kwypux8

      1. Actually, my score gets better than that, as I was only including liquid assets and omitted non-liquid tax-deferred retirement accounts and home equity when determining years of covered expenses. When I estimate my years of expenses covered by my total net worth, then my score changes to 3.0 (and it could be even less depending on how low I estimate monthly expenses).

        The FOA Index is a brilliant idea, but I think it needs some refinement by taking into account unpaid mortgages, student loans, and consumer debt. Age and health are also contributing factors that can affect one’s FOA.

  26. Great post! Thank you for a good laugh. Now I understand why my friends need to put up with all b$s! I definitively must share with them this post.

  27. 7! My partner got a 9. He just recently quit his job cause his boss was a dick… so I guess your index is accurate. Man, we were glad to have the backup savings and low expenses. Cause stress is sooo bad for your health. Much more worth it, in the long run, to quit rather than putting up with a bad work environment.

  28. I love this! I wish it wasn’t true, but I can tell you from direct personal experience that many companies out there pay attention to this. I remember a company doing this to me very early in my career, shortly after we purchased a house. They ended up doing a reorganization and put me at the bottom of it, and told me that I needed to suck it up “for the family.” Assholes. I ended up taking another job and a different company, and lost money on the house when I moved. It was a big amount of money for me at the time, but not a huge number overall – so it was a good lesson at the very least.

    Now that I am close to FI, I find that management treats me much more carefully. I have been very direct about concerns that I have at work, and been able to change the more undesirable aspects of my job by implying that I was prepared to leave if things didn’t change. Strangely, I find that even though I accomplish less at work now, the perception of my performance is now even higher than it ever was (and I was a high performer before this, too). Very strange and unexpected. The trick now is determining how little work I can get away with without getting a bad review and a poor raise, etc – want to milk this as much as I can before I RE. FU money FTW!

      1. I have noticed the exact same thing. For better or for worse I’ve intimated to my boss (and his boss) an inkling of my FI plans, and how my retirement timeline is accelerated by a good fifteen years compared to my peers; since then I’ve gotten twice the raise I expected, and I’m noticing that my shitwork quotient is surprisingly low compared to said peers. If the relationship were any more in my favor I’d almost feel guilty. 😉

          1. Interesting observations I’ve seen elsewhere. Yet several of the companies I worked at acted like they couldn’t have cared less whether employees stayed; unsurprisingly most were treated like crap. Even at better companies I recall no lamentations when good employees left. Seems to depend on how management views employees and how smart they are. Despite good performance reviews, never got any sense I was perceived as an asset. I figure announcing FI would have created jeopardy as management couldn’t squeeze as hard. Sadly, in my experience treating employees as necessary evils seems to be the norm.

  29. Big thing that isn’t included in the index is DEBT!!! If you have student loans or (god forbid) credit card debt, your fuck-over-ability goes way up!

    I currently show as a 14.4, but I know I would go up to the 25 range if my student loans were included.

    I also had a friend at my old job who would be at 100 if debt were included. Went to the private school for the reputation (no scholarships), always had the latest gadget, and had new brand name clothes every season. All along with the house and car payments (but no kids…yet). I happened to know how much they made and could guarantee they are not cash flow positive. Great person, but NOT smart with money.

  30. Interesting article and having worked for some major investment banks, I absolutely believe managers use the tactic of assessing a subordinate’s debt (including if they owe student loans) to guesstimate how much they really need the job. My number was 4.8. HOWEVER, because I’m repaying a student loan, which I hope to finish w/i 2 yrs or less, I wouldn’t exactly say I’m in a position to quit my job, even though I have 1 yr saved and no other debts or dependents. I’m happy to see my investments growing, but unless I get a big windfall, of sorts, it’ll be a few more years before I consider myself FI, or at least comfortable enough to walk away from my job. Thankfully though, I like my work, and have very reasonable hours with virtually no stress.

  31. At age 60 I am a zero and have been trying to quit but owning my own business I am having a hard time tying up all the loose ends. It is easy to start and run a business. Quitting is the hardest part of the whole deal.

    1. You know, that’s what every successful entrepreneur tells me. Walking away is incredibly hard.

      That being said, every UNsuccessful entrepreneur also tells me the same thing…

  32. I was a manager/director and those methods of manipulating my directs never crossed my mind. My goal was to support my directs’ growth and future career goals, not work them into submission by virtue of their responsibilities.
    I became FI through a lot of hard work and I’m now retired.
    I believe that the majority of managers are not that sinister. But if you’re currently working for one, or suspect that you are, you need to leave NOW.
    The job market has never been better nor will it last forever at this level of unemployment.

  33. FOA Index!

    Bingo! you nailed that one , Good stuff Wanderer and FC! love that. I guess I’m a bit naive, had no idea that managers did something of this sort. Yes, the ass holes that they are, for sure they know who is more/most desperate to keep their job and screw them over endlessly. I have seen that happen, and maybe went through that myself to some degree as well at some point. Being FI, gives you the ability and confidence to give them the finger of their choice and walk out any time when they get pushed around, as the Mastercard commercial says, Is Priceless. Thankfully, I’m FI now and no longer a corporate slave , I can only wish I had known about the FI concept and could have done that years earlier.

    Im not sure how familiar you are with the H1-B and other visa situations in the tech industry in US. If you are on this work visa, that, I think is worse than any debt situation you may be in as far as the company and your manager is concerned. You are a company slave for all practical purpose, doesn’t matter what your financial situation is and they can practically do anything they want. I suggest, maybe you should work that scenario into the FOA index as well.

  34. The article is funny; but the formula is seriously flawed.

    I own my home and two cars. The kids’ post-secondary tuition is saved for (to the extent that we desire).

    And I got rated a boss’ bitch.

  35. Love this! 🙂

    We are a 7, not perfect but getting there.

    This just shows that if you stay out of debt, don’t buy stupid stuff and keep your overheads low, you are already halfway there!

  36. I love this. I am 42 retired systems engineer. I worked for workaholic asshole bosses for many years. I am now free while those pricks are still glued to their desks. I am very humble about my situation but sometimes I laugh and say “I win”. Riding my bike to the gym on a beautiful morning knowing I am free from the corporate toxic hell. “I win!

  37. Very very enlightening. Now I think I know the main reason why I find it super ultra hard to get hired. Brilliant article.

      1. On the contrary, my resume doesn’t look good at all. Employment history was filled with temporary 3-6 months stint and multiple periods of prolonged unemployment. Immediately that gives the impression that I am a quitter of sort or do not have enough commitment (debt or family) that binds me to stay, as your article pointed out.

        1. Yes but you actually recognize this is something that employers don’t like to see, good for you. As my son is finding out, there are many factors in “The Game” and yes, its a game.

          Next job, stick it out for 1 year minimum, if you like it or not.

  38. Wonderful non PC post! Keep ’em coming! F Index 0 and happily still working a job I enjoy but know I can leave if the boss gets cruddy.

  39. This index is fucking-fantastic! And the whole blog post gave me a giant laugh. Interesting that I have a 0 score, and quite frankly the “savings” tapped out at 25 years and I have more than that based on our current annual expenses with 2 teens – once they are out of the house, our annual expenses will plummet. So really this index suggests I should just go ahead and retire already. I run my own small business as a consultant, and I gave the big finger to my corporate job 7 years ago. It was the best thing I could have done. Even though I work really hard and sometimes long hours, I do it from home in comfy clothes, avoid all office politics and get to tell the CEO what I really think. Raking in the dough and having that level of freedom is almost too much to resist. We plan to retire once the kids finish high school. I figure I might as well keep working while we are tied down and can’t travel.

    As a manager, I was never this type of asshole. Even if I knew people had financial obligations, I wouldn’t dump work on them based on this fact. I have always paid off debts quickly (student, mortgage) so I didn’t freak out that there could be a company downsizing, and I was never afraid to leave for another opportunity. I guess this idea of fucking over, or being fucked over didn’t really cross my mind.

    1. Congrats! And yes, above 25 years you’re good to go.

      And it’s great that you didn’t have to do this since your industry doesn’t seem as overworked/understaffed as others. But if your back was up against the wall and you needed to dump on someone, would you distribute it evenly or would you take into account how fuck-over-able some people are?

      1. I work in Financial services and everyone is overworked and departments are understaffed. It really is quite miserable for most people. I would like to think I did a good job managing down – most of the folks who worked for me tell me I was a great boss and have followed me to other companies. I always defended and protected them, as long as they got shit done on time which helped me look good. I also rolled up my sleeves with them so they saw I was working just as hard as they were. The reason I left my “real job” is I was tired of long days without a chance to eat or even a pee break, followed by more work in the evening after the kids were tucked in. I was absolutely miserable.

        I usually distributed the “dumping of work” evenly although those who got the most were more efficient and accurate. So the “best” got the most work, which doesn’t seem fair. However, I typically also got them recognition, title changes, salary increases and bonuses where ever I could. People liked working hard for me because they knew there was a reward. Managers don’t have to be manipulative assholes.

  40. Great post!!
    Written with a lot of wit, but oh so true!
    And worst of all, society continuously pushes us into buying ridiculously big houses, excruciatingly expensive new cars and – at least here in Spain for those who can afford it (or can´t…) – private schools.
    The message in your post should indeed be mandatory for any future employee.
    Again, one of the best posts I´ve read in a long time, I truly enjoyed it!
    Best regards, Paul

  41. Sorry, but I have 5 years of living wages saved up, more if I use geographic arbitrage, and a small car payment, I don’t own a house or have kids, and I’m still in the “Extremely Fuck Overable”? I think your scale is off.

  42. Awesome scale. My FOI is 6 and I plan to achieve FIRE within a couple of years. In regards to the index, I think I’m a variation of this as I don’t have the loans/kids/repayments but I think my boss thinks I am poor since I am incredibly frugal/budget conscious and don’t buy many new things (handbags/clothes/shoes etc). Really makes me rethink what info I share with my colleague’s and manager though and how I present myself

    1. Hi Lin,

      There is no need to share your information with your manager and colleagues. It’s better to keep a low profile with the knowledge of quitting at any point of time.

      Ben

  43. Great index, btw. Sorry to say this about your friend but Alex sounds like the jerk we’ve all met at some point in our careers. And one I kept telling myself not to become as I moved into management.

    I scored 0 in your index. I actually would’ve scored negative because your sliding scale of expense coverage stops at 25, so how do you rate 45? Is there a “super invincible” category? 🙂

  44. I scored a 4 because of my car (no payments). I’m in no way over a barrel if I lose my job though, I have too many options. If it came to it I could work part time at a minimum wage job or full time seasonally and take the rest of the year off to make ends meet and that is just to cover our expenses without dipping into our portfolio or cash cushion at all. The place I live has more jobs than people to work them because of the BC housing crisis and this being a touristy spot with a lot of air BNBs and not many places to rent for normal working people so I wouldn’t have trouble finding work either. I just put up with this job because it is secure and I can do it while I sit at home in my pajamas and my spouse brings me coffee and snacks.

  45. Funny story but this technique is so true. Having FU money or being FI gives you the power at work. We became FI at age 49. I had a new manager at age 50. He wanted me to learn his system that he brought over to our team. I told him in a respectful manner that I am busy with my 3 existing systems. The company was about to do another rounds of layoffs and he wanted me to beef up my skill set so that it would look better for me. I told him that I had no mortgage and we were FI. I would be fine if the company would give me a severance package. He asked if I would get another job since I was only 50. I told him no. He was 62 at the time and was surprised that I don’t have to work anymore. Well, my co-worker who has a mortgage got stuck learning and supporting that pain in the ass application.

    Although we currently have passive income from munis bonds and wife’s pension to cover 2X expenses, I want to work another 15 months to reach 55 to almost double my pension to 71.5K and to get 8K yearly for company retiree medical. Healthcare in the USA is stupidly expensive so any money I get as a retiree to pay for medical is great. If I leave before 55 then my pension would be 39K and I would not get any money for medical. Life always throws a curve ball so I rather be more financially secure.

    My current manager of 2 years knows that I am FI, wife is retired and he leaves me alone. I provide 24×7 online support and I no longer have a backup since they laid him off in 2016. Working by myself can be stressful when there are problems. My boss told me this year that I am doing a good job and management gave me a 7K raise instead of the usually 2.5-3.5K. I also got a 30K bonus instead of the usual 25K. My co-worker told me that management is terrified of me leaving since no one in the company knows what I do. The stupid thing is when my backup was laid off, I asked my mgr to swap me with him because my co-worker has a mortgage and needs a job. Well, management said no. My boss wants me to stay for 5-8 more years but I am keeping my retirement plans to myself.

    Adam

  46. This. Is. Amazing! Being a small business owner with one employee, I have had a hard time picturing myself as an Alex, especially since I gave my employee The Simple Path to Wealth when she came on board and have set her up immensely with retirement accounts and what not. Honestly, I want people to work with me because they like it and ultimately want to, not because they are indebted to a mortgage, car payment, or other asinine thing. I’ve also never worked in big corporations so I guess I’ve been lucky and never was exposed to these harsh realities.

  47. I wonder if risk tolerance and job prospects should be added into this. As I think even someone with debt/mortgage/etc but 6 months to one year’s expense saving with a medium/high risk tolerance with decent job prospects may not put up with that.

    Just like someone with low risk tolerance with little expense and 1 years savings may put up with a lot more than they need.

    Or someone with good savings but low (or perceived low) job prospects in their field may put up with more….

  48. Before I found your blog, this was EXACTLY why I hadn’t bought a house or a new car! This is absolutely something that the company I work for does on a large scale. After I had been there only about a year, I remember someone in the office, who had just bought a house, made the comment that their “retention risk” had gone down. I didn’t really understand what they meant, but after my first performance review, I realized that this was something that was actually tracked in our online system and attached to our performance reviews. I first thought it was way more innocent than that and was more about like… job satisfaction and employee engagement. But no. It’s about how dependent you are on that paycheck and how much crap they can throw at you. Screw that.

  49. We’re either 0 or 7, depending on whether I can convince my spouse to sell our expensive house in a downturn and rent instead. The minute we did so, we’d have around 30x our living expenses. I like to look at it that way…

    As it is, I enjoy working enough that we don’t need to draw from our investment principal – and in a few years, that should compound into 25x our annual expenses including our mortgage.

    I kinda wish we were renters, but my spouse won that one. Regardless, this is a much better way to approach my 40th birthday than what a lot of my peers have done. Buy a new Mercedes every 3 years they said… it’ll be nice they said…

  50. 4.2 here, from an old coworker currently at the end of the 2nd year of my full-time career 🙂 Thanks Wanderer for all the financial inspirations back when I was an intern!

  51. You need to add a question of how many houses do you have payments on. I am very close to FI, between my savings and hubby’s salary, I am invincible, but owning a house and having a kid in a private house makes me look bad on your score board.

    The kid will graduate next May, House, or should I say all 4 houses (our own + 3 rentals) are all paid in full, I don’t think I deserve a high score for that 😉

  52. This was an eye opener for me. I got a 9.6, MUCH lower that I expected. And I didn’t even factor in the vast majority of my assets!

    You should consider refining this into a more detailed wage slave calculator.

    Sincerely,
    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

  53. I loved this post, thank you. By the 4% rule and the “index” my hubby and me are FI, but he does not believe me – says he wants to continue working. So I can only dream about traveling the world like you guys…
    Two questions questions if I may… I’ve been reading the blog posts but could not find what did you do with the furniture and other stuff in your Canada rental when you left for traveling the world? I mean – that’s the other objection my hubby has, he says we need to have a “home base” where to keep all the stuff. Plus – and don’t get me wrong please – we have pets. Two cats to be specific. I love them, but thes cost of parking them in a cat hotel while we travel would be extraorbitant. Maybe you could do a post on how to address pet costs (many report feeding their “furbabies” better food than they eat themselves…)
    Thanks and good luck, safe travels!

    1. We sold everything we had and left 4 boxes in Wanderer’s mom’s basement. I haven’t opened those boxes in 2 years, so we may just get rid of them too :P.
      There’s nothing wrong with having a home base–some people like to have a place to come back to. That’s completely fine, especially if you can rent it out while you’re gone. We’re pretty ruthless with not keeping stuff since we like optimizing so much, but I get that not everyone is as minimalist as we are.

      As for what to do with pets I’ll ask around the FI community to see what they do for a future post (so far I know that J.D Roth takes his pets with him while travelling the US in a RV) Thanks for the suggestion!

  54. Interesting concept. About 4 or 5 years ago, things were not going well. Supervisor and dept boss were not playing nice. I finally got fed up and flat out told my supervisor that I didn’t have to work there and for that matter, I didn’t have to work with deadly seriousness looking her hard in her eyes. They stopped their games. I do make it a point every once in a while to subtly remind them. It has been smooth sailing since.

    I’m not the only one that has also noticed that the best employee we have is treated poorly. He always wants to work overtime and drop awful stuff in his lap. But they are mistakingly believing he is up to his eyeballs in debt. What he is is 30 y/o and working the FI path hard. Like Olympic athletic hard. We talk financial concepts when others aren’t around. He’s on 10-year plan and has 6 more to go.

  55. Love this index! Alex sounds like a real sweetheart. Makes me wonder if sociopaths prefer management, or management prefers sociopaths. Seems the higher up they go the more ridiculous expectations get.

    I wonder if FU money could backfire. Because if they can’t squeeze you, then get put at the top of the next restructuring list. Yet many FI bloggers say they were treated better after announcing FI. But at the companies I worked at, I think that would have just put an even bigger layoff target on your back.

  56. Well my score is 10. No debts , no mortgage and zero savings. 1 car solid Toyota bought for cash.

    Recently migrated to Great Frozen North. Starting my life over

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