Escapology is a quite different way of looking at financial independence (aka “Findependence”) than we normally cover in this blog and the magazine. If you’ve not heard the term before, welcome to the club. A tip of the hat to fee-for-service planner Fred Kirby for alerting me to the existence of a recently launched print magazine called the New Escapologist.
As far as I can tell from a quick read of the ninth installment, titled Take the Money and Run, Escapology is a kind of very extreme early retirement worldview that puts the focus on freedom rather than material possessions and the myriad of costly services most of us regard as a necessity in this gadget-crazy 21st century (i.e. wireless access, cable TV, smartphones and social media, subscriptions to movie services and magazines and all those other services provided by businesses such as my employer, Rogers).
But let’s let the magazine speak for itself:
What is Escapology? It’s about deftly avoiding the potential traps of modern life: debt, stress, unrewarding work, bureaucracy, marketing, noise and over-government. It’s about embracing freedom … Escapology asks you to consider the circumstances in which you would most like to live and encourages you to find a way of engineering them.”
Well then! The lead editorial in this issue, titled A Scandal in Bohemia, is a clever essay by Robert Wringham on “why we must, unfortunately, talk about money.” Since this Financial Independence blog is housed at the MoneySense website, I regard Escapology as appropriate grist for our mill. In fact, the writer invokes the very term “financial independence” when he describes various paths of “work avoidance.” In the case of Bohemians (you know, the type of characters who inhabit Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody), the game is to ignore money as much as possible, “living in squats or caravans or in planned communities.” Others go the extreme early retirement route: working intensely in “conventional jobs for five or ten years, saving or investing their wages and retiring at the age of thirty or forty to enjoy the second half of the story in peace.”
Thus, Wringham writes, “the early retiree defers her pleasure but eventually escapes forever. The Bohemian takes her freedom now and in full.” (A year ago, MoneySense ran a cover story with just such a cover line: Freedom Now!).
Indeed, some of the contributors to the magazine are extreme-early-retirement pundits like Mr. Money Mustache (“retired” at 30) or Jacob Lund Fisker, who seems to have built a nice career around his claim to having “retired” at 33. They are not unlike a couple of Canadian 30-something early-retiree-turrned-authors who graced issues of MoneySense before my time here: Dianne Nahirny and Derek Foster. I have a bias here but I think “Early Findependence” is a more accurate descriptor than “Early Retirement” when it comes to this group.
The issue’s EndNote, also by Wringham, is titled Things of Value, and extolls the virtues of Epicureans who seek the “simple but extremely pleasant life.” The necessary ingredients include optimum health, as much free time as possible, dependable friendships, intellectual stimulation (either purposeful or not), a satisfying creative output and a few other items, few of which are accessible via the consumer economy or even made less accessible by the same economy.
What can the average MoneySense reader make of this?
It’s all entertaining and highly literate reading, even if — as I suspect is the case for the vast majority of MoneySense readers — you’re relatively content with “wage slavery” and see the necessity for accumulating a decent amount of wealth for a future that includes the many luxuries, gadgets and services that the escapologists claim we can do without.
Still, it’s a perspective worth considering, even if it encourages you to do without some unnecessary things or services and perhaps move your retirement or early findependence date ahead a few years. After all, I do use the slogan “Freedom, Not Stuff!” in the new US edition of Findependence Day. If you’re well past middle age and still toiling in the trenches of capitalism, you may even feel like a chump after reading some of these essays. I’m 60 myself but still find my job/late-life career rewarding. Hey, in effect I got paid for reading and writing about Escapology!
For more, or to subscribe, go to www.newescapologist.co.uk