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Can Stupid People Achieve FI?


Ask my friends, co-workers and colleagues – my cognitive limitations are legion. I forget things the second they are told to me. I can’t follow complex discussions. I have the attention span of a Chihuahua on meth.

In some places, or times, I might be referred to as  “dyslexic”, “ADD”, or simply “learning differently” or “not good at standardized texts”. I just cut to the chase and say I’m stupid.

Yet somehow, I have still managed to achieve financial independence, with little sacrifice and even after many bad decisions.

The reality is, many people get intimidated by finance and numbers. So they make things worse by letting overpriced financial advisors make decisions for them; never thinking about about retirement, saving, etc.; or just plain giving up and hoping a rich spouse or lottery win will rescue them.

That’s why the Contrarian Saver is here to tell you that, no matter how intellectually limited you may be (or think you may be), you can still achieve FI.

Start by following these basic guidelines:

Start simple: say to yourself “I spend $4,000 (or whatever your number is) per month. I need to somehow generate that amount, month after month, without a job, to achieve financial independence.” Then you can strategize how to get there: savings, income streams, or some combination of the two. But giving yourself this first simple challenge will steer you towards FI more powerfully than any number of articles on bitcoin, day trading, index funds, etc.

Don’t worry about making it perfect: say you are putting all your savings in a no interest checking account, paying zero percent. Yes, there are better places to put it. But you are still so much better off than the person who spends it all, doesn’t know where their money is going, puts all their money into high risk speculative investments and loses it, and 99% of the rest of the world who doesn’t save at all. So leave it in a checking or savings account and optimize with CDs, index funds, etc. when you are ready to tackle that stuff – if ever.

Embrace your stupidity: I never worry that I’m too stupid to understand or achieve something. I just accept my own stupidity and move on from there. Do you really need to be intelligent to achieve your goals, anyway? Many famously successful people are not traditionally intelligent (I’m sure you can think of a few) but that never stopped them from getting rich. Why should it stop you?

Don’t judge yourself: do you think Elon Musk beats himself up after failing to meet his goals, for approximately 50 consecutive quarters?  And I think he recently achieved zillionaire-dom! Many people think failure is some sort of verdict on their intelligence. But in my observation, fiscally fit  people embrace mistakes, bad moves, and failures as an organic part of the journey to financial success. Move on! All the successful people do.

Look at who else achieves FI: yes, many of the people who started the movement are software developers… and that can be intimidating. But, I’ve also seen many people from other walks of life – cops, nurses, stay at home Moms, me – achieve FI brilliance. Follow them first before listening to the software developer from Palo Alto who has optimized his finances to a complex, intimidating and unattainable peak. You don’t to need be them (and maybe they are overdoing it just a bit anyway).

And finally, look on the bright side: if you’ve achieved FI, maybe you weren’t quite as “stupid” as you thought.

Are you, like me, “stupid” by conventional measures- yet have still achieved FI? Please do tell in the comments below!

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