In 1997 there was a woman who found herself trapped in an abusive marriage, financially destitute, & with 5 kids to support.
She had known her husband most of her life & married for true love at 18. At 19 their first child came. 4 years later a second, and every 2 years came another baby until there were 5.
Soon after being married, she found out her husband was cheating on her with a married woman whom he had impregnated with twins.
You can't make this shit up.
After experiencing heartbreak & the existential grief that comes with being betrayed by the person you are very much still in love with, she made a decision to stay mostly for the kids but a little for herself too.
The fracture of trust between them didn't happen all at once. After the husband's first transgression she never really felt safe with him again. So when he started “working late” again, she became rightfully suspicious. She would stay up waiting for him, to confront him every night, in the hopes that he would re-evaluate his behavior & its repercussions on their beautiful family.
Instead of making him stop, being confronted just enraged him. He wanted to have his cake & eat it too. After all, he was a great provided & loving father.
Eventually, because he became hostile when questioned about his whereabouts- he began hitting his wife to get her off his back. At times things would escalate in front of the children.
Over time the wife developed crippling anxiety & a stress-induced seizure disorder. She became depressed & her once vibrant personality became dim.
At the time She didn't see a viable way out of her situation, with all 5 children depending on her.
She could not leave, because that would leave the kids with no financial security & no father.
Eventually, she gathered enough strength to make some moves. If she couldn't leave, she at the very least would take some control of the family business to ensure the financial security & education of her 5 children.
Thinking that the success of the family business also meant success for the kids she helped her husband grow the family business, not only by heading all the household duties with their 5 kids but also serving as the VP of his company & taking the business to the next level.
Not soon after the business was booming she found out yet another woman was pregnant by her husband. Still wanting to do what was best for her children, she put blinders on and stayed.
A few years later this same woman became pregnant with a second & something finally broke inside her. She had reached the limits of her patience & self-sacrifice for her children.
When she unleashed some of her disappointment & frustrations on her husband, he fired her from their company as VP & left her with no income. She had no savings of her own, no income & came to realize neither the business or their home was in her name or the kid's names. The husband left the family home, his financial support, as well as his visits, dwindled.
Without her leadership, soon after she left the business started to go downhill. He stopped coming around & became extremely unreliable & highly inconsistent with financial support to the point that food & school tuition for the kids were routinely jeopardized.
Seeing no way out & with the kids being 14, 10, 8, 6, & 4, she made the decision to leave the life she’s always known & head towards the United States as a single mother, with all 5 kids. Not speaking a lick of English.
I was the 14-year-old.
MONEY= FREEDOM To Walk Away
It was then that I vowed to never put myself in a position where I could potentially be disposable to anyone, especially not a man.
I decided that it was extremely important to me that I build my own thing- career, money all of it, & never depend on anyone to solely provide for me because if they decide to hit you, leave you or both it is really hard to recover from that. We struggled a whole lot when first immigrating to this country.
Mostly I realized that me, my mom, my two sisters & every woman really- needs a Fuck you Fund to be able to walk away from any situation that diminishes her worth with two middle fingers in the air.
The Priceless Security & Peace of a FU Fund
Throughout history, there have been an overwhelming amount of stories of women enduring, physical, emotional even sexual abuse because they could not afford to walk away to survive. Of course, there are many ways abusers manipulate & isolate their victims by making their victims completely dependent on them & making them feel trapped in multiple ways, not just financially.
Whether abuse takes the form of a relationship, a job or anything else, not having the tools or know-how to have that FUF- may afford you more freedom and options in the event you find yourself in an abusive situation.
Looking back had my mother had a FUF, perhaps she would have considered walking away sooner. Perhaps it could have helped to give her more courage & confidence to leave & not stay & sacrifice her health & wellbeing for us. I would have really loved that for her.
Having witnessed my parents' relationship I definitely instinctively developed a hyperindepent personality, which has its great parts & not so great parts.
After coming to the States with nothing and nobody the insane struggle we had to go through to become somebody- I vowed to never, ever allow myself to be in a position where anyone person or entity would have that amount of power over me.
Let me preface this by saying that you don’t have to be a woman or be in a bad relationship or job to have a FUF. Nor do you have to hide money from your spouse, or maybe you do- only you know that.
All I’m saying is that having one source of financial security, whether it be a person a job, or both may also be a way that control & abuse can enter.
Also, a FUF, also known as an EMERGENCY FUND, is protection against unforeseen regular life stuff like a recession, a pandemic, WWIII, catastrophe, whatever, you name it.
I like FUF better than EMERGENCY FUND because there’s nothing like the thought of me being mostly impenetrable from the uncertainty of the world & walking away from any situation that threatens my sense of security, well-being or worth like waking away from an explosion with double birds in the air.
How to Start a FUF
Let's start by discussing the psychological effects of financial survival mode, which may or may not have come from your parent's relationship with money, yours, or both.
If you happen to be a person that by default lives in financial survival mode you may have difficulty saving money & keeping a budget because chronically earning less than what you need to live & satisfy the basic needs of yourself & your family or have a chronic illness or any other type of adversity. You may have created a level of financial insecurity & a financial belief system that says : "Hey we don't know if more money is coming in the future so let's get everything we need & want now while I have it."
Going forward your financial habits may be reinforcing this belief system by keeping you living from paycheck to paycheck and/or in obscurity about your own finances to avoid the pain that may come with a financial reality check.
I have been there.
The tendency of someone with a history of financial survival mode is to consider the following EMERGENCY FUNDS:
among other things that specifically predate on the poor & keep them on the hook for a long time.
These ARE NOT FUFs. Although these provide temporary relief in an emergency, they have done nothing for my long-term financial goals or my peace of mind.
The goal here is to have a separate savings fund that is independent of all this, in order to cultivate financial peace & ease for yourself.
So I want you to pause and observe if you notice your comfort with considering tapping into any of the above BAD EMERGENCY FUND REPLACEMENTS I listed above if you have them as options.
This behavior may continue the pattern of staying in financial survival mode. What I want for you is to transition out of that state, and into financial ease & peace NOW. You deserve it.
Instead of tapping into your retirement accounts which I do not recommend, if you can absolutely help it, because of the penalties and the fact that the loss of compound interest long term is a severe disadvantage to the growth of your retirement account.
Instead, let's get scrappy & find different ways you can take start that fund if you wanted to.
The first thing I would do to start building an emergency fund is to try and save $500.
It can come from reducing expenses by $500, or finding a way to increase your income by $500.
Isolate your average monthly expenses by tracking your money for a few months & creating a money map by adopting a budget.
Once you have that number, your total average monthly expenses, then you will know what minimum number you need to hit every month so you can start to build contingency plans with whatever is left over after that.
If you have it: use your disposable income (whatever is left after your expenses & retirement contributions) to start building your emergency fund.
Then once you hit 1 month of savings increase the goal x 2 until you reach 6 months or more. Create a chart, plot your progress each month. Make each month a benchmark to celebrate! It will help you stay on track.
Put the money aside in a high yield savings account as soon as you get paid with an automatic transfer from your bank & create the habit of paying yourself first. That way your savings and expenses are taken care of before any non-essential expenses.
Financial freedom doesn't just mean being debt-free. True financial freedom is every type of freedom & the freedom to walk away from any BS that diminishes you or does not serve you.
True Freedom is the freedom to
quit that toxic job,
leave that abusive relationship
pivot towards more happiness
shift when you want, & not depend on outside circumstances to release you
the freedom to be who you want,
go where you want
& with only who you want to come with you.
More importantly, by having a FUF you are free to feel completely secure and confident about your decisions knowing that you have the power to do right by yourself no matter what happens.
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This blog post provides personal finance educational information & is not intended to provide legal, financial, or tax advice. All of the content of this blog post is my opinion not that of my employer, affiliates, or business partners.