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Steven Slater Proves It: You Need an F-You Fund

I love the Steven Slater story.

In case you’ve had your head in the sand for the past few days, here’s the quick version: Slater was a Jet Blue flight attendant who had a really crappy Monday at work. After an altercation with a defiant passenger, Steven Slater let fly an expletive-filled rant over the airline’s PA, grabbed a beer from the galley, popped an emergency exit slide, and departed from his career.

About an hour later, police arrested Slater at his home near JFK airport.

Having worked service jobs before, I snicker at Slater’s story. I don’t doubt the seriousness of his legal troubles or the recklessness of his actions. But, I know every past and present service worker has dreamed of quitting in a “take this job and shove it” blaze of glory. Most, of course, never act. And those who do usually don’t go out in first-class fashion like Slater.

But what does this have to do with personal finance in your twenties?

It’s about the utility of the F-You Fund.

I know nothing about Steven Slater’s financial situation. I don’t know that flight attendants earn all that much, but he’d been at it for close to twenty years and, if he were smart, could have had a decent emergency fund and other savings. But did Slater have an F-You fund?

An emergency fund is money to pay the bills for six to nine months in case you lose your job. An F*-You fund is money to pay the bills in case you just can’t take it anymore.

Similar, but different.

If I wanted to create an F-You fund, I’d save more than just minimum expenses for a few months; I’d save a year’s worth of after-tax salary…enough to live on for a year.

Think about it: If you had a year’s salary stashed in a high yield savings account somewhere, you’d know that if you really got fed up at work, you could just quit.

Let’s be honest, popping the chute is never going to be a wise career move. But you never know when you might face a day, like Steven Slater, when enough is enough.

Have you ever quit a job suddenly? Were you financially prepared? How do you think having an F-You Fund would change your attitude towards work? (Feel free to comment on Slater, too, but let’s not get carried away…)

Published or updated on August 12, 2010

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. David Cole says:

    I would say that i don’t see the point of this. If i all ready of a checking account buffer and a emergency fund to get me to 6 months of living. Why would i need this fund as well. Seems like 1 years worth of money could go a long way if invested for retirement. I just think this fund is not needed if you have a emergency fund.

  2. robshaw says:

    Look – I have a 10 year fund, and I do not ever want to quit. In fact, I am looking to make more $.


  3. Would you need a F-U-Fund if your Self-employed?

  4. Moneyedup says:

    There are so many other things I would want to be saving for than for a fund in case I decide to quit my job suddenly. I am grateful just to have my job, and have to sometimes grin and bare it when I have to deal with unpleasant situations because overall I enjoy what I do and won’t let others ruin that for me.

  5. Adam says:

    Saving a year’s salary is stupid. There are so many expenses you wouldn’t have to deal with if you didn’t have a job as well as expenses you SHOULD cut back on if you lose your job. Save for expenses, not for lost income.

  6. Love the idea of an F-You Fund — I imagine I’d use it if I had one! Except I still need to put money in a bunch of other funds for our future, too.

  7. Jason says:

    I did something like this with one of my very first career jobs. The job itself was terrible–much different than it was billed, in a terrible work environment, with extremely long hours every day of the week, for very low pay. I tried to air my completely legitimate complaints about it and nothing was done. After a completely miserable 6 weeks, I informed them on a Friday that I wasn’t coming in ever again. It did lead to a period of a year when I was able to find only partial employment, but never have I regretted that decision for even a second. In fact, it was the impedus to completely change my career in a new and far better direction, which has made me happier and been far more financially fulfilling since.

    You do, of course, have to realize the difference between when you need to suck it up and put your nose to the grindstone and when someone is taking advantage of you. But a fund like this is priceless for the times when you decide it’s the latter.

  8. Working on building one now! I think $3-5 mil should be enuf! :)

  9. ZFarls says:

    Yup, D’angelos the summer before my senior year of college. 2 weeks left in summer and had made all my cash for the year. 21st B-day was coming up and assistant manager was being a jerk. He said I could go home for the day, I was like thank you and I also won’t be coming back. I wanted to do the Half Baked/Jerry Maguire but I have a little more class.

    Ended up taking 2 craiglist jobs and made the 200 bucks I would have had made if I stayed. Week later the guy got moved and the main lady welcomed me back anytime.

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