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…)