Game of Thrones… Hailed by Time Magazine as “The World’s Most Popular Show”. It’s rampant popularity sparked my curiosity but a quick peak revealed it was one of those fantasyland Dungeons & Dragons / Lord of the Harry Potter things – which I despise. Further reading revealed the show seems heavily focused on butts and boobs. Does that explain its popularity?
As I looked closer, I also began to think of other shows like 24, Lost, Mad Men, The Wire, Stranger Things, Weeds, True Detective, This Is Us, and all the other chatter that I hear about so often.
One of the most commonly asked questions people ask me when we start talking about investing and personal finance is; “how do you find the time to do/learn/read/research/study all this stuff?”. Looking at that list of shows above might give you a clue when I tell you I’ve not seen a single frame of any of them.
So this got me thinking – how much time do we invest in TV versus the time we invest in ourselves? What do we get out of 7 seasons of Game of Thrones that is of long-term benefit?
I thought it would be fun to take a look at Game of Thrones, season by season, and equate the time spent watching an HBO series to the time you could spend learning how to secure your financial freedom, your long term future, and literally securing the future of your children and their children for ages to come. We will call it Game of Thrones vs. Game of FIRE (Financially Independent Retiring Early).
The more I looked into Game of Thrones the more I found the show outright disturbing. So far there are 67 episodes comprising of 67 hours of murder, sex nudity, and rape. Well there’s some 21st century entertainment for you! Maybe, just maybe there is something better we could do with out time. Here is my idea…
Game of Thrones – Here we have 10 episodes equaling 10 hours of supposed quality entertainment that delivers 33 naked men & women, 21 sex scenes, 5 rapes, and 59 deaths. Good grief, this counts as quality entertainment? In this season there is some kind of plot about a guy named Ned Stark and the Lannisters and Ned’s bastard son Jon Snow and some kind of an ancient force. I dunno… My eyes rolled back in my head just reading the synopsis, so that’s as far as I got. I’d honestly rather watch a season of the Kardashians, given the choice. Quick – let’s find 10 hours where we can do something more productive with our free time!
Game of FIRE – In equating the amount of time spent watching JR Tolkien on a fantasy porn binge imitating A Clockwork Orange, we have 10 hours where we could start laying the groundwork for a financial plan of freedom. Trust me, we can keep our clothes on here and avoid killing anyone, but we do need to set our plot in motion. This will require developing a contrarian approach to the economic models and materialistic attitudes of 2017 – preparing to zig while others zag, if you will. As I’ve mentioned several times, normal today is over-leveraged with debt, wealthy in appearance, and broke in reality.
For me, Season 1 of FIRE is more philosophical than anything – a preparation of the mind and a development of a personal philosophy that will run counter to “normal”.
Many, many years ago I (and my beautiful wife) began to see a real problem with rampant materialism. We live in an affluent area but we certainly don’t feel like affluent people. We’ve been extremely fortunate (#blessed) to earn more than a vast majority of the world’s population in terms of income, but we never saw the benefit of just spending it all. we certainly didn’t see the benefit of borrowing money so we could spend more than we made.
The cycle of work, spend, work, spend until I was too old to consider the work part and subsequently had nothing left in the spend part just did not make sense to me. I began to consider not what I could afford to buy in terms of material possessions but what I could afford to buy in terms of freedom. I set a goal to retire at 50, and I’m 49 today. How do we make this happen?
I can immediately think of 3 books I’ve read that run counter to conventional thinking and have been very inspiring to me. They are not easy reads – I think the fact that they run counter to thoughts engrained in everyday life mean you have to slow down a bit in order to digest them. Given 10 hours, however, you could finish at least one and maybe two…
Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb – a blistering critique of the modern day intelligentsia, exposing so-called “experts” who actually have no clue as to what they are doing. When I read this book I kept shouting, “finally! I have finally found someone who asks the same questions and comes to the same conclusions I have for years!” – and here I thought I was just weird – hah… As soon as I finished it, I went right back to the beginning and read it again.
Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew Crawford – a questioning of the educational imperative that aims to turn all students into “knowledge workers” from both an economic and psychological perspective. Finally, a viable consideration of the value of the trades as opposed to the “common core” studies taught in school that are leading to horrific economic realities for our students. This should be mandatory reading for all high school sophomores before they start deciding on their paths beyond high school.
Early Retirement Extreme: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Financial Independence by Jacob Lund Fisker – I hate to post this title because when you read it you will see many themes I’ve “lifted” and then written about in my blog. I carried this book around for 3 months when I got it and read it sentence by sentence. Very affirming for someone like me who continually questions rampant consumerism and materialism versus living a peaceful existence free from the burdens imposed by “looking successful” instead of “being successful” – and then defining what “successful” means.
Additionally, I like to read financial news on a daily basis. If nothing else, the feel for who is doing what, what is happening where, and the how and why of it all help me to feel more confident, educated, and in tune with the things I am investing in. I highly recommend the following if you are at all interested in investing and financial news:
- https://seekingalpha.com – subscribe to the Wall Street Breakfast emails
- http://www.politico.com – subscribe to the Morning Money emails
- https://www.bloomberg.com – subscribe to everything they offer (and listen to their podcasts)
Ok – there you have it. Ten hours of groundwork to get you started. Coming soon, we will look at Season 2 of Game of Thrones, to see who got naked, who got killed, and an overview of the continued depravity.
On Game of FIRE we will set some goals, look at our current financial picture, and start looking at the initial steps for budgeting, getting out of debt, and turning our small piles of cash into large piles of cash. I’ll also recommend some books that speak directly to the hows and whys and what for of investing. Stay tuned…