|Photo by Joël de Vriend on Unsplash|
** So, a warning: I might be hitting a bit close to politics on today's read. If that bothers you, skip this one. Also, please keep in mind this was written before the murder for George Floyd and the justifiable outrage across the globe. This article didn't touch on police brutality before and it won't know because it's not the blog to cover this. **
It seems that I've stumbled upon a section of the FIRE haters who don't discredit the FIRE movement based on moronic clichés such as "extreme frugality!" but on a much more credited basis of the racial wealth gap. Essentially, the FIRE movement is accessible by rich white families because of the wealthy foundation they are born into (i.e. generational wealth through real estate). While a lot of what I've read and listened to* is based on America, I don't think Canada is very absolvent of similar crimes.... at all. It seems no matter how recent or far back in history you go, the straight white male (SWM) has been screwing every other minority group out there gettin' paid as a result. As a SWM, this is unsettling to think about.
It naturally begets the question: Am I a fraud? Are my accomplishments invalid? Or are they simply just easily predicted due to my privilege? Am I entitled to my wealth or should I feel guilty for it?
To be candid with you all, I've started this blog for two reasons: 1. to have fun ironing out my ideas and getting to help others and my self in the process and 2. make some money on the side if possible. It's discomforting to think that my blog might only come off as "SWM's Wealthy Guide for Helping Other Wealthy SWM's!"
I suppose now is the time for me to get super defensive or super aggressive or simply apologize. I don't think any of these would serve my readers so I'm going to opt for Plan D, which is to simply speak my truth on a heavy topic and let you, the reader, judge me.
And by the way, there's no doubt in my mind that other bloggers/podcasters haven't been confronted with this topic either but I'm certain they've wisely sidestepped the confrontation because talking about hard subjects is hard. Doing hard stuff means you might get it wrong and getting things wrong is unprofitable (and depending how wrong you get this topic, it could be devastating). Since profit is the secondary motive to this blog, I figured I'd give this worthy topic a go.
Here's my truth:
- Discrimination is a scourge on humanity - Having grown up in a very multicultural setting I had a hard time accepting that humans of all races can be racist. It is an unfortunate truth and one I hope eventually dies like the dinosaurs.
- The racial wealth gap shouldn't exist.. but it does - Being cognisant of other people's circumstances when I speak at meet-ups or type on this blog is imperative to creating an inclusive (but no bullshit) blog about the FIRE movement.
- I've accepted now more than ever that the FIRE movement is not for everyone - people telling you otherwise are selling a fantasy to some who are simply not in a position to ever join. The marketing that goes into branding the FIRE movement as all-inclusive is simply that, marketing. They want you to believe enough in yourself to click on enough links that generate income. Whether or not you succeed is optional and frankly, I don't think they will care.
- A lot of the privilege and generational wealth I experienced growing up is extremely uncommon for minority groups and even somewhat uncommon among my own ethnicity. I was given a fully funded RESP and money to buy my first car and my first home. I don't say this to gloat - I say this to be transparent. More on this in my upcoming Transparency Page.**
- I didn't ask nor do I wish that history has happened to work out greatly in my favour. I think the responsible thing to do in my position is to give back and improve society around me - I'm hoping this blog enables me get started on that path.
- I could've squandered the financial gifts my father gave me in my teenage and early adult years but instead I have built financial stability for my growing family. I'm proud of this and not history nor anybody living today can take away those accomplishments. I will however acknowledge that much of my wealth today comes from a history of exploiting others, especially minority groups.
- I definitely accept that my achievements are not as impressive as somebody achieving similar results that comes from a minority background. I don't think it's possible to compare scorecards anyways but as a general rule when hearing other peoples stories it would be wise of me to potentially not share my own as the comparison might not actually exist.
- I think winners and losers are a part of being alive. Some people lose because they are sick - or they are lazy - or because of unlucky circumstances. The variables are endless and I've accepted the fact that society will always look like this. I dream of a Star Trek future where everything on Earth is peachy but Star Trek is a fantasy. There is no universe where everybody wins.
- I think improving society is ultimately up to the individual each day and for every douchebag out there there needs to be a helping hand to get people where they need to be. I'm trying to be the helping hand in a way that makes sense for me. I'm still figuring out what that will look like - I think it's a lifelong process to be honest.
- One of the reasons I like the FIRE movement so much is because it forces you to help yourself before helping others. Once you get your financial shit together, you'll often be in a position of strength to help others - even if you're not at FIRE.
- In fact, this is especially true once you do hit FIRE and you can begin setting your time to things that actually matter to you and not to your primary income source. For example if I hit my FIRE number and have excess income coming in from a super successful blog (a man can dream...) then the profits serve me no purpose - I don't need the money anymore, remember? So the community around me will begin to prosper as a result. MMM donates tonnes of profit to charity, built a coworking space and not too mention donates so much of his time to helping others. I'd like to do that as well if afforded the chance.
- We are stronger together than we are apart. I don't pretend to share the experience of those who've been maliciously profited from but I firmly stand on their side that changes and reparations are needed.
I hope you all learned a little about me with this article. I hope this wasn't a total cringy waste of your time and that important subjects shouldn't be danced around or avoided but instead acknowledged and reflected on. Mine happened to take the form of a blog post since I thought it was relevant to you.
Thanks for reading,
Ryan Myricks (this will be the first and last time I refer to myself as a "SWM". Fuck labels.)
You can email me here: email@example.com (I respond to everybody)
* The main content that sparked this article is this podcast. You can also watch this on Netflix or Youtube.
** I think it matters greatly to all readers for financial bloggers such as myself to be as transparent as possible. Hiding incomes or other assets is completely disingenuous if you're preaching the lifestyle optimization of the FIRE movement. Besides my account numbers, I'm willing to show all. Once that page is live, I'll link it here.