Are you a Financial Independence Unicorn?

In the financial independence community sometimes I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb or you know a unicorn. If you read other blogs who detail their journey and their numbers our shared hobbies, purchases, and occupations differ greatly. For example, if you have read Mr. Money Mustache and his annual budget you will not see an expensive line item in the budget. Transportation, non-existent gym membership, and a very inexpensive eat out expenditure of $541 for the year are a few items that simply blow me away. I know many get irked by the comparison of the ultra-frugal MMM so I will move on.

If you take a look at occupation, the number of engineers and IT related blogs and individuals simply casts me aside into a leper colony.  I get a variety of reactions about banking, but usually that I drive a Lamborghini since bank charge so much in fees or that all bankers are the same, greedy SOB’s. Personally I don’t fall into either category.  As far as IT and engineering, while I run a website with WordPress you certainly won’t find me claiming technology professional as my profession. Does this mean that I don’t belong in this FI community? Am I some red headed stepchild or bastard son of Ned Stark (Game of Thrones reference)?

One common theme in my readings of other FI blogs over the past 2 plus years has been the lack of personal debt associated with these big goals and dreams of financial independence, in many ways it was really hard to relate. While people were talking about Roth IRA’s and the 4% rule, I was making cool charts on how to destroy my debt as quickly as possible, 4% to me didn’t really enter my equation because every dollar was being Paying Sallie Mae Back.

In a celebrity gossip way it felt a lot like reading news of George Clooney buying a mansion in England while I was working on fixing up my 1912 brick style Chicago home.   While George Clooney and I both have ruggishly handsome good looks and don’t look a day over 40, he lost me on buying a 15 million dollar mansion.

I truly enjoy reading other people’s journey’s both financially and what life events occurs along the way.  Throughout my readings I have learned that while many of us are in search of living on the moon, we are all looking for the perfect destination, not necessarily the moon.   Sometimes I think Financial Independence is like living on the moon, sure people want to do it, some have even signed up, but nobody really knows someone who is living FI.  In case you think this about living on the moon, I bring you more unicorn.

More unicorn!!!!

More unicorn!!!!

In my recent trip to Omaha I asked Mr. 1500 days for suggestions on interesting places to stop on the way to Omaha and he provided an airplane museum and farming equipment, first one not bad, second one is not my idea of a good time. We have different interests despite our common bond of Chicago pizza and all things Berkshire Hathaway. I see others taking hikes in national parks, dreams to reality of frugal homesteads, and driving around in an airstream. It’s not that I don’t look at these things and enjoy each one, just sometimes when I look at my dreams and my plans I feel like I’m wearing a speedo in the winter and other people are wearing parkas.

In my dreams and goals, I can see reaching financial independence then taking time to travel the world for a year or two, probably the reason I find Go Curry Cracker so fascinating, that and his vast knowledge of tax savings and he also has a Frank Sinatra “I did it my way” or maybe Honey Badger attitude when asked about financial questions.

There's a big world out there and I want to see it!

There’s a big world out there and I want to see it!

I can see buying season tickets to a sporting team and spending my winter watching the Miami Hurricanes college basketball team.  I just see these events as exciting and a passion and interest of mine. I love watching a game, both as a fan and as a former coach, seeing game plans and strategy based time outs and well-designed plays. When I look around the FI community, I feel like that 7 foot guy that didn’t play basketball you see in the office, so let me get this straight “You didn’t play basketball?”  Yeah I’m a FI Unicorn.

I really enjoy golfing, I’m not very good nor do I claim to be. I do however love being outside, walking the course, enjoying the terrain and landscape, the friendly competition against the course itself or a $5 Nassau with friends. The thing is it can really be an expensive game. Greens fees range from $5 to $500 just for the privilege of hitting the ball around in an attempt to knock it in a little hole a couple hundred yards away. Take a look around and I certainly challenge you to find some in their FI story who can’t wait to play 36 holes on a Monday morning. While I don’t think I’m crazy enough to buy a country club membership, I can see playing golf a couple times a week. I would love for my morning to include waking up just before the sunrise to play 18 holes with my dad. I can see myself drinking a cup of coffee along the way while we finish up 18 holes before most people have rolled out of bed.


Golf, Mother Nature with a Green’s Fee

I think many people relate retirement to golfing as a bad thing, but you know what I enjoy golfing and while I’m 4 years away from “early retirement” I think I’m going to LOVE that too.  I  don’t think golfing has to cost thousands and thousands of dollars.  The individuals that I see and read about in the FI community, the fact is we just aren’t country club people.  I would be hard pressed to see Mr. and Mrs. POP signing up for a membership, despite owning a golf cart, for $30,000 each to golf year round.

No, I see the FI community as public and municipal golf course people.  It’s funny I bet each and every one of the FI community if they had an interest in golf would be crunching the numbers and looking for the best value, reporting to each other the best hack or website to book tee times.  If in fact we do make the move to the South Florida area and finally make that FI announcement, I will look to golf at the nicest municipal course in Miami-Dade, but I won’t be paying $200 green fees, but rather making sure to get the resident status and a member patron card*.

As you can see by my talk about golfing every day, occupation as a banker, and plan to own season tickets to a local sporting team** sometimes I feel like a FI Unicorn in the financial independence space of the internet.   I realize that over time individuals have opened my mind to biking more, hitting up a hiking trail, and a little more DIY around the house.  I’m happy to try new things and experience new things, but in the end I can see it, I just might be a financial independence unicorn, but I think we can all agree, unicorns are amazing.


Keep track of what makes you a Unicorn at Personal Capital by clicking on my alicorn!!!!

Keep track of what makes you a Unicorn at Personal Capital by clicking on my alicorn!!!!…..wait, what’s an alicorn?(Click anywhere)



*I have already done some of this research as I think it will be inevitable that we move to South Florida.  The course I am discussing is Crandon Dunes, interestingly enough the price ranges from as little as $30 all the way up to $200.

**I didn’t even mention the fact that I want a new Trek bike and if I live in the right area I want a Vespa.

29 Responses to “Are you a Financial Independence Unicorn?

  • I have golfed in the past and I enjoyed the zen approach to it. It’s like having a nice walk in a well maintained park, with birds, trees, ponds, sand and a goal to be as zen as possible to make the par. The only issue is that it is so time consuming and playing an 18 hole is more than a half day activity. Golf and early retirement are probably a good combination!

    If you feel like a unicorn, I’d say that’s good for you. You have an original story and you are in your particular niche. I’m sure there is a few million people in the US that can relate to that, they might just not blog about it.

    We all have different starting points and different goals but we all love BRK, a good bargain and Chicago pizza. Diversity is the one thing we all have in common 🙂
    TheMoneyMine recently posted…Should We Trust the Stock Markets to Always Go Up?My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      6 months ago

      Yeah golf in most cases is an all day event. Although, I really enjoyed golfing at 630 am and getting done in the 10 am time frame. I think those chasing FI and sharing their story are certainly unicorns, I just happened to feel like a FI Unicorn that day! If we were all the same, life would be boring to us all.

  • At the end of the day everyone is different and that doesn’t make one way right or one way wrong. I’m not exactly frugal like a lot of our brethren here in FIRE world. I still gamble as a social activity (fantasy football, blackjack during a bachelor party, ponies up at Saratoga in the summer), I spend a ton on travel and attending friend’s bachelor parties and weddings. As long as what you do fits well into your goals and plans, nothing wrong with it. I don’t think you should feel like a unicorn… we all have the same end goal here – we just have different paths 🙂
    Fervent Finance recently posted…Attaining A Remote Work ArrangementMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      6 months ago

      What if I want to be a FI unicorn? I do like the message of we are all different, same goals just different paths. Well said my friend.

  • I think we’re all unicorns to some extent. But just to make you feel better… we used to have consumer debt (so us talking about no debt no is only a point-in-time assessment, not something that’s always true of us!), we’re not IT or engineer types, we’re definitely not uber frugal (and I’d actually argue that all the talk of “extreme frugality” is not really that extreme — different issue), we’re planning to stay put in a high cost-of-living area, and we plan to golf too in retirement! 🙂 But it will definitely be at the municipal course, not at one of the fancy country clubs, and we may even ride our bikes to get there. (Wondering if we can fit clubs on a bike trailer — oh well, I guess we’ll find out!) As you noted, most of us don’t know anyone IRL who is actually FI, so our direct experience makes the whole thing theoretical, which is also its own sort of freedom. We can totally define for ourselves what we want our early retirement to look like, and how we want to get there. For some of us, it means paying off debt, while others aren’t dealing with that. And for some it means making extreme sacrifices, while plenty of us are not willing to go that far. 🙂
    Our Next Life recently posted…Optimizing Our Retirement Income // ACA and Taxes Vs Actual CashflowMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      6 months ago

      I agree we are all unicorns, I mean we write our own blog, share personal info, and are on our way to FI…..UNICORN!

      Seriously you are the first to even mention golf, that puts a smile on my face. I’ve thought about the bike thing, I mean even bringing clubs to work is almost impossible. I think sometimes I read and see so many of those on the path to FI and like 90% of them are engineers/IT and are frugal to the core that I get an FI unicorn feel to some of what I do. Don’t get me wrong I consider myself frugal, but I have a golf/gambling/non-IT side in me as well.

  • I also really enjoy reading about other people’s path to financial independence. No two story is a like and it’s great reading the strategies and ideas to get there. There’s no cookie cutter journey so we just have to make our own. I feel like a bit of a unicorn too because I live in NYC…and don’t plan to move to a lower cost of living area (family and friends are here). The high cost of living is probably the biggest obstacles for me…but we’ll see how it goes…

    • EvenStevenMoney
      6 months ago

      Great to hear from you, Andrew! NYC is another animal entirely so I can understand the unicorn feeling. I’m guessing live style inflation could be the hardest thing as you go on.

  • I love this post and feel the same way. I love to play golf. I want to travel the world and don’t mind staying in hotels to do so. I like going out to a nice restaurant and a bottle of expensive wine (not everyday mind you) and/or going to an all-inclusive resort. I would even love to buy season tickets for football. So you aren’t the only financial unicorn out there.

    There is a reason, however, it is called personal finance. Each person is different. I have no desire to retire anytime soon, but hope to be FI within the next 7-8 years. For me that just gives me the ability to do some of these things that I enjoy. I mean camping to me is staying at the Hilton (or now an AirBNB). So don’t fret too much. And if you are ever around here there is a nice municipal course within a mile of my house.
    Jason recently posted…Keeping the Financial Wolves at BayMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      6 months ago

      Jason, it sounds like we are a lot alike:) I associate becoming financially independent less and less with actual early retirement and more peace of mind, followed by a new adventure. I would be happy to take you up on that golf outing, just might mean I’m FI;)

  • I just had this moment recently where I felt like everyone (unicorns) reached their goals and we’re still trudging along with more than $200k in debt. Everyone had some positive feedback to keep moving forward, which I really appreciated, and I’ll pass along the same message. We’re going to get to the finish line (or 18th hole). It may not be as quickly as others, but we’ll get there! In our own time, in our own ways, we’ll all make it to our own respective goals if we keep supporting each other! 🙂
    Claudia @ Two Cup House recently posted…Rethinking the Approach to Financial IndependenceMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      6 months ago

      It’s good and bad I think we all have our moments along the way to FI that we look at ourselves like a unicorn that know one has ever seen before, but in the end we all have a similar path just a different road taken. I like the 18th hole reference, nicely done! Having the FI community for a little positive reinforcement has been great along the way, 100% agree.

  • I completely agree with you that golf and the FI community don’t really mix per se, even though I love to play as well. I have found another way to get my golf fix as I currently caddy at a private country club on weekends as a side hustle. Although I am much further away from being FI as compared with you (at least a decade away), I do have an initial idea. In my community, there is a semi-private municipal golf course that is within walking distance. My thought was to get a weekday membership (under $2K per year currently, which is ridiculously cheap by golfing standards), and then caddy on weekends to make up the difference so it doesn’t effect my portfolio, and I’d be able to play with my father as well. That and I could play the private golf club for free on their days off. I know it sounds silly and I remember reading that you were a caddy a while ago, but what do you think? Have you ever considered a scenario like this?

    • EvenStevenMoney
      6 months ago

      I think the idea of earning money for a specific item you really enjoy like golf is a great idea. I have used my side hustle in the past to pay off debt, buy appliances, and purchase a couple comedy event tickets for example. Since the membership is weekdays are you planning on using this in early retirement, otherwise, if used today I’m guessing it would be tough with a 9-5 job.

      I have considered this as a part time gig in FIRE at least working at the golf course. Caddying while fun could certainly drag on your body after a while. At a golf course I used to work at in FL, a bunch of old retired guys would work as starters/rangers/etc then once work was over which was around 2 pm they would all go play 18 together. Not a bad way to play golf for free.

      • Yes, if I were to retire early I would be going with the weekday membership/caddying on weekends idea. You are definitely right that caddying can take a toll on your body as you age. The amount of 40+ year old guys that I caddy with that have physical problems, no plans of ever retiring and money troubles…I could probably write a blog about it 🙂

        Although I do enjoy the physical aspect of caddying currently, that’s actually a great idea with the starter/ranger idea! The semi-private course I am talking about has both positions. Hummm…maybe I could just work there part time instead and get paid to play the golf course for free at 2 pm too. Thanks Steve for the great idea!

        • EvenStevenMoney
          5 months ago

          Glad you liked the idea, I think we both agree that first part about reaching FI is the biggest hurdle. Best of luck on your journey feel free to email or ask any questions along the way.

  • You can view golf or season tickets as a “reward’ for early retirement. It takes great diligence & reaching FI requires discipline. You at least have the advantage on sitting on both sides of the financial fence, so you know what it takes to not go where the grass isn’t green. That’s a lot of analogies, but I enjoy reading your content because you aren’t a pinchpenny.

    Also like the new site design as well.
    Josh recently posted…Business 2.0: Social Entrepreneurship?My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      6 months ago

      Thanks Josh on both accounts, the site is a work in progress currently but it seems easier to build off of this one. I certainly agree that the path to FI requires discipline and golf can be seen as a reward for getting there. Some will take a hike, i’ll be walking 18 holes:)

  • I definitely feel like a unicorn. I work in corporate america in senior management doing well with my career — definitely a 1 percenter even with a stay at home wife. I have reached the FI threshold but I continue to work because I find what I do interesting. I save more than 80% of my take home income, because I am a minimalist by heart. When I want something, however, I spend money. I spent 3k to assemble a new computer so that I can use it for the new VR gear that’s coming out. At work, I see my peers driving much more expensive cars, putting their kids through private school, and residing in larger homes. And I am consciously aware that my nice comfortable early 2000 camry doesn’t fit my station at work, but heck it gets me to work and back. But to be frank, none of this matters to me. I choose to do what I want to do, and I think that makes me a FI unicorn.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      6 months ago

      That’s great Kyle on every account. Saving 80% especially on such a large salary is impressive, got me beat;) It says a lot about what is important to you, a new computer trumps a car and that simple choice has saved you thousands over time.

      I deem you a FI Unicorn as well, nicely done.

  • Wouldn’t the FI blog world be boring if we were all the same?! Everyone has their own take on what they want and how to get there. We all have different priorities. Ours is skiing, not that different from golfing when it comes to costs. Season passes, equipment etc etc.
    we also feel a little different from the mainstream in that we decided relatively recently what our FI goals were, and here we are, nearly ready to hit our FI date. We haven’t ‘earned our stripes’ in the realm of frugality, paying down debt etc. everyone has a different story and the blog world is all the richer for it.
    Mrs. PIE recently posted…Why We Might Chicken OutMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      6 months ago

      Skiing is pretty expensive I can agree with that. I absolutely agree we all have our own paths to FI, the different journies are fun to follow along the way.

      It’s interesting that you said earn your stripes in frugality, etc. I think as long as you can maintain your lifestyle in FI that frugality/paying down debt are not needed necessarily. I’m just the guy who went through it all;)

  • Ha well I would consider myself an FI unicorn too as a lot of what you said in this post relates to me as well. I would love to buy an airstream and trek through the country for months at a time and I think its a possibility. When are you planning on moving to South Fl?
    Alexander @ Cash Flow Diaries recently posted…The Day Has Finally Come… I Got Married!!My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      5 months ago

      I realized through a lot of the feedback that I have received that we just might have a few FI unicorns in the bunch, join the squad. Airstream would be fun, I love the idea of 1-6 month adventures around the country. I could see FL being in the discussion mid-2017, lots of things have to fall the right way before we can move.

  • Definitely a unicorn. Queer lady with no plans to have kids. Unsure if marriage is in my future, because girlfriend is not into marriage. Happy to pay my fair share of taxes. Like well-made cocktails and using the tool of money for today and not just for the future. There are a million ways to live right.
    ZJ Thorne recently posted…Treat Your Employees Well – The Easiest InvestmentMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      5 months ago

      I think it’s fair to say you are a unicorn. The real question is what well-made cocktails do you prefer? Also don’t be mad if I steal this quote and use it repeatedly.

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