Mr Zombie   July 31, 2017   21 Comments on Forons

The financial side of my brain has been programmed over the last few years to make quick and beneficiary financial decisions (at least in the sense that they aid my quest for financial independence).

Go brain, go

Go brain, go

Sure, there are some circumstances that require deeper thought, a bit of prodding about inside my grey matter,to come up with a sound decision.  But for the most part (read: 99% of the time) it’s a quick and easy choice, the same situations come up time and time again.

It boils down to: make decisions that lead to happiness in the long run, ignore instant gratification.  Financial Independence and a higher savings rate are a side product of this.  It seems so easy, put like that.

So why is it that I stumble across so many Forons?

A person of low financial intelligence.  A Financial Moron.
Synonyms: A Monetary Cretin, An Economic Imbecile, A Fiscal Simpleton, A Budgetary Buffoon, An Investment Knucklehead

I bite my tongue when overhearing others making idiotic financial choices.  After all, it’s someone else’s finances, not my own.  Rummaging around in someone else’s financial underpants is just rude.  Still, I find it frustrating hearing bad financial choices being made.

A few examples of some real life Foron’s I’ve encountered recently.

Foron 1 

Employees where I work are offered a recurring Save As You Earn Scheme (an option to purchase shares at a discounted price).  I am quite fond of this, it’s an especially good deal.  Save some money with all the upside of leveraged equity investing, with none of the downside?  Yes-fecking-please.

As I wandered to the bathroom, trying my best to avoid eye contact with any of the drones lest a work conversation starts up, I overheard something;

A Foron :- My holiday to the Far East is going to be more expensive than I thought, so I’ve cashed in my share options early.  I only get the cash back, but it’s paying for my holiday.

Someone Else  :- Well, you’ve got to reward yourself.

I resist the urge to throw them both over the bannister to a marble-floor induced splattery demise.

Perhaps I’m a miserable bastard, but keeping the cash in the scheme is the far better option here.  Forego the expensive holiday, if you can’t afford it, you should have planned better.  There’s so much going on in this one small example that it probably deserves a post all on it’s own.  Poor cashflow planning.  Instant gratification over delayed gratification.  Keeping up with those bastards, the Joneses.  An over bearing sense of self entitlement.

Foron 2

There’s a structured remuneration package where I work.  Get a promotion, get a payrise.  Pass some exams, get a payrise and a small bonus.

One of our new graduates passes a couple of exams and gets a promotion.  Nice.

I head over to say ‘Nice one, you legend‘, because the exams are tough and studying can be a lonely place.  I walk through the open plan office, passing multiple banks of desks, each exact copies of one another, the same depressing grey colour.  As I approach I notice someone else congratulating them;

Someone Else :- Sweet work on the exam, mate.  A well deserved payrise and promotion.

A Foron :- Thanks.  I’ve eyed up this payrise, I’m going to head out this weekend to have a look at a new car.  Thinking about one of the new VW Gulfs.

My hands unconsciously go together and I feel the heat of a Ryu-style fireball beginning to form, with the express intention of being launched into the Foron’s face.  Not wanting to cause a scene, I cease the formation of the projectile and congratulate the Foron.

100% lifestyle inflation right there.  The payrise had been mentally spent before it was earnt.  Ever hear people saying that the problem with payrises is that your spending just expands to fill the gap?  It doesn’t just happen, it’s a choice.  For some reason as our income expands we feel entitled to more and more ridiculous luxury.

Admittedly any of us chasing Financial Independence are way out in the tails of the distribution here, but I try to achieve 0% lifestyle inflation with any pay rises.  Just keep it the same, any thing else would be an indicator that I’m not happy…which is not the case.  Somewhere in between the two might work better for others, but hitting 100% lifestyle inflation every payrise is a direct path to financial meltdown.

Foron 3

Housing represents a minefield of possible mistakes for the Foron.

I work in the centre of a large(ish) city in the UK.  There’s plenty of accommodation to choose from in the city, much of it within walking or biking distance from the office.  With plenty of accommodation comes plenty of people, and plenty of people looking to buy houses.

Mr Z :- How’s the house hunting going, dude?

A Foron :- All done, pal.  We’ve managed to get a 5 bed detached house in <some location at least 20 miles away>.  We’ve stretched ourselves to the max on this, drained all our savings to get a deposit and the monthly payment is pushing us.  But it’s a sweet pad.  It does mean going from a 20 minute walk to a 45 minute drive, but it will be worth it.  Besides <insert another Foron’s name here> lives out that way. And we got way more for our money.

I must resist the urge to ask if they have considered the cost of commuting.  The monetary cost, the drain on their time and the negative impacts on their health.   On top of that, chowderhead, you’re now in a small village and you’ll be heading into town whenever you need groceries or to go shopping or to catch up with friends.

What happens if one of you loses their job? I’m guessing you won’t be able to afford the mortgage.

Why do you need 5 bedrooms?  It’s just you and your partner.  What creepy stuff are you keeping in them?

There’s plenty more opportunities for mistakes with housing.  Moving to the expensive desirable area and paying a premium to be across the other side of an invisible divide.   Renting a brand new flat over looking the city centre park or river and paying a savage premium for it.  Buying a house with way more space than you need, extra bedrooms for when guests stay, you know, like, 0.01% of the time we own the house.

As my irritation builds I find myself taking a couple of steps backwards, getting ready for a burst of speed followed by a dropkick to their temple.

Don't make stupid choices, fool!

Don’t make stupid choices, fool!

Of course I don’t unleash the dropkick, I still need the job.  For now.

Any Foronic things you’ve heard lately?

Mr Z

21 thoughts on “Forons

  1. fitandfunemployed

    Nice post, though I tend to feel smug rather than angry when I overhear forons at my work. I can think of one example from last week: my colleague said she’d had to cancel her holiday to Paris in October because her partner is on sick leave (back problem) and it turns out his sick pay is less than they thought. That’s a sad story you might say – nothing foronic at all – except it would have been their FOURTH international holiday this year.

  2. FIREin' London

    Hi Mr. Z,

    I am so glad to hear that every work place is the same!

    Foron 1: Whilst I get the idea of some form of reward for hard work etc. (I know I am guilty of this), but to cash in I am assuming a guaranteed profit just seems mad. Hold fire, and get the ladder rolling so that when they mature you could afford the holiday with that extra cash! Exactly as you say, poor cashflow planning. Even if you had to use some emergency funds (you shouldnt but..), but not cash in the share options!? Madness!

    Foron 2: As a graduate this would be the perfect time to invest and not take the whole payrise.. but to waste it on a car! As you say, even if he were to save some of it that would be a benefit! But I hear it all the time – even when I got a bit of a bonus my boss said “You could enjoy a week away”. Well yes I could, but it actually all went into my pension, that will be my a forever holiday, not just a week!

    Foron 3: I guess my first question is why they need a 5 bed house?! To drain all your savings and push yourself to the limit is madness. We pay more than I would like for the monthly mortgage, but I could afford to pay the whole lot (although not save as much) if my other half lost her job, and if I lose mine I have insurance so no problem there. Do you really want to ask what they are going to do with those extra bedrooms? 😉

    At work there is very little talk about money at present – one of my colleagues is very clued up and is saving and looking for buy-to-lets, but thats it. Most of the other discussions only ever come out after a pint or 3!

    Good luck keeping that aggression in check 😉


    1. Mr Zombie Post author

      Hi FiL – I bet they’re all scarily similar in most regards.

      Yeah it’s quite a big office, and my hearing seems to tune in to these things. Sometimes I wonder if I could join in, voice my concerns…but I suspect I’d just come across as a boring arse. Ah well.

      Haha – I’ll try. Time to wear ear defenders at work maybe…

      1. FIREin' London

        Ear defenders may well be a good option! It does seem that there are a lot of idiots out there when it comes to their money, but like you I usually bite my tongue, I may mention I am “saving” or something like that but not a lot more, unless they show the interest to discuss.
        It’s the amount of money I seen wasted on coffee’s and posh lunches (I get stick for using the £3 meal deal!) – people often spend over £10 a day on food – its insane!

  3. LLG

    “I could make my lunch at home, but I don’t know what I’ll fancy at lunch time” cue to spend £6 on something hot and a drink.
    Followed by “I’ll be glad when it’s payday it has been a long month”,

  4. Sarah

    This one is insane.
    My friend’s husband had a heart attack at age 41, he survived and all is well, however he had an insurance policy that paid out nearly £200,000.
    Guess what they spent the money on….yep, they built an extension.
    He’s back at work at his fancy London job that causes him huge stress and many late nights home, whereby he doesn’t see the kids before they go to bed.
    What can I say? Nothing apart from ‘great double garage, I see you’ve filled it already with many consumers goods’

  5. weenie

    The foron at work who ordered a pair of £500 shoes, in anticipation of pay day last month. I have yet to see said shoes, but assume he must put them on as soon as he gets home and wears them even when he’s sleeping etc to get value out of them!

    Sadly, one of my best friends is a foron – mid-40s, no pension whatsoever, opted out of company pension schemes every time, including when we both worked at the same place where they had a final salary pension –
    she was there for 11 years… makes me want to weep! Yes, her mortgage will be paid off in a few years’ time but what will she do for income in her retirement?

  6. Prometheus

    Colleague gave up smoking I rewarded myself with a new car. Nice car, PCP deal? silence……
    She’s in accounting btw….

    you put too much into your pension.

    You can imagine my thoughts……

    1. Prometheus

      Finance manager “you put too much into your pension” I save 50% using salary sacrifice…..nevermind his inappropriate comments…

  7. Norm

    Friends of ours just went on a Mediterranean cruise for nearly two weeks. We saw and got jealous of the photos as they came up on Facebook. Then we found out it cost them about $10,000 between the airfare and everything else. All I could think was, “That’s about eleven times more than our trip to Thailand last January.” I’ll be seeing them this weekend, but they’re friends, so I probably won’t fireball them to death.

  8. Cathy

    hey I don’t want to be too Mr MM about it but I do have a colleague who received not one but two enormous lump sums – one for a house he was renting out and sold, and one redundancy payoff – the first over £200,000 and the other I think approaching £100,000 – and what he did in both cases was just live off the money till it ran out. Yes he had a nice two or three years off work being spendy and living it up but at the end of it both times he had to go back and get a job. Whereas if he had invested the cash and then kept working I’m sure he could have retired now, still quite young. It wouldn’t have been hard for him to get another job in the industry then either. 🙁

  9. spiffi

    Hmm, coworker who is the same age as I am, bought a house – 3500 square feet for him and his spouse. 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, full basement (“exercise room”), pool, big property. Now when I talk to him on Monday, and ask how his weekend was – it’s all complaints about how much WORK the house is, how expensive it is to have the lawn service come by and mow the lawn, how expensive it is to have the pool service come and keep the pool maintained….then a few years later, he traded in his 3 year old leased Mercedes sedan for a Mercedes SUV – used, but top of the line, easily costing him $75k – why do they need a giant SUV? To tow the BOAT, of course! A week after he signed the loan papers, he’s having buyer’s remorse – “these payments are BIG”. It feels like he’s trying to keep up with some set of checklists that define “success” – but he just seems super stressed all the time. I don’t criticize, but I definitely feel less stress with my 1250 square foot house, and my Mazda!

  10. Jason@WinningPersonalFinance

    This post is hilarious. There are so many forons out there and most of the time it’s not appropriate to call them out, especially in the workplace. Hopefully, these folks and many others find this post and wise up. I’m confident that many more people are going to benefit from this post than if you had spoken up to the three forons described above.

  11. Tiffany

    One of my previous co-workers always complained having a cash flow problem at home. Her monthly hairdo cost is appalling which is a “must item – I am sure I am going to get a lot of backlash on this one from ladies. Well, this co-worker spent a whopping $160 USD every month for hair coloring, highlights etc and depending on the length of her hair at a time, sometimes she paid “extra” for one or two inches of extra hair length – this was on top of the tips to the person who did her hair.
    The spending was apprx. 1/10 of her weekly wage.
    Of course she heard/knew about the OTC hair coloring products that would cost 1/20 of her monthly solon cost but for some magical reasons, solon visit made her feel more beautiful!!
    That is apprx $1,920 / year vs. $384 – a saving of $1,536.00 a year if she would have spent some time doing it herself at home. Although this requires a patience and skill overtime – but it is achievable when it comes to one’s own hair.

    Another one I have recently talked with was his rental cost of a house – mind you, the man is single without any pets or live-at-home adult children, or inherited grandchildren, just him. He rents a 3-bedroom house and paying apprx. $700/month for the space what houses his all-time-favorite collections from Disney and other old-time movies characters, figurines, etc. The rent is about 25% of his monthly wage before taxes – what fun!! His comfort talk was by citing YOLO (You Only Live Once) so to make sure his YOLO came to a full fruition, I had to listen to a routine complaint about him not making enough money religiously. So massive avoidance of contact was almost given.
    Thanks for the nod of Foron encountering – guess we see normal kind of crazies everywhere.

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  13. Anne-Marie

    I know 2 people personally who traded in their current vehicle because they were “tired of them” (both cars were in very good condition). How about remaining 26 months of payments, I ask? No problem – just roll them into the new lease arrangement on their (more expensive) new vehicle, and no increase in payments! Ah but payments are for 84 months (7 years!). Oddly, they don’t see anything wrong with this scenario.


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