The Day Jordan Peterson Schooled the FIRE Community

The day Jordan Peterson schooled the early retirement community. Follow your dreams, but beware the world's advice to check out. Life isn't travel and sleeping on the beach. #FIRE #jordanpeterson #planning #changing #livingright #dreamjobMost people familiar with Jordan Peterson and his work comes from the litany of YouTube videos. From college classroom lectures to podcasts to interviews, Peterson has covered a wide variety of topics. Sometimes he is controversial in his stance, bringing him viral traffic. Most of the time his presentations are extraordinarily deep probes of the human psyche.

Whether you love or hate him, the one thing we should all agree on is that he makes us think. His latest book (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos) is must-read material. Unlike most books, this one you must own. A library copy will not be enough. You will read and re-read this material again. The message is so deep that one reading only scratches the surface. As I read Peterson’s book I could rarely finish a page without stopping to think about what I just read. Sometime I had to walk away and make sense of what I was just presented. By far, this is the slowest reading of a book for me in over a decade.

For over 730,000 words I’ve been trying to convey a message with this blog. While reading 12 Rules I discovered Peterson said more clearly what I intended in only 500 words. (Yeah, I feel exactly how you would expect.)

For home-gamers following along, we will be discussing pages 210 and 211 of the hardcover edition. Jordan Peterson put into perfect format the essence of the early retirement and financial independence movement (FIRE). In effect, he schooled all of us and if we are smart we would listen.

When I read the two pages listed I was so moved by it I had to take a walk around the block to work it off. It was 11:30 at night and here in the boondocks of Wisconsin a walk around the block is 4.85 miles. When I finished my walk I wasn’t’ done talking it trough with myself so I turned around and walked back. By the time I stopped walking around the block and around the back acres of the farm the eastern horizon was beginning to brighten.

Do You Really Want That?

The issues at hand come under Rule #8: Tell the Truth—Or at Least Don’t Lie. Of all the lessons in the book this was the hardest to internalize. I consider myself an honest person, but Peterson quickly pointed out how I might be deluding myself. Then it got personal. Peterson writes:

I have seen people define their utopia and then bend their lives into knots trying to make it reality.

The yellow highlighter came out. This was important and I knew it. Not only am I guilty of this periodically, but I see it abundantly within the FIRE community. Bloggers and readers alike build this mental idea of what life should be like. Financial independence isn’t enough. Early retirement is the only badge of respect.

Time to stop crying and complaining about all the things wrong with your life. Reach financial independence,. Live your life on your terms. #stepforward #jordanpeterson #earlyretirement #retirement #newjob #sidegig #sidehustleI’ve preached a different story from the first day of this blog. Retirement is a trap! This idea of you are a failure if you haven’t retired by age 30 is insane. Yes, Mr. Money Mustache did it. As much as it hurts to say it, he isn’t the gold standard. Early retirement isn’t for everyone! I’ve toyed with quitting for decades and every time I think of it I changed my mind. I’m doing what I want to do and gain tremendous pleasure from my work. I might change gears, but formal retirement isn’t in the cards. (Disclaimer: Mr. Money Mustache is my client.)

This whole concept of retiring as early as possible and traveling the world seems silly to me. I tend to avoid travel whenever possible. Business will get me on a plane. I’ve also been known to travel for pleasure. But in the end it feels best when I’m in familiar surroundings doing what I do best: working with clients and writing.

Here are Peterson’s words that hit me between the eyes:

An eighteen-year–old decides, arbitrarily, that she wants to retire at fifty-two. She works for three decades to make that happen, failing to notice that she made that decision when she was little more than a child. (Emphasis mine.) What did she know about her fifty-two-year-old self, when still a teenager? Even now, many years later, she has only the vaguest, low-resolution idea of her post-work Eden. She refuses to notice. What did her life mean, if that initial goal was wrong?

This encapsulates a lot of what I see in the FIRE community. People setting immutable goals at an early age and feeling disappointed when things don’t work exactly as planned. The real goal seems to be retirement. For some reason the community I firmly reside in has a central tenant of not working. But then what? If the goal is to not work, what will you fill your days with? Idle chit-chat with friends and neighbors?

Reality Check

I’ve been preaching the gospel for some time now. The goal of financial independence is something I understand. Having the financial resources to pursue the path in life that most enlightens you is a worthy goal. Travel is fine. Time off to recharge is also part of a responsible lifestyle. Peterson again:

A naively formulated goal transmutes, with time, into the sinister form of the life-lie.

And this is where I felt the stab of truth pierce deep. How often have we subverted our own desires to satisfy the demands of family or a friend? I was lucky in breaking away from the family business to follow my dream. But I didn’t avoid the entire life-lie! Sometimes I took a path in my business that went against my personal agenda. I did what I thought others wanted me to do. Every time I took such a path I was disappointed. Worse, my performance was subpar and I wasted a portion of my life, a portion I can never get back.

It would be easy to tell you how easy it was for me to follow my path. It wasn’t. I fought hard to find my true meaning in life. I experimented often. People accused me of changing my mind a lot. Well, I did! I evolved and quickly. If I examined a course and discovered it to be wanting I moved on. Even today I am still growing and evolving. What tickles my fancy as we speak might be drudgery in the future. I have the right, no, actually, the obligation to change when reason dictates. More money can’t be the driving force once a reasonable level of wealth is accumulated. Afterwards, my work better do more than add to an already bloated pile of financial largess.

Peterson continues:

One forty-something client told me his vision, formulated by his younger self: “I see myself retired, sitting on a tropical beach, drinking margaritas in the sunshine.” That’s not a plan. That’s a travel poster.

If you are honest you see this attitude writ large in the FIRE community. The desire to check out is high. The idea is to travel to exotic places while sharing on social media so anyone you have ever known is jealous able to enjoy your good fortune. It also serves to pay forward to delusion life is only an ass planted in the beach sucking down sweet drinks.

But Peterson gets more brutal:

After eight margaritas, you’re fit only to await the hangover. After three weeks of margarita-filled days, if you have any sense, you’re bored stiff and self-disgusted. In a year, or less, you’re pathetic. It’s just not a sustainable approach to later life. This kind of oversimplification and falsification is particularly typical of ideologues.

Can Peterson be more graphic? His point is clear and dead-on. The goal to checking out is not conducive to a fulfilling life. Travel is wonderful in moderate doses. Some people travel better than others. Forcing yourself to travel to satisfy a group is over the line into the realm of insanity.

Sustainable Approach to Life

Peterson’s words probably hit you as hard as they smacked me. If the general goals of the FIRE community are short-sighted, then what should we do? This is what I had to think about as I walked around the long rural block and back. Financial independence is an honorable goal and Peterson did nothing to dissuade my opinion in that matter.

You're not married to decisions you made in youth. You can change, evolve, into something better. Live the life you want, not the life others expect of you. Jordan Peterson teaches you how to live your life. #jordanpeterson #millennials #goals #financialplansI already knew there was something wrong with this early retirement idea, but didn’t know out to clearly communicate the message. Peterson put it into focus. It took hours of self-debate to reach a coherent meaning on the issue.

Checking out as soon as you can is a meaningless life. If you don’t do something productive and constructive on a regular basis you will lose meaning in your life. Human beings are social creatures. We need to interact and create. When we work, as much as some jobs are drudgery, we produce something of value. Nothing is worse than a dead-end job with days filled with meaningless activities, or worse, no activity at all.

Financial independence gives you additional options. Jumping ship the first chance you get seems foolish to this country accountant. Quitting your job should only happen after you have seriously reviewed why you want to quit. If you hate your job, you need to ask: What would make my job more nurturing? If you have valid reasons for quitting (bad boss, not the kind of work you want to do, only took the job for money), then quit. But don’t bow out. Instead, move up. Find the job that will cause you to jump out of bed each morning excited to be alive. Or, start the business you always wanted to.

Remember, your dreams are not immutable. If you don’t change, evolve, you will decay. Once upon a time I thought it a good idea to own lots of real estate. It was somebody else’s idea of what I should do. I did it for money and hated every step. You may love investment properties. Excellent! Somebody has to do it so it may as well be you. If I ever dip my toe back into investment properties it will be as a buyer only. All the management will be performed by managers.

What you thought was a good idea yesterday can change today. Changing your career path is the right thing to do when you discover you're no longer interested in your current path. #jordanpeterson #college #career #quitjobYour work should have meaning for you. Growing up on a farm I hated cleaning the barn. Pushing manure around for hours wasn’t the highlight of my life. After the family farm dissolved I moved away and started my practice. They say you can take the boy from the country, but you can’t take the country from the boy. Truer words were never spoken. Years later I bought a small farm and raised beef. Then, after a couple decades of cow punching, it was time to evolve. I miss my boys and loved the work. But it was time to move on.

I will always have the memories of each step of my evolution. Plenty of mistakes were made along the way. The mistakes taught me valuable lessons I could apply as I evolved to the next level. (Notice I didn’t say higher level. The next level isn’t always higher. Sometimes a step down is needed to grow to new heights.)

In conclusion, I strongly encourage purchase of Jordan Peterson’s book. It really is that good. Don’t get hung up on dreams you had as a child. Not every dream should be realized. Not every dream will deliver the pleasure you think when you walk the steps in real life.

Find meaningful activities to you. Don’t let anyone dictate how you should live your life. As long as you pursue a legal, moral and ethical path you have my blessing. Meaningful work, meaningful activities, lead to a productive, happy and joyful life. And I think that’s a rule even Jordan Peterson would appreciate.


More Wealth Building Resources

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregation studies work and how to get one yourself.

Worthy Financial offers a flat 5% on their investment. You can read my review here. 

Jordan Peterson, Identity Politics, MGTOWs and the Rising Hate of Women

The personal finance killers: divorce, child support, alimony. #familyfinance #personalfinance #divorce #MGTOW #jordanpetersonYou were probably exposed to Jordan Peterson the same way I was: a viral YouTube video. Prior to Google determining my unknown interest in such a “Gotcha!” moment I was preaching some of the same material as it pertained to financial matters.

Once a taste was received I was primed for more material. Peterson has an addicting style of speaking and teaching. He thinks before speaking—something an unnamed blogger still needs to work on. The amount of material to watch is extensive. There is less reading material, but Peterson’s work is powerful and has the tendency to consume a day in thought.

Peterson is misunderstood, many times intentionally. YouTube thinks I might like other similar topics regarding identity politics and feminist bashing. I don’t. By the time my research expanded to MGTOWs (men going their own way), incels (involuntary celibates) and other narrowly defined groups, I grew more and more disturbed.

Most disturbing of all was that I agreed on some issues of these narrowly focused groups while categorically disagreeing with their mentality and overall philosophy. From what I gather, they harbor an intense hated or dislike for women. The misogyny takes the breath away. And the movements seem to keep growing. This is a serious societal problem.

It’s also a massive financial minefield. If you don’t think divorce, child support and alimony aren’t serious financial issues you need to review the world around you. Divorce can take half or more of your hard earned net worth. Child support payments are not deductible and divorces finalized after 2018 will find alimony payments non-deductible too. Men pay almost all child support and alimony payments and men also face a greater risk of losing their children in divorce. With these issues I agree. However, the MGTOW solution of a life devoid of intimacy is no solution at all. Treating women like a piece of meat doesn’t deserve any respect. Period.

The problems have grown acute in Western society. The line between intimacy and rape is blurred by the newscasts. (I am against all forms of violence against women. Don’t read this as a reluctance to protect women.) Men risk loss of freedom, property and future income when interpersonal relationships are involved. Roles have been reversed. Until the last 50 years or so, child birth was a serious risk. Women on average lived shorter lives than men due to death during child birth. Modern medicine has reduced this risk to background noise.

At the same time medicine reduced risk to pregnant women another development occurred: birth control. Birth control was sought after for eons. Ancient Romans and Greeks went to great lengths to enjoy sex and avoid pregnancy. By the 1960s medicine provided a reliable and safe way for women to take control of their reproductive choices.

Prior to the 1960s men had less risk. A man could deny involvement or disappear leaving the woman with a serious problem. Society judged women who had children outside marriage. Roles have reversed. DNA testing easily identifies the father of the child and society honors the strength of the single mother. Women have greater control over their reproductive choices and the medical risks of child birth no longer cause serious concerns.

Society has decided to reverse the risks and the consequences are growing. The stable structure of the family and marriage developed over vast periods of human history and worked extraordinarily well is being abandoned. The old system reduced violence (under the one man, one woman policy of marriage, it meant most men had female opportunity thus reducing violent tendencies), fostered community and provided a stable child rearing environment. But all wasn’t well. In many cultures men were deemed to own his wife and children. Women’s rights were muted, to say the least. Something had to change and it did.

Advice for Men, I Mean Women

A year before I ever heard of Jordan Peterson I was in Gainesville, Florida attending a small early retirement conference. I offered consulting sessions with all proceeds going to charity. (The National Special Olympics received the funds.) One of my consulting sessions was with a young female doctor. She amassed a sizable (seven figures) liquid net worth and was considering an interpersonal relationship, i.e. marriage. I quizzed her on her fiancé and quickly realized the advice she needed to hear: get a prenuptial agreement. Shortly afterwards I published on the topic.

She didn’t feel comfortable with my advice, but I convinced her of the importance of a prenuptial agreement in her situation. After her consulting session she joined the group back at the campfire while I started my next session.

The next morning I realized I caused a huge commotion. The lady I consulted took my advice to the group for their opinion. Opinions were strong on both sides, but it was eventually decided I was right. Whew!

I don’t want to make light of this important subject. Men with money are usually aware of gold diggers. Women who accumulate serious net worth aren’t always as cognizant of the male gold-diggers lurking about.

People reading this tend to be from the FIRE community. With a higher savings rate and net worth, these people need to take extra precautions. Not all women are gold diggers, but if you are a man with money, the gold diggers will be attracted to you. The opposite is just as true! Not all men are gold diggers, but women with money will attract the gold diggers.

Marriage Contract

Marriage is a legal contract between two people. You even go to the court house to get your document. There is nothing unromantic or disturbing about getting a marriage license so why are people so afraid, so offended by the requirement of a prenuptial agreement? Marriage is a wonderful institution. There should be societal and personal rules involved preserving the contract between the two parties.

Men avoid marriage today like the plague. The reasons are clear. Marriage is expensive and the “wife’s” day. Men come along for the ride. (This isn’t completely true, but women generally dictate how the wedding will be conducted.) This is NOT a bad thing! Historically marriage symbolized a bonding with intentions of bringing children into the world and as we’ve noted earlier, this was a risky proposition for the female. Also, marriage was the moment when the woman left her family to live with her husband. It was a major life event for the bride. Things have changed in recent times. Cohabiting prior to marriage is common. Child bearing has fewer medical risks.

Identity politics is killing your retirement. #retirementplanning #divorce #identitypolitics #familyvalues #retirement #jordanpetersonMen view marriage differently. They now have an obligation. They have a wife to support. Oh, wait. That was historically. Today women freely enter the work force (a good thing) and have a large range of opportunities (another good thing). In the past the man provided shelter and food for the family. A man knew his worth. He provided and found satisfaction in knowing he was a good head of the household. Today men don’t find that satisfaction as much. The wife can earn and support herself just fine with or without him. It’s no longer a need, but a convenience to keep the man around.

This sounds horrible when I say it the way I did. MGTOWs make great fanfare over this. “Women,” they say, “no longer respect a man’s role. Women take advantage of men and use men.” I think this is a massive oversimplification of the facts.

I’ve been married for over 30 years (to the same woman). While Mrs. Accountant could find a job and support herself, there is something more satisfying to all parties involved to work as equals. Mrs. A doesn’t have to worry about the breadwinner getting sick or dying; serious issues in times past. She can enter into contracts should I become incapacitated or unavailable. I don’t own her! We are a team!

The rules have changed, no doubt. Identity politics have taken over. We can get mad, pointing to people with different political views. That doesn’t help. It’s not their fault; yours either. Society has changed radically and we are still searching for our sea legs. Birth control gave women control of their reproduction. This is arguably one of the most, if not the most, radical event in human history. It upset several hundred thousand years of human societal evolution.

All is not lost; at least I don’t believe it is. My relationship with my wife is powerful and growing. I can’t imagine life without her. She is not one of the rare unicorns MGTOWs talk about. She is a normal woman who had the great misfortune of being noticed by a crazy accountant. Our secret is we talk, respect each other’s opinions and space, communicate constantly our thoughts and share quality intimate time together. In short, we are growing old together, experiencing all the joys of life with our best friend, each other. There is no room for politics of any kind and certainly no room for hating women for whatever imagined reason.

Still, the problems remain. Child support and alimony hit men disproportionately hard. Divorce is a financial body blow sure to wound the strongest of us. Women file for around 70% of divorces. Men are disproportionately separated from their children. The new world order makes this possible and seems to many men punitive for the crime of loving a woman.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can wait for society to change—don’t hold your breath—or you can take positive steps to create equality in the relationship where all parties win, especially the children.

Romance is alive and well!

Solutions to the Intractable Problems

Jordan Peterson tells us about what makes us tick; what men women are attracted to. He rarely talks about the financial issues involved.

MGTOWs and similar designations men use to identify themselves are not helping. Quitting society is an unworkable solution. Men, as much as women, need intimacy. In some ways I’m more passionate than Mrs. Accountant. She has the romance parts locked, but I love snuggling in. Yes, guys need (NEED!) touch, too. This is more than sex. Sex is a fun guttural act designed by nature to be really fun so little humans can be produced. Nature also created us to respond positively to closeness and touch; something that can be engaged in for much longer periods of times. A hug should never be a crime because it is such a basic need of humanity. That is why you must hug your significant other and kids every day. It’s the most powerful act I can think of. I personally give my parents (yes, even Dad Accountant) a hug every time I see them. The day will come soon when that opportunity will be lost forever. I’m not wasting a single opportunity.

The rise of misogyny. Stop hating women. MGTOWs. #incel #MGTOW #interpersonalrelationships #familyandchildren #jordanpetersonMen must stop hating women! Misogyny is a vulgar display. Women are different from us, guys. I know. Different is good. (Actually, really, really good.) Women have a different worldview and biological history. The birth control pill doesn’t change millennia of evolution. It also takes time for society to adjust.

We can’t force society to change any faster. We can’t stop the craziness we see in the newsfeeds. The courts will continue to express bias against the men in child support and divorce proceedings.

The fear is real, guys. I understand. I’ve consulted with more clients on this than I care to count. If a guy cheats on his wife he ends up in divorce court and gets what he deserves. If the wife cheats, the guy ends up in divorce court and pays his wife (rewarding her) for her infidelity. Yes, I hear it all the time, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a better option.

I alluded to the solution about. Deciding to have children is different today. I hope we can agree on that much by now. Women (and men) have great control over reproductive choices which removes a lot of uncertainty in interpersonal relationships. This is a good thing. And as long as children can now be planned, doesn’t it make sense to lay down ground rules in advance? Deciding to have children is something men and women can both enjoy. Children are hard to raise while still such a joy to have. They are an endless blessing. If a prenuptial agreement can solve many problems before they occur, a child agreement—a legal and binding document—can protect both parents. Men (and women) no longer need to fear disenfranchisement from his children unless he poses harm to them.

A prenup might sound unromantic, but an agreement for having a child shouldn’t carry such weight. The act of creating the agreement will expose differences in child rearing ideology. Best to iron out those differences before a child is involved. Some of this can be handled in a prenuptial agreement. Each state is different so consult an attorney experienced in such matters.

Marriage is a contract and always has been. There is nothing wrong—and a lot right—with planning your marriage more than you plan the wedding. Remember, the wedding is a day; the marriage is a lifetime. A prenuptial agreement solves a lot of the problems MGTOWs complain about. A child agreement solves issues surrounding kids you have. No more blaming and hating women! My wife and daughters are awesome people. Never forget that.

Guys, women love a man with a plan. Coming to a relationship with an action plan is powerful. Women are still biologically wired to want a man who will support them. They tend to marry up. This is natural and normal due to historical standards. A plan can make you more desirable to women. And you have to put aside shyness and ask. If you see a woman you are interested in, ask her if she would like to join you for a cup of coffee. If she responds poorly you didn’t want to spend time with her anyway. There are lots of really good ladies out there. Really! Check out a Peterson video if you want to know and learn more of what women want.

Men, you should feel less stress about relationships! Not so long ago you carried a heavy burden. You worked the fields and mines (dangerous jobs) and if you got hurt or died your wife and children suffered horribly. Instead of the responsibility of carrying all the weight of supporting your family, you now have an equal, a partner. It’s better that way. Honest.


Note: If you haven’t read Jordan Peterson’s latest book you need to fix that ASAP. Normally I would say check it out at the library, but that isn’t good enough this time. Your copy of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos will be more worn than an evangelical’s Bible. You’ll refer to it that much.


Note: I understand this is a difficult and contentious topic. These are serious money issues people need to consider. Some of my personal opinions and biases developed over my lifetime I’m sure slipped in even though I tried hard to keep opinion out. Please use this as a starting point to think about the subject matter. I empathize with men dealing with the host of issues; I also empathize with women trying to make their way in this world. Both genders are working hard to figure it out. No vicious attacks in the comments. You can disagree with me, but treat other commentators with respect. Thank you.


More Wealth Building Resources

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregation studies work and how to get one yourself.

Worthy Financial offers a flat 5% on their investment. You can read my review here.