FI…13 years and 4 Months in the making

“Hmm what the heck did I get myself into?” I thought to myself while walking toward GM Place in downtown Vancouver. 


Being uncomfortable in a new surrounding

It was Nov 7, 2001. All around me, many people were dressed in black clothing, some even were in gothic style clothing with scary makeup on. As I got closer and closer to GM Place, I could smell cigarettes and weed. I was feeling a bit intimidated. 

I had been looking forward to this date for a couple of months. Tool was playing that night in GM Place and I was about to go to my very first stadium concert, seeing Tool for the first time. Back in May that same year, while on a grade 12 jazz band trip in Ottawa, a bunch of friends and I discovered Tool. The band had just released their album called Lateralus. As teenagers, we were immediately hooked. Tool’s music was so different than what we had heard previously. As band nerds, we were fascinated with the different time signatures, the complicated guitar and bass riffs, the sophisticated drumming, and the deep meaningful lyrics. We devoured Lateralus quickly and went on to listen to Tool’s other albums. We were hooked, we all became Tool fans. Tool became one of our common bonds. 

So on that November evening, I walked in the concert not knowing what to expect. I walked out of the concert that night with my mind completely blown. The live show was everything than I could have imagined and more. Unlike the few concerts I went to, Tool band members only said a few words throughout the show. Although a rock band, no mosh pit was formed (it was forbidden by the band. And real Tool fans would not mosh to Tool music, they’d respect the music). Everyone at the concert was respectful of each other. We swayed back and forth to the beats and rocked out to the live music. There was a sense of appreciation and comradery. There was also a mysterious feel to the band. In fact, the main singer, Maynard, hid in the shadows the entire concert. I only spotted him almost toward the end of the show and realized that he was covered in blue paint (later I was told by another fan that he was wearing a full leather outfit earlier in the show). 

Tool concert

Yea… Tool is weird and that’s why they are so special. 

After Lateralus, Tool didn’t release another album until Apr 2006, right before my university graduation. Just like back in 2001, I listened to the new album called 10,000 Days intensely and went to the concert shortly after.

Since then, Tool has gone completely radio silent when it came to releasing a new album. 


The waiting game

The running joke among Tool fans is that the band is waiting for another 10,000 Days (over 27 years) to pass before releasing a new album. And that our grandparents’ grandparents were kids when Tool released 10,000 Days. 

The long wait was finally over earlier this month. Tool released a new single on Aug 7 and the new album is set to release tomorrow, Aug 30. It will be 4872 days or a little bit over 13 years and 4 months between the two albums. 

13 years and 4 months was a long time to wait for something. 

Funny enough, the new album is called Fear Inoculum, or FI. The exactly same acronym as financial independence! 

Talk about coincidence!


Feeling frustrated with the lack of progress

By now, you are probably scratching your head and wondering why am I writing about Tool. What’s the purpose and connection to financial independence?

Well, to be completely honest, lately I have been feeling a bit frustrated and flustered when it comes to earning enough dividend income to cover our expenses. Although we have been getting over $1,900 in dividend income each month, from time to time, I feel that our progress is too slow. The other day, I expressed this frustration to Mrs. T, stating that we should optimize our expenses more. 

“I feel that we are wasting money and not optimizing on many expenses. We could save more money to put that money toward investing in stocks.”

“Wouldn’t it be cool if we can earn enough dividend income to cover our expenses before I turn 40?”

Later, as I was reflecting on what I said, I realized that I had contradicted what I have been writing on the blog. 

If you’re a long-time reader, you know I have been writing about finding the personal balance between saving for the future and spending to enjoy the present moment. I also have been writing about how we aren’t too focused on our FI number or our FI date. Although we technically can be financially independent today if we really wanted to, we decided to prolong our financial independence journey. We aim to become financially independent through dividend income – when our dividend income can cover our expenses, we can call us financially independent.  

It’s certainly easy to write and talk about it. It is damn hard to practice what you preach sometimes.


The aha moment

While listening to the latest Tool single and waiting for the album to come out, I had an aha moment. 

Waiting Fear Inoculum all these years is just like waiting to become financially independent!

I have been waiting for the new album for over 13 years. It was a long wait but that’s why as I listened to the new single the morning of Aug 7 for the very first time, I had goosebumps all over my arm. I was excited, I was nervous, I was elated, and I was grateful. A mixed feeling consumed me that morning. I knew the long wait was about to end and had no problem waiting for a few more weeks for the full album to finally come out. As I listened to the new single multiple times over the next few couple of days and other Tool songs, I realized something – I have been waiting for so long, waiting for a few more weeks won’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

I also realized that over the last 13 years, I grew a bit wiser. I went from a fresh university grad to marrying a loving woman and now a dad with two children. My job title has changed a few times, going from a junior engineer to a senior product manager. I went from having no dividend income to over $1,900 in dividend income per month. 

A lot can happen in 13 years. And time has made me a better and more well rounded person.   

On the other hand, financial independence takes time too. While some people become financially independent in 5 years or less, this is extremely rare. For most people, financial independence takes a decade or even decades to achieve. It is a long process and a long journey.

And it’s this long journey that makes us improve, makes us think, makes us question about our lives, and makes us enjoy the finer things of life. 

How can we expedite our financial independence journey? 

Easy. We can save more. 

There’s no denying that we can save a lot more than what we do today!

We could stop buying organic food. We could stop eating out. We could stop going on vacations. We could stop attending educational courses. The list goes on.

There are many small leaks in our budget. Heck, we spent $57,231.99 for a family of four in 2018. It’s not exactly frugal. 

But when I stepped back and looked at the bigger picture, I realized that we don’t actually spend that much money. We rarely buy new clothes. We haven’t had a TV or cable subscription for close to 10 years. We don’t eat out often. We don’t buy fancy gadgets. We don’t buy fancy jewelry. The list goes on. 

Rather, we spend money on things that provide values to us. We spend money to fuel ourselves with high-quality food. We spend money on experiences that we will remember for many years to come. We spend money on self-improvement courses. We spend money on hobbies. We spend money to have a good time as a family. 

For things like vacations and other experiences, we are only spending money on these things once in a while. It’s not like we go on vacation every single week. That’s not us.

Yes, we do have leaks in our budget. But I realized, it is OK. 

To fix the leaks means we would be living at extreme frugality. We would be eliminating things that bring joy to our lives.


Life is complicated and that’s the beauty of it

The thing is, deprivation is not sustainable in the long run. I have realized this key point a long time ago. If we go through our daily lives without joy, then what’s the point? What’s the point of becoming financially independent a year or two faster but having to deprive ourselves? Life is too short to live in constant deprivation. Getting to financial independence faster, therefore, is probably not worth it. Furthermore, a longer FI journey will allow us to be more appreciative of the journey and really celebrate when we finally reach FI.

Similarly, what if Tool releases a new album every single year? Tool fans like me probably will not appreciate Tool as much. And let’s be realistic here, if Tool were to pump out new music every year, the quality of their music most likely will start to suck. Afterall, I enjoy Tool music because it’s so different than the songs you typically hear on the radio. Tool songs are sophisticated and LONG and that’s what makes them extra special (according to the band, the new album will be around 85 minute with only 7 songs). 

When it comes to financial independence, the math is simple. But as I step back and reflect once again, I realized there are so much more than just math to consider. We have to consider things like happiness, joy, emotion, psychology, physical and mental well-being, and many more. 

If life were just about math, everything would be simple.

But life is complicated. And that’s what makes life so interesting! 

During my frustration, I had forgotten about these key points. I have been focused on our slow FI progress, probably triggered due to some frustrations I have had with work here and there. But after being in the same company for over ⅓ of my life, I had forgotten that frustrations come and go. Work is work, it doesn’t define who I am or dictate what I do with my life. 

I need to focus on what makes me happy in this life.


Some cool stuff about Tool

In case you’re wondering, what makes Tool music so fascinating. Here are a few examples:

  • The song Lateralus was written based on the Fibonacci sequence.
  • The intro to Intension sounds really strange. Then some fans played it in reverse and found it had subliminal messages that said: “Work hard, Stay in school, Listen to your mother, your father is right/rising/right, son… Jesus loves you… Work hard, Stay in school, Listen to your mother, your father is right/rising/right son…”
  • 10,000 days is supposed to be the length of time that Maynard’s mother was partially paralyzed for after she suffered a stroke.
  • The song “Die Eier Von Satan” which translated to “The Balls of Satan,” is the name of a Germany dessert. The entire song was the description of the recipe. (Weird, I know!)
  • The song “Forty Six & 2” was based on Carl Jung’s concept of the “shadow” and the ideas of Drunvalo Melchizedek. The shadow represents the part of the personality that the individual hates and fear. Melchizedek believes that the next step of human evolution would involve a change in our DNA from 44 autosomes and 2 sex chromosomes to 46 and 2 chromosomes. 
  • This one is a bit crazy (I think?). Some fans were listening to the 3 songs “10,000 Days” (11:13), “Wing for Marie” (6:11) and “Viginti Tres” (5:02) and realized that the last two songs length coincidentally added up to 11:13. Knowing that there are no coincidences in Tool music, they put Viginti Tres and Wing for Marie together, and played them at the same time as 10,000 Days – resulting in an amazing hidden track where everything turned out to be completely in-sync! Crazy right?

In case you’re wondering what Tool sounds like. Here’s the latest single Fear Inoculum

Here’s an analysis of what makes Schism great

And finally if you’re wondering why Tool has such unique song, this can be contributed to the crazy guitar techniques used:

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14 thoughts on “FI…13 years and 4 Months in the making”

  1. Came here from the Physician on Fire Sunday Best email; I saw Tool mentioned and had to immediately read! Just wanted to say i really appreciate an author who can tie in one of my favorite bands to FI!!
    What did you think of the new album?
    Going to make it to their upcoming tour?

    • Thank you Carly. I think the new album is great, definitely has the old tool sound but sound very different at the same time.

      I’d be going to the live show when they come to Vancouver.

  2. I love all of the Tool singles, but never bought an album so I didn’t realize all these things. I did go to a Tool concert, about 10 years ago, but they didn’t play too many of the singles, so I was a little disappointed. The music is just deeper than I realized and I just expected the typical concert.

    I started my blog 13 years and 4 months ago. How about that for a coincidence?

    You’ve probably written about this before, but have you looked into real estate as a way to speed up FI? We’re doing both, but it feels to me that our real estate will make more with less investment due to leverage and tenants paying off the principal.

    • Tool singles are great but there are so many great songs beyond the singles. Wow I totally forgot how long you’ve been blogging!

      We haven’t really looked into real estate investing because the market is crazy here in Vancouver and the rental laws are really on renters side.

  3. You are progressing very fast already considering you are one income family with two kids and living in expensive metro Vancouver. I am not sure if this will comfort you or not, but also being family with two kids in metro Vancouver, last year we spent $100K and this year definitely more than that with a new car purchase. I consider myself frugal already.

    Money or FI, it serves to make us living a happy life. So enjoy your life while you can is definitely more important than numbers in your investment account. We can easily save the $10K spent on Disney World trip or the $37K on the Nissan Leaf, invest the money to get $2K more dividend per year. But I think the money well spent as the kids enjoy the trip so much and we not only enjoy the new driving experience but also saving money by not using gas and saving time by using HOV lane.

    You mentioned you want to leave your dividend portfolio to next generation. Believe me, they can build their own and they will value fun memories with their parents more than a big size of inheritance.

    I always think money is only money when you spend it, otherwise they are only paper or numbers.

    • Hi May,

      Thank you. Spending the money now to gain valuable memorable experiences make way more sense to me than wait. The most dangerous phrase on the FI journey is “do it next time.” You never know when next time will be.

      Very true about creating memories with the kids. That will last forever.

  4. Yeah, don’t get too frustrated Bob. It takes a lot of time to compound that much, and there can be entire years (or even decades) when the markets disagree with you.

    Keeping focused and plowing forward with your plan despite the small frustrations is key!

  5. Tawcan –

    Very cool article and reflect. I tend to get frustrated at times, if progression is moving too slow for us. I want to save more, fine ways to optimize our balance sheet, how can we grow yield, etc..

    In the end, we’ve already made it, you know, we’ve already made it. We know in X years, we will be done, but to enjoy the ride, is what it’s about… ah man..


    • Hi Lanny,

      Thank you, glad that you enjoyed reading it. Yea the slow progress can be frustrating from time to time but we all need to realize it’s a journey and we need to enjoy the ride along the way.

  6. Oh boy, I think you just reminded me of the days when I begged my parents to let me go to a concert where there would, in fact, be “moshing.” Me in a mosh pit was not a good idea. Ha!

    But this is great insight, no matter where we all are in our FI journeys. My fiance is in a very similar situation as you- he could essentially retire right now if he wanted, but he’s trying to fatten up his retirement income a bit. But it almost seems like the closer he’s gotten to his FI point, the antsier he gets. He is so ready to just be there already!

    I, on the other hand, am just starting my FI journey. While I would love to be there in five years, I am also not willing to give up my life in the meantime. As you say, a life of deprivation is just not worth it. Plus, the only thing I even spend money on these days is crazy adventure travel like hiking and backpacking around the world, and who knows how my body will hold up by the time I reach FI? In our household, prior to making a big purchase we calculate out the exact number of extra months/years of work it will require. If it’s worth it at that point, then we go for it.

    I imagine as time goes on the demand for patience increases, just as you describe here. But I am up for the challenge!

    • Hahaha, I’ve had my shares of experience in mosh pits. But you definitely can’t mosh to Tool music. 🙂

      Enjoying the ride is definitely important. Like you said, would your body hold up to crazy adventure travels by the time you reach FI? Hopefully but you don’t know for certain.

  7. i know what you mean about the band, bob. i was in a record store around 1992 and had to ask the guy “who the heck is this?” when they were blasting. i had never really heard anything quite like it.

    as far as living your life and well being we can relate. for us we appreciate living among art, which is good because mrs. me is a painter. we have a 100+ year old house that is true craftsmanship and it’s like living inside a piece of art. sure, we could save money and move to a simple rectangle with a roof and some doors but we wouldn’t be as happy. i’ll trade the upkeep on that house for never going to disney or any other number of common american expenditures.


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