Money Matters: The Fuck Off Fund

Illustration: Mallaika Viswanath

After 92 days of lockdown and counting, my social calendar, my motivation to exercise and my will to work have all steadily declined, but there is one thing that remains on the up…my bank balance. Cutting out spending on nights out, restaurants, impulse buys and battels coupled with a little bit of weekly income from tutoring has amounted to a tidy sum. 

This brings me onto this week’s subject:saving. Saving can mean a lot of things, for some it’s putting away a reserve for retirement, for others there’s a finite end goal like a trip abroad or a deposit to work towards. Regardless of what you’re saving for, having savings is key to financial security in the long term. 

The title of this column is the fuck off fund, a term I came across several years ago in an article by Paulette Perhach. Essentially, the fuck off fund is a sum of money you keep in a bank account solely owned and managed by yourself, that is there not only for emergencies like car breakdowns but for a sense of independence. Having the financial security can be the key to leaving bad situations be it a job, a relationship or an unsupportive household. Putting away a set amount each week in a savings account will build this nest egg over time. 

I starting saving towards my own fuck-off fund when I got my first job, a paid internship with a consulting company. I had never earned that much money in my life, and I knew while I wanted to use some of it to fund my travels, I definitely needed to siphon off a significant amount for the future. Starting it with a base lump sum, I kept adding to it here and there using birthday money or tutoring income. 

Last summer, I took an internship abroad. hile I was there, my team and I unfortunately ended up needing to leave earlier than expected due to an internal issue with the company we were working for. While in the end we parted on good terms, I still had to find some way to spend the 2.5 weeks I had left in-country. I decided that after several weeks of work, I deserved to enjoy myself. So instead of paying a flight change fee, I booked a trip to the coast for 10 days with a friend also on the internship. I was incredibly privileged to be in this situation. A combination of being able to dip into my savings safe in the knowledge that I could make it up when I returned home, having family in the capital city that I could stay with for the week before my flight and a local passport to get residents rates at the hotel, meant that I could quite easily take this decision. 

The fuck-off fund came in handy again at the end of the trip, when I had an extremely stressful 24 hours having found out that my ticket back to England had been cancelled because I hadn’t gotten on the internal connector flight from the internship location. A warning to everyone booking multi-flight tickets: operators like TravelUp have the right to cancel both flights if you miss the first one (even if you’re already in the location to take the second flight). Moreover, the airline I was with has crappy customer service so I spent hours on the phone constantly running out of minutes on my local SIM, and shuttling back and forth to one of their offices, to try and sort the issue out. After originally being told I would have to pay an extortionate fee and some insistent haggling, I managed to get the fee knocked down by £650 and booked onto another flight leaving the day after originally planned.  

This example is a far less serious one that those used in the original article on the fuck-off fund but I hope it illustrates that with this fund, you have the peace of mind of knowing that you always have the financial power to fuck off.