What This Pirate Learned From MMM: Part Two

This is the second blog post inspired by MMM. I feel like the issue we’re going to discuss today is going to come up in a lot of posts, but really it’s so important that it deserves a blog post of it’s own.

As I said in the last post, pirates rebel against the powers that be. And the powers that be are usually out to trick you out of your hard-earned loot. We do not allow this.

Why do we care so much about this when said powers are giving you nice stuff that everyone agrees is cool?

Firstly, because as I discussed in my last post, spending your life indulging in comforts will make you a weak landlubber.

And secondly, more importantly, throwing away your loot on stuff you don’t need makes you dependent. On your employer, on banks, and on the insane ups-and-downs of the economy.

If you depend on your employer to keep you in your cushy lifestyle, you pretty much have to take whatever crap they throw at you.

And that’s only if the economy doesn’t decide to go haywire, and take your job away entirely. In which case depending on your debt situation the banks can do fun stuff to you too.

Jack Sparrow does not let the East India Trading Company push him around, and you shouldn’t be beholden to the corporations in your life either.

(Fortunately we haven’t gotten to the point where Wal-Mart and Amazon are going around imprisoning and executing the Financial Independence crowd.)

Now now do we do this exactly?

Well, to explain that properly would take a lot more than one blog post (see MMM’s entire blog), but I’ll attempt to get you started.

They Are Lying to You

Marketing is bullcrap, and we’re all eating it. No, you are not immune to advertising (literally everyone thinks they are.)

You’re not, okay?

The Starbucks “experience” is not worth the markup.

(Actually any markup is not worth it. If it’s cheaper somewhere else, buy it there. If that means waiting a while, deal with it.)

You do not need to buy chocolate because it is Valentine’s day.

You can leave that “omg I must have it” thing you just saw in the store, and your life will go on unchanged. Conversely, whatever you buy will not change your life.

The truth is, if you actually need something, you will know about it before an advertiser tells you that you need it.

So if you see something in a store and just “have” to have it, then you have been lied to.

So that’s the bad news. The good news is all the awesome stuff that happens when you rebel against the evil corporations and stop giving them all your money.

Let me give you myself as an example. Now, some of you may not be in a situation comparable to mine, but unless you can honestly say that you don’t spend any money on stuff you don’t need, or that there aren’t people in situations like yours (I’m thinking of kids, etc) who live on less than you and are perfectly happy, then my point is still valid.

I just graduated not too long ago. I don’t make very much, relatively speaking.

Yet, despite that and annoying housing costs and my student loans, I still manage to sock away a sizable chunk of money every month.

I’ve been working full time less than two years, but if I lost my job right now, I would just be annoyed.

(I mean, I’m sure I would freak out.)

But financially, it would just be a setback. With some small adjustments, I’m pretty sure I could manage a year even without a severance package, unemployment insurance, or going into debt.

If unexpected expenses come up, such as the vacation opportunity I mentioned in another post, I don’t bat an eye.

(I just delayed buying a couch, because I don’t need a couch. In fact, I’m rethinking the whole idea of buying a living room set while I still need a job, because I’m perfectly happy without one.)

Since beginning my entry into the adult workforce, I have never worried about money. In fact I’ve made it a goal of mine that if I ever do end up having to worry about money, it won’t be for lack of effort on my part.

Will I be able to retire as early as I hope (before 40, preferably)? I don’t know. But I won’t end up with a handful of mud, either.

I’m not saying this to brag (except maybe a little.) My intent is to describe the freedom that comes from controlling your own money, and intentionally deciding what your priorities are in where you put it.

If people thought about it, I really don’t think they would decide that another bag of clothes, or a weekly Starbucks habit, was more important to them than financial freedom.

And a pirate’s life ultimately is about freedom. That, and developing the skills and savvy necessary to achieve it.

Chart Your Own Course

“Hang the code, and hang the rules. They’re more like guidelines anyway.” – Elizabeth Swan.

So the second rule is…ignore the rules. We will pause to savor the irony before continuing.


The first Pirates movie hit theatres in 2003 when we the Millennial generation were all in our formative preteen, teenage, young adult years.

Pirates are pretty much defined by rule-breaking, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the first movie about pirates to make it big would come at a time when the generation that has become known for doing things differently was coming of age.

Millennials tend to reject the traditional college, job, marriage, mortgage, babies, retirement life-plan.

Partly because that’s who we are, and partly because for a lot of us the stable job never materialized and we’re too worried about finding affordable housing and paying student loans to think about the other stuff.

That sucks a lot, for a lot of people, but I think it has also led to a lot of the out-of-the-box thinking that millennials are also known for.

 Which brings us back to Pirates. Most fictional pirate captains are more-or-less based on Long John Silver from Treasure Island. They make a living by taking what they want, and get away with it by scaring the living daylights out of people. Yet somehow they also remain likeable because, hey, they’re not all bad.

And there’s Jack Sparrow who, while sort of following that pattern, has also managed to invent a completely different way to “pirate,” leading to one of the most unique and interesting characters I’ve ever come across.

He’s not all that intimidating, and despite insisting on being a pirate captain, he isn’t a leader. Instead, he succeeds against all odds because he’s smarter than he seems, and possesses a unique ability to wreak havoc with the laws of physics.

In other words, the rules don’t apply to him.

So if you want to be a modern pirate, one of the most important things is to realize that you can’t live a different life than other people by doing the same things other people do.

This assumes of course that you want something else, but if you’re reading this blog…

In any case I definitely did the first time I watched Pirates, and I still do.

By and large I think I have achieved what I wanted. Or at least I have arrived at an adult life with the financial flexibility and relative dearth of encumbrances that allow me to do the sort of things I envision doing.

For instance, when a travel opportunity recently came up I was able to jump at it with only a few mental readjustments. No spouse to confer with, no kids or pets to worry about, no concerns over where I was going to get the money.

Sure, details to follow, but no concerns over whether or not it was going to happen (at least as far as it is up to me.)

That’s the sort of exception-to-the-rule I was aiming for. Maybe for you it’s different.

But my goal didn’t just happen. I got there for a lot of reasons, but it wouldn’t have even been a goal if I didn’t have the belief that my life could look the way I wanted it to. Not the way everyone else’s life looked like. That I was (or could be) special.

Maybe that seems arrogant, but pirates kind of are. One of the things I liked best about Jack Sparrow was his ridiculous confidence. Which only looked ridiculous until you found out he could really back it up.

That’s who I wanted to be. The person who could chart their own course. And so can you.