Today I’m here to share with you a random thought I had this week: Rich people don’t run. Think about it- when did you ever see a truly rich person run anywhere?

One of my all-time favourite movies is “In time”, it’s a movie from 2011 starring Justin Timberlake. I highly recommend you watch it, it’s on Netflix and Prime Video. Here’s the trailer:

What’s the movie about?

The movie is about a world where the currency is time. If you think about it, it’s kind of like our world. We sell our time for money (to our employers) and then spend the money on stuff. So essentially, we sell our time for stuff.

People stop ageing at 25 so when they turn 25- that’s how they’ll look for the rest of their life. In the movie, you can get murdered but you can’t die from old age, you only die when you’re out of time. That means that rich people can essentially live forever. Also, people live in “time zones” and it costs a lot of time to move to a richer time zone. Poor stay in their own time zones and the rich stay in theirs. Think of the rich time zones like gated communities.

It’s a great concept and very well executed in my opinion. At least until the part where “it’s unfair that the rich have so much money” etc.

In the movie, Will Sallas (Justin Timberlake) lives in a poor time zone called Dayton. In Dayton people literally live paycheck to paycheck. I guess that’s why it’s called Day-ton. Anyway, Will gets a huge gift (more than 100 years) from a rich stranger that had enough and didn’t want to live forever. The plot revolves around the fact that the police thinks he stole the time. Will moves up in time zones, paying a fortune at every border until he gets to the top time zone (called “New Greenwich”). Going from time zone 5 to time zone 4, for example, cost him a year.

Side note: If you follow the 4% rule and achieve FI, that means you have 25 years worth of money, you’re pretty rich even in the movie’s world.

Rich people don’t run- from the movie

The scenes I’m here to discuss all happen in New Greenwich.

Scene 1

As soon he gets out of the car at New Greenwich, he starts running. People look at him weirdly and he quickly realises it makes him stand out. He looks at his “watch” (digits on his arm that show how much time he has), realises there’s no hurry, starts walking and quickly blends in.

Scene 2

The second scene I want to mention is when he’s at a posh restaurant. After he finishes eating (quickly) the waitress asks him:
“You’re not from here, are you?… You do everything a little too fast”. Will replies “Not everything”, the waitress smiles and I laugh.

Scene 3

In the third scene that I want to share with you, Will is dancing with the daughter of a very rich man. As they dance she says to him: “I saw you run. Reminds me of people who come from the ghetto.”

I didn’t pay too much attention to these scenes when I last watched the film (around 2 months ago with Lazy FI Mum) until this week.

Rich people don’t run- The morning when I didn’t have to run

Whenever I have to go to the office, I run. Usually, because I want to spend a few more minutes with my daughter and still catch the train.

This week we had a team day which meant we had to be in central London by 9:45 (I usually start work at 8:00). I was looking forward to that for weeks, especially because it meant I could put my daughter in childcare at 9:00 (Lazy FI Mum usually does that) and still easily make it on time. We had a great morning and Lazy FI Mum told me she felt the relaxed atmosphere and that she loved it. She said it was the first time in a while that we spent a midweek morning together as a family.

After I dropped my daughter off at childcare, I went down the tube and as I was walking I noticed EVERYONE was in a hurry. Some people were literally running and some were walking. I felt rich, I really did. I was in no hurry to get anywhere, I could take my time and that was an awesome feeling. My mind went straight to the scenes I described above and I finally understood what message those scenes were trying to get across.

Rich people don’t run for the same reasons

I got to the event and, as usual, there were a few presentations. In one of those presentations, one of the senior managers mentioned he enjoys running. That made me think some more. It’s fascinating how some people do the same action for completely different reasons and with different attitudes.

I hate running to the tube, it stresses me out first thing in the morning. However, I used to love to run for fun, it always helped me clear my mind and I should probably get back to running after this winter (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it). I also hated studying in school until I went to uni, where I could choose what to study. Maybe that’s the secret, maybe it’s all about having the choice.

Doing an activity can be fun or horrible, depending on the attitude we have.

Not the kind of running I want to do

It’s all about your attitude

One of the famous scenes from Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer” is when Tom has to whitewash the fence. I must admit I never read the full book (add to list) but my dad told me this part when I was a kid. Here’s the scene (in green, found it here):

Tom certainly caused a lot of trouble. Sometimes he took jam or sugar or an apple from the kitchen and then lied about it. He hated school. But more than anything he hated to work.
Aunt Polly didn’t like to scold Tom. But sometimes she had to.
One Friday, Tom didn’t go to school. He went swimming in the river, and Aunt Polly found out. That night she said, “Tom, you have to work tomorrow.”

Tom appeared with a brush and a can of paint. He looked at the long, long, long fence and sighed. “Why do I have to work on such a beautiful day? What will the other boys say when they see me?”
Ben came along. He was eating an apple.
“Hi, Tom! Let’s go swimming.”
Tom made no answer.
“What’s the matter, Tom? Do you have to work? Ha, ha, ha! That’s too bad.”

Then Tom had a great idea. He said, “Work? What do you mean?”
“You have to paint the fence. That’s work, isn’t it?”
“Well, I don’t know, Ben. It’s interesting.”
“You must be joking. You don’t really enjoy it, do you?”
“Of course I do. How often do you get a chance to paint a fence?”
This was a new idea, and Ben began to see things differently.

“Say, Tom. Can I paint a little? It looks like fun.”
“Well… no, Ben. You’re a good friend, and I want to say yes. But Aunt Polly! This fence is very important to her, and it has to look just right when it’s finished.”
“I’ll be careful!”

“No, Ben. I can do it better than you.”
“No, you can’t! Please, Tom. I’ll give you half my apple!”
“But if you make a mistake ―”
“I’ll be careful. You can have all my apple, Tom!”
Ben took the brush, and Tom took the apple.

Tom began to eat the apple with a smile in his heart ― but not, of course, on his face.
Many other boys came by that morning. Each one paid Tom something for a chance to paint. One boy gave him a kite. Another paid with a dead mouse. Tom also got an old knife and many other wonderful objects. By noon there was no more paint. The fence looked beautiful, and Tom was rich.
When she saw the fence, Aunt Polly was very surprised. She gave Tom the best apple in the kitchen.
“Life isn’t so bad after all,” he thought.

This scene is about how Tom tricked Ben and the other kids. Tom was smart and his idea, and execution, were brilliant. However, I don’t think Ben made such a bad deal. Yes, painting is a chore but only if you treat it as a chore. He got to do a fun activity and I’m sure he went to sleep with a smile on his face that night. It’s all about the attitude AND having the choice. Tom HAD to paint the fence, maybe that’s why he hated the idea? Ben made a choice to paint the fence and enjoyed it.

I want to not have to run

That morning was a great glimpse into FI life for me. Spend my morning with my family, not rush anywhere after. If that’s really how FI life looks like, I can’t wait until my watch shows 25 years*.

Yes, we’re pursuing FI and I want to get there as fast as possible but I have to remember to enjoy the journey too. After all, that “journey” is my life and I can enjoy it with the right attitude. So remember- rich people don’t run unless they choose to and I wish you the same.

* I started reading ERN’s SWR series and I’m not sure 25 is the right number anymore but that’s for another post. You can read about the series in this link and if you scroll to the bottom, there are links to every single post in the series. I just finished reading part 14. A huge thank you to Joe who recommended this series in a comment to my post about dynamic withdrawal rates.