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5 steps to building an "F-you" fund

Alyssa Pry
Personal Finance Reporter

If you’re in a career slump and looking for a way out, it might be time to build an “F-you” fund.

Despite the crude name, an F-you fund is essentially a beefed-up emergency fund: “At least six to eight months of expenses in an account so if you’re working at a job that you don’t like and you would rather do something else, you can tell your job ‘F-you,’” says Ash Exantus, a personal finance expert and director of financial education for Bankmobile.com.

Exantus says creating your F-you fund is a way to ensure you don’t feel like you’ve reached a dead-end in your career.

“It’s simply security to make sure that you’re not stuck at a job,” Exantus says. “You have freedom of not just finances but also freedom to do what you love day in and day out.”

Exantus shared his 5 steps to building your own F-you fund.

STEP 1: Know your numbers

Exantus recommends six to eight months’ worth of expenses. “If you know that your expenses are $3,000 a month, then you need $18,000 at minimum in that F-you fund,” he says.

“Six to eight months is a great amount of time so that if you ever needed to pivot from a career, you’re not just going to take the first job that comes to you,” Exantus says.

STEP 2: Live below your means

“In order to accumulate this F-you fund you may have to sacrifice a little bit,” Exantus says. “You may not be able to go out every weekend with your friends, or you may have to pack lunch, so you have the money to be able to put into the F-you fund.”

Exantus says living outside of what you can afford can derail your fund, and make it harder to achieve your goals. Small sacrifices now can add up to big financial successes later on.

STEP 3: Pay yourself automatically

When it comes time to put money in the bank, Exantus advises adding money to your fund automatically, so you remove the temptation of seeing, and potentially using, the money.

One easy way to do that is to set up a seperate direct deposit that doesn’t even touch your regular savings account, “so that way you don’t see it, but it’s building for you in the background,” Exantus says.

STEP 4: Keep it out of reach  

Exantus says one of the most important parts of creating an F-you fund is making sure you can’t touch that money.

“Out of sight, out of mind means that your F-you fund has to be separate: the only way you can access this money is if you actually need it,” he says. Otherwise, the temptation to spend will ruin your efforts.

“It’s every single day, no matter where you are—there is some type of signal that’s going to tell you to spend your money,” he says. “If you remember that you have money saved up, eventually you’re going to give in [and spend,]” he says.

STEP 5: Keep your emotions in check

Exantus says the attitude you have toward building your fund is even more important than saving the money.

“Keeping your emotions at bay is a very critical part of creating a F-you fund,” he says. “If you go into any situation saying that I’m doing this because I want to tell my job ‘F-you,’ that’s the wrong mindset.”  

“The mindset is a just in case mindset—it’s saying, I want to protect myself, I want to protect my financial freedom, I want to protect my creative freedom, I just want to make sure that in the worst case scenario, I don’t feel stuck at a job,’” he says.

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