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Tyler Durden’s Guide To Personal Finance

in Do What You Love, Money Basics, Rants, Sell Your 'Stuff'

TylerDurden

I am Baker’s raging excitement…

I think I’m going to enjoy writing this much more than you enjoy reading it.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tyler Durden, he is an essential character in Fight Club, which is both a novel and movie.  While the novel came a few years before, the movie escalated into a cult classic in the years following its DVD release.  If you aren’t familiar with the character, well…  we should probably part ways here.  :-)

For those that are still with me, let’s get some things out of the way.  We aren’t going to be talking about masculinity, violence, mental disorders, religion, or even politics.  These themes run rampant through the movie and have been discussed in great length and detail by individuals much smarter and more witty than me.

Instead, we are going to have fun. We are going to dive into some of the most famous of Tyler’s quotes (movie) and attempt to pull any applicable personal finance wisdom from them.  The movie’s strong anti-consumerism message will make some of these very easy, while others may seem like more of a stretch.  I’ll let you decide!

Here are Tyler’s thought on a wide variety of personal finance themes:

On the pursuits of material possessions…

“The things you own end up owning you.”

Let’s start the party off right.  This is not only my favorite, but certainly one of the most popular quotes in the entire movie.  The lead-up, timing, and delivery make it’s impact undeniable.  As I mentioned in my last post, my suggestion for this is to create a list of everything you own… and sell half within the next two weeks.  Or rig your condo and blow them all up.  Whatever floats your boat.

On avoiding lifestyle inflation…

“Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken”

Leveraging debt and living outside of your means has its benefits.  For example, on a short time, frame you can get very good at looking wealthy, happy, or successful.  Heck, you can even feel these emotions for a while.  But in the long run it’s all imitation.  You can pretend all you want, but eventually it’s going to crumble.

On rejecting consumerism…

“We’re consumers. We are bi-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear.”

Obviously this is one of the central themes of Tyler’s philosophy.  While his approach is rather extreme, it’s hard to argue against the fact that our obsession with consuming is at very core of the majority of our financial woes.  While capitalism has many great benefits, we’ve got to be able to set limits, especially in our personal lives.

On separating your identity from your financial picture…

“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis.”

Far too many people draw a major part of identity from the state of their financial life, their career, or their possessions.  We can all agree that establishing control over your financial life is important in maintaining a balanced life.  Buts it’s only one part of many that goes into this.  My motto…  make your finances a priority, but not the priority.

On recovering from financial mistakes…

“Only after disaster can we be resurrected.”

There is no financial situation that is so grim that you cannot bounce back.  There are endless success stories of people who’ve overcome extremely desperate financial conditions and came out on top.  In fact, many of us need to hit our own ‘rock bottom’ before any lasting change can be made.  Stop making excuses and start creating your own personal recovery story.

On sowing first… so you can reap down the road…

“You wanna make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs.”

Success in personal finance rarely comes quickly.  Of the times that it does, it’s usually gone within a couple years.  Just ask the average lottery winner.  To create lasting change you’ve got to sacrifice up front.  You’ve got to take care of the daily basics.  The ones that aren’t as sexy or appealing as many alternatives.  In the end, though, you’ll be the one enjoying the omelet.

On the ability to learn, grow, and evolve…

“I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let… lets evolve, let the chips fall where they may.”

Another one of my personal favorites.  It’s reminds us all that personal finance, like the other areas of our lives, is about the journey rather than the destination.  There’s nothing wrong with saving for retirement, but your life shouldn’t be one big climb up to the edge of a cliff.  Make it a journey.  It’ll be mostly uphill, but take the scenic, winding route and allow yourself to enjoy the view.

On the courage to take control of your finances…

“People do it everyday, they talk to themselves… they see themselves as they’d like to be, they don’t have the courage you have, to just run with it.”

Everyone wishes they could pay off debt.  They wish they had the savings to start their business or follow their passions.  They dream of nailing the perfect job at a great company.  But the people who accomplish these things actually do something about it.  Tyler points out that it all comes down to courage.  The courage to run with it.

On overcoming emotions to make wise financial decisions…

“Listen, you can run water over your hand and make it worse or…  LOOK AT ME… or you can use vinegar and neutralize the burn.”

Emotions play a huge part in our finances.  They are an integral part of how we spend our money, what decisions we make regarding major life events, and even how we react to the stock market and our investing.  There are many times in the heat of the moment that we end up making our worst financial mistakes.  Instead of taking the quickest, easiest, or most convenient option, we need to slow down and think about what will be the most effective choice.

On the value of trusting your financial advisors…

“You don’t know where I’ve been, Lou…  you don’t know where I’ve been.”

A little bit of a stretch?  Maybe.  In all honesty, though, if we’ve learned anything from our current recessions its that we need to be careful who we trust with our hard earned investing dollars.  There are seasoned and qualified professional in every community, we’ve just got to take extra steps to ensure we ‘know where they’ve been.’

On keeping your financial life in perspective…

“First you have to give up, first you have to know… not fear… know… that someday you’re gonna die.”

Why this may appear to be a negative quote, Tyler actually uses it to empower.  And it’s 100% true.  We can’t take any of it with us.  This isn’t about living a fast life or squandering just to squander.  A wretched financial existence has the potential to bleed into and poison every other aspect of your life.  By taking control of our finances, we can leverage them to support the pursuits in life that are the most fulfilling.

On not settling in your career…

“I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars.”

At some point, for a wide variety of reasons, many of us settle.  We settle for average and for comfort.  Rather than pursue our passions and fail, we lower our expectations and conform.  More often than not, this ends up limiting both our happiness and our finances.  We’ve got to find ways to recreate that spark.  We need to realize that it’s better to try and fail, than to settle and regret.

On conscious spending…

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”

As many of you know, this is a big one for me.  Courtney and I are constantly looking for ways to ensure that we are open-eyed and aware when we spend our money.  It’s not that we never choose to ‘blow’ money.  But rather that we are the ones making the choice to buy and not the advertisers or the neighbors down the street.  Whether you use credit, debit, or cash, it’s important to take steps to ensure you’re spending consciously.

On adjusting to the ‘real’ world out of school…

“We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”

Everyone goes through this phase.  It happens right out of high school, during our college years, or at some point soon after graduation.  It’s adjusting from more sheltered life to the harsh reality of the ‘real’ world.  Some of us panic and revolt.  Others get scared and settle.  Neither of these extremes holds all the answers.  Balancing the drive to pursue your passions with the immediate need to ‘make’ a living is a continual struggle for all but a lucky few.

On striving for a work/life balance…

“I am free in all the ways that you are not.”

This quote has many meanings.  While it’s true, it’s also ironic.  The whole truth is Tyler isn’t really free, either.  His radical and obsessive nature is a restriction in itself.  Ultimately, true freedom would exist somewhere in between the two polarizing characters, which is one aspect that makes the story so compelling.  It’s the quest for this balance that removes our limitations and let’s us truly shine.

On not being afraid to take risks…

“I don’t wanna die without any scars.”

There is such a thing as being too conservative, especially in our approach to finances.  There’s nothing admirable about being cheap.  Nothing cool about being a tightwad.  There’s a fine line between these traits and earnest frugality, but the line is there.  You’ve got to be willing to take some risks, even in your finances.  Giving yourself room to live a little will help you avoid burnout, breakdown, or self-destruction.  Don’t be afraid to take some chances and make some mistakes.

On ‘doing what works for you’…

“How’s that working out for you? -  [What?] - Being clever. – [Great.] – Keep it up then…  right up.”

Tyler’s message here is clear.  Once you find something that works, don’t mess it up.  If you find a way to budget that works for your family, use it.  If you’ve found that slicing your credit cards into tiny pieces enables you to clearly focus on your financial goals, go get a sharp knife.  Explore until you find something that fits you and then keep plugging away at it.  It’s really that simple.

On mastering the basics of personal finance…

“To make soap, first we render fat.”

Personal finance principles build upon themselves.  Everyone learns in different ways, however there are certain fundamental aspects that with make everything else more smooth.  For example, all the fancy investing techniques and career advances won’t get you anywhere if you’re spending more than you make and constantly plagued by lifestyle inflation.  Even at high levels of income, the basics like creating a liquid emergency fund, sticking to a budget, and avoiding impulse purchases are essential.  Fundamentals first, just like in little league.

On the quarter-life crisis dilemma…

“My dad never went to college, so it was real important that I go. - [Sounds familiar.] - So I graduate, I call him up long distance, I say ‘Dad, now what?’ He says, ‘Get a job.’”

What am I going to be when I grow up?  I still don’t know the answer to this question.  Unfortunately, the standard life path of elementary-middle-high-college-job-marriage-job-kid-kid-job-job-retire-die doesn’t really encourage us to explore much.  At least not until we retire. I know firsthand what it’s like to be responsible for more than just yourself. Ultimately, though, we still have the choice to design our financial lives so that they are more in line with our passions and purpose.

As you can see, Tyler Durden seems to know more about personal finance than you’d first expect.  Which lines are your favorite?  What other personal finance lessons can we take from these?  Remember, this is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.  What are you going to do today to take control of the time you have left?

{ 108 comments… read them below or add one }

FFB September 14, 2009 at 8:29 AM

There are so many great bits of wisdom in this movie! Not saying we should all go out and be like Durden but there are many great points that are made. We run through the rpe-conceived idea that going to a good school, getting a professional degree, getting the house in the suburbs is all the way it should be for us but it’s not always the case.
.-= FFB´s last blog ..Personal Finance Resource Links 09-13-09 =-.

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Baker September 14, 2009 at 9:49 AM

I completely agree. Without going to the extremes, I love finding inspiration in this stuff!

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Nick | Credit Ranker February 6, 2013 at 12:28 AM

I agree too. I don’t need to buy fancy stuff. I cringe when I see/hear people talking about how “tacky” something as simple as a laundry basket is. Its a laundry basket, not something you are wearing. Materialism has become idolized way too much.

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J. Money September 14, 2009 at 8:32 AM

I forgot how awesome that movie was! Excellent quoatage my friend. As always, you grab my A.D.D attention and force me to think. Rock on bro.

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Baker September 14, 2009 at 9:50 AM

Nothing cures A.D.D. like a late-night Fight Club screening.

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Ruth P. April 6, 2010 at 11:50 AM

A late- Fight Club screening cures everything!

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Sigil April 8, 2010 at 4:41 PM

Funny… I always thought it was Chuck Norris that cured everything… I just learned my something new for the day.

Great post by the way!

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Norcross September 14, 2009 at 9:07 AM

Putting my utter fanboy status of this m0vie aside, the ideas and themes you’ve laid out here can be applied to just about anything in life. Mind you, that is a good thing. Taking control of your entire life is critical. But sadly, too many folks would rather not.

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Valerie M September 14, 2009 at 9:32 AM

Sorry to disappoint you, but you’re wrong. I had more fun reading this than you did writing this. ;-) I bet you could pull off a comedy skit centered solely around personal finance. And I’ve never seen Fight Club, but now I’m going to… thanks for the rec!

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Baker September 14, 2009 at 9:51 AM

Valerie… what?!?!? I guess I’m flattered you enjoyed it even having not seen the movie. Go watch it. ;-)

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Kyle Wallace September 14, 2009 at 12:42 PM

The movie blows. Read the book.

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TJ September 16, 2009 at 3:12 PM

The book is great, but so is the movie. I’d say the movie does a better job for the first half (fighting and stuff) but the book is far better explaining the deeper meaning during the second half.

great post baker

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David Weliver September 14, 2009 at 10:31 AM

I always loved Fight Club’s anti-consumerism messages, but I *never* realized just how many great lessons it contained. Incredible job pulling them all out for us! We can’t blow up the credit card companies, but we sure can learn a thing or two from that movie!
.-= David Weliver´s last blog ..AT&T Wireless Rebate Visa Gift Cards Are A Raw Deal =-.

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 3:55 AM

Maybe we could stop just short of blowing them up…. ;-)

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Jeff Rose September 14, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Truly a great post. I have a feeling this post will be a cult classic just like the movie. Good job!

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Blake September 14, 2009 at 11:32 AM

When talking about movies, a buddy of mine mentioned that Fight Club didn’t contain anything profound, instead being a simple movie about fighting. That launched me into a spiel about the anti-consumerism message I observed.

Maybe I’ll have to email him this post. ;) Great job!
.-= Blake´s last blog ..Cocktail Party Index Investing =-.

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 3:56 AM

Haha, I hope you weren’t too harsh with him. You should definitely e-mail him ;-).

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Russ Thornton September 14, 2009 at 12:04 PM

Tremendous post, Baker.

I love Fight Club (both the book and the movie), and agree with you that there is a lot of wisdom in Tyler’s words.

Great stuff!

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Carlos Miceli September 14, 2009 at 12:06 PM

Don’t know why, but I laughed a lot reading this. I’m sure you had a blast too. I think the main thing to take away from Tyler is that overcoming your fears is a must. Maybe in personal finance, maybe in entrepreneurship, whatever it may be, listening to your fears won’t help.
.-= Carlos Miceli´s last blog ..Time Relationship =-.

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 3:56 AM

Carlos, I laughed a lot while writing it! It’s so true, many of these can be applied to different areas of life. That’s what makes the movie great!

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Weston September 14, 2009 at 12:53 PM

A few weeks ago while moving my daughter into college I actually had to suffer through watching someone I love with all my heart anguishing for ten minutes over whether the $9.99 lamp she was looking at in Target would ” match the duvet” my wife had bought her the month before.

All I could hear echoing in my head during that ten minute eternity was Fight Club…

Do you know what a duvet is?
- A comforter.
- It’s a blanket.
Just a blanket. Why do guys
like you and I know what a duvet is?
Is this essential to our survival
in the hunter-gatherer sense?

No.

What are we, then?

I dunno. Consumers

Right. We’re consumers.

We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession.

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 3:57 AM

Yes! I have these experiences myself in day-to-day life (with all sorts of movies). I was thinking I might be a little insane. Glad to hear I’m not the only one.

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dk September 14, 2009 at 1:39 PM

Great post idea and great execution! Very interesting.

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Craig September 14, 2009 at 2:44 PM

Big fan of the book and movie and the quote selections are spot on. Real encouraging for not just finances but living life in general and can really motivate someone to kick start their journey.

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Chase September 14, 2009 at 2:55 PM

Baker, this is another post that will go down in ManVsDebt history.
Anyone who can incorporate Tyler Durden into their way of life has my instant respect.
.-= Chase´s last blog ..Like riding a bike… =-.

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MoneyEnergy September 14, 2009 at 3:23 PM

Great film. These quotes actually show, though, it’s not so much about personal finance going on here, it’s about waking up in life. And keeping track of (and growing, etc.) your finances is definitely a good way to get on that route!
.-= MoneyEnergy´s last blog ..Commodities Currencies Trade With Oil Prices =-.

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 3:58 AM

Yep. Most of the same quotes can be applied to other areas easily as well. I love it.

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NatalieFRoberts September 14, 2009 at 3:53 PM

I want to finish the sentence “first rule of fight club,” but I’m afraid I’ll get into knocked out for the obvious quote. I’ll just say, that I enjoyed the read. I’m passing it along. By the way, my company wants to know why you save and invest -you may win an iPhone 3G S. http://fabeetle.com/giveaway Great post!

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Jun Loayza September 14, 2009 at 4:47 PM

Adam, you’re right dude, this post kicks ass!

I read through each quote carefully and loved how you drew parallels between the quote and personal finance. Man, I should have done something like that for entrepreneurship. What other movie has a boat load of kick ass quotes that I can use?…

My favorite quote: “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis.”

I used to fall into this trap. I used to judge people based on the brand they wore or the car they drove. It’s not until I entered the blogging world that my eyes were forced open and I saw the world through non-judgmental eyes. Well, I try not to judge as much as I can. I’m still working on it.
.-= Jun Loayza´s last blog ..Should I drop out of college to pursue my startup? =-.

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Jun, it’s hard to break down the barriers of judging like this. I’m be lying to say I don’t consistently struggle with the same things you’ve outlined. It’s so easy to fall into the trap at looking at a person and making snap judgments of their ‘success’ based on material things.

Blogging has actually helped me a lot with this. I’ve been exposed to countless people from all walks of like that are following their passions. Reminds me to focus on the person and not the 5-sec first impression.

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Cat September 14, 2009 at 5:33 PM

If your wife ever gets tired of you, I’ll take you. Awesome article!
.-= Cat´s last blog ..Second Contact =-.

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 4:01 AM

It’s always good to have back-up options ;-).

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Steve |MyWifeQuitHerJob September 14, 2009 at 5:47 PM

Hey Adam,

Best article that I’ve read in a long time! Now I have to go find my Fight Club DVD and rewatch it.
.-= Steve |MyWifeQuitHerJob´s last blog ..Small Business Accounting And Bookkeeping Can Be Fun – The Ultimate Small Business Startup Guide Part 6 =-.

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Damon Day September 14, 2009 at 6:14 PM

Adam,

What an awesome post. I haven’t seen that movie in over a year. I think I am going to go get it out and pay a little more attention. My favorite was the avoiding lifestyle inflation line. Definitely going to stumble this one for you. You put a lot of thought and creativity into it. It has given me some ideas for some future posts. Thanks for the great read.
.-= Damon Day´s last blog ..Debt Settlement Companies – Top 5 ways they can Screw you! =-.

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 4:01 AM

Damon, thanks for the passionate comment and for sharing this with others. I’m glad you connected with the post!

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Paul Norwine September 14, 2009 at 9:30 PM

Adam – this is one of your best posts yet. And I’m not saying this just because Fight Club is one of my favorite movies….okay, that’s partly the reason I say this :)

My favorite of the above has to be, “I don’t wanna die without any scars.”

Isn’t this what life is all about? Obviously, this can be applied to personal finances (using good debt to leverage wealth, for example)…but it applies to so much more as well. I look forward to your next movie analogy!

Paul
.-= Paul Norwine´s last blog ..Graduating to a Full-Time Blogger – Reviewing the First Month of PaulNorwine.com =-.

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 4:03 AM

After writing this, I would consider doing more pop-culture references like this. There would be a lot of overlap in themes, but if I could find one that had a unique twist or angle (like Fight Club) I’d consider it.

Any ideas for Part II? :-)

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Weston September 16, 2009 at 10:10 AM

Baker-

For me Part II would be easy.

“American Beauty” the only major motion picture that I can recall that actually featured a “cameo” appearance by the book “Your Money or Your Life”

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Weston September 16, 2009 at 3:13 PM

If my above suggestion strikes a chord, hopefully below you’ll find some inspiration:

Lester Burnham: This isn’t life, it’s just stuff. And it’s become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that’s just nuts.

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 5:09 PM

American Beauty is a great suggestion!

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Greg Rollett September 14, 2009 at 11:04 PM

Simply amazing work man. I am an uber fanboy of the movie and my wife never let’s me put it on! The not settling in your career is something that I look at as a major influence in my life. What I do tomorrow NEEDS to be better than what I did today. Not for monetary reason, but for the fact that as my life goes on I want to become more educated, have more experience and live life to its full potential, not the half-ass gas-pumping, table waiting, hopefully something better comes along mentality that I try to teach people to get away from!

Rock on dude.
.-= Greg Rollett´s last blog ..Best Way to Brand Yourself? Deliver Like Matt Barkley =-.

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 5:16 PM

“What I do tomorrow NEEDS to be better than what I did today”

Keep rockin’, man… I love that.

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Dave September 15, 2009 at 8:58 AM

Awesome article Adam. I love Tyler’s careless attitude and logical arguments. It’s an awesome layout here of the truth behind the words.

As a side note, your writing is getting to be really great. It was good before but in the last few articles it has skyrocketed. Great job man.

Dave
LifeExcursion
.-= Dave´s last blog ..Core Power =-.

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Brad @ enemyofdebt September 15, 2009 at 9:10 AM

Baker this post is awesome! Fight Club is a classic favorite of mine! Other than the anti-consumerism feel I never realized it had as much about finance in it as you have extracted. Great job!
.-= Brad @ enemyofdebt´s last blog ..We’re Debt FREEEEEEEE!!! (Video Post) =-.

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Kim September 15, 2009 at 9:27 AM

Great post! Never seen the movie, but I really enjoyed this

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Baker September 19, 2009 at 6:50 PM

Kim, go rent it NOW! ;-)

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April September 15, 2009 at 9:55 AM

LOVED this. Big fan of the movie. Delving deeper into yoga continually brings to mind scenes from Fight Club, believe it or not. Like this part: “First you have to give up, first you have to know… not fear… know… that someday you’re gonna die.” In yoga, the final pose is savasana, or corpse pose, which is “a small death, every moment, every day,” according to ashtanga yogi Pattabhi Jois. What you said is true–it’s not something morbid. Psychotherapist and yoga teacher, Michael Stone, said “…in the center of your bumbling human life, where you are always looking around for something better, notice how the present moment is just a small death away.”

How differently would we live our lives if we constantly reminded ourselves that one day we will die, and we never know when it’s going to happen? We *think* we know that, but how often do we remember it in our daily lives when we’re obsessing over material items or cursing in traffic?

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 5:18 PM

Exactly, April. It’s validating to see these concepts reappear from personal finance, to cult-classic movies, to yoga. They can’t all be wrong ;-)!

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David September 15, 2009 at 8:31 PM

Well, believe it or not, I blam e”Fight Club” for a lot of things. Like, I’d quit smoking a few months before I first saw it, but Marla’s smoking scenes had me trudging to the corner shop that night. But, I also got much of what you quote here, and I think that was the beginning of my sea-change attitude towards money/status/etc.

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Peter Juhl September 16, 2009 at 3:30 AM

I used to love Fight Club the movie, now I love it even more.

This post sent chills down my spine.

Would be great if I could share some of your great post on my Facebook wall.

Peter

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 5:18 PM

Peter, feel free to share my writing in anyway you please. Glad you loved it!

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Steven September 16, 2009 at 11:45 AM

I remember watching this movie and noticing how much Tyler’s anti-materialist philosophy spoke to me! I’m glad there is an article about this :)

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janet September 16, 2009 at 1:07 PM

OMG, this is one of my all-time favorite movies. My favorite line, “You are not your Khakis.” What a great post. I’ll be back, I like your writing style.

janet
.-= janet´s last blog ..haunting images =-.

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 5:19 PM

You forgot one word in that quote ;-)…

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Foxie | CarsxGirl September 16, 2009 at 1:25 PM

This is great! I watched the movie for the first time not too long ago, and despite having reservations, I loved it and want to see it again… (Movies at work don’t do too well, since I end up missing too much. Plus it was on tv, so….)

Of all the scenes in the movie, the stick-up is the one that stays with me the most. How he pushes the guy to actually admit what he wants, that he’s settled and to give him a good push in the right direction… I wish someone would do that to me sometimes. :P But it did and still does make me think about what I want my life to be like, no holds bar. I can only hope that I can live up to some part of that.
.-= Foxie | CarsxGirl´s last blog ..Nice Mods, Tiny Budgets =-.

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 5:21 PM

Foxie, my very first ICQ handle was “Better Breakfast” in honor of that scene in the movie! My favorite, as well.

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Laura September 16, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Here we are… talking about Fight Club. This is a brilliant article. The movie became a cult classic because it was deep and there was more to it than just two guys beating the tar out of each other. Thanks for breaking it down for us!
.-= Laura´s last blog ..$3 off Sara Lee Pre-sliced Deli Meat =-.

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John Bardos - JetSetCitizen September 16, 2009 at 3:37 PM

Fight Club has to be one of my all time favorite movies. I love this post!

My favorite quote is:
“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis.”

Another great movie that I love is Barfly with Mickey Rourke. That is probably quite a bit before your time, but the anti-commercialism message is fantastic.
.-= John Bardos – JetSetCitizen´s last blog ..What is a Great Lifestyle? =-.

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Baker September 16, 2009 at 5:23 PM

I must admit I haven’t seen Barfly. But I trust your recommendation and will have to see if I can stir it up at the local movie store.

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Paul @ FiscalGeek September 16, 2009 at 4:01 PM

Hehe Nice Baker, you’ve done it again. I often sit and wonder “What kind of dining set
defines me as a person?” Also I think Matt Jabs would love to chime in about the joys of making your own soap. So many possibilities here with this theme.
.-= Paul @ FiscalGeek´s last blog ..Emergencies are Assured So build your Own Emergency Money Fund =-.

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Matt Jabs September 19, 2009 at 3:15 AM

Man… I sure wish I had time to make my own soap. I have made my own laundry soap and dishwasher soap and hope to follow in Tyler’s bar soap making footsteps soon.
.-= Matt Jabs´s last blog ..Should I Invest While Still In Debt? =-.

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Andrea Enos September 16, 2009 at 5:44 PM

What a fabulous post!! Thank you! I love the movie Fight Club so much and am on my own journey to realizing how pointless/binding stuff can be. Cheers to paying off debt, living simply, and living life.

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Baker September 19, 2009 at 6:50 PM

“Cheers to paying off debt, living simply, and living life.”

Love it!

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janet September 16, 2009 at 5:49 PM

Have to agree w/Mr. Bardos above. Barfly, another amazing movie. Written by Charles Bukowski and based on his own life. Bukowski is a genius.

Janet

p.s. I know I left out THAT word.
.-= janet´s last blog ..haunting images =-.

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Sallie's Niece September 16, 2009 at 6:28 PM

I rate this the best post ever.

::subscribing::
.-= Sallie’s Niece´s last blog ..Where it Went 9/02 – 9/15 =-.

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Baker September 19, 2009 at 6:51 PM

I rate this the best comment ever.

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Rich G. September 17, 2009 at 12:29 AM

Great book and movie for different reasons.

Great blog post for the insight and the references to the great movie. Nicely done. I’m going to have to watch it again now. Thank you for the reminder. Tyler Durden really is one of the most memorable movie characters out there.
.-= Rich G.´s last blog ..Don’t ask me a question if you’re not listening to the answer… =-.

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Diggy - Upgradereality.com September 17, 2009 at 6:09 AM

Heya Adam!

Totally wicked awesome blog post! I love fight club, I’ve seen it like 8 times and after reading this post I’m going to watch it again tonight!

This is my first visit to your blog and I must say I LOVE it, totally subscribing :)

Looking forward to your posts!
Cheers!
.-= Diggy – Upgradereality.com´s last blog ..When Money is Tight… =-.

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Baker September 25, 2009 at 7:32 PM

Diggy, glad to have you as part of the community!

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Lilann September 17, 2009 at 2:15 PM

You left out my favorite Tyler Durden quote from Fight Club (the movie)

“Once you give up everything, you’re free to do anything”

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Chris Harmon September 17, 2009 at 3:54 PM

Thanks for reminding me about how great the movie Fight Club is! I will have to re watch it this weekend! Keep up the good work.

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PaX @ InspirationalPost.com September 21, 2009 at 6:03 AM

Freaking amazing post.
Loved reading the post as much as watching the movie. And i must say good use of quotes with the reality.
Keep it up.
PaX
http://inspirationalpost.com
.-= PaX @ InspirationalPost.com´s last blog ..Inspirational Quotes – 3 =-.

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Laila September 22, 2009 at 12:15 AM

I gotta say that your last couple of posts have hit a cord inside of me. That’s what great writers do to their readers! =) Keep up the amazing work. Looking forward to more amazing articles in the near future.

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Dealspecialist September 22, 2009 at 11:43 AM

There were so many dimensions to the movie. Looking at it from a personal finance point of view is definitely an interesting perspective. Thanks for the great read!
.-= Dealspecialist´s last blog ..Best method for saving for child’s education with minimal impact to Financial Aid? =-.

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Corporate Barbarian September 22, 2009 at 1:15 PM

I’ll read any post that references Fight Club, but yours was exceptional. What a creative way of weaving the movie quotes into a personal finance guide. This was my first visit to your blog, and I’ll definitely be subscribing. And I agree with janet; Bukowski is a kick-ass writer, too.
.-= Corporate Barbarian´s last blog ..Men’s Room Etiquette =-.

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Baker September 25, 2009 at 7:33 PM

I’ll basically digest anything Fight Club, as well! Thanks for subscribing. See you around!

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BB September 22, 2009 at 9:55 PM

First visit to your blog and this was a great post. On your first “rule” I have to say it really strikes home with me – “the things you own end up owning you”. I’m single and make a good living and save most of my income, but even still I felt I was being pulled too much by the things I owned when it came time for me once to move. I was living overseas for my company for a few years and was now being called back to work in our home office in New York. Even though I went out to that country without much stuff I ended up buying so many things and I didn’t know what to do with them. I didn’t want to ship everything over because it felt like I was just taking useless junk and dragging it around with me. The most liberating feeling came over me when I decided to just get rid of EVERYTHING. I kept one suitcase full of clothes and personal items and one box of books I wanted to keep. Everything else I owned I either sold, donated, or threw away. It felt better than anything. When I threw things away it was difficult for maybe only a few minutes but then it felt good, when I was able to sell or donate things it didn’t feel bad for even a minute. Craigslist is great for anyone who wants to cleanse themselves of their material things, I listed everything there and sold everything I listed. When people came to buy things I would let them take other smaller items around the house for free as well. Now whenever I am about to buy something I think not about the money it costs but about how worthwhile it is to have it as something I am going to need to “take care of”.

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Baker September 25, 2009 at 7:34 PM

Thanks for sharing your personal story. I can really relate to the feeling of “liberation” you mentioned. It sort of sounds cliche, but it’s so true. Love it.

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Dean Kenndale September 24, 2009 at 12:59 PM

After years of being a slave for the credit industry, I told them to look for another slave. I took control by, cutting up the card (all of them), taking the credit hit, dealing with nasty attorneys and then settlement. While this was scary and extreme, it seemed to be my only escape. While not paying the cards, my family was able to save money (emergency fund) instead of living paycheck to paycheck.

Now fast forward two years, we have the largest savings account balances we have ever had and making quadruple home mortgage payments and should be done with that in another few years (saving approx 65,000 in interest). It’s amazing what can be accomplished once you get the credit monkey of your back. Don’t be a slave to the system! You are NOT your credit score!

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Greg October 8, 2009 at 11:18 PM

“hmm, now what would Tyler Durden do?”

great movie, great post.

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Eddie Joe December 22, 2009 at 9:50 PM

Marla: “I haven’t been f*cked like that since gradeschool! (Oh Tyler you pimp)

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Eddie Joe December 22, 2009 at 9:52 PM

Moderation? Moderation and Fight Club do not go well together at all. “You have to accept that one day you will die, only then, when you hit bottom, are you free.”

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trish roque January 7, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Tyler Dirden is one of my heroes! He’s kind of the Malcolm X of Buddhist philosophers (for lack of a better description) & yes, I am a practicing Buddhist so I think I can write that.

Something I would like to add On the Quarter Life Dilemma:
We live in an amazing time! Even though you don’t know what you’ll be when you grow up, you now have even more choices to allow you to follow your dreams & passions. The fact that you can share your adventures with the world and connect with me, sitting here in my office in CA, you in New Zealand, that’s pretty cool. I’m also still trying to figure out what I want to do and I’m closer to the mid-life dilemma than the quarter-life. But I am grateful that I can now connect with even more people who care about finding the answers. (Sorry, running on little sleep & too much coffee so I’m sure this isn’t as eloquent as I would like.)

Anyway, point is, great article. Safe travels to you, Courtney, & Milligan. I’ll check in from time to time to hop along on your journey!

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Money Reasons February 12, 2010 at 12:52 PM

I don’t own many movies, but this is one of them… Great stuff, even with the race stuff scattered throughout.

Over time, my favorite quote from the movie has changes (especially now that I have conquered some of the earlier point) For example, “The things you own end up owning you.” I’ve conquered, but at one point this was my favorite.

Now my favorite quotes are:
“I am free in all the ways that you are not.” I see this quote from a multi-interpretation stand point. It could mean that you’re debt-free, or that you’re financial independent, or that you are no longer bound by the norms and morals that bound others. It’s derives it’s power form it’s focused ambiguity.
I also like the “Slide” line in the movie… I think if we would just slide and let what may happen, happen… life may be more fulfilling.

One of the biggest takeaways from the movie for me was, you are going to die, life life to it’s fullest don’t worry about what others think… someday they will die just like you will. So at the core of this movie is “Carpe Diem”

@trish roque The movie character “Tyler Durden” was great, a little too anti-establishment, but still great, especially when taken at a personal level and watered down a bit. The true writer/author is a little off base for me, I would suggest readers google him… His name is Chuck Palahniuk… Some of his past activities were amplified and exaggerated in the movie, and you thought it was all just crazy fiction… I think the concept was based off of some of the acts of the “Cacophony Society” that he belonged too, especially the event called “Santa Rampage”. Read up on the author, it’s interesting.

I have to wonder if the author/writer of the book/movie had debt problems too?

As you may have guessed, this movie I’ve watch more that a few times. So to con

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yuk22319 February 12, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Great quotes. Sometimes the easy way isn’t the right way. Be your own man, don’t let society dictate what you do.

Dan

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Lanny Berlingieri February 27, 2010 at 4:00 PM

Love the movie and I love this blog. It is so true that the things you own end up owning you. Rid yourself of every material possession and only then will you be free to do anything. One of my favorite movies and the meaning behind much of it all is priceless and extremely powerful. Great job!

-LB

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Steve March 2, 2010 at 9:49 PM

I thought the line was “it’s only after we’ve lost everything that we can do anything”. I could swear that is what was said. I remember putting the DVD on pause and getting up to find a notebook to write it down. I’ll have to watch the movie again to make sure.

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SimplyJo March 9, 2010 at 9:46 AM

I always loved this movie… even before I embarked on my own minimalist, anti- consumerism journey – little did I know that it was talking to my subconcious – the bit of me that with age would come to embrace the simple life away from all the noise! Will be subscribing to your blog…and am inspired to read the book also…

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Brook March 24, 2010 at 4:32 AM

Brilliant idea for an article!
I like where you went with the personal finance theme.
The movie was great, how he came to the realization that his possessions were owning him. Why can’t everyone see this?! It’s so frustrating to me what has happened to our economy because of this need to collect things.

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Ruth P. April 6, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Wow, using fight club is a great example! I love that movie and am motivated with so many of these quotes. I watch this movie when I am depressed. BTW, I worked as a collection agent at the major credit card company that they were blowing up at the end of the movie. (For those of you who don’t know, Delaware is the setting of the movie.) Paper street smells like stale wood chips.

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Oliver June 11, 2010 at 4:38 AM

GREAT GREAT GREAT Post!
I love Fight Club BECAUSE of these quotes and then I find this article and find myself in there many times!
Great interpretation of the quotes and great to connect it with financial situations. Who of you guys wants to start a Fight Club with me? :)

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gwyn August 21, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Hello my new best friend! Anyone who uses Tyler Durden to write a kick ass essay is automatically my new best friend :-)
Thanks!

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Barb Friedberg August 28, 2010 at 9:44 PM

Amazing-wise-true. You inspire!

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John @ The Best Money Blog January 5, 2011 at 1:06 AM

This was a lot better than I expected, and I expected it to be great! ;) Retweeted.

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Ben February 13, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Wow. Excellent post Tyler. Love the striving for a work/life balance bit, and the ‘not settling’ bit.

Ben.

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AtomManhattan March 27, 2011 at 5:51 AM

One of my favorite facetes of this film/story (read the novel almost as many times as I’ve watched the film), is the protagonist’s path/struggle is highly referrential/inspired by the story of Siddartha, the man who became the Buddha, and the time he spent with the ascetics.
The whole pushing oneself as close to death as you can go in search of enlightment, the ‘only after we’ve lost everything…’ line- it’s all Buddhist stuff almost straight outta the Dharma/Pali texts…

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Celine | 30 Before 30 March 27, 2011 at 4:40 PM

My personal fave: “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
Tyler Durden is THE MAN.

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Jonathan Manor April 20, 2011 at 5:22 AM

Great post Baker, maybe I’ll go on and write the Tyler Durden’s guide to relationships, hahah! I’m in debt right now, and I’ve been trying real hard to avoid and keep it behind my mind. So today, I’m making the change, and whether it be you, TD, or someone else helping me out, I am focused on getting out of it asap. Today.

Thanks for the read. Looking forward to more.

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Jen@FrugalForTwo June 30, 2011 at 4:09 AM

Superb post!!! One of my favorite books (and movies) of all time…and by the way, unlike most films’ pathetic attempts at recapturing the feeling/theme/message/characters of a book, I really believe the film version of Chuck’s novel may have even transcended the book in many ways. Anyway, that’s off topic (English major coming out in me), just wanted to APPLAUD you on a great post that captured my attention, while providing valuable personal finance insights through a medium that was fun and easily digestible, even after my ten-hour bartending shift. Perhaps we should convince the public school system to adopt a similar method for keeping the kiddies rapt attention?? :) Just starting reading your blog and I already adore it. You touch on all my favorite guilty pleasures (anti-materialism/consumerism/capitalism, living off the grid, alternative personal finance, etc.) without being TOO extreme. Honest writing from a unique perspective!! I’ll have to send you a link to my personal finance/traveling blog I just started working on when I get enough content up. Thanks bunches for the (blog post) nightcap!!

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RErickosn August 15, 2011 at 2:08 AM

My favorite?
On recovering from financial mistakes…

“Only after disaster can we be resurrected.”

There is no financial situation that is so grim that you cannot bounce back. There are endless success stories of people who’ve overcome extremely desperate financial conditions and came out on top. In fact, many of us need to hit our own ‘rock bottom’ before any lasting change can be made. Stop making excuses and start creating your own personal recovery story.

Thanks. I needed that.

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JASON August 20, 2011 at 11:49 PM

First off, you had me at “Tyler Durden” lol
Thanks for this breakdown, it was the best blog ever!
Second- you are truly an inspiration to free spirits and people who LIVE life rather than exist in it. If you ever make it back to Denver, you got place to crash and/or rest up for you and your family.My daughter and I will hopefully be traveling through South America or Europe soon doing a similiar quest to seek out life. Thanks again and safe travels!
P.S. I would be happy to send you a free T-shirt from my gym or some little girls stuff if you ever need it, my little one is 3. just food for thought. Cheers

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My University Money October 30, 2011 at 1:42 PM

This is my 2nd day viewing this blog and this is one of the greatest personal finance posts I have ever seen! As a huge fight club fan I think this is ridiculously creative! It’s too bad so many miss the point of that movie…

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Kjersti November 7, 2011 at 8:08 AM

We are in the middle of cleaning up our lives and moving to Australia (with a little stopover in SEA), and this post outlines exactly the mentality we have had to adopt! I am now looking forward to the day I own nothing else than what I carry around on my back – it will feel great! Thanks for a great post!

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Oz December 31, 2011 at 8:30 PM

I love this post, and will definitely be sharing this with my friends!!

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Chris January 2, 2012 at 2:36 AM

After reading this post and watching Fight Club again for about the 10th time, I realize my favorite quote is not listed here. “No fear, No distractions- The ability to let that which does not matter, truly slide.” I think Baker has this quality and that has been a foundation for his drastic change. When you sell everything and reduce all your possessions to the bare minimum, then you are surrounded by only the things that truly matter to you. Awesome.

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The Illusive Man April 20, 2012 at 4:32 PM

You know not everything he says is about finance, he makes his points about possesions and jobs but you have taken every memorable qoute from the movie and read them all as financial things when theyre not. i wont go through the entire page but most of them can be construed differently by different people some might see the one about having the courage to run with it as financial. overcoming personal issues, confidence problems, hell that one could even be read as not being afraid to dress and look how you want.

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Seth August 30, 2012 at 9:45 PM

Great article. I loved watching fight club when it came out. Anyway, I found another article that explains Tyler’s rhetoric quite well. In Tyler we Trust:

http://www.patientcashflow.com/2011/11/25/lessons-from-tyler-durden-working-jobs-we-hate-to-buy-shit-we-dont-need/

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Jibran July 15, 2013 at 10:14 PM

My favorite movie + a topic that pisses me off = WIN!

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