Interview with Gangster Collins, Part Three: Blues Brothers, black holes and a book contest

Welcome to final part of the interview with Mr. Collins. If you haven’t read the previous two, check them out here and here. Mr. Collins also answered my 10 Questions.

In this post, you’ll learn about:

  • Mr. Collins’ music preferences: Does he prefer Country or Western?
  • Gangster Collins favorite Geto Boyz song
  • The Triumph that was a failure
  • More about FY money

Bonus book contest!: I am going to give away 3 copies of Mr. Collins new book. The first person to give me a correct answer to each of the questions below wins a signed book. Leave your answer in the comments. From easiest to hardest:

UPDATE: All questions have now been successfully answered. Good work, especially on the black hole one. You people know your stuff! I’ll reply to the winners in the comments end of day.

  • What is the name of the Country and Western bar in the Blues Brothers movie?
  • When Mr. Money Mustache asked for a guest post, what compliment did MMM pay to Mr. Collins?
  • Mr. Collins has professed his love for physics. Somewhere in this post is a reference to astrophysics. It is obscure, but if you’re a science geek, you may just get it. Hint: It has to do with black holes.


The original FI Gangster flashing some FI signs. Don't mess with this guy.

The original FI Gangster flashing some FI signs. Don’t mess with this guy.

Mr. 1500: You and I both have ties to Chicago. No film is more Chicago than the Blues Brothers. Is your favorite kind of music Country or Western? Oh, and while we’re on the topic of Chicago, what is your favorite hot dog place? Also, please don’t tell me that you out ketchup on your hot dogs.

J. Collins: Yep. Chicago is my home town and I still have fond memories of the place. I grew up and spent my single adult years there. No better place and still my favorite large city in the world. Not that I’m biased.

And, of curse, this being the case I loved the Blues Brothers. Classic Chicago boys at play.

I’m afraid I’m not much for either Country or Western music, although as I described in this post – – I once tried very hard. A pretty blonde girl was involved:

She was into country music. I was trying to be into country music because, well, she was a pretty blonde girl. So country music is what we had playing on the car radio, with the top down one fine and sunny day, when we stopped at a traffic light. And I turned the music down. Like always. Opps.
“Ah ha!” She said.

“Ah ha?” I said.

“I knew it. You are embarrassed to have country music on your radio!”

Now if at that moment you could have convinced her that “No honey, I always turn the music down at traffic lights,” well, you’re a better man than I.

Truth is I seem to lack the music gene. I don’t have a favorite genre and almost never listen to it. Not even in the car. There are a few songs I like, but they are an eclectic bunch. For instance, one that leaps to mind is the rap song “Damn it feels good to be a gangster” from Office Space: And I don’t much like rap. Maybe I just relate to being a gangster. That Chicago thing, ya know?

I’m afraid I’m far too removed from Chicago to recommend a hot dog place, but…

Ketchup? On a hot dog? What are you, five?

Mustard, baby! Or load it up with everything. Except ketchup! (You sure you have ties to Chicago?)


Mr. 1500: While we’re on the topic of the Triumph, let’s talk about it. You have had two vehicles with the name “Triumph” on them. The first one was a horrible car that caused you much financial pain. I’m surprised that you would buy anything else with that name on it, even if it’s a completely different company. Anyway, are you still in the wind these days on your Scrambler? If so, tell me where you like to ride. I’m a motorcycle fan myself and would like to know some good roads to ride when I make it to the Northeast.

J. Collins: Ha! I never thought about destroying, or at least disconnecting, the radio. (calling it a stereo is a stretch) It worked without fail, as you surmised.

Actually I’ve had three Triumphs so far: The Spitfire, a 2006 Goodwood Green Bonneville and now my Blue and White 2006 Scrambler. The fact that there was a ~30-year gap between the bikes and the car likely helped.

The motorbikes have been great and far and away my favorites. Not the biggest or most powerful I’ve owned, that would have been my VTX 1800, but absolutely the most fun. And far more trouble free than the Spitfire. Thank God. But then the Spitfire was more fragile than a snowflake.

The only reason I switched to the Scrambler which, other than the styling and some minor tweaks, is pretty much the same bike, is that it sits a bit taller and fits me better.

As much as I like change, if something were to happen to it I’d probably go get another. It is pretty much the perfect bike for how I use it, which is to run around on the back roads here in New Hampshire and sometimes, when I’m feeling ambitious, over to Vermont.
It has been a great way to see a lot of the state since we’ve been here, and both NH and VT were made for riding. Gorgeous scenery, light traffic, twisty roads and good cafes scattered about.

Highway 112, the Kancamagus –, up in the White Mountains is the most famous in NH. But there are many others. Further South and closer to me, Highways 123, 136, 149, 137, 13, 24, 107 and 4 have all chewed up several sets of my tires over the years.

Over in VT, Highways 100, 9, 7 and 4 all offer wonderful rides. The Mohawk Trail, 2, running along the northern border in western MA is pretty damn fine, too.

Get your motorbike out here and we’ll run on down a few.


Mr. 1500: I love the concept of FY money. I feel myself changing as I approach the FY event horizon, which for me is financial independence. Over the past couple of years, I have noticed that my stress levels have melted away. I enjoy my life more knowing that I’ll be able to live on my own terms. If I am still working 50 hours a week, it is because I want to, not because I have to. This really does make all the difference. Did you notice similar changes after you crossed the threshold into financial independence and FY?

J. Collins: Me, too. And I love it even more that the concept of FI. Most people consider them the same, and that’s what is most commonly accepted.
But I’ve come to find it useful to see them as two steps. My solely personal definitions:

  • FI: When you have enough money that a 4% withdrawal rate can cover all your expenses. That is, your money can fully support you.
  • FYM: When you have enough money to free you from the demands of others. For this, the amount largely depends on your temperament. For some, it is zero. For others, full FI.

For me, the first time I felt I had it was when I had $5000. That was enough to quit my job, head off to Europe for a few months (maybe more) and have something to live on when I returned and needed to find another job. I tell that story in my guest post on MMM:

Fortunately, for me this occurred in my 20s and combined with the fact that I had head hunters calling and jobs were easy for me to come by, it was a very freeing feeling. It probably gave me a confidence of which I wasn’t even consciously aware.

Once I hit my 50s, the head-hunter calls dried up. As they tend to do. But by then I was fully FI.

For me, knowing I could walk out the door anytime made dealing with jobs when they got rough a lot less stressful. It’s easier, I think, to put up with crap when you know you don’t have to. It is a function of having autonomy and little else gives you that more effectively than F-You Money.

But at the same time, at least once it allowed me to leave too easily when I would have been better served by staying a year or two longer. So, like any powerful tool, you need to be careful how you use it.


Mr. 1500: Another blogger told me recently that he doesn’t enjoy writing. I was a bit surprised because this person is one of the big dogs. So, another multi-part:

  • Do you enjoy writing?
  • What do you consider to be your best post?
  • You must be touched at the effect you’ve had on others.
  • Any good story about a reader who you helped turn away from the dark side?

J. Collins: I hate writing. It was Gloria Steinem, I think, who replied to that question: “No. I like having written.” I’m with her. Once it’s done, I find it very satisfying. The doing is pure drudgery.

Well, the one that has gotten the me the most hate, and the most love, is this one: It was also one that came together easily. I think it’s a fun one and kinda funny, even though it pisses a lot of people off.

If you were going to only read one, it should be this: This is the core approach. Everything else is the details.

A while back on the blog I added a list of 10 or 15 of my personal favorites, so this is hard. Like choosing your favorite child.(Oh, wait, that’s easy.)

Anyway, one I think turned out better than I expected and would be near the top on that list isn’t even on my blog. It is the guest post I did for MMM:

If you read 1,2 or all three of those and don’t like it, you’re not going to like

One of the most surprising and gratifying things to come from the blog is the steady stream of comments and emails thanking me. It really is rather incredible to have people write to say I’ve changed their lives. It’s also breathtaking to see young people taking this advice. Their financial success over the decades will leave mine in the dust. I was way too stubborn and made far too many mistakes, before finally figuring it out. Of all the work I’ve done in my life, this is what makes me most proud. It has also been the most poorly paid. 😉

I don’t think I’ve turned anyone from the dark side. Those who are there cling pretty tightly to it. In my post of quotes – – there is this one:

“No one agrees with other people’s opinions, they merely agree with their own opinion expressed by somebody else.” – Sydney Tremayne

In my experience, that’s pretty much spot on.

At best, perhaps I’ve helped some avoid going down the path to the dark side.

Thank you Mr. Collins for taking the time to answer all of my crazy questions!

Remember to answer one of the questions for your chance to win a signed copy of Mr. Collin’s upcoming book. Note that a release date has not yet been set, but as soon as it comes out, I’ll get it to you.

Join the 10s who have signed up already!

Subscribing will improve your life in incredible ways*.

*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.

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31 Responses to Interview with Gangster Collins, Part Three: Blues Brothers, black holes and a book contest

  1. Adam says:

    1) Bob’s Country Bunker
    2) “He was wise, funny, well-spoken, and skilled in the use of swearing. So I checked out his blog and learned more. It turns out he’s older than me (around 61 apparently), has had a long and interesting career in positions ranging from Tree Trimmer to Fancy Businessman and beyond.. and has been financially independent since around 1989.”
    3) Event Horizon

  2. Amosla says:

    Great interview series! Thank you Mr. 1500 and Mr. Collins.

    Answer: Bob’s Country Bunker

  3. Mad Fientist says:

    You can’t beat some physics…especially of the astro variety.

    “Event horizon”, for the win!
    Mad Fientist recently posted…Adventures AbroadMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Yep, winner #3! Nice work Fientist. I’ll hook you up at FinCon!

      PS: Stay away from that Latvian liquor.
      PSS: If MMM is checking bags, I’ll hook you up with something good in Seattle.

  4. Kate@ GoodnightDebt says:

    Bob’s country bunker! We got both kinds. Country and Western

  5. Danny says:

    Oh boy…this is a long shot, but here are my answers to the questions:

    1. Bob’s Country Bunker (Still one of my favorite movies. Need to watch it again soon).
    2. MMM said that Jim was “skilled with swear words”
    3. The part where Jim says, “I don’t think I’ve turned anyone from the dark side. Those who are there cling pretty tightly to it.” (Sounds like a black hole reference to me, although it’s a long shot).

    Win or lose enough, this has been an enjoyable interview to read the past few weeks. Thank you both so much!

    • 1500 says:

      Thanks for the kind comments Danny. You are 2/3 for answers (#3 was “event horizon”), but others have already claimed the prizes.

      Stay tuned for some great Buffett/Berkshire swag in May…

  6. I don’t think my initial comment went through. If it did, feel free to delete!
    1) Bob’s Country Bunker!
    2) He was wise, funny, well-spoken, and skilled in the use of swearing.

  7. Laura says:

    1) Bob’s Country Bunker
    2) wise, funny, well-spoken, and skilled in the use of swearing!
    3) I think I agree with comment 1 & 2 regarding turning from the dark side/clinging tightly as a veiled reference.

    • 1500 says:

      Sorry Laura, others already have all 3 prizes. If rubber ducks are your thing, tune in come May for some more free stuff…

  8. Ottawa says:

    Gentlemen, thanks for all the work you do – we are all better off for it!

    1: Bob’s Country Bunker
    2: He was wise, funny, well-spoken, and skilled in the use of swearing
    3: For the loss! “down the path to the dark side”

    • 1500 says:

      Thanks Ottawa, but all books are claimed now!

      PS: Don’t ever go past the event horizon of a black hole or really bad things will happen!

  9. This was a fantastic interview series.

    It was great getting to know you a bit more J.Collins.

    Cheers to Mr. 1500 for setting it up.
    Gen Y Finance Guy recently posted…Anatomy of a Side Hustle: How I made $18,000 at an effective rate of $100/hourMy Profile

  10. Beth says:

    Numbers 1&2 posted above are correct (Bob’s Country Bunker & “wise, funny, well-spoken and skilled in the use of swearing”) BUT #3 is the “FY event horizon” Mr. 1500 mentions in his question to Mr. Collins. Tricky Mr. 1500, I skimmed your questions without catching it at first!

  11. Love this series. I have gone back and started to read his Stock series. really good stuff too!
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…Rolodex of MemoriesMy Profile

  12. This was a great interview series. Thanks to Mr 1500 for putting it on and J. Collins for answering!
    Frugal Buckeye recently posted…Operation DeclutterMy Profile

  13. jlcollinsnh says:

    Thank you Mr. 1500 for spending this time with me…

    …and thanks to all your readers, especially those who chose to comment. It has been great fun.

    As for your contest, I would have gotten only two of the three correct so…
    …no book for me!

    Last week at our local theater they had a traveling Blues Brothers review show. Not the same as Ackroyd and Belushi, but still fun. With that as inspiration, the movie should be arriving from Netflix today. 🙂
    jlcollinsnh recently posted…Chautauqua October 2015: Times Two!My Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Thanks Mr. Collins for taking the time to answer some of my ridiculous questions. Greatly look forward to meeting up with you again in person in July…

    • jlcollinsnh says:

      Just finished watching the Blues Brothers.

      I’ve eaten, many times, in both the Dill Pickle (used to work around the corner from it) and Chez Paul — two very different places.

      I’ve even been in the flophouse on Van Buren Carrie Fisher blows up early in the film. I had a friend who lived there.

      Great memories…

      …makes me miss Sweet Home Chicago!
      jlcollinsnh recently posted…Chautauqua October 2015: Times Two!My Profile

  14. I can definitely say that Jim Collins has changed our financial lives. He, along with Mr. Money Mustache, got us to the point that we might be actually be done with traditional work by forty.
    Done by Forty recently posted…This Year is Not AverageMy Profile

  15. Awesome interview series, thank you both!

    Jim, have you considered dabbling in videos or podcasts to mix things up from the writing, if it’s not terribly enjoyable for you? I imagine it would be a lot of fun to see a video interview between you both!


    Jason@Islands of Investing recently posted…Advanced Retirement Calculator – a detailed picture of your financial future!My Profile

  16. Sad this series is coming to an end. I think I’m going to have to re-binge read some jlcollinsnh posts this weekend to get my fix!

    Interesting comment about FY money not necessarily requiring FI. I guess I have always thought of the two synonymously.
    Fervent Finance recently posted…Dream JobMy Profile

  17. Tom says:

    Jim knows some good roads. Mohawk Trail 2 through the Berkshires is fabulous; I’ve enjoyed it even when towing our trailer (though it was more fun in various turbocharged station wagons with whitewater kayaks on the roof)! Same goes for Route 9 and 100 in Vermont.

  18. This was a fantastic series, thanks for doing it Mr. 1500. This has inspired me to go back and binge read this weekend…can’t wait.

  19. Zugzug says:

    Jim Collins is the man

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