Last week, we pondered a Very Tough Question: how to make a living
a rural area. That wasn’t the only tough question about work in my
James Engelbracht wrote an entire herd of them, beginning with these:
Wasn’t the purpose of industrialization to give people
and more time to improve themselves? Isn’t the end purpose of increasing
automation to give people (whose jobs are being replaced) the freedom to
something besides grub for a living?
These questions brought another to mind — a familiar one: Where the
heck is all that alleged time and when do we get some of it?
There are plenty of reasons why automation hasn’t yet created
mass leisure time. So far, automation creates more jobs than it
With the money from those jobs, we like to buy, buy, buy. Taxes suck
half our productivity. Regulations suck away more. We’ve developed a
famous tendency to turn what little leisure time we have into a mad
race. We feel indebted and indentured. Whine, weep. Poor us.
But we’ve heard all this before!!! Now, let’s quit bitching
see what we can do. It is, after all, our life. And if it’s
it’s up to us to fix it. First thing we need to fix is usually
When it comes to smartening up about money, jobs and value, I don’t
know of a better kick in the intellectual backside than the book HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140167153/wolfeslodge">
Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and the late Joe
Dominguez. I could tell you a dozen things I don’t like about
book. But whatever its flaws, there’s just no finer resource for
people who want to learn to think more dynamically about what they do
a living,” why they do it, and what impact it really has on their lives.
For instance, have you considered that all the time you spend
recuperating after your day’s work is a “cost” of having a job? Have you
considered that some of the time and money you spend on mindless
entertainment or fast food may also be a “cost” of a job that keeps you
tired to live creatively? Dominguez and Robin did, and those insights
just part of what they offer in that now-classic book.
But OK, you already know that your job sucks [the vitality out of
life], even if you didn’t think of it in quite those terms. You probably
even know what you’d rather do, instead. So the next step in getting
your present pits to some sort of heights is discover specific –
repeat, specific — steps you can take toward your ideal. Never mind
that they may look like the merest baby steps at first. (Trust the word
an extremely impatient person; even baby steps will get you there, far
quicker than you imagine.) Step number one, in nearly all cases, is
understanding your spending.
Dominguez and Robin push a method that sounds blindingly tedious, but
was actually fascinating, even for a decidedly non-methodical arty type:
track every dime that comes in or goes out, categorize each
expenditure, then analyze what, if any, value you got from that
category. Do it
month after month.
Doesn’t that sound like the most anal-retentive thing in the known
universe? But if you try it, you might be shocked not only at how much
you’re spending, but what you’re spending it on, and how little you
the results. Even if your analysis simply yields the conclusion, “Ack,
in debt up to my ears and can’t get out!” believe me, you’ll have gained
something merely by knowing, in glorious detail, your particular form of
stuckness. Personal example. When I first read Your Money, I was
spending more than I was making. Nearly every bit of that spending was
non-discretionary — payments I couldn’t easily have gotten rid of no
matter how badly I’d wanted to. My first response was, “There’s nothing
Still, I knew I had to do something, or be stuck forever. No
matter how long it might take, or how hard it might be, I had to
to action — specific action.
Now, at this point, every expert says, “Make a plan.” So I
might as well also say, “Make a plan,” even though, where I’m concerned,
that’s BS. Maybe some of you guys are good at plans, and more power to
you. I’m better at impulses. So I sold off assets (discovering that I’d
accumulated more stuff than I thought I had), paid off most of my debts
in whomping chunks (sometimes at sacrifice to the grocery budget), then
tossed so much job-work off my shoulders that … well, I was too poor
even to think about getting into any grind of unsatisfying
consumption and debt.
My new neighbor, Carty, found a different path toward a “downsized
life,” more methodical but not much slower. During the last couple of
in his military career, he was stationed in a backwater with a pretty
certainty he’d be there until he retired. He spotted a real junker of a
house (We are talking low-rent neighborhood in a low-rent state),
together enough cash for a down payment, fixed the house in a hurry, and
sold it for enough to pay straight cash for another real junker. Once he
fixed that house and sold it, he had enough to buy outright a
perfectly livable little home in Hardyville — and here he and his
sit today, mortgage free. Now he’s got one more tiny junker, with which
hopes to pay off the last of his credit card and auto debt.
Once you’re on your way out of debt and bad spending habits, then
what? Well, actually, at the same time you’ll also, almost certainly
simplify your life. You’ll find you need less, want less and
spend less while having more fun.
Then you can do the Real Thing — quit your job, or go part
time. Spend all those delicious new hours doing something you love.
Dominguez and Robin promote the idea of putting away some money, then
– when you are still far from rich — quitting and live off a
small interest income from this modest savings. For various reasons, I
don’t believe I’ll ever do the living-on-interest bit. However, shucking
off stuff and debt has enabled me to work at things I like to do,
instead of things my creditors like me to do. I’m content. My solution
be different than your solution. But every solution begins with a
commitment to act, then goes through specific, practical steps to get
And one day — voila! — you’ve got it made. Okay, it might
you five years to get to your voila! point. But if you want to be
independent, the only alternative I can think of is to get rich. Nothing
wrong with being rich! Except that then you’ll probably have even
more debt — and the revenooers on your tail, besides. No thanks! For
keep it simple.
For help and inspiration:
HREF="http://www.slnet.com/cip/nrm/nrm.htm"> The New Road Map
Foundation which is part of The
Living Network. Useful books include: HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0395902487/wolfeslodge
ting Your Future: Five Steps to the Life of Your Dreams by Dave
ntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin; and Getting
Life by Jacqueline Blix and David Heitmiller (stories of real
people who’ve changed their lives after reading Your Money or Your
WorldNetDaily readers may not always share the political agenda of
these writers and organizations, but these sources offer lots of good
ideas to be mined.