freedom http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/5805/all en-US How to Not Be a Wage Slave http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-not-be-a-wage-slave <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-not-be-a-wage-slave" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/33194262_b698ea579a_z.jpg" alt="chain around arm" title="chain around arm" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Choosing to be a wage slave is very different from choosing to be a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-not-be-a-debt-slave">debt slave</a>, because it's a choice you make every day. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-way-to-avoid-the-worst-financial-problems">The Best Way to Avoid the Worst Financial Problems</a>)</p> <p>One doesn't become a wage slave with one decision, the way a single choice to take on debt can color your life for decades. The only way to become a wage slave is to make the decision to be one day after day.</p> <p>It starts like this: You get a job, find a place to live, buy the stuff you need &mdash; and without much thought going into it, pretty soon your lifestyle demands the continued flow of your wages or salary.</p> <p>Of course, just earning wages doesn't make you a slave. It's only slavery when you lose your freedom. But when your boss asks you to do something unethical, and you feel like you've got no choice but to do it &mdash; that's slavery.</p> <p>It's a gentle sort of slavery. No one makes you go to work every day &mdash; and yet, you do not have the freedom to say, &quot;Today I think I'll go fishing instead.&quot;</p> <p>Many people seem to think this is a good thing. Many people are afraid that, if they didn't <em>have</em> to go to work, they <em>wouldn't</em> go to work, and that that would be a bad thing.</p> <p>It's not just a fear that they might lose the lifestyle to which they become accustomed. It's a fear that they'd find a more meager lifestyle <em>acceptable</em>, that only the goad of keeping up with expectations keeps them from being slackers (or worse).</p> <p>The hard part of escaping wage slavery is making this mental shift &mdash; to stop choosing wage slavery every day, simply because it's what people do.</p> <p>Once you do that, the key moves are easy:</p> <h3>1. Be Frugal</h3> <p>Don't let your cost of living rise until there's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-your-finances-fragile">only one job in town</a> that pays enough to cover your bills.</p> <h3>2. Avoid Debt</h3> <p>...except perhaps to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/good-debt-bad-debt">finance the purchase of a productive asset</a>.</p> <h3>3. Earn Some Non-Job Income</h3> <p>Even small amounts of extra income &mdash; from a small business you run on the side, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-hobby-pay-its-way">a hobby that makes a little money</a>, interest or dividends on your investments, rent from a piece of property &mdash; can cover an important fraction of your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emergency-belt-tightening">bare minimum expenses</a>.</p> <h3>4. Expand Your Skills</h3> <p>New skills that would let you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-investment-yourself">find a job in another field</a> give you much more flexibility than just better skills in your current field.</p> <p>Even when people out there were warning against freedom because it enabled sloth, to my mind choosing freedom was always the right choice. And I think a lot more people have come to share my view. When jobs are plentiful, you can work for wages and still be fairly free. So what if one employer goes out of business, or one boss turns out to be a psychopath, or one career turns out not to suit you &mdash; you can always find another job.</p> <p>With the financial panic and recession, a lot of people were reminded that you <em>can't</em> always find another job.</p> <p>When there's only one job, the shackles of wage slavery start feeling pretty tight. (And, of course, when there's no job, it's even worse.)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-not-be-a-wage-slave">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-personal-finance-skills-everyone-should-master">12 Personal Finance Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-buy-your-way-out-of-the-rat-race">Can You Buy Your Way Out of the Rat Race?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave">Wage slave, debt slave</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-society-of-fear">A Society of Fear</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance freedom self employment skills Fri, 02 Mar 2012 11:36:15 +0000 Philip Brewer 905749 at http://www.wisebread.com The Freedom of the Independent Yeoman http://www.wisebread.com/the-freedom-of-the-independent-yeoman <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-freedom-of-the-independent-yeoman" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/plowing.jpg" alt="Man ploughing" title="Man ploughing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="156" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The financial crisis is resurrecting the oldest economic tension in the country. Will it finally be the day of the independent yeoman? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Self-Sufficiency, Self-Reliance, and Freedom</a>)</p> <p>Never mind that they were always more mythic creature than reality. Thomas Jefferson's model for the U.S. economy was built around the yeoman farmer.</p> <h2>The Freedom of Self-Sufficiency</h2> <p>The yeoman farmer was free, because he was self-sufficient. He owned some land and the tools he needed to produce the necessities of life. When possible, of course, he'd produce more than that &mdash; a surplus to sell, so the family could afford more than the bare necessities. But even in bad times they could produce enough food, clothing, and shelter that they wouldn't starve or freeze.</p> <p>Jefferson thought this was critical. Men who worked for wages were dependent on their bosses for their livelihood, and that sort of dependency was dangerous for a democracy. There was always pressure on employees to vote their employer's interests, rather than the country's interests.</p> <h2>Industry and Finance</h2> <p>On this issue &mdash; and even more so, on the issue of finance &mdash; Jefferson was the loser. The prevailing view was that of Alexander Hamilton, who wanted an industrial, financial basis to our economy.</p> <p>This was anathema to Jefferson, who thought bankers were even worse than bosses. (Jefferson famously called banking institutions &quot;more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.&quot;) The whole enterprise of finance led to a concentration of money and power, while Jefferson thought the nation's interests were best served when money and power were dispersed to the individual citizens.</p> <p>Jefferson lost &mdash; and we're all vastly richer because of it. I've got a post up about <a href="http://www.philipbrewer.net/2011/12/14/how-to-have-a-rich-country/">how to have a rich country</a> on my personal blog, but the basics &mdash; privately property, free markets, and the rule of law &mdash; are well known. It was Hamilton's pushing that insured that we had those things, and more: industrial production and a financial industry.</p> <p>It's tough to get rich as a subsistence farmer. (The only scenario that comes to my mind involves giving up subsistence farming after oil is discovered on your land.) You're going to have a higher standard of living if you work for money, and then use the money to buy the stuff you want.</p> <p>But you give up a lot when you do that. I've talked before about the many reasons besides frugality to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-many-reasons-besides-frugality-to-do-for-yourself">do for yourself</a>. But even more important than those is the freedom that comes from actual self-sufficiency. That freedom has benefits for others besides just yourself. It benefits your neighbors. Indeed, as Jefferson understood, it benefits the whole country.</p> <p>So, there's an upside to the knocks that the financial system is taking. They're pushing people to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-the-self-sufficient-life-and-how-to-live-it">learn how to be a little more self-sufficient</a> (sometimes, it's that or starve). They're pushing people to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-off-the-grid">live off the grid</a>. They're making the standard-of-living comparison a little less stark.</p> <h2>Attainable Self-Sufficiency</h2> <p>Real self-sufficiency is tough. But limited, partial self-sufficiency is easily within the grasp of most people.</p> <p>A little frugality is an important first step. If there's only one job in town that pays enough to cover your expenses, what will you do if you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-1-losing-a-job">lose that job</a>? If you can get your expenses down to where there are a dozen jobs that would pay the bills, you're vastly more secure &mdash; and vastly more free. (Plus, if you happen to have the high-paying job, you're in a position to do some serious saving and investing.)</p> <p>There are a lot of possible second steps. Find ways to acquire some of what you need <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/opting-out-of-the-money-economy">outside the money economy</a> &mdash; produce it yourself, barter or trade, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-dont-people-share-more">share with friends and neighbors</a>.</p> <p>Although the yeoman farmer was Jefferson's model, the point is not to work the land. The point is to be free enough &mdash; to be self-sufficient enough &mdash; to follow your own conscience.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-freedom-of-the-independent-yeoman">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/on-choosing-temporary-freedom">On choosing temporary freedom</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-62-ways-introverts-tend-to-win-at-life">Flashback Friday: 62 Ways Introverts Tend to Win at Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-tips-for-the-newly-unemployed">Seven Tips for the Newly Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stay-off-the-frugal-path-to-disaster">Stay Off the Frugal Path to Disaster</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living freedom jobs self-sufficiency Wed, 21 Dec 2011 11:24:54 +0000 Philip Brewer 829553 at http://www.wisebread.com Bohemians Then and Now http://www.wisebread.com/bohemians-then-and-now <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bohemians-then-and-now" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bohemian_0.jpg" alt="Bohemian girl with parrot" title="Bohemian Girl" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="147" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The bohemian lifestyle keeps being reinvented. Whenever people try to make a go of supporting themselves through their creative endeavors, it appears naturally out of the confluence of poverty and the freedom to ignore social conventions that comes of not having a boss. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-to-become-self-employed">6 Reasons to Become Self-Employed</a>)</p> <p>Making a living as an artist (including not just visual artists but also writers, musicians, dancers, actors, etc.) is fundamental to bohemianism. Richard Florida, author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000WCTPI4?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000WCTPI4"><em>The Rise of the Creative Class</em></a>, created a &quot;bohemian index&quot; based on what fraction of the population in an area is earning a living through creative pursuits.</p> <p>For most artists, most of the time, supporting yourself through your art means poverty. There are occasional &quot;golden ages&quot; of one thing or another during which it's possible for large numbers of artists to make a middle-class living with their art, but they're rare.</p> <p>Right now we're living in something of, let's call it a &quot;silver age.&quot; Largely because of the internet, there are a lot of ways to make a little money from art, writing, music, etc. (especially if by &quot;etc.&quot; you include things like web design). Whereas the original bohemians pretty much had to live in a densely populated urban center, because it was only there that an unknown artist had any hope of earning a living, now artists can be location independent.</p> <p>Still, bohemianism and urbanism are pretty tightly bound. Richard Florida's bohemian index shows that the most bohemian locations are large urban centers (although many large urban areas are not particularly bohemian).</p> <p>For many people, though, it's the unorthodox lifestyle &mdash; the living arrangements, the political and social views &mdash; that they think of when they think of bohemians. It's the freedom that appeals.</p> <p>Of course, the freedom has a broader appeal if it can be achieved without the poverty, and in today's permissive society, it often can be. Often enough, in fact, for New York Times columnist David Brooks to have managed to get a whole book &mdash;&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0684853787?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0684853787">Bobos in Paradise</a>&nbsp;</em>&mdash; out of the phenomenon he called &quot;bourgeois bohemians.&quot; The people Brooks is talking about don't live in poverty &mdash; in fact, they're quite affluent &mdash; but their lifestyle <em>looks</em> somewhat bohemian because they eschew conspicuous consumption. But they actually spend a lot of money. It's voluntary, but it's neither simplicity nor frugality.</p> <p>As far as I know, no one has a index for what fraction of the population is practicing voluntary simplicity.</p> <p>What's interesting to me about modern bohemianism is that the directionality can flow in the opposite direction: If you choose to live frugally, you gain much of the freedom that made the original bohemians so distinctive. (Of course, even if the standard of living in each case is about the same, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/voluntary-simplicity-versus-poverty ">poverty and voluntary simplicity are very different things</a>.)</p> <p>Instead of a commitment to one's art forcing one into poverty, the voluntary acceptance of a frugal lifestyle enables one to commit to one's art. And, if you have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/on-the-importance-of-having-capital ">a little capital</a>, the lifestyle choices don't need to seem much like poverty at all.</p> <p>It's a modern bohemianism.</p> <p><em style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: italic; font-size: 13px; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and I will earn a commission for any purchase made through these links.</em></p> <p> <meta charset="utf-8" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bohemians-then-and-now">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-money-does-buy-happiness">9 Ways Money Does Buy Happiness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/37-ways-youd-be-better-off-as-a-bum">37 Ways You’d be Better Off as a Bum</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-wabi-sabi-simple">Book review: Wabi Sabi Simple</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/security-is-an-illusion-freedom-is-real">Security is an illusion. Freedom is real.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-straight-talk-on-working-from-home">The Straight Talk on Working From Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle artists bohemian freedom poverty self-employment Fri, 11 Feb 2011 14:00:10 +0000 Philip Brewer 489917 at http://www.wisebread.com Can You Buy Your Way Out of the Rat Race? http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-buy-your-way-out-of-the-rat-race <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-you-buy-your-way-out-of-the-rat-race" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy-bank-saved-for-a-rainy-day.jpg" alt="Piggy bank saved for a rainy day" title="Piggy Bank Saved for a Rainy Day" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="285" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/track-your-spending-or-not">tracking your spending</a>, you know how much money it takes to live on. If you're tracking your investments, you know about how much return you're getting from your capital. With those two numbers, you can get a pretty good estimate of how much money it takes to buy your way out of the rat race.</p> <p>In its simplest form, the cost to buy your way out is just your annual spending divided by the return on your investments. I used to do that calculation a lot. When I got my first job interest rates were in double digits, so I could imagine getting $30,000 or even $40,000 a year &mdash; plenty of money to live on &mdash; from an investment as small as $300,000.</p> <h2>A simple theory</h2> <p>Of course, that model is over-simplified. For one thing, you have to account for the possibility that in some years spending will be higher. (What if you need a new car or a new roof or to send the kids to college?) I knew how to handle that one, though: The same way I was already dealing with it when my income came from a regular job &mdash; covering major expenses by cutting other spending.</p> <p>More fundamentally though, the simple model doesn't account for inflation. And, at the time when interest rates were in double digits, inflation was similarly high. It wasn't a problem you could just handwave away.</p> <p>I spent way more time than it was worth trying to construct a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-do-i-need-to-retire-how-much-can-i-spend">mathematical model for living off capital</a> &mdash; a model that accounted for taxes, provided for reinvesting enough after-tax income to keep me even with inflation, and still paid out enough money for me to live on. All this, mind you, while my net worth (after a student loan) was probably negative.</p> <p>Anyway, that was my first guess at my number: a capital sum of $300,000, properly invested, would yield enough that I wouldn't have to work. That's what it would have cost me to buy my way out of the rat race. Other people have done the same sort of thinking and written whole books about it, and come up with better-researched models for accounting for taxes and inflation. I've written reviews of a couple of good ones: Bob Clyat's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-work-less-live-more"><em>Work Less, Live More</em></a> and Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-your-money-or-your-life">Your Money or Your Life</a>.</p> <h2>The less simple reality</h2> <p>In practice, though, for most people, buying your way out doesn't work out.</p> <p>First of all, it's really expensive. Unless you're extraordinarily frugal, it's still going to cost you tens of thousands of dollars a year to support your household. And (as you can't really count on double-digit returns on your investments), it turns out that you need around a quarter million dollars to stand behind each $10,000 of annual income.</p> <p>More fundamentally though, no amount of capital provides complete security. Your money can be lost any number of ways. The economy could turn down. Even if the economy goes up, your investments could go down. You could lose your money to theft, natural disaster, lawsuits, or government seizure (not to mention simple overspending). You can try to protect against any of those things through a combination of due care and proper insurance, but there's no such thing as perfect protection.</p> <p>Your real protection against those things is your own productive ability &mdash; which is something that can't be stolen, taken in a lawsuit, or seized by the government.</p> <p>Buying your way out of the rat race is a suboptimal strategy. It can work &mdash; people do it all the time, although not very many of them &mdash; but it's hard. It also doesn't leave you so very much better off than you were &mdash; you may be able to quit worrying about losing your job, but you have to start worrying about low interest rates.</p> <p>Now, accumulating some capital is a great idea. In fact, I think everyone should have a medium term goal of accumulating enough capital that the income from their investments could cover their <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emergency-belt-tightening">bare minimum expenses</a>. Once you get beyond that, though, adding more capital starts yielding diminishing returns.</p> <h2>The real way to escape the rat race: Refuse to race with rats.</h2> <p>So, what do you do instead? Basically, invest in your own skills.</p> <p>Improving your skill at the job you already have can help you earn more (important if you don't yet have that basic level of capital), but <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-investment-yourself">developing skills</a> at entirely new things gives you a whole new layer of protection against economic downturns and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-hate-my-job" title="&quot;I Hate My Job&quot; Guide">incompetent managers</a>.</p> <p>Broaden the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/find-work-worth-doing">kinds of work</a> you look for. Don't focus only on finding the highest pay &mdash; look for work that's interesting and that's useful. It's more fun. It's also more secure &mdash; there's only one job that pays the most.</p> <p>Beyond that, learn how to <strong>do</strong>, <strong>make</strong>, <strong>grow</strong>, and <strong>find</strong> things for yourself. To the extent that you can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/opting-out-of-the-money-economy">directly provide</a> the things your family needs, you're not dependent on either your capital or your job.</p> <p>Each of these things improves your security. Taken together, they can give you as much security and freedom as a human being can achieve.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-buy-your-way-out-of-the-rat-race">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-1-losing-a-job">Getting by without a job, part 1--losing a job</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-tips-for-the-newly-unemployed">Seven Tips for the Newly Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-society-of-fear">A Society of Fear</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/laid-off-what-to-do-before-plunging-into-the-job-search">Laid Off? What To Do Before Plunging Into The Job Search</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Career and Income freedom How-To Guide rat race security Tue, 03 Nov 2009 14:00:01 +0000 Philip Brewer 3785 at http://www.wisebread.com A Society of Fear http://www.wisebread.com/a-society-of-fear <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/a-society-of-fear" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/free-labor-will-win.jpg" alt="Worker in front of American Flag with the text &quot;Free Labor Will Win&quot;" title="Free Labor Will Win" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="346" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are people out there whose livelihoods depend on the fact that most people go every day to some job or another. Business owners, investors, retired folks &mdash; capitalists in general &mdash; pay their expenses with profits that would be threatened if there weren't plenty of workers trading their life for a paycheck.</p> <p>I don't mean to speak ill of capitalists &mdash; I'm one of them (in my own &quot;eking out a meager existence&quot; way). But as a group, they have a vested interest in most people choosing to get up and go to work every day. And, as a group, they're terrified that most people wouldn't do that unless they had to.</p> <p>I think that's why society has been organized to make the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave">wage slave/debt slave trap</a> the default path for almost everyone.</p> <p>It's a gentle trap: borrow a bit to go to college, a bit more to buy a car, a bit more to buy a house... You earn plenty of money and enjoy a comfortable life &mdash; and all you lose is your freedom to do anything else besides get up everyday and go to work.</p> <p>When I wrote about it before, a lot of commenters chimed in to defend the wage slave/debt slave trap &mdash; on the grounds that it motivates people to &quot;work;&quot; that it teaches them how to &quot;manage money;&quot; that it keeps them &quot;honest.&quot;</p> <p>And I find that fascinating. Because, see, I can understand <strong>business owners</strong> feeling that way &mdash; their profits would drop if people managed to escape their debt traps, gaining options besides showing up at their job day after day. I can also understand <strong>managers</strong> feeling that way &mdash; their bonuses would be a lot smaller (and their jobs a lot harder) if their employees were in a position to choose the work that was the most fun or interesting or useful or important. I can understand the <strong>government</strong> feeling this way &mdash; income taxes could drop a lot if debt-free citizens could choose to earn less.</p> <p>But I'm mystified by <strong>ordinary people</strong> feeling this way. It's bad enough that people put themselves into the position of having to go to work every day &mdash; and worse, having to go with whatever job pays the most because it's the only way to get all the bills paid &mdash; rather than being able to choose work because it's interesting or because it helps people. But that's only the beginning of the madness. Everyone in the debt slave/wage slave trap has to worry that any little mistake could cost them all their worldly goods and their entire future.</p> <p>In a world where these sorts of debts are normal, an ordinary person with ordinary expenses has to be afraid all the time. An unexpected expense can put the whole household at risk &mdash; it means more debt, probably at a higher rate. Any little glitch in earnings can be ruinous &mdash; it means missed payments, late fees and penalty rates of interest.</p> <p>Imagine if things were different &mdash; if most people had a comfortable emergency fund and little or no debt. A lost job would mean belt tightening, but not foreclosure. A sudden spike in fuel costs would mean turning down the thermostat and wearing a sweater, but not pawning the wedding rings for enough gas to get to work one more week. It would mean not living in fear.</p> <p>As I said, there are a lot of people who think their livelihood depends on that fear. Those whose profits are higher and jobs are easier when there are plenty of frightened workers have a vested interest in things as they are. But I think we'd be better off if people were less afraid.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-society-of-fear">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave">Wage slave, debt slave</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retirement-on-the-installment-plan">Retirement on the installment plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-1">What&#039;s an employee to do? Part 1</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moves-to-make-when-a-layoff-is-coming">10 Money Moves to Make When a Layoff Is Coming</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Career and Income Debt Management capital capitalism debt debt slave debt slavery employee employment fear freedom unemployment wage slave wage slavery Wed, 28 Oct 2009 13:00:02 +0000 Philip Brewer 3760 at http://www.wisebread.com Wage slave, debt slave http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wage-slave-debt-slave" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/way-out.jpg" alt="Signs showing the way out" title="Way Out a rama" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>This article has its roots in an article I wrote some time ago that used the terms wage slave and debt peonage--terms that some people objected to. Those making free choices aren't slaves, they said, even if their poor choices result in a hard life. There's some truth to that. But there's also some truth to the notion that our system makes it easy--almost automatic--for people to trap themselves.</p> <p>I've thought about it a lot since then, and found that the terms still resonate with me. It's true that the system makes people complicit in the process that traps them, but that fact doesn't make it okay. It seems to me that the system is designed, whether consciously or not, specifically to get people locked into it.</p> <p>(The article where I&nbsp;used the terms, by the way, was this one: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom"> Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</a>.)</p> <h2>Student loans</h2> <p>It starts with student loans--available to any student, pretty much without regard to whether their course of study will give them the skills and certifications that will produce an income to support the debt load.</p> <p>Students with parents who are both generous and affluent can escape. (I largely did.) Students who are both unusually smart and unusually wise, or else are lucky enough to get very good, thoughtful advice, can escape. But most students come out of college with debts that lock them into the money economy. They have no choice but to earn enough money to pay off that debt--on top of the money they need to support themselves, of course. Even bankruptcy won't free them.</p> <p>Which isn't to say that student loans are evil. For many poor students who couldn't otherwise afford to get an education, they're a marvelous tool--something that can break generational poverty and let people aspire to some of the great things that can follow on from education.</p> <p>But for too many people, student loans are a default choice that they make--often before they've even graduated from high school--without even imagining that there are alternatives.</p> <p>And that's just the beginning of it. The default path is to graduate from college and then get a job to pay off the student loan (and pay living expenses). The wise graduate might know that it'd be a good idea to get that loan paid off quickly, but that's still likely to take a decade. It's not practical to put your life on hold until then, so you proceed with all the ordinary aspects of living your life: getting married, having kids, buying a house--with the attendant mortgage.</p> <h2>Mortgages</h2> <p>Mortgages are no more evil than student loans. If you buy a house that's well within your means, a mortgage can be cheaper than renting.</p> <p>But just like a student loan, a mortgage traps you in the money economy--you have to earn enough money to make that mortgage payment (and your student loan, and all the other costs of supporting your family), or else you lose your house.</p> <p>I won't even talk about credit card debt.</p> <h2>The trap</h2> <p>This all works fine for most people, but it fails badly for some--for people who can't find work or lose their job or become disabled. It fails less badly for others--people whose degree prepared them for work that they enjoy, but that doesn't pay well enough to both support them and get them out of debt, or for people whose work pays well enough but that they don't enjoy.&nbsp; Overall, I'd say it fails to some extent for lots of people.</p> <p>There are all kinds of ways to support yourself besides working at a regular job. You can be self-employed, you can do freelance work, you can be a writer or an artist, you can grow your own food and make the things you need. Most of those ways won't support you at a middle-class standard of living, but they're an option. Except that they <strong>aren't</strong> an option to most people, because most people are in debt. And most people in debt can't cover their cash expenses any other way than by working at a regular job--those other options, although they can provide enough to eke out a meager existence, don't generate enough cash to do that and make the monthly payments.</p> <h2>The way out</h2> <p>In the end, debt and wages work together to trap the overwhelming majority of people.</p> <p>It's hardly an airtight trap. You can buy your way out if you earn good money: Keep your expenses low, pay off those debts, get enough savings that you don't need to borrow again, start making some investments.... That path to financial independence is well known to anyone who reads financial blogs.</p> <p>But it's a path that most high school students don't learn about. Most people only begin to understand when it's too late--after some young kid (i.e. them at age 17), guided by well-meaning but under-thoughtful parents, guidance counselors, and college admission advisors, have set them on the path to being locked into employment by wages and debt. Once you're there, it's a long hard slog to switch back to the path to financial independence.</p> <p>One thing I'm sad about is that so many people who have managed to find the path to freedom have so little sympathy for the people who went badly astray. Granted, those who have just begun to find their way will be in the midst of difficult striving, but it somehow seems to me that should give people <strong>more</strong> empathy with those who, following the default advice, headed down the path of debt. In fact, though, it seems to give them less.</p> <p>There's nothing wrong with debt and there's nothing wrong with wages. But I think the system we have now is pernicious. It makes sure that everyone starts out with a load of debt to trap them into working for wages at exactly the moment that they might otherwise be exploring other possibilities, and keeps them there until family obligations and a promising career make it hard to escape.</p> <p>It's not impossible to escape. Wise Bread is full of advice, both tactical and strategic, for finding the path out of the debt and wage trap. Better if you never get trapped in the first place, but who among us has such luck? Who among us was smart enough or lucky enough or well-advised enough as teenagers to find the path to financial independence early? Too few.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-society-of-fear">A Society of Fear</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-increasing-your-financial-literacy">Tips for Increasing Your Financial Literacy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/join-america-saves-week-february-24-to-march-2nd">Join America Saves Week February 24 to March 2nd</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-if-foreigners-quit-lending-the-us-so-much-money">What if foreigners quit lending the US so much money?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living Debt Management debt debt slave debt slavery financial independence freedom independence wage slave wage slavery wages Tue, 21 Jul 2009 20:00:07 +0000 Philip Brewer 3412 at http://www.wisebread.com On choosing temporary freedom http://www.wisebread.com/on-choosing-temporary-freedom <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/on-choosing-temporary-freedom" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/park-gate.jpg" alt="Path with an open gate" title="Gate in Allerton Park" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="201" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>On one side there's your typical job. It's clearer than ever that it doesn't offer the security it once did, but it still offers some, and it offers other things--predictable income, social position, a structure to your day. On the other side there's freedom. The way we've structured our society, it's hard to switch back and forth. Hard, but not impossible.</p> <h2>Why try to have it both ways?</h2> <p>Some people know which side of the divide they want to be on. Some people with regular jobs love their work and would never want to change. Some people who don't have regular jobs know that they'd never be happy with one. But other people would like to have the option to switch back and forth.</p> <p>Why? Well, for a lot of reasons.</p> <h3>To do or make something</h3> <p>Probably the biggest reason people want to live without a job for a while is because they want to accomplish something that they can't do while holding down a job.</p> <ul> <li>Travel</li> <li>Get a degree</li> <li>Finish a dissertation</li> <li>Raise children</li> <li>Build a house</li> </ul> <p>People leaving a regular job to do something like this are really just looking to free up a chunk of time long enough to finish something that's important to them.</p> <h3>To be part of something larger</h3> <p>Many people want to help others or make a contribution to society or to some cause they believe in:</p> <ul> <li>Missionary</li> <li>Aid worker</li> <li>Teacher</li> <li>Researcher</li> <li>Inventor</li> </ul> <p>There are jobs in which you can do these things, but many people feel called to do them outside the context of a job. Many people are supported by institutions that try to provide some of what a job would provide--money, a place to live, food, etc. But many people do these things entirely on their own, simply because it's what they want to do.</p> <h3>Because they hate the structure</h3> <p>Some people simply can't stand &quot;working for the man.&quot; In some cases it's just a personality quirk that they reject having a boss or can't bring themselves to follow rules. Some start their own business so that they can be the boss.</p> <p>Others really can't handle a regular job because of physical or mental problems. Besides trying to start a business, there are kinds of work where it's possible to fit the work into whatever constraints your body and mind require.</p> <p>I sometimes hear about writers and artists who were bipolar, suffered from depression, or had some other mental illness--with the suggestion that their problems were related to their creativity.&nbsp; I don't figure it that way. My take on it is that someone who can't hold a regular job--perhaps because they sometimes have bouts of depression that make them unproductive for weeks at a time--has to try to find work that can accommodate those constraints. Sometimes, being a writer or artist can be fit in around problems of this sort.</p> <h3>Because they have no choice</h3> <p>Some people would like nothing better than to have a regular job. But--as the economy going kablooie has made clear--sometimes they don't have a choice. Sometimes the great job that you love (where you're well-paid to do important work) just evaporates. That can happen with any job, any time--it's just that right now it's happening with lots of jobs that had seemed secure right up until they vanish.</p> <p>All too many people look up from their pink slip and see that not only has their job disappeared, their entire field has decamped for parts unknown taking their career along with it.</p> <p>Don't think it can't happen to you.</p> <h2>Why not?</h2> <p>Although there are plenty of people out there who don't <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-hate-my-job" title="&quot;I Hate My Job&quot; Guide">hate their jobs</a>, in my experience there's a solid majority of people who would like to take a few months or years off from working and do something else. In fact, though, most people don't--at least, they don't do it on purpose.&nbsp; The major reason is fear.</p> <p>Among the things people fear are:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Lost income</strong> -- One loss is the money that's not earned during the period you spend without a job. On top of that, though is the reduction in future income that comes from being &quot;unemployed&quot; for a period of time--missing out on a raise, losing seniority, and simply falling off the radar of the people who are trying to move you up in the company.</li> <li><strong>Problems reentering</strong> -- Not many employers will keep your old job open for you, if you leave to &quot;follow your dream&quot; or &quot;do great things.&quot; Even if you can get a leave of absence, you can be sure that people who are absent will be the first to be let go if there's a layoff. Seeking a new job can also be tricky--there's the danger that having left the workforce for an extended period will mark you as a dissatisfied or unreliable worker</li> <li><strong>Becoming a different person</strong> -- A lot of people seem to worry that a sojourn away from a regular job longer than a short vacation might change them into someone who cannot be satisfied with a regular job. (I've heard this from more than one person and I always think it's sad--people choosing to leave their blinkers on out of fear that once they'd seen the wide world their old life would seem smaller and more constrained than they knew. It may well be true; that seems to be a poor reason to refuse to look.)</li> </ul> <h2>Ameliorating the risks</h2> <p>Let me say up front that these fears are valid. There's no point in just hoping that these things won't happen. But there are actions that you can take to mitigate them--or even turn them into positives.</p> <p>There are a few obvious things to do:</p> <ul> <li>Keep up in your field so that your skills are up-to-date</li> <li>Develop new skills</li> <li>Produce something that demonstrates your value to an employer</li> <li>Keep your network informed about the cool stuff you're doing</li> </ul> <p>One less-obvious thing you need, though, is a good story. You need a story in which you took time off to do something important, and accomplished it in a way that makes you a better fit for the workplace.</p> <p>The story is for at least two people. One is the person who might hire you for your next job. Your story can be a great hook to make you stand out from all the other people looking to get hired--how many of them vaccinated kids in Brazil or wrote a novel or sailed around the world? Almost no matter what it is, your accomplishment demonstrates many characteristics wanted in an employee--you're a self-starter, you can finish a large project, you're a can-do person who overcomes obstacles and gets things done.</p> <p>If you tell it right, your story can make it clear that you're not the sort of unreliable person who might take off and leave whenever you get a wild idea. Tell it so that it shows you to be a solid performer who makes commitments and sees them through.</p> <p>The other person the story is for is you. This is how you control the way in which your experience changes you. Make sure your story isn't one of a drone who briefly gloried in unlimited freedom only to return to the daily grind. Rather, make it the story of someone who felt a calling to do something great, accomplished it, and then sought a new challenge.</p> <h2>Ways and means</h2> <p>If this were a post about permanently leaving regular employment, this section would be about how you might earn enough money to support yourself, either by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-2-boost-income">working outside the framework of a regular job</a> or by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/join-the-rentier-class">investing for income</a>.</p> <p>This, though, is about a temporary departure from regular work. Although picking up a little money on the side can help, almost everyone does this either by saving up the money or else by living off someone else's income.</p> <p>There's not really much to say about saving up the money. Almost anyone can save up enough money to take a few months or a few years off. It's just a matter of wanting it badly enough that you're willing to cut your expenses and put money away.</p> <p>Couples (or, more generally, any <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/strategies-for-households-with-more-than-one-adult">households with more than one adult</a>) have the option of allocating the &quot;earning an income&quot; task however they like. It's not unusual for one spouse to support the household while the other gets a degree--and getting a degree isn't the only thing the spouse without a regular job might do.</p> <p>Spouses can choose to take turns working regular jobs so that the other can do something awesome--or they can both work and save and then do something awesome together.</p> <p>I've long recommended that you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/find-work-worth-doing">find work worth doing</a>--work that is so important to you that you'd never even want to ditch your job. But finding work worth doing is a process, not a goal. Sometimes the process includes ditching your job. Lots of people get stuck at that point, stopped by the fear that they're taking a perfectly good life and screwing it up in the search for something better. I won't say, &quot;Be fearless!&quot; because there are many scary things out there. Rather, I say, &quot;Make sure that settling for a 'perfectly good life' is on your list of things to be at least a little afraid of.&quot;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/on-choosing-temporary-freedom">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/afraid-of-spending-money-here-are-5-perks-of-your-phobia">Afraid of Spending Money? Here Are 5 Perks of Your Phobia</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave">Wage slave, debt slave</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-tips-for-the-newly-unemployed">Seven Tips for the Newly Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-society-of-fear">A Society of Fear</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living fear freedom job jobs mission story think big work Fri, 06 Mar 2009 23:01:55 +0000 Philip Brewer 2901 at http://www.wisebread.com Security is an illusion. Freedom is real. http://www.wisebread.com/security-is-an-illusion-freedom-is-real <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/security-is-an-illusion-freedom-is-real" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cat-with-claws.jpg" alt="Cat with claws" title="Cat with Claws" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="246" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's a seeming tradeoff between freedom and security: You can stick with the day job or chuck it to live your dream--if you're willing to give up the security of the regular paycheck. That kind of security, though, is an illusion.</p> <p>We have to be a bit careful of our terms. People mean a lot of different things when they say &quot;security.&quot; There's the security that comes from living in a sturdy house that helps keep out burglars and the winter cold. There's the security that comes from having family members who care for one another. And there's the security that comes from knowing that you have a diversity of skills for handling the problems that come your way. These things all have their limits (nothing provides absolute security), but they are real.</p> <p>What's an illusion is the faux security that comes from making the conventional choices and fitting in. That provides merely the security of knowing that, if things go badly, you'll have plenty of company in your misery. Even <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-1-losing-a-job">a good job can be taken away</a> if times get tough--or vanish all together if your boss is too timid to let people go when the times demand it.</p> <p>When you think about it, security can't possibly come from something you <strong>have</strong>. There's nothing you can have that can't be stolen by a thief or expropriated by the government. There's nothing you can have that can't be destroyed by war or natural disaster. There's nothing you can have that can't be made worthless by change (either circumstantial or technological).</p> <p>Security can't be something you have. It can only be something you are. Because who you are is the only thing that can't be taken away.</p> <p>Real security comes from inside you. It comes not from having a &quot;secure&quot; income but from having a diversity of sources of income. Not from having the right degree or credentials or skills, but from knowing that there are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-2-boost-income">many things you can do that will earn money</a>--and many ways that you can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-4-get-free-stuff">provide for your family even if you can't earn money</a>.</p> <p>At it's core, real security comes from expanding your range of options--which is what makes the security/freedom tradeoff false: More freedom is <strong>more</strong> security, not less.</p> <p>Of course, the many things that people do to increase their security have some benefits. The key is to remember that they also offer diminishing returns. Cash to cover three month's expenses is a good idea, and cash to cover six month's expenses is even better. But adding enough more cash that you could cover twelve month's expenses doesn't add nearly as much security as some of the other choices you might make. Certainly, it's nothing compared to the security you get by knowing how to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-3-cut-spending">cut your expenses</a> enough to stretch the smaller sum to cover your family for twelve months.</p> <p>Once you start keeping your eyes open for ways to increase your security by increasing your freedom, you'll find them everywhere. Buying tools is good. Learning new skills is better. Make friends with your neighbors. If you have family members who haven't reached a bare minimum level of security, help them take that step--a web of stable households makes everyone more secure. Go on adventures that put you at risk in a controlled way, so that you can safely learn the habits that will protect you when life throws uncontrolled risks into your path.</p> <p>Real security comes from who you are, not what you have. It's real and important. It comes in the form of freedom, because it grows out of having more choices, rather than fewer. The sort of &quot;lifestyle&quot; security that comes from making the conventional choices? There's nothing there. Not when it counts.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/security-is-an-illusion-freedom-is-real">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-places-to-go-to-beat-the-summer-heat">9 Places to Go to Beat the Summer Heat</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-thoughtful-and-frugal-personalized-gift-ideas">25 Thoughtful and Frugal Personalized Gift Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sensible-ways-to-raise-cash-for-a-wedding">Sensible Ways to Raise Cash for a Wedding</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Lifestyle freedom security tradeoffs Thu, 22 Jan 2009 15:15:29 +0000 Philip Brewer 2766 at http://www.wisebread.com Musings inspired by the crappiest of films — Demolition Man. http://www.wisebread.com/musings-inspired-by-the-crappiest-of-films-demolition-man <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/musings-inspired-by-the-crappiest-of-films-demolition-man" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/231806813_791e036c40.jpg" alt="Demolition Man" title="Demolition Man" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="169" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I saw that film about 15 years ago, and I remember liking it at the time. I also liked stone-washed jeans and neon t-shirts, but I have since come to my senses. However, one nugget stuck with me from the movie; one possible insight into the future that, at the time, I thought was totally impossible. But now, I&rsquo;m not so sure. </p> <p>If you haven&rsquo;t seen <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106697/">the film</a>, I applaud you. All you need to know is that Stallone is a cop from the past (i.e. the violent 90&rsquo;s) who gets frozen for a crime he didn&rsquo;t commit, and is unfrozen in the future to fight a bad guy (that&rsquo;s the whole film right there). Austin Powers ripped off the idea a few years later, but this time it was intentionally funny. </p> <p>In this non-violent utopian future, known as San Angeles, everything has become homogenized and bland. The songs playing on the radio are old TV jingles, swearing is outlawed and sex is done in virtual reality&hellip;no touching allowed. At one point in the movie, the geeks from the future get very excited when they&rsquo;re told they will be dining at Taco Bell that night. Stallone&rsquo;s archaic cop is confused until he is told that Taco Bell won the franchise war, and now all restaurants are Taco Bell.</p> <p><img alt="old Taco Bell logo" title="old Taco Bell logo" width="321" height="142" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u17/Former_Taco_Bell_Logo.png" /></p> <p>That struck a chord with me, and to this day has resonated with me whenever I see another announcement of a business being bought out or bankrupted. Although it probably won&rsquo;t be as extreme as the example in Demolition Man, there are signs everywhere that our choices on the high street are becoming limited. I was surprised to see how many food chains were owned by the same company. For instance, Yum! Brands owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Wing Street, KFC, A&amp;W and Long John Silver&rsquo;s. And if I&rsquo;m not mistaken, PepsiCo is heavily involved in that little equation. </p> <p>Consider consumer electronics: Circuit City is about to go under, closing 155 of its stores. Sharper Image is dead. CompUSA is barely alive after being bought by Tiger Direct. That leaves Best Buy, Ultimate Electronics, Radio Shack and, ummm, let me think. How long before Best Buy is your only high street option? </p> <p>This isn&rsquo;t limited to electronics and food chains by the way. Banks are swallowing up other banks; car manufacturers are constantly merging (I wonder if we&rsquo;ll all be driving a Honda one day); movie studios are &ldquo;joining forces; and of course, there&rsquo;s the media &ndash; Google Rupert Murdoch and you&rsquo;ll see what I mean. It can&rsquo;t be good to have one company running so many news outlets can it? </p> <p>This is clearly an issue for anyone concerned about choice, fairness and competitive pricing (yes Ticketmaster, I&rsquo;m looking right at you). And as I pointed out in a previous post on <a href="/the-disappearance-of-real-america-my-guest-post-at-zen-habits">real America</a>, this has been happening for a long time. However, now our choices aren&rsquo;t just limited to bigger retailers&hellip;they&rsquo;re becoming limited, period. </p> <p>Will the Internet follow suit? I can certainly see larger companies out-pricing (and out-advertising) the smaller competitors, swallowing them up or putting them out of business. Buy.com and Shop.com probably won&rsquo;t last much longer under the giant shadow of Amazon.com. And is there really an auction site to rival eBay? </p> <p>Is there anything we can do about it? Well, I&rsquo;ve always been told to vote with my dollars. I rarely give my business to Best Buy. I try and avoid fast food chains. And I will go out of my way to avoid using Ticketmaster; I&rsquo;m amazed they aren&rsquo;t violating the monopoly laws. After all, when you want to buy tickets online, where do you go? Where else CAN you go?</p> <p><img alt="exxon owns it all" title="exxon owns it all" width="500" height="255" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u17/exxon.jpg" /></p> <p>It may be a long way off, but I can see a future where we all shop, eat, live, drive, bank and fly using the same company; probably Exxon if they keep posting the <a href="http://www.caymanmama.com/2008/11/04/exxon-mobile-shatters-record_200811043428.html">profits they did this quarter</a>. Depressing? Yep. Possible? Maybe. But on this important election day, the word hope springs to mind. And I hope the future is filled with choices, not restrictions. </p> <p>Oh, and a final thought, getting back to the movie that started all of this. If you buy a new copy of Demolition Man, Taco Bell has clearly been replaced by Pizza Hut (with some questionable dubbing, too). Why? Because Yum! Brands figured Pizza Hut would be better for product placement globally. Do you see where this is going?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/musings-inspired-by-the-crappiest-of-films-demolition-man">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-outrageously-expensive-whole-foods-products">The 7 Most Outrageously Expensive Whole Foods Products</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-everyday-products-with-the-biggest-markups">The 9 Everyday Products With the Biggest Markups</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-gift-card-scam-of-2011-don-t-be-a-victim">The Gift Card Scam of 2011: Don’t Be a Victim</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheat-sheet-retail-markup-on-common-items">Cheat Sheet: Retail Markup on Common Items</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping choice conglomorates corporations freedom mergers profits Tue, 04 Nov 2008 23:20:47 +0000 Paul Michael 2567 at http://www.wisebread.com Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/garden-by-dugout-house.jpg" alt="Garden by a dugout house" title="Garden by Dugout House" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="189" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Self-sufficiency is producing the actual stuff you use--your own food, your own clothes, etc.  It&#39;s not a common lifestyle.  Most people chose instead to follow the path of self-reliance.  Rather than directly producing the things they use, they produce something they can sell for money, or else they work for someone who will pay them money, aiming to earn enough to buy what they use.</p> <p>Actual self-sufficiency takes on nearly mythic significance in the United States, because so many iconic figures in our national history were self-sufficient:  </p> <ul> <li>Native Americans</li> <li>Early settlers</li> <li>The pioneers</li> </ul> <p>The notion shows up in popular culture other places as well, as in the wonderful British TV series &quot;The Good Life,&quot; (available in the US on DVD as <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000784WKO?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B000784WKO">Good Neighbors</a>) about a couple ditching an affluent lifestyle in favor of being self-sufficient in their own little suburban plot.</p> <p>The thing is, though, self-sufficiency turns out to be a hard way to live.  It takes capital (in the form of land), it takes skills that most people don&#39;t have, and it takes lots of hard work.  During the 1960s and 1970s there was a back-to-nature movement of people trying to be self-sufficient, often in the form of a commune (which is rather easier than trying to be self-sufficient at the level of the household or the individual).  Some of those old communes are still around, but most people who tried self-sufficiency gave up pretty quickly.</p> <p>The appeal of self-sufficiency never disappears, though.  Just recently, as a response to environmental degradation and soaring prices for food and fuel, self-sufficiency is once again showing up, under names like urban (or suburban) <a href="http://urbanhomestead.org/journal/">homesteading</a>.  <a href="http://www.foodnotlawns.com/">More</a> and <a href="http://www.lawnstogardens.com/">more</a> people are turning their lawns into gardens, getting <a href="/real-eggs">a few chickens</a> (even a goat) and producing a large fraction of their own food.</p> <p>As I said, though, it&#39;s a hard way to live.  You can have a higher standard of living if you work for money and then buy the stuff you need--and not just a little higher; stuff that&#39;s mass produced by low-cost labor is incredibly cheap.  For example, I&#39;ve seen perfectly good wool sweaters at the store for less than the cost of the yarn to knit a nice sweater.</p> <p>The whole structure of the economy is designed for people to work for wages and then buy what they need--and that design turns out to favor the wealthy.  The poor and middle-class get a higher standard of living, and the rich get richer.</p> <p>Sometimes, of course, that standard of living creeps up high enough that the household is no longer really even self-reliant.   Depending on how you measure it, <a href="http://www.bea.gov/bea/dn/nipaweb/Nipa-Frb.asp">personal saving</a> in the United States has been close to zero (or even negative) since 2005--and, since we know that a small number of wealthy people are saving plenty, that means that large numbers of poor and middle-class people have been spending down their savings or sinking into debt.</p> <p>It&#39;s easy to make the case that our economy is structured specifically to tempt poor and middle-class folks to enjoy a higher standard of living than they can actually support.  When they do, they not only make rich folks richer, they also trap themselves in the money economy.  Even if you have the skills, the inclination, and the willingness to do the hard work, you can&#39;t move yourself toward self-sufficiency when you&#39;ve got debts that have to be paid with money.  </p> <p>Once trapped in the money economy through debt, people end up stuck being little money-producing machines for the rich.  It&#39;s not too extreme to call it <a href="http://www.whywork.org/about/faq/wageslave.html">wage slavery</a> or <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/08/opinion/08krugman.html?ex=1268024400&amp;en=6d6169df7852a01d&amp;ei=5090&amp;partner=rssuserland&amp;pagewanted=all">debt peonage</a> (albeit at a rather high standard of living).  In any case, it is definitely not freedom.</p> <p>You don&#39;t need to be self-sufficient to be free--it&#39;s good enough to be self-reliant, as long as you&#39;re careful with debt.  In fact, unless you&#39;ve got some capital already--such as family land--a period of self-reliance during which you live below your means and accumulate capital is probably a necessary step toward self-sufficiency. </p> <p>Even then, there&#39;s some value to the tactics of self-sufficiency.  <a href="/make-your-hobby-pay-its-way">Hobbies that produce something useful</a> can often pay their own way, and are certainly better than hobbies that leave you seriously out-of-pocket.  It&#39;s worth having a garden, even if you don&#39;t grow all your own food.  It&#39;s worth knitting a sweater or sewing a dress, even if you don&#39;t make all your own clothes.  It&#39;s worth learning how to fix a bicycle, even if you also own a car.  </p> <p>Think of it as strategic partial self-sufficiency.  Think of it as a step on the road to freedom.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave">Wage slave, debt slave</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-society-of-fear">A Society of Fear</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-us-government-wants-you-in-debt">The U.S. Government Wants You in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-increasing-your-financial-literacy">Tips for Increasing Your Financial Literacy</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living Career and Income Debt Management debt Economy freedom self-reliance self-sufficiency Wed, 14 May 2008 18:28:03 +0000 Philip Brewer 2092 at http://www.wisebread.com Book review: Your Money or Your Life http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-your-money-or-your-life <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0140286780?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0140286780"><img height="140" width="91" title="Your Money or Your Life cover" alt="Your Money or Your Life cover" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/ymoyl-cover.jpg" /></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0140286780?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0140286780"> <em>Your Money or Your Life</em></a> by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.</p> <p>This book is one of the classics of modern frugality, and it's been a source of some controversy. At the bottom, though, its message is a simple one: <strong>Pay attention</strong>. Pay attention to how you spend your money. Pay attention to what you have to do to earn it. Having paid attention, think about whether whether your time and money are going where they ought to.</p> <h2>Pay attention</h2> <p>The book is structured a bit oddly, partly because its roots are in an audiobook and workbook, but also because the authors knew that a lot of people would resist the underlying message and need to be coaxed along the way.</p> <p>As you follow the steps in the book, you identify where your money comes from and what you have to do to get it. The authors emphasize including all the incidental time and money that goes into your job--commuting, shopping for work clothing, hours spent unwinding after work, etc.</p> <p>Having analyzed where your money comes from, you next analyze what your money goes to: track your spending down to the penny. Don't neglect to show the less visible expenditures like taxes, and be sure to identify the expenditures (such as for work clothing) that only exist because you have a job.</p> <p>The next step is simply to make the previous information visible--put the income and expenditures on a big graph. Most people are going to find that the spending line tracks along very close to the earning line--they're spending all they earn. For too many people, it's worse than that--they're spending all they earn and then some.</p> <p>The next steps are the obvious ones of maximizing your income and minimizing your spending, but the authors have a significant twist on it.</p> <p>Since you've been paying attention, you know just what you've been doing to do to get the money that you're spending. So, they have you think about it just that way: Before you buy another whatever-it-is-you-want, think about just what you had to do to get that money: so many hours spent working, preparing to work, getting to work, recovering from work, so many dollars spent on gas for commuting and clothes for working in (and those dollars converted into the hours of work it took to earn them). Is the thing worth the hours of your life it took to earn the money? If so, buy it. If not, don't buy it.</p> <p>Go through the same exercise on the earning side, trying to maximize the dollar return for each hour that you spend on money-making endeavors.</p> <h2>Investment program</h2> <p>The book has a very simple investment program that many people have taken issue with. The authors want you to invest your surplus money (a growing amount, once you make some progress on maximizing income and minimizing expenses) in long-term treasury bonds. More than a few people have criticized the program on the grounds that a diversified stock portfolio would produce higher returns. These people have missed the point: The goal of the investment portfolio is to produce a very secure stream of income. Long-term treasurys are a perfect choice.</p> <p>Once your investment portfolio is in place, start graphing the interest received on the same big graph that has the lines for earnings and spending. The interest income will grow steadily (as you invest your surplus). Sooner or later--depending on how much you've managed to minimize your spending--your interest income line will cross the spending line. At this point you are financially independent.</p> <p>The best thing about the book is its nonjudgemental tone. It never tells you how much money to spend or how frugal to be. It just gently urges you to pay attention to how much of your life you have to trade for each purchase, and to decide if whatever you're about to pay is worth the trade.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-your-money-or-your-life">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-retire-on-less-than-you-think">Book review: Retire on Less Than You Think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-the-only-investment-guide-youll-ever-need">Book review: The Only Investment Guide You&#039;ll Ever Need</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-the-little-book-of-common-sense-investing">Book review: The Little Book of Common Sense Investing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-supercapitalism">Book review: Supercapitalism</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-the-post-american-world">Book Review: The Post American World</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance book review books freedom independence personal finance review Sat, 28 Jul 2007 00:25:46 +0000 Philip Brewer 913 at http://www.wisebread.com A Journey to Vocational Freedom: Focusing your Dreams with Goals http://www.wisebread.com/a-journey-to-vocational-freedom-focusing-your-dreams-with-goals <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/finish_line.jpg" alt="Crossing the finish line" title="Reach those goals!" width="240" height="360" /></p> <p>Instead of a how-to article, or even a &quot;Top 10&quot; list, I want to tell you part of my own story. I&#39;ve tried to put this into a list, tried to make it into something else, and I just keep coming back to the story. There&#39;s something about this story that is true: far more true than any list or set of steps. So this is for all of you out there who (like me!) learn better through stories than anything else.</p> <p>For years, I&#39;ve wanted to work independently. I&#39;m not made to work in box, nor is my natural sleep cycle conducive to the usual working hours. I don&#39;t believe in following the rules just because they&#39;re there, so I&#39;m not exactly a dream employee for most bosses (though I should be...but I won&#39;t go into that here). I think I always figured it would just happen; someday, somewhere, someone would offer me a lucrative contract to do something that interests me on my own time. </p> <p>I waited.</p> <p>And waited.</p> <p>(I&#39;m still waiting.)</p> <p>As I got more and more frustrated working a traditional job (and more and more tired, since I can&#39;t get myself to transition to a healthy sleep schedule), I wanted this kind of lifestyle even more. There&#39;s probably a direct correlation in there somewhere. I also got more frustrated as I continued to wonder, &quot;Why isn&#39;t this happening to me?&quot;</p> <p>Sometime around last Christmas, I realized that this is not going to fall into my lap. Or, at least, I&#39;m not willing to wait that long. So I&#39;m going after what I really want. In the words of the Disney generation, I&#39;m following my dreams. But I&#39;m not following them to an idealistic crash-and-burn (I hope!). Instead, I&#39;m pursuing them with research, knowledge and, most importantly, goals.</p> <p>Setting actual, realistic, solid goals has been the hardest part of the process. When I began investigating freelancing and entrepreneurship, all I knew was that there HAD to be something I could do that would eventually get me out of the cube. Needless to say, that is NOT enough information to start a freelance career on! So my first goal was: Research the possibilities!</p> <p>Now, a real goalsetter will tell you that that&#39;s not a real goal--it doesn&#39;t have a timeframe nor does is it specific. But it worked for me. It gave me something concrete that I could do in my spare moments that would help me go where I want to go. It focused the snark that was emerging with my frustration, and gave me something to do towards my ultimate goal. It helped me take the energy that was all balled up inside of me, that had nowhere to go, and do something with it.</p> <p>I researched for weeks. At first, it was informal. I began watching social networking sites for relevant items. Soon, I had books to read and blogs that gave me more information daily. I found which search terms worked and which produced junk (i.e. lots of sites that say I can make thousands of dollars in 20 minutes a day. Those sites? Bogus.). Eventually, I began skipping articles because I already knew the information that was in them. </p> <p>It&#39;s taken me quite a while to do that research, and I&#39;m still probably not quite done yet. But I know where I want to go. Gradually, over time, the research helped me identify things I would (and would not!) be interested in doing. When I focused my frustrated, angry energy, I started doing something about my problem. </p> <p>Now, I have a long-term goal. And I&#39;m researching what needs to happen to fill in the short-term goals to help me get there. I&#39;m still at my &quot;real&quot; job, but I&#39;m not nearly as frustrated there because I&#39;m working towards something new, and what that looks like is becoming more and more specific every day. </p> <p>Oh, and in case you wanted to know (and I know you do...), my new ultimate goal? To be a freelance Jill-of-all-trades (or at least several of them)! I&#39;m pursuing freelance writing in several fields while working on a longer book. I&#39;m updating my web design skills and working on some free templates, in the hopes of getting started in that field (and to give myself the practice). And I&#39;m pursuing even more spiritual direction clients than I already have. Eventually, I&#39;d like to expand that side of my work to include leading retreats, possibly for corporations who care specifically about team-building and who value corporate storytelling.</p> <p>Goodbye, cube-rats! Working on my laptop from Panera, here I come!</p> <p>(Photo by <a href="http://flickr.com/photos/spine/" title="Rick&#39;s the man!">Rick</a>) </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-journey-to-vocational-freedom-focusing-your-dreams-with-goals">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-important-signs-that-your-job-sucks">10 Important Signs That Your Job Sucks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-would-you-do-with-the-f-u-money">What would you do with the F.U. money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-invest-in-yourself">9 Ways to Invest in Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-restart-your-resolutions-this-spring">5 Ways to Restart Your Resolutions This Spring</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-these-26-things-to-make-this-year-the-best-year-ever">Do These 26 Things to Make This Year the Best Year Ever</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building cube rat dreams focus freedom goals out of focus Tue, 29 May 2007 19:24:18 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 377 at http://www.wisebread.com