YOU DON’T NEED A STEADY JOB TO ENJOY THE LIFESTYLE YOU WANT
I’m not knocking having a job but it seems that if given the choice of living frugally on lower income vs living a consumer lifestyle on a slightly higher income people will choose the latter.
But why? In order to have a steady income one needs to sell their soul to their job. As a doctor you have to work for a company that dictates your practice. In return you get a W2 which is what you need to get auto loans and mortgages and shitty little credit cards.
The alternative of running a one-man-show isn’t that much better. If you are competing in a competitive niche and run your own business you are essentially a slave to that job. You either have to work your ass off to keep your clients or you have to make shady practice moves to keep that steady income.
Living in the US has wonderful benefits of job security, unemployment protection, a stable economy, a ton of jobs to choose from (despite what you read in the news) and the ability to make money as an entrepreneur. But it’s also very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need a car, a mortgage, and a steady job with benefits. Short of having it shoved down our throats we are told we must have life insurance, disability insurance, a 401(k) and health/dental insurance.
I have negative feelings towards health insurance and know for sure dental insurance is as useful as my appendix. I will get into that one day in another post. In the west health and life is valued on a quantitative basis not a qualitative one. And frankly if you want the most quantity out of your life-years then get as much insurance from the most aggressive (read, highest ranking) medical facilities you can afford.
So what if you could be content with living on a lot less? Let’s say you like living in the heart of San Francisco or in a high-rise in Manhattan. Your rent is artificially high but you are enjoying some incredible culture, amazing foods and possibly a great social scene. Then again, that social scene is so expensive that after some time you will probably realize it’s not maintainable and eventually you’ll have your fill of the scenery, the restaurants and even the social scene.
You could live somewhere where you don’t need a car. You could get by with a cell phone that only costs you $15/mo. Basic yet comprehensive health insurance could cost you only $200/mo from a health insurance exchange. You could get rid of your expensive mortgage and either buy a small condo in cash or rent in an affordable neighborhood. Your entertainment doesn’t need to be expensive restaurants, fancy ski trips or stressful vacations in crowded tourist traps.
When you no longer need a job to support your lifestyle you will afford freedom that few people enjoy. You can keep a whole month off and not work or you can spend a week working like you’re on meth. You can do per diem gigs, you can start a low overhead business, you can do consulting work or you can bar-tend at a lounge.
My mom, at age 68, is living in Northern California on less than $1,000 a month and gets to hang out with her grandchildren nearly every day. Has her own apartment, health insurance and financial independence.
My lawyer friend here in Portland, in her mid 30’s, is living on less than $1,600/mo. She rents an apartment, has a pet, a car and even student loan payments. She socializes more than I do and is closer to financial independence than most of her colleagues.
This post is as much a reminder for me as possibly something insightful for you to read. We get to design our own lives here in the US. It’s not so easy in other parts of the world. Even in a place like France you can’t express your religious or cultural identity without some heat all the while trying to pursue your own path towards financial independence.
You may be fat and ugly with a ton of debt or you may be young and gorgeous with a ton of money in the bank. You could have a family of 6 or be a single cat living in a sweet downtown loft. Either way, it’s up to you where you life, where you spend your money and how many hours you work. You can design an nontraditional path towards financial independence and leave the rat race in just a few short years or you can work your 40-60-hour weeks and maybe retire at age 65.