Giving It All Up
Status Quo New Years Eve: Count down to get off your face to try and wipe out the thoughts of the wasted year that was.
Status Quo New Years Day: Count down how many days you have left before you go back to that job you hate to buy more crap you don’t need to distract you from the fact you are not living your purpose.
Solution? Fuck it all off and only do what you really want to do every day for the rest of your life.
Never has Durianrider made a more agreeable statement. What’s the first thing a big lottery winner does? Quits their job–save a few that really love what they do for work. Why do they do this? Because they now have the financial security to do what they want with their time. Most of us don’t work because we want to, we work because we feel we have to. Sure enough, most of the responses to Durianrider’s Facebook post are typical of the common thinking. For example:
[O]nly the priviledged ones can do that.
Wish I could! Got a mortgage to pay though!
Whenever I discuss voluntary simplicity with people, these are the sort of reactions I get. And they are usually cloaked in a “Come back to the real world, Paul” sort of tone. In which case, capitalism has well and truly won and we’re all destined to be wage-slaves. We don’t need that much to live yet we think we do and we make that an excuse not to strive harder for what we really want.
When people consider the idea they look at it from their current perspective. “If I earned 1/4 of what I earned now, doing something that I love, how am I meant to service my $700k mortgage and by all them widgets?” True, you probably couldn’t make that work, and that’s why it isn’t just about doing what you want and having more free time, it’s about fundamentally transforming your life. Being thoughtful about every facet of your life. Not doing what you’re use to or what is expected, rather doing what seems to be right. We have the capacity as more and more of us move to living more environmentally-friendly lives. We make decisions every day in order to do “what’s best”, often at great sacrifice.
We all need shelter. The notion of owning one’s shelter is preferable to renting. To own shelter we naturally think that we would need to take out a big mortgage, thus, work a well-paying job in order to service it. I think this is a big problem: relying on debt to achieve one’s destiny. I look to people like Richard Telford for inspiration. He spent $50k of savings, used a wide-range of government grants available at the time, and took out a small mortgage in order to build the eco-friendly home of his dreams. Yes, he did take out debt, but only a small amount. Paid off over 30 years with 7.5% interest, see repayments at about $100/week. Halve that term and double the repayment–and pay a lot less interest. It’s money that he still needs to earn each week but when the average mortgage repayment in Australia is $450/week and rent is $285/week, it equates to a lot less work and more freedom. I’m also inspired by the tiny house movement. People are building their own small dwellings, usually on wheels to overcome council regulations, without going into debt. Most of the tiny house people I have read about don’t own land–they rent a small space in the back corner of friends’ backyards. However, cheap land is available. I’ve seen blocks for under $10k in Tasmania. Maybe it’s not for you, but it’s an option. A 4-bedroom McMansion in the outer suburbs or a shiny 2-bedroom apartment in the city aren’t your only options. Many of us seem to think they are.
I think the great thing about all this is that it isn’t about privilege or being better off. It’s about being open to doing more with less. Hey, I have had a year of it. I went from earning $60k a year to starting my own business and getting by on a fraction of this. I’m use to it now, still maintain a good level of lifestyle–a little more affluent than I’d like, but I am cutting things out–and have much more capacity and appreciation for saving. If I went and earned $60k again tomorrow, I’d be able to save over 50% of it. That’s $30k. Once my debts are paid down, even more. I could buy a block of land with that and build a tiny house. It puts things in perspective, that’s for sure. It may not be the option that I want to entertain, but it’s an option. It isn’t as expensive and gloomy as we’re lead to expect.