Being All You Can Be. Part III: Finance.

In Part II I outlined how there are three pillars to being all you can be: finance, self-sufficiency and enjoyment. And all of them are crucial to being a well-rounded person.

Finance is an important pillar, because it represents the resources that we cannot handle on our own. In Part IV I will discuss the ways in which we can handle as much work as possible, but it’s important to remember that there is a limit to how much we can do from scratch. It’s the whole reason we needed an economy to begin with!

However finance is not just about earning money. Finance is, at its core, about a trade of skills, where you swap what you’re good at for what someone else is good at. Here are a few ways of fulfilling the financial side of your person:

1: Getting a job. The easiest way. Here you swap your skills for money, which you then swap for someone else’s skills. The exchange is distant, but it’s the easiest way of predetermining the value of your work and making sure you have covered all your needs.

2: Swapping skills. A bit more ambiguous, but works in small communities. You bake bread for the neighbour, she weeds your garden. A simple trade.

3: Saving money. If making money isn’t your forte, then saving money is a good way of increasing your resources. This will be explored more in the next part, but in principle whenever you manage to haggle a price down, so something yourself or locate a cheaper version, you have generated wealth.

4: Enabling an earner. This is the way well to do housewives have traditionally generated wealth. It is a mash up of getting a job and swapping skills. You use your skills at home so that the earner does not have to do anything when they get back, allowing them to work to the fullest and make more money when outside.

All of these practices generate wealth by exchanging your abilities with someone else’s, making it easier to get someone else to do those jobs which you cannot do, such as make lightbulbs or treat your infected cut.

Next week we will address the ways in which we can develop our Self-Sufficiency, to become all we can be!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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10 Reasons You’re Told To Avoid Unmonetized Work.

Many people are unhappy to do unmonetized work. And that’s fine. It’s your choice to only do work you’re paid for and to pay others to do your unpaid work. But some people definitely get defensive and even hostile when you mention your own decision to do unmonetized work.

Whether you’re a home-maker or a community gardener, whether you’re making your own bread or building your own furniture, someone always emerges with a critical eye. Often they just feel the need to counter your points with comments about how they couldn’t possibly do unmonetized work. But sometimes when you defend your choices the critics become hostile. It becomes clear that they’re for some reason unhappy with the fact you’re doing something for yourself.

Which, on the surface, isn’t very sensible. After all, if you don’t care when they hire a gardener or buy a pie, why should they care when you trim the hedge or bake a pie?

Well here are ten reasons why various types of person may feel insulted, cheated or ostracized by your choice to be self-sufficient.

1: Greed.

The biggest one is a personal demon.

Some people are simply too greedy to do anything for free. They can’t see why anyone would or should do anything for free.

These people, deep down, see some benefits from self-sufficiency and know they have some time to put into unmonetized work. But they don’t want to.

And when they see someone work for free, it touches on a negative aspect of their own mentality. So they have to make you doubt yourself, make you admit that for them it would be impossible, anything to justify their own greed.

2: Import, value and sales taxes.

Governments have a vested interest in you not making anything on your own. When you start with simple goods the tax you pay on them is minimal. The real tax money is in luxuries.

When you make your own wine from foraged fruits, the government has no tax power over your drinks, they make no money on them. They would much rather you bought a bottle of wine at the store.

3: Power thirst.

Some people have an amount of control over you through the services they offer.

If the person presenting the critique is asking you to hire them, offering their services for cheap or for free, anything to stop you from doing the job yourself… then they enjoy having power over you.

4: Rat race.

For many everyday people, the concept of the rat race is a sort of comfort. The idea that everyone from the bottom to the top of the 99% is trapped. Nobody has a choice. Taxes are inevitable. You have no way out, even past retirement.

It can trigger a sort of envy and anxiety for some when they see that you can do your own work for free and cut costs that way.

5: Neediness and loneliness.

Similar to the power-hungry, the needy and lonely fear losing you. But they aren’t trying to manipulate you or control you. They simply fear that by changing your habits you are adopting a culture that’s too different to theirs.

These people want reassurance that they will be a part of your life even if you stop shopping for clothes and spend your evenings baking pies.

6: Products to sell.

Obviously, anyone with a finished product to sell doesn’t want you to make your own.

If someone is telling you about the dangers of home-canning or gardening, trying to dissuade you from cooking from scratch or ironing at home, then ask yourself whether they are selling the product you were trying to make.

7: Income taxes.

Of course, another way the government benefits from monetized work is income tax. When you earn money, you pay taxes on it. When you use that money to hire someone, they pay taxes on it. But if you do the work yourself then to tax money is paid on it.

8: Retirement.

Some friends and family may have concern for you if you choose to do unmonetized work. Whether it’s your only work or you also have another job, the fact that you’re dedicating hours to work that doesn’t involve money can make some people concerned for your retirement plans.

Sometimes this comes from a selfish place: they do not want to care for you. But often it just comes from confusion and concern.

9: Welfare.

If you’re doing unmonetized work then welfare becomes a hot topic.

On the one hand, if you’re not on welfare some people come to believe you are entitled to it and believe welfare would be a better option than self-sufficiency.

On the other hand, if you receive any welfare at all, other people will insist that you should spend your time working for money instead.

10: Crab bucket.

Ultimately, if you do unmonetized work you can’t be doing anything right.

We live in a culture where we are encouraged to use and consume, to earn and to spend. By stepping out of the money cycle in any aspect of your life you are defying our culture, our society.

And nobody wants their friends, their subordinates, their family or their coworkers to belong to a different society than them. Be it because of their job, their ideology or their personal demons, there are many crabs in the bucket that want to pull you back.

It’s up to you to decide what you will do.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

First Main Earner Review.

Fortunately, Jon, being awesome, walked out of one job, into a few interviews, and into another job. He is getting along with everyone and enjoying it, even though the hours are very heavy, and we’re actually making the most of our time together. Plus, the take-home salary is better, so score all round.

But I still had a week of serious earning attempts and a month ahead of me where I need to cover for him until the paycheck comes through. Here are my thoughts so far.

1: I am absolutely no good with stress. Just like with moving house for the first time, A-levels, uni exams and the likes, this level of stress killed me. I’m feeling a lot better now I know that our earnings and savings are secure, even though I’m working just as much and earning just as much as when I was stressed.

2: I actually preferred working full time and housekeeping full time over working full time and splitting housekeeping. I don’t like giving certain responsibilities away and definitely don’t trust anyone to do a good job on my turf. Did he do a good job? Well, reasonable, I suppose… :p

3: Being the main earner didn’t affect my affections much at all. I had a temporary drop in sex drive that returned to normal a day later. No alteration in my feelings towards Jon and, other than the drop, in my desire. If anything, it warmed and excited me to know I was supporting him in his pursuit of better work.

4: That said, I am so relieved he got the job so quickly. He just didn’t seem himself out of work. Happier for getting away from it all, but a little frustrated and worried about unemployment. He seems so much better in himself for being employed again.

5: I can’t not do everything. I couldn’t just sit back and let someone else cook the food, let myself cook slightly worse or easier food or anything of the sort. I had to keep cooking the same variety, quality and quantity of food. I couldn’t skip the hoovering, if anything it needed doing more due to the number of students. I need to do everything in order to feel like I am doing anything at all. For someone who needs no external support to adore myself, my self-esteem is very strongly based on the pettiest things. I am amazing if I am doing everything, I am nothing if I skip or half-do one task.

6: I do things as and when. Lessons may be planned, but dishes, cooking, hoovering, laundry, tidying, sorting, shopping, etc are all done as and when I see them. Being given a schedule confuses me, even if it’s more efficient. I’d rather float about doing this and that then ask my timetable if I’m allowed to hoover yet.

7: When in a position of power or duty, I am happier to hide illness and tide it through than tell anyone. I have felt under the weather once and hurt myself a little once whilst Jon was out of work. Usually I’d tell him right away and be scolded for being a hypochondriac. But when he relied on me I found it better to not mention the illness and only told him about the injury once he was comfortable in his new job.

8: As I get stressed and tired, my speech degrades. I will say things I don’t mean, use the wrong word or even forget to finish sentences. Unsure if this is a function of being an introvert in a very social, word-based job or whether it’s just how I respond to stress. We had a few misunderstandings where I didn’t finish sentences and assumed I had or phrased something very poorly and even missed words. Fortunately Jon noticed I wasn’t speaking normally and just asked me to clarify, rather than getting angry about it or acting on something that didn’t sound quite right. I’m back to normal now I am doing more writing work, through.

9: My crafts are suffering more now that I’m under less pressure. Funny how that works. Maybe I’m just relaxing?

Anyway, those are my observations from being the main earner in practice for a few weeks and in earnest for one. Now that we have seen how well I can do, my responsibilities as the secondary earner are a little higher, but to be honest I’m feeling good about that.

As a secondary note, we may take the luxury of me earning for another year or two before going on to have children. We have to reassess soon. If we choose to go ahead or are still undecided, we’ll probably get the marriage certs done this March, just to be safe.

I’ll keep you updated on how I do as the secondary earner, 3/4 time, rather than part or full.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

Not quite back to normal. Becoming the main earner.

Well, I’m finally back to blogging after the holidays, but hardly back to normal. Which is because I’m going from post holiday cleanup and crazy earning to becoming the breadwinner. Yes, I’m still me. No, I haven’t gone crazy. Yes, I want to still work towards housekeeping and children. And no, I’m not doing this because I desperately wanted to prove a point of some sort.

The fact of the matter is, Jon didn’t particularly like his previous job and I didn’t particularly like seeing what it did to him. He’s retrained, but there will be an earning gap between leaving the bad job and building the good one. We have enough money to live off for several months without earning a penny, but I hate spending savings and we were thinking of using some of that to afford me a maternity leave of sorts after I’ve had the first baby.

So, instead, I will be bringing the money home to support us and not touch our savings at all.

As someone who is self-employed as a tutor, I am going to set about this a little differently to most people. I can’t just take a paycheck for granted. I have in-person tutoring work which will still take up some of my time, but as it doesn’t pay as well I will be reorganizing my students to the mornings. Instead, I will prioritize online tutoring of American, Japanese and Chinese students, which pays better, but involves afternoon and evening work. I will also, in my spare time, continue writing essays, novels, children’s books and the likes, as well as translating for several companies on my books. I will try my hardest to not turn down any work at all.

Jon has offered to help with some of the more menial housework, like washing up, laundry and the likes. However as the end goal is to get him back to where he was, and not to make me the main earner full time, his work takes priority. If we miss out on an afternoon’s earnings because the cooking and hoovering needed doing and he was at a shift, then the fact he’s getting back into work matters more than thirty or fifty pounds.

And we know this is going to be tough. Even in relationships where the woman wants to earn and the man wants to keep house, relationship breakdown can happen after they switch roles. It’s a change of dynamic that just doesn’t feel right to many people.

We do, however, have some fundamental advantages over people who start this expecting to lie back and enjoy the benefits. For example, we both know what we want and what each other wants.

I don’t want to be the main earner. I want to be in charge of things I’m more comfortable doing, bring home the fun money with little obligation besides my minimal £50/week, settle into saving his earnings and having babies and animals.

He doesn’t want to be my dependent. He wants to be in charge of thing’s he’s more comfortable doing, bring home the bread and know where everything is coming from, come home to an orderly house, a good meal and a loving family.

And knowing this helps. Knowing that we both desire to return to the old way ASAP makes it easier. There are no fears that I will decide I want to work and not have children, or that he will decide I earn enough and become a house-husband. Because our desires are out in the open. We like what we’ve done until now and we can’t wait until we get back to it.

On the other hand, not worrying about each other has also made us aware of our and each other’s vulnerabilities. Which isn’t actually a bad thing.

I have never 100% supported myself. I probably could, but I never wanted, had or managed to. From parents, to benefits, to student loans, to Jon, I have always had something I can rely on, a background income that supports me and that I can fall back on if I mess up. Not so here. I must reliably bring in £900/month at least to support us. Which isn’t so awful, but is very scary as a first-time situation, especially as I am going from being supported to doing the supporting.

Jon hasn’t been unemployed since he was 14. He always had the opportunity to choose parental care, benefits and loans over his own blood, sweat and tears, but he never wanted it. He did his very best to rely on as few people as possible. And for the first time in a decade and a half, he is having to rely on someone for financial support. He has to trust me to bring money home without a guaranteed paycheck, to cover our basics and hand him the money he needs without causing a fuss.

We are both going from the known into the unknown, and however much anyone else has worked or not worked, no matter how much our situation is anyone else’s everyday, we are making ourselves vulnerable by walking into an unfamiliar situation.

And all of this makes trust absolutely implicit. You can’t do this without trust. And not the “Sups told me online that trust is vital to financial wellbeing, so you have to just trust me” kind. I mean the actual, observable kind. Think back to when you did that “trust fall” game in school, scouts or even at work. If someone dropped you, caught you and dropped you or refused to let you catch them, people became distant towards them. In principle, it was more of an empathy test than a teamwork test, but the results hold true for anyone. If you fell and someone didn’t catch you, why are you going to throw yourself down when they’re the only one who can break your fall?

We had an incident that briefly scared Jon. I am paranoid about money. Won’t spend a penny if no money’s going in, work on budgeting to save fractions of costs, will deprive myself of things I want if it involves using a card or breaking a large note, won’t trust myself with credit or loans. Paranoid. I’m a person who saves two grand a year on welfare and one grand over Christmas. Which is why I’m writing a money-saving book. But also why I hesitated when it was my turn to get £70 out of the bank to replenish the at-home cash funds. Just for a moment. Just because I hadn’t worked much over the holidays and was wondering how the account was holding up, whether all the students had paid, etc. And he was scared. Because, no matter how normal it is for me to hesitate at the idea of breaking into my account, he was already in a state of concern and he can’t read my mind to divine what the hesitation was. At that moment I, as the soon-to-be-primary-earner was refusing him, in a position of vulnerability, the resources he needed. And that worried him. He was falling and didn’t see how I could catch him. After talking it through, we went to check my account to make sure the money was still doing fine and to get out the notes we needed. Once I had seen the amount, told him how much it had gone up by thanks to December payments and given him the notes, it was on the mend. He had fallen and I had caught him. But that is the sort of trust this requires. Not just promises or hugs: hard, physical evidence of trust in each other.

With all that in mind, am I worried? Absolutely, even if a lot less than when we first discussed this. I’d be crazy if I wasn’t. I feel like when I first moved house. “I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m going to mess this up. I need an adult!” But it’ll work out. And at least we know what the hurdles will be when we come to them.

In order to make sure we do well, my goals are:

-make £900/month minimum

-keep the house in order when Jon’s busy

-keep patient with Jon, even if both of us are feeling insecure and neither of us can offer the other proper support at times

-remind myself this is temporary and keep focused on when we’ll be back to normal and able to relax again

Anyway, due to all this the blogging may be hit and miss, but I’ll try my hardest to keep it, like the housework and general socializing, at least at a normal level.

Here’s to a busy New Year and semi-frequent updates on how I do as the main earner!