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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5 Things I Did For Money In September.

I know I mention my work a bit here and there, and I do think that stay at home partners should try and boost their incomes. So to give a clearer picture of how I make my money, where it all comes from and how little you need to get started on most of it, here’s September’s breakdown:

1: I wrote four ebooks on demand.

The task: 4x 5-20k ebooks for different clients.

Time involved: around four hours average per book, not counting uninvolved time.

Payment: $50 per book, total $200.

The ease: I find writing comes easily to me and most books are simple to write.

The difficulties: Dealing with new buyers and weird specifications, on top of deadlines, can be too much.

2: I tutored ten students.

The task: 10 students needing on average 5h of tuition over the month plus homework.

Time involved: fifty hours active tutoring, around five planning and working on homework.

Payment: £10-25 per hour, total £700.

The ease: For me tutoring is entirely easy now I have the luxury of declining student’s I’m not perfectly suited for.

The difficulties: You need a skill to start with, and from there you need to cope with many awkward students before you can afford to focus on the good ones.

3: I reviewed fifty products, services and ebooks.

The task: 50 genuine reviews of real products.

Time involved: 8min trial time, 1min review time average. Total 7.5 hours.

Payment: $4 per review, total $200, plus freebies.

The ease: Very easy and most of the things I review (pet products, books, medical supplies) are things I want anyway.

The difficulties: You need to find people willing to pay for a review and know on which sites it’s legal and on which it isn’t.

4: I proofread five books and various documents.

The task: proofread various texts and documents for clients.

Time involved: about ten hours total.

Payment: $200 total.

The ease: Anyone could do it as long as you speak the language and aren’t dyslexic.

The difficulties: Reasonably hard, actually. You need to be fully focused in order to alter spelling, grammar and reading ease of the text.

5: I recorded ten video reviews and messages.

The task: 10 videos for various clients showing off their products or delivering a message.

Time involved: around 5min prep time plus the video length, totaling around 2h total.

Payment: £10 per video, total £100, plus, freebies again.

The ease: The easy part is doing the actual video.

The difficulties: The hard part is getting the work and getting it ready. 10 videos a month isn’t exactly an income on its own.

Total hours invested: 90h 30min.

Hours per week: 22h 30min. (56% of full time hours.)

Total earnings: £1100. (100% of minimum wage, 50% of national average.)

Earnings per week: £275.

Earnings per hour: £12.15.

So basically by being smart with what I do, investing more hours in my high-payers and cash-in-hand money and working entirely from home, I can bring in a full-time minimum wage salary and still have 17.5 standard working hours left to keep the house in order, blog, train our puppy, write my own books and unwind.

If you’re interested in giving it a go yourself, here are six jobs to do from home and an idea of how to get started.

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!

6 Jobs To Do From Home.

With how much I go on about traditional roles and their benefit to couples, women and men, some may think I don’t support the idea of women working. However I do think women should work. Firstly because avoiding hard graft isn’t a good indicator of character. Secondly because everyone needs hobbies. Thirdly because in this economy both partners need to make and save money together. Fourthly because it offers you some independence in case your partner loses his job, passes away or, yes it is a possibility, leaves. In short, work is good. But not all work is created equal. I also believe most women are better off and happier in traditional roles, away from the stress and drudgery of office-life, looking after their children and their homes. Someone needs to make sure the food is made, the house is clean and tidy, the laundry is done and the cupboards are stocked. And how do I propose reconciling the two angles? By working from home, of course.

These are six jobs that you can do from home whilst still maintaining a home. They will be rated on time investment, startup cost and space needed. All of them can pay very well if you make good choices, use your time wisely and advertise far and wide. So pick one and stick with it, give them all a go or try them all at once and discontinue the least rewarding.

1.- eBay.

Many people think of eBay as either for people who want to sell old rubbish, people who want to buy something or people who have warehouses full of goods. But the simple reality is that you can start an eBay shop with an empty drawer or cabinet, a few hundred to spare, a local post office and a computer.

Time invested:

Wholly depends on how much you sell and how far you are from the post-office. Expect to make two trips a week to post items if you’re successful. Packing takes five minutes per item at the very most, but put time aside at the end of every day to pack anything you sold.

Money invested:

Depends on what you’re going to sell. However I would suggest that, to make it worthwhile, you will want to be investing at least £300 for your “starter” items. That might mean 300 items you buy at £1 and sell at £3 + P&P or 3 items you buy at £100 and sell at £150 + P&P. Therefore, good research is important.

Space needed:

This will grow as you do, but a drawer, cupboard or even a box is fine for storing your items. Maybe a corner of the room or a chair could be repurposed as a packing centre where everything is kept in easy-reach. If your business grows, you will likely expand into a room.

You will need:

-Something to sell.

-Somewhere to store it.

-Packing materials in the right sizes.

-A computer with a seller eBay account.

Things to be aware of:

-Choose a market you know well and research every item before buying it. Investing too much in a loss can seriously hit you when starting up.

-It will take 10 good reviews before your account is trusted by most buyers. It starts slow and steady and builds up from there, so always provide the best service possible.

-Make sure you get proof of postage or tracking on every item you send, to prevent false claims from would-be thieves.

-Only sell as much as you can handle. If you’re struggling when you have 200 items up at a time, don’t add another 100.

Possible returns:

This is a standard two months of selling on eBay. I have five to ten items up at a time, each worth £10-60. Many will sell within a week of posting, most will sell by the end of the 60 days.

Six jobs you can do from home.

2.- Tutor.

Private tutoring isn’t the scary monster a lot of people think it is. You do need a nice room to tutor from and a tidy, sorted house to welcome people into. Or a car so you can travel to students. You also need to know the subject you’re teaching and know it inside and out. But besides that, it isn’t that hard. I managed as an overworked A-level student without connections, so I’m pretty confident when I say that just about anyone could do it.

Time invested:

One hour minimum per lesson, plus fifteen minutes preparation for the first hour and an additional ten minutes for every subsequent hour, plus fifteen to thirty minutes homework prep where relevant. So if you have one student who has two hours a week, that is 135 to 165 minutes of your time.

Money invested:

Most of the financial investment is startup. You will need to make sure you have a computer you can always access, which may involve buying a new computer, for instance. A couple of hundred pounds to remodel the room a little, get some extra furniture and stock up on “school supplies” would be needed. Then from there you only need to pay for the materials your students use and for renewing advertisements.

Space needed:

If you will tutor from your home, you will need a room that is quiet, inviting and well-equipped. This could be your living room if you don’t have kids and your partner is at work, but you will likely need a second room. If you tutor only as outcalls, then you just need space to store your materials. If you tutor only online, then you need a quiet room and little else.

You will need:

-A computer you can always access.

-Relevant books and resources.

-Accounts on various tutoring sites.

-Advertisements on free websites, paid websites and local newspapers.

-All relevant materials.

-A Disclosure of Barred Services if you plan on working with children.

Things to be aware of:

-Many parents will want to sit-in on the first few lessons.

-You can learn as you go along, but practising on friends and relatives first will help a lot.

-Your students will expect your home to be at a good temperature, pleasant-smelling, dustless and organized.

-You will need to adapt your language for every student and deal with people that you may find frustrating or annoying.

-Don’t take on a student you don’t think you can handle.

Possible returns:

Depends on the hours you work, but £6-25/hour is the usual range. Think £6 for something more people could offer, like knitting lessons, to £25 for something fewer people offer, like Mandarin Chinese lessons. You will have to charge around the same as others in your area and often you will charge less for classes at your home than you will for classes outside it.

3.- Housework.

We don’t tend to think of housework as something we can make money for at home. But many people are prepared to outsource some very simple tasks, so it could be worthwhile trying to do their work for some extra money! You could offer a laundry service, a meal prep service, shopping collection or even a firewood preparing service.

Time invested:

Completely dependent on your workload, but not a lot. The customers will drop off their laundry at your home, for example, or you can get ingredients and logs for your customers when you get your own. If you’re doing your own laundry, then put theirs through too. Do their ironing after yours. Collect their shopping when you’re in town. Cook all the meals in a couple of large pots, ready.

Money invested:

The cost of some extra detergent, electricity or ingredients.

Space needed:

No more than if you were doing the job on your own. Though if you’re looking at cooking you may need to upgrade your kitchen and get certified, depending on where you live!

You will need:

-Advertisements on free advertisement sites and in local newspapers.

-Any certification required by law in your area.

Things to be aware of:

-This will need to be something you already do to make it worth your time.

-Your reputation and reviews will be 100% based on customer satisfaction, there is no room to argue your case if you upset a customer.

-It could interfere with your life if you take on too much work.

Possible returns:

Not much, you’ll probably get £5-8 for every hour of work, but it’s extra money for minimal effort.

4.- Care.

Whether it’s pets, children, elderly or disabled relatives or just houseplants, almost everyone has something they need to care for in their lives. But people go on holidays, get ill and have overtime at work. So the care industries are an excellent place to make a little bit of money on the side.

Time invested:

Travel time and however many hours you’re accepting. You could only accept people within half an hour of your home, for example. Or only accept people who want care that is four times the travel time, for example someone who lives 45 minutes away but wants three hours of care.

Money invested:

Depends on the care. Often with pet-sitting and plant-sitting you will be left with the necessary food and care products. However with daycare you may need to assume you will be feeding the children. You will also need to adapt your house to make sure you can properly care for whoever you will care for. For example, you can’t take over elderly or disabled care for anyone if your spare room is up two flights of stairs.

Space needed:

A spare room for whoever you’re caring for. Be it a few dogs, some hens, some potted plants or a teenager, you will need a place for them to sleep, eat and get some privacy.

You will need:

-The time to travel to other people’s homes for care.

-The space to put-up however many people, pets or plants you will care for.

-Experience in a relevant field of care.

-A Disclosure of Barred Services for caring for children or other vulnerable people.

Things to be aware of:

-You may need certification for looking after certain pets or even endangered plants.

-Always investigate anything you’re not sure of and feel free to ask questions. If you’ve kept snakes for years, nobody will worry much if you’re not sure about a certain species.

-Your house will have to be safe, accommodating and roomy enough.

-What people care for may seem odd for you. Someone may love a potted plant more than you love your pets. Someone may want their terrapin to be pampered. If you must turn someone down, do so politely by explaining you’re not sure you could provide their loved one with the care he/she/it deserves.

Possible returns:

The minimum care salary for your area up to £25/h.

5.- Food.

Producing your own food may seem like a smart option, even if you’re space-restricted. But many people don’t realize how easily you can grow a little excess and sell it on. Everything from potatoes, to berries, to eggs, to jams, to cake can be produced in bulk and sold, provided you abide by local restrictions and regulations.

Time invested:

Even if you’re just growing and not processing anything, some time will need to be set aside. For example, if you have fifty rehoused hens that are largely still laying, it may not be enough to collect and box the surplus eggs. You will need to make sure the sizes are either separated (a box of smalls, a box of mediums and a box of larges, for example) or very well mixed (so no box is entirely smalls, for example). You will need to put your signs up. You will need to be hospitable to anyone who shows up asking about eggs and maybe show people the hens. In short, from the moment the sign goes out, you could be busy.

Money invested:

Not much. The cost of extra seeds or a bit of extra feed for some more hens isn’t that high. Just keep growing or producing whatever your land is good for.

Space needed:

Depends how large you want to go. On a medium garden you could probably make space for many vegetable and fruit plants. You could grow herbs and keep rabbits on a tiny patio. You could turn your whole garden over to laying hens. Look at what you have and see what you can do.

You will need:

-A sign to place somewhere fairly busy, with clear directions to your house.

-A sign for outside your house.

-Enough spare food to sell.

Things to be aware of:

-In some places you can only sell fresh produce, in others you need a license to sell certain items. Always check.

-Recommend use-by dates to your customers.

-Keep hygiene spot-on.

Possible returns:

Expect to sell a few baskets of items a day, so keep them priced moderately and it will be easy to get rid of surplus food and start making a profit on your own groceries!

6.- Writing.

This is one people don’t know how to get started on. The easiest way to just start writing immediately and make money is to use a freelance website like fiverr.com. That way you can learn what you’re good at and get ready for more challenging things, like writing ebooks, blogs or novels for publishers.

Time invested:

It takes around half an hour to set up the basics to look right, maybe fifteen minutes to set up each Gig. Advertising isn’t really needed for writing work.

Besides that, however much you want to work. You can expect many people to order many types of text, so consider making a Gig for each of them and then temporarily suspending some when you’re more overworked.

Money invested:

None at all. However bear in mind that all freelance websites will charge a fee and take it out of your earnings.

Space needed:

Somewhere quiet to sit and focus.

You will need:

-A working computer with a good writing program on it.

-A backup hard-drive in case anything happens to your computer.

-A quiet space to work from.

Things to be aware of:

-It’s better to cancel an order than to get overbooked.

-Encourage customers to contact you before ordering.

-Sometimes people will be annoying. If they start acting out, check their page for reviews from sellers. Chances are they’re a first time customer.

Potential earnings:

This is a month of fiverr earnings on the side of my main work, probably an hour a day at the most.

Six jobs you can do from home.And those are six jobs you can do from home with minimal investment in terms of time, money, energy and space. With all of them you largely work your own hours, can cancel and have a few weeks off when you need to or even increase the prices if demand is high. You could do a little of all of them or make one your full-time job.

Got any questions about getting started with any of these? Just ask and I’ll help you out!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What is your work worth?

Everyone is obsessed with women’s work. Whether a man chooses to work, live off welfare or be a house-husband, the main contention is with his personal identity. But every time a woman makes a choice about what work she does, people everywhere must ask what value her work provides her, her family and society. And, seeing as there are many sorts of value, I’d like to briefly explore them, their upsides and their downsides.

The first value is, apparently, the only value work has to most people, especially feminist women. Monetary value. How much cash you can squeeze out of your every drop of sweat. The rewards of this value are fairly obvious. More money means more of everything you can buy with money, which, in our society, is everything. Most people’s jobs provide stable income or even secondary perks, like discounts, health plans and freebies. The cons are often neglected. The first and most obvious one is that most people dislike their jobs. And the sizable minority who don’t actively dislike them don’t really like every aspect of them. The vast majority of people, for example, would not do overtime that had no potential reward, or take work home. The second con is that when put in a job, you are often stuck in one place, doing one thing, from about 8 until about 6. If you account for preparation and travel time, many people spend from 6 until 7, or 13 hours, working. This leaves little room to enjoy the rewards of your money, such as extra time, entertainment sources, better food and better clothes and vehicles. If you sleep 8 hours and work 13, that leaves three hours a day to enjoy your bigger house, nice clothes, meals out, entertainment products and the likes.

Which is fine, if your work provides another value: enjoyment. Enjoyment isn’t easily quantifiable. It can’t really be measured, only compared. But you know your work provides enjoyment when you look forward to it, rarely think about anything else when doing it and wouldn’t rather do anything else. Seeing as most people don’t like their jobs but still need to do them, it’s fairly easy to see the downside to enjoyable work: it doesn’t always pay. The upside is, your time is being well spent. When you tidy your whole garden because you love gardening, it doesn’t matter that you’re not paid to do it, because it has value in and of itself. On the other hand, doing the dishes and accounts are examples of work that we bear a grudge against because it provides no monetary value and no enjoyment.

Between money and enjoyment, we work out our third value: time. This is more accurately described as the monetary value of your time (the value you put into it) versus the money and enjoyment it provides (the value you get out of it). Work will either fall into the valuable: something where your time is adequately compensated or rewarded, or the worthless: something where your time yields no tangible reward. The easiest way of balancing your time value is to look at its monetary value, as enjoyment is very variable. So, if you usually get paid £8/h, that’s your time’s base value. If you need to do an hour of unpaid gardening and you enjoy it, it is worthwhile because you enjoy it. If you are doing an hour of gardening for £8 or more, it is worthwhile even if you don’t enjoy it, because that is what your time is worth. If you are getting less than £8 for your hour of gardening and don’t enjoy it, then the activity is worthless to you. On the other hand, let’s assume the gardening needs doing. If you have to pay £12 for it, then it’s more worth your time to do it yourself, as your work is only worth £8/h. If you have to pay £4 for it, then it’s more worth your time to do your own work and pay for the gardening. You will also need to factor how flexible your time is. If you simply don’t have more than 3h a day free to do things and dislike gardening or just don’t feel like it, then maybe it’s worth paying £12 to get it done, because your leisure is worth that extra £4.

Finding that balance between money and enjoyment, the value of your time, is highly important to understanding the value of your everyday work, be it monetized or not. For example, a waitress on 15k who becomes a kept housewife to a man with a salary over 50k may be looked down upon by more “professional” and “liberated” women. But if she enjoys housework more than waitressing and her quality of life has gone up through extra money and enjoyment, her work is actually very valuable to her. On the other hand, a woman who despises housework and has an earning potential of £25/h may not be quite so happy with that arrangement.

The final factor to your work’s value is whether the rewards are something you use up or a reward that creates another reward. So your basic living expenses are used up. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. But all the money you have left after that has some potential. Your enjoyment, on the other hand, is a fleeting thing, even though the things you enjoy might give you a return later. By carefully investing your money and time into things that will give back later, you improve your quality of life without needing to work longer hours.

Bringing that back to women’s work, let’s, for a moment, imagine the home as a community, or a business. When at work, you don’t look at the secretaries, cleaners or apprentices and think “These guys really aren’t pulling their weight.” or “They would be better off as managers.” You understand that they do their job, their job is necessary and they are not ready and may never be ready to become a manager. Likewise, when asking what value someone’s work adds to their life, their family and society, you need to look at what they are capable of. A woman with education up to GCSEs is not a CEO in the making. Unless she has a particular skill she can and will monetize, her work is worth minimum wage, no more. If the cost of cleaners, convenience food, meals out, childcare, etc would work out as more than her hours times minimum wage, she is actually better off doing these jobs than going out and getting a monetized job to pay someone else to do them.

Similarly, we have all seen the effects of someone working a job they dislike. From unmotivating teachers, to bored friends and relatives, to coworkers who just don’t pull their weight. When someone is doing a job they dislike, not much of it gets done. Therefore, regardless of what a woman is doing, she’s probably doing a far better job of it if she likes it, making her work more valuable.

Finally, most of the debate around women’s work concerns women with families, be they just themselves and their partner, kids or even grandkids. Nobody views a single woman’s choice of work any differently to a single man’s. If she’s on welfare, she’s on welfare, if she works, she works, if she lives off her parents, she lives off her parents. Their opinion is likely to be the same for her as for anyone else in her situation. But when a woman is part of a household her work choices become a matter of some sort of gender-loyalty-war, where it is either her responsibility to stay home all day or her responsibility to get a “proper” job. What she actually contributes to her home and what she gets out of her work is not really the matter of the debate, although this topic is often weaponized to prove points. The real matter of the debate is whether she is being “woman enough” by doing whatever she’s doing. Which is a social argument.

And, to be honest, if the debate boils down to that, I have no idea what value your work adds to society.

What I do know is that if your work covers, saves or pays your earning potential, you are happy and your family is well, then whatever you’re doing is clearly valuable.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

Marriage As A Team.

With the advances of no-fault divorce, women usually being secondary or non-earners, staggered alimony and the assumption of female primary caregiving, it makes sense that a lot of men aren’t really all that interested in marriage. From a purely economic perspective, even if the stats actually show your risk of divorce is well under 50%, there’s still a risk. How many people would put their head into a tame lion’s mouth? It’s still a lion.

However, curiously, women have started to question marriage. At least during the years when we are likely to have a more successful marriage, which is 25-35. Which is odd, considering that we risk very little in marrying and stand to gain so much from either a lifelong marriage or divorce. From a purely objective standpoint, women should at least be ambivalent for men’s sake, at worst be callous supporters. But, as a population, we’re not.

The social demonization of marriage that started in the 60s and 70s is catching up with us. The angry, bitter radicals who called marriage slavery out of one corner of their mouths whilst stalking a man across the globe have finally persuaded most of Western society, men and women alike, that marriage is an evil institution. And they have done so by making it a zero-sum-game.

The basic concept of a zero-sum-game is: someone always wins, someone always loses. In the context of partnerships: one of you will be better off than when you were single and one of you will be worse off than when you were single. And the idea that marriage or long term partnerships are zero-sum-games has infiltrated every corner of our society. Feminists will claim that marriage is anywhere from manipulation to slavery for women, so they must seek to control their relationships carefully. PUAs will claim that marriage and long term relationships are shackles to the minds of men who do not dominate their relationships. Your Joe and Joan Average will work their very hardest to evenly split all their work, incomes, chores and time, so as to guarantee a balance. Everyone is convinced that if you aren’t getting more out than your partner, you’d be better off single.

Which is very scary, considering it undermines one of the main functions of marriage: to grow with each other. The purpose of marriage is to create a mini-community. Which, in our fairly empty, disconnected, callous world, is highly needed as many of us don’t have a larger community anyway. It’s meant to bond two people, get them working in sync so that they both have more than when they started, so they can look after their elders and have and raise healthy, happy children. That was the entire point of marriage.

Therefore, when we try and treat it as a zero-sum-game, as an individual vs individual competition where when you aren’t doing better than them, you’re losing, we aren’t in a marriage. You may have the certificates, but all you’re doing is coexisting, or, worse even, competing.

Instead, when you’re in a long term relationship of any kind, you should be looking at the relationship as the whole and yourselves as the halves. You are not factories, but production units in a little factory. And you should be working on everything you can to keep the factory (your relationship) functional and profitable for both of you. And this becomes quite a cycle. For example, how Jon and I work together to give ourselves a better life:

  1. Jon works full time so he can afford to rent this house. +space
  2. I care for the house so he doesn’t have to. Meaning the house is more worth having and leaving us more together time. +time
  3. I can cook him far better, healthier meals than he could cook himself in the time he used to have, saving us money on snacks and supplements. +money
  4. Because the house is so big, I can use the spare bedroom as an office to tutor from. I can also grow our own food in the garden. +money
  5. Because I work as a private tutor, I can earn £10-25/h, rather than minimum wage of £6.50/h not including travel and expenses. +money
  6. Because I work from home, I work on my own hours. +time
  7. Which means I also can arrange my work day to take advantage of discounts, offers, reduced price foods. +money
  8. Which means his disposable income hasn’t actually dropped much from when he lived in a single room. +money
  9. Which means the need for overtime is reduced. +time

If we both worked full time, split the chores when we got home and only had that little remainder together, we’d have less money, less free time and eventually not be able to afford the space we live in, the quality of food we eat or the entertainment we use. In short, if we acted as individuals, our quality of life would go down. So basically, by working together, as a unit, viewing time together as our main free time, and our assets as shared rather than split, we have both improved our quality of life. He has a larger home, better food, more time with me, more time for leisure activities, more flexibility with work and more money in the bank at the end of the month than when single. I have a larger home, better work prospects, more time with him, more time for leisure activities and more money in the bank at the end of the month than if I were single. We’re in a relationship and by viewing the relationship as the unit and ourselves as component parts: we both win.

So no, long term relationships aren’t a zero-sum-game where there has to be a loser and if you can’t spot the loser, the loser is you. They are a team game where you both work together and use your assets to protect each other’s assets, multiplying the rewards for your work. They are an investment in a partner that, if well -calculated, will pay you back. If you can’t spot the loser, but you’re richer, happier, with more free time and a generally higher standard of life than before: you’re not a loser, you’re playing the game right.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

What is your view on long term relationships? How does your relationship or marriage work? What do you feel your personal investment gives back to you as a couple? Do share!