Monday, October 02, 2017

Beyond Wealth

Without sounding like a completely spoiled, arrogant asshole, the largest hurdle I face in my life is what I like to call "The Impossible Trifecta."  This "Impossible Trifecta" includes an individual who;

1.  Has the time
2.  Has the money
3.  Has the stamina

to keep up with me.

Nobody to date does.

And at best, people have at most two out of the three. 

You have an old man who is retired, has the time, has the money, but doesn't have the stamina to ride motorcycles across the Alaska highway.

You have a young lady who has the stamina and the money, but doesn't have the time to take off from work to go on a three week western adventure.

Or you have a young man who has the stamina and the time, but is unemployed and thus cannot afford to make it west of the Mississippi. 

Only VERY rarely do I cross paths with a like-minded and equally-abled digital nomad soul, and usually it's atop mountain tops or in the remote hinterlands of Moab. 

But during my latest adventure across the American West I had an epiphany.  And it is one that is of ultimate importance for it defines what every man and woman should be aiming for in life.  And not only is it what we should be aiming for, it debunks what society, the school system, and media have brainwashed us into think it should be. 

"Post wealth."

"Wealth" or (in simpler terms) enough money to satisfy all our Earthly desires, needs, and wants has been every human's key life pursuit since time immemorial.  Our immediate goal in life is to sustain our own lives, immediately followed by further securing our future lives through the amassing of enough wealth we no longer need to work.  This goal of being "independently wealth" or in more modern parlance "fuck you money" has been at the foremost goal of every human in history.  Historically, this has been a challenge where 99.999% of the humans have failed, working till death, dying penniless, or perhaps even dying in debt.  It was only a rare occasion, reserved for kings, warlords, and modern day entrepreneurs, where enough wealth was amassed where you would be "set for life" and could then truly enjoy life, free of work, toil, and labor. 

But today, especially for smart people who know the benefits of frugality, spartan living and minimalism, modern technology and advances in capitalism have made it so most people needn't become "millionaires" to achieve the nirvana of "independent wealth."  Food, for instance, is effectively free, whereas in the past hunger was the number one scourge that plagued humanity.  Clothing, which until the 1950's consumed nearly 20% of a household budget, is free (especially for un-choosy bachelors) who are willing to shop at Wal-Mart of Goodwill.  Fuel and transportation is increasingly becoming moot, especially if your profession is digital/online.  And unless you insist on living in a McMansion to keep up with the Jonses, a small studio apartment, or even a cheap flat in Cambodia, is more than adequate a place to rest your head and house some key belongings.  In other words, the goal of humanity is easily within reach of those willing to major in the right subject, spend within their means, not have children they can't afford and otherwise just plain simply "not fuck up."

The problem is - tell the rest of society that.

While regular readers of this site are already familiar with the benefits of frugality and minimalism, the majority of people, western civilization or not, are completely and hopelessly brainwashed to think "wealth" means billionaire like status with bling, bitches, yachts, and Lamborghini's.  Be it the dude bro frat boy who dedicates his life to becoming an analyst at Wall Street, or the Silicon Valley Virgin who gets his $150,000 a year job at Facebook, the inner city black girl who blows her check on weaves and brand name jeans, or even the desperate middle aged bankers who lease vehicles to maintain the Winnetka/American Beauty lifestyle facade, all of them think "wealthy" is at least 10 million dollars in the bank, if not a billion, all defined by the luxury items media and marketing has told them is the epitome of "wealthy.".  And thus they dedicate their entire lives to get this "faux wealth," whether they can successfully amass the money to afford said luxuries, or cheat by borrowing the money to make it look like they can.

But while my regular readers are smarter than the average bear, there is a trap set forth in this pursuit of wealth and "fuck you money."  Not that you guys would waste your wealth on sports cars or unnecessary McMansions, but the means by which one attains wealth, independence, and true freedom - entrepreneurship - can lead to a ruinous life even if your entrepreneurial venture is successful.  And it is here the important lesson of looking "beyond wealth" lies.

Take, for example, three people.

One, Marissa Mayer, the formerly disgraced CEO of Yahoo.
Two, a colleague of mine who runs a "real" company.
And three, the ole humble Captain himself.

Marissa Mayer is 100%, completely successful and wealthy.  She got a $186 million bailout for her retirement package when Verizon mercifully ended Yahoo's existence through an acquisition.  You would think that with a new child and enough money to last her EASILY till her death she would retire forever and spend the time with her family, eating caviar all along the way. 


She has been successfully brainwashed to value work, labor, toil, and her career more than her own life and her own child.  She can't want to get back to working as a CEO.  Admittedly, she isn't an entrepreneur, but for those of you who are going to go the "loyal corporate man" route, hoping to amass your fuck you fund through a hard-working corporate career, remember you inevitably have to LEAVE THE CAREER.  If (for whatever insane reason) I wanted to invite Ms. Mayer out on a month long Cappy-Motorcycle-Extravaganza, she easily has the money and stamina, but she simply does not have the time.  She's too busy with her career to go an actually enjoy life, let alone raise her own child.

Then there is my colleague who runs a real company. 

This company is real in that it has employees, payroll, divisions, assets, depreciation schedules, marketing departments and legal departments.  It is a complex, complicated machine, that when ran correctly, results in handsome profits for my friend. 

The problem is, though self-employed, my buddy has no free time whatsoever. 

In the company having so many moving parts it is as complicated, and thus prone to breaking down, as a Tiger Tank.  If it's not accounts payable, it's accounts receivable.  If it's not insurance, its regulation.  If it's not an employee, it's a piece of machinery.  And if it's not a break in the supply chain, it's a legal issue.  My friend does not manage the company as much as he does put out fires and deal with problems.  It's not only mentally taxing, but he has no free time, nor energy to go out and participate in said theoretical "Cappy Cap's American West Motorcycle Hiking Adventuring Extravaganza."

Then there's the ole Captain himself. 

My business model is very simple - a man and his laptop.

I have no employees.
I have no accounts receivable.
I have no divisions or legal departments.
I just have products I sell and consulting I offer, and an Amazon Affiliate program if you care to make some purchases.

My entrepreneurial venture is not only as simple as a P-51 Mustang, it's mobile, versatile, and allows me to work from anywhere.  And while admittedly a fair amount of this was not by design, but unintentional, it doesn't mean I don't appreciate or realize the incredible benefits of its simplicity. 

So yes, I do not make the millions my friend does.
And yes, I do not have the millions Marissa Mayer does.
But bar an unexpectedly short life expectancy, I am going to live the same 79 years they are going to, but with a fraction of my life wasted at work.

And this is the key point of looking beyond wealth.

Once you have food, clothing, and shelter covered, the primary focus of your life should be freedom.  Specifically, maximizing the amount of free time you have to yourself, allowing you to live the maximum amount of your time on this planet the way you want. 

You should not be a mentally deranged Marissa Mayer, Hillary Clinton, or Cheryl Sandberg dedicating your life to an office, a commute, a position, an MBA, or work.

You should not be my friend, held hostage by an overly complicated entrepreneurial venture.

You should be a minimalist, with a simple, though reliable source of income that can be done from anywhere, permitting you the freedom and budget to pull off "The Impossible Trifecta."  And your biggest problem should be finding people you can enjoy in life, who you'd like to come tag along in your own adventures in life.

The key is when choosing an entrepreneurial venture is to ensure it pays enough, but is also versatile enough that it allows you to enjoy life "beyond wealth."  Because whether you have $1 million or $10 billion, it won't matter if you're stuck in an office and can't join "Cappy's Drunk Rowdy Motorcycling Hiking Brigade Vegas Extravaganza 2018," make paper airplanes with your kid, or bang your hot wife while watching Spaghetti Westerns.

Aaron Clarey is an economist and author.  You should buy his books.  You should also consult him if you have any questions.  And you should tune into his podcast to hear him rant and rave.


Meistergedanken said...

"One, Marissa Mayer, the formerly disgraced CEO of Yahoo"

Wait, you mean she's not disgraced anymore?
I think you meant to say:
"Marissa Mayer, the disgraced former CEO of Yahoo"

(I know you won't think this pedantic 'cuz you have high standards!)

Bill Greenwood said...

Some people find a great middle ground. I started out working for a manufacturer of downhole pumps. By the time Jim was in his late 40's, he was spending 3 months per year in Palm Springs. In the summer time, when he was back here in Red Deer, he had a mid-morning tee-time several days a week. He came to work at 7, teed off at 10 or 11, and back to work in the afternoon. In his 50's, he was spending 4-6 months in Palm Springs, and routinely golfed 27 holes a day.
He had very good managers, paid them well, gave them the room to do their jobs well, and expected them to do so.

Ofay Cat said...

I like that piece. I have been living ... to some extent ... the preferred lifestyle of not working too much. I did at times but didn't let it become the norm.

In my case, I worked as a professional musician for many years, then morphed into. band instrument repair tech with a small home-based business that grossed about a 100K a year. Yet, half of the year I worked only part-time.

I ride motorcyles, but at my age, the stamina is gonzo. I do have 'enough money and lots of free time. I am semi-minimalist ... I do live in a nice house but I paid it off 15 years ago.

The focus of my life has been about freedom. Freedom to do what I like to do and go where I wish to go. I have lived semi frugally, in that, I never used credit for anything other than a brief mortgage. I saved money every month until there was enough.

Like you, I marvel at the conditioning most people have undergone without question. We will eventually become the Borg.

Neal said...

Another good post. Would have missed it if you put it your videos or podcasts. I think there's a non-small group of blog readers like me who prefer written content where we can use speed reading techniques. Getting useful info out of video and podcasts is reeeeaaally slow. Here's a no cost suggestion for transcription,

I know you don't mind discomfort. When you're in Vancouver, check out the Grouse Grind. We thought we were saving $10 on the tram ride. We didn't know the suckiness that lay ahead.

Anonymous said...

What will your legacy be after your 79 years? Do you live your life leaving only footprints or is there some way you have made the world better for being in it? I have a wife three children and an extended family of a few more friends and their children. I am not sure I woke up to the debt cycle early enough to escape, but I damn well am trying to ensure the children have an opportunity to do so...

Tucanae Services said...

A nice piece, just realize that everyone goals are different. For some the toil IS their essence. Capn you should read 'The Wanderer' by Sterling Hayden (the actor). His two points on life --

The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?
-- Sterling Hayden

What does a man need - really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in - and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all - in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.
-- Sterling Hayden

All the more remarkable as the man was talking of the 1950's a period we today consider a 'simplier time'.

Anonymous said...

I just discovered this blog. Funny, because I just listened to your podcast making fun of the whoring adjunct. Well, I'm a whore myself (although I actually love my choice and have chosen it with eyes wide open, instead of being forced into by poor economic choices) and for the first time in my life I have a work-life-balance that most people only dream of... I comfortably make six figures working part time while being able to take off more than 12 weeks a year and travel, while also being able to return to school and save some leftover. However, this is obviously not sustainable over the long term as I age, although if possible I'd like to take advantage of it as much as possible. Just wanted to say interesting blog.

Starrman said...

Oh Captain, my captain,

Shall you refrain from stoking my ire?

A two wheeled traveler as well I am and I can.
I fritter and tatter on my Triumph Tiger I scatter,
to experience the wind and benzene drip.

Cheers on your journeys as I lurk in the crannies
in spite of your writing hootenannys.

I shall peer in your mirror if you appear
broadside a bear, I do declare.

Shall I close, such a cliché
Oh so French and apropos.


Capital of Texas Refugee said...

"... held hostage by an overly complicated entrepreneurial venture."

I know some guys who pay gals real money for that kind of thing.

Joana said...

Are you sure your friend is less happy than you are? I'm not sure if the other people you mentioned are staying in it for the wealth.

For the CEO lady, she might get more happiness from being in charge, having people follow her every whim and kiss her ass than she would from freedom and driving a motorcycle. Also, there are people out there who solve logical puzzles for fun, so I can imagine that putting out fires can also be quite entertaining to some. I get that you would be less happy if you had their lives, but why are you sure that they would be happier if they had yours?

They could switch to your way of life if they wanted to, brainwashing is a possible explanation for why they don't do it, but I doubt it's the only explanation.

heresolong said...

A couple thoughts:

People have to make your stuff. Someone has to make that motorcycle, that computer, that internet. Those people are going to be tied down to a greater degree than you.

I have chosen a slightly different path. I am a teacher (gasp, but a libertarian math teacher who holds his students to high standards) and I was, in a previous career incarnation, lead technician at a Harley dealership. I made crap money then, I make decent money now, AND I work part time at my own business fixing motorcycles which provides me with decent extra income if I don't mind working long hours in the spring while teaching and working on bikes.

Relevance? I have time (summers off from teaching), money (extra job), and stamina (I'm in my early 50s and have, in the past ten years; ridden to Niagara Falls from Washington state, camping the whole way; ridden to and hiked in Colorado, then ridden down to San Diego to take a Calculus class before riding home; and ridden from Albuquerque to Twin Falls, Idaho in one day, just because I had nothing better to do and was headed back to the Pacific NW.

So we do exist but it takes some serious lifestyle choices in order to be able to do it. Don't have kids or have them be graduated and out; have a job that allows you to take significant time off; and stay in shape (and don't get unlucky in health). Its going to be a limited pool no matter how you look at it.

heresolong said...

Neal. Nice to see someone else in the area who is a Cappy fan. I grew up in Vancouver but live in Blaine, just across the border. Haven't done the Grouse Grind (it wasn't a thing when I was growing up) but it actually sounds fun. I need to do a little more hiking to get the "climbing" muscles built up as I am a runner, weight lifter, and martial artist (when not sitting sedentarily on my motorcycle, assuming that it a word. Spellcheck doesn't want me to use it but then spellcheck doesn't want me to use the word "spellcheck").

adonis said...

How many years will it take for you fagotcube morons to figure out that you can't have a single life philosophy for every lifeform in the universe?

The vast majority of homo sapiens DO NOT LIKE YOUR LIFESTYLE. Even many of those who say they do, wouldn't be able to bear it if they somehow attained it.

As long as you are giving advice that's supposed to apply to EVERYONE, you are not giving very good advice.

Read some philosophy and wake up: