One of the most heartfelt desires among the populace is the wish to not be tied to the nine-to-five grind. Dissidents are not as effective as they would like to be precisely because they too must spend most of their waking hours attempting to make ends meet, which necessarily requires homage to the Almighty Dollar. If there was a way to gain financial independence from corporatist bosses, then the time and effort that would have been applied towards staying alive would instead be allocated towards doing something actually productive.
Consumerism is a terminal disease ravaging the body politic. It is only possible because of the destructive waste produced by the corporatists, who only operate by virtue of the government privilege granted to them by the statists. The Madison Avenue social engineers have convinced the mainline public that they can fill their empty lives with unnecessary “shopping” and impulse buying. Frugality is the best remedy for what ails American consumers.
Despite some misleading anthropogenic climate change-esqe proclamations, the authors otherwise do a splendid job of deprogramming the reader’s misconceptions about money. They inculcate the true value of what they call “life energy” (which is really just your labor) by both stressing its overriding importance over commercialized garbage and suggesting how to mathematically calculate how much of your “life energy” is being recklessly squandered on shit you don’t need. I must say, the allusions to Fight Club were refreshing, albeit less sexy than beating the hell out of strangers in a dank basement for free.
Achieving Financial Integrity/Intelligence/Independence (FI) is literally a 9 step program. First, you determine your total lifetime earnings thus far, which is essentially the sum total of your gross income from the very first time you were paid to right now; this is followed by calculating your current net worth by creating a balance sheet of all your assets and liabilities (owned property vis-a-vis debts owed). Next, you discover the opportunity costs of actually holding down a JOB (or Just Over Broke) by subtracting what you must pay to keep your JOB from your hourly wage; this reveals your real hourly wage. This is followed by keeping a record of daily expenditures.
The next several steps involve shifting your priorities of what you spend the fruits of your labor on. By creating a monthly table of categorized income and expenses (which is derived from your daily expenditures record), you can track exactly where funds are being spent. Then you convert the cash figures to the earlier computed real hourly wage in order to understand exactly where all the fruits of your labor are being allocated. The fourth step is key to the entire FI venture, since it demands that you be honest with yourself about whether or not particular categorized expenses are actually worth your labor as well as being in line with your values.
Now the Wall Chart comes out. The fifth step requires you to plot on graph paper both the total monthly income and expenses (derived from the monthly tabulation) and place it somewhere you can see it everyday (I would tack it up as you would a poster). Reducing your spending even more by researching value, quality, and durability of goods and services will be reflected on the Wall Chart, as well as by studying those DIY subjects (such as home improvement and auto repair) in order to reduce your need to hire someone to fix something. Stop “making a dying” and start truly making a living by breaking the mental assumptions about what work is and develop the self-confidence necessary to expand your career options.
In the home stretch of the FI program, we now approach the ability to earn dividends from capital investments. Once you have enough savings, you can apply those as capital to invest in various financial vehicles. As soon as your monthly investment income is sufficient to meet your monthly expenses (which is measured on the Wall Chart), you have arrived at the Crossover Point where your JOB becomes optional. The last step in FI is to expand upon your stabilized total monthly investment income by engaging in disintermediation with low-risk, non-speculative, long-term, fixed-income securities that are sufficient to meet your basic needs for the rest of your life.
The only real problem I have with the FI program (aside from the tree-hugging “green” rhetoric, which admittedly in this context stems from a good place since the authors are concerned about the effects of consumerism on the environment) is right at the very end where it is suggested that, in accordance with the very strict criteria the authors use to narrow down the range of options for investment vehicles, the only stable low-risk fixed-income investments are US Treasury and government agency bonds! The authors attempt to dissuade any concerns by claiming that refusing to buy treasury bonds forces the government to keep interest rates high in order to attract foreign investors; ergo, the more funds invested in treasuries, the more the government pays us (even though it could be argued that such an arrangement is a form of de facto subsidizing).
In the overall aggregate, I recommend everyone read Vicki Robin and the late Joe Dominguez’s Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence if for no other reason than to get your own household in order (also be sure to visit the Your Money or Your Life official website). Revolutions cost money, and as John Martinson has calculated, the American Revolution cost approximately $987,797,018.96 (in today’s inflated currency). It would behoove all political dissidents to get their respective financial situations under control so they can achieve as much independence as possible from the corporate rat race and instead exclusively focus on resisting tyranny. I think I’ll get started with Step 1 by determining my total life earnings and discovering my current net worth.