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Thread: If You Want to Quit Your Job, You Have to Begin Building Assets, Which Generate Money Over Time and Which Can, if Built Correctly, Allow You to Retire

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    If You Want to Quit Your Job, You Have to Begin Building Assets, Which Generate Money Over Time and Which Can, if Built Correctly, Allow You to Retire

    The Great Job Myth: The Inevitability of Employment

    Let’s start with a step back from the paradigm-kool-aid, and begin with a question or two to challenge a few assumptions you might have. First, why do you even have a job in the first place? And just what is a job, and how long have we been “having” them? The answers may surprise you. I’m going to opt to sarcastically define a job as a contractual arrangement between someone with a vision and someone who will settle. That is, between someone who sees the big picture, someone who needs a series of tasks done to reap a huge reward, and someone who’s willing to do a few of the tasks in exchange for a small share of the reward.

    Every business which employs others is based upon this arrangement.

    Now, jobs are not inevitable. And they’re not necessarily bad, mind you; because of our ability to work under the leadership of others with vision, many larger tasks have been accomplished in history which might otherwise never have happen. However, jobs are not natural per se, though they are common enough in a decadent economy. It may surprise you to learn that the notion of a “job” is not 1000s of years old. It’s not even 100s. It’s about 100, give or take a few, with the advent of the industrial revolution. Before that 95+% of all folks were “self employed”, which roughly translates to they farmed, or worked in an industry which supported farming (making plows and horse-shoes, etc). Now, one could make the argument that serfdom represented a kind of employment, but it usually wasn’t terribly voluntary, whereas job employment is, at least to some degree.

    Also, one could argue that the Stalin’s gulag was like a day spa.

    The closest to a “job” most people ever came outside of forced or semi-forced labor was apprenticing under a master craftsman, on the way to becoming an accomplished journeyman in some art or craft. At that point, they would be self-employed. In fact, the number one employer of mankind throughout the years has been just that: “Self”. The few people who were legitimately “employed” were at the service of the wealthy, preparing meals for them, cleaning up after them, and ensuring that their affairs ran smoothly.

    And even today, the bulk of us dream of setting our own hours and having fewer forms to fill out, fewer hoops to jump through, fewer meetings to attend, and more leisure time with which to grow in to authentic human beings. Philosopher Joseph Pieper has argued that the most important thing for our human development is “authentic” leisure, and this leisure is sapped when we spend our days watching the clock while working for someone else’s dime. Not only are we sapped in general, but comparisons to other nations have shown that Americans work more hours in a week than any other nation’s population. Most European nations have mandated limits of about 30 to 35 hours, but many American’s scoff at working only 40 hours in a week, and so they come back for overtime or get a second (or third) job.

    And yet, even though we all inherently see this, we want it, and dream about it, so few of us do anything to even approach making this happen. We settle, because we’ve been trained (unintentionally and, possibly, intentionally) to settle. Isn’t this what you think: “Go to college. Get your degree. Find a nice safe job. Work there for 40 years, building up a nest egg. Retire. Your children ‘wash, rinse, repeat.’” Yet take stock for a minute of your thoughts: how likely is this sort of job model these days? For you? For anyone? It seems unlikely that many people can reasonably expect this, unlike in years past. Yet so many persist in this belief, nose to the grind-stone, as they slowly move towards the cliff of non-retirement.”

    “If this doesn’t pan out, I can always be a Wal-Mart greeter, right?!”

    So, if you see the need to quit your job (or even just scale back how many hours you work), here’s the game plan for doing it, and it really only takes one actual step. Invest to build an asset. Sounds simple right? Well, there are three terms here that most people just don’t get, and you might be most people.

    1) An “ASSET”

    Starting with the last word first, most people think that an asset is something that you “own.” Traditionally things like a “house” have been seen as assets (though in this present market, most houses appear to be money-traps). I want to challenge that notion, as a few others have before me. An asset isn’t something you “own.” An asset is something that pays you. Also, most people don’t “own” their house, anyway; rather, they rent it from the bank who can swoop in and kick them out for little (or even no) reason, as recent news reports have made more than evident. If you have to pay $1,000/month for your mortgage, you have a $1,000 liability. You have to earn at least $1,000 each month just to keep a roof over your head. So for many of us, a house owns us! Now, if you have to pay $1,000 each month for your mortgage, but you can get someone to rent your house for $1,200 per month, then all of a sudden your house has turned into an asset which is generating a $200 profit every month. That would be an asset.

    2) To “INVEST”

    Two points can be made about investing. The first is that investing doesn’t have to be limited to the stock markets, though most people think that it does, and can’t get beyond that (except maybe for an understanding of real estate as an investment, as in the example above, though the real estate market has not been doing very well lately!). For most people, the stock market is just as likely to turn a profit as betting on “red” on a roulette table. Unless you have the time (leisure) to study the markets and various companies, playing the stock market as a source of investing is a pipe dream. And while I don’t want to deny the validity of such investing strategies (they’re crucial for building a strong country), most of what happens on the stock market is just as out of your control as a roulette ball. You may have slightly better odds at guessing where the ball will go, but ultimately they’re just odds.

    Chances are you don’t have enough money to make much of a difference in most markets anyway, which leads me to my second point about investing: it’s not just about money. On one level this is pretty intuitive: you invest your time in things you care about, like your family, your friends, your hobbies, etc.

    …Avenging your father…

    Time is something you can invest, and if you invest it right, you can reap monetary rewards. This investment of effort is called sweat equity -- if you don’t have “financial capital” to invest, you can still put in the time and make up for a lot of what you’re missing monetarily. For example, consider someone who couldn’t afford $50,000 for a home remodeling, who instead plunk down $5,000 and do the work themselves. This is investing ones time and effort primarily. You see, if you can find the right avenue to channel your spare time into, even if it’s just a few hours a week, it can eventually begin to turn a profit, you can begin to win back some of the time you spend at your job. Which feeds directly into our third term needing clarification…

    3) To “BUILD”

    You’ve built something at some point in your life, be it merely something with Legos, a tree fort, a block tower, a table, a bench, a relationship, a reputation, etc. These are all things that are not created immediately, but rather which are built over time, with effort expended. Many people don’t think about being able to build an asset, but you can. Consider one example. Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest people in the world, didn’t start wealthy. He started broke, and with the technical ability to fix and repair pinball machines. So he saved up his money and bought one for $25, fixed it up, and put it in a barber shop. It brought in a steady stream of quarters, and he saved those up. That pinball machine was an asset which he got mostly through his “sweat equity,” and very little cash.

    Now, if you had a pinball machine that brought in quarters what would you do? What’s the first thought that came to your head? Take your sweet-heart out for a night on the town? Upgrade your wardrobe? Get that bigger TV you’ve been wanting? Certainly Buffett could have done any of those, content with his asset. But he wasn’t content. What did he do?
    If you have a mind like Warren Buffett, you would have immediately grasped that if having 1 pinball machine paying you a steady stream of quarters was good, then having two would be even better. Instead of spending those quarters his asset was producing, he saved them up until he could invest them by buy another pinball machine.

    Warren Buffett, Pinball Wizard!

    And another. And another. That’s how you free yourself.

    What Asset Can You Build?

    ”But, I don’t know anything about pinball machines, and besides, does anyone play those any more?” someone might ask. “’So what?’, and ‘not many,’” would come the reply. If you want to ever have the luxury of quitting your job; if you ever want to end the fear of losing your job; if you ever want to retire; then you need to invest in some sort of asset, probably one you can build mostly through effort. And what kind of asset would that be?

    Build a [Small] Business

    Here we come back full circle to where we began. You need to be self-employed. You need to be able to set your hours to some degree. You need that freedom for authentic leisure. And the one thing that can do this is a business.
    ”But, I don’t know anything about businesses!” the protest may come again. “So what?” the reply echoes. “Do the thing, and then you will have the power to do the thing,” Emerson famously quipped. That is to say, you won’t have the skills to do it until you’ve already started to acquire them through effort.


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    Duly noted.

    I have a wealthy great uncle. I've been thinking of trying to turn my future inheritance into something I can live comfortably off of for the rest of my life.

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