Making the Most of Your Slave Wages
I have a good friend who is young, currently unattached and in a very good job. “Very good job” in that it is secure, pays well, is in a climate controlled environment, not physically taxing, and he can pretty much set his own hours. It’s also boring. And looks like it will continue to be so for years and years. We have been speaking lately of options for his future and I weigh in because I have the benefit of life experience and can see opportunities where he sees problems and because (if I am being really honest) I like to fantasize a bit and live vicariously through him. Hold that thought.
Back in the day I used to read a column (probably in Mother Earth News) called “Living the Life” or something about folks who fled the misery of commuting to and from jobs and crass consumerism and moved to the sticks where they lived a simpler, albeit poorer life making do for themselves. There was also another article about fleeing the rat race that I read over and over in some survival magazine. These were popular articles read by thousands of suburbanite subscribers who, like me, would read, and fantasize, and dream, and then go back to work and continue spending their hard earned income on toys and disposable stuff so that at the end of the year they had nothing or were in debt – and thus could only dream about fleeing the rat race. Hold that thought as well.
There is a man I have never met but with whom I think I could hang out and have fun – Thomas J. Elpel. Oh, I reckon our politics are very different but he is one of those people that sees things the rest of us refuse to see. And he not only sees them – he acts on them. He wrote an article that I read years ago that I constantly return to and re-read. It seems a fantasy to me similar to the “Living the Life” columns. It is called “Escaping the Job Trap” and I recommend it to you all.
Tom strikes me as a free man. You see freedom comes first and foremost from the mind. To that end I also recommend another of his articles: “Quest for Freedom” (and as long as I’m singing Elpel’s praises I might as well go ahead and recommend his excellent DVD series “The Art of Nothing” I have the first three and they are good and really speak to my “anti-gear-queer” – which term I use in the most loving and caring way). Another bag of thoughts to hold.
As a final example and my launch pad into the blog entry proper is my very good friend Ed. Ed left one of those good jobs in the city (well, you get the point) and moved to the middle of nowhere in the mountains. He left a very nice home on a very nice piece of land and took up residence in leaky camper trailer miles from anywhere. His family came with him. It was winter. They used an out house. These were pretty much your average suburban folk. They were not and are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. Ed and his son built their three story off the grid home and developed their land. Ed has told me repeatedly he has never been happier and this is how we are supposed to live. Envy is a bad thing so I don’t envy him – but I respect the heck out of him and his family and I fantasize about doing something similar.
I think what draws us to stories like these is they evoke a simpler life, certainly a different life from what we currently experience, and a life we fantasize about. Many people use TEOTWAWKI as the launch point for their personal fantasy of living like this – some event will FORCE them into this simpler lifestyle and they won’t have to make the choice – it will just happen. Life is all about choices, huh? The other reason we like these tales is that they are rare. Most of us are not brave enough to make the leap – but we want to.
From a preparedness standpoint these people we fantasize about being like are in pretty good positions – their lives won’t change all that much if the world falls apart.
But this blog is not about fantasy – it is about reality. I realize that most of us will not flee the rat race – we will continue to go to our mindless jobs and earn our pay and spend it on stuff we don’t really need and when we run out of cash use our credit cards to buy more stuff we don’t need and can’t really use just to keep up with the Jones’s and then use our slave wages to pay the minimum payments on our credit card bills and fantasize about fleeing the rat race and living a simpler life…… yuck.
The first thing I’ll suggest is that you get out of debt. Check out Dave Ramsey. I don’t like the idea of paying for his courses but you can listen to him for free on the radio and he has good (tough) advice. Debt is bondage – avoid it, kill it, get away from it. I’m no financial guru so you will have to search out advice on this from other places – like Dave’s site.
Means to an End
And now we come to the original ideas I had that got this entry going. What can the millions (okay thousands) do that want to live a preparedness lifestyle but just can’t/won’t leave their job in the ‘burbs?
How about improving the position you are in? How about looking at your job as a means to the end of total preparedness – and not a means to crass consumerism?
How about using your slave wages to improve your position and not for anything else? You don’t need a new car (or a used car you have to make payments on). You don’t need a new shirt. You don’t need a new pair of shoes. You certainly don’t need to go out to eat. What you need to do is get yourself set up.
I advised my young friend I first spoke of today to sell his house and buy a piece of land. Okay it will be a small piece. Keep it within commuting distance to work, try to get a piece surrounded by large land that will someday also be for sale so he could expand into it. Alternatively if something like nuclear war or pandemic flu or some other population squashing event occurs – it will be empty and he can just extend his boundaries.
I told him to establish a water source. Go to work and then come “home” and expend all his efforts improving his place – putting in fences, getting a structure up for winter, establishing that fall garden, start the compost pile and so on. Take a shower from a solar shower bag or use the gym his work provides. Eat simple meals – beans and rice, rice and beans. Put all of his money into his place. Put all of his time into his place. Make that “his life”.
Those of us with families can do the same thing – with modifications. Most families don’t want to camp out year round. Okay, so sell everything you have to purchase a “small place in the country”. Downsize. It may be a dump. The spouse may not like it much. The kids may have to share a room. The walls could need some serious repair and paint. Hey – it’s better than a tent. Start coming home from work and spending the rest of your waking hours working on your place. Make it habitable. Then work on food production, fencing and so on.
The two biggest arguments are “we can’t afford to” and “my spouse won’t let me”. I can’t help you with the last point – I suggest serious communication. On the second - You can afford to. You will just have to trade house for land. Less house, not as nice a house for more land. More is relative. Or, alternatively, maximize the lot you are on. Turn your flower beds into veggie gardens, turn the back yard into an orchard, raise rabbits, catch rain from the gutters. Investigate the “green movement” and “intentional communities”. Whether you agree with their politics and lifestyle choices or not you can still find good information for maximizing your productivity.
Change your Outlook
As I said above – freedom starts in the mind. Free yourself from the need to buy another movie, or meal at a restaurant, or Coke, or new knife, or yet another gun. Use your slave wages instead to purchase a pair of breeding rabbits and some hardware cloth. Spend your time weeding instead of watching the boob tube. Invest in yourself.
Stop drawing a sense of self worth from how you look to your so-called “peers” at work – the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the home you live in. Stop drawing a sense of self worth from gizmos you buy – the new Cuisenaire, the new scope, the new cell phone. Invest your time. Invest your sweat. Invest the meager wages you make into things that will make a difference – things like infrastructure. Fencing, critter housing, gardens, sheds, water, firewood.
Stop seeking “entertainment” and start drawing satisfaction from what you create.
Stop thinking in the world and in boxes and free your mind.
Time is short.
I welcome your discussion here: Wage Slave Preps
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. - Romans 12:2
If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe
Prepared Americans for a Strong America