Sirwin
Sirwin
Close-up photo of a black piggy bank on money and crypto coins

Spend it Cautiously and Sparingly, Don't Waste it: How to be Responsible with Your Money; Lesson #1


Forget getting rich (especially quickly); it probably isn't happening. (I certainly can't tell you how to make it so, anyway.) Living the high life here and there, now and then, is probably more realistic. I suppose that depends on how you answer this question: What does it mean to you to be rich? To some, it means lambos, yachts and overseas holidays in glitzy hotels. I don't want that; what a wasteful ego-stroking wank-fest of hard-earned money! To me, the definition of being rich is far more modest, what some people call "comfortable", but with an attitude/mindset aspect to it: "having financial independence, having and accumulating more than I can spend on bills and strictly necessary expenses, without stressing about it or feeling controlled/manipulated by Consumer Capitalism". In a word, Minimalism.

Reject Capitalism and Return to Monkey?

Well, no (at least not the "return to monkey" part). Ignoring the biological inaccuracy of that question/sentiment, Anarcho-Primitivism, if considered seriously, is an extremist point of view. Much as I'm a fan of Anarchism in general, that particular ideological branch of it is a bridge too far for me. There's got to be a more moderate middle ground that shuns Capitalism as much as possible while still acknowledging and accepting that we can't entirely escape it. From what little I understand, a Minimalist and Utilitarian approach can offer that. Going back to a more agricultural-focused way of living that was prevalent not much prior to the Industrial Revolution might be far enough, but it won't be without its flaws, hardships and pitfalls (particularly for someone like me, whom uses computers to earn my income).

"Progress might have been alright once, but it has gone on far too long."
 — Ogden Nash, poet

For me, one of the primary ways of getting there (being financially independent/rich, not necessarily prior Industrial Revolution living) is/was to hoard or otherwise put into safekeeping as much money as I can, when I can, and still pay bills and expenses, only buying what is strictly necessary to my survival. That means barely any luxuries (excepting chocolate and condensed milk, because those are my "pick me up" items). A problem I have with that approach is I haven't always done that; it's something I learned to do quite recently. In the past, I used to save for months and then blow it all in a binge spend on some expensive technology, like a new computer or components upgrade. Another problem is that now I earn less than minimum wage from my part-time weekend job (and almost nothing for/from writing). When I do earn, not having regular work nor job security (some of the challenges of being an independent contractor working from home), that is no longer an option for me: Quite often, I am forced to spend more than comes in and scramble to find the next paying gig. It's definitely detrimental to my mental state and morale.

It's not just All About the Benjamins

How much you earn isn't the problem, provided that it's more than enough to put at least 10% into some sort of savings account (including a pension or retirement annuity) and still pay the bills and other expenses, such as fuel for one's car. If you're earning more than minimum wage, you'll probably find that you can do that with your salary. The devil is in the details of what you do with what remains of your (presumably monthly) income after that. It just takes some balancing and cutting back on unnecessary/luxury spending. Yes, we all want nice things, but we also want to be able to retire early and enjoy life. Which is more important to you? I suggest it should be early retirement and that's got to take higher priority. For me, that goes into savings as well, unless I can justify/motivate for a purchase having a long-term benefit. (Possessions tend to break or wear out, necessitating replacing them from time to time. That's one example of a "necessary expense".) That's because I don't know when I'll again have financial security/stability, if ever. I have to use the income I receive in the good times to provide at least some cover for the bad and rough lean times, of which there have been plenty in the COVID-19 years. Money's almost always too tight to mention.

Everything Counts in Large Amounts

If living an austere and deprived life now in the hope of one day being financially independent and not having to stress about every item purchased, as well as retiring comfortably, won't make me rich, then I don't know what will. My parents certainly don't seem to (a problem not uncommon in middle income households); they've been poor all their lives and my father will likely be retiring soon. My mother already has, but is looking for work again. I definitely don't want to end up like them, if I can do anything about it. However, I don't see that I have much choice, even if I unlearn all the bad lessons I've learned from them and bad habits I've adopted when it comes to (mis)managing my money.

When my income does come in, it invariably goes out again (all of it), unless I put some aside first (not after expenses). As mentioned previously, that's not always possible. That's why I've put some (although definitely not enough) into crypto, despite the so-called volatility: Without my authorisation and/or consent, it's not accessible to the grabbing hands of banksters and those whom I owe for various services.

Having hardly any (or no) unnecessary expenses means having no Amazon or other international shopping accounts if I can help it (or only using them when I can't get something locally). The exception to that is my Steam account, but I only buy during sales and try to use what's in my Steam wallet (from selling items) as much as possible. I do my best not to support Big Tech monopolies and buying locally is generally cheaper, as well as supports the local economy (which is likely a Good Thing™).

One thing I do have is overdraft protection on my main bank account, as a buffer. However, it is very small because I generally don't need it to be larger, nor to pay large fees on my accounts. I don't even like having bank accounts, but they're still a necessary evil in a world that is yet to embrace crypto in a major way. (The banks and thieving banksters shouldn't be making a profit off my money, business or not.)

Sharing isn't Always Caring

I know that I'm supposed to be controlling my finances, rather than the other way around. Sometimes, that doesn't feel like the case. I hate doing admin of any kind if I can avoid it. Plus, I've probably done a lot more looking at numerical data and analysing it as part of my job than I ever wanted to. I'm not keen to do that for my bank account statements and transaction history, although I have to on occasion. The upshot is that I'm frequently not sure of what my financial situation is in any given month. It's definitely not a good way to go through life and it stresses me out, most likely unduly. Given that state of affairs and other inclinations on relationships, I'm a strong believer in people in a partnership having separate accounts. Trying to manage a joint account just gets too complicated and causes too much tension, regardless of how well two people communicate (which is generally really badly in the case of money, a touchy subject and a main source of arguments for relationships).

Financial Vision

One of the things that a person needs is to have specific, realistic and achievable goals, rather than generalised/vague ones. This also applies to finances: What does that person want to achieve with their money? What do they want to achieve in life and how do they want to use their money to do so?

As mentioned previously, my main issue isn't that I'm often broke and scrambling to find another paying gig (although that is a big one), but that I'm poor. (Being broke is a temporary issue and fixable by throwing money at it. Being poor is an attitude/mindset relating to managing money and is therefore long term. It's also fixable, but much more difficult and requires more work, but not the paying kind.) Every time I think I'm getting it right and making progress, my income seems to disappear again and I'm back to where I started. That needs to change and soon.

Keep it Simple and Treat Your Money Well

Have as few bank accounts as you possibly can (preferably none, or only a current/cheque/debit account and a savings account if you can't go full crypto). That includes having absolutely no credit cards or store/lay-buy accounts. If you have them, pay them off and close them as soon as possible. They will put you in debt, keep you there and ruin your credit score (which you need to be high to avoid getting ripped off when buying big-ticket items like real estate and vehicles). If you can't afford to pay cash for it now (excepting a car and/or house), you can't afford it. The higher your credit score (700+ is great; anything lower is dangerous), the less you will end up paying for such things.

Getting your finances organised into a simple and manageable structure is a good start. It means dealing with less complexity, which means less time and stress in managing your finances. Impulse and splurge spending will do you harm (even if you budget for them). You never know when you're going to encounter an unexpected expense, so have a flat tire fund dedicated to them, just in case you need it (because you will at some point and getting a loan or borrowing money from other people is an ordeal you don't need).

Effective money management also requires identifying one's attitudes and ideas about/towards money, in order to change them if necessary. It's likely that you have some harmful ones that are holding you back. I know that I certainly do.

Living payday to payday is the reality for a lot of employed people. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, provided that one is vigilant to put aside as much as one can and still pay bills, etc. Blowing it all is very easy to do and where the issues lie. I know this well and do my best to put it in practice, but getting consistent and permanent income is currently the main issue for me (possibly because my current skill set is obsolete and lacking in some areas).

Definitely No Wank Factor (Minimalism FTW)

You don't actually need a Bugatti, BMW, Ferrari or Lambo when you can drive a Mazda or Toyota. Sure, it might not give your ego a raging erection or get you laid by like-minded individuals, but you're probably a pretty sad/shallow individual if that's important to you or them. If it gets you from A to B efficiently and reliably, who cares what it is? Certainly not I (and probably not most of the people you're trying to impress). Generally, the only person you'll impress is yourself, so why go to that trouble? That means no boats, cars or other luxury vehicles, jewelry, fancy and ornate oversized houses, designer clothing, etc. It's all so obviously nouveau rich: Flashy, profligate, pretentious and vulgar. It don't mean a thing if you've got that bling. It's also a slap in the face of those whom are less fortunate and puts a target on your back, neither a good idea nor look in my book and country of origin.

We'll never be royals and we aren't caught up in your love affair.

Vehicles are liabilities, not assets. The less spent on them, the better. Real estate is different. However, that doesn't mean that you need to buy a big house on the hill or an apartment the size of a couple of broom cupboards in Manhattan if you can live comfortably in a two bedroom bungalow on a quarter acre property in Hicksville for far less (or the same amount).

"The things you own end up owning you."
 — Misattributed to Chuck Palahniuk, but originally Henry Theroux

Conclusion

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need.”
 — Fight Club; Chuck Palahniuk

In short, personal austerity/minimalism (without being Spartan or niggardly, if that's affordable) isn't necessarily a bad thing. Don't work harder than you need to in order to end up throwing your money away buying shit you don't need to impress people you don't like. It's ultimately self-defeating to live and struggle like that. Have a plan/strategy, stick to it and keep things simple.

Standard Disclaimer

I'm not a financial advisor and this is not meant to be construed as financial advise. It is simply me stating what has worked for me. If you choose to apply it to yourself and your finances, you do so at your own risk and without holding me liable for any loss or damages you may incur. Your mileage may vary. I wish you success and prosperity.


Thumbnail image: Close-up photo of a black piggy bank on money and crypto coins by Alesia Kozik on Pexels

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Great White Snark
Great White Snark

I'm currently seeking fixed employment as a S/W & Web developer (C# & ASP .NET MVC, PHP 8+, Python 3), hoping to stash the farmed fiat and go full Crypto, quit the 07:30-18:00 grind. Unsigned music producer; snarky; white; balding; smashes Patriarchy.


The Babylon Project
The Babylon Project

The Babylon Project (or Project Babylon) is born out of an idea of Great White Snark's, chiefly to amass a great amount of wealth (as does the Richest Man in Babylon, according to George Clason) in crypto (chiefly privacy coins). Just as the book dispenses financial advice, the project will redistribute crypto among those in dire need of it (particularly in places with totalitarian governments). Since The Snark already has three blogs on Pub0x, he has given me permission to set up this one as one of mine.

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