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Some musings on financial freedom, higher aims, social roles etc

Discussion in 'Investor Psychology' started by Spiderman, 2nd Feb, 2016.

  1. Spiderman

    Spiderman Well-Known Member

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    (Written over several weeks)

    Why do it? Life is precious and, at least for those in it, finite.


    With each passing year person one increasingly notes those of their age or younger who die.


    For most people most of the time it is money rather than time that is the limit. It’s easier to fix this problem than extend lifespans, at least in richer countries where the point of diminishing returns is reached.


    The majority of people spend most of their lives in servitude to employers or customers. If they answer ‘yes’ to the question of ‘would they spend their time differently were they not to be paid for it’ then their freedom is indeed restricted.


    Only a minority of people are of independent means and are thus economically free. Not that freedom is necessarily a value in itself. What counts is the the energy unleashed for a higher and better use.


    Social change has given recognition and freedom to some previously downtrodden groups. This has been the social revolution of our time. There has been economic change but not a revolution.


    An employment contract is the exchange of freedom for money. Consequently freedoms cease as soon as one is on the employer’s clock. Work often stipulates how and when things should be done, unlike the significant flexibility that applies with, for instance, discharging family obligations.


    An employment agreement may afford some security but also represents trading something known to be finite (life-time) for something which for all intents and purposes is not (money). That’s generally a bad deal unless one considers their time at work to be the highest and best use of it.


    An intelligent person should plan and budget that which is finite and decreases as one ages (eg time) more carefully than that which is infinite and can increase as one ages (eg money). Unfortunately such luxuries are only open to those of independent means.


    Only a minority has economic freedom which is required for control over destiny. Most waking hours of most peoples lives are determined by others. Typically through familiaral or workplace obligations. Since we do not have arranged marriages or indentured labour it is true that people voluntarily enter into such arrangements, however, at least in the case of work, the choices and opportunities available depend on such attributes as education, exeperience and financial independence. As well, for many people, on cultural expectations which prescribe certain lifestyles and spending habits.


    Socially we have become more diverse and less conformist than the 1950s. Our jobs are more part-time, casual and female. However economic relations have not changed and in certain matters such as education we have clearly become less egalitarian, with the rise of private schooling.


    On a community level surpluses buy civilisation. For instance cities are only possible where there is a surplus of agricultural production that allows some to not live on the land and pursue arts, science, commerce and trade. Societies built on their surpluses and use its returns constructively, including trading for items that are more productively produced by others (who in turn may want something that you have). Surpluses must however be deployed in a manner that does not undermine the generation of future surpluses otherwise their consumption is unsustainable.


    On an individual level surplus of income over expenditure, if invested wisely, can lead to financial independence and increased control over life. There can also be a blossoming of creativity and new and changed relationships with others. Or it can amount to vacuous timewasting and withdrawal from society as obligations vanish.


    If you give most people more money they will spend it. At one time mainly on consumer goods, but now on services since our houses filled with the former and the ‘China effect’ reduced their cost.


    Travel, for instance, is the exercise of spacial freedom for a short time. It is currently a fashionable way for working people to burn their financial surpluses (or worse, go into debt for). However it provides temporary escape rather than lasting temporal freedom. The whole of society is set up to encourage people to work and consume much more than they need; if it was organised differently we may well be working much less. The organised individual can ‘opt out’ with no consequences on the broader society but mass ‘opting out’ is likely to lead to labour shortages and higher prices, that is unless demand plunges and/or immigration is used as a ‘safety valve’ to relieve pressure.


    A has had long-term surpluses and invested them wisely. More recently doing Z has provided an independent income stream that meets some expenses. Annual expenditure is just a few percent of net assets. It is quite possible that A will become financially independent.


    This has significant implications for the choices A make, particularly with relation to paid employment and A’s role in society.


    A decision to leave paid work too late may mean less and later freedom for A. A decision to leave too early may mean underdeveloped finances. A may still be able to live off one’s own means but it would be a frugal lifestyle and one’s freedom would be constrained by money instead of time. It would effectively be a pensioner lifestyle.


    Freedom is both a blessing and a curse. Badly used it leads to decadence, folly and decline. Well used it can lead to advancement and opportunity. It can give fulfilment in that you get to do things you’ve always wanted to. This can have social as well as individual dimensions.


    Freedom carries with it an obligation of responsibility. If abused it may lead to a return to servitude or tyrany as surpluses are frittered away or spare time becomes boredom.


    Relationship to society: High wealth can allow autonomy to be afforded. Ties to family and society can wither if not valued.


    Naturally unsocial people can become more so as obligations are removed. A conventional job offers a context for social interaction which those who work for themselves or in online businesses may lack. A will need to find substitutes.


    It may be that with fewer constraints freedom can cause people to be both nastier and nicer than what they might otherwise be. In other words freedom can accentuate aspects of a person’s character that social and economic norms and obligations may suppress.


    A will need to be conscious of this otherwise their life may be no more fulfilling than when they were working, and the promises of the new energy released by financial independence are frittered away.
     
    Hanison, Eric Wu, teetotal and 3 others like this.
  2. CatCafe

    CatCafe Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for sharing.

    I'm almost at the end of my 6 month sabbatical and alot of what you've said rings true with me.

    I despised the rigidity and control that work had over my life so I wanted to try out a mini retirement overseas to see what life would be like on the other side, for when I finally achieve financial independence.

    Whilst I really enjoyed my break away from work, work and the desire to achieve financial independence (through raises, bonuses and investing) really gave me a sense of purpose, a sense of urgency.

    I've been able to pursue some new interests, but found that I've been less consistent with my gym and healthy eating habits. I've been able to make new friends, but god forbid it doesn't feel the same as the bond with colleagues when overcoming a challenge together.

    So what will I do differently next time? To be continued...
     
  3. teetotal

    teetotal Well-Known Member

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    Very Interesting post.
    Makes you think what are we doing with our lives.
     
  4. Azazel

    Azazel Well-Known Member

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    Woah, lots to digest.
    Getting late, I'll try again tomorrow.
     
  5. Omnidragon

    Omnidragon Well-Known Member

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    Time and money are on a basic level interchageable. Most people in this country and probably in the world buy money with time, by going to work. The idea built by America is to position yourself to use money to buy time and still having excess money left to buy other goods such as luxury holidays, a nice house, a nice car.

    On your point, if you have to live like a pensioner in order to stop buying money with time, then maybe you should buy more money first.

    But between the two, time should always be more valuable. Time is finite. Money is infinite - it's only a means of exchange. In the old days we use spears, today we use 000s. That's how America funds its time, by transferring more 000s to others' bank accounts, and some countries lap it up and give them their produce which is produced with time. In exchange, some can do nothing and just give you 000s so you spend your life working for them, while they spend their time doing what they want.

    Once you realise how this scheme works, you realise it's all pretty silly. At this point you either change the system, or just try to join them. I'm a believer of the latter.
     
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  6. Vixs

    Vixs Member

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    My dad always told me to him, being wealthy was the ability to jump on a plane to wherever he wanted to go, whenever he wanted to go there. I used to ask my clients what success meant to them - it's disappointing to me to think that I can't remember the last time I asked that simple question.

    Achieving financial independence before traditional retirement age is a rarity, and it does not happen by accident. People come to forums like this to try and take steps closer to achieving that themselves.

    I have a lot of stressful days at work, and a lot of long nights spent catching up, but I've realised that it's never the work that's stressful... it's reporting to someone else and having to justify my work to a manager. The work itself I find I am relatively good at and enjoy. Given financial independence, I would love the opportunity to set up shop for myself and enjoy my work. I certainly feel if I didn't work I would withdraw completely into my own little world.
     
  7. Azazel

    Azazel Well-Known Member

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    Enjoy it while you can.
    Especially travel I reckon.
     
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  8. Drgonzo

    Drgonzo Well-Known Member

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    Property investment is a great hobby but I certainly wouldn't want to do it full time and I think the goal of early retirement is pretty over rated. I enjoy my work and I look forward to continue doing it. Its good to look back on projects and see what you have helped to create. I can't really see that same level of satisfaction coming from buying and selling houses but maybe could in terms of development. As for early retirement or "financial freedom" from what I have seen people get bored after a while and end up returning to work in one form or another anyway.
     
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  9. Biz

    Biz Well-Known Member

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    I agree with that. What you need is fulfilling work that is flexible and cash in your pocket. Early retirement is overrated I reckon, a lot of people only strive for it because they hate their jobs.
     
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  10. Drgonzo

    Drgonzo Well-Known Member

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    Spot on - my job pays very well - i will vote for anyone who wants to build a ten lane motorway from Sydney to Perth. Even a (one way) bridge to New Zealand will do