Thursday, August 24, 2006

Money Matters

Work from Within talks about how to get to the point where following your passion also pays the bills. Her advice? Be thankful for what you've got, and be patient:
"I regularly hear from people who are following their own authentic career path, 'So, I'm doing the work I love, but where's the money?' You know, Marcia Sinetar's classic book, Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow should add the word 'EVENTUALLY' at the end."
Harold also echoes what I've heard from many free agents in the time between contracts: "This year I don’t have any major projects scheduled for the Fall; which is not good from a financial perspective but it does mean that I can be open to any possibility." It seems like the work arrives eventually, too, but that uncertainty can be very hard on some people.

6 comments:

Rob said...

Very helpful J
Yes the iea of going back would kill me. A lot of my abundance comes from my freedom. Most of the ime the money does come too

Jeremy said...

Cool, Rob. I should have emphasized what I appreciated most in her post: thankfulness. In many of the conversations I have about goals, future lifestyles and all that, I occasionally need to take a step back and realize that thankfulness is as important as growth. One without the other is not good (impossible?), but they're both necessary for happiness.

Penelope Trunk said...

I love the idea of being thankful for what you've got. But here's an idea to add to that: Downsize your lifestyle so you don't have to earn so much money. I just did this -- moving from NYC to Madison, Wisc. -- and the thing I am most thankful for right now is my three-bedroom house for the same price I paid for a half-bedroom apartment in NYC.

People following their passion need to find balance. I know this is not that exciting to talk about, but the truth is that it's difficult to talk about passion if you are not meeting your family's financial needs.

I guess part of the task here, though, is to figure out what your family really needs. Maybe my family just needs a little more thankfulness :)

Jeremy said...

Downsize your lifestyle so you don't have to earn so much money.

Penelope, you're spot-on with this. I always think of it when I hear people complaining (or explaining, at least) that they have to put their kids in full-time daycare so both parents can work, because they can't afford not to. Or why people say they can't take unpaid leave from work to supplement their meagre vacation time ("we could never afford to!").

It seems like we mostly have a very muddled idea of what constitues real quality of life. Most of us would say that it was very important to spend time with our families and friends, and pursuing our interests (leisure, learning, projects, whatever)...but then we make decisions when we're setting up our lives (where to live, type of home, transportation) that cost so much that we immediately forsake the ability to do the things we say we value most.

Jason said...

I always think of it when I hear people complaining (or explaining, at least) that they have to put their kids in full-time daycare so both parents can work, because they can't afford not to. Or why people say they can't take unpaid leave from work to supplement their meagre vacation time ("we could never afford to!").

I think that's a fairly unfair comment to make, Jer. What makes you think there's anything left to downsize while these people are making their complaints? With Harper now screwing everyone by actually making it harder to get help with daycares, and the price of everything going up while wages are barely crawling along, there's little some people can do just to stay afloat.

While daycare may cost X amount per day. X * 1.5 is usually what the second parent can make, and the 0.5 is necessary just to put food on the table.

I think your comment was brainless and a minimalist bullshit statement.

Jeremy said...

I see where you're coming from Jay. Certainly in Canada there's a minimum income threshold that precludes this discussion. If a family is making $28,000/year (or whatever the poverty threshold would be), the main questions are about basic needs, not self-actualization and lifestyle optimization. In most of the world, even Canada's working poor would be considered relatively rich. And yes, I'm throwing out generalizations here like confetti.

That said, I think most members of the middle-class (and up) have an imaginary minimum-income threshold that is likely a bit more than (or exactly what) they're currently earning. Their expectations for material measures of success are almost always higher than their current status. Working parents with kids in daycare feel squeezed even when they're making $100,000/year, because their house cost them $400,000 and they drive a couple of new SUVs. Those are the people I was generically referring to.

With that in mind, I think Penelope's nailed it. It seems to me that most people are willing to compromise time (for hobbies, friends and family) in favour of nicer/more vehicles, better neighbourhoods, bigger houses, all of which have very real costs associated that require more money...which tends to mean more work...which tends to take more time away from the things we say we value more (leisure, friends, family).

So, through that roundabout chain, lower expenses could translate into less work and more time for the things we value. I've been preaching that to the choir for years, but there are obstacles in the approach. The main one is that most good (interesting/decent pay) jobs aren't set up for part-time work. Crappy jobs are, but you can't live on the wages. Hence the focus on entrepreneurship and free-agent work here, which I haven't yet taken the plunge on.

As Penelope has previously pointed out, substantially reducing the big expenses (housing, mainly) often requires a move, ideally to places with good work and cheaper expenses. Of course there are lifestyle costs associated with moves too, especially in relationships...but perhaps that's another topic.