Whither Happiness?

Amid the perfidy, you and I need to live our lives. Corruption, vested interests and outright criminality taint much of public life, but for the most part, what we do day-to-day isn’t that much affected.

It will in the long-run alter everything we do, but unless you take an enormously long-lens view, this afternoon is the same as every other. Yes, the media’s splashy stories grab our attention, purporting to make them relevant to everyone. But that’s not the case. Presidential politics is at best badly written soap opera; celebrity is court jesters pandering to the crowd; economics is dazzling magic tricks that make no sense.

Nope, none of these things change today.

Here is the inevitable truth: that we all somehow can only find happiness and satisfaction in the everyday. Locating ourselves in a circumstance we’d be okay repeating tomorrow remains as clear-cut – and elusive – as ever. Being in charge of your own orbit is challenging, subtle, empowering and sweet simultaneously. All that remains is to choose to make it so.

Wages of Gloom

Geo-politics, fiscal rectitude, transparency, monetary policy, sovereign debt and constitutionality aside, the Obama years will be marked as an eon of gloom for wage-earners.

There ‘ain’t been nuthin’ in for us, that’s fer dayum sure.

I could link to statistical and commentary sites all showing that wages are stuck or reversing, with no hope for sustained change in sight, but what’s the point? If you are, like me, at the mercy of an arsehole employer, you already know all about it. And if you aren’t in need of a hourly job, you’re probably cruising along.

Those in the asset-owning class are the ones who have made out. Bubbles like never before seen are current in:

* stocks

* bonds

* (lots of) housing

* collectibles

…and all the stuff that doesn’t require actual day-to-day labor. You have had to own assets OR cashflow for the last ten years to have been successful. Even savers have been screwed over with zero rates.

What’s the lesson? Well, for one thing, consider your job a short-term tactic only. All, and I really mean all of your creative energy should be channeled into creating, finding, mining, uncovering, discovering, harnessing and making income from other than hourly work. It is that important. The success of the rest of our lives depends upon it.

Remember: governments are broke (US, Japan, Greece) or committed to failed enterprises (Germany to the EU) or just plain corrupt (almost everywhere else.) So counting on them for anything…well, you figure it out.

Remember: asset bubbles burst; they never, ever last. So all that stuff I listed above? Well…you figure it out.

Remember: income is what makes the world go around. Rents still must be paid; people will always need soap, shampoo and tile cleaner; people still have aspirations, and will work for you if you motivate them. At some point income-producing assets will reach reasonable prices worthy of us investing.

The only question is: Will you be ready when they do? Will you have the cashflow to take advantage?

Wages and Politicians be damned. Let’s get independent.

Money, It’s a Gas

In a perfect world, folks would have a clear idea of their finances. We’d all face up to our money – or lack of it – regularly and dispassionately. But the world is not like that. We’re not like that.

Money creates enormous roadblocks in people’s lives. Too little of it is an obvious problem, but too much can be destructive as well. It’s part of my journey to figure out how to place money in its proper place in our lives, in my life to start, and hopefully others thereafter.

A few thoughts: One, there are way too many people in America who live from payday to payday. Secondly, way too few people have any kind (let’s underline that) any kind of savings. Thirdly, most of these people have no plan to change either of these predicaments. Hope and, well, more hope is their preferred tactic.

This will not work.

On the basis that the way you think is more important than anything, we need to find a new way of thinking about spending, saving, debt, rainy days and the most important element, our incomes. My thinking is to create recurrent income separate from your wages or salary, growing the passive income to eventually supplant whatever you make from your job. That’s what I’m doing.

But you need not follow my plan to the end to make a difference. Creating even a small amount of recurrent income can make a lifetime of difference, and here’s an illustration:

I Tweeted earlier that in the next forty years I’ll spend more than $30,000 dollars on electricity. That figure will be way under, because I simply multiplied my current bill by 480 months. Inflation, increased energy costs and who knows what else will almost certainly make that much, much higher.

Now imagine if you created $65 per month of recurrent income for yourself. You would never have to worry about paying the electricity bill ever again, which would be a relief to many. And the money from your salary that would otherwise go to paying the electricity bill could be used for something else. Saving for emergencies for example, reducing the principal on your mortgage or adding to whatever retirement arrangements you have.

$65 dollars per month, $30,000 dollars overall, and that’s before compounding. Small change, big outcome.

It’s All Going to Hell!

Really, the day the earth tilted.
Really, the day the earth tilted.

 

No, it probably isn’t.

I’m fond of toying with the following aphorism:

[important]In your life, things are never as good as they seem. But things are never as bad as they seem either.[/important]

 

It keeps me buoyant if matters look grim, and in check when everything’s hunky-dory. It falls neatly into the philosophy of “change is coming, for better or worse”, which can be either cock-eyed optimism or self-defeatist gloom depending upon your mood.

The key, in my opinion, is understanding that we never know what’s around the corner. Although our minds fool us into thinking we are aware of all the inputs to our lives, there is no way that’s possible. Imagine that your life is like floating down a river in one of those big inflatable tubes. You can see where you’ve been recently, and more or less where you’re going. But the water all around you hides rocks and currents and eddies and pools and fish and all kinds of things, things over which you have no control.

Only your attitude towards the river and its surprises – good and bad – is within your control. Everything else will be as it will be. Be reassured that around the next bend is something you never thought of, despite all your planning and dreaming. How that affects you is entirely determined by how you look at it, not by the thing itself.

No, the the ocean liner isn’t actually falling off the earth, despite the evidence.