Money & Paycheck Dependence

money and paycheck dependence

Paycheck dependence and free trade are subtle, but morally different concepts. Picture by Images_of_Money.

I just gave my resignation today. In exactly four months, I’ll be a free man – free from a paycheck.

I’ve managed to save more than six months of living expenses, so I’m not worried about living without a paycheck for a while. More importantly however, I am hoping to use this savings to help ween me off the need for a paycheck. I plan to use this time to focus on making money as superfluous in my life as possible.

What I mean by that is that I’m trying to foster more self sufficiency in my life. I acknowledge the inescapable need for money in our society, but I want to reduce my need as much as possible. Think about how much your mortgage, energy bills, and food bills take out of your monthly budget? I know they take the majority of my paycheck. I will be able to take huge chunks out of those costs by living on my boat. Here are some of the ways I plan to reduce my monthly costs of living this year:

  • I will use the time and budget I’ve set up to install a wind turbine as well as solar panels on the Rock ‘n Row. That will provide all the electricity to power my electronics and charge the drive batteries for the 10-HP electric motor.
  • Through a combination of 2-HP gas outboard and 10-HP electric outboard, I am able to travel for 8 hours at 5 MPH in the boat while only using a couple gallons of gas. By running with the tide, I can add an addtional 5 MPH to my speed.
  • A wood stove on the boat allows me to keep the boat nice and toasty with free drift wood found on the beach.
  • A freezer, vacuume packer, canner, smoker, and dryer on board give me many options to harvest and preserve wild food found throughout the islands. The fresh and preserved food found this summer will replace groceries that would otherwise be purchased throughout the next year.

canning clams

Foraging and food preservation is going to be a big focus of mine this summer. Here is a picture from canning clams.

These are all the *ways* I’ll reduce my dependence on a paycheck, but *why* would I want to reduce it you may ask? The reason is because I have a strong moral objection to money that comes from a job. While I have no objection to simple trade, such as you would find in a farmer’s market or professional service, I have always viewed a ‘job’ as voluntary slavery. Think about it: for thousands of years the greatest source of economic output was slavery. But if people voluntarily perform labor in exchange for money, then it’s not slavery. It is however, a proxy.

I think that gainful employment is much more preferable to outright slavery, as long as both parties can come and go of their free will. Free will – that’s the sticky part. That’s why trade is great – two parties conducting business of their own free will. But employment? A job? Presumably you can end that relationship anytime you want, but can you? …really?

squirrel eating its cache

With a great working boat and a cruising kitty, all I have to do is keep my cache stocked. Like a squirrel, I’ll work as I need, adding and removing money and food to my cache throughout the year. Photo by Ingrid Taylar.

Over the last couple years, I’ve learned to see that it’s not my employer that’s had me chained to my desk. It’s the paycheck dependence that did. And that’s not slavery. It’s fear. It’s also very morally compromising and uncomfortable.

I have lived in fear of losing my job the last few years, and I know many others who live with it too. I know people who make plenty of money in a side business, but stay at their jobs for fear of losing their health care. I know I stayed at my job for fear of losing my house and all the work I put into it. Now I am selling it.

If you lost your job, how would you provide for yourself and your family? How would you buy food, pay your mortgage or rent, or heat your home? My boat is my answer to these problems. That’s what living on a boat means to me.

I’m giving up a lot of possessions and a lot of things I thought were important. I want to persue a life that is simple. I want to pursue a life that is filled with beauty, that is sustainable, and leaves a low carbon footprint. For me, 2013 will be the year I give up fear. Like a squirrel, I’ve worked hard to create a cache of cash and life sustaining assets (boat, wind turbine, etc). I will have that cache to fall back on as I learn to adjust to a life that is more in tune with the San Juan Islands that I love. For me, that is a lifestyle of San Juan Sufficiency.

Related posts:

Harvesting Seaweed to Eat - Ulva Sea Lettuce
Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 2
Routine is Heaven and Hell
9 Responses to “Money & Paycheck Dependence”
  1. Ken Schmidt says:

    I like it dude! I wish that I had the resources and courage to do what you are doing. I’m not quite sure how I would get rid of or store all of my tools. I figure that I am chained to the corporate wheel for another 10 years unless a few zombies show up or the economy decides to collapse. I’m led to believe that zombies don’t swim too well. I have much less faith in the economy. We’ll see you out and about!

  2. disqus_sO0ZMvLGjS says:

    Brilliant post, there was a time when I was chained to false securities, hope, and fairy tails. I think walking away was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, and while at times its a struggle, it is also total freedom. Leaving my “secure” job and income made me feel poor and vulnerable at first. Now I realize I’m not broke, I’m even, with no debt I’m free to live life the way I choose. With every single aspect in my life I had to ask one simple question, do I own it, or does it own me. The time will never be right, every day it will become more difficult, its either now or never. Tell your story Chis, its one well worth sharing.

  3. LittleCunningPlan says:

    Great post! Looking forward to reading about your process of becoming completely self-sufficient. I think you are right that sometimes working for someone else, in order to earn a paycheck, especially when you know that less than 1% of the people involved in the company are creating real wealth, feels a bit to close to the bone of slavery. Add that to the fear that the slowed economy has created, fear that many workplaces prey upon in order to drive their workers harder and harder, to produce more with fewer employees, and you get a lethal combination that has a broad and deep impact on our society as a whole. Glad to know that some people can make the break from that vicious cycle.

    • Excellent point! Thank you for the comment and the compliment.

      As an engineer, most of my employers have been large businesses. The waste and inefficiency inherent in a large business has been one of the hardest things for me to deal with in my working life.

      Money for me has never been a big motivator, and much of the work I’ve done at large businesses has seemed pointless. Pushing paper around for the sake of pushing paper around. That feeling of pointlessness is hard for me to swallow. I need to feel that I am adding value to my life or others lives. I need to feel like I’m making a positive influence on the world, even if it’s small. In general, I lose that feeling when employed.

      It is that feeling that motivates me to update this blog. If all I leave behind in my life is an appreciation for the beauty of the San Juan Islands, then it’s not a bad legacy to leave behind.

      • LittleCunningPlan says:

        What you experienced is actually born out in research. Decades ago there was a study done whereby they hired people to move boxes from one side of a warehouse to the other. All day long. That’s all. Just moving the boxes. There was no rationale to it, and no ‘larger picture’. By the end of the first day lots of people had quit. So they increased the pay. They retained a few, but in the end, almost everyone quit because they couldn’t take the monotony and the lack of purpose in the work. I’m a therapist and am fortunate to have my own practice. Since the economy tanked, I’ve seen a greater percentage of my clientele coming in for work stress due to being over worked because businesses do not want to hire, and also having to do many jobs other than the ones they know how to do. It’s amazing how across the board this is, from big companies to small ones, and government agencies. My husband is only a couple of years from retirement from Boeing. I cannot wait until he can get the heck out of working for the ‘big machine’. Best of luck to you!

  4. Mid-Life Cruising! says:

    Congratulations on giving up the job! We’re trying to sell our house so we can do the same thing … live life, not just exist. Enjoy!

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