As my dad put it, as of tomorrow, he’s going on 89. Today was his 88th birthday. I do like the way he looks ahead. And, I’m amazed at what he had to do to get here. Hard work has always been a reality for the majority of the population, unless you believe the anthropologist’s tales of pre-civilization subsistence living. (Really, only three hours a day?) For most people, hard work is a necessity, not a choice; because, when you’ve decreased expenses far enough the only way to go forward is to increase income. Time is money, so spend time making more money – even if it takes every day.
Take your monthly expenses, divide by 30, and get the amount of money you have to make every day. Remember, taxes are an expense too; even if they are only paid annually. $1,000 per month is about $33 per day, and is only half of the poverty level. $2,000 a month is about $66 per day, just about exactly the poverty level for a family of four, and works out to about $8 per hour – after taxes. It doesn’t take much of a mortgage to get to $3,000 per month which is roughly $100 per day – a rate that some folks make in an hour, including me when I get to charge full rate for consulting. Have anything go wrong with health, a house, or a car, and the annual, monthly, daily, and hourly expenses rise quickly.
The essence of personal finance is; “Spend less than you make. Invest the rest.” If you are able to do that, and are actually doing it, congratulate yourself. You are definitely headed in the right direction.
Considering that the median net worth in the US is less than $20,000 when housing prices are ignored (which is easy to do now because the market is so uncertain), there are a lot of people who haven’t had much to invest. As of 2012, one-sixth of Americans live in poverty and the majority of Americans will spend some time in poverty even if they aren’t there now.
It seems that it should be easy to stay above that poverty line, make more than enough every day, and eventually accumulate far more than one year’s expenses.
Of course, millions of people are making more than enough. Many are making just as much, and only need to change their spending habits to decrease expenses and increase investments – no job change required. Yet, there are millions that, despite low unemployment, can’t make enough or are close enough to the edge that they experience that perpetual anxiety of imminent loss.
The inescapable reality is math. Working every day is unsustainable. My Rule of 7 suggests I should work every day based on my net worth, but eventually I have to take a day off. Maybe next week. That should be my fifth day off this year, just about one every other month. Taking more time off makes a lot of sense. Productivity rises. Health improves. Stress is relieved. A sense of life returns. Yet, math remains. For anyone trying to make enough, working five days a week instead of seven means having to make 40% more on each of those five days. 7/5 = 140%. Have you asked for a 40% raise lately?
Others are working their way there, but as Bagpiper Don posted;
“Feel like you’re working so hard you’ve become INSANE?
Give your “MY GHOD I’M FLIPPIN’ NUTZ!” battle-cry of a near-crazy person here.”
He has one business (music), and is starting another one (biscotti – site under construction), and probably hasn’t had a day off in a long time. The easiest way to tell the days of the week is probably by the health inspector’s office hours. If they’re open, it must not be the weekend. Biscotti is coming soon. (Got a gluten-free version?)
Another friend has a business called Savvy Caddy Wallets (go to his site for details). Good products are not enough. Cash flow must be managed. Inventions must be pursued. Fellow inventors must be advised, especially if they recognize the value of his experience. Alan and his wallets can’t take a day off, unless the cash flow improves, venues open up, or the next invention comes to market ahead of schedule.
Both of these entrepreneurs could use some venture capital.
I’m amazed that my dad managed to maintain a similar pace for decades. My parents raised three sons, got us all through college with good degrees, and at least in my case sent me off into the world without a debt – except for the feeling of never being able to pay them back for the good things they did for me. Dad worked six days a week, and for years worked more than one job. Driving truck for a while, then managing a small oil depot, and even running a service station. I didn’t see much of him except on Sundays. Mom worked too, tending disabled kids and eventually establishing an ambulance service (volunteer, I believe.)
It wasn’t easy then. It isn’t easy now. But somehow we survive. And I suspect that part of the secret is every day meeting those every day realities; “Spend less than you make. Invest the rest.” And then, regardless of the math, take some time off and remember to live.
Happy Birthday, Dad – and thanks.