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The economics of working less  RSS feed

 
Olivier Asselin
Posts: 63
Location: Ariege, France
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Hi,

I'd like to know if some people here have experienced working less to produce more of their own food for instance, or maybe couples where one person stopped working to spend more time doing other things that in turn helped reduce actual expenses, etc. while the other kept their job.

I'm wondering if there's a valid argument for working less "for money", and more for "real things", since this would also theoretically bring down a lot of other costs (transportation, food, gym membership!)

Thanks,

Olivier
 
Daniel Camoles
Posts: 8
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Hi.

You may want to take a look at Ralph Borsodi's books.

My wife stays home and it helps a lot with our financial targets. It's also very easier to have a good diet.
 
Kate Nudd
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Olivier,Hi
I decided several years ago to work part time and live more. ( and this meant letting go of saving for retirement)This came about because I was not as happy with my work as I had once been and I had become ill. As I shift from what society sees as normal to a more fulfilling life for myself,I remain more tied to the former system then I'd like to be. Progress on a tiny trailer house continues as does the search for 'affordable'(within my budget) land and/or a community to join. Until then I have a mortgage to pay on my present home.
I do have more time/energy for growing food, hanging laundry,doing dishes by hand,helping others build with cordwood/cob/clayslipnstraw,reusing,salvaging, deeper more authentic relationships( with myself first of all and also with others),walking/cycling,preserving food,and the list goes on and on. I am healthier and more at peace.
Once the house is sold and I am settled somewhere else, I will shift to a even smaller part time job within an area that gives me more fulfillment. A day a week is what I aim for.
All the best.
Kate
 
Olivier Asselin
Posts: 63
Location: Ariege, France
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I think I was approaching the question from an angle of : working less, means you earn less money, but also means you need less money, because you produce or make more of the things that would cost you money in the first place, while saving on other costs, such as the cost of driving your car to work every day.

But of course there are other benefits that can't fit into a mathematical equation, and that can't be given a monetary value, for instance the way you talk about how you can have more authentic relationships.

This is something I really want to do myself, to try and work less, and live more, and I'm looking for the right place to do it at the moment, while working on a documentary film project. I'm looking for people like you, who've changed their lives, and would be willing to share their stories to show people that alternatives exist, to inspire them into changing their lives too.

Let me know what you think.

Thanks,

Olivier
 
Daniel Camoles
Posts: 8
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There's a lot of people focusing on working less and living more that you can find in financial independence blogs and forums around. From a math viewpoint, if your goal is financial independence, spending less is twice more important than earning more.
 
Olivier Asselin
Posts: 63
Location: Ariege, France
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Thanks for the tip Daniel. Do you have any links to some of those forums/blogs?
 
Daniel Camoles
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You can start at www.mrmoneymustache.com
 
David Chapman
Posts: 36
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It depends.

I say it depends because it depends on how militant you are about saving money. I stay at home and work on our food forest. However, we have not seen short term savings because:

1. We have increased expenditures for items like fruit trees and other materials for the food forest.
2. We haven't gotten rid of my car as I still need to go shopping often enough that it doesn't make sense.
3. The food forest isn't producing enough to greatly reduce our food bill.

My wife and I are militant about eating 100% organic. As such, our food bill for just the two of us was a little over $700.00 at its peak. Now it's in the $500's because of the reduction in food costs due to what the food forest and garden are producing. So it's starting.

BUT:

A. If you went about creating your garden/food forest in a more frugal manner than us, then you'd save more money over the short term.
B. We COULD get rid of my car and all it's associated expenses right now, but it wouldn't be as efficient. But it would definitely be doable and we hope to in about two years.
C. As the food forest produces more and more, I hope for our monthly food bill to get down to around $100.00 AND for me to be able to sell enough from the food forest where it's actually profitable for us.
D. It's hard to quantify the loss of potential expenditures such as health outlays because we are eating so healthy.
E. As food becomes more and more expensive (I believe it will be) I feel our food forest will turn out to be an absolutely fantastic investment.

 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1422
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Yes Olivier, I did quit working to save money in 1980. The expense of day care, disposable diapers, ready made food, baby formula and so forth was about equal to my income.

We only had time to get the baby up, feed, run to the sitter, go to work, get home, eat, go to bed. Somewhere in there we had to find time to clean the house, do laundry, take showers etc. That was day after day after day. No life as far as I am concerned.

So I quit work – eliminating over half our income since I had the higher income - used cloth diapers, breast fed, learned to cook and bake, sewed my childrens clothes on an antique treadle sewing machine. No paper towels or napkins, no disposable plates or cups. Since we lived in Greece and did not have a washing machine I also washed clothes by hand.

I had TIME to do these things. There was no rush and it was not drudgery. We still had money to go out to local restaurants and we now had the time to do it. We walked most places. We also had time, and money for gas, to take road trips up and down the coast and enjoy the country. We had time to go to parties at our friends houses.

I am getting ready to try that out again. Two years and counting. I will take a severe penalty to retire early but I will have a meager monthly income. My husband will still work but his income is not part of my plan. We will, again, lose over half our income but I am pretty sure that we will be able to maintain an above average quality of life by cutting our expenses and providing for many of our needs right here at home.

*Important part of my plan - as David says - food will get more expensive. I firmly believe that 'real food' will become almost completely unavailable. Only those of us who have our own source at home will be able to eat wholesome uncontaminated food. So I feel that spending my time developing and learning to provide my own food I am making a better investment that continuing to work for a full retirement. I really feel that those dollars could not buy me the quality of food that I have right here at home.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Another consideration is taxes. If you lower the household income, you pay a lower rate of taxes, on less income.

A person at a 30% rate who wants to buy a $1,000 item, needs to earn $1429 in order to clear $1,000.


 
Shimon Pearson
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When my wife decided to stop working because we cannot find and trust someone to take care of our baby, I believe there was not much difference on how we lived when we were both employed. We were able to save the money that we were supposed to pay for the sitter, homecooked meals are always on the dinner table which means a lot healthier and cheaper compare to buying restaurant meals.
 
Cynthia Callahan
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5 years ago I lost my high stress job (blessing) and opted to take my pension rather than another high stress caustic job. My husband and I sold our "DREAM" errr maybe Nightmare.. home and bought a extreme fixer.
we did the repairs and improvements our selves and sold it last spring for a profit. We purchased a home on 5 acres in an area that will produce more food than we will need, so potential income abounds. Any repairs / improvements we have done we always get a bid from several contractors, freak out over the cost of supporting another family and do the work our selves. every home we lived in has made us money. This time, I do not want to move again, So instead of starting projects that add value to the home I am concentrating on making it a homestead. If I never sell a carrot or an apple I will be ahead, my food bill will drop by 90% by August this year. My children and their families will also enjoy the bounty, in turn their food bills will decrease. This acts as a buffer to the terrible inflation we suffer. If you sit and do nothing rather than walk your talk, keep a day job. If you don't think of farming/gardening/cooking/canning/building or repairing as a job the money you DO NOT MAKE has no negative consequence.
 
Paul Ely
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A penny saved is a TAX FREE penny earned.
 
K Nelfson
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Remember, food is cheap in America. It costs less for food here in the USA than pretty much any other country, even including the developed countries. Course, that's not the organic diet mentioned above. But the point is that your garden probably won't save you very much money. It's a better lifestyle, I think, and that's reason enough for me.

However, if you ditch the second/third/extra car, scale back one the cell phone, and daycare, you'll save a lot.

 
Jocelyn Campbell
master steward
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Location: Missoula, MT
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I thought this couple had an interesting method that they describe as "gainful unemployment."

From Shannon Hayes' Gainful Employment post:


Gainful unemployment is slightly different from radical homemaking, although the two strategies used together make for a dynamic synergy. In radical homemaking, someone from the household may have a normal job while someone else in the household works to keep living expenses low by helping the household to produce more than it consumes. Gainful unemployment is a strategy that Bob and I had to figure into the mix in order to survive, as it became clear early on that neither one of us wanted to go out to a job, and we still needed to pay some bills.

With gainful unemployment, a livelihood comes from myriad sources. If one income stream fails, it is never more than just a part of the income portfolio, which means it is significantly easier to replace than a full-blown salary. Another attribute of gainful unemployment is that all the different income sources draw upon myriad skills. Some sources of income come from physical work, some from intellectual work, some from skilled craftsmanship or artistic work. Bob and I have found that this reduces boredom, but also provides greater security if an injury or emotional trauma prevents us from doing one particular form of work. – A broken leg may make house painting an inappropriate income stream for a while, but a person could still do web design. A traumatic event in the family may make it difficult to focus on desk work for a spell, but the physical work of tending plants or livestock would be a welcome reprieve.


Since I've quoted a bit much already, go to their article and read it; especially the last paragraph where Hayes sums up that they believe this lifestyle provides far more substantial rewards than a typical income or day-to-day job.
 
Lisa Marie
Posts: 17
Location: North Carolina
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:I thought this couple had an interesting method that they describe as "gainful unemployment."

From Shannon Hayes' Gainful Employment post:


~ I also thought this family had an interesting lifestyle. And it would be nice if we could all live like that! However, not all of us own a 160 acre farm with sheep, chickens, cows, horses......
This lady is very fortunate that her parents own this Garden of Eden. And she also describes in her article all her residual income streams. She is a writer and sells e-books. But the farm itself sells candles and salves made from beef tallow as well as 100% sheep's wool blankets among other things. It sounds like a wonderful life!!
 
Greta Fields
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Olivier,
There is most certainly an argument for working less.
An organized lifestyle for working less is contained in the books of Helen and Scott nearing, especially Living the Good Life and Continuing the Good Life.
They worked half a day at survival tasks, and got more done in their old ages than most people get done in a lifetime. They developed two extensive homesteads with many hand-built stone buildings when they were 60 to 90. They accomplished building wonderful homesteads by careful planning.
They did everything themselves, as old as they were! They had one truck.
They practiced a "use economy", where they bought only what they used and could not produce -- namely, gas for the truck and some tools. They got everything else right off the land, or occasionally bartered for something. They were vegetarians.
They had one cash crop, blueberries, which produced enough money for things they had to buy. They wore the same old clothes every day.
People have lost sight of the Nearings, but I recently read their books over again, and they are just as good now as ever. What they did better than other people was plan carefully so that time was never wasted during their half days of work.
Scott, like Wendell Berry, was kicked out of a university -- actually several universities -- because of his "radical" views [He lobbied to end child labor!!!].
 
Dawn Hoff
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Location: Andalucía, Spain
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I stooped working six years ago to stay at home with our son. Now I used to work as a statistical programmer in the medical industry, so economically we have "lost" a lot - like we could have bought a new car every year for the difference in income - even in Denmark where cars are taxed by 200% but we didn't need a new car every year and what we got in exchange was a less stressful life and a closer relationship with our kids.

We didn't have a garden back then, so we primarily saved on: Childcare, transportation, food (more food was made from scratch as I had the time), union membership (not a nessecity, but legal support has served us well in the past), tax (in Denmark I payed a lot in taxes and my husband could get most of my deductions when I stopped working). Out kids and I primarily use secondhand clothes, on the other hand our electrical bill rose quite a lot from being home all day.

Now we have bought a homestead (in Spain) and we are fitting it to be completely off grid. We will be debt free in 3 years. Thus all the income we need to have is to pay property-taxes, every thing else is on a "nice to have", not a "need to have". We use all of our savings to attain this, but we will then also be almost completely of the need to have an income. We actually came to permaculture out of a desire to have this independence, not the other way around.
 
Creighton Samuiels
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A wise man said, "Growing your own food is like printing your own money."

I'll take that even farther; not just growing your own food, but watching your own kids, cutting your own firewood, cooking your own meals and fixing your own electrical/plumbing/engines are like printing your own money. The advantage is that you're not really quiting working, you're quitting working for someone else. Working for your own household often has a tax rate of zero percent. This used to be normal for our culture. Sure, women's equality brought many good things, but it also brought with it the two income family norm. The market adjusts to an increased labor pool as well as it adjusts to anything else; so while the two income family standard certainly did increase the GDP of the country as well as the tax burden of the household, can anyone really say that it actually improved the standard of living? Probably for some, but even then, I doubt that it doubled it.

My wife has a degree in Microbiology, and worked in her field for Proctor & Gamble, mostly testing their new products for anti-microbial properties. With the additional car payments, the additional food bill (a lot of eating out) and the additional daycare costs; not to mention that we went up one tax bracket, her full time job only contributed a net gain of about $120 per week. It also caused my wife much stress, and she hit the glass ceiling in her department pretty quick. She decided that she'd rather stay home and homeschool our kids. We adjusted our budget to accomodate the lost $120 a week, and my wife was enjoying her daily work again. Within 6 months, I had made up that $120 a week in my own advancement. When one parent chooses to stay home and support the career of the other, that is a job itself. One that produces many great dividends for the family that never show up on a tax return. One might need that additional income to live to a certain expectation. One does not need that kind of income to live well. After all, that's what we work for anyway, right? I know that I don't work for money because I enjoy the artwork depicting long dead presidents.
 
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