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Friday, June 29, 2012

Status and the steady decline of income



My lovely wife and I were talking about our income the other day. In real terms, we expect it to go steadily down. Inflation could eat away at it, or the actual amount could be reduced. Either way, it’s less to live on. That’s been the overall trend for us over the last 20 years.

That doesn’t mean we live less. Just the opposite has happened. Ten years ago we could only afford to travel by living in a tent and staying at campgrounds. It came as quite a shock to realize we could not longer afford to spend most of our time in campgrounds. Last winter we spent time with friends, relatives and on the sailboat. Only a handful of days were spent in actual campgrounds.

Strange to think that living on a sailboat was cheaper than in a tent at a campground. We spent more time on beautiful beaches and went places that could only be reached by boat. Quite a few nights we just set the anchor and stayed for free. When we stayed at a marina, the price was pretty reasonable because our boat is short and they charge by the foot. We get the same services and facilities as everyone else, but pay a lot less for it.

Our custom camping van will save us some motel nights. We only would stay at a hotel to sleep. We can do the whole camp at Walmart in the parking lot thing and sleep just as well. At least the bed will be one we are used to.

Eventually, we hope to sell the house to the kids and move into something like a yurt on the land across the street. We could actually live pretty comfortably in a 20 foot yurt. Winters we would live on a sailboat where the water is warm and the sun is hot.

We plan on adjusting to diminishing income. The other way would be to find more work. Sometimes that’s what you have to do. If time is more important, however, you end up finding different ways to live. Some people work crazy hours to support the things in life that give them status: nice car, big hours, expensive vacations, all the physical signs that a person has made it. My status comes from other things. Having free time to do the things I love is one. Finding alternatives to the conventional way of life is another.

Some people look at something like my ambulance to motorhome project and think I’m some kind of crazy hobo. My vehicle is different looking. I’m handling smelly fry oil and lifting heavy jugs to fuel it. I don’t have a sleek RV with all the toys. I’m really not interested in impressing those people.

It is nice when someone checks out what I’m doing and “gets it.” Often it’s people who live lives of nonconformity themselves. I like talking to those people as we can trade tips on what works. Sometimes it’s someone who lives a normal life on the surface, but has an inner rebel struggling to be free.

Diminishing income is in a lot more people’s future. They just don’t know it yet. Keeping up with the Jones is a fools game. Listen to that inner rebel.

-Sixbears

20 comments:

  1. Status is a strictly limited quantity. Even if we found some source of free energy and we solved global warming, so that everyone had 1000 times as much real income as they do now, there would still be people with high status and people with low status.

    Personally I think an elegant solution is that the more people give away, the more status they have.

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    1. I love a gift economy where giving gets your status.

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  2. Status symbols, IMHO, are a sign dissatisfaction, discontent, insecurity and fear.

    Distinguishing oneself from others based on external objects that require great sacrifice of time and money to acquire does not feed the soul.

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    1. Indeed. The soul is so ignored in our society.

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  3. I also have that trend of flat income for the last 25 years. I'm in manufacturing and the competition from off-shore has decimated manufacturing by small companies in the USA.
    The up side is I enjoy the things I have and do much more and when there's a need to purchase new items it's done with thought vs want and they also have more meaning and value.

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    Replies
    1. Too much of what we acquire is done with little thought. A well thought out quality purchase done once in a great while give more satisfaction than the daily purchase of consumer crap.

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  4. It sounds like the two of you have your priorities in sync, that is a very nice place to be. So many times, our spouse's ideas diverge from ours and conflicts begin.


    Like it or not, I think that many of us will have to learn to be content with less. That will be a good lesson for us. It has been my experience that with the less you have, the more generous you are in sharing what you have with others.

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    Replies
    1. It's said the poor know what it's like to do without and are generous because of it. They also understand what goes around comes around.

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  5. I'll share a saying from folks who know poor like a brother - Appalachian folk: "Use it over, use it up, make do with or do without."

    From six-digit income to no income, it's served me well.

    BriarPatch

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    Replies
    1. That's quite a come down. Sounds like you have the right attitude to thrive.

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  6. In my humble opinion you're a very intelligent man because of the lifestyle you live. Many of us have had to and continue to deal with a diminished income...my business is off by fifty percent and it hurts.

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    Replies
    1. At least your doors are still open. I've seen a lot of closed shops all across the country.

      I'm like that I've got time to think and work on my own stuff.

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  7. I have been frugal all my life, never living above my means and since I worked for myself, some years we had very little income. I saved all my life and now that I will be 70 years old on my next birthday, I do not feel guilty at all about buying a used, but very nice, diesel pusher motor-home. And yes, I paid cash for it. I do not believe in owing money to anyone. That never works out to your benefit.

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    Replies
    1. You've earned it, and are still earning it.

      When times have been really tight, you sure appreciate having a bit of slack once more.

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  8. Sixbears,

    You and the Misses are amazing. Living within your means, finding ways to be frugal and save. Hubby and I are doing the same, eventually we will be residing in a travel trailer (used) on property we will eventually be purchasing. Right now were working on our preparation to get where we will eventually be totally self sufficient.

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    Replies
    1. Good for you. It's surprising how many people have no goals or only vague ideas. Nice to see somone taking the steps needed for freedom.

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  9. It is nice that you have choices. Some of us are just trying to keep up with the few bills we have. My bills don't include a mortgage, we rent, they don't include vacations-anywhere, they don't include a car payment-we bought cheap and used, it certainly doesn't include a boat, lol. Our bills are rent, electric, water, insurance (only what we have to have on the vehicles) and phone and feed for the animals that feed us. Our income has not been good lately and we are barely scraping by on the bills but we have plenty of food and are comfortable and that is all we need right now.

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    1. We came very close to losing it all in the 90s. It is nice to have choices. I've been home too sick and injured to even drive a car while my wife worked two night jobs -and we still lost ground.

      Hope things improve for you.

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  10. Sixbear your so right.I have been looking at my income and its been buying a lot less.After a certain age working more or changing jobs isnt an option we are left with trimming expences.You had to drop health insurance and it cost no one a dime but saved you thousands.unfortunatly people will not be allowed to Listen to that inner rebel.The fed govermant and corperations make nothing off them and will mandate what we have to have, spend.Having lived 2 years without working just side jobs and my BBQ on weekends i see my days are numbered.The PTB want us as wage slaves or totaly dependent on relief. Freedoms are fading fast im glad you have enjoyed it a long as you have.

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  11. There's always ways around the system, but some aren't easy.

    There are trying times ahead.

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