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Living Cheaply is Easier Than You Think

Whenever I talk to people about Semi Retirement for the Under Twenties, the idea of living on part-time wages is the objection that is most often raised. That’s not realistic, you say. Who can live on part-time wages when rents are so high, when houses are unaffordable to buy, when there are cuts and austerity measures with which to contend?

My answer is that you cannot live on part-time wages if you expect to have all the material trappings that people with a full-time career salary think of as essential to living. But your desire for these trappings lessens when you work part-time, and when you have time to do creative, meaningful work. These trappings are only what are required in order to do and survive a full-time career. It is part of your creative life to work out how to live cheaper.

You do not need somewhere of your own to live in order to collapse in silence at the end of a hard day’s work. Save money by house sharing. Better still house share with people who also value creativity, and who also want to live cheaply. You do not need a smart phone, a cheap mobile will do. You do not need the most up-to-date laptop, an older version will be fine. The latest model is only a careerist status symbol. Your creative work will give you your status.

Get rid of your car – live somewhere where a car is unnecessary. You do not need new clothes. There are plenty of great clothes given away to charity shops by people with careers. You do not need to eat out in restaurants. Cook for yourself and invite friends round. If you do need an expensive piece of equipment for your creative work, share it with other people. There are always cheaper alternatives, and having spare time helps you to find them.

If your response to these suggestions is, I don’t want to dress from charity shops, and I’d like a smart phone, this is said with the mindset of the full-time careerist. It is the mindset imposed upon us by the government, by advertising, and by careerists. The parent who says, ‘I worked hard all my life, why do you think you’re any different?’ cannot bear the idea that perhaps they wasted their life with all that work. Ignore the politician who calls you workshy, because you are working at important creative work, you are just not being paid for it. (Besides, your creative work may benefit society in ways that a career selling insurance never will.)

Remember that the main benefit you are gaining in not having these material trappings is not having to work full-time. Control of your time is a wonderful thing denied to many people. When a boss controls the time when you work and reprimands you for being late it is demeaning.

Living cheaply is a creative activity in itself – the semi-retiree is always looking out for new opportunities to live more cheaply. If you are not presently good at managing money you must learn to be. Frivolity with money is not ‘cool’ – it condemns you to the need to earn more of it. And living cheaply is not being a skinflint, as careerists will suggest. It is just one part of finding the time for the creative work that will make your life rich and fulfilling.

  1. July 18th, 2012 at 06:27 | #1

    So well put! I loved this: “These trappings are only what are required in order to do and survive a full-time career.” So true! When you actually have time to enjoy life and explore creative pursuits suddenly the latest iphone and going out to dinner every week doesn’t seem so attractive.

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