2015 Mid-Year Review – Virtue of Wealth

2015 Mid-Year Review – Virtue of Wealth

A Spanish language social business model
By Busienss life (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I’m breaking out of my virtue sequence to look at the 2015 mid-year review wealth because a number of things have happened that make the virtue of wealth more important than I would really like it to be. I mentioned in the July Progress Report that we had replaced our clothes washer and dryer, and that as we’d bought most of our appliances at the same time it seemed likely we had some more replacing on the horizon. There’s been some delayed (for too long) purchasing, and my Calendar just reminded me that I’m a month away from the time I was planning to meet up with Toseland in Spain. wlEmoticon-disappointedsmile.png

I really don’t want wealth to be more important than my other virtues, but I have to acknowledge that things don’t improve just because you want them to.  As a Stoic, I tend to identify the worst possible outcomes, prepare some contingencies and in this way preserve my equanimity and therefore my sense of wellbeing. Nothing worse than being blind-sided.

Six(ish) months ago I developed the overarching goal of maximising incomings and minimising outgoings, partly to secure the present, and partly to prepare for the future.

Wealth

I feel prosperous, my income
meets my needs.

incomeI have sufficient income to meet my needs.
expenseI am frugal and spend money wisely.

At the time, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) suggested a retired couple living “modestly” required $33,120 per annum, or “comfortably”, $57,195. So I set myself the target of half the ASFA comfortable couple income at $29,163 (with a private stretch target hourly rate). I also mentioned that the difference between “modest” and “comfortable” lifestyles included the ability to replace household goods, so if we were a retired couple living modestly, I would either be visiting the coin laundry once a week or hand washing everything.

income

I decided I could achieve that income by not ruling out part-time or temporary work, developing some kind of business, making bead necklaces and selling them at the market, renting out a room and literally begging.

Six months later, I have achieved 9% of my target income, and a jar of jam…

Rating: wlEmoticon-disappointedsmile.png

Clearly remedial action needs to take place.

When I first developed my goals in this area, I had a 10% chance of achieving paid work and any work that I did secure was more likely to be transitory. The job situation is slightly worse now than in January with more people looking for work, and the highest proportion of long-term (52 weeks) and very long term (104 weeks) unemployed in 13 and 15 years.

Added to this, I know that I have suffered some skill degradation and that it is unrealistic to look for work at the same level of seniority (and salary), but I’m not sure how to price myself anymore. A quick Google search suggests I can expect an increase of 3 – 5% for each year of employment, but a long and complicated search doesn’t offer any advice on devaluing myself. If the same rate is true for unemployment, I can expect a 20% cut, but that doesn’t seem like much when American analysts (revealed in aforementioned long and complicated search) recommend slashing the minimum wage and cutting unemployment benefits to stimulate employment (though they didn’t make any suggestions about where the jobs were coming from).

So if I wasn’t as depressed and demotivated as social analysts predicted before, I certainly would be now. Despite offering tips to help others manage unemployment misery I really did lose the heart and motivation to keep looking. So I “took some time off” and wrote Stress Free Dinner Parties. And rediscovered a long-forgotten passion, falling head-first into the business of being an author and starting to write Build Your Signature Wardrobe (which is a few short weeks away from publication). But making money from books is a long term game and I have a lot to learn before I can really call this a job rather than something that fills the endless hours of unemployment. So the next step is to write a business plan, set some targets, do some research and make this a business.

And look for some freelance editing and writing work as well.

In case you wondered, making and selling bead necklaces at the market is not going to produce sufficient income to make it worth doing, I would rather beg than take in a lodger and I would rather find paid employment than beg.

expense

I decided that to spend less I would: pursue a Lean shopping methodology, Just-In-Time-Delivery, set budgets, negotiate better rates with utility providers and walk more.

The Lean shopping and Just-In-Time-Delivery are doing very well. And I am pathetically proud of how well my little attempts to save a little money and reduce waste are working out, though we do tend to spend the difference on more expensive cheese and wine…

I have started looking at changing utility providers, but it’s like comparing apples with apples. I’m trying to compare the crispness of Pink Ladies with the sweetness of a Jonathan or the richness of the Golden Delicious with the acidity of a Bramley. I can only take about five minutes at a time. But I really really must apply myself and get some quotes – all I really know is that I want to pay less, don’t want to enter a fixed term contract and don’t want to pay by direct debit – all the things that are going to bring the biggest savings.

Rating: wlEmoticon-smile.png

Revised Plan:

  • renew contacts with employment agencies
  • list editing and writing gigs on freelance sites like Fiverr
  • write an author business plan
  • learn about marketing and promotion and apply to business
  • get cheaper utilities

ASFA recently raised their comfortable income forecast to $58,444, but I am going to leave my income target at $29,163. It’s a bit mean to move the goalposts halfway through.

 

How are your finances doing – are you happy with your efforts to reduce your expenses and/or achieve more income?

 

Recap

Reviewing the virtues of:

Planning for the virtues of:

  • beauty – living authentically and taking care of our physical well-being and surroundings (body, presence, home, and garden)
  • friendship – treating the planet and other beings as well as we want to be treated (creatures, friends, family, contribution)
  • pleasure – agreeing to seek out new experiences as well as make time to do unproductive things.
  • wisdom – understanding ourselves and making choices based on the things we value
  • wealth – having sufficient income to meet our needs and spending it wisely

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