Saturday, 1 July 2017

Another perspective on freedom

I shared my previous post on a couple of subreddits - /r/simpleliving and /r/FIREUK - reddit's quite a good way of getting some traffic, incidentally, once you find the right niche - to see what sort of reactions it might generate from those communities.  'FIRE' stands for 'Financial Independence Retire Early' (in the UK - there's also a general (i.e. American) subreddit on the same topic) so is only tangentially related to my interests.  Still, it's never wise to ignore any source of useful information.

A comment on the /r/simpleliving thread from has been rattling around in my mind all morning.  Blunt, and stimulating, in an internetty kind of way, the commenter wrote:
I apologize, but if this life is simple and stress-free, why spend on alcohol at 50% the rate that you spend on food, and buy time in a floatation tank? Why obsess about finances so much that you feel the need to write about them and share with the world?
The empirical evidence is that this person is living a stressful, complicated life largely due to finances.
Want a simple life? Educate yourself, earn more, live minimally, save a lot, retire early.

These are all excellent questions.  I responded, with all available humility:
Good questions, thanks for asking. I didn't spend time in the flotation tank because I'm feeling stressed, it's just something I've always wanted to do. Never done it before, it was a very stimulating experience.
Slightly shocked I spent so much on alcohol this month but again this is quite unusual.
I keep track of my finances month to month to keep myself disciplined, and share them with the world to see what others might think, or if they've suggestions for how to save in the future.
My ultimate goal is to live without money or work altogether, and I quit my job to work part time to explore how I might do this. Obviously I've a long way to go :)
After posting this, I began to wonder how honest I was really being here.  Do I really "keep track of my finances month to month to keep myself disciplined"?  I know that's at least part of the intention, but is that the function it serves?  Why share the dull details of my expenses with the world?  Turns out I'm not really sure.

Using an app like Spendee certainly goes some way towards discouraging excessive spending: and, I feel, posting your expenses on pubic forums like reddit or a personal blog, even more so.  But perhaps that isn't the psychologically most healthy way to go about this.  Am I just deliberately "shaming" myself?  Perhaps not, since I don't seriously think anybody else actually cares how much I spent last month, or how.  I'm more mindful of how sharing information like this might help other people struggling in similar ways to free themselves from dependency on money, both actually and philosophically.  But that isn't really it either.
It may be that I just don't know why I'm doing it, and I think that's what rattles me more.  Maybe I'm just doing it because it's something to do.  Maybe I actually am "obsessing".  I do that sometimes.

I find myself asking the question as to whether it's time to take the plunge back into the world of work again, maybe even full time.  Perhaps the last year of my life has been about exploring my own personal limitations; what I lack, as much as what I have.  I know what I want - to be free from money, to live peacefully, simply and immediately - to be animal in almost every sense of that word - but I also know how little I'm actually, really, prepared to do to achieve that.  I'm no entrepreneur, that's for bloody certain.  In all honesty I think if £200-300 came into my bank account every week out of nowhere I'd spend the rest of my life just generally farting about: doing a bit of gardening, writing maybe, trying to be slightly more creative, more or less as I do now.  I don't think anything would really change that much.  I'm too lazy to make my dreams come true.  To be honest I'd rather just dream.

Am I still just as "stressed" as I was when I was earning more money than I needed?  Is that why my alcohol consumption has crept back up again?  No.  I'm more bored than I expected to be with the extra free time I now luxuriate in.  But I'm happier too.  Perhaps my standards have just slipped.  Perhaps it's the Prozac.  Could be I'm ready to reduce the dose further.  Could be I'm just making excuses.  This post has no real conclusion; it just ends.

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