Your Money or Your Life: Valuing Your Life Energy – Maximizing Income

YMOYLThis is the twenty-second part of The Simple Dollar Book Club reading of Your Money or Your Life. Want to know more?

Here, the book takes what I at first thought was a very odd jump based on what came before. Instead of implying that a lower-paying, lower-responsibility job is better (because you can reserve more of your life’s energy for your real work), Your Money or Your Life actually goes down the other path, encouraging you to chase the buck, as long as it’s in alignment with your health and integrity.

They use the example of a person that figured out earlier in the book that they really only need $1,000 a month to live. Now, that person could get a 40 hour a week job making $8 an hour and actually bring home that $1,000 a month. Or, that person could get a job that earns an effective hourly rate of $25 an hour and only work 20 hours a month.

Hold on, I thought, what kind of job would pay that well and only have me work 20 hours a month? The truth is that not many would, but if you change your perspective, you might be able to find a job that does the same thing. For example, look at a tax preparer – that person works crazy (but profitable) hours from January to April, then basically closes up shop until next January. That person might earn the $12,000 they would need for the whole year in those four months, then they can spend the other eight months simply not working and instead doing volunteer work or chasing their dream of writing a great novel.

This actually makes me think of an old friend of mine named Jacob. His philosophy is that he works for about a year for a company, then quits and spends three years doing whatever – usually living almost as a homeless person wandering around the country with a backpack. He’s repeated this cycle at least three times that I know of – he’ll interview for a few jobs, work incredibly hard at them, quit after a year (and he takes a pile of shining recommendations with him) and then wander for three years until the funds run low. Then the cycle repeats.

The point of these stories is that you don’t have to be glued to the traditional get up go to work come home go to bed cycle – there are other options available to you. The key is to know how much you actually need to live and then find the solution that maximizes your hourly wage, getting you to that minimum with as little burnt life energy as possible.

The book offers a few tips on how to get a high-paying, high-integrity job, but the advice isn’t that strong. Smartly, Joe and Vicki point the reader towards What Color Is Your Parachute?, an absolutely brilliant book on just this topic.

The take home from all of this? The only purpose for paid employment is to get paid, so one should either seek the absolute maximum dollar for their work or else get involved in something that provides other life-affirming benefits. If you’re working at Wal-Mart, for example, look for the best retail job you can get, even if it’s part time – that frees you up to do other things – or look for another minimum wage job closer to what fulfills you the most. Either way, you’ll be getting far more out of each hour of life energy you spend.

Tomorrow, we’ll dig into the eighth chapter, “The Crossover Point,” continuing until the subheading “The Power of Working for a Finite Period of Time.” This section appears on pages 259 through 268 in my paperback version of the book.

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