Adopting the capitalist mindset naturally bends our thinking towards earning money, because literally the opposite can kill us. Without money, the system disables us from obtaining basic needs like food, water, health care, etc.
Financial Independence != Freedom
Either we don’t talk about money or we do so openly, which I find strange, as there’s almost no middle ground between the two. The former often vilifies the subject of earning money, pinning on people hell-bent on building wealth whatever the cost. The latter, more often than not, litters financial independence blogs and forums for tips and tricks.
I believe that we should be living the Revolution. At the same time, we should also acknowledge that its fruits will be for future generations. In the meantime, who shall start the discussion of how much is enough when we talk about personal property?
Clearly, it sucks to be below the poverty line. Everybody, including the state, actively works against your odds if you’re poor. Doesn’t help when you’re constantly labeled as lazy or unwilling or hard-headed, in spite of the mounting evidence that it isn’t your fault for being poor.
Does this mean that we should start obsessing over hoarding money, and try to deepen our pockets so it opens more opportunities?
One thing I like about the seasoned “veterans” of the FI/RE movement (“Financial Independence / Retire Early”) is that many of them encourage you to have a target number in mind, it being the amount of money you can live on without having to work (in the traditional sense) again. This number is the amount of money you need to retire completely from the so-called rat race, and, as a rough estimate, is supposed to be somewhere between 15 to 30 times your annual expense, depending a number of factors like lifestyle choices (or changes), income, luck, etc.
In order to determine your annual expense, you need to start tracking your expense first! I suggest doing it for a month, just to build the habit, but if that’s too much, you can do weekly. When you have a month’s worth of expenses, multiply it by 12 (or by 52 if you only did the weekly), and you now have a rough estimate of your annual expense. Of course, the longer you track your expenses, the cleaner the data, the more accurate your tracker will be.
This retirement number is supposed to be a limit to save us from either grinding ourselves to death, or from obtaining obscene amounts of dough that we wouldn’t know how to spend it.
This limit also serves as a reminder of what we actually need to exist for the remainder of the retirement years. Billionaires and billionaire-wannabes don’t get this: having more than you need literally endangers other people’s lives, not to mention it enables the destruction of environment. Having that much amount of money creates imbalances everywhere. Or perhaps they do know it, it’s just that they couldn’t be bothered to care less, which makes them worse.
So… must you invest in the stock market?
Money is important under capitalism, and our society still relies on this utilitarian aspect of it.
Compared to trading, which I’m highly opposed to, investing in stock market strikes a nice balance between asset growth (or really, preservation) and passivity. Sure, I’m not keen on raking millions ora mismo but I’m not naive to dispel that money loses it’s value over time through inflation, among other things.
Some Good Reasons you might not want to Invest
Now let’s list (some, not all of) the arguments against investing (or even trading), all of which are valid, and pose real threat to people and environment.
You don’t like Corporations
There are stocks, effectively companies, that you don’t want to support. Some companies (e.g. Jollibee, SM, San Miguel Corp.) are involved in questionable labor practices. Some actively destroy the environment (e.g. Petron, Semirara, Philex).
If you’re into mutual funds, well, they contain a basket of stocks and/or bonds of different entities, whether corporation or government, already involved in aforementioned malpractices.
You don’t like the harmful effects of cryptocurrency
Major cryptocurrencies (“crypto” from this point), like Bitcoin and Ethereum require large amounts of energy, due to computations needed for mining and maintaining the blockchain. It gets worse when that energy is obtained from burning coal.
The intensive energy requirement takes a toll on the equipment, or the “mining rigs”, significantly shortening their life span. These equipment, when no longer fit for the job, will likely be added to the already kilotons of e-waste.
People wanting to ride on this bandwagon drives the demand for more computing equipment, like graphical processing units (GPUs), creating a global semiconductor shortage.
Chip fabrication is a very expensive operation. Such facility would require very precise conditions to be met—temperature, humidity, cleanliness, highly-skilled professionals, etc. More importantly, the upkeep also taxes the environment: since chip fabrication is also energy-intensive, it’s heavily subsidized by fossil fuel; or rather, chip fabrication is brought to you by cheap fossil fuel which in turn is subsidized by governments all over the world.
And to top it all off, hackers, scammers, and other bad actors hover around cryptos looking to make easy money, and/or to influence disrupt something to make more easy money.
You find existing services to be bad
You cannot expect the UI/UX of any online brokers (assuming that’s what you’d be using) to be any good. They can be ugly at best, confusing at worst.
Don’t assume that anywhere in the tech stack of their platform, somewhere runs a free and open source software. It might be because the software engineers running them are either understaffed, overworked, underpaid, or some combination of all three.
Going through all of the above, and then some, it’s only fair to ask yourself whether you want to fund any of them.
The investing path that I take isn’t foolproof, that much I know. But as I wait for the money to grow passively (which I’m now doubting given our pandemic), I can learn a few useful skills here and there that can actually be of help should the society as we know it begin to collapse.
“I’m a Millenial, (un)fortunately, and my retirement plan is Societal Collapse.”
– an internet meme
Whatever the outcome is—whether Capitalism is abolished and money is rendered useless, or Capitalism flourishes for 2,000 more years—my chances of “getting by” is a bit higher when I take the investing route.
Our efforts shall not be muddied, though.
We must still seek to abolish Capitalism,
if that’s not clear enough;
and make the changes now,
no matter the perceived significance,
so long as it’s toward our goals.