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.
So while the Revolution is still several lifetimes away (let’s face it), 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 pocket 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 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.
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.