Surviving Without a Salary?!

Did you panic just a bit for me when you read that title?  When I picked up How to Survive Without a Salary by Charles Long, I expected it to be about ultra-frugality and living on basically nothing after losing a job.

handful of euros{photo credit}

That premise enticed me, but what I got was even better: a book on living–and making a living–without a 9-5 job through simple living and pursuing what you really want.  I already quoted the book once, with Long’s point that we can choose stuff that will cost us money (and therefore require us to work more) or we can choose time with loved ones, gardening, visiting on the front porch, things that add meaning to life without denting the pocketbook.  McMansion or tiny house…or somewhere in between.

Now, this is not new stuff to me, or to most people.  But Long makes you think about all the things you’ve assumed.  Here are some of my favorites:

*This Will Rogers quote–“There’s nothing dumber than an educated man, once you get him off the thing he’s educated in”–made me wonder what skills I (or my husband or anybody) have beyond my schooling.  Sure, I hold a BA in English and can write and edit, but could I also build furniture?  Do people’s taxes?  Kick butt washing windows?  Maybe we all need to think about how we else we could support ourselves, beyond one job.

*This one then goes hand-in-hand: “It’s the casual nickel and dime stuff, the once-a-week-if-I-feel-like-it jobs that are easiest to start and stop that provide the freedom only dreamed about by desk-bound nine-to-fivers” (16).

*In third world countries, farmers build their own houses and barns, they save their seeds, plant the seeds themselves, choose what and how to feed their animals–they do it all.  In America, farmers hire all sorts of experts from builders to nutritionists to do these things for them–we all need wider skill sets.

*This quote from page 24 only kindled my desire to build my own house someday: “Any peasant can build a wall.”

*We need to weigh the cost of everything: I need clean, dry clothes.  A dryer needs fabric softener sheets, special wiring, etc.  For us, a clothing rack works just fine…especially since the dryer in our apartment building is overpriced and hardly works.

*Fashion is the “obsolescence and the creation of artificial need” in our closets.  If hem lines are long this season, they won’t be next…but if I keep the same skirt, it will come back in vogue eventually (56).

*I don’t recall the story behind this quote, but I loved the phrase: “the material fast–buying nothing but essentials during a predetermined interlude of Spartan discipline” (78).

*When choosing your own work and setting your own pace (and really, who wouldn’t want that?), it’s important to have some physical work and some creative work in your day.  As a stay-at-home mom, I have that: I clean and cook and keep house but during Pookie’s naptime I write.  The Professor longs for the day we can move onto a farm of our own so that he’ll have that same balance when he comes home from work–we can’t have that now, but every day is one day closer to his PhD!

*Long makes a very interesting case about how freelancing and 9-5 work are pretty much equal in terms of job security.  The longer I think about that, the more it makes sense, but freelancing is tougher to get started in; I imagine once you’ve built up a portfolio and clientele, though, for whatever it is you do, things get easier.

So, that’s how to survive without a salary…in a nutshell, anyway.  Oh, and the entire chapter on auctions makes the book worthwhile.  The Professor and I might start going to auctions…just for fun!

Reader friend, do you think you could live without a salary or a 9-5?  And if you already do, tell me about it!


5 responses to “Surviving Without a Salary?!

  1. Renee March 12, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Your review of this book is very interesting! We had very high electric bills so we stopped using the dryer as much as possible. We installed clothes lines in our cellar, and hang up most of our clothes. We save a lot of money this way, and we already use a dehumidifier in the cellar, so it keeps the moisture down and helps dry the clothes. It’s a little more work, but we save a lot more money!

    Check out the books I read recently here.

    • thismomreads March 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Renee! I hear you about dryers…the one in our apartment building is 75 cents X 3 cycles to actually get anything dry…ain’t gonna happen! Plus the washing machine in the building is $1.75 a load (ridiculous!), so we got a portable washing machine that hooks up to the kitchen sink and rolls back to the hall closet for storage in between. It has already paid for itself!

  2. The Prudent Homemaker March 12, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Being self-employed is a completely different way of life to so many. Those who have alsways been emplyed by someone else can’t imagine it any differently.

    My parnets are self-employed, and my great-grandparents were, too. My husband is self-empoyed, and so is most of his side of the family. Besides being without a salary, we’re sometimes without and income as well. But, sometimes–things are really wonderful! Those who do really well and desire a larger business become those who hire others.

    I agree we all need more skills. I just read an intersting post on that subject a few minutes ago:

    • thismomreads March 13, 2011 at 5:04 pm

      Hi Brandy, I must say that I was happily surprised to see your comment: I found your website during a fit of insomnia a year or so ago and gobbled it right up! Of course, now that I’ve read the article you linked to, I have something else to gobble–thanks!

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