Maybe you have heard comments from the 1950s where some people predicted that the introduction of robotics would lead to work weeks of only a few hours with robots taking care of everything else. I’m sure the steam engine lead to similar predictions. In fact the opposite has happened. We seem to work more than ever. Instead of providing us with more leisure time and less work, technology has made it possible to work even harder at making leisure toys for the masses.

I used to be interested in anti-consumerism. I read adbusters,, Naomi Klein and others. People are anti-consumers for a variety of reasons. One is environmental. Making all this stuff and throwing it away next year requires a tremendous amount of resources, raw materials, land, forests, animals – they all gotta go in the name of the latest and greatest. Another reason is political. Since people pretty much spend their money in the same way, people are inevitably divided into classes according to their earning power resulting in political tension. My original rebellious tack was mostly environmental, but presently I think of myself as a poor aristocrat.

It would seem that the values of early retirees are completely different from most people. Whenever I have a problem, my first thought is not to drive over to Walmart and buy a gadget that will solve my problem. Rather, I sit down and wonder how I got this far without spending money and then I find an alternative solution using creativity rather than credit cards. In many ways, my possessions – my stuff, is quite old, but also selected for high quality to last many years. Good stuff ages well. “Fashionable” stuff ages poorly and thus has to be thrown out and replaced with new stuff to the detriment of the environment, financial independence, and leisure time.

The asset/income ratio of early retirees is also completely different from most consumers. It’s not that assets necessarily are very large (you’d be surprised) – rather it’s the income that is relatively low. For instance, I have learned to live quite well on less than $10000 a year. In other words, I am wealthy by definition, but not rich, hence “poor aristocrat”. I don’t have/spend a lot of money, but what I do spend, I think I spend very well.

What are your spending values?

Originally posted 2007-12-07 03:42:00.