This blog is about Voluntary Work – the idea that work is good but that it’s much better to avoid HAVING to work to make ends meet. That’s what I call Forced Work.
Because of his financial position, the Voluntary Worker doesn’t need to work for money, but works nonetheless. He finds satisfaction in getting things done, and he savours the pleasantly-tired feeling at the end of the day that reminds him of his efforts that have left the world a slightly better place. And knowing that he didn’t HAVE to do that work to put food on the table makes it all the sweeter.
The Voluntary Worker can be flexible without having to worry about his next meal. If he really wanted to, he could study the habits of ants (inspiringly hard-working creatures that they are) for a day or a month, just for his own betterment. Just knowing that the work he’s doing is truly by choice gives him a sense of freedom and flexibility even though he may be doing hard or even unpleasant work. A pink slip might be undesirable but will not inconvenience him financially.
On the other hand, the Forced Worker must work for pay in order to survive. Job security is very important to him, he may feel that he is slipping behind financially even though he is working hard, life can feel like a grind, and he may not even be able to take holidays. A pink slip might mean financial catastrophe.
How does a man make the transition from Forced Worker to Voluntary Worker? Full posts on these topics to follow:
- learn to love (or at least like) hard work
- increase what you are paid
- spend dramatically less than you earn
- avoid debt like the plague
- save some of your surplus and invest some
I’m a Voluntary Worker. We’re not ‘rich’ by Western standards, but my wife and I could live on the income from our investments for the rest of our lives, and on our present track our children would probably inherit more than we have now even if neither of us worked for money again. However, I work full-time, for pay – not because I need the money but because I enjoy what I’m doing, I want to get better at it, I have plans for some of the surplus we’re accumulating, and because I think that work is good. If I take a break from paid employment, as I have been doing for the last few months, I will still be working.
This blog is not about my personal story, although I will probably discuss it at times for illustration. I have been fortunate in many ways in my life, but I’ve never won the lottery or been given any money. I have not always liked work, and I have not always been frugal – and I did not become a Voluntary Worker until I improved in [not mastered] both of those areas. I still have a lot to learn about working and frugality, but I’m a long way from where I started.
We spend much less money than most people around us, but our standard of living is at least as high as most because we pay pretty close attention to how we spend our money (we don’t track our spending, though, and don’t really have a typical budget – we use a very simple form of envelope budgeting using and weekly transfers between online accounts). We are happy to live without frequent travel, expensive cars and a big house because they don’t appeal to us all that much and because even if they did we’d be willing to pass in return for the freedom we have.
What about people who do ‘volunteer work’? That’s great, but different. In my world, that makes you a volunteer. (I realise that the terminology will confuse some, but never mind!) Of course, some Voluntary Workers are volunteers too. However, they are called Voluntary Workers because paid employment is optional for them.
Perhaps a summary will be helpful:
If a man can support himself with his investments indefinitely but he still works, he is a Voluntary Worker.
If a man works because he cannot pay the bills otherwise, he is a Forced Worker.
If someone gives a man money to pay the bills, he is a Beneficiary. (Some people, through no fault of their own, are unable to work and would perish without support from others. I think people in this category should be supported if at all possible. I don’t believe that people capable of work should be allowed not to work. I do not plan to tackle the problem of unemployment on this blog.)