May 19, 2008

Things fall apart

'Many of the people we are seeing borrowed money over the past couple of years simply because they could. I had a young semi-professional in last week who owns her home and had borrowed £25,000. When I asked her what she had borrowed the money for, she couldn't tell me.'
I'm frugal to a fault, i.e. stingy. For me the fear of being destitute is perhaps more real than it should be, but I plan with the idea that everything may fall apart tomorrow and I'll have to flee / rebuild my life with little more than my passport, bank IDs, a set of clothes and my glasses.

I'll spend a little money that I've earned - the work's been done, it's in bank, but I'm not going to sell my future and buy things on credit. I don't have that kind of confidence, nor that kind of need for things.

But I'm lucky, I have cheap tastes and my wife is the same. We have no children and our cat is a low maintenance animal. So for me these choices are very easy, we get our thrills from our heads.

Stories about middle class people in debt amaze me. Spending to keep up with their peers, who are also in debt. Trying to buy happiness, which can be done, but you need to be very careful with the dose, as a tolerance is known.

My life is all about trying to find the weaknesses in my system and then constructing workarounds to exploit these to get the outcomes that I want, or rather that I need, and that I kid myself into wanting. I have so many weaknesses that there's a lot of potential for improvement, a lot of tweaking to be done, and one way is to keeping jumping on and off the hedonic treadmill.

A case in point, as I think about going almost full time with proofreading in the next year or so, is the understanding that teaching a class or two every day is probably necessary to ensure that I a) get dressed, b) talk to people, and c) don't start drinking before nightfall.

Related post: Taleb on f*** you money

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