Over the last 20 years I experienced the two extremes of gettingoverpaid in a steady job in London, and searching for coins under the sofa cushions to pay for food while unemployed. Listening to the rumblings of more economic doom and gloom, I am amazed how so many people sit patiently waiting for the next wave of financial panic to hit.
The majority of people are like children who are waiting for their parents to solve everything. No food on the table? Your parents will fix it. They may make you clear the table and do a little work for it, but ultimately they are responsible for the shopping and the cooking and bringing the food into the house.
It is not their fault. That is all they know, all they have been taught, and unless you have ever found yourself in a situation where you have to get creative or starve, financial independence seems almost impossible.
Be Careful What You Wish For
I was the same. Working in London, working too many hours, juggling young children with a 9-5 job. Stress, health problems from the stress, and a ridiculous need to buy crap I didn't need. Instead of taking up meditation, yoga, or just going to the gym to de-stress I decided to move my family to Spain. Only now, 11 years later, can I see the humour in it, but while I was living those first dark years, there was only more stress because I was completely unprepared.
It was very much a case of 'be careful what you wish for'. I wanted to get away from the madness of London - the traffic, the pollution, the commute, the lack of time to spend with my children. That is exactly what I got. Except that I forgot to give the magic genie specific instructions.
- I didn't specify I wanted to be in an area with lots of work, that would be easy to find - so I came to an area with few job opportunities and an economy booming only with the construction sector that would crash within 2 years of me arriving.
- I forgot to say I wanted my house next to the school so I wouldn't have to spend thousands on petrol over the years to take the kids to and from school.
- I did not ask for a job that would pay me more than enough until retirement - so I came over with a company that did not even have an office yet and I ending up 'working' out of a lock-up with one table, one chair and a toilet. On my own.
You get the idea. I made life even more difficult for myself. Which made finding work even more difficult than it needed to be.
I suppose I was lucky as I did eventually manage to find a job working for another real estate company next to the school, for a minimum wage that paid little more than the mortgage. Except that they 'let me go' two weeks before Christmas.
Lucky I had been looking for other jobs because I knew if they weren't paying themselves they wouldn't be paying me for much longer. I was offered a job working online for an American company and once again settled into a false sense of security. Except that the job disappeared a year later.
I still hadn't managed to replace the savings we had used moving over, we had a mortgage, loans and kids to feed. I begged for them another job. Anything. They gave me one as an SEO copywriter.
Another 2 years of relative security, until they gave me 2 weeks notice they couldn't afford to pay me anymore. Fast downward slide on the income rollercoaster once again.
After dabbling in freelancing and commission only jobs, I gave in and got a 'real job' teaching English at an academy in the city. Yay. Regular income. Except that the classes kept changing, and there were no classes, so no income, over the summer.
All of which reinforced the idea that it is a nightmare relying on other people for your financial security! Your future depends on them running their business well so they can afford to pay you, on the ups and downs of the international markets and an unknown number of invisible factors you have no control over.
Profits Over People
The majority of employers also put profits over people. They run a business, it's to be expected they are going to worry more about their profit than your financial security. They offer you a job at a certain rate and you decide whether or not to accept it. Except that in many areas this 'choice' is limited or non-existent. You have to compromise and take what you can get, which often means a low paid job you are over qualified for.
Welcome to the working poor. People who are working and still don't make enough to feed their families and cover all their bills, let alone have any left over for savings or extras. When you see poor families in developing countries you think "Oh poor them." Except that we now have working poor throughout the supposedly 'developed' countries - the US, UK and European countries.
That is why it is madness to rely on employers for your financial security.
I am not saying everyone should start working for themselves, but we definitely need to create more diversity in the way households earn money. Now is the time for people to start looking at non-traditional jobs, at working online, at starting their own business. We need at least one person in every household earning Alternative Income which does not rely on employers and is not subject to the whims of governments, traders and bankers screwing up the economy.
We as individuals and communities need to stop relying on other people to create opportunities for us and start taking advantage of technology to work differently.