Blood Money – How to think of money from your job

My website business is doing pretty well, it’s definitely providing the bulk of my income at the moment. It’s also likely my website income is being depressed by the Corona Virus. I wouldn’t be surprised if my income doubles after a vaccine is wildly available. I notice I perceive and spend this money differently than if I had received it from working a real job.

I’m approaching the point where I will be making as much money not working as I was making from my job before I “retired”. I find this prospect very exciting, but it isn’t purely about the money but how I am making it. After all I could easily respond to one of the major corporations that keep pestering me on linkedin and get a well paying job quickly. But the prospect of doing that and making money working that way doesn’t interest me in the slightest. Making money from a stressful job you hate is akin to blood money.

I believe this psychological attitude to how you generate income is key to financial independence. When I was working at a corporation, I was making huge amounts of money, money that I couldn’t spend. It was tainted. That money was paid for with my own slavery. The only good use for that money would be to buy myself out of slavery, anything else would be a tacit acknowledgement that I could keep on being a slave. If I bought an unneeded item or service I would have to pay for it with an extra hour to weeks of miserable work. I couldn’t accept that cost, so I maintained a life that was incredibly frugal.

It is slight hyperbole to equate working a full time (although I always did over 40 hours) job to slavery, but the degree is only in scale. My time was not my own. Five days of the week the majority of my waking hours were not under my control, and even after returning to home I would be too tired and lazy to do much besides watch tv or go straight to bed. It was a terrible and unfulfilling way to live.

But now that I am making significant money passively or by working on my own enjoyable projects my perception of money has changed. It is no longer a calculation of buying my own freedom but of keeping it. The more money I make the more liberal I am with spending, although still nowhere near spending all of my income. Now I evaluate purchases based on if I can maintain them indefinitely. I could afford a brand new car, but could I still afford lease payments and expensive new car insurance if the market crashes and I lose all my website income? It would be close.

I also consider if there is something else I could use my money for that I might want more. Lately I’ve been considering buying a house (more likely a small condo). It would be great to have my own place and it would further cement my freedom since I would no longer be subject to the uncertainty of renting. I’ve been saving a lot of money for a down payment. But I also haven’t been avoiding buying a new gadget I might like, or a new video game if I’m interested in it. In other words I’m spending more money on things that I enjoy because I know I have more stress-free money coming in to spend on more things that I enjoy.

I like this new perspective because it is liberating. Yet I also do not regret my time being strictly frugal because it was worth it to accomplish financial retirement as early as possible. There isn’t a single purchase I can think of that would be worth spending an extra day at my old job. I imagine if I ever did go back to working a job like before I would return to the same frugal mindset. I don’t think I would ever want to do that. The money from working a full time job is good, but the strings attached to that money make it worthless.