How I live and how I work

27 June 2013

I live differently to everybody else I know.

Other people go out to work. They earn money. They spend it. On houses, cars, children, gadgets, holidays. All kinds of things.

Sometimes they complain about work. Sometimes they complain about how expensive things are.

I don’t complain about either of those things.

I sit at home all day, creating software. I haven’t worked out how to make much money from it yet. But I’m getting there.

And yet, I seem to have plenty of money. Enough for me to live on for a few more months anyway, without having to worry just yet.

I haven’t won the lottery. I spent about six months last year doing some contract work, to earn of bit of money before coming back to doing my own thing again. But that contract wasn’t especially highly paid - pretty average, maybe a little on the low side when I compare it to other contracts that I’ve seen advertised, and the rates that other developers  I’ve spoken to have charged.

I suppose I lead quite a frugal lifestyle. If I look back 10 years, the lifestyle I had a student isn’t actually very much different to the kind of life I lead now. When I started working, I didn’t start spending.

Maybe it’s because when I started working, I had some student debts to pay off. Not the UK Student Loan - that’s paid off very gradually out of your pay packet - but some nice big credit card bills. I paid those off with a graduate loan from the bank, which then took me about three years to pay off.

So I was working but I couldn’t really afford to change my lifestyle, so I didn’t. Then when the debts were paid off, why change anything? I simply started saving.

Over time, those savings built up. I could have done quite a lot of things with the money. I could have put down a deposit to buy a house, sooner or later anyway. I could have bought a big shiny car. I could have saved a bit less, and developed a taste for expensive shirts or exotic foreign holidays. Or I could have started a family.

But I’m not interested in any of those things. Instead, the money allows me to buy the most valuable things in the world. Time and Freedom.

Some people save up for their retirement to start enjoying life. They put up with years of hardship, waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel.

I don’t believe in retirement. Not just because the economic situation at the moment means it’s likely that for many of us, even if we save up, retirement will be continually postponed until we are too old to really enjoy it. But more importantly, if you can set up your life so that you enjoy work, so that your work is your life, and your life is your work, then you never need to stop.

You can enjoy your life right now. You just need to spend less money on shit that you don’t need.

There are some great comments on this article at HackerNews