The End of Slavery – Why I Live Off Dividends

One of the reasons why I don’t like being around people most of the time is because they tend to say things that trigger me. Maybe I am too sensitive. Most of the time people just say whatever is on their mind, and they quick jump from one superficial idea to another. Most of the time human interaction is just an attempt to say something for the sake of saying something, so perhaps I take things too seriously.

I live with my mother, and a few days ago, someone at work commented that I should not live with my mother because she will become a burden on me as she grows older. The reason why this comment triggered me is because there are many assumptions made, and it simply isn’t true. I didn’t get much of a chance to explain myself before the topic of conversation moved on, but days after this colleague made this trivial comment, I am still thinking about it, and my colleague may have forgotten all about it.

If I moved out from my mother’s house, she could still be a burden on me because technology connects us all, so even if I lived far away from my mother, she can still call or message me if she wants something from me.

However, suppose my mother and I lived in different cities. It would be more difficult for me to get to her, so she won’t be as much of a burden on me. Regardless, currently I don’t consider myself to be too close to my mother even though I live with her. I work quite often, and she also works as well, so we often do not see each other. My mother and father divorced a few years ago, so my mother learned from experience how important it is to be independent and to never trust or be dependent on anyone. Even on weekends I may be out somewhere, and she would be as well, so we rarely see each other. The only time we regularly see each other is at night when I get home from work and she cooks me dinner, and this is a tradition that seems to just happen all the time. She has always cooked dinner for me, and I never objected to it, so it keeps happening. In fact, my mother cooked dinner from my whole family, but over time everyone moved out. After the divorce, my father moved out, then my brothers moved out, and now she only cooks for me.

Even though my mother is in the habit of cooking dinner for me, this doesn’t happen all the time. For example, last night I had dinner with a colleague at work, so I came back at around nine at night, had a shower, and went to bed. This tradition of my mother cooking dinner for me seems to be the only habit that keeps us together. My grandmother on my father’s side used to wake up early and cook breakfast for me. I didn’t like it because there were days when I wanted to go to work earlier, so I just wanted to make my own breakfast or skip breakfast and just drink coffee, but my grandmother wanted to make breakfast for me. After the divorce that ripped through the family, my grandmother left the house to live with my father, and now I rarely see her. Most relationships are based on dependence and habit. When you are a child and you’re dependent on your parents, you are forced to interact with them, and they become familiar to you, so you bond to them. The same applies with work. You provide skills to your employers, and employers give you a salary, so you are mutually dependent, and over time there are colleagues at work you see all the time, and familiarity breeds trust and bonding. But as people become more independent, that dependency goes away, and as a result, bonds break.

Going back to the topic of my mother and her habit of cooking dinner for me, there are many in my family who jokingly talk about how I need my mother to cook for me (or I need a woman to cook for me), but I think many people say this because many people are traditional, and they believe in the traditional family. They want to believe that the woman’s role is to cook. This includes many traditional women. However, in my opinion, modern technology has made cooking irrelevant. You can easily eat out at restaurants, but even if you consider that to be expensive, it is not difficult to cook simple meals for yourself using e.g. a blender or microwave. For example, it is not hard to microwave or boil beans or to throw fruits and greens into a blender. To clean up, there is the dishwasher. There are many traditionalists out there (mostly women, based on my observation) who want to go back to the days of old when they stayed at home and engaged in low-skilled cooking and cleaning duties, and I think the allure of this is that woman don’t need to go out into the workplace to make money, and this is what drives anti-feminism among women. These women are simply selfish. I would consider myself to be a feminist man, and I encourage all women to get out into the world, work, invest, and become financially independent. They should resist the temptation to glamorize slavery.

My mother does not always cook dinner for me. There are times when I eat out, e.g. when I had a girlfriend a few years ago I spent a lot of time having dinner with her. If I wanted a cheap dinner, rather than eating out, I can bring meal replacement powders (e.g. Aussielent, Soylent, Huel, or Joylent) to work, and after work I can simply mix the powder with water and drink it as dinner. For added nutrition, I can come home and prepare a green smoothie using the blender. Because these foods are simple to make, I am not dependent on my mother for anything.

In the future, I intend to rent a one-bedroom apartment in or near the city because I am quite tired of commuting to and from work. I love to just be able to walk to work. Once I grow my dividends, my dividend income should cover the cost of renting an apartment in the city. As my dividends grow even more, I may be able to work part-time and use the spare time to work in a coworking space doing projects that I enjoy. With the proliferation of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, I suspect that a lot of business in the future will be done online and on the blockchain. It is a new frontier. Basically my plan is to transition gradually from living in the suburbs with my mother to living in the city and being self-reliant. I will also transition away from the traditional 9 to 5 job into more flexible work that gives me more control over what I do and with whom I work, and all this will be funded by dividend income. I recently performed a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation and found that I am investing about $70,000 per year, which is a lot. A considerable amount of this (about one-third of it) is going into my superannuation fund, which means I will not have access to it until I am very old) but about two-thirds of it is going into dividend-paying stocks or ETFs, so I expect my dividend income to gradually increase, which will improve my standard of living. I want to use my dividends to fund a more autonomous life with more freedom. I want to be free from my family and from my employer.

I expect freedom to come gradually. Most people have a date when they simply retire. There is a clear date, a line in time when they are no longer slaves but are free. I will have no such date. I believe that slavery is a continuum. On one end you have total freedom, i.e. no debt, good health, and living off enormous amounts of passive income. Then on the other end you have total slavery, e.g. shackled and in prison. Then there are degrees of slavery, and most people have quite a considerable degree of slavery imposed on them by their jobs, their family, their children, their mortgage and car loans, etc. For me, there is no retirement, just a gradual move from slavery to freedom.

As my dividend income increases, I will eat out more for dinner (or drink Aussielent) rather than go home and get my mother to cook. As my dividend income grows even more, I will sleep at home less. Rather than commute back home, I may hire places to sleep at night using Airbnb or I will rent apartments in the city for longer periods of time. The same applies for work. My intention is to reduce my hours so that I work part-time, or I may be more flexible, e.g. I may work at coworking spaces or at cafes. I may even ask my manager if I can work at overseas coworking spaces. This is good for me because I get away from the office, but it is also good for my employer because my desk is not being used, so there are cost savings. If technology is good enough, working remoting should not make me any less productive. This will be my main digital nomad plan, which is to do what I currently do at work but to gradually do it remotely as my dividend income and skills increase. As dividend income and skills increase, I have more bargaining power, and technology will improve over time, which should make remote work be easier. There is also a broader push by feminists for more flexible working arrangement because women want to spend more time looking after their family, so this could possibly benefit me.

Basically with higher dividends, I have more power so that I can shape my life the way I want my life to be. This has been the intention since the beginning. Living off dividends is my guiding philosophy in life because it gives me the freedom and power to do what I want. The basic idea is that you increase dividend income so that you get paid without needing to work, and at the same time you reduce all obligations, e.g. debt, marriage, and children. You minimize responsibility, obligation, and duty. By not putting any future obligation on yourself, you are free to do what you want. You are free to experiment with what makes you happy, and dividend income will allow you to experiment.

At the end of the day, my belief is that freedom depends on the direction of flow of obligation. When you hold stocks, ETFs, government bonds, etc, then there is an obligation for others to pay you money. There is a legal obligation for companies to pay you dividends. There is a legal obligation for the government to pay you interest because you are a bondholder. The flow of obligation is from others towards you. However, if you have debt, then the flow of obligation is reversed. For example, if you have credit card debt or a mortgage, you owe money to the bank. If you have obligations to family, friends, spouse, or children, that also imposes either a legal or social obligation from you to others.

The flow of obligation from you to others makes you a slave. The flow of obligation from others to you makes others your slave and increases your freedom. Freedom or autonomy is dependent on the flow of obligation. Manage the flow of obligation and you manage your freedom, and freedom is happiness.

Whether You Are a Slave or Not Depends on the Direction of Your Future Cash Flow

 

I couldn’t help think today about how great it is to work. I love working now, but that was not always the case. Only a few months ago I was dreading work. I hated it. I am happy now because I was able to transfer to a different area, and I did this simply by asking someone.

I now work because I want to work. I don’t have to work because I earn dividend income that covers my living expenses. I earn around $25k to $30k per year and I spend around $15 to $20k per year. But I like to work not only because I like my job at the moment but also because I like to grow my dividend income. This means I can improve my standard of living. When I am getting a coffee with my work colleagues, I notice that many of them buy the cheapest option, which is a small coffee with dairy milk whereas I always buy the biggest latte with soy milk or almond milk. Personal finance guru David Bach is anti-coffee (see latte factor) but I am a big believer in small expenses spread over time that make you happy. Getting a coffee is more than a coffee. Some people only care about the caffeine and are willing to stay at their desks and take caffeine pills. For me, getting a coffee allows me to get out of the office, get fresh air and sunlight, get some exercise by walking, and I can chat to my coworkers and even the barista girl who is serving or making my coffee. Then I can slowly sip the warm and smooth coffee when I’m back, which calms me. At any time, I can stop buying coffee. It’s not like a huge debt or a long-term contract. I’m free to walk away. 

For me, small expenses such as a coffee are not a problem. The main problem comes from large expenses, especially those that we put off to the future (i.e. debt). I will explain this in further detail later in this post.

Back to my job…I think I love my work right now because I don’t need to work. I’m happy to put in extra work after hours and over the weekend. I am not a manager or an executive or anything. I am still quite junior. If suddenly things go wrong and I end up with a bad manager, I am confident I can transfer to another area. If things really go bad and I cannot transfer for whatever reason, I can just quit and do something else. I plan to just pack up and go to Chiang Mai and become a freelance web developer. Even if I am not successful, it doesn’t matter because I live off dividends, but it would be nice to work on my own terms.

Recently UberEATS has opened up in my area. I thought about signing up for it and working on the weekend, but I have decided against that because I actually want to use the weekend to focus on learning how to code so that I can be a remote coder or a digital nomad. Today at the library I spent about an hour on Codecademy. I wish I spend my university days studying computer science or software engineering, but my major was in economics, which wasn’t that bad, but if I had to choose again I wouldn’t major in economics. Instead I’d study a tech degree instead. Luckily, many tech workers learn a lot of what they learn online, and they are self-taught, so that gives me hope that I can change careers.

Freedom is the purpose of my life. Freedom gives me happiness. Freedom gives me the option to experiment with and pursue what makes me happy rather than hope that whatever circumstance I am in makes me happy. It was Robert Kiyosaki who introduced me to the importance of cash flow, and I think freedom and slavery can be thought of in terms of cash flow. As much as possible, you want to increase passive income and decrease future obligations. Future obligations are expectations (including the risk) that in the future money will flow away from you. If you take on debt (e.g. a car loan and even a home loan) then in the future some debt collector will take money from you, which forces you to work. Anything that forces you to do something means that you have fewer choices, and so your freedom goes down and your level of slavery increases. Most people think this only applies to monetary debt, which is obvious because it is written down and it’s clear, but even e.g. having children creates future obligations that tie you down. The more you avoid debt, obligation, and commitment, then you increase freedom and reduce slavery. The words “commitment” and “responsibility” or even “duty” are just euphemisms for debt and slavery. If you tell a slave that he must clean a toilet because he is a slave, he will likely try to revolt or may reluctantly clean the toilet and will probably do a bad job at it because his heart is not in it. However, if you reframe and tell the slave that he must clean the toilet because it is his duty or responsibility, he will likely clean the toilet with pride and enthusiasm. So it is that many men proudly work 60+ hours per week at a job they hate just to fund the mortgage on the mansion, the children’s private school fees, the loan for the luxury car, and maybe even a stay-at-home wife as well. If they shirk these obligations, they are told that they are not “responsible” or that they are not fulfilling their “duty” and that they need to “man up” and get back to wage slavery.

In all these situations (car loan, home loan, credit card debt, children, school fees, etc), there is an expectation that money will flow away from you in the future.

Alternatively, if you create passive income from dividend income or even e-book royalties, Adsense revenue, Amazon affiliate revenue, etc, then there is an expectation that money will flow towards you in the future. You then have a choice of what to do with this money. This gives you freedom. It gives you more options rather than reducing your options. It results in less slavery and more freedom.

As much as possible, make money flow towards you in the future rather than away from you. In practice, this means getting rid of all debt, commitment, obligations while simultaneously increasing passive income, mainly from savings, investments, and building businesses.

Thoughts about Abuse

For the past week, my manager has been away. He is on holiday. Suddenly, with my manager gone, I’ve been happy at work. This is surprising given that my workload has increased significantly and as a result I have been feeling more stress (according to Tim Ferriss in the Four Hour Work Week, there is such a thing called eustress, which is good stress, and this contrasts to distress, which is bad stress). All the work that my manger did has now fallen on me, but I am still much happier at work.

All this proves to me that I don’t mind the work that I do, which is mainly just operational or administrative work. The main problem I have is with my manager. My guess is that he is stressed out with work and is taking out his anger on me.

I had a busy day at work on Friday but I managed to have lunch with a friend of mine who recently changed jobs. His new job is a manager position, so he’s had a pay increase. However, he admitted to me during lunch that he was struggling in his new role and was thinking of tendering his resignation. He plans to take time off and think about what to with his life.

He told me that his new workplace was filled with people who are overworked, and everyone there is suffering, and they take their anger out on everyone else, and he is obviously a victim of this aggression.

After work, I went to the gym. I normally bring a peanut butter sandwich to work but because I ate out with my friend today, I decided to eat the sandwich as a pre-workout meal. I was so amazed at how much energy I seemed to have at the gym as a result of eating a peanut butter sandwich! I found I was able to lift very heavy weights.

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While in the gym, the news was playing on the television, and there was a story playing about how the government was going to address domestic violence against women. An expert in domestic violence appeared on TV and spoke about how many women are dependent on their abusive husbands and if they were to leave their abusive husbands they would be homeless and living on the streets. One woman decided to leave her abusive and violent husband and instead resorted to living in her car with her four children.

While lifting weights on the chest press machine, I started to think about everything: me suffering as I worked for my manager, my friend suffering in his new job, and women suffering at the hands of their abusive husbands.

Human relationships are usually great in the beginning. There is definitely a honeymoon period. When I stated working, I was excited by the job, and I enjoyed being paid, and my manager must have been happy with me since he interviewed me and selected me. But things turned bad. Circumstances change. People change.

My friend’s new job pays him more than $100k, and I’m sure he was excited when he got the job, but then suddenly things turned bad.

When men and women go into intimate relationships, there is also a honeymoon period when the couple is in love and everything seems fine, but over time this seems to always go away, and marriage ties people together, so when the sheen wears off and the man and woman are tied together, that’s when there are problems.

It’s the same pattern that leads to abuse:

  1. delusion or optimism, leading to pleasure
  2. commitment, which is sought in an attempt to preserve that pleasure
  3. realization of reality
  4. captivity, that is, being trapped due to the commitment
  5. anger with reality
  6. abuse, as the anger needs to be channeled somewhere.

Delusion, commitment, reality, captivity, anger, and then abuse — this pattern is played out all the time across multiple situations where there is human interaction. It starts with pleasure and then ends with pain.

It seems to me that there is an abusive side to all people. Abuse is inherent to humanity. There is something within the human DNA that drives us to seek to subordinate weaker beings. We are all capable of hurting and abusing others. When we are angry, and there is someone who happens to be within our vicinity, someone who is less powerful that we are, then they automatically assume the role of a punching bag.

The key then is to never be in a position where you can be the victim of someone else’s abuse.

They say that failing to plan is planning to fail, but I believe that perfect planning is almost impossible because the future is unpredictable. Planning is often a failure because our assumptions are usually wrong. We plan to love our jobs forever, so we take on massive debt, and then we hate our jobs. We plan to be in love forever, so we marry, and then we hate our spouses.

So forget about planning the future. Focus instead on having an exit plan. More important than having a plan is having an exit plan.

Before you commit to anyone or anything, always have an exit plan.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.

James 4:13-16

How I Was Abused as a Child

Control money or money will control you

When I was a little boy, one experience in life scarred me deeply. When I started school, my parents enrolled me in an expensive private school. I had all the challenges of childhood, such as trying to fit in, but mostly my childhood was innocent and beautiful. Looking back, I enjoyed school camp and I enjoyed the many excursions we took.

However, everything came crashing down when my parents faced financial difficulties. A business they were running was falling into hard times, so suddenly we turned from rich to poor and rather than going to a school that charged $30,000 per year, I was told I’d be moved to a school that charged $6,000 per year.

I protested at first, saying I had made friends at the old school. I had gotten used to life at my school and felt like I belonged there. It was my community. I was very unhappy. I was crying, screaming, and basically carrying on like a child.

It wasn’t until my big sister stepped in that I began to calm down. She told me stories about how difficult things were for my parents. They were working very hard just to put food on the table and I was carrying on like an entitled brat. It was at this point that I started to feel pity for my parents and realized that they were victims like I was. My parents were not invincible. They were not to blame.

I remember when my sister was speaking to me. I was crying because going to a new school was scary. But my sister told me everything would work out fine because I would make new friends. I had hope in what she said, but little did I realize I would be deeply disappointed. I don’t blame my sister. She was just trying to make me feel better. It’s like lying to children about Santa Clause.

I quickly learned that I was fed a lie when things turned rough at my new school. The kids there were just not very friendly and I had a hard time making friends. I missed my old friends so much but because I didn’t go to the same school as them, when I tried to spend time with them on weekends it felt awkward, so we drifted apart.

I became anti-social and I became a loner. I was also bullied at school. I didn’t say a word to my parents or to my sister, and I don’t think they cared at all. They were engrossed by their own financial problems.

In a way, this hardship I face taught me many lessons. I learned that you cannot rely on anyone to help you. You must help yourself. Everyone is out for themselves.

I also learned that you must control money otherwise money will control you.

If you don’t make enough money to be able to get what you want, money will force you to face circumstances you do not want.

I believe my experiences growing up made me desperate from an early age to be financially independent. It is what pushed me in the direction to become a freedom extremist. It allowed me to experience and see the power that money has to enslave us. I watched my parents become completely enslaved by money. They worked long hours to not only raise children but to also pay off debts.

Then I watched my parents separate and divorce. My father was cheating on my mother.

Everything came crashing down. Too much debt, too much obligation, too much trust in others.

From all this I have learned to be self-reliant, to help myself rather than rely on others. I have learned to stay away from debt and obligation, to be a proud commitment phobe rather than accept the mainstream view that it is a psychological disorder. The word “commitment” is emotive and sounds beautiful, but when a husband you’ve been fully committed and loyal to suddenly cheats on you with a younger girl, you quickly realize the true value of commitment phobia.

I don’t want to be dependent on anyone. I don’t want to be dependent on my parents, my government, my spouse, and especially not my employer.

My parents worked because they had to. They hated their jobs but they were forced because they conformed to the consumerist idea that they had to buy a house, get married, have children, and drive a nice car. They thought they were reaching for their dreams when in reality they were enslaved by their delusions.

If you have no debt, no obligations, and no commitment to anything, and if you have sufficient passive income, then you don’t need to work. You don’t need to do anything, which means you are free to do anything you want.

Cruelty is Natural

“Why should man expect his prayer for mercy to be heard by What is above him when he shows no mercy to what is under him?” ~Pierre Troubetzkoy

I remember having lunch with my dad a few days ago. I was talking to him about why I didn’t eat meat. As far as possible, I wanted to reduce the suffering I cause on other beings.

My dad, a meat eater, naturally defended himself by saying that animals eat each other in nature, and so it is natural for animals to kill and eat each other, and so we should kill and eat animals. But I reminded him that throughout history humans have fought against each other. We humans have tortured each other, and we have also raped, enslaved, and murdered each other. If nature is a guide for how a man is to live, why shouldn’t I murder another human and steal his belongings? Why shouldn’t I hold captive an attractive woman for my own pleasure?

I do believe that my dad is right though that cruelty is natural. We see it everywhere in different forms and different magnitudes.

Those who are strong take advantage of those who are weaker. This is a law of nature.

If you don’t like this law of nature, which I don’t, then there is a two-step solution:

1. Become strong.

2. Use your strength to protect the weak.

The first step is important. If you’re not strong enough to protect yourself, you will be exploited.

In today’s society, money is power, and debt is slavery, so try to focus on working hard, keeping expenses low, and keep savings high. Aim to produce passive income that sends cash into your bank account without you having to lift a finger. Try to minimize your debt as much as is reasonable.

Once your passive income exceeds your expenses, this means if you lose your job the next day, you can live off passive income. You are no longer dependent on your job. You can continue working, of course, but there is no stress. You don’t have to kiss the boss’s ass. You can take it easy at work. You have no credit card, car payments, or mortgage to pay. To minimize the risk that your investments fail, you have diversified your investments, making sure you have multiple streams of passive income. As they say, many streams form a river.

Once you are free, then life becomes serene and somewhat boring. You’ll probably feel the need to have more. You’ll want to work more, invest more, and produce more passive income to increase your satisfaction. Then you realize that you are similar to the average wage slave who borrows more and more just to buy more and more, thinking it will give happiness, but humans are strange in that they adjust to what they have and keep wanting more.

I suppose this is why it’s important to pursue some big goal, some unwinnable war that will give you meaning and purpose in life. For me, it’s reversing the natural law that the strong must be cruel to the weak. The strong can also protect the weak.

For others, it may be some other unwinnable goal.

For a long time I have been exploited by those above me. Many have cheated me, including trusted friends and even close family. I’ve been through a lot, but I try not to let these experiences bring me down. I understand that it is natural for others to cheat and lie. Even friends and family will do it. You need to accept it and expect it. You need to learn to live in the world, so you need to learn how to adapt to reality. This is essential if you want to build passive income and escape from wage slavery and become financially independent.

But once you are free, once you are lying on a deckchair by a pool in a beach resort thinking about your life, once you realize that your wealth and power enables you to exploit other beings for your own benefit, think about your own struggles. Think about what it took, the hard work, the difficulties, the loss of innocence upon realizing how cruel those above you can be, and then use your power to reverse this law of nature. 

Reach out to others out there to help them avoid exploitation. Encourage them to break free from their shackles.

Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Instead, lick it, and suck on it lovingly, even if it’s stained with shit. If you don’t suck it, you won’t be fed.

This expression really illustrates how soul crushing the 9-to-5 is. You can’t object to whatever is paying your bills or your mortgage. You got to kiss ass. You got to kneel down and submit just like the slave you are.

But what if, instead, the hands that feed you are rivers of cash from passive income? What if you lived off dividends from shares, rent from real estate, interest from bonds, revenue from ebooks?

If hands offer you food, then eat, and if those hands abuse you, you are free to refuse their feed.

You can also bite back.