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.

Rational Misanthropy

It’s a Saturday morning now. I woke up at nine, drank a protein shake, and prepared a cup of tea. I’m writing this now on my laptop in a small room at the back of the house (see Why I Still Live with My Mother). I feel comfortable now but mainly because I am by myself. I’ve learned over time that not only am I an introvert who has difficulty being with other people but I am also a misanthrope who dislikes humanity. Google defines a misanthrope as “a person who dislikes humankind and avoids human society.”

Especially since I’ve gone mostly vegan I’ve just noticed that people are really cruel and evil, and this applies to just about everyone, even family members and friends. I pretty much limit my human interaction to the minimum nowadays. Rather than try to get along with others and improve my interpersonal skills, I’ve simply given up on people.

I know these are extreme thoughts, but I’ve had these thoughts for a long time. I keep thinking about this too often, and there’s nothing I can do about it. One option is to conform to society, that is, I can just be “normal,” be like everyone else and eat meat, get married, go into debt to buy a luxury car, and so forth, but this cannot be the answer. If I do what other people want me to do, I’m not doing what I want, and I can never be happy following the path other people have laid for me. The only solution then is to do the opposite. Rather than conform and go into society, I become a nonconformist and get out of the society.

I have recently purchased a book on Kindle called Gorilla Mindset, which I hope can help me with how I think about things in my life. Rather than be filled with negativity, I can replace negative thoughts with better thoughts, but I don’t want to replace negative thoughts with wildly optimistic thoughts either because this can be harmful. Rather, I should simply have factual thoughts.

I currently live off dividends, so strictly speaking I don’t need to work, so I don’t need to go to work and be exposed to annoying people. But my dividends are not that high, and I feel like I should be able to earn an online income before I go off and become a digital nomad.

When I’m a digital nomad, I imagine I will be a freelancer. I will base myself in Australia and I will be an Australian for tax purposes, but I will fly to other places for long periods of time, say, three months. This means I don’t need to worry too much about applying for long-term visas. My aim is pretty much to get away from people and do my own thing, and I think travelling achieves this. I can stay at home with my mother, but if she annoys me or if my friends or relatives here keep bothering me, I can just try off to Chiang Mai where I can be by myself.

When I am a digital nomad, I will pretty much be semi-retired. I will have enough dividends to support myself and live a luxurious lifestyle, but I will keep myself busy I will do freelance work via, say, Upwork. I am not too picky about what kind of remote work I do so long as it is remote and allows me to work by myself. Freelance work requires you to deal with clients, so of course that might be difficult, but at least I get to pick the clients I work with. If there is a skill I don’t have, I can easily learn it online.

I have no idea what the pay will be like. It might be lower, but it won’t matter that much because I will already have dividend income I can live off. This is just something I can do to keep myself busy.

The digital nomad dream within me has been strong at times, and there are times when the dream dies. For example, when I went to Bali by myself a few months ago I realized how uncomfortable and lonely it was being there. I have also felt more comfortable in my job lately because I have changed teams and I am working among better coworkers. But there are times when I am around very difficult people at work and it bothers me so much that the digital nomad dream is rekindled.

A few days ago, I met up with some old colleagues who now work in a different areas in the organisation. I mostly don’t see them much, but every now and then when I’m in the lifts, I bump into them, so I meet up with them every few months. I cannot be rude to these people because they technically work in the same organisation as me, but they are often rude to me, so I am thinking of deliberately being rude to them so they start to hate me and get away from me. This is what I hate about work. You have to be so fake. You cannot offend the wrong person and you cannot burn bridges with people, even those people you really don’t like.

I am also tired of friends and relatives who try to get me to marry. I am a male in my early thirties now. Everyone tells me to get married. They will me that a man in his early thirties should not be single and that they are happy to “set me up.” Many people say that this is how Asian culture is so I should just go along with it to appease my parents. But I feel like I should not do that! I should do what I want to do. I am quite tired of tolerating this nonsense. I feel like I need to rebel now. I need to muster enough courage to go on massive MGTOW rants at weddings so that people will get the message and leave me in peace.

Something else I hate about work is how everyone always brags about how important they are. There is so much namedropping and humblebrags. Then there’s all the gossip. Everyone gossips as if they’re in high school. Often when I go have lunch with people or go on a coffee run with them, they’re gossiping about this person or that person. I just find it annoying. I hate the 9 to 5 but I endure it because I need to increase my dividend income. 

Why I Still Live With My Mother

It happens a lot. I am talking to people and tell me to move out of the family home. Sometimes it’s more subtle. They’d ask questions like, “Are you still living with your mother?” and the question is more a put-down rather than an actual question. I don’t know why it bothers me. On one hand I think maybe I care about other people’s opinions too much, and I shouldn’t care about what other people think.

Most people who don’t know me too well assume that I live with my mother because I am poor and therefore I cannot afford a house. They would say something like, “Houses are so expensive nowadays!” But I earn a six-figure income, and I could easily afford to buy a house. I wouldn’t even need to borrow money from the bank to afford a house. But I choose not to. If I move out and rent a place on my own, I waste money on rent. If I move out and live in a house I buy, I waste money paying interest on the mortgage (see Don’t Aspire to Buy and Live in Your Own Home). If you want to invest in property, you can still invest in property and live with your parents. Furthermore, if you take this route, you’re able to rent out your property and earn rental income, which you would not get if you lived in your home. Regardless of whether your rent or buy, you lose money. Either you pay and waste rent or you forego rent by living in a house that you would have been able to rent out. In the latter situation, this is known in economics as opportunity cost.

In my opinion, there is an even better strategy than buying an investment property and living with your parents so you can rent out your property to tenants. That strategy is to simply invest in real-estate investment trusts (REITs), which you can buy off the stock exchange via a discount online broker. If you live in Australia, all you need to do is sign up to an online broker such as CommSec and then buy REIT ETFs. All this can be done online in the comfort of your own home. REITs invest mostly in commercial real estate such as shopping malls, offices, and industrial real estate.

There is definitely a social stigma that comes with not owning property and living with your mother, but it is one that I accept. Most people are conformists. They follow what society sets out for them. I am trying hard to combat stereotypes. I try hard to urge people to think for themselves, to explain in detail how not paying rent or mortgage interest can help them, but it’s very difficult. Often you need to stop trying to change people and just be the change you want to see, to live the life you want to live and show people that, by living with your parents, you actually increase your independence by reducing your debt, increasing your net worth, and therefore increase your freedom. Most people just go along with society, buy a house, go on many expensive holidays, buy a car on finance, and then find themselves so deep in debt that they must work forever to pay it off.

The only difference between a developed democratic society and a third-world dictatorship is that the tools of slavery in a developed economy are more efficient. There is still oppression. There is still slavery. But debt and obligation is used rather than whips and chains.