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Manage Your Money to Escape the 9 to 5: Part 2 – Monthly Bills

November 10, 2010

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been running a short series of posts on how to manage your finances as a first step towards escaping the 9 to 5.  Last week I took a look at some easy (and not so easy) ways to save money on grocery shopping.  This week’s post highlights some useful tips for driving down expenditure on monthly bills.

Cancel newspaper subscriptions. If you need a news fix, check out your favourite sources online.  The same goes for glossy magazines – do you really need to fork out serious cash to be force-fed a diet of advertising and lightweight ‘self-help?’

Review your mobile phone usage. Many of us are paying well over the odds on our monthly cell phone bills.  This is because the networks know that most customers are lazy and can’t be bothered to switch to a better package when contracts expire.  I recently saved £20 ($32) a month by switching to a sim-only deal.  Take ten minutes to review your monthly usage and research the market for the best deals based on this.  The knowledge will be a good bargaining tool even if you decide to stay with your current provider.

Don’t get ripped off on building insurance. A huge amount of home-owners are paying well over the odds on their building insurance.  This is because most people insure their home for the market value rather than the rebuild value.  Check out your survey report – it should indicate the cost to rebuild (often up to 50% lower than market value).

Drive down utility bills. There’s no excuse for being stuck on an overpriced gas or electricity tariff.  Go to a comparison site, type in your monthly usage details and switch to the best deal.  The chances are you’ll be able to save hundreds, if not thousands each year.

Consider internet tethering. The latest iPhones (3G & 4) can be connected to your laptop via USB or bluetooth to enable mobile web browsing.  If you own one of these phones check out the possibility of internet tethering – it means you’ll be able to cancel your monthly landline subscription.

Shift debt to a 0% deal. If you’re in debt, the first thing you need to do is make sure you’re not paying over the odds on interest.  If possible, switch your credit card balance to a 0% or ultra-low deal.  If you’re unable to switch, consider implementing a ‘debt snowball.’  This entails paying as much as possible off ONE of your debts until it’s gone before moving on to the next one.  This is much better psychologically because you get to see much quicker results by not spreading payments thinly across all your debts.  For more tips on this, and on managing your finances more generally, I highly recommend Adam Baker’s book Unautomate Your Finances and the GetRichSlowly website.

Ditch expensive ‘premium’ bank accounts. Some bank accounts charge a fixed montly fee and give subscribers access to a range of offers and discounts.  However, the reality is that many customers don’t make use of the offers and still get stung with the monthly payment.  Do you really need that ‘10% off Disneyland holidays’ deal?

Get a water meter. As a rule of thumb, if there are less people in your house than bedrooms you’ll be better off getting a water mater installed rather than paying fixed monthly installments.  Drive down costs further by taking some simple water conservation measures like using a water butt in the garden and installing a water hippo (or even a housebrick!) in your toilet cistern.

Cancel your cable/satellite TV subscription. There’s nothing on anyway.

Pay off debts before saving. Again, if you’re in debt, it makes shrewd financial sense to pay it off before thinking about paying into a savings account.  This is because banks charge more interest on loans and credit cards than they offer on savings accounts.  Check out Gerri Detweiler’s eBook Reduce Debt – Reduce Stress for some more practical insights on how to manage debt effectively.

See also:


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Image Credit – AMagill via flickr


Top 10 Ways to Find Your Passion

November 6, 2010

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If you’re a regular reader of this site, the chances are you’re disillusioned with your current job.  The thought of continuing in the same old 9 to 5 for the next 30 or 40 years fills you with dread and you’ve reached the stage where you’re searching around for alternatives.

However, if you’re anything like me, you’ll know that deciding you’re unhappy with the current situation and resolving to make a change is only half the battle.  Defining your life purely in terms of what you don’t like is not enough. Instead, the challenge facing people determined to strike out on a more independent and creative road is to turn the argument on its head and find out exactly what they do want to do.

It might sound like a fairly simple task yet, for many people, the simple act of finding something they’re enthusiastic enough about to make them consider quitting their job is amazingly tough.

With that in mind, here are my top ten methods for finding your passion.

Go with the flow. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that gives you a sense of creative fulfilment.  When you’re in a state of flow everything seems easy and you become much more productive – you might even lose track of time and lose awareness of everything else around you.  If you find that a particular activity promotes this state of mind, the chances are it’s something worth getting passionate about.

Pay attention to what makes you happy. Make a note of your state of mind as you carry out everyday tasks.  Is there anything that you do every day that you really look forward to or that makes you really happy?  Maybe it’s doing a physical task like chopping wood?  This would maybe point you in the direction of an outdoors job. Perhaps you find yourself doodling every time you’re sat in a boring meeting?  In which case, it might be worth exploring something more artistic.  This might sound simplistic but it’s surprisingly effective.

Eliminate the unnecessary. Similarly, identify the tasks in your life that make you unhappy.  If office intrigue and back-biting makes you want to scream, it’s pretty much a no-brainer that a life in politics is not for you.  In your everyday life it may also be useful to embrace minimalism as a way of cutting out unnecessary distractions.

Experiment. One technique is to give yourself a set amount of time on a new activity or subject (say 30 days, or three months).  Make a pact with yourself to focus on nothing else for the whole period.  If it doesn’t seem to click by then simply move on to the next experiment.

Abandon stereotypes. When you’re at a party, do you ever find that you always describe yourself as a ‘people person’ or a ‘caring person?’  Maybe you’ve always seen yourself as a ‘technical whizz’ or a ‘woman of action?’  Once in a while, pause and consider how these images you hold of yourself might prevent you from trying something new.  Try looking beyond these knee-jerk stereotypes as a way of broadening the spectrum of possbilities for your ‘future self.’

Be playful. Don’t take things too seriously.  Try out new activities on a whim and without any preconceived notions.  It’s surprising how many people have lost the ability to be spontaneous in their daily lives – try it, you might like it!  If not, put it down to experience and move on.

Persevere. Don’t expect to be ecstatically happy every time you work on something.  My main working passion is writing but sometimes I have days when the sight of that blank page fills me with dread.  However, sometimes, if I just persevere, I end up cranking out 5,000 words just because I kept going.  If I’d given up right at the start I would’ve got nowhere.

Find inspiration. Read biographies of people that inspire you.  Spend more time with friends or family members that are following their passion in life – hopefully some of that gold dust will rub off on you.

Picture your perfect world. An interesting exercise is to spend some time considering how your perfect world would look.  Do environmental issues fire you up?  Are you depressed by the political situation in your country?  Visualize how the world would look if those problems didn’t exist – what actions would need to be taken to get there?  Is there anything you could do to help the world to get there?

Be patient. Sometimes doing nothing at all can be surprisingly effective.  Some of the world’s greatest poets found the inspiration for their most famous works by just letting go and not forcing things too much.  Go for a walk, daydream, doodle – sometimes the best ideas come when you least expect them.

Further Reading/Resources

The Power of Enjoyment by John Anyasor

Paid to Exist by Jonathan Mead

Finding Your Passion by EnterpreneursMindset

How to Find Your Passion by Ben Rosenfeld


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Image Credit – ahisgett via flickr

How to Escape the 9 to 5: A Practical Plan for Cautious People

November 4, 2010

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For some people, the decision to quit their job and embark on a new life of adventure comes easy.  The blogosphere is awash with stories of individuals who decided to jump ship, jump on a plane and start a new life in an instant – I’ve even featured some of those stories on this blog in interviews with people like Rob Wringham and Everett Bogue.

However, for some people – in fact I’d argue for the majority – the decision to make big changes is a little more complex. Some folk just don’t feel comfortable with the idea of packing up all their belongings and jumping ship at the drop of a hat, maybe they’ve got family or financial committments or maybe they’re just more cautious by nature.

Whatever the reason, this six step escape plan is aimed at all you people out there filled with a slow-burning desire to escape the 9 to 5 but who would just like go about it gradually and with some sort of a safety net.

Step 1 – Get out of debt

If you’re serious about quitting your job, the first step you need to take is to reduce your ‘life overhead.’  As fellow escapee Everett Bogue said in his recent interview for Rainy Day Wonder, “The easiest way to be simultaneously starving and still be making tons of income is to have a lot of life-overhead.  If you need $5,000 to survive every month, then you need to be making $5,000 every month.  When you’re trying to make that much money, you only have a few employment options — most of them involve sitting at a desk all day being told what to do.

In his excellent book Unautomate Your Finances, Adam Baker advises us to set up a ‘debt snowball,’ a neat psychological approach where we throw all our resources at clearing one debt at a time as a means of building up momentum and maintaining enthusiasm.

Step 2 – Streamline your finances

One of the best ways to start driving down your debt is to completely reassess every item of your regular monthly expenditure – from utility bills and nights out, to grocery shopping and mortgage payments.  An easy strategy is to simply make a note in a book every time you spend money – this way, you get to see quite quickly where most of your money is going and can identify swift ways to slash outgoings.

The next step is to work out ways to drive down costs on each area of your monthly spend.  For those of you living in the US or the UK, two really useful sites are GetRichSlowly (US) and MoneySavingExpert (UK).  The ultimate aim is to drastically reduce your cost of living.

Another useful tip is to stop buying so much crap.  Web guru Leo Babauta recommends minimalism and simple living as a great means of establishing  your independence and tells us how to do it in his brilliant book The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life.

Step 3 – Build up an escape fund

After following the first two steps, you should now find yourself in a situation where your income is greater than your outgoings (if it isn’t, go back to step one and start the process again).

Now is the time to start building up an escape fund.  This fund will be one of your main safety nets once you finally quit your job. Only you will know how much money will be enough but, as a guideline, if you’ve saved enough to cover your cost of living for around six months you’re pretty much there.

A quick way to reach your target is to get rid of all the stuff lying around your house that you never use and raise some useful funds in the process – I heartily recommend another of Adam Baker’s books, Sell Your Crap, for sound advice and effective strategies to maximize the money you make by doing this.

Step 4 – Go part-time

Now that all of your finances are lithe and limber, you will find that you have more freedom and flexibility to take some time out to work out to do what you want to do.

The financial security provided by your escape fund means that there is now nothing to stop you from going part-time.  More and more workplaces offer flexible working hours so you’d be well advised to take advantage of everything your employer has to offer.

A three day weekend will enable you to spend more time figuring out the details of your new dream life. Even better, drop down to a three day work week and you will already have achieved the moral victory of spending less days at work than on your own projects.

Another strategy is to work from home.  The key here is to prove to your boss that you can be much more productive when you’re free from all the distractions of the ‘office environment.’  If you go down this road, try out my tips for achieving a two hour workday so that you can easily get the office work done leaving you free to spend the rest of the time on your own stuff – at the firm’s expense!

Step 5 – Develop your own projects

Once you’ve got over the initial excitement of all that free time – it’s time to work out what you’d really like to do with your life and to develop concrete strategies for achieving your goals.

Take some time out to explore what really drives you.  One useful technique is to literally do nothing for a few days – let your mind wander and get those neurons firing!  The main thing is to be creative and consider all possibilities.

Whatever you choose to do though, make sure that it’s either fun or automated. If you’re stuck, check out John Anyasor’s awesome eBook The Power of Enjoyment and, if you’re really serious about taking this to the next stage and waking up excited about the work you do, make sure you take a look at Jonathan Mead’s inspiring course Paid to Exist.

Step 6 – Take the plunge!

After you’ve given yourself some time to work out what you really want from your new life, you’re ready to start devising some money-making strategies.  The best thing to do here is not to rule anything out.  It’s important to diversify and test out what really works for your particular situation.

Example strategies might include developing your own product (say an eBook or an album), offering consultancy services about something you’re really passionate about, or developing a whole range of passive income streams.

If you’re interested in learning more about writing a blog and building up a regular passive income check out the popular Internet Business Mastery Academy and Pat Flynn’s excellent SmartPassiveIncome blog for some great tips.  Two more great resources are Darren Rowse’s eBook 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and this ‘Make Money Writing for eHow guide.’

Build them all up and, most important of all, start having fun!  Remember, the ultimate goal is to start making money from something you love doing so much it could hardly be called work at all.

After a while, you should reach a ‘threshold moment.’  This is the crucial stage where you’re making as much money from your own schemes as from your part-time paid employment.  This is the point at which you know you’ve cracked it and should finally be able to hand in your notice and set out on a new chapter in your life – congratulations!


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Image Credit – Nina Matthews Photography

A Five Minute Guide to Making Money Online (in Less Than a Month)

November 1, 2010

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If you’re anything like me, the thought of earning a regular passive income online is a very exciting prospect.  The only trouble is, there’s so much information out there about HOW to achieve that holy grail it’s very easy to get bogged down in the detail.

The main problem is that, if you read up on the ‘received wisdom’ about making money online you very quickly end up with a bad case of confusion and indecision.

So, for all you folks suffering with eye strain after researching the secret to SEO success, social media strategies, Google AdSense revenue streams, online marketing tips and all the rest, here’s my fuss-free five minute guide to making  money online.

Get an online presence

It goes without saying that, if you’re not online, you won’t be able to play the game.  That’s why your first step is to establish an online presence.  The best, and most common, way to do this is by starting your own blog.  Go to WordPress and sign up for a free account.  Choose a name and theme and, after just a few hours of focused work, you should end up with a basic but passable blog – yay!

Start writing awesome content

Now you need to get your thinking-cap on and start writing some articles relating to the subject of your blog.  It should be easy to think of at least a couple of ideas for posts in an area your passionate about – whether it’s manga comics, sea-fishing or vintage clothes.  Take and hour or two to brainstorm some ideas and before getting started – one useful technique is to use mind maps to organize your ideas.

Forget about social media, SEO and all the rest (although they’re all useful tools) and remember that the number one key to attract more visitors to your blog is to consistently write top quality and useful content for your target audience.

Another fantastic resource if you need some more training is Darren Rowse’s eBook 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.

Join e-junkie

Now that you’ve got a few ‘cornerstone’ articles written, and you’re starting to attract a steady stream of visitors, it’s time to introduce a few ways of making-money from your site.

One major thing to remember is that nobody clicks on ads anymore.  The worst thing you can do to make your site look awful and put people off revisiting your site is to fill it with flashing banners, buttons and all sorts of other bells and whistles.

Instead, the best thing to do is follow these three steps:

1. Work out the core subject of your blog.

2. Identify books that have already been written on that subject.

3. Find out which of those books run an affiliate program.

Acting on these steps, I signed up for a free account with e-junkie and started dropping links to some of my favourite books in my blog posts.  Now, every time someone bought a book or eBook via one of these links, I stood to make a small commission – at no extra cost to the buyer.

As far as escaping the 9 to 5 and developing a hassle free location-independent lifestyle goes, the chances are that regular readers of this blog will already have checked out one or more of the inspiring eBooks I’ve highlighted in previous posts (these are all affiliate links):

Leo Babauta’s The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life and Zen to Done.

Everett Bogue’s The Art of Being Minimalist and Minimalist Business.  Also check out his inspiring blog Far Beyond the Stars for more amazing insight on setting up an A-list blog.

Glen Allsopp’s Cloud Living.

Tammy Strobel’s Smalltopia: A Practical Guide to Working for Yourself.  It’s also well worth checking out Tammy’s blog Rowdy Kittens for more great inspiration on starting out small and building up a business steadily.

Adam Baker’s Sell Your Crap and Unautomate Your Finances.

Colin Wright’s Networking Awesomely.

Jon Anyasor’s The Power of Enjoyment.

WriterGig’s guide to Making Money by Writing for eHow.

If any of these have inspired you, I’m sure that you’ll probably want to mention them in your blog too.  Of course, if the chosen specialist area of your blog is different then you’ll need to choose some other books – but I’ve included these to give you a flavour of the variety of books out there within each niche.

And Make Money in Your Sleep...

After following all of the above steps, your blog is now primed to make you a steady stream of passive income. The amounts might start out pretty small but it’s encouraging to know that, after only a few hours dedicated work, it’s quite possible to establish yourself and create something to build on as the weeks and months go by.

As far as my blog goes, imagine my surprise when, after dropping the kids off at school, I settled down in front of the computer and almost fell off my chair when I saw a message on my screen that read – “Sale: Glen Allsopp, ID XXXX, Cloud Living.”

It was then I realised that, in a small way at least, I’d made an important step towards developing my own stream of passive income – and made $18 while I slept!

So, before you get too involved in all the schemes, strategies, techniques and advice that you’re sure to encounter on your quest to escape the 9 to 5 and set up on your own online venture, it pays to remember that sometimes simple is beautiful.


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Image Credit – KevinDooley via flickr on a creative commons licence.

Far Beyond the Stars: A Revealing Interview with Everett Bogue

October 30, 2010

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A little over a year ago Everett Bogue was living in New York and working as a photo editor at New York Magazine.  Despite doing a job that everyone told him was supposed to be ‘super awesome’  he couldn’t figure out why he was so unhappy.

After a period of soul-searching he decided that being happy was more important than sitting at a desk, so he quit his job and, with just $3,000 in the bank, packed 97 things into one backpacking bag, one laptop bag, and one camera bag and hopped on a plane to Portland, Oregon.

While there, he started writing about how he was living with less than 100 things on a new blog called Far Beyond the Stars.

Since then, he has lived a location-independent life in Oakland, Chicago and San Francisco and published two very popular eBooks called The Art of Being Minimalist and Minimalist Business – How to Live and Work Anywhere.

Earlier this week, I caught up with Everett and asked him about how his ideas could help to inspire Rainy Day Wonder readers to escape the 9 to 5.


Andrew: Can you explain exactly what a minimalist business is to the Rainy Day Wonder readers?

Everett: Imagine if you could automate your income so that you only have to work around 2 hours a day?  That’s the basic premise of a minimalist business.  The reality is that we don’t really need to be sitting at desks all day working for other people.  The internet has created tools and opportunities that extend your own abilities, as well as automate many of the functions of a business.

Andrew: Imagine I’m a typical Rainy Day Wonder reader, in what way would setting up a minimalist business enable me to realize my dream of escaping the 9 to 5 rat race?

Everett: Well, it depends largely on what skills you have to contribute to the world — this is going to be different for everyone.  I was able to escape the 9-5 by getting rid of all of my stuff, moving across the country, and then writing about living with less in order to inspire other people to do the same.

Name the skill you have to teach other people, chances are someone out there would buy a product or service which will help them learn the skill you already have.  The internet breaks down all of the barriers in communication, and makes this possible.

Andrew: How has embracing a minimalist lifestyle allowed you to focus on creating multiple income sources and escaping the rat race?

Everett: The easiest way to be simultaneously starving and still be making tons of income is to have a lot of life-overhead.  If you need $5,000 to survive every month, then you need to be making $5,000 every month.  When you’re trying to make that much money, you only have a few employment options — most of them involve sitting at a desk all day being told what to do.

The other option is to reduce your overhead to less than $1,000 a month by opting out of the perpetual cycle of consumerism, renting a cheap apartment in a nice place like Portland, Or where you don’t need a car.  Then you can work on work that makes a difference in the world, and slowly grow your income until you can support yourself again.

Andrew: In your blog, you talked recently about a new ‘digital-tribal generation,’ can you explain what this means?

There’s a new class of individuals that couldn’t exist before the Internet.  These are people like Derek Sivers, Colin Wright, myself, etc who are living out of bags in order to move anywhere we care to go in the world.  We support ourselves with location independent income, and we don’t need much to survive.  This creates a situation of ultimate freedom that people couldn’t have in the past — this is the digital-tribal generation.

Andrew: What is the one action that our readers can take to moving towards quitting the rat race and joining this new generation themselves?

Stop buying stuff, it really isn’t necessary.  You’ve been told by the television that you’ll find happiness at the mall, you won’t.  You’re a slave to consumerism, and that’s why you’re sitting at a desk.  Opt-out for freedom.

You can check out Everett’s inspiring eBooks The Art of Being Minimalist and Minimalist Business – How to Live and Work Anywhere here.


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Manage Your Money to Escape the 9 to 5: Part 1 – Grocery Shopping

October 28, 2010

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One of the main obstacles preventing people from escaping the 9 to 5 is the fear of not being able to make enough money to support themselves.

The equation is simple – to make working for yourself a viable proposition you must earn at least enough to cover your cost of living.  In other words, the less money you spend, the less you need to make – and the more time you can spend on your own creative projects.

That’s why over the next few weeks I’ll be publishing a short series of articles taking a closer look at some simple, pain-free steps that you can take right away to reduce your cost of living.

By highlighting how easy it can be to make simple but effective changes I hope that these articles will help you to streamline your finances and edge a few steps closer to a new world of freedom and independence and, who knows, perhaps even a two-hour workday.

But hey, even if they don’t, at least they’ll help you to save a little money…


First up, here are six easy (and four not so easy) ways to drastically cut your grocery bill.

Buy in bulk

Supermarkets make huge mark-ups by selling basic products in small amounts at inflated prices.  That’s why it always makes sense to consider buying non-perishable goods in bulk.  This is especially true of staples like pasta, rice and flour but applies to tinned products, beer and wine too.

Compare prices by volume or weight

Ignore those bright stickers announcing the latest earth-shattering bargain, smart shoppers always compare prices based on the cost per unit, volume or weight.  Yes, sometimes the headline deal will turn out to be the cheapest, but just as often it won’t.

Cook from scratch

Ever wondered why all the convenience stores on your way home are piled high with ready meals?  It’s because they’re one of the best ways for shops to make money from stressed and tired commuters looking for something convenient for their evening meal.

Make a stand against this cynical exploitation and avoid expensive processed and pre-prepared food.  Not only is it much cheaper to prepare meals using fresh ingredients, it tastes better as well.

If you think you don’t have the time to cook from scratch it’s worth remembering all the time you spend in the office earning enough money to pay for the over-priced gloop they sell you.

Besides, it doesn’t even have to take longer.  Here’s a recipe for one-minute bread.

Some of the best ideas I’ve read lately on simplifying your diet and cutting out the crap are in Leo Babauta’s amazing book The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life.

Shop Late

After the evening rush a lot of shops slash prices on perishable food before it reaches its sell-by date.  If you’ve got a freezer, it makes sense to stock up on perfectly good food while it’s heavily marked-down and enjoy it at your leisure.

Reusables not disposables

Instead of buying four rolls of kitchen towels every week use a washable cloth.  Use soap instead of shower gel, it costs half as much and lasts ten times as long (and there’s no ugly plastic packaging to dispose of either).

When you add them up over a year it’s amazing how much simple switches like these can save.

Don’t stop buying treats

This one might seem counter-intuitive I know – but all those yo-yo dieters out there will know that any diet that prevents treats is much more liable to be ditched.  Why don’t you just bake your own cakes and biscuits?


And for the hardcore…

Become a vegetarian

Pound for pound, meat tends to be much more expensive than fruit and vegetables.  The production of meat is also much more harmful to the environment.

If giving up meat completely seems a little too drastic, why not consider becoming a weekday vegetarian? That way, you get to save money during the week and eat less, but much better quality and more ethically reared, meat at the weekend.

Grow your own vegetables

OK, this is not so easy if you’re living in a city-centre flat – but every meal you grow yourself means more money in your pocket and more freedom to live a life of your own choosing.

Besides, you’ll be socking it to the man as well.

Embrace freeganism

Based on a combination of ‘free’ and ‘veganism,’ freeganism is the name given to a lifestyle that involves salvaging discarded, unspoiled food from supermarket dumpsters, known as ‘dumpster diving’.

A key reason for adopting freeganism is the desire to work less.  Freegans oppose the notion of working for the sole purpose of accumulating material items and claim that the need to work is reduced by only purchasing the basic necessities for things such as housing, clothing, and food.

Become a hairy hunter-gatherer

This isn’t as radical as it may sound.  In Britain (where I live), thousands of people still pick blackberries in late summer and early autumn – the same goes for mushrooms.  With a little research, it’s perfectly possible to find a huge amount of free food growing all around us.  If you’re interested in finding out more, I’d highly recommend Food for Free by Richard Mabey.


If you’re interested in saving even more money on all aspects of your weekly expenditure, two of the best books I’ve ever read on the subject are Adam Baker’s Unautomate Your Finances and Sell Your Crap.

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Image Credit – spirit-fire via flickr on a creative commons licence

It’s all Lumber! Throw it Overboard!

October 26, 2010

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I have recently been re-reading that classic of 19th Century escapist literature, Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, and wanted to share the following quote – which lends an interesting historical context to my recent discussions on the modern minimalism movement with Leo Babauta, Tammy Strobel and Rob Wringham.

While he and his two colleagues are deciding what to take with them on a river trip, Jerome begins to muse on the amount of excess baggage that many people burden themselves with on their trip up ‘the river of life’ in general.

The resulting monologue might just be one of the earliest ever minimalist manifestos!

“How many people, on that voyage, load up the boat till it is in danger of swamping with a store of foolish things which they think essential to the pleasure and comfort of the trip, but which are really only useless lumber.

How they pile the poor little craft mast-high with fine clothes and big houses; with useless servants and a host of swell friends that do not care twopence for them, and that they do not care three ha’pence for; with expensive entertainments that nobody enjoys, with formalities and fashions, with pretence and ostentation, and with – oh, heaviest, maddest lumber of all! – the dread of what will my neighbour think, with luxuries that only cloy, with pleasures that bore, with empty show that, like the criminal’s iron crown of yore, makes to bleed and swoon the aching head that wears it!

It is lumber, man – all lumber!  Throw it overboard.  It makes the boat so heavy to pull, you nearly faint at the oars.  It makes it so cumbersome and dangerous to manage, you never know a moment’s freedom from anxiety and care, never gain a moment’s rest for dreamy laziness…

Throw the lumber over, man!  Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need – a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.

You will find the boat easier to pull then, and it will not be so liable to upset, and it will not matter so much if it does upset; good plain merchandise will stand water.  You will have time to think as well as to work.  Time to drink in life’s sunshine.


Image Credit – Axel-D via flickr on a creative commons licence.

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