Thursday, June 2, 2011

What would you give up if you didn't have to work?

When I was a kid, maybe half of my friends' mothers worked outside the home.  And I bet the majority of them started working only after the kids were old enough to go to school.   I've been thinking a lot and writing a lot about work life lately and how crazy it is that you have to spend such a big friggin' chunk of your day doing stuff you really don't want to do but you have to do it because you need the money.  But what are we working for? 

Let's go back and look at how life was when I was a kid in the mid 60s and early 70s.  Cable TV was not yet available, so there were no monthly cable bills with everything associated--no HBO, no upgrades to digital cable, no DVR.  There were no DVD players or Blu-Ray discs to buy, no X-Boxes, PlayStations, no Call of Duty or other games to buy.  There were no monthly Hulu Plus or Netflix subscriptions.

Nobody had to buy computers, modems, or printers and there was no monthly bill for high-speed Internet.  There was no such thing as cellphones--much less cellphones for the entire family--and the monthly bills that go along with them.

Because mothers didn't work, most families had one car.  That meant there was only one car to pay for, put gas in, maintain, and insure.  Some families did have a second car--almost a junker--that was the mother's car and the car that kids used when they learned to drive.  It was probably a car that no 16-year-old today would want to be seen in. 

Mothers who didn't work didn't need to buy work clothes.  And speaking of clothes, this was an era before designer jeans and WAY before kids thought they were entitled to a pair of $100 sneakers that they'd grow out of in no time.

Because mothers didn't work, there were no weekly daycare or afterschool care expenses.  Mothers didn't have to spend money for lunch in restaurants with their co-workers; lunch consisted of a sandwich and potato chips at home.  And speaking of homes, they were a lot smaller back then (kids had to share bedrooms!) and were therefore less costly to heat, cool, and maintain.

Mothers who didn't work also didn't have to deal with the stresses related to the workplace--keeping a boss happy, dealing with all kinds of co-workers, sitting through stupid-ass performance evaluations, juggling coverage to be home with a sick child... just having to be somewhere every goddamn day at a certain time looking halfway presentable is stressful in itself!

This was an era before TV remotes, so you actually had to walk to the other side of the living room if you wanted to watch a different program.  Maybe that's why nobody had a gym membership back then; that was another monthly expense that didn't exist.  In fact, I don't ever remember my parents exercising, or any of my friends' parents, for that matter.   The thought of my grandmothers exercising cracks me up!   But wait a minute.  My grandparents died their 70s and 80s, which is pretty typical.  Several of my friends' parents have died in recent months--again, in their 70s and 80s.  And almost everyone back then SMOKED FOR MOST OF THEIR LIVES!  What are we exercising for?

And what the hell are we working for?  Are we a slave to the technology that's supposed to be enhancing our lives?   What would you be willing to give up if you didn't have to work?


I Hate to Weight said...

I think about this a lot. first of all, i spend so much in gas right now. if i didnt drive 45 minutes each way to work, i could probably retire to Florida right now

maybe i'd highlight my hair less frequently. and who needs manicure or pedicures if you're just reading on a hammock in the yard?!

i'd wear sweats in the winter and rotate three sundresses in the summer. and flipflops would be the exclusive shoe of summer. they're 99 cents at Walmart.

i'd use funky purses until they fell apart.

and yes, i do spend too much money for lunch food. we don't have a refrigerator at work, so i don't bring stuff in.

this is a great post, Linda -- i'm going to keep thinking. my next job will probably pay me less than this one, so i'm already starting to think about where i can cut back.

thanks for the additional inspiration!

Mellodee said...

So true!! When I was growing up we didn't even get a TV until I was almost 14!! I used to go to our landlady's house to watch "The 64,000 Question" (pre-scandal) and "Concentration" (I think). Life was slower, simpler, less expensive, and a LOT less crazy than it is today. My daughter and her husband (who work in the theater world) and granddaughter are so busy working and going and doing, I don't see how they find time to sleep!

My mom managed to clothe, feed, shelter, entertain, and nurture a family of four on my Dad's salary....which never exceeded $10,000 a year at that time....and none of us ever felt deprived!

Anonymous said...

Books as we know them are being phased out. This makes me sad. Recently found a $1 book store that sells everything from hard cover, paperback, audiobook tapes, vhs and even dvds. What a treasure trove! :)

We wanted a small, second tv for the bedroom & found a great one for only $5 at Goodwill! There's nothing wrong with these older tv's, just that everyone dumped these bulky models when they made the switch to HD.

Yes, I just started texting earlier this year to make myself more available for gigs (and to appear less old-fashioned when you try to explain you don't.) But it seems people get into the habit and seem to prefer this with facebook/twitter over phone calls.

Technology has brought people together, but it is also isolating as well.

Debbie said...

Linda - EXCELLENT POST!!!! What would I give up????? Well, could not live without cable. Could definitely give up the cell phone. Listen girl, I'm at lunch (my one half hour to heat the food, eat it and then go back to my fucken desk) so i'll have to elaborate on the weekend ... oh, no wait, chores, washing, marketing, cleaning, cooking, ... UGH.
Love U!

Sous-Chef said...

Loved the post and the intent, I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, but for singles I think the question is moot. Why because working or not you still need the basic necessities (food, clothing, shelter and associated costs). You can reduce these costs by a variety of methods but there are still costs. For example if you own your home outright there is still utilities, taxes, insurance, and heaven forbid, maintenance and repairs. Getting rid of your car will definitely put money in your pocket, but if you live in an area without decent and reliable public transportation you're screwed. So unless you have money from other sources you still have to work at least part time. It isn’t always just about the extras.

I live rather lean by choice, and I could immediately trim $300-350 or so from my monthly budget for the non-necessities (cell, Sat. TV, Netflix, massages & my nails). Luxuries I choose to afford because I can, and l can still sock money away for other things including retirement and travel. Something I may not be able to do working part time.

The major problem is if I quit it would cost me over $500+ for the monthly health care premium just to maintain the policy I have now. Note my employer pays the majority of the cost for full time employees. That’s for single coverage and assumes no deductibles or co-pays to which the policy has both. Even keeping my current employer and going part time I would have to pick up the difference in the premium cost between let’s say three-quarters or half time and full time. Looking for another policy wouldn’t change much in terms of cost and would present issues because of preexisting conditions meaning I couldn’t afford a less comprehensive policy much less go without.

I’ll be eligible to retire early in 7 years but I don’t think I can make that happen (again because of health care costs and the fact my retirement savings have been reduced by half at least twice due to major market crashes). To reach “full” retirement status and be eligible for full Social Security and Medicaid would take another 10 years beyond that. This of course assumes Social Security and Medicaid exist 17 years from now. Least we not forget even then you have to have supplemental insurance. I have an employee now facing this problem and others facing the fact they may furloughed (including me).

So unless I suddenly win the lottery or marry someone who will support me in the lifestyle I would like to be accustomed to I will need to continue to work. Most days I’m OK with that, but given the current economic status of the community at large that isn’t the guarantee it used to be. Sorry, I’m definitely a Guinness glass half empty girl at the moment. Please return to your regularly (and hopefully happier) scheduled programming.

Vegas Linda Lou said...

Well put, Sous-Chef. The rules are entirely different for singles. Even though we have only ourselves to care for, we're in it alone.

doreen said...

That was such a great post. You always do make me smile:)
I was surprised at how much I was able to give up or at least trim from my expenses so I could work part time and finish my books. The one thing I cannot seem to be able to get a handle on is the damn health insurance. I seem to work just to pay for that.

Caz Wilson said...

It's definately food for thought. Lover and I are probably living the most frugally we can now. We have basic cable & internet, cell phones, power, rent and that's our expenses. No car, no gym.

We're making do but I guess I just can never image a world without all the luxuries, I was given my first computer at 7 years old and learnt how to "video tape" things even before that age.

Yes all these things are costing more, but I guess I just prefer to have conveniences, not because I want us to keep up with the Jones' , but because I like them. Are they worth sitting in a cubicle for 8 hours while I am planning my own business on their time...? Just about ;)


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