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Bucking The Status Quo

Question the standards, improve your life.

I stumbled across a “Bitcoin fixes this” Tweet questioning standard quos of college, career, and mortgages as being traps to avoid. The Tweet goes on to say “go after owning it (Bitcoin) like you planned to go after that losing plan above. All in.” The only thing I will go all in on to prevent or solve my problems is myself. Going all in on Bitcoin is cultish and an unnecessary risk.

There is absolutely value in looking at status quos and assessing whether they are potentially detrimental or have evolved in such a way that total reliance becomes a bad idea.

I don’t think I will ever get to the point of believing a college degree is a bad thing but I am grateful that when I went, it did not require taking on mortgage sized debt to get my degree. If I had to think about college now, my guess is I would go to a community college for the first two years and hope I could figure out a reasonably priced way to finish my bachelor’s. What I will say though about college is that just getting a degree is no longer sufficient to get on in the world. A degree will get you in…probably…but you’ll need to continually build your skills to advance toward whatever you want to advance to. Maybe that has always been the case, maybe, but I think all the more so now and effective use of the internet makes this very achievable.

A lot of people crap on having a career and I take the point, arguably I am living that point having been self-employed, doing work that I don’t ever want to retire from since I was 37 but I view my 20’s up until I went out on my own as an advisor as having paid my dues. To the extent the independence of not having a career is about taking shortcuts, that is a bad outcome waiting to happen. Being employed back then had positives and negatives, both of which got me to where I wanted to be a very early age despite 15 years of dues paid.

The tide sort of went out on home ownership in the Financial Crisis. Not that it is a bad idea necessarily, I think it is a great idea, but more so that there are drawbacks to understand like the cost of repairs, that prices don’t always go up and a couple of others. You can read content by James Altucher for a good rundown on the negatives. For my money, if you are under-mortgaged, get a 15 year loan and can learn how to fix a couple of simple things (the more the better) then owning a home is a great decision. Being under mortgaged and having a 15 year allowed us to go about 6 years (maybe 8) without a mortgage in our old house. We’ll be paid off in our current house next year and hopefully then we can go 15 or 20 years more in this house without a mortgage. No rent or mortgage and being young, even if just biologically young, is a great position to be in.

Morgan Housel had a post that questioned some of the status quos of what it means to be wealthy. Many of the points he made are ones we’ve been making here for a long time, they are just common sense but it takes people time and maturation to come to what matters and so is always worth reiterating.

He says “controlling your time and the ability to wake up and say, ‘I can do whatever I want today’” is one important form of wealth. This certainly moves the needle for me. I am all for paying your dues by punching a clock but I knew at an early age that figuring a way out of that routine was going to be a priority. Mark Baker, @guruanaerobic on Twitter, calls this being unemployable. There’s more to it for Mark but understanding what it is to own your time and set your schedule goes a long way toward the type of freedom that this offers.

I don’t have any keen insight into achieving unemployability. I found something I love, capital markets, and while my day job back in the 90’s as a trader helped, it was not sufficient for my goals. I spent a ton of extra time learning. The coming along of the internet at the same time certainly helped. I build up my knowledge base and savings which led me to the point of being able to take the risk of very limited income that came with going out on my own. There are many paths but similar to the above, don’t bank on shortcuts.

Being unemployable bucks the status quo. Put differently, being unemployable is an example of being productively orthogonal to society. It’s not about doing nothing. Quite the opposite in many cases certainly for me. I love learning in the stock market but that takes a lot of time. I love running the largest volunteer fire department in Arizona and that too takes a lot of time. I wouldn’t trade either for anything. If your idea of being unemployable, if this is even something want at all, might mean doing very little, I’m certainly not going to judge but it still boils down to waking up and deciding what you will do today, not someone else….other than if you have some honeydos from your spouse. Do your honeydos.