Making a living… {i.e., money}

Making a living… {i.e., money for stuff, etc.}

Making money – or what they also call “making a living” these days is a fascinating concept (as well as a conundrum).

moneyThe world economy is nuts right now. Everything from how the “fiat” money system is being abused and destroyed, to the “free shit army” collecting from big brother for absolutely nothing, and too many other economic factors that are squeezing the middle class down hard.

Way too many to list, and if we managed to “chart” all the factors at play – it’d look like a million spider web. Daunting to say the least.

However – it is what it is for the time being – and people still have to make ends meet.

So what are one’s options in 2016 to not only make enough to survive – but possibly even thrive?

What sources of “revenue” work? What are available?

There are so many ways to “make money.” Lots of different “jobs,” like lowly ones than anyone with half a brain can do (like a cashier or stockist), to skilled labor (like plumbing, repairs).

Then you have super-expert “specialists” (custom work, large projects, design), all the way up to the big-college-degree types (lawyer, doctor, scientist).

Of course, there is “working your way up the ladder” in some kind of corporate environment. Still possible – but was more meaningful 40 years ago (mostly due to external economic conditions).

For the more adventurous and determined people out there – being “self-employed” is a great option. Blogger, model, photographer, artist, etc. However, since there is no template for you to automatically make money – you need to spend time marketing yourself (or have the money to have paid help). Catch-22.

Hustling a big deal in 2016

It’s true that some “full time” jobs just are dead end. You don’t earn enough to make ends meet – and your time is consumed leaving little chance to much else.

“Hustling” is now a big deal for many (primarly younger people). Sometime three, five, even 10 different revenue streams. Part time gigs (bartending, Uber), online work, marketing, and more. Even buying and selling things on Ebay or Etsy.

A crazy, frenetic way to make money – but it works for some, allows flexibility, and can be “tweaked” as you figure out what works or what doesn’t.

Some revenue streams are indeed illegal

Besides big-shots like the Clinton Foundation – much of the country earns their money illegally.

You have illegal “businesses” like prostitution, drugs, and murder for hire.

And independent illegal “acts” like petty theft, government corruption, criminal embezzlement, and forceful extortion. Even low-life acts like tricking people with scams, and more.

May work for some, as all “niches” are meant to be filled somehow. Not a good idea ever, though.

You might not need work?

rich living in luxurySome are fortunate enough to have family wealth to fall back on. Either to live care-free, or have the capital (as well as enough “influence”) to start your own business quickly.

A (very) small percentage of people encounter windfall luck, either via gambling or hitting the lottery. Or even lawsuits.

Another small group of people made smart investments at the right time (like buying Apple or Google in the beginning – or shorting the right company or industry before a crash). Sometimes skilled (along with the ability to be prudent with money), other times purely lucky as well..

A competitive group take the foray into inventions, or “startups.” Very difficult, most fail, and even then – your future success may be short-term still.

Flipping, growing or gov’t work

Those fortunate to have money can “flip” both businesses and real estate properties.

And some people bite the bullet and obtain Government jobs – some of the highest paying in the country. Many are “no show,” plus with public pensions and short “retirement” cycles – many crafty individuals who started young enough or hung on long enough double or even triple “dip” the system for healthy six figure income streams until they drop dead. At the public’s expense.

The difference between the haves and the have-nots is a very important line in the sand. Those with tremendous wealth can quickly compound that wealth, as well as diversify against sudden loss. How do the “have-nots” get above that magical line? How much money is necessary?

But a common point across all these possible revenue streams other than the super wealthy – is the need for enough revenue to come in to cover basic needs – as well as being able to build that “nest egg” or emergency fund for unplanned stoppages in the revenue stream.

What are some things that hurt financial well-being?

piggy bank moneyOkay, other than ways to bring in money – what are ways that money flies out of your pockets?

Over-consumption. Hyperactive consumerism. Buying things we don’t need, but really “want.”

Cost of living. Rents (some people won’t live humbly), food, transportation, etc.

Entertainment. Add up the cell, TV, and other expenses like eating out, movies, shows, bars and other lavish expenditures. People want all that regardless of how they live.

Life events (home repair, medical bills, car issues) can make a huge impact.
– Debt of all kinds – consumer, student, medical – some debts are unavoidable – others are not. Many people are almost forever in debt.

STILL, a permanent need for revenue stream

Even if you paid for your home in CASH – there will always be a constant need for money.

First the basics – food, heat/air-conditioning, electricity, and the worst: property taxes. You never own your home 100% without paying a quarterly “ransom fee” to the municipality you live in. Even if they don’t have sewer or garbage pickup! Just to pay for cops, fire, and road maintenance (and the salaries of those useless mayors and all the healthcare costs of the slackers they employ.)

And add-in any “enjoyment” you might choose to engage in – like new clothes, transportation, vacations. And the maintenance of your home. Roof repair, windows, paint, appliances and so on.

Money always needs to be coming in….

So how does an average person break through that “glass ceiling?”

It used to be true that all you had to do was “work hard” at some kind of average job (whatever that was – it was stable, and offered room to advance.)

But that’s not the case these days as much as years ago.

All the clamp-downs and regulations – as well as the countless new laws and “taxing” ways the gov’t takes more of the pie than ever – the road to advancement (for most) is not as achievable as it used to be.

The realistic chance that an average person can “take home” 10 grand a month after taxes these days is very low. Even with a $15 minimum wage – most would take in under $25k a year working 40 hours a week. You couldn’t afford to live in Hoboken working minimum wage (unless you had that section 8 housing).

At $30 an hour – you’re taking in under $50k a year. Not shabby, but you’d right off the bat have to probably commit at least 50% of your earnings to housing. Probably 75% after utilities and insurance. That leaves you with about $30 per day discretionary income. Not promising.

Ways people minimize ongoing costs

While you should always be on the lookout for ways to increase income, there are ways people can cut costs each month in the interim.

  • Less spending, being a “miser.” But that wears on most people over time. Only the very disciplined can keep that up long term. Especially in today’s “gotta have it world.” Those that survived wars and had to live in major poverty for a while had much better motivation that today’s financially strapped. Things were different back then.
  • Grouping. Like having roommates. The $50k example I used above was a $2,000 a month rent. By rooming up that number can drop to a half of that, even less. But that also gets tiring after a while and most yearn to live alone (or with their significant other).
  • Taking a time out – and living with parents. You’ve seen the soundbites about how the number of “children” still living with parents well into their 20’s and even 30’s is at an all-time high. Just another way to lessen the economic burden each month.

More on Hustle, hustle, hustle and even side-hustle

side hustlingAs we mentioned above, one of the big buzzwords these days (especially with millennials and other digital entrepreneurs) is “hustling.”

My understanding of it is basically “diversifying” income streams.

With the fucking “Affordable Healthcare Atrocity,” many businesses have made most of their employees part-time. Nature of the beast.

Now, many people take on multiple revenue streams. Part time jobs here and there, blogging, YouTubing, and other one-off gigs, whether it’s doing odd jobs on craigslist, uber and much more. They’re waking up to the fact that a single job (a “9-5”) and a normal easy to manage scheduled life is a thing of the past. They bounce around a like a Mexican ChiuHua on a triple espresso every week of their lives.

But is “hustling” okay – or unhealthy?

I’m kind of torn about the hustling phenomenon. While there have been savvy hustlers since the beginning of time – our current circumstances has produced a historically high number of them, which was once reserved for the most enterprising of the bunch. In other words, the conditions of the world have created (urgently) a culture of “hustlers.” And they’re seemingly okay with it – for as long as they can keep getting “paying gigs” (to quote Randy from “Sling Blade.”)

But what I wonder is how can someone build momentum “hustling?”

Sure they can make ends meet each month – but is there “advancement” in hustling? Do you get raises (or can you raise your rates?) Probably not. Which is why hustling should only be short-term until better economic opportunities present themselves.

A side-note on “collecting experiences”

An interesting trend I’ve picked up on over the past few years is the phrase “collecting experiences.” This is mostly being used by millennials – who, instead of “saving and planning for the future,” say that “collecting experiences” is a better use of time and money.

collecting experiencesOne person might say that is sound advice – especially considering their very own future may be in jeopardy (i.e., social security, the state of the global financial system). So why not “live now and experience life instead of waiting until we’re 60-year-old farts?”

While another might say that is foolish, and it would make their turmoil when the shit hits the fan that much worse. Who knows.

But I’ll say one thing – that 99% of those millennials are NOT “collecting experiences” for the sake of the experience. They’re doing it almost entirely for social media bragging rights and competition. That is what their brains know. Almost exclusively. Don’t you see that? Almost no one these days (across almost all spectrums) can “experience” ANYTHING without the obligatory social media update. It gets tiring, doesn’t it?

That’s why we don’t do it. Heck, I might very well be the top of the social media class based on our “collected experiences,” but I used the time saved for more experiences – not bullshitting about them. I have my own private photos, and so on. And that will do just fine.

Anyway.. back to the post…

So what are some good long-term options for economic stability?

While “hustling” is the current “trending” way to earn that pocket cash – and many are doing okay. It’s not good for the long term – because despite diversifying your abilities – you’re not fine-tuning them. Doing a lot of a little cannot be sustainable.

What separates a lot of people is your level of expertise.

Which is why it’s still a good idea to HONE IN on a specific skill (or two) and kick ass with it.

Our first thought is to get a hard-core skillset in manual trade. Specifically, plumbing, electrical, and maybe construction or automotive. Many electrical contractors make more than lawyers these days. Because it’s hard (and potentially dangerous), and not many people like doing things that don’t require an internet connection. It’s also good because the trade market is easier to break into than the highly saturated tech market.

One (major) caveat on manual trade, however, is still the ever over-reaching “uncle” regulating the exchange of services / bartering for cash. You’ll most likely need some kind of certification, permit, license to (legally) operate your businesses. Add in insurance and other annoyances, and your slope to success just got a bit steeper.

As for the rest – you might want to take a crack at your inherent skills. That would require an honest self-inventory of what you’re actually both competent with, and like to do. Because no one wants to spend the rest of their lives hating their work just to pay the rent. Shit, what a crappy life that is. No wonder so many people drink themselves to sleep each night.

Are no gigs long term anymore?

I think so much has become “flash in the pan” these days. Even if you somehow create a dopey “app” that a few people like – you might do good for a little while, but then it’ll just go downhill from there. Then you have to create something again. With the exception of the top 0.01% of apps – your chances are minuscule.

Same can be said for most bands, food trucks, and other kinds of startups.

Much of how people are trying to make money with doesn’t seem to go too long on the event timeline these days.

Timing is (almost) everything

Marc Lore of has always been in the right place at the right time. A rare example.

But the “Tech Bubble 2.0” is coming, as the writing is on the wall. The financial markets are at all-time highs, despite the economic deprivation that has hit also an all-time high number of suffering souls. Ride the peak as long as you can.

This next crash will be worse than the dot-com bubble of 1999/2000 and the Real Estate bubble (or whatever it’s called) of 2007/2008.

So those in “tech” now may quickly want to hedge some of those bets.

Needles in the haystack

Some people (albeit a minor few) can find success in the tech market. It requires being the first with a neat idea. There are thousands of app developers who’ve struck a minor payday (a couple million) by developing something that filled a niche. A previously unsolved need. But those opportunities dry up fast.

Still requires a focused mind willing to go “all in” on their proposition.

The whole concept of earning money for the rest of your life is not an easy nut to crack.

Maybe it’s too much work – and the reason so many people indeed “live one day at a time.”

Good luck whatever your path is!

making money in Hoboken NJ

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