It’s going to be a shitstorm and I hope I have my umbrella.
Incomes are getting lower every year. This will never stop.
Since 1993. Income for people ages 18-35 have gone from $36,000 to $33,000. This seems like a small amount.
It’s not. It’s the first time ever that income has gone down over such a long period (more than a year).
This means: relying on a college, job, promotion, security, stability, retirement pension, retirement income = thing of the past.
It doesn’t exist anymore.
Meanwhile debt has gone straight up. Student loan debt, credit card debt, housing debt.
Even worse: asset values have gone up (houses, stocks, educations, etc). So prices for things you want to buy have gone up but incomes and job satisfaction have gone down.
Of course a key to survival that I’ve written about many times is: don’t buy a house, don’t go to college, don’t contribute to 401Ks that rob your money, and either don’t get credit cards OR stop paying back your debt.
But there’s a more serious problem:
Because of outsourcing and automation, the basic equation of all economics throughout history has been reversed.
Supply is almost infinite (it costs nothing now to make an iPhone in China.)
Demand has gone down. I haven’t upgraded a computer or phone in years. They’ve stopped improving for 99 percent of the features I used to buy for.
For me, personally, I’ve thrown out everything I own.
Many people are, correctly (I have to admit), not going to that extreme but they are realising the basic equation:
EXPERIENCES > MATERIAL GOODS.
This is not a political post. Or a revolutionary one. Or a socialist one. Or a whatever. It’s just facts. Every year, the Forbes 400 of billionaires gets wealthier.
Three reasons the rich are getting richer.
1) The bailouts saved the economy. But at a cost.
I won’t get into the technical details. But in 2009, the US Central Bank printed up a few extra trillion dollars.
The theory is that that money would spread throughout the economy. Poor and rich.
Banks got bailed out. Bonuses went up. And a rich person puts the extra dollar in the bank and a poor person pays the rent.
So the money went into the banks, which then stopped lending money out to “high-risk” people because the Federal Reserve also started paying interest to banks on any excess reserves.
In other words, the Fed gave banks money, then gave incentives not to lend to avoid any lending catastrophes. But it backfired.
2) Some of the extra money went to infrastructure projects that the government did.
This is great.
Doing research to increase the supply of food and the supply of technology is great.
But see above: supply increases without demand increasing. Equals deflation, less jobs, less happy jobs, lower income.
3) Asset prices are going up while incomes are going down.
Rich people make their money off of assets (they buy and sell companies and other assets). They do not make their money from incomes.
This is why often the richest people (Warren Buffett, George Soros, etc) want higher income taxes.
Because they don’t pay income taxes. They pay capital gains taxes, which are significantly lower (20 percent) than income taxes (39 percent).
Again, this is not an article about economics. Or about government. Or revolution. Or “the top 1 percent”.
This is about why I am scared and what I am doing about it.
Here is what I am doing:
Any institution that makes money when I borrow money.
They will advertise, “improve yourself” and try to lend me money.
They are primarily designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
I do not say this in a political way. I have ZERO interest in political issues. This is simply what is happening. This is what the data is showing.
They will want you to succumb to their pressures:
While you are at your job, they want you to put a good portion of your salary into mutual funds or 401Ks that get managed by bankers and you aren’t allowed to touch for decades.
Good luck with that strategy while your income is going down or job satisfaction is going down.
Which, of course, I write about. But let’s take it a step further.
I always say it first has to come from within.
Physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
The change you want in the world around you has to start with the world inside of you.
i.e. write down ten ideas a day. Be around good people. Be grateful, etc.
But you also have to really look at an important data point: the IRS says the average multi-millionaire has seven different sources of income.
When you have one source of income (Me, Inc.) – for instance, a single job – you are falling into the trap. You will be one of the masses instead of one of the people who will survive.
There is a tiny circle in society made up of people who have corporate and traditional jobs.
Then there is a much larger circle of people who are no longer civilians. Who have stepped outside the comfort zone and are making money from all of the alternatives.
So you constantly have to be on the lookout for the other sources of income I write about repeatedly.
The world is changing quickly. A few years ago we didn’t have tablets or smartphones. Now over a billion people have it.
A few years ago we didn’t have search engines. Now everyone has all the knowledge in the world at their fingertips.
The greatest artists: Picasso is a good example, reinvented themselves every five years. Mozart reinvented himself every five years. Warhol reinvented himself every five years.
The best careers (Steve Jobs is a great example. Elon Musk another. Richard Branson another), reinvented themselves every few years.
Branson is a great example. He started in the music magazine business. Now he builds space ships.
Five years and you need to start learning new skills, practising new efforts,trying on new careers for size.
Everyone I’ve ever had on my podcast, 200 successful artists, billionaires, astronauts, athletes, writers, entrepreneurs, inventors, have reinvented themselves over and over.
There is NOT A SINGLE EXCEPTION of the 200 I have interviewed.
When I was in my 20s I had no idea what well-being meant. I thought “happiness” meant a private plane, a big house, fame, whatever.
As the director Tom Shadyac (who gave all his millions and moved into a trailer park) told me:
“Happiness is based on the world ‘happenstance’, which refers to something outside of yourself.”
You need to find well-being from within.
And here is what it is:
Increase those every day and you will find well-being.
If all you do is the same thing every day, you will never increase those three things in your life.
So reinvention occurs every day. It’s not something you wake up every five years and say, “hey, today is reinvention day.”
Finding mentors to teach you.
Finding the next generation to teach.
Finding friends who build you up and challenge you. This is your ‘scene’.
Everyone going through reinvention needs a scene.
You are not just the average of the five people around you. You’re the average of the five habits you do, the things you eat, the ideas you have, the content you consume, etc.
See my full post on the 5×5 rule here: The Power Of Five
Ugh, I sound too depressing. I’m not a pessimist.
I am an optimist. it might not seem like that because of what I’ve written above.
But I am hopeful these ideas will help me survive. I have been through every failure imaginable. Loss of family. loss of health, loss of mind. Loss of money.
I’ve applied these techniques for myself. Sometimes they’ve worked and sometimes they’ve haven’t. I’ve made big mistakes also.
Over the past ten years I’ve also seen others apply these ideas.
And in the past three years I’ve interviewed hundreds of other people who are aware of what is happening.
They have reinvented themsleves. They have thrived. They have surfed the rage that is simmering underneath and ridden that rage to greater highs and greater hopes.
These people will save the world. They are not the 1%. They are outside of the category, in my opinion.
You and I can be like these people. They have all started where we start. They have done it and made it to the finish line and beyond.
This is now the time to do it. It”s going to be too late tomorrow. And it was too early yesterday.
Today reinvention begins. And tomorrow it continues.
Related Reading: The Secrets of Personal Finance