Tag Archives: Moneyless man

Find Out How Your Christmas Shopping Is Made

Shock horror – factory production isn’t always as bad as I thought. I spend so much time disapproving of mass-production that I decided to watch a “how it’s made” video. This one showed the factory production of jeans. I expected to be appalled. But as it turns out, factories are incredibly efficient, both in speed and use of resources. Only 7% of each sheet of denim is wasted. It’s we, the consumers, who are wasteful – chucking out the final product whenever we tire of it.

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Using a computer to create a pattern for jeans so that only 7% of the denim is wasted.

The only part of the video that sickened me was watching “designer stressing”. The methods take an hour, and add 5 years of “wear and tear” to new jeans. After seeing the cotton grown, dyed, weaved into denim, cut and precision sewed, it’s horrible to think that people won’t buy the finished article until 5 years have been taken off it’s life.

For the past 10 years I’ve only worn one type of trousers – Road corduroys. I’ve been wearing and repairing my current 3 pairs for 5 years now. They are literally wearing through. One of them ripped and died this morning. I can have peace of mind buying a replacement because Road boasts sweatshop-free production – but this means they charge £70 per pair. Wow! If I bought 3 pairs every 5 years that’s £42 per year on trousers. It sounds like a lot, even though we’ve been brainwashed into thinking it’s normal to pay that same amount for a phone contract every month.

One rip of many - now unsavable

One rip of many – now unsavable

Yet, if Road’s workers are paid a living wage, why should I be surprised that they charge £70 for an item of clothing? In Primark, jeans are £10, giving most people that smug “bargain feeling”. But would you feel smug if someone made you a pair of jeans, and you only paid them a tenner for it?

One reason we feel ok about paying £10 for trousers is that mass production divorces us from how stuff is made, so it’s harder for us to value it. We waste things that are easy to come by and hold no emotional ties. But we don’t chuck away the mug our child made in pottery class or the scarf our gran knitted. Mark Boyle puts it neatly by saying “if we had to purify our own water, I doubt we’d shit in it”.

So that brings to the conclusion that even if factories are efficient, it can still be better to make stuff or buy from small local traders because this discourages waste. In some cases making things at home wastes more raw materials, but this is offset by the reality that you’re less likely to throw out what you’ve made. On the other hand, finding our how things are made in factories can also discourage wasting them.

Therefore this Christmas, I’d urge you to take a closer look into where products come from. Can you buy more ethically by using a company with a strong mission statement, like Road? Can you buy more locally, or from the actual human who made the damn thing? If you can’t afford it and will be shopping at Primark instead, then so be it. But why not watch a few “how it’s made” videos, so at least you’ll be better informed. Exeter University Human Geography lecturer Ian Cooke runs www.followthethings.com is a great tool.

Road-JeansThis year I am buying all my Christmas presents from local artists/writers/musicians. This way I can be sure to give people gifts they won’t find on the high-street, whilst also supporting grassroots creativity. This isn’t a plug for my album being the perfect Christmas gift (although it IS rather lovely, and available here: kimwei.bandcamp.com ): I believe in this cause strongly and will be performing at local arts & crafts fair this weekend (Exeter Community Center, all day, my slot is 1.45pm).

In the meantime, since I’m experimenting with a low-money lifestyle, I can’t afford that new pair of cords even if I do approve of the company that make them. Do you think I should write a letter to Road Jeans asking for a sponsorship? Look at all the pictures of me wearing their cords on-stage!

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I’m Taking The £0 Challenge

As a self-employed musician, I have always been afraid of running out of money and having no work booked. I plan to face my fear and overcome it, by deliberately letting my money run out. Essentially, it’s about going to £0 and then trying to make it back to a healthy living from that point.

So what are the rules of the experiment? Well, they are dictated by what I’m trying to learn through this experience. I’m trying overcome a fear that many self-employed people harbour: what will happen if my work dries up? I don’t actually fear that I’ll starve, but my fear of running out of money is totally out of proportion. It almost feels as though I might die if I run out of money, even though I know that isn’t true. That’s how I know I have to overcome this fear.

The rules mimic what would happen if I simply ran out of work:

  1. To stop seeking any type of paid work until my bank account runs to £0.
  2. Once £0 has been reached, I can start taking steps to make my living through self employment.
  3. No begging, borrowing or stealing.
  4. No relying on handouts or state benefits.
  5. The accepting of gifts is permitted, as long as the giver is not influenced by this challenge.
Me, as a student, following an experiment where I busked with a watercooler I found in the street until I could afford to buy a djembe with the takings. I wanted to find out if it was possible to work up from having no money, to buying and instrument.

Me, as a student, following an experiment where I busked with a watercooler I found in the street until I could afford to buy a djembe with the takings. I wanted to find out if it was possible to work up from having no money, to buying an instrument.

When does the challenge end?

To face my fear, I don’t think that I need to carry out this experiment for very long – 1 or 2 months at most. That’s all I’d need in order to establish whether or not I can work up from £0. If I feel that my income is steadily increasing and that £0 no longer holds fear for me, I could end the challenge in order to, for example, borrow some money to invest in some music gear that helps me to make more money. Borrowing would be ok if I finally felt confident in my ability to make money, because I’d be confident that I could pay it back.

Another reason I might end this experiment is because of an extreme life event. Someone suggested that the challenge would be workable until an emergency happened to me or a friend or relative. This is a good point. What if my only remaining Grandparent fell ill and I missed out on valuable time with her because I couldn’t afford to travel to see her? I’d see that as going too far and would end the challenge in order to see her, if it meant breaking one of the rules to do so.

 

To answer a few questions:

A few people have asked me why the challenge I’ve chosen is so extreme. Others are saying it’s not extreme enough. I don’t think I’m doing a radical thing, when you consider that most self-employed people go to £0 sooner or later when work dries up. I’m simply creating that situation on purpose in order to face it now.

Keep in mind that the situation I’m creating must mimic what would happen if I ran out of freelance work. That principle shapes the rules that I’m giving myself. There’s no need to go to absolute zero with no money, no possessions, no food and be standing in the street naked. As with any challenge to do with conquering fear, its about going to the situation that I myself am afraid of. For me that’s about having £0 in the bank, with no job and no work booked. I’ve been in debt before, like many people, but each time I had work booked for the next week or so. Not this time.

 

Would I use the NHS and other taxpayers services?

I wouldn’t draw jobseeker’s allowance, because I have chosen to give up my job and so should face the consequences. I also wouldn’t feel comfortable taking state benefits if my business failed, because that would be my responsibility, not the state’s. However, I would still use the NHS and other taxpayers services unless I truly went moneyless and therefore stopped being a taxpayer. I’ve always declared all my income and paid tax when relevant and that wouldn’t change upon taking up this challenge.

 

Why not beg, borrow, steal or accept handouts?

The point of the challenge is to try and “earn” my way back from £0. That’s what I want to learn. I’m not aiming to learn how to apply for a bank loan, or how to persuade my friends into helping me out. I’d rather learn to catch my own fish. Once I’ve finished the £0 challenge, and am convinced of my own ability to make my way back from zero, I might be more comfortable with the idea of borrowing or even accepting gifts of money. Why? Because I’d know that I could pay borrowed money back. If someone really wanted to give me a gift of money I could accept their kindness because I could guarantee that their money wouldn’t be “wasted”. It’s like the parable of the careless man who loses all his money and asks his rich friend for help. His friend is very rich, but refuses to give him any money at all unless he can tend a flock of sheep successfully for a year without losing a single one. The rich man wants to be sure that the money he gives his friend won’t be carelessly frittered away.

 

If that’s the case, how can you justify accepting gifts?

One of the rules is: The accepting of gifts is permitted, as long as the giver is not influenced by this challenge. I don’t wish to stop people being kind or generous as normal. I might be more generous if I wasn’t so afraid of running out of money, so part of spirit of the challenge concerns encouraging generosity. So, if I went to stay with my Dad for a few days and he bought all the food, that’s ok because he normally does that when I visit. But if my Dad suddenly invited me to stay for a month, or sent me money because of this £0 challenge, then that wouldn’t be ok.

 

Would I break any of my rules if I was starving?

I don’t know. Let’s find out.

Footnote: I’m sure people will challenge or ask me to clarify EVERYTHING I’ve written as time goes on, so this post may be subject to additions and footnotes in the future as the fundamentals of the matter are bashed out.

 

 

Listen to Kimwei’s original acoustic music at reverbnation.com/kimwei , watch at youtube.com/kimweidotcom , interact at facebook.com/kimweidotcom , everything at kimwei.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Facing Fears Surrounding Money By Going To £0?

So what would happen if I ran out of money, with no job and no freelance work booked? It’s something I’m afraid of but it’s never happened to me. What would happen if I went to that point on purpose to conquer my fear of going to zero? It would be a lifestyle experiment.

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Stuff that I may have absolutely none of soon.

 

In my last post, I asked myself why I gave up a steady job as a University Lecturer in order to live in a van, with no current income planned? Let’s be clear about this – I also refuse to draw benefits. What right do I have to ask for state benefits when I can work, but have chosen not to? This leaves me in a very insecure position, with a van to run and only a couple of hundred left in the bank.

One reason that I quit my job is that even though it was only part time, it still didn’t leave me enough time to spend being creative as a singer songwriter. I had spent 5 years working on the same album in fits and starts, but after giving up my teaching job in March, I finished the album within the space of a month by working on it full time. Soon, I’ll start the process of promoting and releasing it by working full time at that… but first, a lifestyle experiment.

Here are some lifestyles I could have:

  1. Being employed part time = have enough money but not enough time for creativity (I already gave up this lifestyle at the end of March 2014)
  2. Having no job = have enough time for creativity, but where will the money come from? (this is where I am now)
  3. Doing freelance work = likely to be the same as option 1. In my experience, being self-employed takes up more time than a part time teaching job. (done this before)
  4. Being picked up by a record company or publisher = Being paid to be a singer-songwriter – but only if the deal is right! (If it’s going to come along, it will come along in it’s own time.)

I’m currently living in option 2 and wondering if a better version of option 3 is possible. Is it possible to make a good living from freelance work and have enough time to be a singer-songwriter? It would have to be done by either living on less money, or earning more per self-employed-hour.

But all 4 ideas are about earning enough MONEY to live on. There is another option – go Moneyless.

The Moneyless Man (Mark Boyle) lives without money and has devoted his life to helping others do the same. He lives an modest life and has everything he needs, but he gets what he needs without using money.

At first, I couldn’t see what the difference was between getting what you need with money or without it. Then I took a closer look and realised that money encourages a lot of negative tendencies in people that don’t exist with trade. Money can be hoarded (it’s called “saving”), an obsession with profit or gaining status through money is likely. People are constantly afraid of running out of money.

I am constantly afraid of running out of money.

I’m not planning to go moneyless, but what would happen if I let my money run out on purpose? Once my bank account reached zero I could begin to seek sources of freelance income, but not until then. The rule would be that even if I was struggling, I could neither borrow, beg nor steal, neither could I start living on hand-outs. I would have to earn, trade, or womble (to womble: to make good use of the things that the everyday folks leave behind) in order to make a living and work upwards from there.

The purpose of the challenge would be to try and dismantle the fears that I have around money. I can’t decide if I want to go moneyless or not, but if I AM to keep using money, I must stop being afraid of it. I could start trying to build a freelance business for myself right now, whilst I’ve still got money in the bank, but if I did, I’d always be afraid of going to £0. If I take this opportunity to go to £0 now and find that I can work up from there, then I can stop being afraid.

Just to be clear, this is not about some middle class kid irresponsibly running out of cash, having a hard time for a month or two and then thinking they know all about what it is to be poor. I would never presume to understand how poverty affects people just because I’d carried out a brief lifestyle experiment. This challenge would be solely about facing my own personal fears and issues surrounding money.

So what do you think? Should I do it? Comments welcome.

 

 

 

 

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