Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some "Economic Survival" Considerations

Here is some “food for thought” adapted from the last chapter of my “How to Survive Anywhere” book (published by Stackpole Books, available from Amazon.com, or ChristopherNyerges.com.).

It would be the height of naivete to discuss the full picture of “survival” and not bring up money. Money is an integral, inescapable part of life in any specialized and organized society. Talk show host Tony Brown once said “If I’ve been accused of over-emphasizing money, it’s because I place money right up there with oxygen as a necessity.”

Whole libraries have already been written by the folks who live their lives 24/7 in the pursuit of money. You know, Suze Orman, Loral Langemeier, and all the folks that tell you how to make a meaningful income by investing, or buying real estate, or whatever. If you feel you are lacking in this area, you owe it to yourself to explore those who have already succeeded in this arena.

For our purposes here, let’s look at “money” in a meaningful context.

None of us really needs money, per se. We need (and want) those things that money buys for us. This means that if we focus upon the acquisition of money per se, we may simply be bumbling ahead with our lives, assuming that the acquisition of money is itself an important goal.

We should define our goals in life, and we should recognize that although money can help to accelerate our achieving many goals, money cannot replace our desire and drive to achieve and accomplish that goal. In other words, the desire to accomplish and to produce results, and to establish working networks with other people is far more meaningful to our life’s goals than is “money.”

Knowledge and self-education is perhaps the most important first step to increasing your survival awareness, and allowing yourself the possibility of making new choices. This concept was the subject of the last chapter of our Extreme Simplicity: Homesteading in the City book, where we explored the four illusions of money. Fear and greed are the primary factors that drive our economy. If you allow fear or greed to drive you, you cannot make the best decisions.

Once you recognize that much of our personal thinking, and public broadcasting, about “economics” is counter-productive to our “economic survival” (and automatically impinges upon other facets of survival as well), we inevitably look for personal solutions. What can I do? What can I do, especially if I am in a limited situation? What can I do now?

Begin by defining your goals very specifically. Write them down. Record some short-term goals, but also your long-term goals. These must be goals that you deeply desire to achieve, and they should be goals that you can achieve. Plus, you might have a list of goals that you must achieve (e.g., I must have $1700 for my mortgage each month or I lose my home!). For each goal, you should be able to record at least three concrete steps that you can take – whatever your current financial situation – to achieve these goals. Bring other people into your analysis. Don’t try to do this alone.

Also, consider the broadest ramifications for your “goals.” Are they benefiting more than just myself? Are these goals that might facilitate friends, family, neighbors to work together (thus increasing our survival quotient)?

In “Beautiful Mind,” the movie about the life of John Nash, the mathematician who developed “game theory,” Nash quotes Adam Smith (often referred to as the father of modern economics) as saying “The best result comes when everyone in the group is doing what’s best for themselves.” In other words, your self-interest should serve the group. It is better for the society that you not lose your home to foreclosure. Nash saw that Adam Smith, while correct, was incomplete. Nash enhanced Adam Smith’s axiom to” “The best result comes when everyone in the group is doing what’s best for themselves – AND the group.” It was clear to a mathematician that thinking about others is definitely in your best “survival” interests.

Obviously, this is just food for thought. The practical applications are up to you to find, and to put into action.

Here are some financial-related principles to ponder, and to experiment with. Think of them as tools for survival and enlightened living

1. As ye give, so shall ye receive.

2. Always lead with an offer. (Don’t expect someone to care about you just because you are “in need.” Before you ask for help, find out how you can benefit the other person).

3. Make every place better for your having been there. (This is true “Appreciation”)

4. What blesses one, blesses all. (Another way of saying “all ships rise in a rising tide”).

5. Discover the “magic” of Tithing. (Even financial advisor Suze Orman suggests that you give to the church or charity of your choice).

6. Pay back your debts

7. Barter and exchange. (You’d be amazed at the sorts of relationships that can develop when money is not involved.)