Work Is Cheap

Busy? Daily. Working hard? Definitely. Fixing up the house? Not really. Want a vacation? Oh yeah. Gonna get one? Well, yes, as soon as the hard work that is keeping me busy begins to pay off. When money is tight, home projects are put on hold and cheaper tasks are taken on. It turns out that work is one of the cheapest ways for me to spend my time.

As recently as last July I considered myself semi-retired. I didn’t have “enough” but it looked like I would get there soon. Check DNDN’s chart if you want to see when that comfort zone vanished. I’m not the only one financially traumatized by that event. (See my post Triple Whammy for details.) It is hard to imagine getting back to those levels again, but I’m an imaginative guy. Besides, Microvision can finally succeed (though if that’s true, why did MVIS reverse split now?). AMSC could reclaim their previous revenues. Real Goods Solar could get back up to book value, which would double RSOL. Throw in a proper premium for their revenue growth and RSOL climbs higher. Geron could release good clinical trial news. My only OTC stock, GGOX.OB, could get the recognition, and possible index upgrade, appropriate to their revenue growth. Oh, and it turns out that most of Dendreon’s problems were exaggerated. Provenge works better than expected and the reimbursement issues are being resolved. DNDN could recover its June price and original growth, with a bit of a slide in the chart – though that slide cost me a significant comfort margin in my retirement plan. Oh well, bad timings happen. Good timings can happen too, I just don’t know what they are right now.

I retired about 14 years ago, but have never fit the mold of sitting on the porch for days, or velcroing my butt to the couch in front of the television. First I taught karate. Then I did the bike ride, which led to writing, which led to photography, and along the way I started teaching classes and performing shows, which made some people aware of me enough to hire me as a consultant for their lives or businesses. There’s always more than enough charity work. I overdosed there until I limited myself to a simple model: one local charity, one global charity, with widely-spaced, uncommitted, additional volunteer work. I’ve always been busy. Some say I never gave up work.

If I trust solely to intuition and trust in my investments I don’t have to look for other sources of income. The money will be there. But there’s a prudent side of me that points out that applying for jobs doesn’t cost anything. Besides, there is interesting work that needs to be done, and some of it pays very well. This appears to be an excellent time to invest. I very familiar with at least six stocks that I think are undervalued (see previous paragraph), and am amazed at some of the house and land values available. There’s some property outside Waterville, WA that is within even my strained credit card’s reach: 12 acres for under $11,000. Used sailboats, even ones big enough to live-aboard, are even cheaper. Cruising the listings on and is fun. This is a time when cash is king, and why some folks always have some saved.

For me, that cash is gone. I’m selling my stocks to pay my bills. That has been the case for years, and is actually the ideal, as long as those stocks are worth enough to pay the bills from the growth instead of the core. Oh well, I’ve been here before in my life and come back better each time.

Some people imagine that I should be taking vacations or working on home improvement projects. I like their ideas. Unfortunately, it is very frustrating to begin planning a project and be stymied by cash. Fix the fence = cash. Expand the garden = cash. Remodel the kitchen = cash. Even walking vacations = cash. That’s a daily, and even hourly, mental machination.

Unconsciously, I steered myself to activities that didn’t cost much. Volunteering happened. But in addition, welcome to the life of the accidental entrepreneur and artist. Writing costs the least. Photography doesn’t cost much either, after the camera is bought and as long as it’s digital. Teaching classes costs a bit of rent. Social media makes advertising and marketing affordable. I’ve even teamed up with some friends to create videos of Whidbey Island and Washington’s Cascades.

My persistent activities are a part of who I am. I enjoy sitting, but I also enjoy moving. Remember that my most recent vacation was my walk across Scotland, which I enjoyed more than any trip to a sunny, warm beach. All of this work that I’ve fallen into hasn’t paid one month’s mortgage – yet. For the most part the business is paying to expand the business. By following my intuition, by doing work back when I was semi-retired and work wasn’t necessary, I’ve developed an artistic and professional foundation that may be my job, that may produce my own paychecks. Work is cheap, but I am spending time, which is valuable, and producing artwork that others value too. I’m learning skills and developing insights that I pass along through teaching and consulting. As a result, I enjoy the work I do and I value the life I live.

I blog to write about investing and living. Investing can become a trap that separates a person from life. Conversely, living without considering how time or money are spent is a life that may not be sustainable. In this blog I present myself as an example, not an expert, of following intuition (call it a dream if you want). I am fortunate. My investments aren’t doing well, but they did well enough to allow me to retire at 38 and spend over a decade adding other talents. Those stocks may allow me to regain my semi-retired or retired status. The time I’ve spent since retiring is also an investment, that has paid off with a burgeoning business. Others may not be as fortunate to have a cash cushion. People without jobs may not have money, but they do have time. But as an encouragement to replace the frustration, I wonder what will be produced by that time that can be spent and invested? Each person has their own answer. But one thing I know is, done right, work is cheap- and very valuable.

(Play is cheap and valuable too, but that’s another post. This post was long enough.)

About Tom Trimbath

real estate broker / consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: and at my amazon author page:
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