What is Time-Money Servitude?
This ain’t a trick question.
It’s as its name suggests. It’s a form of servitude. Servitude of your time and money.
Let’s look at the Cambridge dictionary definition of servitude:
servitude [noun] – the state of being under the control of someone else and of having no freedom.
Now let’s unpack this.
Indentured servitude to “the system” – Enter Jim
You’ve heard it before, seen it and probably lived it yourself.
Jim starts off as a kid, goes to school and tries to get good grades because his parents or teachers told him so.
They tell Jim he needs good grades so he can attend a good college to get a good degree to get a safe secure job.
Jim follows their advice and graduates and before he has even started his career he has over $50,000 (many of Jim’s friends owe more than him so he counts himself “lucky”) in student debt.
Since it’s an employer’s market and there’s an oversupply of college graduates, Jim has to send out a multitude of job applications and finally is “lucky” (or so he is told) enough to land a decent job.
He works hard and diligently for each paycheck but he always wonders where all the money goes. Before he even sees his paycheck, the government helps itself to large share in the form of taxes (not including sales taxes on goods and services) and mandatory student loan repayments kick in.
The balance of the paycheck is further eaten up by things like:
- Utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water)
- Internet and mobile phone
- Transportation costs (car loan, car maintenance, gas, public transport)
- Food and groceries
- Clothing including professional attire for work (including laundry and dry-cleaning for his suit)
As you can imagine this doesn’t leave Jim with much leftover in savings even though Jim is pretty prudent with his money and doesn’t spend much on entertainment and other “wants.”
The years go by. Jim keeps working hard, lives frugally and always diligently saves 10% of his income. Even so it takes him quite a few years to save for a house deposit. Jim’s parents weren’t wealthy so they couldn’t help him with the down-payment.
Jim finally buys a house and and in his joy posts on Facebook telling all his friends how he “owns” a house now. Of course, really, the bank owns it (miss a couple of payments and see who really owns the house) – which is why the 30 year mortgage has been aptly called the “30 year golden handcuffs.”
Jim is deep in debt now. So he works harder and longer hours hoping for that 10% raise. Of course now he is married and has kids so all his expenses have risen by more than 10% so he works harder still.
He does this year after year, maxes out his 401(k) and before he knows it he’s getting old now – 10 years gone. Now 20. Now 30 years have past.
He wonders where his life has went.
The never-ending cycle of chasing your tail – the Rat Race
He looks back and sees that he has just been running in circles chasing his tail. Like a rat running on a wheel. It’s tiring, a lot of energy is spent, but at the end of the day, the rat isn’t really going far. It’s just like what Shakespeare said, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
He goes to work in his little cubicle day-in-day-out, bored as ever at his unfulfilling job (Jim was never good at office politics so he never made it out of middle-management). He feels like he is always busy and time poor. He wants to spend more time with his family, kids or on vacations but can never really find the time.
Each month, some money comes in, but each month bills are due and money goes out. It’s a never-ending cycle.
He realises he never really was in control of his time and money and hence his life.
Jim regrets “settling.” He had big dreams when he was younger.
But by now its too late.
Jim represents the average American
Most of us are in the Rat Race, which is a metaphor for running in circles and being trapped in a never-ending cycle. In this case it’s the cycle of lost time and money which is why I call it Time-Money-Servitude (because I feel it’s a more precise term) but they mean the same thing.
It is the modern form of slavery.
If you’re lucky you do this for 30-40 years maybe you can “escape” and retire when you’re old.
If you’re unlucky, the market takes a hit and now your retirement fund ain’t worth much. Your options are to stay in the workforce even longer or take a lifestyle cut and worry about how long more you live – because you’re afraid your savings isn’t enough if you live longer.
Insane isn’t it?
Servitude is the state of being under the control of someone else and of having no freedom. In short, everyone has claims over your time and money over you. That’s exactly what it is like to be in the Rat Race, which is another name for Time-Money-Servitude. First and foremost you are under the control (“owned by”) of your employer. They make big claims on your time in exchange for money. But before you yourself get your share of the money, the government, banks and many other corporations lay claims to your money. This results in a never-ending cycle which ends up consuming most of your life.
If you’re reading this, it’s not too late yet. You can engineer your escape from the Rat Race. The way to do that is through Entrepreneurship.